NHL Week in Review (May 27 – June 7)

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The Stanley Cup finals this year was one of the least anticipated finals in recent years as the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings did not excite many people. The matchup had only happened once this year and there was very little history between them. Series tend to be more exciting when the teams know each other and have a history because the players have that little extra motivation to win. This and the fact that both teams are not in the most traditional of markets, the Devils are a traditional market but are not an Original Six team, made many believe that the series would be boring. It was the talk of the series that these teams would not put on the best show for all of the fans. Many people said that the first game was the proof for this as they claimed Game 1 was a boring game. Granted Game 1 was not the most exciting game in playoff history but any game that goes to overtime is more exciting than most games. The fact that there were only 3 goals should not factor in to how exciting the game is. The game could have been 10-0 for Los Angeles giving everyone the offence that they wanted but would that actually have been a more exciting game? The theory that more offence makes every game more exciting has some truth to it but the game needs to be close. A 6-5 game is much better than an 11-0 game because there is a back and forth and both teams are playing a close game. Games that are close with some action are exciting despite how many goals are scored and the fact that many people continue to say that Game 1 was boring makes no sense. There were chances and hits, great saves and some great shots that all made Game 1 a good game. It was not the best game like I said before but it was not a terrible game. The 2-1 score made it a close game that was back and forth with the final goal coming on a great play by Anze Kopitar. Game 2 continued the tradition although with both teams getting to know each other a bit more they seemed to up the intensity. There were more vicious hits and some great goals that made the game better than Game 1. Again the game ended in a 2-1 win for the Los Angeles Kings in overtime as they took the first two games. This is trouble for the Devils as they have lost their home ice advantage, even though it was a little quite in Newark, as they now go to the west coast in a bad situation. Of course there is precedent for the Devils to hold on to as last year the Boston Bruins went down two games and came back to win the series. The difference this year is that the Bruins went down two games and then got to go home to start the comeback while the Devils will have to do it in L.A. Overall the first two games have shown that the Kings are clearly the better team right now as they have been all over the Devils in both games. The Devils have had their chances and their moments but when they do break through Jonathan Quick is there to stand tall. The Devils are not completely out of it though as Martin Brodeur has played almost as well as Quick and is the only reason that the Kings are not winning by larger scores. There is some promise for the Devils with Brodeur and the fact that there have been long periods that they have looked like the better team by far. Now it is just a matter of getting past Quick and starting to climb back into the series before they go down 3-0 and have very little hope of coming back. There is plenty of hockey to play in the Finals and the Devils will do all they can to get back but right now the Kings are in control and looking towards a potential sweep to win their first Stanley Cup.

Throughout the playoffs much of the focus has been on the games while the rest of the NHL continues to turn as they get ready for a rocky offseason. This year marks the last year of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that was signed after a strike ended the 2005-06 NHL season. With the CBA expiring soon after the NHL draft discussions will begin soon after the Finals are done. The first step in the bargaining process happened this past week as the General Mangers met in New York and Gary Bettman held the State of the NHL press conference in the midst of the meetings. Bettman invited new NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr to listen to the press conference about the state of the NHL and the franchises in the NHL. It was the first step in the extremely political process of negotiating a new CBA with a number of contentious points. One of the biggest points will be that the NHL would like to take more percentage of the NHL revenue from the players. This will cause the most friction as in the last negotiation the players gave up a good amount of this revenue to end the strike. The NHLPA will likely not want to give up any more in this bout of negotiations which could threaten another NHL season. The negotiations are almost ready to take place as the NHL and NHLPA continue to talk about the new CBA in hopes that they do not eat in to another NHL season that some teams may not survive. There will be a lot of negotiation and a lot of issues that both sides will debate and at the end of the Finals it will all come to a head in the beginning of an uneasy offseason.

 

Stanley Cup Finals

New Jersey Devils 0 – 2 Los Angeles Kings

Game 1: LAK 2 – 1 NJD (OT)

Game 2: LAK 2 – 1 NJD (OT)

Game 3: NJD @ LAK (Monday June 4th; 8:00 pm)

Game 4: NJD @ LAK (Wednesday June 6th; 8:00 pm)

Game 5: LAK @ NJD (Saturday June 9th; 8:00 pm)

Game 6: NJD @ LAK (Monday June 11th; 8:00 pm)

Game 7: LAK @ NJD (Wednesday June 13th; 8:00 pm)

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