The NBA playoffs are great, the MLB playoffs are great, March Madness is great, and the NFL is the NFL.

But there’s nothing quite like playoff hockey.

The pressure, the hitting, the speed, the violence, the hot goalies, the fans, the broadcasts, the intensity, the lights, the overtimes, the every-single-night nature of it all – playoff hockey is a different beast.

“It’s a two-month race to the finish line,” NBC Sports and MSG NHL broadcaster Joe Micheletti said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “We’ll start seeing it (Wednesday) night, an intensity level that we don’t see in the regular season, and this will continue for two months.”

The playoffs start Wednesday with Red Wings/Lightning, Rangers/Penguins and Blackhawks/Blues.

“The great thing about this is that there’s 16 teams that get into the playoffs, and any one of those teams can win it,” Micheletti said. “If you go back to (2012), the last two months of that season, the L.A. Kings had to do everything they could just to get in the playoffs, just to get in as the No. 8 seed in the West – and then nobody had a chance against them in the playoffs.”

The Kings lost just two games in the first three rounds of the playoffs before taking a 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Finals, ultimately dispatching the New Jersey Devils in six games.

“They went through the playoffs because they were on this high and they stayed healthy, which is obviously very important, and no one could come close to them,” Micheletti said. “So if you just get in and then wait and see what happens, (you have a chance).

This year, Washington (58-18-8), Dallas (50-23-9) and Chicago (47-26-9), among others, are expected to make some noise in the playoffs, but as we’ve seen time and time again, anything is possible.

“What I love is you see so many changes in momentum,” Micheletti said. “One team grabs it and the other team tries to find a way to get it back, whether it’s a goal or a hit or a penalty or a sustained shift. Just the ebbs and flows of momentum in these games (are) tremendous. So the teams that can stay healthy, find a way once they lose momentum to get it back quickly, are the teams that generally have a chance to win it all.”


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