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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Stanley Cup Update    

Through two games, this has been one of the most dramatic Stanley Cup finals in recent memory.

Neither the Sens nor the Ducks is a "cinderella" team, like the Oilers last year, the Flames three years ago, and these same Ducks in 2003.  They aren't in the finals thanks to a hot goalie playing out of his mind, or in spite of overachieving skaters who will soon revert to mediocrity.  These are two legitimately formidable teams.  Not a marquee matchup, but still a legitimate battle of the titans.

The finalists are matched as evenly as can be... a face-off of complementary strengths.  Ottawa sends the #1 scoring line in hockey up against not just the #1 checking line in hockey but the #1 defensive pair in hockey (Project Norris) as well.  A flock of young Anaheim forwards (Getzlaf, Penner, McDonald) against Ottawa's collection of wily veteran checkers (McAmmond, Neil, Schaefer) and shutdown defensemen (Phillips, Volchenkov, Redden).

So far, those strengths have cancelled each other out in their entireties.  Save for a nifty goal from Ryan Getzlaf in Game 1, the scoring lines on both sides have been neutralized.  Anaheim's had many more chances, but the puck's not finding its way into the net.  As a result, both games have been decided late in the 3rd period, and both have required checking line heroes Travis Moen and Sami Pahlsson to score the game-winning goals for Anaheim.

Two perfect NHL playoff games out of two.  The only thing better would have been overtime, and it's safe to assume we'll see an overtime at some point in the next week.  From a dramatic and competitive standpoint, this series has been a godsend.

Of course, nobody's watching, nobody realizes they're not watching, and nobody cares when they do realize it.  Despite having a product that puts the NBA playoffs to shame in every category, the Stanley Cup Finals is totally irrelevant to the average person.  Thank you, Versus... for not carrying a single game the rest of the way.  Good riddance for another four months.

But I come to praise Caesar, not to bury him.  The Finals are on NBC from here on out.  Another win for Anaheim would basically end the series, but I expect Ottawa, in front of a completely bonkers hockey crowd, to send a message in Game 3.  Should be good...

5 Comments:

  • What is this HOCKEY you speak of? Is that the thing with the dogs?

    By Blogger Alex, at 1:12 PM  

  • "No,it's that thing with the two chicks whaling on each other"

    "You mean foxy boxing?"

    "Yes! THAT'S what I wanted"

    By Blogger chas, at 1:48 PM  

  • Congratulations! You guys just wrote yourselves out of the "acknowledgements" section of my new hockey book, Join The Dark Side, Ya Knob: Why Hockey's Awesome, Even Though Gary Bettman Is An Incompetent Cumbucketing Queafgoblin. I'll still send you signed copies, however. So long as you pay for them.

    I take it that neither of you will care much that Chris Chelios just won an award for leadership? This is the same dirty, cheating prick who was last seen refusing to join the handshake line after losing to Anaheim... then stating later that not only wouldn't he apologize but that he'd explained to his kids why what he'd done was OK. Yeah, a real lead-by-example kinda guy. What a scumbag.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 2:11 PM  

  • Actually, I like hockey a lot, particularly playoff hockey. Too bad the games haven't been on a bigger network yet, like MSG or My9.

    By Blogger chas, at 4:40 PM  

  • The issue of the NHL's severe lack of television exposure, and the complete bungling of NHL television exposure in exchange for guaranteed cash from the Versus network, is fertile ground for a future Crazy Jeff post. More fertile than Tom Brady.

    For the moment, let's just say the following:

    1) The hand-wringing over Stanley Cup ratings is so utterly pointless that the numbers shouldn't be mentioned at all, let alone taken seriously when they are. It is 100% a function of access to/awareness of Versus. It is in NO WAY WHATSOEVER a gauge of fan interest. The story of the post-lockout NHL has been willing fans who are unable to follow their league. Visibility breeds interest. Versus is invisible. Put the games back on ESPN, and watch those ratings double or triple without batting an eyelash.

    2) The NHL needs to be the first league to make the internet its primary manner of content delivery. Start up NHL.TV. Air a nightly highlight program as a video podcast. Broadcast an internet-only Game Of The Night, with a dedicated broadcast team. It can be exactly what a hypothetical "NHL Network" would lok like, but strictly internet-based. Get ahead of the other leagues in that direction, THEN worry about cable once the NHL has its edges sharp again.

    3) Stop with the idiotic blackout restrictions. Anaheim and Buffalo lost a great many popular local airings thanks to Versus' idiotic insistence on having an exclusive broadcast window. The NHL cannot afford to get tied up in this political bullshit. It needs too desperately to get its broadcasts onto the air in as many ways and places as possible.

    4) Gary Bettman should be fired, TONIGHT, for presiding over the failures detailed in points 1-3.

    I may build this out more fully at a later date. For now, suffice it to say that the NHL is being driven into the ground by Gary Bettman and the owners. I think there's roughly a 10% chance that the NHL will fold in the next 10 years. That will be absolutely tragic, but it's a very real possibility if they don't do something soon.

    By Blogger Jeff, at 5:33 PM  

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