The Deadspin NHL Playoff Previews are brought to you the five wealthiest people in the world known as the MYFO Pentaverate. They blog from a secret country mansion known as the Meadows. Beware their wee beady eyes and those smug looks on their faces. Today, Hextall454 breaks down the Eastern Conference Finals.
In the days of Old-Time Hockey, a shiny silver trophy was all the reason you needed to win a playoff series. Times were simpler. Helmets were optional. TV coverage was...well, about the same as it is today. But the point is the players of yesterday didn't need an emotional X factor to help lift them past their Eastern Conference Final opponent. The media didn't have a storyline to shove through our eye sockets just to make the game more interesting. Now I'm not saying that the Flyers or the Penguins will have said factors to bank on for their Best-of-7. But if ESPN were to accidentally cover ice hockey this week, this is what they'd say:
Elitism: It's Lonely at the Top. But it's Comforting to Look Down Upon Everyone at the Bottom. Man, talk about crushing expectations. You're Sidney Crosby, and somewhere along the line an irreverent hockey blog dubs you "Hockey Jesus." It's not that the moniker isn't well-deserved. That doesn't scare you, as you lead the league in playoff points despite only playing nine games. You don't mind the holy press and the righteous comparisons. What scares you is the Truth, and it's not going to take a Dan Brown novel to let it leak.
It's true. God IS actually your dad.
All of your Father's Creation was designed solely so that you could win a Stanley Cup. In Heaven, somewhere in his massive study, he's got a mantle where he'd like to place all of his greatest achievements. You know what, Son? There's an empty space atop that flawless marble shelf, between the first Wheel and Pizza Bagels. Wouldn't a Stanley Cup look AWESOME right there? The Man froze both polar caps just so you'd have a pond to hone your skills upon. He promised Atlanta GM Don Waddell a free ticket to Heaven in exchange for Marian Hossa. He granted an Everlasting Life ticket to Sergei Gonchar, whose 83-year-old body is still playing an impressive 25 minutes per game. Sidney, you need to take it from here. You have two choices. Beat the Flyers, or prepare to die for all man's sins.
Ignorance: It's Amazing How Much Easier it is For a Team to Work Together When No One Has Any Idea Where They're Going. Enter the ESPN.com experts. It's a motley collection of SportsCenter anchors, mullets, pasty dot-com columnists and a dude named Amber. In the first round, only Barry Melrose picked the Flyers to knock off Washington. In Round 2, only John Buccigross voted for America to defeat Canada. Round 3? Six out of six casual sports media personalities agree: Stanley Cup Final tickets will be on sale in Pittsburgh in a few weeks.
Now Philly no doubt appreciates the back-handed compliment that it will be seven games before the Pens can dispatch of their cross-state rivals (Six games, Burnside? Fall on a skate blade, pal.) However, if John Stevens finds a way to make this bulletin board material (Derian Hatcher suggests stapling his laptop to the wall), there are a few factors that may cut the Second Coming short. Marty Biron has stolen games in each of the past two series. Kimmo Timonen has played with all the audacity of a premier blue liner, keeping the puck in the zone on power plays and shutting down the opposition's leading scorer. And Jeff Carter of all people, has seemed a step faster than just about everyone in these playoffs. At some point, that dam will break and the goals will flow. Oh, and R.J. Umberger sounds delicious.
The official MYFO pick is the Pittsburgh Penguins in 9.
Stick-tap to Despair for the graphics. [Despair]