The two teams no one saw coming, vie for Mr. Stanley’s goblet (or something like that)

It’s been some time since I sat down on my own blog to write a piece about, well anything. I decided before the start of my favorite sports’ championship series was as suitable of a time as any. As a Sabres fan this has been a very interesting NHL postseason mainly due to the fact that I’ve been able to concentrate on the hockey being played without any sort of bias (for the most part) present. It may sound strange as every fan would rather see their favorite hockey team competing for Lord Stanley’s Cup, but there’s a unique calmness that comes when your team has been eliminated for good. For Sabres fans that occurred during the second last game of the regular season, but for purposes of this post that is neither here nor there… well it is there, but never mind you get the idea.

As the playoffs got underway I found myself being surprisingly mature about the Blue & Gold golfing & went into watching some of the great match-ups with a clear mind. Now understand mature for me still meant tweeting every time the Capitals or Senators would mess up, “O, the Sabres never would have done that!” Again, hockey fans can only bottle up their allegiance so much. Watching the first round bouts one thing became very clear… this was the year of the underdog! In the West the 8th seeded Kings upset the 1st seeded Canucks & in the East the 7th, 6th & 5th seeds (Capitals, Devils & Flyers) were all victorious.

As many hockey fans can agree I began pulling night in & out for the upset. The Kings became a favorite to watch seeing the likes of Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards (the list could go on & on, big shocker considering they’re in the Cup!) flying around the ice while (in my opinion Vezina Trophy winner) Jonathan Quick blossomed into the best netminder in the playoffs. This combination of offensive fire power & stud puck stopping made & continues to make this young gun team of ‘Kings’ as fun as any to watch. As they rolled through each round of the playoffs, besting the top-seeded Canucks in 5, sweeping the 2nd seeded Blues & sending the Coyotes howling all the way home in 5, it became evident they were THE team to be reckoned with. It’s almost impossible to fathom they’re an 8 seed that actually had less regulation wins in the regular season than both the 10th seeded Stars or 11th seeded Avalanche… but, c’est la vie.

On the other side of the pond, coin, fence, mole hill (huh?) you have the fist pumping Devils of Jerz. Don’t believe me that they pump their fists… Well I didn’t say it, the aforementioned Kings of LA did on their Twitter handle, take a look for yourself! The Devils are old hat when it comes to playoff hockey. With guys like Patrick Elias, Petr Sykora, Zach Parise in addition to some new blood in Ilya Kovalchuck & o ya only possibly the BEST goalie of all-time in Marty Brodeur (granted he’s 40 now & not the young sprite he once was) these Devils were not/are not fooling around. They cemented the 6th seed at the end of the regular season while the bottom-feeders, Buffalo *cough cough*, scrapped it out for 7th 8th & NotInThePlayoffsth. While not many hockey intellectuals gave NJ much attention, that didn’t seem to faze the East Coast underdogs as they got by the (albeit unfairly, but that’s a rant for another time) 3rd seeded Panthers in 7, 5th seeded yet Cup favorite Flyers in 5 & 1st seeded Rangers in 6. They continue to chug along like the “little Devil that could” dispatching flashier opponents & proving all of the naysayers (myself included) wrong.

Where this leaves us on the Eve of the Stanley Cup battle is in unprecedented waters. For the first time in NHL history we will have a Stanley Cup champion that is a higher seed than 5th (yet lower number… confusing to say the least). Never before has a 6th, 7th or 8th seed taken home the ultimate prize yet with the 8th seeded Kings & 6th seeded devils going toe to toe (Devils have toes right?) maybe “royal staff” to “pointy horns” is the more appropriate phrase, either way we have history in the making!

What am I expecting? To be frank… who knows? I do expect both teams to play well & while it’s easy to think this could be Brodeurs’ final go at the Cup, thus making him a force to be reckoned with, he has been upfront & adamant lately about coming back next year. In the end I think the mighty Kings’ size & speed coupled with their lightning “Quick” (sorry I had to) glove in net will end up being too much for the New Jerseyites to handle. Regardless of what happens over the next week or so it has been one hell of a ride in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. For those would don’t like hockey, I ask you to look back at this postseason & then question you as to WHY the hell not?!


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