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.
A lot of ink was spilled about this round about how it was the return of awful, defensive, pre-lockout hockey, which resulted in a lot of ink being spilled about how it really wasn’t that bad and hey, don’t you appreciate close, hard-fought games in the playoffs? You know what? When it came to these series, I did not.
Grading the Second Round – The Western Conference
(1) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (7) Detroit Red Wings
Prediction: Blackhawks in 6
Actual Result: Blackhawks in 7
The Blackhawks had even more trouble with the Wings then they and many pundits thought they would, needing overtime in the final game after coming back from a three games to one deficit to finally dispatch the veteran Detroit squad. If they had this much trouble against the Wings, they’re likely not looking forward to playing the defending champs, even with home-ice advantage.
(5) Los Angeles Kings vs. (6) San Jose Sharks
Prediction: Kings in 6
Actual Result: Kings in 7
The Kings also had more trouble with the Sharks than I would have predicted, but they wound up taking the series by playing that brand of annoying, tough hockey that the Kings play. We can continue to beat the narrative about Joe Thornton’s playoff failures into the ground, thanks to Dustin Brown and company.
Western Conference Average Grade: A-
Grading the Second Round – The Eastern Conference
(4) Boston Bruins vs. (6) New York Rangers
Prediction: Rangers in 7
Actual Result: Bruins in 5
Just as I did not predict, the Bruins easily dispatched the rival Rangers, striking another blow for Boston in the rivalry. Brad Richards disappeared completely, along with the rest of the high-profile Rangers, while Chara and company did their job and did it well.
(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (7) Ottawa Senators
Prediction: Penguins in 7
Actual Result: Penguins in 5
I had thought that maybe the Sens could slow down the Penguins a bit more than they did, distracting the whiny and entitled group of stars with actual physical play, but that didn’t happen. I could pretend I watched any of this series, but I did not, because I don’t like the Penguins and there were NBA playoff games going on at the same time, and I’m not getting any money for this to watch sporting events I don’t give a shit about, so I can’t comment on how the teams really matched up. Not well, I guess, if the Penguins won running away.
Eastern Conference Average Grade: C-
Overall Average Grade: B-
Western Conference Finals Prediction
(1) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (5) Los Angeles Kings
The Blackhawks are the more talented team, and in their comeback in the series with the Red Wings proved they can be a very resilient team as well. The two questions here are: are they tough enough to go blow for blow with the Cup champion Kings? And, when will Quenneville bust out his Schottenheimer routine and take the games out of the hands of his most talented players?
Prediction: Kings in 7
Eastern Conference Finals Prediction
(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (4) Boston Bruins
Much of the ink that has already and will continue to be spilled about this series centers around the fact that longtime Penguin star Jaromir Jagr, the last remaining touchstone of the early-nineties almost-dynasty in Pittsburgh, will still be wearing black and yellow, but it will be the black and yellow of the Bruins. The aging superstar hanging on for a Cup on the other side is Jarome Iginla, who hasn’t done much of anything, but will likely be the first one passed the Cup by Sidney Crosby if they make it past the winner of the West. I say that because they will win this series, and without much effort.
Prediction: Penguins in 5
Wow, it’s hard to pick someone to root for out of this bunch. I can choose both the underdog and the frontrunner with the Kings, though, so that’s what I’ll do. Go, Kings, go!