Getty ImagesHello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
The thing that's great about the Stanley Cup Playoffs is that any team can knock off any other one, regardless of seeding or apparent quality. A seven-game series is short, obviously, but it seems as though the NHL produces more postseason upsets on a regular basis than baseball, basketball or football.
But this year, I don't care about any of that. I want the favorites to lay waste to the competition with displays of power both horrible and impressive, so that they can meet for what could be the most entertaining Cup Final in years. The Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins are the runaway best teams in the League this year and with good reason: They're deep everywhere and very, very good at everything. Playing each other for the best trophy in sports would produce by far the most attractive hockey in these playoffs.
Just think about it: Both teams' first two lines might be the best top-six groups in the sport, with the Penguins having bolstered theirs at the deadline, and the Blackhawks having entered the season with theirs. They're just so deep up front. Pittsburgh has 11 players with 20 or more points this season; Chicago nine. Their D corps are likewise both very deep, though you'd probably prefer to have Joel Quenneville's guys than Dan Bylsma's.
In net, Corey Crawford's numbers obviously stand out this season, but it wasn't so long ago that his save percentage was below league average, and that leads one to suspect he's more or less at Marc-Andre Fleury's level overall, which is to say slightly above average.
I understand that it's not fun to root for the clear No. 1 seeds who were the only teams to break 70 points in the standings, but they're the heavy favorites for a reason. Pummeling eight- and five-seeds and four-seeds isn't the most exciting path to the Final, and all the romanticizing of the underdog story from the Kings last season shows exactly why. But when you don't have a rooting interest, fans should want to see the most interesting hockey possible, and Blackhawks/Penguins is most certainly that. I'm willing to sit through a mediocre, unsurprising first three rounds if the Final is a classic.
A fully operational Penguins team taking on the Presidents' Trophy-winning Blackhawks are all anyone should ever want or need out of these playoffs, because it would be absolutely gorgeous.Read More »from What We Learned: Want fun hockey? Play favorites in Stanley Cup Playoffs