Two teams left. Seven games maximum. Everything since October has led to this.

Nashville is in the finals for the first time. Pittsburgh is attempting to repeat as winner, which hasn’t happened in 20 years. Both are great teams. Both are full of great stories. This playoffs season has been full of both, with lots of great hockey.

Many years when we hit this point I’m ready for the winner to be crowned and give the sport a break. Not this year. it’s been so much fun getting to this point I’m not quite ready for it to end. I can get behind both teams as the one I want to back, one because they’ve been working to get to this point and finally made it, the other because they fought against the odds to repeat and a lot of injury problems along the way and made it happen anyway.

So I declare both teams winners in their way, because they are. But I need to make a choice, and I’ve been thinking about it and this is a tough one. Pittsburgh has the experience and Nashville has never played games of this intensity, this finality. The new kid at any level in the playoffs is a lot more likely to falter from the pressure, but… I think we’ve all been expecting Nashville to not be up to the task, and each round, they’ve done it anyway.

So in reality, this is a coin flip for me. But I have to choose. So I choose….

Nashville in 6. Because they deserve to not be the underdog this time. Because they’re healthier. Because they have P.K. Subban who has something to prove.

And I won’t be at all surprised if I’m wrong, because for the Penguins, Fleury has something to prove, Murray is ready to play, and they have Crosby and Malkin and others, and they’ve been to the dance, and that matters.

But, good luck Nashville. And it starts tonight.

Conference Finals

I didn’t get my conference finals picks onto the blog before they started because it was still in migration to this new look. But for the record (it was posted elsewhere but that doesn’t count…) I went with Nashville in 6 and the Penguins in 5, so I picked both of them for once. Which, of course, only happened because I didn’t get them posted for the record here.

The bracket team

I did a bracket as part of a group, about ten of us all having a bit of fun and playing for bragging rights. As it turned out, I ended up third in the group. What’s really amazing, and I’ve never seen this before, is that every one of the ten brackets in the league was final after two rounds. Every Single Bracket dead. We can thank the blackhawks for a lot of that, of course. But being able to declare the winner half way through the playoffs? that’s incredibly crazy, but an indication of how unpredictable the series were and how close all of the teams were to each other. I find that awesome. And so here we are in the finals: last year’s champs and a wild card team. Isn’t that awesome? (definitely more awesome than my bracket was…)