Organized Sports is a recurring sports column named for a seminal DC avant-hardcore song by the equally stupid and brilliant (to me, “equally stupid and brilliant” pretty much just means “brilliant”) band Void. Take from that what you will.
The Western and Eastern Conference Champions have been determined, and if at the beginning of the playoffs you had the Kings and the Devils vying for the Cup, you were probably insane. If you had the matchup at the beginning of the season, maybe less so—the Kings were expected to make a push after the addition of Mike Richards, and the Devils have the mix of young stars and experience that makes a good blueprint for a championship hockey club. The Stanley Cup Finals begin tonight. Let’s see how it’ll shake out, after the jump.
Grading the Conference Finals
(3) Phoenix Coyotes vs. (8) Los Angeles Kings
Prediction: Kings in 5
Actual Outcome: Kings in 5
This series went down exactly as predicted, but the Kings got a little help along the way. I’m not saying the Kings didn’t deserve to win the series, because they surely did—they’re the better team, with the better goalie—but it sure seemed like the NHL was working very hard not to have the least hockey-friendly market in the whole league in the Finals. The officiating was slanted very much in LA’s direction, and this is coming from someone who was rooting for the Kings, at least as much as I was rooting for anyone.
(1) New York Rangers vs. (6) New Jersey Devils
Prediction: Rangers in 7
Actual Outcome: Devils in 6
The league probably isn’t happy about the Rangers not making it to the Finals, but I am, because maybe, just maybe, we can finally be rid of the idea that Henrik Lundqvist is the best goalie in the history of ever just because he’s a marketable, handsome star in the largest United States market. He’s really good, but he was outplayed in this series, as his team was, by an actual candidate for the greatest goalie in the history of ever, Martin Brodeur. The Devils play a much more exciting style, and it’s cool that they made it to the Finals over the boring, defensive-minded Rangers. It still feels weird to say the Devils are the exciting up-tempo team, but in this case, they actually are.
Conference Finals Average Grade: C
Stanley Cup Finals Prediction
(8) Los Angeles Kings vs. (6) New Jersey Devils
Despite the fact they are the lower seed, the Kings are coming into this series favored, because they have finally lived up to the expectations from the beginning of the year. They’ve only lost two games this playoffs, none on the road. Their defense is airtight, and the goaltending of Jonathan Quick even airtighter, if that is a word or a thing that is possible. If goalies didn’t always win the Conn Smythe for playoff MVP, Dustin Brown would be a shoo-in. On the other end, the Devils play a fast, up-tempo style with lots of speed and attacking the net; they turned the usually unshakeable Henrik Lundqvist into a pin-cushion last series. This will be a tougher matchup for the Kings than the Rangers—similar to the Kings, but not as big, fast, or talented—would have been, but the monarchs of the City of Angels should take this one without too much of a problem.
Prediction: Kings in 6
We’re in the playoff home stretch here, just one more series to go.