When your favorite team is eliminated from the playoffs, it makes it hard to be objective writing about the team who eliminated you. It is a feeling not unlike lemon juice in a paper cut – painful and something to be avoided.
Thus my two week plus absence from writing about hockey.
However, now that we are down to the final four, it is time to get back to it. Especially as the team that eliminated the Anaheim Ducks has now been eliminated.
Both the conference finals are set.
The Los Angeles Kings ended up edging out the San Jose Sharks in round two by keeping home ice advantage. It took seven games to decide the series.
The Kings were desperately hoping that the Detroit Red Wings would defeat the Chicago Blackhawks in round two. It appeared that might be the case when the Wings went up 3-1 in the series. Why would the Kings want the Red Wings? Because the Kings would have had the home advantage.
Instead, the Blackhawks rebounded, won three games in a row (another seven game series), and being the best team in the NHL all season, they have the home ice advantage. The Kings, not being particularly good on the road this season, having won only one game away from home, were not stellar in the first two games in Chicago.
The Kings opened the Western Conference Finals with two back to back losses and get to come home to LA hoping to a) maintain their home ice dominance and b) get back in the series.
When you are sending your Conn Smythe winning goalie, Jonathan Quick, to the bench midway through game two, you have problems that you need to fix. Quickly. (No pun intended).
Meanwhile, on the east coast of the United States, another drama is playing out. The Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins have begun their Eastern Conference series, with Boston taking game one in a hostile Pittsburgh arena.
The Bruins had to get past the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh made neat work of the Ottawa Senators. Both the Bruins and Penguins had plenty of rest waiting for the Western side of things to be determined, as both teams finished off their opponents in five games.
And so it is June. Warm breezes are kicking in. The annual Memorial Day barbecue has officially opened "summer," even though she doesn't officially arrive until June 21. This year, there will still be hockey when summer officially wends her way here and outdoor rinks are just a distant memory.
Inside, the battles will continue to rage. All four teams have been here before and recently. All four remaining teams are the last four Stanley Cup winners.
Someone gets their name on the Cup again. Which team will it be?