Well, after a thrilling regular season and an even more exciting Stanley Cup Playoff tournament, the ride is over for 2013-14 and the Los Angeles Kings are the last team left standing. The 2014 Stanley Cup Final ended in one of the most exciting games we've ever seen when Alec Martinez beat Henrik Lundqvist in the second overtime of Game 5 to lift the Kings to their second championship in three seasons.
As we reflect on an amazing postseason, this is what I took from this series and what I see for its two participants going forward:
We are two games into the 2014 Stanley Cup Final and there are plenty of things to talk about. As the series shifts to New York for Game 3 at Madison Square Garden on Monday night (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS), the New York Rangers will need a big win against the Los Angeles Kings on home ice to breathe life back into their Cup chances.
After a lengthy regular season and three thrilling rounds of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, we've finally arrived at the last showdown. The Los Angeles Kings are in the hunt for their second Stanley Cup title in three seasons, and to earn it they'll have to go through a gutsy New York Rangers team that has made a surprising run to the Stanley Cup Final and only gotten better along the way.
As these two teams face off for the greatest trophy in sports, here is what I'm watching.
As the conference finals continue, the plot is thickening both in the East and the West. After Martin St. Louis' overtime-winner on Sunday night the New York Rangers are now one win away from their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final in 20 years, and the past two champions are locked up in a tight battle for a spot of their own.
Here are the things that have caught my eye in the NHL's final four:
Already down 1-0 after losing Game 1 at home Saturday, the Canadiens sustained a huge, huge loss with the injury to Price. After seeing how Montreal played in Game 1, I didn't think the Habs looked like a team that could beat the New York Rangers even with Price in net, but losing him makes it that much easier for New York.
Backup goalie Peter Budaj is adequate, but he's not Price, one of the best goaltenders in the sport. With the way the Rangers play, their goals are so ugly and slimy, they are very difficult to play against. They score those ugly goals. That was already causing trouble for Price in Game 1 before he was injured in a collision with Rangers forward Chris Kreider, but I have a hard time seeing Budaj faring any better against that kind of team.
The second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is coming to a close this week, and what a second round it's been so far. We've got one series guaranteed to go seven games and three more that very well could. In addition, there's no shortage of storylines to watch as four different divisional rivalries reach their respective climaxes.
Here's what's catching my eye this week:
WINNING ONE FOR THE GIB-BER
Everyone in hockey has known about Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson for a long time. Every NHL team would love to have him in their organization, and Saturday night you saw why. The kid's an elite goaltender, he looked great in his playoff debut, he looked very confident and moved very well. It was a performance that not only may have saved the Ducks' season, but also paid off for coach Bruce Boudreau. Putting in Gibson to start Game 4 was a risky move, but Boudreau had the guts to do it and it paid off.
All four series in the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs are underway, and even though the Chicago Blackhawks currently have a 2-0 series lead on the Minnesota Wild, nearly every game has been tight and exciting and each series is full of storylines.
The first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs is just about in the books, but it's already been an incredibly revealing two weeks. With the field nearly narrowed down from 16 teams to eight, here are the things I'm thinking about.
DON'T BLOW UP THE BLUES
This was a devastating loss for the St. Louis Blues. There is no way to sugarcoat it. If you're up two games to none and you're one of the best teams in the NHL, the series you're playing should be just about over. To lose a first-round series is one thing, but to lose it the way they did, considering the same thing happened to them a year ago against the Los Angeles Kings, is certainly another.
We're less than a week into the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs and already it's been a crazy ride. The hockey has been great, the drama has been unmatched and best of all, there's plenty more hockey still to come.
Here are some things I'm thinking about after watching the start of the postseason:
ALREADY A CLASSIC
This series between the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks has been everything we hoped it could be and more. We knew it was going to be great. We knew the history of these two teams and that they were two of the best teams in the NHL. But to have two games like we've seen to open this series -- all this drama, the comebacks, the blown leads -- this is a series for the ages. The only unfortunate thing is that this is happening in the first round and not the third.
After more than six months and 1,230 regular season games we've finally arrived at the best part of the NHL calendar. The 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin tonight at 7 p.m. ET when the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning drop the puck at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
There are still roughly two months and four rounds of playoff games to be played before we crown a champion, but as we drop the puck on the postseason, here is my take on the first round: