The NHL doesn’t have a consolation round, but what if it did? What if after the disappointing losses and handshake lines there was still more hockey to be played by the losers?
Obviously that’s never going to happen, but that’s not going to stop us from putting together our own “NHL Consolation Tournament.”
The losing teams are matched-up by their regular season records and this is our first round:
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins VS. (8) New York Rangers
(6) Montreal Canadiens VS. (7) Buffalo Sabres
(4) Anaheim Ducks VS. (8) Chicago Blackhawks
(6) Phoenix Coyotes VS. (7) Los Angeles Kings
Pittsburgh Penguins VS. New York Rangers
Two teams with significant injuries and even more significant dislike for Bruce Boudreau meet up in our first round. The Rangers win games one and two with some timely goals against a Penguins team that is seemingly devoid of offense. However, Pittsburgh storms back and takes four straight games, ending the series in six.
Montreal Canadiens VS. Buffalo Sabres
The Habs and Sabres are quite evenly matched and viewers are treated to an excellent goaltending battle as Carey Price and Ryan Miller each steal victories for their teams. However, the Canadiens claim victory in seven games with a blast from P.K. Subban in overtime. A police car is burned.
Anaheim Ducks VS. Chicago Blackhawks
Playoff experience and hot goaltending from Corey Crawford prove to be too much for Anaheim as the Blackhawks win this series in six games. Chris Campoli scores the winning goal in game six to partially redeem himself.
Phoenix Coyotes VS. Los Angeles Kings
The series starts off strangely as no one is quite sure where the games will be played. The city of Winnipeg starts making preparations for game one, only to watch Gary Bettman swoop in at the last minute to ensure the series is played in Phoenix. The Coyotes are hampered by all the distractions and Los Angeles takes this series in six.
Pittsburgh Penguins VS. Montreal Canadiens
In a rematch from the 2010 playoffs, Pittsburgh faces Montreal. The Habs are able to get critical goals from their role players while the Penguins continue to struggle offensively. Not even a dramatic game seven comeback by Sidney Crosby can save Pittsburgh as the Habs once again eliminate the Penguins in Pittsburgh. Across the street, the Civic Arena cries. The city of Montreal braces for more rioting. Gary Bettman tries to come up with yet another way to give Sidney Crosby a trophy this year.
Chicago Blackhawks VS. Los Angeles Kings
Once again experience triumphs as the Blackhawks defeat the Kings in six. Corey Crawford records two shutouts in the series but is still somehow only named the second star after Roberto Luongo.
Montreal Canadiens VS. Chicago Blackhawks
This series is as tense as you would expect from a consolation round final, which is to say it’s not that tense at all. The Canadiens surprise the Blackhawks as they win game one. Montreal then takes a 2-1 series lead in game three, leading many to speculate that Canada could finally see a consolation round champion. People across the country start to proclaim that the consolation round is more important than the actual Stanley Cup Playoffs. However, the Hawks buckle down and stage another comeback, taking the series in six games.
Your Relegation Round Champions: The Chicago Blackhawks
The coveted Silver Golf Bag is awarded to Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews in front of literally dozens of fans. With the Blackhawks winning the Consolation Round, they get set to face off against the Stanley Cup Champions in a seven game “Redemption Final.” This extra round of competition means that the 2010-2011 NHL season ends only three hours before the 2011-2012 season officially begins.
For the purposes of this fictional tournament, we hope the Vancouver Canucks win the Stanley Cup, just so we could see another series between Vancouver and Chicago. After all, is that what we all want?