Pensively pondering.

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.

Comments (5)

  1. To be fair, the Devils were pretty mediocre before the all-star break. They caught fire after that and never looked back. Not so sure that I agree with your “line by line’ assessment. The Devils have 3 guys in the top 25 in the league in scoring and can roll four lines all day long. This will be a very good series and could go either way…but to say the Kings look better on paper? I’m not so sure I agree with that.

    • Was going to say the same thing, the Devils had a pretty slow start to their season. I think Doughty was likening the Devils situation to the Kings in how both teams started slow and then picked things up at the beginning of the year. Overall, i don’t think the Devils had a bad season, but if you contrast the two halves of the season, I could see why he’d make that sort of comment about being subpar.

  2. *they play in the toughest division in the Eastern Conference* This should read in all of hockey. By far.

    Most combined points. 51-26-13 against the West (combined). 54-35-11 vs NE. 66-27-7 vs SE. That’s 171-88-31 against the rest of the league.

    • See, I was close to writing that, but as I’ve explored here earlier this year, I’m not 100% convinced that the division is better than the Central. If you had a hypothetical tournament between the two divisions I’d expect it to be very, very close.

      • The Central was very very good, but ultimately, how many central teams made the finals? The conference finals? In the absence of a mini-tournament, I’m going to have to go with the Atlantic on this one – since we do have a tournament that we can look at:

        St. Louis: Out in the 2nd round
        Nashville: Out in the 2nd round
        Detriot: Out in the 1st round
        Chicago: Out in the 1st round
        Columbus: Golfing very early

        NYR: Out in the 3rd round
        Pittsburgh: Out in the 1st round
        Philly: Out in the 2nd round
        New Jersey: In the Stanley Cup Finals
        NYI: Golfing, but not *quite* as early as Columbus

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