We've followed along through three rounds so far. Seen the ups and downs, the expected wins, the shock wins, the heartbreaking wins. Held our breath during overtimes, and watched Game 7's on the edge of our seats. And now, after a month and a half that has felt like a lifetime, and yet another Game 7 triumph, the Finals are finally upon us. That's right, the Texas Stars will take on the St. John's IceCaps in the Calder Cup Finals.
What, you thought I was talking about the other Cup?
Well, there's that too, but everybody's talking about that one. So, for now anyway, let's focus on the Texas Stars defeating the Toronto Marlies in Game 7 in Cedar Park to book their place in the AHL Finals. Having taken two games off the Marlies in Toronto, the Stars returned to Texas with the chance to finish the series in six games. Instead though, they opted for the more dramatic route.
And dramatic it was. The Marlies naturally, being an affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs, were outshot 13-5 by Texas in the first period, but still took a 1-0 lead into the intermission. They opened the second period with another goal and held that two-goal lead until there were less than three minutes remaining in the period. At which point the Stars must have decided that the dramatic tension was at a sufficient level, and they scored two goals on two shots to level the score. And then blew the game wide open in the third period. Full recap can be found at 100 Degree Hockey. I suggest you read that one, seeing as he was actually there.
Oh, and remember how Texas pegged 50+ shots on the Toronto net in the first couple games of the series, splitting them? They outshot the Marlies 50-27 last night. Way to play your system Toronto.
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With the Calder Cup Finals beginning on Sunday in Cedar Park (Go, if you are in any way able!), we have a few days to focus on another Cup Finals. The Cup Finals. One more series remains in the NHL Playoffs, and Lord Stanley's Cup is the prize.
I don't know if the Stanley Cup Finals can live up to it, seeing as the Western Conference Finals was such a fantastic series. 51 goals scored, the Blackhawks coming back from a 3-1 series deficit to force a Game 7 on home ice. A game that would see 5 goals scored in the first period and eventually head to overtime, knotted at 4 goals apiece. And we all know what happened next. At least, I assume we do. If not, come out from under your rock and we'll catch you up. There you go, Pat. You're welcome. Next time write more about the Stars.
And look, the series was so great, even Chicago bloggers aren't too upset with the way it ended. [Cheer the Anthem]
So what now? Well, NBC wins, and the Stanley Cup Finals begin tonight with Game 1 in Los Angeles. What to watch for? Well, Jewels from the Crown has a great story stream going with breakdowns and previews of the various facets of both team's game. In summary, the edge in goaltending? New York. Everything else? LA. Wanna talk more about that goaltending? That can be arranged.
Or if you want even more on the preview/team comparison front, Puck Daddy are making sure to fill in all the gaps. With, for example, 'better playoff narrative' and 'better city' categories. You know, the important stuff.
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Totally random link for the day, Battle of Cali welcomes Stace of Base. Or rather, Stace of Base welcomes herself to Battle of Cali. Obviously it's too late for her to blog about the Sharks, but there's always next year. [Battle of Cali]
Anybody following unrestricted free agent Mikhail Grabovski to see where he winds up will be interested to know he signed... with a Belarusian soccer team. [Russian Machine Never Breaks]
So I already liked P.K. Subban, but after this exchange with Patrice Bergeron (following an on-ice encounter), I like him even more:
Bergeron: "Come on, man. Don't do that. Hey! Seriously, buddy."
Subban: "What, d'I hit your head?"
Bergeron: "You know you did."
Subban: "I didn't mean to. I thought you were Marchy."
That and more, from Down Goes Brown's weekly Grab Bag. [Grantland]
And lastly, Playoff Hockey Hugs! I'd missed these... [Puck Daddy]