As is the case every year, it seems, my hockey watching has waned throughout the later rounds of the playoffs. Instead of watching double overtime of Game 5 between Chicago and Los Angeles on Saturday, I was out in San Francisco having a life with friends. Crazy, I know! Without a rooting interest in the playoffs, watching TV takes a backseat to other more immediate potential plans. In all, I saw maybe three full games of the Conference Finals so the “recap” that follows is terribly uninformed. Here we go.
Blackhawks vs. Kings: Now that I think about it, I didn’t see any of these games. That’s going to make this difficult. *tugs at collar*
It seems I was a little off on my prediction that each team would win their games at home. Los Angeles conceded Game Four and thereby moved up their own demise two games. How about those Hawks and closing out series in OT, eh? There’s not a lot better in hockey than the home team winning a playoff series in OT; the fans in the Madhouse have been spoiled lately. Los Angeles, I was rooting against you the whole way because I don’t like repeat champions. You’re a good team, but I’m glad you’re gone now. Hopefully the fans you gained in the last two years won’t be.
Penguins vs. Bruins: Wow, was that disappointing. Obviously I don’t care for the Bruins, to put it lightly, and Pittsburgh was built to win this year so seeing this result is a bit stunning. No serious hockey analyst would have picked the Bruins to sweep the Penguins, yet here we are. The games I caught were absolute slaughters by Boston, and not even necessarily on the scoreboard. As has been oft repeated in the hockey media of late, players like Crosby, Neal, Malkin, and Iginla had a combined zero points in four games. In fact, Patrick Kane scored more goals in Game Five against Los Angeles than the whole of Pittsburgh had against the Bruins in their series. What’s next for the Penguins? This summer just potentially got more interesting.
And now your 2013 Stanley Cup Final:
W1. Chicago Blackhawks vs E4. Boston Bruins: It’s an Original Six matchup! The first since 1979! Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at where we are and how we got here. Since this past season was truncated to 48 games due to the lockout, there was no inter-conference play and because of this, this series is the only time any teams from the two conferences play each other this year. Chicago took down the Wild in 5, the Red Wings in a hard fought rally in 7, and the Kings relatively easily in 5. They’ve shown themselves to be very able to handle strong defensive teams and to succeed in the face of defeat, not to say anything of the 24-game point streak this squad put up in the first half of the season. They are the President’s Trophy winners by a kilometer and are my Cup pick. The Bruins squeaked by the Maple Leafs in 7, crushed the Rangers in 5, and annihilated the Penguins in 4. They started the playoffs slowly, but have been slowly ordering themselves into championship caliber form. Their defense has been impeccable, making Los Angeles look like Florida in comparison. Their series against Pittsburgh reminded me a lot of the 2011 Stanley Cup FInal against Vancouver, and that scares me. Both teams absolutely absorb the energy of their home crowds. Boston has a deeper roster, though I think they’re more banged up than they appear. Tuukka Rask has been incredible; Toews and Kane might be just getting warmed up. What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? I think the force wins: Chicago in six. Anything but Boston. Not again.