NHL “Regular Season” look ahead
As the National Hockey League gets its abbreviated 48 game schedule underway today,
many hockey fans as well as the media that follow the game, frequently point to the
Stanley Cup holders in Los Angeles, as a reason to believe that an “8th seed” in playoff
positioning, can be a championship team. This analysis is poorly thought out and
not well researched.
The Kings of 2011/12 were a season long underachiever, who should have been much
stronger during the regular season, but had a terrible time scoring goals. Their scoring
drought cost coach Terry Murray his job, and the change to Darryl Sutter, along with
the acquisition of Jeff Carter, turned the team in the right direction, and they really
caught fire with the always solid goalkeeping of Jonathan Quick. Once the playoffs
began, they never looked back.
The LA scoring totals, 194 during the regular season, was the lowest total for any
playoff team in either conference. Their goals against 179 was the league’s second
best. With that in mind, it was mind boggling why their 8th seed keeps getting
mentioned as reason to believe that any and every bottom feeder can win the
Stanley Cup. Is it impossible for an average team that squeaks into the playoffs to
ride a hot goalkeeper to a Stanley Cup ? In theory, yes it could happen, but it is highly
unlikely, unless it is a once in a generation goalkeeper, like the 1993 Montreal
Canadiens with Patrick Roy. That Habs team wasn’t a Cup favorite, but they weren’t
exactly a bottom feeder either.
The Edmonton Oilers did ride the hot goalkeeping of Dwayne Roloson to the Cup
finals a few years ago, but he got hurt before they met Carolina, and lost to the ‘Canes
in 7 games, in 2006. That is a very rare example of a low seed advancing, as the Oilers
did that year, finishing 3rd in the Northwest Division with 95 points, well behind the
front running Detroit Red Wings, who led the Central with 124 along with Dallas in the
Pacific with 112 and Calgary’s 103, also in the Northwest.
The Oilers upset the Wings, Sharks and Ducks before bowing out to the ‘Canes. Don’t
bank on that happening this season. During the 48 game season of 1994-95, the
Devils swept the Wings in 4 to win their first of three Stanley Cups, and Detroit would
bounce back to become a dynasty, and win 4 Cup championships by 2008.
Four rounds of playoffs are way too much for a low seed to survive. Stick with the logic
that you do in most cases, which tells you that the cream rises to the top in most cases,
and it is likely that this year’s finals will be no different.
I don’t have a favourite pick at this point in time, but please, no more B.S. about how
last season’s LA Kings were a” low seed” and needed a miracle to win the Cup. Only
people who don’t know their hockey profess that. They were an outstanding team
that underachieved during the regular season, and then played to the level of their
collective abilities in the playoffs, and surprised no one who really knows the game,
by winning the Stanley Cup.