The Sharks fought the kings to game 7 and fell one goal, one shot, a couple of inches short. Some years it hurts, some years you feel they went as far as they can; this year, I think they went further than I expected and proved to themselves they could.
Still, their season is over, and it’s not for four teams. Still work to do.
In the 2nd round, I picked the Pens, Bruins, Chicago and Sharks. 3-1, which puts me at 8-4 for the playoffs. Maybe I should have been betting this year.
I’m tempted to say “now it gets really interesting”, but in reality, it’s been a great playoffs. If the people who like to argue that the standard NHL season is too long want evidence, this year is it. Change the regular season from a marathon to a sprint and leave some fuel in the tank for the playoffs, and look what happens.
And so to the conference finals. To nobody’s surprise, it’s the Penguins and Bruins. As it turns out, the Bruins got through the Rangers easier than I expected. Also, Torotorella is out of a job in New York. These two data points are not unrelated.
I have to say I still like the Penguins out of the east. I don’t think Boston will make it easy, but I’m not convinced they can beat the Pens. I like boht teams, though. I’ll call this Pittsburgh in 6.
And in the West, also to very little surprise, it’s Chicago vs. LA. It seems rare that the final teams in reality match up with the guesses, but this year, these four would have been on lots of lists. To me, this series comes down to Crawford vs. Quick. Quick is, it seems, playing even better this playoff than he did last year, when he ‘only’ won the Conn-Smythe and the Cup. Can Crawford out-battle him and hold back the Kings?
Sorry, Hawks fans. I think the Kings are on a roll. I think the Hawks are playing well, but so were the Sharks. I’m not sure what will stop the Kings on a march to repeat, but I don’t think the Kings will. It’ll be a good series, but the Kings are headed back to the finals in 5.
Still a fair amount of really good hockey to be played. I’m looking forward to it.