by PuckStopsHere on 06/12/12 at 12:26 AM ET
The Los Angeles Kings have won the Stanley Cup. It’s hard to think they are actually the best team in the league. They qualified for the playoffs with two days left in the regular season. They are the lowest seed ever to win the Stanley Cup at eighth seed - previously it had never been a lower seed than the fifth. This is a playoff year where anybody who made the playoffs could win ... and they did. I predicted the final correctly giving me a poor 6-9 record in my playoff predictions but this wasn’t a year when anyone did well. There was no good team. The series were coin tosses where this year the lower seeds survived. Here are my first round predictions, here are my second round predictions and here are my semi-final predictions.
We finally found a way to open up a game in this cautious defensive series. Penalties did it. Los Angeles had a 3-0 lead after scoring three power play goals on the five minute Steve Bernier boarding penalty. After that the game was out of hand. The teams traded second period goals and then Los Angeles got too more garbage goals at the end of the game - one in an empty net and one more just after Martin Brodeur returned to the New Jersey net. The final score was 6-1 which makes it by far the biggest offensive game in a poor series.
Congratulations to the Los Angeles Kings and their fans. It is a shame that in five or ten years fans outside of California will have trouble remembering who won the cup in 2012. This was not a memorable year. Parity has removed the elite teams and as a result these more average teams like Los Angeles win the Stanley Cup. I doubt they make much of a run next season.
Jonathan Quick is the story of the playoffs. He is the Conn Smythe Trophy winner. He has been the best goalie in the league over the past two months. The playoffs were a defensive scheme-fest. Nobody had faith in their offence so the successful teams shut the game down and played low event, more boring games. The team with the best goalie survived which is what you would expect if nobody tried to win with their offence.
The end of the season is a time to look back on the year and see how it will be remembered. It is likely the end of an era. The CBA is ending and I predict the next season does not start on time. I predict some changes in the next CBA will create a new era that begins after that.
This CBA has been one of parity. It was not always clear that it would go that way. Anaheim managed to build an elite Stanley Cup winner before other teams caught onto the CBA. Detroit had the best regular season record and won a cup. They did this with a team that built its core before the CBA began. It will be interesting to see if they can build it again now that Nicklas Lidstrom has retired. It started off with a weak cup winner in Carolina - who may be the weakest cup winner to date. They have only made the playoffs once since their 2006 cup win and I think Los Angeles should fare better than that. Young teams in Pittsburgh and Chicago won but they won before they were ready to be the elite teams they would have been in earlier CBAs and neither have had the chance to grow as they otherwise would have. The last two cups were won by the best goalie in the playoffs in Boston and Los Angeles. Neither was the best team in the league at the time.
Early in the CBA it looked clear that Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby would dominate and they did, but their dominance is waning. Crosby has missed a lot of time with concussions. His longevity is definitely in question. Ovechkin has not played at his past level either and it is harder to find a clear reason for that. It looked as though Evgeni Malkin might make it a big three, but after his 2009 Art Ross he had injury problems and was dropped from consideration at that level. He is back and might be the best player in the league right now.
I am hoping that a new CBA somehow allows for elite teams again. That isn’t a priority in the NHL - their only priority is money. If it happens it will be an inadvertent thing. I miss the great Stanley Cup finals we used to see between good teams. We haven’t seen them in years. It is the biggest negative in the NHL today from the perspective of a fan.
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