When The Music's Over...
Well, though the calendar might not say it officially, we all know that once The Chalice is hoisted somewhere, summer begins. Now there's nothing to discuss but the draft, trades, signings, how creepy the Convention is, the weirdos who are at Prospects' Camp every day, all the reasons you hate John McDonough and Stan Bowman, whatever ridiculous tab the Kings run up at some club (and I'm sure they're real short of options in L.A.), and all the rest. But before we dive headfirst into all of that, I feel like I'm going to have to dispel a couple myths that this Kings' run is going to engender to a lot of the mainstream. Let me put the disclaimer out that this isn't to take away from what the Kings have done, because my lord was it impressive. But in my mind, it's a bit of an outlier.
The "All You Have To Do Is Get In The Playoffs And Anything Can Happen" Theory: It's cute, but not actually true. This was born out of divisional playoffs, when teams that were so familiar with each other spent the first two rounds turning each other into a colorless pulp before packaging together whatever was left to see at most two teams outside their division. Yes, the Kings were an 8-seed. But as has been discussed, they were kind of a false 8-seed. They were a mere two points from winning a division that they really should have walked away with (and will next year), and were just far too loaded to be as underwhelming as they were for a majority of the year. In fact, they couldn't have that much trouble scoring again if they wanted to, as some of it just came down to luck. That was corrected late and in the playoffs, as those percentages tend to be.
But the previous champions after the lockout? 1-seed, 2-seed, 1-seed, 4-seed (and this one was an absolutely rolling Penguins squad that was the clear favorite when the playoffs started), 2-seed (you may remember this one), 2-seed. If we go back before the lockout? The Lightning were a 1, the Devils were a 2, The Wings a 1, and the Avs a 1. Don't fool yourself, almost always the regular season matters. I'm sure if you ask the Kings next year, they'd tell you they'd much rather have some home ice at some point in their defense. You don't have to win the conference, but generally, you'd better be pretty fucking close. Though it's probably more resultant of if you finish near the top of the conference, you're a damn good team that should challenge for the Cup.
Still, how did starting the playoffs on the road work out for the Hawks the past two years? Ok.
The "You'd Better Have A Stud Goalie" Theory": This one's gaining more steam after two years of goalies carrying their teams to a Cup, and with the NHL starting to let more and more go in the interference and obstruction category and games becoming tighter and tighter, this one might be truer than the first. But I'm not ready to go there yet. Basically, your goalie can't lose it for you, and that's still the case. Martin Brodeur was good these playoffs, but only Game 5 in the FInal really stands out in the entire Devils' run as superlative performances. And they were still two OT's away from winning it. It still depends on what you do well, how well you do it, and who you run up against. Next spring, if the Hawks do come up against Jonathan Quick, Corey Crawford doesn't have to be better but he has to be good enough so that the gap between he and Quick is smaller than the one that's between whatever the Hawks have the advantage over the Kings in (let's go with speed and skill). That's still totally possible, at least to me.
Finally, The Kings Are Unbeatable: I'm as guilty of this one as anyone. They looked pretty tasty, though, right? Again, not to be disrespectful, but I wonder what it might have looked like had the Kings seen any team that had more than one line of above average scoring talent. Thanks to injuries to Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler, and Ilya Kovalchuk (who could barely move), they didn't. Now, there aren't a lot of teams that can boast that, with the NHL sliding back into defensive slogs as previously stated. But a full-strength Canucks team is, as will a re-loaded Wings one. So will the Hawks, or at least I have to believe they will be. If Doug Wilson had a clue in Northern Cali, the Sharks could be. While the Kings record will go down in history, a lot of those wins didn't come with a huge margin for error. One more goal would have made a big difference in a lot of those games. I just wonder...
And yes, maybe I'm contradicting myself from last week. The Kings will be formidable for years, and that's frightening. But they can be caught. Or I have to believe that. Otherwise, why are we doing this?