Why playoff hockey is so different

Intensity, physicality and strategies on offense and defense all change in playoffs

Updated: April 10, 2011, 3:55 PM ET
By Josh Cooper | ESPN Insider
PuckLen Redkoles/NHLI/Getty ImagesEvery battle for a loose puck has added importance in the NHL playoffs.

The words "intensity" and "NHL playoffs" go hand-in-hand. Ask a player about the postseason and unprovoked, the "I" word rolls off his tongue.

"I think when the game gets going, it's more intensity and awareness," said Dallas forward and 2004 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Brad Richards.

"It's more intense for sure," Nashville forward Mike Fisher, a veteran of 75 playoff games, said.

"Everything is faster, it's harder, it's more intense," Detroit forward and four-time Stanley Cup champion Tomas Holmstrom said.

According to an online dictionary, the definition of intensity means "existing or occurring in a high or extreme degree." Taken at this value, the previous statements are correct. The style of hockey in the playoffs is more "extreme" than in the regular season. But what exactly does this specifically mean? ESPN Insider asked several postseason veterans to dissect the true meaning of playoff hockey.