Tuesday, June 25, 2013

An Incredible End to An Incredible Season

Best Newspaper Cover I've Seen in Awhile
Unfortunately last night was the end of the National Hockey League season as the Chicago Blackhawks stunned the Bruins in the final two minutes of third period with two quick goals, thus capturing another Stanley Cup. Patrick Kane won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP, making it the third straight American to win the award and only 4th overall.

The end of the game was a microcosm of the entire season as things went from pretty bleak and surely another game for these players into an exciting sprint to the finish. The beginning of the season was mired in frustration after a lengthy lockout knocked out the first half. But once the games started fans flocked back to the seats and televisions for an unbelievable season that was capped off by one of the best playoffs in recent memory. The Finals series itself, while it did not go seven games, was an unbelievable contest between two franchises who have been near the top of the league the last few years.

What we learned during this playoff run is that depth is incredibly important. Sure having big names is a plus but as these two teams showed having a complete lineup top to bottom is more important. It was not the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, or Evgeni Malkin who were heroes throughout the playoffs but names such as Daniel Paille, Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Shaw, Justin Williams, and Patrice Bergeron who dominated headlines on most nights. Even in a league as low as the Federal Hockey League where the Danbury Whalers won a championship, depth was the key element that won the championship. Stay tuned for an article on that at some point soon...

Speaking of Mr. Bergeron, it was reported last night that he played last night with a broken rib, torn rib cartilage, and a separated shoulder. Its no surprise that something like this happened as every year there are players who play through incredible pain and anguish to compete for the Stanley Cup but Bergeron was the face of the Boston Bruins throughout the playoffs. There were many other worthy players for the award but if the Bruins had somehow forced a game seven and were able to capture the Cup, there is no doubt in my mind that Bergeron would have won the Conn Smythe.

So what now for hockey fans? Fret not folks. There is going to be plenty happening in the next couple of weeks. Compliance buyout period will begin tomorrow, the NHL Draft is on Sunday, Free Agent Frenzy beings on July 5th, and the schedule will also be announced next year very soon. There is (hopefully) the culmination of the Phoenix Coyotes ownership debacle, the decision of whether or not NHL players will be in the Olympics next year, and many other storylines throughout the summer. The offseason will be shorter than usual and people can't wait for a full season of hockey to begin in October.

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