Ping Pong Balls and the Constant Storm

by Ryan

If you haven’t noticed, I have had a hard time coming up with coherent thoughts about the Stanley Cup Finals. There have been plenty of bullet point thoughts, but nothing with the substance and structure necessary to make a full post about games this important.

88035444KC114_Stanley_Cup_FI think part of the problem is that I’m still struggling with this series. Part of me has tried to remain indifferent to the result, but I think this series has a lot more at stake than a trophy and some banners. When I see the Penguins and Red Wings take the ice I see two completely different philosophies at work, and that has a lot to do with who I want to win.

As I’ve said before, the Red Wings are the constant storm of competitiveness. Almost two decades of consecutive playoff appearances, and very few high draft positions. There is no big splash or chosen one on the ice for Detroit, just a few savvy trades, some players performing well above their draft position, and some very nice contracts.

The Penguins are, by all accounts, the exact opposite. Not only do they have a superstar, they have two, and a goaltender who was a #1 overall pick as well. The Penguins got good very quickly because they were bad for a very long time. Their awful seasons led to good draft positions, sometimes the very best.

Now this is far from a negative, as the Penguins did what bad teams are supposed to do. The draft is set up so these teams rebound, and a good general manager makes good on the chances he is given. The Penguins have had a lot of chances over the last decade, and they sure have paid off.

However, it is very interesting to me just how differently these teams operate. In reality they are two teams on completely different ends of the spectrum. Over the last two decades Pittsburgh has fluctuated like most teams do, moving from good to bad and back again. It’s the circle of life in any sport, and the good teams are the ones that stay atop longer than the others.

Ducks Red Wings HockeyAnd then there’s Detroit, who haven’t seen the basement in Darren Helm’s entire lifetime. The more I watch these games, the more I feel like it’s a battle between not only the two teams but their so-called winning formulas. A war of ping pong balls and late-round draft picks; the constant storm versus the sudden burst.

It’s a romantic way of looking at it, and it sure has distracted me enough to make posts about the series rare. The logic in me says that Detroit deserves to win, their system is superior on all accounts and is good for the league. Still, I know in reality there is a lot more at work here than draft positions, and no one deserves to win simply for how a team is put together.

It really isn’t an excuse, but more of an explanation of what’s been going through my head as the series moves forward. I’ve been spending far too much time dissecting things off the ice and haven’t really thought about what’s happening on it.

What I do know is that it’s been pretty strong hockey, and I’m hoping for another two games before we face the long, long summer.