by PuckStopsHere on 05/25/10 at 12:16 PM ET
My third round predictions did not go well as i was 0-2. When combined with my first round and second round predictions, this drops my record to 7-7. I have been as good as a fair coin in predicting the winners. When I look for other predictions on the internet, I find that I am not doing much worse (and in some cases am doing better) than anyone else is. Nobody has successfully predicted a large percentage of series this year as far as I can tell. Which is the way Gary Bettman wants it.
In the ideal Gary Bettman “parity” league there are 30 teams that are essentially interchangeable (“McHockey franchises”). On any given day, any one can beat any other. The games are perfect for Las Vegas oddsmakers, as they are essentially long dramatic coin tosses. This makes the NHL gambling friendly and gives fans the idea that their team is never out of the race (as they are no worse or better than any other team in the league).
While the NHL is not there yet, these playoffs show that they have had some success in getting to that goal. In the finals, we have a Philadelphia Flyer team that finished 18th overall. They should not have even made the playoffs (as only 16 teams do). They owe their playoff berth to playing in a weak East Conference. Their opponent is the Chicago Blackhawks. This team is one of the better teams in the NHL (though I would argue there are a couple better teams that have not made it through the parity-filled playoffs). They are a plausible Stanley Cup champion in the era of no elite teams. They are a team that win or lose will have to begin getting broken up next year thanks to the salary cap. That is a shame because it is clear that this team will be better in a few years when Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane reach their late 20’s. The problem is this team won’t exits in its current form at that point. A potential elite team of the future will be broken up before that can happen.
At any rate, I am predicting Chicago Blackhawks defeat Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup final. It has been clear for a while that the West Conference is significantly better than the East Conference. Chicago is one of the better West teams and Philadelphia is among the weakest East playoff teams.
I think this year’s playoffs are a good case study in the loss of potential fan excitement due to the lack of elite teams in the NHL. It is clear that one of the finalists (Philadelphia) is so far below elite level that almost everyone is predicting Chicago to win the cup. It is almost a foregone conclusion (the NHL’s attempt at parity may keep it close - but the Flyers need five-times waived goalie Michael Leighton to continue playing over his head and that is unlikely). The semi-finals slowed down the momentum of the playoffs. They were over too quickly. Chicago and San Jose was a good match up (it is likely the de facto Stanley Cup championship) and most of the games were close, but Chicago swept. The Philadelphia vs. Montreal series was over in five games and it was between two teams that could not have made the playoffs if they played in the West Conference Now the league sits dormant for the better part of a week before the finals begin and the finals are not a particularly interesting series. Nobody expects much from the Philadelphia Flyers and that kills much of the drama.
Will there be exciting games? Probably. Will it be as good as it could have and should have been? This answer is an almost guaranteed no. The lack of elite teams in the NHL hurts the quality of the Stanley Cup finals.
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