There’s a saying that the hockey gods are the fairest gods of them all, bestowing victory on the hardest-working and most deserving team in the majority of contests. I’d say that was definitely the case in the Cup finals this year. The Bruins were by far the better team in this weird, weird series. It wasn’t really possible to watch any of the games in Boston (or game seven for that matter) and feel as though Vancouver deserved to win a championship.
Championships are for teams that play their best under adversity, with their backs against the wall. Boston did this all throughout the playoffs, winning three game sevens on their way to hoisting the cup. Vancouver on the other hand went into full trainwreck mode immediately after every time they gave up the first goal in this series. 1-0, and the world was ending. Not good.
I guess the winning game 7 against Chicago after blowing a 3-0 series lead might count as “overcoming adversity” for the Canucks. but if it does (and i have my doubts), that’s the only time it happened during their entire run this year.
It’s a common story: Hyper-talented team cruises through the regular season outclassing everyone they play, then crumbles when another team starts to get the upper hand on them in the playoffs. The Sharks have been pulling this trick for years and to be honest Vancouver was fortunate to draw them in the conference finals.
Take the Sabres teams of 2005-06 and 2006-07 for instance. The 2005 team, picked by everyone and their mother to finish near the bottom of the conference that year, ended up scrapping their way to a four seed. They were perhaps the most impressive team in the playoffs that year, finding a myriad of ways to win on their way to a meeting with Carolina in the conference finals, where the aforementioned hockey gods saw it fit to punish the team, striking down four of their top six defensemen to injury. ‘Canes in seven.
(Said gods also saw it fit that Edmonton goalie Dwayne Roloson, in the midst of a Patrick-Roy-channeling playoff run in which he’d basically carried the Oilers to the final on his back, should be lost for the cup finals to an injury suffered in the first game. ‘Canes in seven. Grumble.)
In contrast, the 2006 team cruised through the regular season, making it through their first thirteen game before losing and outscoring their foes by about 8 million goals. Won the President’s Trophy. And though they again made it to the conference finals, they went out with a whimper, succumbing to Ottawa in five games.
Seven out of the last twenty-five President’s Trophy winners have ended up winning the Cup at the end of the year. Fifteen of them never even made the finals. Hockey’s a weird sport sometimes.
I’m not really sure what exactly this blog is going to be yet. I’m a Buffalo fan first and foremost so a lot of this writing will likely be focused on the trials of the Bills and Sabres, neither of whom play any games whatsoever until September (at the earliest). So until then: Unfocused rants. The summer of filler!