Since a lot of you are new to this page and probably weren’t keeping tabs with me last year for the playoffs, let me dust off something I said last year after the results of the First Round were completed:
The only real downside to the Capitals losing is that it prevents us from seeing Sid the Kid and Evgeni Malkin from taking on Ovechkin and Backstrom in the second round. Say what you will, but Bettman had the perfect opportunity to take what he learned under Stern and to put it to use to set up a real dazzler of a matchup.
Much like everything else, however, Bettman fails to put the hit out to guarantee this will happen.
Upon the completion of Washington’s stirring victory over the Rangers in Game 7 that featured Sergei Fedorov dial up an Yzerman-esque ripper of a shot over the newly-exposed glove hand of Henrik Lundqvist, in my many posts on Twitter (you know, since I’ve got nothing else to do) I stated this:
Now let’s see how (bad) Gary wants the fix. If the #Canes beat the #Devils we get Sid vs. Ovechkin.
In my head I had one of the greatest creative minds of the modern sports entertainment era, at least he was for a while, in mind as I wrote this. I thought about it last year when Washington stormed back against Philadelphia only to lose in Game 7 to the Flyers and there it was in my head again this time as the New Jersey Devils had a 3-2 lead on the Carolina Hurricanes in their Game 7.
Would Lil’ Gary put on his big boy shoes and put in the call for the Devils to lay it down or would it play out legendarily like this:
In a series that had so many great goaltending performances from both Martin Brodeur and Cam Ward and two teams that truly left it all out on the ice and given everything that I was able to witness all throughout this years NCAA Hockey Tournament, I didn’t think the NHL had it in them to produce a finish to a game that so thoroughly stunned me as this one did.
Doc Emrick and Chico Resch from MSG+ with the call:
I mean… This is the New Jersey Devils, the team that made sitting on a one-goal lead the new black in the 1990s. This is Martin Brodeur – The Franchise – The Legend.
How in the blue hell did this happen? This stuff doesn’t happen to the Devils. It never does… Well, unless you’re the Ottawa Senators.
It’s hours upon hours later now and this one just stuns me. Jussi Jokinen is the new cursed name in the swamps of New Jersey? The same guy that was waived by the directionless Tampa Bay Lightning? That Jussi Jokinen?!
What’s more shocking about all of this is that Herr Bettman got his wish. With the Hurricanes beating the Devils, that set up a second round date between Sid the Kid’s Penguins and Alexander the Great’s Capitals – a playoff matchup that people have been dying to have happen.
Sure, it’s not for the Conference Title or the Stanley Cup – but for the press and the attention and the real bad blood there is between these teams it might as well be.
Two of these four second round series are now set to be, potentially, the best series of the entire playoffs. Anaheim did their job and disposed of a gutless Sharks team to set up a date with the Red Wings and then you get the headliner between Pittsburgh and Washington.
This isn’t to say that Chicago and Vancouver is going to stink, far from it, as that’s going to make for an incredible tilt and the Wonder Boys in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are going to have their hands full in dealing with Vancouver’s system all backstopped by the new stud Roberto Luongo.
Boston and Carolina would be a lot more fun if, say, Herr Bettman’s Southern Conquest wasn’t involved and the Hurricanes were wearing blue, green and white and celebrated each goal with some Brass Bonanza.
Then again, getting Ric Flair prominently involved in hockey really isn’t so bad and given that it took the Hurricanes to overthrow the Devils to make Gary’s Dream Match-Up come to fruition… Well maybe it’s worth looking into.