For those of you who missed it, today was Stanley Cup media day and lots of questions were asked about innocuous subjects. Some of them were more relevant than others, of course, as the Stanley Cup media day isn’t quite the circus that Super Bowl media day is, as I’m sure you sports fans out there have seen that spectacle.
Drew Doughty was asked several questions — being the top defenseman of one of the two combatants in this year’s final means people care about your opinion. One question caught the interest of a few outlets today (transcription courtesy of Pro Hockey Talk):
Q: Is there a benefit for both of these team having to fight to get into the Playoffs?
DOUGHTY: Yeah. We both kind of had subpar regular seasons. I think both teams have kind of got on a roll. Watching the New Jersey/Rangers series, I thought New Jersey just dominated them. You could just tell that everyone was clicking on the team, they felt good as a team.
Now, there are a couple issues here and none of them, as I see it, have much to do with the thought that the Devils dominated the Rangers.
Realistically, the New York Rangers played their conference final in a way that was went to make them ‘not lose.’ The Devils controlled the flow of play for the majority of minutes played in the series, and I believe there is a compelling argument to be made that the series could have been a sweep or five game win for the Devils had anyone other than Henrik Lundqvist been playing in goal for the Rangers. Agree or disagree, there is no argument that the Devils were the aggressor in the series and absolutely deserved to advance.
The part that I disagree with is the notion that the Devils “fought” to get into the playoffs, or that they had a “subpar” regular season. I understand that they are a six seed, but they aren’t your average six seed. They had as many points as the number two Boston Bruins, they won the third highest amount of wins in hockey at 48, they play in the toughest division in the Eastern Conference. This team is very much the real deal.
In many ways, despite being the lower seed, the Kings are the favorite here. Line by line it’s tough to find a spot where New Jersey has a better matchup. This is not your average eight seed. That being said, the Devils are no team of slouches. They play with plenty of pace, are tight in their own zone and on special teams and will expose your mistakes.
They won 48 games this year and finished with 102 points. Nothing about the New Jersey Devils is subpar.