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by Kevin Sylvester / Buffalo Sabres
Shootout host Kevin Sylvester is a veteran journalist in radio, television and print media.  From time to time, Sylvester will be taking time out of  his busy schedule to post entries in his blog or answer fans submitted questions.

Click here to send Sylvester a question.  Select submissions will be answered from time to time in different blog entries.

I am taking a risk in writing this blog before the Stanley Cup Final match up is set, but it’s a safe bet that Detroit and Pittsburgh will face off for the Holy Grail of professional sports.  

Ground breaking stuff, I know.  

What I want to focus on is the grind ... and how we should have seen how easy this was going to be for the Red Wings and Penguins.  Actually, Brian Wheeler (our Website Manager) pointed this out in our last edition of "Line Changes".  I wrote how I really liked the way Dallas was playing overall in eliminating the Sharks.  Wheels pointed out that the past six Stanley Cup Champions have played no more than 11 games in the first two rounds.  

The Stars played 12 games against two very good teams (Anaheim and San Jose), while Philly also logged 12 games (seven games vs. Washington and five vs. top seed Montreal).  In comparison, Detroit played 10 games with a very easy series against Colorado, and Pittsburgh used great defense to breeze through Ottawa and New York.  

The bottom line is, the results so far in the Conference Finals shouldn’t be a surprise.  Detroit and Pittsburgh each experienced an easy sweep in one of the first two rounds.  

They’re fresh.  

Of course you can make the argument that the reason they swept teams is because of their superiority, which in turn creates the needed rest and reserves to press on for the cup.  However, deserving it is for each team, I don’t think it’s great for the NHL.  The conference finals should be a highly contested series, not a formality.  It seems that way right now, and it actually did when both the Wings and Pens went up 2 –0 on their exhausted opponents.  

What’s the fix?  Spread the games out more like the NBA?  Reduce the first two rounds back to the best of five?  Start the playoffs 2 or 3 weeks later to spread out the regular season?  Start the season earlier?  Reduce the number of regular seasons game from 82 to 72?  

I’d be interested to read some of the thoughts from fans on it.  I don’t think there is a right answer.  It is what it is and we could be headed for a tremendous Stanley Cup Final with two fresh teams.  

Kevin Sylvester

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