Well it has taken a while, but we are finally here. The NHL Conference Finals are upon us and I can’t say that I expected 3 of the 4 teams to be here when we made it to the final 4.
First off, who would have seen the LA Kings beating both the # 1 seeded Vancouver Canucks and #2 seeded the St. Louis Blues? I mean really. Both those teams had powerful offenses and their goaltending wasn’t too shabby either. I was happy when the Canucks fell to the #8 seed, but I was a little disappointed that the Blues couldn’t put up more of a fight. Admittedly, Jonathan Quick has been unbeatable. He has almost ensured himself the Vezina Trophy for best goalie after his amazing performance through the first two rounds of the Western bracket. And if he can backstop the Kings run to the Stanley Cup Finals he will be the hands down winner, no questions asked. But, on the other side, if Quick should choke or lose a step or two in the Western Finals, the Kings will be hard pressed to make up for his downfall.
The Kings will face the Phoenix Coyotes, who beat the Nashville Predators in 5 games. I can’t say I am happy to see the Coyotes be the ones in the finals given that the Preds were my team this postseason. But Nashville played like crap and that is why they will be at home watching the rest of the playoffs instead of making a run for the Cup. Don’t get me wrong. The Coyotes have a good offense and goalie Mike Smith has been almost as unstoppable as Jonathan Quick has. If the Coyotes are to make it to their first Stanley Cup finals in franchise history, Smith will have to keep standing on his head.
So, long story short, the West will be won by the team who’s goalie comes to play in the third round. Unless one or both of their offenses decide to take things into their own hands.
In the East, the #1 seed New York Rangers closed out their series with the Washington Capitals last night, winning 2-1 in regulation. It was a great game, but I was kind of hoping that the Caps could fight back and force OT so they could pull out the win. I’ve been cheering for Braden Holtby since he burst onto the scene in the first round series against the Boston Bruins. I had hoped he could make a nice run with the Caps to the finals at least. But as fate would have it, the Rangers were just too much.
New York is really the only team left that I’m not surprised has made it this far. But if we have learned anything this postseason, it is that New Jersey Devil’s goalie, Martin Broduer, is not to be messed with. As much as Jonathan Quick and Mike Smith have been the backbone of their teams, Broduer has been that and more for the New Jersey Devils. If he hadn’t found a way to play like a man in his prime instead of the old veteran he is, the Devils wouldn’t have had a chance to even make it out of the first round. To that end, the Devils have a good mix of youth and experience on their front line and that could spell danger for the up and down Rangers who have yet to really win a series decisively. And I have been a fan of Broduer since I started playing goalie, so I can never count him out no matter what the odds are against him.
So, suffice it to say that I am super excited to get a chance to watch all the Conference Final games this postseason. I can’t wait for them to start up tonight with the the Western Conference match-up between the LA Kings and the Phoenix Coyotes.
That’s it for now,