The mileage that is put on the legs of the game's best players is greater now that they must battle through an 82-game regular season followed by four high-intensity best-of-seven rounds in order to win the championship. Niklas Lidstrom, Detroit's future Hall-of-Fame defenseman, played in 263 playoff games, more than three additional full seasons. Those were high-shift games that often lasted beyond 60 minutes, the kind that take their toll. By way of comparison, the Canadiens of the late '70s were blessed with years where the first round was a best-of-three; the Islanders and Oilers of the '80s, a best-of-five.
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