May 15, 2014

NHL Has To Be Happy With Final Four

Regardless of the game 7 result in the final second round match-up, the National Hockey League and their broadcast partners have to be ecstatic with the final four markets left competing for the Stanley Cup.

No matter who wins the Ducks/Kings series, the NHL has the three largest TV markets in the United States competing for the Stanley Cup - New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Montreal is great for Canadian television interests. Moreover Montreal is so iconic that in no way do they disinterest any American audience.

That being said, I am sure the NHL secretly would like to see New York in the final rather than Montreal. But the way Les Habitants are playing right now, I just don't see that happening. We are guaranteed an Original Six franchise representing the East, and I will pick Montreal.

I usually make series predictions based on which team has the most dominant defenseman. As amazing as P.K. Subban has been this spring, Ryan McDonagh - who was once a top prospect that Montreal gave up on way too early - is every bit as good.

Beyond that both teams have solid blue lines and spectacular goaltending. The crease match up will be a rematch of the 2014 Sochi Olympics gold medal game as Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price go at it again.

Montreal's power play and strong play from all four lines may be the only obvious advantages. Besides, Montreal seems to be on a magical run and maybe I just don't want to see it end yet. History suggests Montreal is charmed in these regards.

I will withhold my Western prediction until we know whether Chicago faces Anaheim or Los Angeles. Either way, the Western Conference final promises to be a war. At this stage I have no real feeling for either possible showdown. It is that close.

I will have more detailed statistical previews in the coming days. 

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