It was pointed out the other night that if it ends up being a Rangers / Kings final, which so many people are hoping for, it will be just like 2004 when coaches Sutter and Tortorella matched up against each other with Calgary and Tampa. What was also pointed out is that in 2004 it was a CBA renewal year, like this year. It was a time when people had been complaining for a long time that the game had gotten too defensive, so the Competition Committee got together and tweaked the rules to encourgae offense.
To say the first couple rounds of the playoffs have been surprising would be an understatement. Only two top-4 seeds remain, and one of them is Phoenix who is not really the 3rd best regular season team in the West. Parity is in full effect and while some consider the Kings run to be an upset, you only have to go back to last summer and everyone said they were a contender in the West this year. They just took a while to come around, and it doesn't hurt having a Daryl Sutter defensive system.
But look at how many teams have won playoff series' by getting outshot and relying on a hot goalie: Nashville, Phoenix (x2), New York (against Ottawa), Washington, Los Angeles. It could just be an anomoly, but this season the teams who focus on defense and a hot goalie are beating the more openly offensive teams that have had success since the lockout. As one pundit put it, you play defense in the NHL now by blocking shots. The Rangers play in their own end seems to be to play like it's a PK and just block shots until they can get a break and move it to the other end. Personally, I haven't liked these playoffs as much because of teams like this succeeding... or even being as prevelant as they are. Too many goals are flukes... like a pin ball going through 3 players trying to block the shot. Nothing you can do about it I guess, except make the players wear less gear. That'll be the day... and I don't mind one hot goalie stealing a series now and then but this is getting ridiculous.
Here's hoping that if we see another Sutter vs. Tortorella final that we won't go 15 months without seeing hockey again.
Posted on May 14, 2012, 4:39 PM from IP address 188.8.131.52