Martin Brodeur; Photo: AP

With the Stanley Cup Finals starting tonight, Gothamist got to wondering, what is the most physically demanding playoff sport? Assuming we only consider sports in the United States, that limits us to the NBA, NFL, MLS, MLB, and NHL. We're just going to eliminate football and baseball because football plays once a week and baseball, well, if you've seen a baseball game, you know why.

The NBA and its players have had an absurd playoff schedule so far this season. It almost seems like they only play Thursday-Sunday and take the rest of the week off. Games are 48 minutes long, plus add on all their commercial breaks, time outs, and fouling in the final two minutes and you have plenty of rest for the players. NBA play, while physical, doesn't tend to result in concussions or many contusions at all.

MLS, hardly considered a sport by most Americans (which Gothamist Sports thinks is a travesty), has an 8-team post-season (there are 10 teams in the league), with a 3 game series with at least two days between games. There is no doubt that soccer is physical, with all the slide tackles and minimal protection. Games typically last 90 minutes, which plenty of action involves lobbing the ball back and fourth with long passes.

The NHL playoffs last two months (which is way too long), but leads to intense games as with each series having the possibility to reach 7 games. Games are at least 60 minutes long, with two 15 minute intermissions for players to rest. When there is game action, players on the ice are skating non-stop, chasing a frozen hunk of rubber. If a game reaches overtime, which seems to happen more often than not in the playoffs, it is sudden-death and there are no commercial breaks. 20 minutes of action until someone scores. If nobody does, they go at it again. And did we mention the checking? Show me the place in the NBA rulebook where it says it's legal to slam into someone and knock them to the ground. NHL players also have a tradition of sporting playoff facial hair, which is okay by Gothamist's book. There is nothing quite like the Stanley Cup Finals and bunch of burly players with facial hair and missing teeth.

Game 1 between the Calgary Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning is tonight on ESPN, followed by games every two days, except for three between games four and 5, if necessary.