Nobody asked me, but ...

9:03 AM, May 7, 2013   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Is it really even close?

Let me explain.

No regular season among the four sports is worse than the NHL's.

It just drags on and on (it didn't this season because of the lockout; instead it was great because it was so short) as our teams all slog through 82 games that seem to run into one another.

The NFL's regular season is great because with only 16 games each one is important.

The NBA plays too many games, too, but each one has a winner. No overtime ties. And no confusion whether or not your team got a point or lost a point.

And baseball is baseball. We're used to 162 games and it carries us through the summer and into the fall.

But when it comes time for the playoffs, is anything better than the NHL? The goonery all but stops and the guys paid to fight during the regular season are now paid to sit in the press box and watch the guys with actual skills play the game.

And, best of all, where you finished during the regular season doesn't matter a whit. Just get in and you have a chance - a real chance.

Just look back to last year at what the Los Angeles Kings did. They made the postseason as the eighth and final seed out of the Western Conference and won the Stanley Cup. To top it off, on their road to eventually beating the New Jersey Devils in six games for the Cup, the Kings beat the top three seeds in the Western Conference. Phenomenal.

No other team in North American history had ever been seeded that low and won everything. But you had to figure it would happen first in ice hockey because it's so wide open.

The best teams during the regular season, especially in the NBA, usually end up playing for the title. But ice hockey, not so much.

Now, when you look at the current playoffs, one team jumps out at you - the Chicago Blackhawks.

They smoked their way through the regular season thanks to an unreal start - the Chicago Blackhawks opened up with a 21-0-3 mark before finally losing - and are the favorites to win the franchise's fifth Stanley Cup and second in four seasons.

But, it's never easy in the NHL. Just consider where we are now - in the opening round of the playoffs.

There are eight series going on as we speak and in only half of them did one team win the first two games.

That in itself is wacky. Teams play all season for home ice advantage in the postseason and that advantage can be gone in an instant. Just go back again to the Kings last year. They had a 10-0 stretch of road wins during their run. Crazy, but true.

So, where does all of this leave us now?

The playoffs have just started, but who will be hoisting the Stanley Cup next months?

The easy pick would be the Blackhawks. They're young, really good, and showed how dominant they could be over the 48-game regular season.

But, as we said, the regular season doesn't count for much. That's why I can't go Chicago's way.

I'd like to pick the Bruins because of all that Boston has gone through with the Boston Marathon tragedy, but I can't see that happening.

As for the Kings, repeating as champs is really hard to do and they won't be doing it.

The team that will win their first Stanley Cup is the Washington Capitals. The Caps soared through the end of the season and went from playoff afternoon thought to division champ.

Alex Ovechkin remains on fire and he is going to lead the way as the Caps knock off the St. Louis Blues in six games.

We'll revisit this in a few weeks and see where we stand.

Until then, just enjoy the show because the NHL does the playoffs better than the rest.

The Sports Network

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