It doesn't seem to matter how many times I do the formula: it always comes out the same. Maybe it's because I'm short-sighted in some ways or because I flunked chemistry. Well, nearly flunked chemistry, thank goodness for the elements table and my ability to memorize acronyms.
In any case, the formula always comes back to this, so this is me spoiling the ending of the story before telling it. The Stanley Cup Finals will come down to Pittsburgh and Detroit, the same match up as the two previous years of the Stanley Cup Finals. It's sort of sad when the finals comes down to a volleyball match between the same two great teams, throwing the Cup back and forth between them every year, but it looks like the Finals this year will be a case of deja vue for all.
The first round is behind us and what a great round it was. My last count on the too many men called was roughly 18. The officiating was either really absent or bloody awful in most of the series. And the superstars either came out in a big way (Crosby) or disappeared silently into the background (Ovechkin, Semin).
Washington deflated completely and was ousted in a shocker against Montreal, although that just may be the President's Cup Curse, alive and well.
Pittsburgh and Ottawa met again, as they have in many playoff series, and despite some game 6 heroics, and all of the hard work by the Great Dane, it ended predictably in Pittsburgh's favour.
Philadelphia upset New Jersey, but they have a reputation of just upsetting people period, so there should really be no surprise there, except for Brian Boucher, who looked more surprised than anyone when he shook Marty's hand at the end of the series.
Boston and Buffalo looked too hard to call until Vanek got pushed out of the lineup due to an injury. Once that occurred, it was pretty clear that Buffalo's days were numbered, because despite the fact that Miller can do just about anything, he's really not in the best position to score.
Nashville and Phoenix were long shots for the finals, but they made it in, and for that, we have to give them props. San Jose finally shed that first round curse (thank you Washington!) and look like they might even make it past the second round too! Vancouver, Canada's best bet for the second round, did not disappoint, particularly Luoungo who is a spectacular snow angel. And Detroit showed once again why they're hockey town and why nobody pushes them around (except for maybe themselves). Chicago has also been living up to its billing as a top contender, but don't forget that bad joujou mural they made with pig Toews painted next to the Cup and Kane's antiChrist hair.
So this is the way the formula runs:
Montreal vs. Pittsburgh- Pittsburgh in 5
Philadelphia vs. Boston- Philadelphia in 7
Detroit vs. San Jose- Detroit in 6
Vancouver vs. Chicago- Vancouver in 7
When pitting the good team play vs. Crosby-Malkin and their good team play, Montreal falls way short, but they'll fight to 5. When pitting the dirtiest cheaters against the largest NHL Captain, Boston will fight tooth and nail, but ultimately lose. When putting the great goaltending of Nabokov against the warhorse that refuses to die, Detroit will conquer. When bad hair collides Swedish twins and Lou, Vancouver will overcome, but not without a major fight.
So the next steps will be:
Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia - the Battle of Pennsylvania
Detroit vs. Vancouver - An oldie and a goodie
So no matter how I keep switching the matchups around in my head, the conclusion always ends the same way. There may be some surprises along the way, but this is the way that I see it so far.
Of course, I am near-sighted and can't properly predict the bus when it comes. That could be because the city has poor bus service, but I think that my ESP is MIA.
In any case, I love the playoffs.