NHL Playoffs 2012: Are This Year's Playoffs the Most Exciting Ever?

John Bain@John_BainCorrespondent IIApril 16, 2012

To date, the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs have had a bit of everything. Bitter rivalries renewed, rivalries formed, hits, fights, suspensions, tight games and high scoring affairs, it almost sounds like old-time hockey has returned for 2012.

It is only just the first round of the playoffs, but ratings in the USA are already at a near all-time high for the NHL, and new hockey fans are being born every day. 

Even though two of the eight opening round series are currently led 3-0 by both the Philadelphia Flyers and Los Angeles Kings, even those series have been very exciting and edgy. 

It is hard to say if these playoffs are the most exciting ever, as we are only in the first round, but if it keeps at the pace it is going right now, it is very possible that they could end up going down in history as the most exciting ever.

There have already been over 100 goals scored and seven games have already gone into overtime—including two double-overtime affairs. 

The speed of the game and intensity of the playoffs seem to be major reasons as to why the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs have been so exciting in just the first week of the first round.

Players on every team seem to be putting everything on the line in the first few games of the postseason, and it is great to watch. Whether it's sacrificing the body to keep the puck from crossing the goal line, throwing a hit or taking one to make a play, the participants this postseason are playing like it is do or die—and it's only the first round.

You expect the edginess and intensity of this magnitude in a conference final or the Stanley Cup finals, but rarely do you come across it in every series in the first round of the playoffs. 

We've seen battles uncharacteristic to games between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues, and we have seen the brawling continue in the Battle of Pennsylvania. And we've even seen the Coyotes and Blackhawks mix it up. 

Now are the suspensions taking away from the game? Maybe, but most of them have been warranted, so if anything, that just adds more attention to the game whether it is controversial and negative or not.

This first week of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs has had a bit of everything, and whether you are pro-fighting, or more a fan of the new style of play in the NHL, there is no denying that nearly every game played thus far has had you on the edge of your seat. 

Are these the most exciting playoffs ever?

Well, no, because the rest of the playoffs will run for the next two months before we can come to that conclusion, but is it the best first round we've witnessed in the Stanley Cup playoffs? It is very possible that this is the case; at the very least it is the best first round in the post-2004-05 lockout era in the NHL.

The first round has hockey fans around the world coming back to their televisions and arenas league-wide night in and night out. It's been a great ride so far and let's hope it keeps going all the way to mid-June.

John Bain is a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist

Follow John on Twitter: @JohnBainSports