ManLinkWeek will be along shortly, delayed already as it is, but first things first -- I just got home, and Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals starts in maybe fifteen minutes. And, since I got none of my series predictions right last round (well, 'neither', really, since there were only the two series), the best I can aim for on the year is one under .500 -- so, hey, at that point, what's the harm in zipping through it?
LET'S DO THIS
Stanley Cup Finals
(6) New Jersey Devils vs. (8) Los Angeles Kings
sixth seed home ice advantage, how did this even
I am begrudgingly obligated to admit that I do, after the last round, rescind my previous round's assessment and recognize the New Jersey Devils as legitimate; a large part of that is how Martin Brodeur is on a spaghetti-western old-man-with-one-last-task-in-life tear right now, playing well enough to outduel a world-elite league-MVP-candidate goaltender and look every bit as solid as his ridiculous lifetime statistics would suggest. The forward depth of the Devils outperformed the Rangers' lines admirably -- although, to look at the Rangers' playoff stats afterwards, that may not have been as impressive as it sounds -- and the defence, while not really a force defensively in the traditional sense, turned out to be pretty valuable offensive threats. (So it probably helps that, with Brodeur back there, they never actually have to go back and play the puck.) And I have a longstanding soft spot for Adam Henrique, for some reason; I'm not entirely sure why, but I suspect the EASHL modes in NHL '11 and '12 have something to do with it. Yes, that's right; I'm that guy.
But! But. If the Kings don't look like a capital-T, capital-D Team of Destiny to you right now, I don't know what team could. The Kings' forwards are gigantic, at precisely the time of year when height and weight are most considered assets, and at precisely the time of year when the opposing defenders are going to be the most tired. (New Jersey actually seems like kind of a tiny team by comparison, but they are very fast; unfortunately for them, that's more of a help earlier in the year when referees are still calling plenty of penalties.) The defence is, for what people would have expected of them earlier in the year, overperforming, and... there's probably a more clever way of stating that Jonathan Quick is playing really well, but holy crap Jonathan Quick. He just shows up, waves his hand a few dozen times, and theoretically much better teams end up dumping their franchise goaltenders or losing hundreds of millions of dollars for the infinitieth straight year.
Given the evidence, given the comparative levels of rest and how both teams have played in the rounds previous, I would predict that the Los Angeles Kings would win with what seems like reasonable ease. However, if there is one thing I have learned from years and years of watching the Stanley Cup Finals, it is that their end results more often than not underwhelm and vaguely disappoint me.
What I'd Want: Los Angeles in five.
What I'll Guess: New Jersey in six, including at least one shutout.
Hockey, everybody! ManLinkWeek will be along shortly, don't worry.