Wednesday, June 26, 2013

NHL scores big with Stanley Cup Finals

By Jeff

Despite the Pittsburgh Penguins no-showed the Eastern Conference Finals, it has to be pretty hard to be disappointed with the way the Stanley Cup Finals turned out. The Chicago Blackhawks downed the Boston Bruins in six games, and it was actually nice to see a team that played at an extremely high level all season get rewarded, rather than one getting hot at the right time.

And no, it was not a great series just because the Boston Bruins choked away Game 6 and Jaromir Jagr put up a goose egg in the goal department through 22 postseason games.

Hockey fans had to love the hockey that was played for all six games. The entertainment level was tremendous with every game up in the air until the end. Hell, there were three game that went into overtime, including that classic triple OT Game 1.

Even if you hated one or both of the teams involved, you had to appreciate the effort and toughness thy displayed each night. It seems like we learn more about Patrice Bergeron every hour. Apparently he had a punctured lung, some bruised ribs and a few other injuries he was playing with. Tomorrow we might learn that he actually had his left foot amputated at some point in Game 4. That's just how ridiculously tough the man is.

We come to expect this kind of toughness in hockey players. They play with torn muscles, broken bones, herniated discs, concussions and just about every kind of ailment you can come up with. But that doesn't make it any less impressive when you hear about how these players continued to play such a physical game at the highest level with these injuries.

While we fans were treated to some of the best hockey of the year, the NHL was rewarded with the highest ratings for the Stanley Cup Finals since 1994. Sure, it helped that two major markets and original six franchises were involved, but an 83 percent increase over 2012's Finals is nothing to sneeze at.

Well, maybe a small sneeze. Like one of those sneezes where you hear it and you have to question the sneezer to determine if it was an actual sneeze or a some strange bodily spasm. 2012 saw one of the most boring franchises in the history of the world, the New Jersey Devils, playing a Los Angeles Kings team whom the LA media couldn't recognize, let alone casual hockey fans. So crushing those ratings aren't that impressive...

Nevertheless, outperforming the past 18 Stanley Cup Finals in ratings is great news for the NHL and the sport.

Now that the season is over, it's time to scour the Internet every day for rumors about where free agents are signing and what teams are trading which players. I'm pumped. Goodbye, sunlight!

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