So to say that I have been riding an anger high since Sunday would be a little bit of an understatement. I know a lot of you are not big soccer fans, if at all, but this past Sunday was what is known as Survival Sunday. Teams were playing for a variety of different things. You had Manchester United and City playing to be crowned EPL champions; Arsenal, Tottenham, and Newcastle were playing for a potential spot in Champions League; and Bolton, Queens Park and I believe Aston Villa were all fighting to not be relegated to a lower league. It was a pretty big day in the EPL and all ten games were broadcast in the USA on nine different FOX affiliates and ESPN.
Now the reason that I was livid on Sunday afternoon was the fact that though United won their game they would not be named champions. Now I give City a lot of credit, I was ecstatic when Man U’s game came to an end and they were victorious, because at that moment Man City was down a goal with only minutes remaining. In what I can only characterize as probably the most incredible final minutes of a game ever, City was able to not only tie the game but get the game winner in the five minutes of extra time that was added to the clock. I went from pure elation to utter disbelief in five minutes. It was like having the wind knocked completely out of my body, I was speechless. What was even worse to me was how the Champion would be named; it literally came down to goal difference. Not who had won the season series, which was Man city, but on who had scored the most goals during the campaign. Because both clubs had identical records, 28 Wins, 5 Draws, 5 Loses, equaling a total of 89 points. If they said that City would be champions on account of beating United both times they played that would have sat a slight bit better with me. If it were up to me, I would have had the teams play either on Wednesday or on Saturday in a true tie breaking Championship game. The City of Manchester would have had a field day. But I digress, I will be bitter about this most likely till the start of the next season, but I do give Man City a lot of credit, there were multiple points in the season where they could have hung their heads and thrown in the towel, but they kept their chins up and battled through bringing the club it’s first championship of any kind since 1968.
Now on to what has been both a very surprising Stanley Cup Playoffs and also a very predictable playoffs. In the east we have a pretty understandable match up with the NY metro area rivals the Rangers versus the Devils. Yes it is a 1 seed versus a 6 but the Devils are a pretty persistent team so it really doesn’t surprise me that they have made it to the conference finals. The Rangers are the 1 seed and even though I had chosen the Capitals at the beginning of the season to go all the way, after watching the Rangers a lot during the season and having the pleasure of watching their farm team in CT play quite often, I am not at all shocked at where they have gotten. Now as I am writing this I am watching game 2 of this series and the Rangers are getting a lot more opportunities on Brodeur and he is looking more and more like he has lost a step. On the other side of the ice Henrik looks like he is just starting to warm up and hit his stride, standing on his head and making every save look spectacular and easy at the same time. It also helps that his teammates are continually putting up walls in front of the Devils shooters, they blocked 26 shots in game 1, that’s pretty crazy. The Rangers should take this series pretty easily, the Devils will need some luck, I think they will win a game but not put up too much of a fight.
Now on the other side, we have the most surprising series I think. The 8 seed LA Kings versus the 3 seed Coyotes. This is the first time that the Coyotes have made it to the conference finals since moving to the desert from Winnipeg. The Kings haven’t been to the conference finals since Wayne Gretzky was on the team in the 92-93 season, and they are two wins away from making to the cup finals which obviously they haven’t been to also since the 92-93 season. The road to the finals has been quite impressive for LA they have taken down the number 1 seed(Canucks), the number 2 seed(Blues) and are only two games away from taking out the number 3 seed(Coyotes.) That is one hell of a resume leading into the finals. I wanted the Kings to beat the Canucks but I never would have imagined they’d make it this far. They have gone from an after thought for me, to now I am on the bandwagon and want them to win it all. I don’t think that the Coyotes will be able to turn this series around, last night they were showing a lot of frustration and a huge lack of discipline. Every time that the Kings opponents have shown that the stitching has started to come undone they have turned their amps up to 11(Spinal Tap anyone?) and just started beating the will out of them. Also have to go with the home grown talent of Jonathan Quick representing my great home state of Connecticut.
So I’m going to spend the rest of the week still trying to get over Sunday and watch every one of these conference final games with the intensity that they deserve. What are you guys watching? What games are you looking forward to? Are you excited about the possibility of a LA/NY Stanley Cup, I think it could be huge for the sport but anything that could add to national coverage is huge to me. Have a great rest of the week and let me hear your thoughts.