I bet a few of you are wondering what that question mark is doing in my title. Well, you see, here's the thing. I'm not what you would call a hockey expert. In fact, I've only been to two hockey games in my life, including a trip to MSG for a Rangers game that I blogged about here.
But that doesn't stop me from following the local teams in the area (Rangers, Islanders, Devils and Flyers). As I mentioned in linked blog entry, the Rangers are my favorite team by default, but my heart remains with the Hartford Whalers. Some of you would say the Carolina Hurricanes, and this would warrant a few nasty scowls from the locals in Connecticut. Just tread lightly with hockey in the state. And don't mention Peter Karmanos either while your at it.
Anyway, I was debating with myself whether or not to watch the NHL Playoffs this year. And it's actually somewhat of a major decision. Let's just say if the Braves were still on TBS, this entry wouldn't have even been a tiny thought in my probably equally tiny brain. So after a quick web surfing session, I found a few intriguing facts about the NHL Postseason that might make it worth watching.
Rangers Penalty Kill vs. Capitals Power Play
This is one of my favorite hockey matchups. Stonewall defense vs. High-powered offense. Something has to give. Probably leaning towards the Rangers' D breaking first. Henrik Lundqvist can't stop everything thrown his way, but he's going to try. By the way, the Rangers have the #1 penalty kill against the Capitals #2 power play. IF the Rangers can muster some offense, they can win this series. Capitals took 3 of 4 in the regular season.
Devils Frozen Over?
Usually the Devils are a rock-solid team behind Martin Brodeur. Lately, not so much. The Devils might be the coldest higher seed entering the playoffs. They've been awful, especially in late March. A slight rebound in April might be able to hold off the Hurricanes in Round 1, but probably not enough for a deep run towards the Stanley Cup. Experts are picking the 'Canes in the upset here but I'd love to see them get bounced in the first round for obvious reasons...
San Jose vs. Detroit
If there's one matchup I'd love to see (and Versus for that matter) it's this one. Detroit is Hockeytown USA. They've been here before. But the Sharks have been the best team in the NHL pretty much all season. They started off hot and never looked back. I love to see upsets in March, but if the Western Conference went "chalk," I'd love to see this series go seven.
Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia
Let's face it, these two Pennsylvania teams don't like each other much. This series is of course a rematch from last years Eastern Conf. Finals. I've already seen multiple Facebook statuses about Sidney Crosby's level of toughness and that he is going to be crying to his mother after a four-game sweep. Personally? I want this one to go seven, just to draw out the epic battle between fan bases. And to think the NHL is losing popularity...
Alas, there is just one problem with the NHL (and the NBA) playoffs. They're too long. Four rounds, including the finals, of best of seven series. You play four months of regular season games for a two month postseason (and two months without shaving...) that could end up dragging on for what seems like eternity. Oh, and I forgot to mention the other problem with the NHL Playoffs:
It doesn't include the Hartford Whalers.
And I won't be a true NHL fan until it does. Sadly, I feel like I'm going to be waiting a while.
(Your dead to me, Karmanos. DEAD TO ME!!!)