My Dear, Sweet Eastern Conference,
I thought that maybe, perhaps, we could work out our differences, put our checkered past behind us, start fresh, and caress one another lovingly. But after what you allowed to transpire yesterday, I'm afraid I've got to say that it's over. Get your shit and get out of here.
Last night in the hockey capital of the world - Sunrise, Florida - with just over three minutes separating the mighty Panthers from a moral victory, you allowed the Nashville Predators to tie the game, which propelled them into a very quick overtime win. I feel like Nashville must have just been playing with your emotions, like a dad letting his son take the lead in a game of horse...until the son gets all cocky and dad shows him what's up. Someone asked me if I was watching, and -- while trying my best to politely mask my laughter -- I told them I had my fill of Pee-Wee hockey in 1994, when I graduated to Bantam. I did, however, watch The Mighty Ducks on cable the other night. Does that count? Charlie Conway does have a bit of a Sidney Crosby-always-crying-for-some-goddamn-reason thing going on.
But back to the story. For the eleventy billionth time this season, an Eastern team shat the bed against a Western counterpart. In fact, can you look back on this season and show me one time that the Eastern Conference beat a Western Conference team that benefited the Red Wings?
Go ahead, I'll wait.
Only six of the fifteen Leastern Conference teams have a winning record against the West this season. Two of those are marginal, at best (9-8 and 8-7). By comparison, THIRTEEN of fifteen Western Conference teams have winning records against the East. The two that don't? The Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars (each of whom are 7-9). Powerhouses, they are.
Sure, you're kinda sexy in that "look how many goals I can score" kind of way. But your insecurities on defense are shining through something fierce. Boston, the team that's playing the role of Bubble Pace Car in the East, is sitting at 80 points: good enough for 13th in the West and teetering on the brink of elimination. In fact, if you throw out #1 and #15 on both sides, the team representing the West has more points than it's East counterpart (i.e., #2 Pittsburgh's 95 points vs. #2 Chicago's 99)
I've been saying for weeks to anyone that would listen that whoever comes out of the West could sweep whoever comes out of the East. I don't care if it's an 8 playing the top seeded Washington Capitals (who remind me of Nelson Muntz. Sure they're the toughest kid in school, but they're still ten. In a few years, when you get to middle school, someone's older brother is going to pound that ass by the monkey bars for treating kid sister that way...).
Yeah, that sweep declaration may be a bit of an exaggeration. The Pittsburgh Penguins, oh how I loathe them, are a good hockey club - top to bottom. And you never know what you're going to get from the New Jersey Devils, but if we've learned anything in our last two decades together, it's not to overlook that club.
But in a seven game series? There's a lot of talk coming from that half of the league for a bunch of teams that have done just shy of nothing. It's like beating the crap out of all your friends playing from the ladies' tee -- and then strutting up to the first hole of the Masters. Those are golf terms, get ready to hear more of those in the coming weeks.
The Mighty Capitals -- who clinched the conference in a way only an Eastern team could: by getting their asses kicked by a Western team outside of the playoffs, and waiting for New Jersey to fail the next night -- are going to win the President's Trophy, but they can't be too proud of it. It's like being the best reader in remedial English. Yeah, it's an accomplishment...but come on.
Of the last 13 Stanley Cup winners, 8 have come from the West. The West is 50-29 in Stanley Cup Finals games in that span. I'm just sayin'... prepare yourself.
I wish it didn't have to come crashing down like this, I really do. If at any point all year, you sent a little love our way, things might have ended differently.
See you in June, when I show up to the dance with a chick that makes you look like you fell out of an ugly tree, hitting every branch on the way down, before getting struck by a bus. In the rain. While wearing crocs.
EVERYONE WEST OF GEORGIA
P.S. $3.5 million dollars a year for Kris Letang? KRIS LETANG?
Okay, it's your money.