As you may have heard, the second round of the 2012 NHL Playoffs came to an end last night. As all endings do, this brings a time for reflection and remembrance. Without further ado, here are my (totally biased and subjective) top 5 things I loved about the Conference Semi-Finals.
5. The Los Angeles Kings
I’ve made no secret of my enjoyment of this Kings team in the space provided to me here at Backhand Shelf. Forgetting about their underdog status (which I don’t really think exists), this team is just really fun to watch. Admittedly, it could be an absence making the heart grow fonder situation as I haven’t seen them play in a week but, as far as I remember, this team is really, really good. Remember how after the Olympics watching NHL hockey was the worst thing? It felt like watching junior A hockey or something, it just couldn’t measure up to the intensity and quality of play that was being put on daily at the Olympics. That’s kind of how I feel when I watch every team that’s not the Los Angeles Kings this year (oh hyperbole…I love you so).
4. Dale Hunter
I don’t know if you noticed, but there was lots of talk about Ovechkin and his fellow linemates playing time this series. I think CBC put up a graphic relating to ice time about three times last night (or I was seeing double. I started drinking pretty early). I didn’t love this because I wanted to see Ovechkin get less ice time than, say, Jay fucking Beagle (irrational hatred of Beagle unexplained) but I kind of loved the balls on Hunter to just go with what he felt like game after game. Maybe it wasn’t the best coaching strategy in the world, but you have to respect a guy who’s able to sit one of the five best hockey players in the world, get tons of shit for it, and then do it again two games later.
2. The Fact That America Seems Relatively Interested In Hockey
I know, this is helped by the fact the only teams left are American teams. I also know that this shouldn’t matter as much as it does and that, by mentioning it, I’m only giving credence to Gary Bettman’s vision of a hockey team in every state (which worked so well in the past). However, seeing the appeal of hockey actually spreading over the continent, especially in the wake of the lockout, is just a nice thing to behold. No, it doesn’t hold a candle to Major League Baseball or even the NBA Playoffs and local American newspapers still have their hockey headline buried as the 4th or 5th story, generally but there seems to be at least some excitement. This is probably aided by the fact that New York and Los Angeles are involved as well, however, earlier in the week I sent our esteemed editor an e-mail asking what the vibe is like in Phoenix right now and he responded thusly.
As someone who works from home until the afternoon, then has about 90 minutes until the first game comes on at 4:30 (aka more time at home), I’m not the best source to answer that, but I can tell you that the folks in the local pub I try to get to in said 90 minutes are pretty stoked about the team. The games are always on in there, and turnout to watch is pretty damn good, actually.
So, yeah. Progress and stuff.
1. Because It’s the Cup
1. Game 3 of the Washington/New York Series
As I assume most hockey fans are, I’m a sucker for playoff overtime. Then we got three. There’s been quite a bit spoken on the lack of long overtime games this year, especially around these parts, and then we got this beauty of a marathon. It doesn’t have the same affect when it’s not your team, obviously, but name me another sporting event that gets your heart racing without being invested like the third overtime period of a playoff game. You can’t. And that’s why it’s the best.
Links To The Past
- The Rangers put on their big boy pants when it matters most. Again. (The Hockey News)
- Speaking of Dale Hunter, here’s many more (better, smarter, more interesting) words about his coaching in these playoffs (Puck Daddy)
- The Capitals did a lot better in these playoffs than a lot of people expected. Strange how expectations work. (Washington Post)
- NHL teams are just flying off the shelves. If you have millions of dollars you should buy one while you have the chance. (ESPN)
- That Lundqvist guy is kind of an important piece for the Rangers. I think he’s going places. (New York Times)
- Know what I love more than the Stanely Cup Playoffs? GIFs. Here are all the GIFs you can stand. (Broad Street Hockey)
- Today in “uh, alright” – Punching people in the head doesn’t cause concussions. But, seriously, this is a really interesting article that makes a lot of good points. (National Post)
- Oh yeah, there’s a game tonight. Between two really interesting teams. Bring on round 3. (LA Times)