Archive for the ‘Playoffs!’ Category

It’s a funny thing in sports, the whole talk of “pressure” and “momentum” and how they shift from team to team.

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Just one more win and the cup is ours! Piece of cake, right, everybody?! Yeahhh!

Remember a few days ago when the Kings were curb stomping everyone in their path and Game 4 of the Final series felt like a mere formality? Just lose and go away, Devils. Know your place in this fairy tale.

If you are a religiously-inclined hockey zealot, you had to be cringing at the audacity of it all, even if it also didn’t seem realistic that anybody was going to stop the Kings’ march to the cup. The level of certainty in seemingly every corner of the hockey universe that the Kings would sweep, or at the very least, wrap it up in New Jersey last night, was off the charts.

And we all know what happens when err’body gets too cocky up in Hockeydom: The Hockey Gods send your ass to church.

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Yesterday, I discussed the feeling shared by many hockey fans without a rooting interest in this series that I hoped it just ended on Wednesday night. Adam Henrique put those plans on hold with yet another big goal from the rookie in these Playoffs, and that’s okay, because Game 5 has the better story lines anyway.

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1991, the last time the Stanley Cup was awarded in May

When I was a kid, I remember older family members and relatives talking about how they wished the Stanley Cup Playoffs would end earlier, like in the “good old days.”

At the time, I couldn’t understand it. At that age, I thought, heck, I’d watch games in August if that’s when Game 7 of the Cup Final was. But as time’s gone by, I’ve begun to understand the qualms with what is practically summer hockey.

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(Noah Graham, Getty Images)

The performance of the Los Angeles Kings in these playoffs is both a total victory and a complete destruction of the idea of parity in the NHL. It proves once and for all that an 8th seed can succeed in the playoffs, a victory for parity and sure to be used by General Managers for years to defend their plans to eke their way into the postseason and hope for the best. Simultaneously, they’ve been so completely dominant in the playoffs that the idea of parity seems like a bad joke.

The Kings are just one game away from sweeping the Devils to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in their history. Enroute to the final, they’ve lost just two games, one to the 1st seed Vancouver Canucks and one to the 3rd seed Phoenix Coyotes. They have gone up 3-0 in every single series, have yet to lose a game on the road, and have outscored their opponents 49 to 24.

With their win in New Jersey in game two, the Kings have tied the record for most road wins in the playoffs, a record held by the 1995 and 2000 New Jersey Devils and the 2004 Calgary Flames. If they lose game four, they’ll have a chance to break that record. Alternately, they could win game four and tie the record for the fewest games needed to win the Stanley Cup held by the 1988 Edmonton Oilers, which is slightly more prestigious company.

How did a team this good end up in 8th place in the Western Conference? Why did such a dominant team have a mediocre regular season?

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What’s left to say about these Los Angeles Kings?

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Newsflash! Old man with bizarre fashion sense is a xenophobe! Film at 11! (Bruce Bennett, Getty Images)

It has long ceased being surprising to hear Don Cherry praise Canadians at the expense of other nationalities. Pointing out that Cherry is jingoist is like saying that Patrick Kane likes to party. Silly Patrick: he should know that Rod is the only one who parties.

Just prior to game one, Cherry shouted his prediction for the series over top of the spectacularly loud introduction in the arena. My theory is that CBC knew he was going to be shouting anyway, so timed his segment for when his shouting wouldn’t seem out of place. Cherry wasted no time getting to the good stuff:

If you’re smart, you’re going to pick New Jersey for this thing – best goalie, higher in the standings, home-ice advantage – but I’m going to go with LA. I picked them at the start of the playoffs. They’re big, they’re mean, they might have a little rust, 7 days off, but y’know why I’m picking them? 23 North Americans, 14 Canadians, 8 guys from Ontario – heart and character, that’s why they’re going to win.

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