In hockey, there's nothing more exciting than Game 7 of a Stanley Cup Final.
This year's playoffs feature just that, as the Canucks and Bruins will go head-to-head tonight in Vancouver for a chance to hoist the Cup. A long period of pining for Lord Stanley will end for one side: Boston hasn't claimed the Cup since 1972 while Vancouver has never won since the franchise was born in 1970.
Yet besides tonight's exciting finale, there's been plenty to get excited about on -- and off -- the ice, as the 2011 postseason has been filled with dazzling performances, suspense and some truly historic moments.
Among them: The Bruins and Canucks both had seven-game first round series. No Stanley Cup champion has survived a seven-game first round since 1992, but that is about to change.
Also, Boston has already played two seven-game series this postseason. No Stanley Cup champion has faced more than one Game 7 entering a Final since the NHL went to a best-of-seven format for all four rounds in 1987.
Here's a recap of even more of what's made the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs so special:
* Seven of the 15 series have gone seven games, which is tied for the most in playoff history (also happened in 1994)
* 22 overtimes, which is tied for third all-time
* Each of the final nine days of the first round featured an overtime game, an unprecedented streak. There were 12 OTs in that span.
* 48 one-goal games, which is second all-time
* 5.6 goals per game average, making this the second highest-scoring playoffs since 1996 (behind last year)
* Playoff goals per game average exceeded regular season average for the second consecutive year. That's the first time that's happened since 1958-59
* After teams losing the first three games of a best-of-seven series failed to force a Game 7 in 112 consecutive series from 1976 to 2010, two teams -- the Chicago Blackhawks
(vs. Vancouver) and Detroit Red Wings
(vs. San Jose) -- managed the feat in 2011.
* The Boston Bruins
came back from an 0-2 series deficit to win a best-of-seven series for the first time in franchise history (first round vs. Montreal). The Bruins also became the first team in playoff history to win a seven-game series without tallying a power-play goal (0-for-21).
* The Nashville Predators
won the first playoff series in franchise history (first round vs. Anaheim).
* The Philadelphia Flyers
became the first team since 1988 to win a playoff series with three starting goaltenders (first round vs. Buffalo).
* The San Jose Sharks
became the fourth team in NHL history to win a playoff game they trailed by four goals (Apr. 19 at Los Angeles).
* The Tampa Bay Lightning
came back from a 1-3 series deficit to win a best-of-seven series for the first time in franchise history (first round vs. Pittsburgh).
* The Washington Capitals
became the first team in nine years to win a playoff game after trailing by three goals in the third period (Apr. 20 at NY Rangers).
* The San Jose Sharks
and Detroit Red Wings
played the most competitive best-of-seven series in NHL history -- a record six of the seven games were decided by one goal and the other game was a one-goal game prior to a late empty-net goal.
* Boston right wing Nathan Horton
became the third player in the past decade to score two overtime goals in the same series, winning Games 5 and 7 of the first-round series vs. Montreal.
* Boston goaltender Tim Thomas
will set the NHL record for most saves in one playoff year with his first stop in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.
* Boston right wing Mark Recchi
, 43, became the oldest player to score a goal in a Stanley Cup Final (Game 2)
* Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo
became the first goaltender since 1945 to record a pair of 1-0 shutouts in the Stanley Cup Final.
* CBC recorded the highest average viewership in its history in the first round of the playoffs despite the fact that the number of Canadian teams in the playoffs (two) was the fewest in 33 years (since 1978).
* The first-round of the playoffs on VERSUS was the most-watched on U.S. cable in 17 years.
* Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final delivered a new ratings record for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, with an average audience of 6.6 million Canadians tuning in. That’s the most-watched NHL broadcast in CBC history, beating the 6.1 million that watched Game 5.
* Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final drew a 3.9 overnight rating on NBC, easily the highest-rated game of the 2010 season and up 44 percent from Game 6 of the 2006 Carolina/Edmonton Final, the last Game 6 to feature a Canadian team. Approximately 5.26 million viewers.
* There is a good chance Game 7 will topple the Stanley Cup Final North American viewership record of 13.4 million for last year's Cup-clinching Game 6 (Chicago at Philadelphia).
* All 88 playoff games (through Game 6) have been sellouts, per-game average of 18,736, 101.2 percent of seating capacity.
* Record ticket prices on the secondary market. From today's SportsBusiness Daily: "Tonight's Bruins-Canucks Stanley Cup Final Game Seven is now featuring the highest average sales price of any NHL game in the decade-plus history of StubHub … average selling price $2,749 per ticket, up from $2,453 prior to Game 6 … high-end sales have reached $7,800 per ticket … average sales price also is more than several recent Super Bowls, last year's Game 7 of the Lakers-Celtics NBA Finals, and far more than the $746 per ticket average for Game 7 of the Penguins-Red Wings '09 NHL Stanley Cup Final in Detroit."
* Celebrity sightings at NHL rinks this spring include Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Vince Gill, Carrie Underwood, Vince Vaughn, Michael J. Fox, Michael Douglas, Michael Buble, Denis Leary, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel McAdams, Kim Catrall, David Beckham, Will Farrell, Zac Efron and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.