Look at that. I can’t believe it’s basically June and the Stanley Cup Playoffs are half done. Through two rounds we’ve seen 12 teams fall and the four left standing have all won the Cup in the last four years. How exciting!
See, I’m always thrilled when the Cup Final has two teams who have never won before or who haven’t won in a long time. 2011 was either going to end Vancouver’s 41-year never-won streak or Boston’s 39-year drought. 2010 saw the end of Chicago’s 49-year drought with Philadelphia’s 35-year still going strong. 2007 was the last time two potential first time champions faced off, and luckily for me, the right one won. (I still resent that 2007 Senators team. Grr.) Anyway, my point is, of late I’ve been spoiled with storylines of first-time winners (Carolina, Anaheim) or the resurgence of classic franchises (Pittsburgh, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles). The fact that this year will see the first team to win two Cups since the 2004-05 lockout is just disappointing. At least the last two rounds should be a pleasure to watch.
With the semifinals all said and done, my two Cup finalists are still alive and kicking, though that’s all I got. I’m currently ranked 62,427th in the 56th percentile. I’ve fallen and probably can’t get back up. Thanks a lot, Canucks.
Now to “recap” on the second round, starting with my favorite tweet from last night:
Blackhawks vs. Red Wings: Well that was a ride. What could have been the blown call of the playoffs turned out alright in the end. Chicago remains riot-less for the time being. Given their dire situation in Game 5, I’m glad the Hawks turned it on while down 3-1 to come back, force seven, and score two game winning goals to finish the Red Wings. They looked downright awful in Games 2 through 4, coming to a head with Jonathan Toews’ undisciplined streak. Hopefully those were the scares they needed to push themselves to crush the Kings in the Conference Final. That would be best… for my bracket. Good riddance, Detroit. See you in the Northeast next year.
Kings vs. Sharks: The series where the home team won every game. Who saw that coming? I picked the Kings in six, but I wanted the Sharks in seven. What I got was the Kings in seven. The last standing Cup virgin is eliminated. At least the Sharks showed that they’re still a damn good team and the series was so close it could have gone in their favor at innumerable times, but Jonathan Quick was on and his team is scary good when he is. Alas, we in Northern California are still awaiting our Stanley Cup parade. A day will come when the holy grail of hockey lands in San Jose, but it is not this day.
Penguins vs. Senators: The Penguins won, again. Ottawa just could not handle the Penguins’ depth. It seemed to me that the Penguins had a bit of a scare against New York in the first round and elevated their game to prevent that from happening in the second. The Senators fought valiantly, they fought nobly, they fought honorably, and they died. Games 4 and 5 weren’t even close, though the end of Game 3 was some of the most exciting hockey I’ve seen all year. I love when the home team wins in OT; multiple OTs is even better.
Bruins vs. Rangers: I didn’t care about this series at all. I don’t like Boston. I don’t like New York. I wanted Boston to lose, but New York didn’t even look like they wanted to win. Finally, I wanted whoever won this series to lose in the next. And boy was my prediction wrong. THAT’S ALL I GOTTA SAY ABOUT THAT! </Don Cherry> But seriously, how good was Torey Krug? Have fun blocking that shot, Penguins’ blue line.
On to my probably wrong predictions for the Third Round:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins vs 4. Boston Bruins: This has powder keg written all over it. Go Pittsburgh. Make Jagr pay for his treason and get revenge for last year’s upset. Now that there’s no chance for a new team to win the Cup, and despite picking Pittsburgh to lose in the Final, I would really like to see Jarome Iginla win the Cup. He totally deserves it after suffering in Calgary for all these years. I don’t like them, but I have to acknowledge that Boston is a very good team. Like Pittsburgh, they had a terrible scare themselves against Toronto; they also took it up a notch to wreck the Rangers and look ready to continue their mean streak. I just think Pittsburgh is too damn good to beat four times, though I also think the Bruins will make it a series. I’m going to go with Penguins in six.
1. Chicago Blackhawks vs 5. Los Angeles Kings: This will be fun. These are the deepest teams in the West and absolutely deserve to be where they are. Chicago’s got the advantage in their top-six forwards, while Los Angeles has an inhumanly good playoff goaltender. As usual, this series can go either way depending on the lucky bounces. I’m going to go with Blackhawks in seven, and like the Sharks/Kings series, I think the home team takes every game. Chicago has been living on the home crowd, and Los Angeles can’t lose at Staples Center. To reiterate, this is gonna be good.
…did you see that? I sneakily debuted my new logo blocks! They’re a bit cleaner than the old ones with a narrower border. I think they accentuate the logos a little better. I’ve gone ahead and put them on my bracket as well as my last few blog posts. No other major changes to this bracket; I think I might be done messing with it for the year. We’ll see.
Meanwhile, I’m still reeling from the Hawks win last night. I’m not even a fan, I just like their chances.
Something extra: speaking of new logo blocks, check this beauty out!
The official Dallas Stars logo is unconfirmed by the team, of course, but I couldn’t wait until June 4th to exercise my creative arm. However, I’ll save my comments on the design itself until I see it on a jersey. It has the potential to become a classic brand, especially if the Stars win a Cup or two with these threads.
(June 11 edit: Given last week’s unveiling, the logo appears slightly different on the home uniforms, and boy do those jerseys look great. Check out the revision below, if you’re interested.)