The Stanley Cup Final is set to start tonight, with the New York Rangers visiting the Los Angeles Kings to get things started on the much anticipated series.
|Let's get it started: The Kings and Rangers will get the puck rolling in Game 1 tonight at Staples Center in LA (via NHL.com)|
I'm one part excited, one part relieved and many-parts ticked off in advance of the Final. Let me explain.
Part I: how can you NOT be excited!? It's the Stanley Cup Final! This is what hockey fans die to see every year. It's the end of the road. The final frontier. The light at the end of the tunnel. We have at the minimum four, and at the most seven, games left in the NHL season. I will savor these games and everything about them. Everything that makes playoff hockey great come together and multiply by 10 with each successive game played in the last series of the season. I love the atmosphere in the arenas, the rushes up the ice, the speed, skill, and the talent on display. Both the Kings and the Rangers have their fair share of extraordinary players on their respective rosters. Save for a few other teams that can hold their water in the claim, this is one of premium, heavy-weight matchups the NHL could have seen. Both teams will skate hard, hit hard and play hard. They can both score, both handle the pressure of the postseason and both have been through some serious stuff in these playoffs alone. The Kings of course have the championship experience with their Cup title two years ago. The Rangers haven't been in the Final since they last won it all in 1994. These games will be heavy and entertaining. And Montreal isn't involved. Double awesome!
Part II: A part of me is relieved the Bruins aren't playing in the Final. Hear me out: playoff games aren't fun. They're torture. They are the most depraved way a human being can abuse themselves by way of just watching a television. They are incredibly frustrating, often infuriating, and are filled with periods of prolonged feelings of anger, dread and hopelessness. We curse out the referees for calling ticky-tack bullcrap penalties then sit for two minutes holding our breathe hoping the PK unit can do the job. We curse out the 20,000 fans of the opposing team when they shout out in anger when refs don't make a call. They truly do take years off of fans' lives with the stress they cause. I'm glad I can just sit back, relax, and watch the best hockey of the NHL season on my couch and not have to worry about starting the third period down by two goals. Kings and Rangers fans have to deal with the nerves and stomach ache while their season either ends in rubble or ends with a Cup championship, which of course is the ultimate payoff for trudging through the gauntlet from hell. Have fun!
Part III: I can't help but imagine the Bruins being in the place of the Rangers tonight. Seeing the Rangers in the Final reminds me of how much the Bruins blew it by failing to perform versus the Canadiens. Had the Bruins beaten Montreal, they would have been unquestioned favorites over the Blue Shirts to advance to their third Cup final in four seasons. Would they have beaten New York? Probably. Could they have lost? Of course, anything is possible. But the Bruins would have been in excellent shape if they had advanced past Montreal.
But that is history. Now, Los Angeles and New York will do the dance. Here's the official trailer to remind y'all what's at stake.
Enjoy Game 1, and remember to keep checking back with Bruins Life as we cover the entire Stanley Cup Final as it happens!