By Ben Meyer-Abbott
Not that the Blackhawks' first-round match up with the Phoenix Coyotes hasn't been without its fair share of chippiness, but it pales in comparison to some of the 5-on-5 brawls going on in some of the other series.
Even Hawks' defenseman Sean O'Donnell had difficultly Monday searching his memory banks from 17 years in the league to recall another playoffs with quite so much animosity.
"Not in a long time, not that I can remember," O'Donnell said. "This year is just the perfect storm of the rivalries that you're having."
Most notably, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers have combined for 158 penalty minutes in the first three games of their series - with even Sidney Crosby getting involved in the fisticuffs.
Which is to say nothing of the disciplinary hearings and possible suspensions facing the Penguins' Arron Asham and James Neal.
"I don't think anybody thought it was going to be this bad," O'Donnell said. "But if they had been 2-1 games you wouldn't have gad that. With the combination of all the goals and the physical stuff, you start getting frustrated because you're not playing the kind of game you want to play. It's just wide open, physical hockey."
But the Penguins and Flyers are hardly alone. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there have been more penalty minutes in this postseason than any playoffs since 2006.
"There's a lot of emotion involved this time of the year," 14-year veteran Jamal Mayers said. "Teams are battling for space and for territory. The fights are fine, the hits are fine - a lot of the cheap shots aren't."