Organized Sports: Grading the Stanley Cup Finals and Additional Thoughts

Kings Stanley Cup Finals

Get used to it, Los Angeles. You’re apparently a hockey town now!

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. 

Nearly halfway into June and it’s over. The Los Angeles Kings are the Stanley Cup champions, the first eight-seed to ever hold that honor. A team that barely made the postseason dominated the opposition without a single bit of trouble until up three games in the Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost two straight for the first time before finally closing it out. Thoughts after the jump.

Grading the Stanley Cup Finals Prediction

(8) Los Angeles Kings vs (6) New Jersey Devils
Prediction: Kings in 6
Actual Result: Kings in 6
I’d predicted the Kings to win in six, and in that I was right on, but I didn’t think it would happen that way. I was pretty sure once up three games to none, they’d sweep and clinch on home ice, the first team to do so in four years. Instead, the pesky Devils held on and made a series out of it, even getting people talking about the possibility of an historic comeback. Alas, that was not to be, but even though the Kings were the lowest seed in the West, and they were aided by some questionable refereeing that allowed them almost unlimited power play time throughout the final matchup, they deserved the win.
Grade: A

I wrote at length about finally understanding why no one in America watches hockey, though I still have to say that people who were watching something else (other than the NBA playoffs, which have just generally been, well, more exciting and way more fun to watch) did miss out on some great moments. Some favorites: my hometown Blues winning their first playoff series in a decade and putting the nail in the coffin of the Sharks’ long-running almost-good-enough dynasty; the Philadelphia Flyers’ Claude Giroux opening their clinching victory over the whiny and entitled Penguins with a Sidney Crosby-leveling hit; countless overtime goals; an American-born captain, the Kings’ Dustin Brown, once again hoisting the Cup, only the second in history (after the 1999 Stars’ Derian “The Barbarian” Hatcher).

I must say also, though, that I’m glad it’s over. Once my team was eliminated, I tried to stay as interested as I had been in previous years, even when the Blues didn’t make the playoffs, but it just wasn’t happening. Even in NBA playoff matchups I don’t care about, I can tune into the fourth quarter and maybe see some magic, but I think the NHL is losing its grip on me. The referees are swallowing their whistles to clutching and grabbing and overreacting in other ways, like the bogus slashing penalties that happen whenever someone’s stick gets broken during a good defensive play. Skill players have less room to work. It’s too much about the goalies; Jonathan Quick most deservedly won the Conn Smythe for best playoff performer, but it would be nice for that trophy to go to a goal scorer instead of the guys who’ve been given every advantage since the equipment caught up with the game.

I feel like next year, I might not even watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs that much. Unless, of course, the Blues attempt another run. Then, disregard everything I just said.


One thought on “Organized Sports: Grading the Stanley Cup Finals and Additional Thoughts

  1. G1 – 2-1 Kings
    G2 – 2-1 Kings
    G3 – 4-0 Kings
    G4 – 3-1 Devils
    G5 – 2-1 Devils
    G6 – 6-1 Kings

    I didn’t see a single game of this year’s finals. Not for lack of interest, but because my antenna wouldn’t pick up NBC and I didn’t feel like going to a bar for it. But in each game there was always one team that didn’t break the one goal mark. I’m happy for the Kings and think that it’s pretty awesome for an 8 seed to go all the way, but, yeah, refs are going to need to start calling the games if the league wants non-fans to even feign interest.

    Clutch and grab sucks. The Trap sucks. I remember the height of it in the late 90s with the Devils leading the way. More power to the teams who use these things to win games, but they work against hockey’s biggest assets – speed and skill.

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