The Conference Finals Are Set
After New York beat Washington in Game 7 last night, the final four teams left in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs are set. The #1 seed New York Rangers will face the #6 seed New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference and the #3 seed Phoenix Coyotes will face the #8 seed Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference. You can get the whole schedule here. The Western Conference Finals start on Sunday with a game in Phoenix at 8pm EST on NBCSports so celebrate with your Mom and watch some hockey later or watch it with your Hockey Mom!
The greatest thing about the Conference Finals is there’s a game every night. Starting tonight, the games go through May 27th, if each series goes seven games, and they alternate between the Western and Eastern Conferences with Friday, May 18th being the only day when there’s not a game in either conference. The National Hockey League even gave you Friday night off! WOW! That NHL, they’re pretty nice huh?
So, who’s moving on to battle for the Cup?
Well, let’s see how far the contenders have come. The Phoenix Coyotes are having their most successful season in franchise history. Even when they were the Winnipeg Jets, the franchise never made it past the 2nd round of the playoffs, at least as a member of the NHL. That’s what happens when you’re in the same division as the Oiler dynasty and Wayne Gretzky.* The Coyotes seem to have found something that’s working this season. They have never won the Cup and have never made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
*Isn’t it ironic that Wayne Gretzky ended up coaching the Phoenix Coyotes for four seasons and they missed the playoffs in every one of those seasons? It’s like he was still keeping them from the playoffs. A little too ironic, don’t you think? I bet that’s what Alanis thinks. The greatest hockey player ever to play the game and he couldn’t make the playoffs once as a coach in four seasons. There’s a big difference between playing and coaching. A coach can only control so much. He’s still the Great One no matter what!
The Los Angeles Kings haven’t been past the 2nd round since all the way back to the 1992-93 season when Wayne Gretzky (there’s that Gretzky guy again! Geez!) led them to the Stanley Cup Finals only to lose to the Montreal Canadiens in 5 games. As the #8 seed, I’m sure nobody was expecting them to make it to the Western Conference Finals or at least nobody outside of Los Angeles. They defeated the #1 seed Vancouver Canucks in 5 games and took care of the #2 seed St. Louis Blues with a broom, sweeping the series in 4 games. The Los Angeles Kings have lost only one game in the playoffs (8-1 overall), haven’t lost on the road and obviously could care less if they’re playing a higher seed. That’s a good mindset to have as the lowest seed still in the playoffs. They’ve never won a Stanley Cup! They’ve made the Stanley Cup Finals once in the aforementioned ’92-’93 season.
The New York Rangers are the highest seed left in the playoffs as the #1 seed in the East and the #1 overall seed as the President’s Trophy winner with the best overall record in the regular season. I’m not sure if that means anything in the playoffs. They’ve been pushed to 7 games in both rounds. A bounce here or a turnover there and we could be looking at Ottawa or Washington in the Eastern Conference Finals! The Rangers still got it done and are the team with home ice throughout the playoffs. It only gets more difficult as the team(s) they will face now should be better than the teams they faced in the first two rounds. Can they continue to get it done?
The New York Rangers haven’t won or played for the Stanley Cup since 1993-94 when they beat Pavel Bure and the Vancouver Canucks for their 4th Stanley Cup! The Rangers have been in the Stanley Cup Finals 10 times in their history, winning 4 times and losing 6! 9 of those appearances were between 1927 & 1979. The last time they did win the Cup, they were also the President’s Trophy winner and also faced the New Jersey Devils in the Conference Finals so there’s that to hang your hat on if you’re a Ranger fan.
The New Jersey Devils round out the final four teams vying for the Cup of Lord Stanley in 2012! The New Jersey Devils have rebounded from last season’s below .500 finish to be the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference. 2010-11 was the first season since 1995-96 that the Devils had less than 40 wins in the regular season. 1995-96 was also the year after the New Jersey Devils won their first Stanley Cup (1994-95), when they took advantage of the NHL regular season being shortened to 48 games due to a lockout by the owners. They would go on to win 2 more Stanley Cups in 2000 and 2003 and also lost in the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals to the Colorado Avalanche. Is this season a return of the Devils? Did they even go anywhere to begin with?
We have a #1 seed, a #3 seed, a #6 seed and a #8 seed and the #8 seed has the least amount of losses with one and the #1 seed has the most losses with six! How on earth are we supposed to predict the winner out of that? Be honest, how many people picked any of these teams (other than the Rangers) to be here? I picked the Penguins and the Predators for the Finals. I’m sure after the Penguins were manhandled by the Flyers, nobody picked the Devils to beat them in 5 games and how many expected a #8 seeded team to plow through a #1 and #2 seed like the Kings have. It’s probably not a huge surprise that the Coyotes are here since they had home ice but they probably weren’t a trendy pick to get to the conference finals either.
With all that being said, I’m going with the Los Angeles Kings just because they’ve been playing playoff hockey basically since the end of February and they have not changed how they’ve played since then. They have the stud goalie and plenty of star players to score big goals to get them the Cup! I’ll go with the New Jersey Devils in the East with the Los Angeles Kings coming out on top with the Stanley Cup! Martin Brodeur will pass the torch over to Jonathan Quick.
Wild Draft Picks!
When the New Jersey Devils clinched their berth into the Eastern Conference Finals, the Minnesota Wild received a 2013 3rd round draft pick as conditional part of the Marek Zidlicky trade! That trade ends up reading:
The Minnesota Wild traded D Marek Zidlicky to New Jersey for D Kurtis Foster, F Nick Palmieri, F Stephane Veilleux, a 2nd Round Pick (2012) and a 3rd Round Pick (2013) – WOW! You could argue that Foster and Veilleux were throw-ins because their contracts expired after the regular season and they probably won’t be brought back although I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing the Wild bring back Veilleux. Even if you take both those players out, you still get Palmieri and 2 draft picks! That’s quite the haul for a player that kind of forced his way out of Minnesota with bad play and a bad attitude! Chuck Fletcher RULES!
Will that draft pick help in a future trade? Extra draft picks are like cash to General Managers and they use them to move up in the draft or as a little extra to get a trade done. Maybe that draft pick will turn out to be another Cal Clutterbuck, who was drafted in the 3rd round in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. I’d be okay with that. The site is called ClutterPuck after all!
Bring The CLUTTER! EVERY DAY! EVERY GAME!
You’ve been CLUTTERPUCKED!
‘PUCKIN’ In The State of Hockey!