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The Puck Stops Here

Game Three

The Los Angeles Kings won 3-0 today.  It was the first game where the Kings were the better team in the Stanley Cup finals.  We are now looking at a situation where it looks like we will have a short one-sided Stanley Cup final.

I know that I am a pariah for stating that there are no elite teams in the NHL this year and there haven't been any for many years.  This is by the NHL's design and it comes at a real cost to the hockey fan.  Hockey fans want to defend their game against such attacks whether they are true or false.  One common attack is that we don't want one-sided Stanley Cup finals where an elite team dominates a weaker team.  At least in the no elite team NHL there will be close playoff series.  This supposes that all we want from hockey games is for them to be long dramatic three hour coin tosses.  No team is better than the other.  Anyone can win.  It all comes down to which team is luckiest that day.  That isn't something I want.  I don't want 30 equal mediocre teams.  I want elite teams that will play elite games.  The fallacy that one elite team means that there cannot be any team to challenge them is easily shown to be false.  Through much of the 90's and early 2000s there were at least two elite teams in the NHL that would face one another in exciting well played Stanley Cup finals.  It is a shame we cannot have that anymore.  That doesn't mean we don't get one-sided Stanley Cup finals.  We have one now in 2014 without any elite teams.  The entire attack laid out here is a big logical fallacy.  The NHL is better with elite teams.

It looks likely that the Los Angeles Kings will win their second Stanley Cup in three years.  In those two cup runs, they didn't finish above sixth in their conference.  They look to be as good a team as we are going to get in the NHL today.  They are a level below the elite teams of the past.  This Stanley Cup final is below the level of the finals of the past.  In fact it is below the level of any of the first three rounds that the Kings played.  The Kings were harder pressed against the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks than they will be in the finals by the New York Rangers.  If you make a good portion of your playoff series into long drawn out coin tosses, teams will advance that are not as good as those that fall in early rounds.  This is a forgettable Stanley Cup final between forgettable teams.  Los Angeles and New York may remember but why should the more general hockey fan?

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I agree. Obviously not the best two teams in the league in the finals. 2014 finals may be great for revenue, ratings but its a definitive anticlimax. I’m waiting for the draft.

Posted by Bay Area Wings fan on 06/09/14 at 10:21 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

Please, for once and for all, define “elite team.”

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 06/09/14 at 10:30 PM ET


i’m sorry, I just don’t understand your fixation with elite team status. What does that even mean? There are no elite teams in this league especially since the cap era and the difficulty trying to maintain the same team year after year. The key to success is finding way to defeat your opponent, having 3rd and 4th line players stepping up and scoring big goals or shutting down your opponents big guns, its about making adjustments and putting mistakes behind you. No one considered the Kings or Rangers to be the best teams in the league, but they took advantage of the their opportunities and, in the case of the Kings, they beat 3 of the “elite” teams in the league in terms of points earned and goals scored. Why? because the Kings do not give up and do not listen to ridiculous, inappropriate, and meaningless labels like “elite” that are put on teams like the Penguins, Sharks, and Ducks. Elite teams are the ones that adapt to their opponents and find ways to win despite.

Posted by scooter on 06/09/14 at 10:36 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar
This supposes that all we want from hockey games is for them to be long dramatic three hour coin tosses.  No team is better than the other.  Anyone can win.  It all comes down to which team is luckiest that day

This is the same thing which happens when two elite teams face off against one another.

I know that I am a pariah for stating that there are no elite teams in the NHL this year

That’s not actually why you’re a pariah.

In those two cup runs, they didn’t finish above sixth in their conference.

When exactly did you abandon the better predictive numbers for the sake of supporting your narrative? 5-on-5 Fenwick close has been a better predictor of cup winners than standings for seven years.  Guess where the Kings ranked there?

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/09/14 at 10:54 PM ET

awould's avatar

The entire attack laid out here is a big logical fallacy.

LOL, project much? Cherry pick one series that is going to go short and act like it refutes the argument. The sad thing is, I bet you were sitting there with a giant smile on your face as LA dominated this game because you thought it crushed the argument. It doesn’t. It rarely ever does. But don’t let that stop you from selectively picking and choosing whatever bits fit your bias.

It is a fact that less than 50% of the Finals match ups since the expansion era have gone 6 or more games. Lame. Just like the Bulls of the 90s, nobody wants to watch one team reach the Finals over and over. It may be good for Nike, but it’s not good for the sport. At least, not fans who want to watch competitive games. I’m not unhappy that the talent isn’t all stacked on one or two teams.

Broken record. Try enjoying the games as they come instead of worrying about how they stack up in your made up and meaningless ranking system.

Posted by awould on 06/09/14 at 10:58 PM ET

awould's avatar

When exactly did you abandon the better predictive numbers for the sake of supporting your narrative? 5-on-5 Fenwick close has been a better predictor of cup winners than standings for seven years.  Guess where the Kings ranked there?

Exactly. Selectively choosing what fits his argument that day. Cherry picking. There is no consistency, which is expected when it is couched completely in some weird irrational bias.

Posted by awould on 06/09/14 at 11:00 PM ET

Luongo-is-my-hero's avatar

the way i figure it is this, it’s like the only fat girl in a group of girls.  Her sole purpose is to make the other girls look better.

Posted by Luongo-is-my-hero on 06/10/14 at 01:16 AM ET

Chet's avatar

the WCF was the SCF. I NOW consider craig conroy elite.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 06/10/14 at 03:28 AM ET


So the Rangers were the better team in games 1 and 2, but this is still a one-sided series?

Posted by captaineclectic on 06/10/14 at 04:43 AM ET

RockWestfall711's avatar

In today’s cap era the Kings are clearly elite.  Three consecutive final fours and 1 win away from the 2nd cup in three years.  The Kings are the best and most elite team in the NHL by any standard because when the gun is to their head they simply don’t blink and rise to the occasion. 

This is the cap era of parity and 30 teams that can win if managed well.

Chicago would also have to be considered elite.  Perhaps Boston. 

The Kings were the better team in all 3 Cup Final games because they won and NYR was not good enough nor elite enough to FINISH. 

As a proponent of the Sun Belt strategy, growing the sport, and having parity of chance I think we are entering the golden glory years of the NHL and my Kings.

Too many whining Dead Wings fans here sulking that the glory days are over. 

It’s the Kings time now, get over it.

And when the analytics geeks come up with the metrics for measuring the ferocious heart of a champion, a refusal to die, a refusal to be eliminated, and a goaltender that gets better when staring at a gun barrel please copy and paste them for us.

Gordie Howe and the Original Six days with Montreal owning all the French players are done.  Buying Cups cannot be done any more. 

Its smarts and guts and ability.  It’s about truly growing the game.

My Kings RULE!  And the NHL has never been better.


Posted by RockWestfall711 from Las Vegas on 06/10/14 at 06:23 AM ET


RockWestfall, please don’t lump Red Wings fans in with PuckStopsHere.  Most of the other responses here are criticizing PuckStopsHere.  I’m not aware of a narrative among Wings fans denying that the Kings are an elite team and a worthy champion—and I’m pretty sure we were all rooting for you just a round back.

Further, the stat “geeks” you’re criticizing consistently place the Kings at or near the top of the league, because the Kings are excellent at the things that statistics say win hockey games.  That’s the point J.J. From Kansas makes above.

Posted by captaineclectic on 06/10/14 at 06:53 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Too many whining Dead Wings fans here sulking that the glory days are over.

Look, I’m sorry if you’ve got a bit of a complex because the best team in LA is also probably just barely above the Galaxy in terms of most-popular teams in LA, but it’s a pretty stupid observation to take one comment and spread that out to say that what we’ve got here are Detroit fans sulking about how their team has fallen out of elite.

Maybe you skipped over the part where I indicated that by a better predictive measurement than standings the Kings are the best team in the league?

Most of the Wings fans in this comments section are on your side, dipshit.


Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/10/14 at 07:01 AM ET


Your writing and analyses are so awful, I don’t even know where to begin ... wow.

Posted by jkm2011 on 06/10/14 at 07:55 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Through much of the 90’s and early 2000s there were at least two elite teams in the NHL that would face one another in exciting well played Stanley Cup finals.

Pens vs North Stars ‘91
Pens vs CHI ‘92
Montreal vs LA ‘93
NYR vs Van ‘94
COL vs FLA ‘96
Det vs Wash ‘‘98
Dallas vs Buf ‘99
Det vs Car ‘02
NJ vs ANA ‘03

All Stanley Cup Finals series during the era you mentioned, all series that did not feature 2 “elite” teams, some of them featuring none.

I think in this case nostalgia is making you blind, but that is still no excuse for you to keep writing these empty troll bait articles.  And I’m a little disappointed in the site for publishing them.

Posted by Hootinani from the parade following Babs out of town on 06/10/14 at 08:14 AM ET

silversailer's avatar

1. One of the reasons it seems there are no ‘elite’ teams is because of the loser point artificially padding the standings.

2. Maybe the best 2 teams aren’t in the Finals. Fine. If the best two teams are both in the same conference then there isn’t any way for them to both play in the Finals. Kings-Hawks can’t happen in the Finals. The TWO DET-PIT series could not have happened in the Finals with Det in the east now. You think two teams both making it to the Finals back to back is just an accident? They were better than everybody else. But those two series could have easily been ECF and not SCF. It’s simple geography.

3. Do you have any solutions to this ‘problem’? Do you want the PA to force the best FA to sign with only 4 teams? Only 4 teams are allowed to make trades and nobody is allowed to turn down their offers? Would you like the NHL to rig series so the ‘elite’ team wins? Not very elite if you need to cheat to make it all the way. What exactly do you want?

4. You’ve used the word ‘elite’ 40 times in 6 short posts (and I didn’t read the comments, there may be more). Just saying it over and over again isn’t going to make it true. Get over it.

Posted by silversailer on 06/10/14 at 08:34 AM ET


Hootinani I was thinking the same.  From 1995 to 1998 we had four consecutive Finals sweeps.  I guess PSH would argue that New Jersey, Detroit, and Colorado were not elite teams because they played in forgettable finals against mediocre opponents too—either that or he’d argue that 1995 Detroit, Florida, Philly, and Washington were elite teams studded with Hall of Famers, unlike those schmucks Kopitar, Quick, and Carter.

If I still had a hard-on for the dynasty Oilers after all these years?  I’d call my doctor.

Posted by captaineclectic on 06/10/14 at 09:04 AM ET


Guess where the Kings ranked there?


Is it sixth?

I bet it’s sixth.

Posted by Garth on 06/10/14 at 09:12 AM ET


LA was #1 in Fenwick close this season.  And last season.  And was #4 the year before that—which is misleading because I think they were far-and-away #1 after the midpoint of the season.

Chicago was #2 this year and last year, and #5 in 2012.

If it’s of general interest, Detroit was


That looks like a more precipitous fall than it really is, as the biggest difference between 2013 and 2014 was the injuries to Datsyuk and Zetterberg.  But losing Lidstrom has moved us out of the top tier.

Posted by captaineclectic on 06/10/14 at 09:23 AM ET


What a boring series, just as boring as seeing these two teams play in the regular season. Lets all do as the league wants us to and pretend this is as good as seeing some elite teams play.

Posted by Bay Area Wings fan on 06/10/14 at 11:09 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

The first two games were legitimately entertaining (something the author himself indicates in his previous posts).

Last night wasn’t so great, but let’s not pretend that teams which meet the subjective criteria for elite here never produce stinkers.  Hell, outside of Los Angeles’ failure to add a fourth goal to the scoreboard in the third period, this game was fairly similar to Game 6 in 2001 where Patrick Roy threw a 24-save shutout (making only 12 saves in the last 40 minutes of the game) against the Devils while his team scored 4 on 18 shots against Brodeur.

The good news about people who grumpily cling to the past while looking at it through gilded frames as though it were the ideal is that those people tend to shuffle off quicker than the people replacing them.

This isn’t the best series in the playoffs. Kings/Hawks was. The “elite era” saw plenty of times when the very best matchup of the playoffs happened before the Cup Final. Blame alignment for that.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/10/14 at 11:44 AM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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