The Stanley Cup final is undoubtedly the most anticipated spectacle over the course of the NHL season, but at this point, let’s just get it over and done with.
Let’s be realistic here, it’s only a matter of time until the Los Angeles Kings are crowned the 2014 champions. Brad Richards, Derek Stepan and Rick Nash have all been almost invisible this entire series and there’s no way you can expect to win the Cup if Mats Zuccarello – no disrespect whatsoever – is your best player. He’s had a breakout year, without question, but if it’s his output that’s getting you by, with the exception of Game 3, there’s no way that it’ll be anywhere close enough to matching the production of likes of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Jeff Carter.
If the Kings were to finally close out the series at the Staples Centre tonight, it’ll hit the NHL’s reset button and the fans of the 28 other teams will their interest reignited because now it would be about restructuring for next year. How will Florida Panthers’ fans react to the team’s first overall pick, or if they decide to trade the pick. How will the Sharks react in the offseason to a disappointing collapse in the first round to the Kings? The biggest hockey fan can enjoy the Stanley Cup finals, but it’s just not the same when your team isn’t in the dance.
The NHL Entry Draft brings about as much excitement as the free-agent frenzy. Draft-day trades have seen the Staal brothers reunited and the New Jersey Devils starting to build a foundation in goal past the Martin-Brodeur era in Cory Schneider. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Wild established some long-term stability of Zach Parise and Ryan Sutter two summers ago – the free-agent market has the ability to take borderline playoff teams into serious contenders if the price is right.
The Stanley Cup final has been entertaining, but when two of the biggest markets in the United States are going head to head, you’d hope it would be less one-sided. If the Kings manage to claim their crown tonight, this series may go down as one of the most disappointing finals in quite some time.