The worst Stanley Cup Finals in more than 20 years? That is what the Winnipeg Sun thinks of the 2012 finals between the New Jersey Devils and the Los Angeles Kings. Oh, really? That sounds like a whole lot of sour grapes from here.
Opines the Sun:
Congratulations, everybody! We have the worst Stanley Cup final in more than 20 years!
That’s only technically speaking, of course, as New Jersey and Los Angeles should be solid entertainment.
But when the Devils beat the New York Rangers 3-2 in overtime on Friday night to set up a date with the Kings, it meant the ninth and 13th overall teams from the regular season will battle it out for the right to hoist Lord Stanley’s mug.
New Jersey was ninth overall and the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Kings were 13th overall and eighth in the Western Conference. Their regular-season placings total 22. The only higher sum was in 1991, when the No. 7 Pittsburgh Penguins beat the No. 16 Minnesota North Stars.
You know what I say to that? Too bad.
Sorry that the top-seed New York Rangers or second-seeded Boston Bruins did not qualify for the Finals out of the Eastern Conference. Or that the top two seeds in the Western Conference, the Vancouver Canucks or St. Louis Blues, aren't representing that side.
In case you haven't noticed, this is how sports are now. Regular-season dominance, rightly or wrongly, means absolutely nothing. Nada. Zip. Forget about it. All that matters is getting to the playoffs, where any team with the right pieces that gets hot for a few weeks can become champions.
Ask the St. Louis Cardinals, who qualified for the 2011 MLB Playoffs as a wild-card team and then went on to win the World Series. How about the New York Giants? They went 9-7 and had to win their final regular-season game to get into the playoffs. They won the Super Bowl.
Love it or hate it, this is what you get with the ever-expanding playoffs. There is no more going straight to the World Series or Stanley Cup Finals if you have the best record. There is a loooong playoff gauntlet, and there is no putting the expanded playoff genie back in the bottle.
In the end, both of these teams earned the right to be in the Finals. You have fabulous goaltenders in Jonathan Quick of the Kings and Martin Brodeur of the Devils. It should be a great series.
Is it the one you thought you would get when the playoffs began? No. It simply reinforces how unpredictable sports are nowadays. Sorry, folks. You don't have to like it. You do have to deal with it.