Tomorrow will start the 2015 NHL playoffs but a reality needs to be applied that obscures expectations somewhat as the remaining 16 NHL teams contend for the glory that is Lord Stanley's Cup. The reality is that everything you've learned over the past six months, from October up until April 11th and the regular-season finale is in the history books. Those stories and feats are a past-tense anecdote from an era gone bye-bye. They are over. They are done with and have been rendered moot.
They call the NHL playoffs the "second season" for a reason; this drawn-out elimination tournament can turn everything on its head in a flash. Heroes can turn into pariah, saviors into scapegoats, and also-rans into MVPs while the titan-teams of the season can be swept out of the playoffs in a flash by far less formidable adversaries. What you learned, what you saw, and what you knew doesn't matter because everything starts at zero again. The ledger has been wiped.
Like the start of most every regular-season, hope is born anew for the clubs that remain standing after the trials and tribulations of the marathon that just ended. The NHL season isn't a marathon though, it's a biathlon. Hockey teams already concluded the cross-country skiing segment (c'mon, it was winter to begin with); now it's time for rifle shooting... And everyone's accuracy needs to be precise or they'll be bounced from the competition.
Reputations lead the charge as the playoffs begin in the narrative laid out by the media; the Detroit Red Wings consecutive playoff streak of 24 seasons (since 1990-91) is older than the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team (and heck, it's a 27-of-28 season record if you look past the last time the club missed the playoffs). The Montreal Canadiens total of Stanley Cup championships outnumber the clubs participating in the playoffs, and four of the Original Six franchises (and the history they bring along with them) are prime players heading into this second season.
It's important that you don't get sidetracked in those PR narratives employed that attempt to add hype and marketing distraction by way of crowing past feats of strength and accolades accomplished by franchises and individuals. The past, the regular season and years-gone-by, won't win games. We move forward with the notion that without victory, there will be no tomorrow; and with victory will come the immortal glory born with Lord Stanley's chalice.
What's done is done. We apply the reset button and start over with hope and the one iron fact that comes with it. For better or for worse, for each of the 16 clubs still standing at this juncture, through triumph or heartbreak, through tedium or aloofness, from perfection and hapless gaffes that leave the masses laughing or crying from the timing they occur and their result... History will be made.
It's a contradiction to apply that phrase (marketed in recent years by the league) to summarize everything, but it's a truth. What happened doesn't count, what will happen is what will mint legacies or cat-call fallacies in years ahead. This is the limelight for moments of lore and folk tales among the hockey family, the segment of play that matters most in reflection.