Tuesday, 25 June 2013

My Thoughts on the Stanley Cup Finals

1. Skill beats Size.
The Chicago Blackhawks play the game the way it should be played - at a high tempo with speed, lots of shots, highly skilled forwards and puck moving defensemen.  The Boston Bruins reap the benefits of the non-existent rule book during the playoffs. For my part, I'm glad the more skilled team won.  The Bruins are a throwback to the New Jersey Devils of the 90s, and that's not good for hockey.  The trendy style of building an NHL team is to go with size and toughness.  Chicago is among the shortest and lightest teams in the NHL.

2. Great Hockey? No.
I keep hearing how great the hockey was in the finals, but it just makes me feel like people are drinking the NHL kool-aid. Clutching, grabbing, hooking, holding were all on full display during the finals.  I'm the first to say I love tough playoff hockey, but slowing the game down beyond recognition is not helpful for the future of hockey, and it is certainly not entertaining.

3. Hilarious Officiating.
As an extension of point #2, the refereeing in the finals (and throughout the playoffs) was an absolute joke.  The only thing that gets you a penalty in the playoffs is flipping the puck over the glass or maybe too many men on the ice. Cross-checking, hooking, holding, tripping, roughing, unsportsmanlike conduct, delay of game, charging, elbowing and other infractions were simply ignored.  The NHL needs to take a serious look at how it calls its rule book during the playoffs if it hopes to gain or keep any credibility in the professional sports world. Imagine if pass interference and holding were no longer penalties in the NFL?! Only in the NHL.

4. The NBA Finals were better.
Don't get me wrong, I love hockey and think basketball is just okay. However, watching both finals, I couldn't help myself from craving NBA games and sleeping through NHL games.  The last two minutes of NBA game 6 had as much drama as the entire Stanley Cup Finals.  As far as the rules go, the NBA was played at a higher level, tougher in all aspects than regular season games, yet is was still played by the the same rules.

5. Marian Hossa is my new favorite player.
This guy is a stud, plain and simple.  There are bigger players, there are more highly-skilled players, but I'm not sure there are any players as good as Hossa who are as big and strong as he is.  He is not a punishing physical player by any means, but he plays the game hard, and his combination of size and skill seemed almost impossible to defend.  He is so strong I saw him continually skate through checks and expose defensemen.  The skilled defensemen couldn't handle his size, and the big defensemen couldn't handle his skill.  The finals were not his best round, but throughout the playoffs, Hossa showed me he is a potential Hall-of-Famer.

6. I finished 2nd in my Playoff Pool.
I was heavy on Hawks and Penguins, and really should have won.  I lost to a team who picked 2 players from each team and got really lucky.  Krejci and Chara were my undoing.  They actually outscored my 7, yes 7, Penguins in round three.

I guess now it's baseball season!

John Kapty is a sports blogger who publishes content on WestCoastSportsBlog and has also published content on Yahoo!.

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