Sunday, May 13, 2012

The 2012 Stanley Cup Conference Finals Begin Tonight

I literally only just now got home from hand-building my grandmother a brand new roof for her cottage. Happy Mother's Day, everybody!

So obviously, in the meantime, the third round of the playoffs has already started and I'm completely behind on this post. Rrrgh -- man, whatever, let's go, let's get this going:

Eastern Conference

(1) New York Rangers vs. (6) New Jersey Devils

Last round I went three-for-four in series predictions, putting me six-for-twelve on the year thus far; fifty per cent is pretty well the rate that my predictions shake out to every year, too, so I'm a great example to cite if you ever need to explain the difference between accuracy and consistency to someone.

Anyway, last round I predicted Devils over Flyers, I predicted Rangers over Capitals, and I predicted that the winner of the Devils-Flyers series would get exposed as fraudulent Conference Finalists and summarily eliminated by the winner of the Rangers-Capitals series. I don't intend to switch that third component around now -- what was the Wag the Dog line? "Don't change horses in midstream"? -- even with the Rangers' quick turnaround between rounds and resulting danger of burning out Lundqvist, just like they do every year. (Usually earlier on than this, mind you, but still.) You'll pardon me if I haven't yet been convinced of New Jersey's legitimacy by their achievement of scoring goals on Postseason Ilya Bryzgalov.

What I'd Want: New York in four.
What I'll Guess: New York in fi... New York in seven, because that just seems to be how New York rolls this year.

Western Conference

(3) Phoenix Coyotes vs. (8) Los Angeles Kings

So I get home and hit the NHL website to see how much time is left in Game 1 of this series, and of course Game 1 is over by the time I get home. I am having a very, very frustrating day.

In that same spirit of frustration, oh, man, imagine being a diehard Nashville Predators fan. When I'd called Nashville to win their series against Phoenix, I did not anticipate nigh-unbeatable goaltending phenom Pekka Rinne imploding like a dying star for the first two games, nor did I anticipate the Predators forwards failing to show up -- and I don't mean that in its usual sporting-related analytical usage, I mean Predators forwards literally failing to show up on time. Then nigh-unbeatable goaltending phenom Mike Smith ran eight periods' worth of shutout streak, just casually, like nothin' special, and now Predators fans get to spend the offseason deciding that they don't much care for the league's salary cap system after all.

Yes, indeed, the Phoenix Coyotes looked very -- what's a charitable euphemism for boring? -- solid. They looked like a very solid team through round two, whereas Los Angeles... whereas, Los Angeles... ha ha, wow, when did Los Angeles even last play? Well, far back though it now seems, I do happen to remember the Kings plowing insultingly easily through their second-round opposition, which just happened to be a solid, much-higher-seeded, strongly-defensive-system-based team.

The two teams apparently scored more goals in Game 1 than I would have expected through the first four games, so what the hell do I know, but -- despite my admitted bias towards the Kings in this particular matchup -- I'm going to guess that Phoenix advances after a series of terrible and ridiculous things happen to the Los Angeles Kings for seemingly inexplicable reasons.

What I'd Want: Los Angeles in five.
What I'll Guess: (Mysterious league-ownership voodoo, and then) Phoenix in six.

Playoff hockey! Oh, boy!

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