The Hunt For The Stanley Cup Thrills
The NHL playoffs have been taut and riveting, closely played and fiercely contested. The NBA? Well, not so much (Tuesday night’s game notwithstanding).
Given the choice of where you should focus your eyeballs – especially if “your” team is not involved – choose the NHL. You won’t be sorry.
On Monday night, the Washington Capitals were essentially playing for their lives in an elimination game and produced a fierce effort in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-0 to force a seventh game in the Eastern Conference finals. At the time, the Cleveland Cavaliers were evening their series against the Boston Celtics at two games apiece with a 111-102 victory.
Neither looks that close, right? But the Caps and Lightning played a scoreless first period and the final goal was into an empty net. This was one was a contest all the way.
Now look at the NBA playoff series. That nine-point margin of victory was the smallest in the four games between those two teams, and Cleveland led by 16 at the end of the first quarter.
Consider the Western Conference matchup between the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors. The Warriors won Game 3 by 41 points and the Rockets won the second by 22. On Tuesday night, we at least got see a dramatic finish as the Rockets prevailed 95-92. On the other hand, the Warriors scored a measly 12 points in the fourth quarter and missed all six of their 3-point shots. That made Houston’s comeback from a 10-point deficit a bit easier.
If you are simply interested in the exploits of individuals – LeBron James, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry – the NBA playoffs are a study in singular greatness. Drama? Lacking almost entirely.
The NHL? Whomever wins the Caps-Lightning series plays the Vegas Golden Knights, an expansion team, for the Stanley Cup. If it is the Caps, they will be up against their old general manager, George McPhee, and they will have broken through at long last for a title shot.
The NHL. This is where the fun is.
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