Back in March, fellow SportsBlogMovement member Ryan Meehan and I did a Blast-Cast about the Chicago BlackHawks in which the premise was the team which wins the President’s Cup (the team with the best regular season record) rarely wins the Stanley Cup.
Yeah, about that…
That’s the big difference between us and the turd flumes at ESPN. We will actually admit when we gagged on a prediction harder than Jenna Jameson at her first audition.
At the time, Chicago looked like a lock to win the President’s Cup, which they did. But they also took Lord Stanley’s Cup, which we were betting against. So, while Meehan and I are trying to make this month’s house payment pulling double-duty at the plasma center when we aren’t trolling roadsides for recyclable cans, take a look at what we got right, and more importantly, what we got wrong.
What We Got Right:
1) “If the BlackHawks make the Stanley Cup Final, they are going to win, because nobody in the east is really that good.”
What you have to remember is that at the time we did the Blast-Cast back in March, The BlackHawks were leaving the Western Conference in their wake, and the Eastern Conference Standings looked like this:
- New Jersey
Boston wasn’t on anybody’s radar until goalie Tuukka Rask got hotter than Al Roker’s underarm fat in a Greek fisherman’s sweater. Anybody who thought Carolina or Montreal would go deep in this tournament probably had visible spots where their electro-shock patches were attached. This meant the Penguins band wagon was getting more riders than a rush-hour ox in Calcutta. That band wagon got more overloaded than Kim Kardashian’s maternity ass-lifter panties once Pittsburgh acquired Jarome Iginla.
The Penguins then went 15-0 in March, storming to the top of the Eastern heap, and for a time looked like they might wrest the President’s Cup out of Chicago’s clutch. In the playoffs, Pittsburgh struggled with the Islanders and the Senators, then quickly adjourned the Senators. But in the Conference Finals, the Pens got Tuukka-ed.
Really, what Boston accomplished in the post-season was to win $50 off Penn and Teller, who dared the Bruins they couldn’t create the illusion of Toronto as a real play-off team. Then, by getting John Tortorella fired by the Rangers, the Bruins allowed him to get a better job.
To be honest, the Bruins played well against Chicago, especially in the first three games. But then came the last two minutes of Game 6, when their defense disappeared faster than Aaron Hernandez’ alibi.
2) Why The Wild Couldn’t Beat Them
We never trusted the Wild, but especially not a Wild team with such a lackluster offense that it couldn’t score in a women’s prison if it had a fist full of keys. Minnesota also didn’t have a defense good enough to carry that lack of offense, and couldn’t win on the road.
3) Why The Red Wings Couldn’t Beat Them
This one is all Meehan, because he was the only person outside of Detroit who thought the Wings could even make the play-offs, let alone win a series and take the BlackHawks to 7 games. I think he guessed this right because he secretly liked all those old commie bastard Red Wings of the 90s.
4) Why the Kings Couldn’t Beat Them
The fact the Kings made it to the Conference Finals is a minor miracle, considering they had the scoring capacity of an Amish mouth-breather at the Playboy mansion. We knew that lack of offense would be deadlier to the Kings than Henry VII was to his wives.
What We Got Wrong:
1) The Los Angeles Kings
The earlier comments about the Kings should make it pretty obvious we gave the Kings as much chance to advance in the playoffs as a Christian Scientist with a severed artery. As a Kings fan, saying that pained me as much as dropping my balls into a deep-fryer, and being wrong about it felt as dipping them in ice cream afterward…not that I’ve tried that, mind you. However, we still missed on the Kings’ keying off Jonathan Quick to beat Chicago, which also meant the Kings never found an answer to their scoring problems, which made us more wrong about them than the dipshits who changed Coke and the “Cold Fusion” eggheads combined.
2) The Anaheim Ducks
Here’s a team we both thought was going to roll through the Western Conference playoffs like the Red Army rolled through Prague in 1968. The Ducks have one of thickest rosters in hockey, with Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, and of course veteran winger Teemu Selanne, even though he is older than the Peter, Paul, and Mary special PBS uses when they are conning aging hippies into buying a coffee mug for $150 by calling it a “donation” to the only TV channel that gets $12 bazillion in taxpayer money.
Let’s face it. If you like Peter, Paul, And Mary, and you’ve read this far, you are an anomaly, or you have a blogger-level drinking problem. In other words, even if you don’t follow hockey, you more than likely saw winning Anaheim scores on the ESPN score crawl while you were channel-surfing away from the commercials PBS “doesn’t have,” or while you were rolling another “Puff, The Magic Dragon.”
If you follow hockey, then you know why we thought for sure Anaheim would be the team from the West competing for the Stanley Cup; at times they were first in power play percentage, third in goals per game, and swept the regular season series with Chicago.
In other words, buying into the Ducks was a “How fucking much did I spend on for a PBS tote bag?” level mistake.
3) The BlackHawks Themselves
It’s a legitimate criticism to say a team is vulnerable to beating itself. It was easy to fall in love with the likes of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, the star power that shines so bright it hides the ugly facts we thought would keep the BlackHawks from getting out of the West.
The Chicago penalty kill was shakier than Lindsay Lohan on day three at the rehab center, the goaltending had stretches where it was more suspect O.J. Simpson in a slow-moving Bronco, and I kept worrying that the injury bug was going to bite them harder than a hooker with a poorly-repressed gag reflex.
I thought it was a safe bet that one of those things would be the BlackHawks downfall, and while those things certainly reared their ugly heads, they never rose to the heights needed to take this team out of a series.
Where This Leaves Us:
Don’t look now, but not only are the BlackHawks good now, they could be very good for a while. If there’s a team in American professional sports that has the best chance to achieve the “dynasty” status we love to toss about, it sure as shit isn’t LeBron and the South Beach Douchebags. It is the BlackHawks.
This championship, Chicagos’s second in the last four seasons, could very well be the bellweather of a new era. After the last Cup victory in 2010, the salary cap demons forced a “Willie Nelson meets the IRS” style sell-off of that team.
But this time around, Chicago has a far more manageable salary cap situation, which offers the possibility of a future glowing brighter than a firefighter at Chernobyl. Like I said before, the BlackHawks have arguably the best core of talent in the NHL, they have a deep and versatile roster, and a first-rate coaching staff. I’m still not sold on the goaltending situation, but Chicago clearly has a renewed emphasis on team defense, and when you add it all up, the sub-total is that this team appears shows all the signs of being a factor in the NHL for a period of time almost as long as the time people will question your sexual preference if you buy a Prius.
If you doubt that, consider the off-ice factors. the BlackHawks have proven they can scout talent, draft talent, and develop talent better than this commercial can give you the wrong idea.
Not only does the current Chicago club exemplify that, but the pipeline of talent (which includes 2013 Hobey Baker winner Drew LeBlanc) is fuller than Louie Anderson at a Brazilian steakhouse. On top of that, Chicago has become as desirable an address for free-agents as Argentina was in 1946 for goose-stepping guys named Dieter. This was a major factor in Chicago’s landing the highly sought-after Finnish goalie Antti Raanta, which backs up my theory that the BlackHawks are as confident as I am in their goaltending situation. I trust the current Chicago goalies about as much as I would count on a dentist who sells miniature ivory statues.
Boil it all down to gravy, and what you get that the color of dominance in the NHL used to be red worn by a bunch of ex-commies in Detroit. Now it may very well be red worn by a bunch of Canadians in Chicago.