RALEIGH, N.C. -- It was the playoff hockey tournament that fans, if not the league itself, deserved, full of drama and the unexpected from the moment the postseason began April 21 to the very final moments of Game 7 on Monday night.
Our Top 10 playoff moments:
1. Is there a better moment in sport than when the winning captain, in this case Rod Brind'Amour, takes the Cup in his hands, brings it to his lips and then hoists it high over his head? No. Not even close.
1 (a). Kudos to Brind'Amour for quickly passing the Cup to Glen Wesley for his first touch of the Cup in 18 NHL seasons. If that doesn't give you shivers, you need to see a doctor.
2. Edmonton fans respond to fans in San Jose who booed the Canadian national anthem by belting out "The Star-Spangled Banner" in full throat at Rexall Place. Then, Oilers fans take over singing "O Canada" by themselves. Not to be outdone, fans in Raleigh give stirring renditions of "O Canada" throughout the finals. In both finals cities, the anthems became more than just something to endure before the start of the game, but a moment of electric emotion.
3. Edmonton netminder Ty Conklin, inserted late in the third period of Game 1 of the finals after starter Dwayne Roloson is injured, inexplicably goes behind the Oilers' net to play a loose puck in the last minute of a 4-4 tie. Then, further compounding matters, Conklin sends a blind, backhand pass that deflects off Oilers defenseman Jason Smith, allowing Brind'Amour to tuck the puck into an open net for the win in a game the Hurricanes once trailed 3-0.
4. After being pronounced "done for the season" after suffering two cracked vertebrae in a game against Pittsburgh in March, Carolina forward Erik Cole returns for Game 6 of the Cup finals.
5. Edmonton center Shawn Horcoff takes a nifty pass from Ryan Smyth in front of the Sharks' goal and ends the longest game of the spring, 2:24 into the third overtime period. Earlier, Smyth had several teeth knocked out by a Chris Pronger clearing pass, but came back to play an inspired game. The victory denies the Sharks a 3-0 series lead and starts the Oilers on the road to the Stanley Cup finals.
6. Ottawa Senators coach Bryan Murray announced in a press briefing that Dominik Hasek will be his starting goalie in Game 3 of their second-round series against Buffalo. The media room was silent for a few seconds until Murray says he's kidding, that Ray Emery is his man. Ultimately, the joke is on the Senators, who were beaten in five games. Hasek did not play a minute in the postseason and the Senators remained the lovable losers of the Great White North.
7. Crusty Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle yanked former playoff MVP Jean-Sebastien Giguere and inserted rookie Ilya Bryzgalov as the starter in a must-win situation in Game 6 against Calgary in the first round. Bryzgalov, of course, shut down the Flames in the final two games and then denied the Avalanche a goal until the third game en route to a second-round sweep.
8. Lindy Ruff vs. Ken Hitchcock: After the Sabres opened up a 2-0 series lead with an 8-2 pounding of the Flyers in Game 2 of their opening-round series, Buffalo coach Ruff complained that Hitchcock's Flyers gooned it up when the game was out of reach. Hitchcock ended his press briefing with an expletive-laced tirade, suggesting Ruff mind his own business.
8 (a). Lindy Ruff vs. Peter Laviolette: After Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, Ruff accused the Hurricanes of being cocky and of having champagne on ice in anticipation of advancing to the Cup finals. It turns out there was no champagne, only a bottle of wine that Laviolette has been giving to his player of the game on behalf of a local girl suffering from leukemia.
9. During the latter stages of the Western Conference finals, the Oilers' dressing room is ravaged by a virus which led to horrific stories of dehydration, intravenous drips and other bodily nastiness. Carlyle questioned the severity of the illness, while his counterpart Craig MacTavish offered to send over the team's water bottles for the Ducks to sample. MacTavish said there was no response to his offer.
10. After the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning were thumped 5-2 by Ottawa to go down 3-1 in their opening-round series, Tampa coach John Tortorella said he was tired of the "25 percent rule," a reference to netminder John Grahame's .750 save percentage. People were outraged at Tortorella's comments in spite of the fact he was entirely correct in his assessment of the Bolts' goaltending situation.
Scott Burnside is an NHL writer for ESPN.com.