Haggerty: Kings looking like Cup favorites

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Haggerty: Kings looking like Cup favorites

The Los Angeles Kings might have just won themselves the Stanley Cup with last nights early, entertaining dispatching of the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Kings certainly looked the part of hockey royalty while dusting the third-seeded Coyotes in five games capped by Tuesday nights 4-3 overtime thriller in Glendale.

Dustin Brown is the kind of one-man wrecking ball that would make any Bruins fan proud, Drew Doughty is the do-everything defenseman that every NHL team lusts after and Jonathan Quick was dubbed Vezina Smythe by his teammate Dustin Penner in postgame interviews after his game-winning goal in overtime on Tuesday night.

The Kings now await the winners of the rock fight between the Rangers and Devils, and it should be a pretty advantageous position for the West Coast warriors either way. They get a week to rest and recharge the batteries while the Eastern Conference slugfest continues.

If the favored Blueshirts end up taking the hotly contested best-of-seven series that appears destined to go the distance, it will mean New York has played the maximum 21 playoff games entering the Cup Finals against a rosy-cheeked Kings bunch. After brutal opening playoff series against the Senators and Capitals, the Rangers are doing everything the hard way in the playoffs.

That kind of yeomans work might cost them when they need to dig down deepest against their West Coast challengers, and certainly takes a toll as time wears on.

After the Bruins became the first NHL team to win three Game 7s en route to the Stanley Cup last season, it doesnt take a Massive Dynamic scientist to tell anybody the Rangers would have to match that feat against the hottest team in hockey.

Unless, of course, they can take care of business in the next two games against New Jersey and get a couple extra days off.

Looking through the annals of playoff lore, every Stanley Cup winner has enjoyed at least one short series where they were able to catch their breath en route to raising the Cup.

Last year the Bs blew out the Flyers in a four-game second round sweep that turned into a key factor in their Cup victory. This season the New Jersey Devils had a five-game victory over the very-same accommodating Flyers team in the second round of the playoffs.

The Kings have only played 14 playoff games entering the Conference Finals. That means, in essence, that the Rangers will have played another entire series of games going up against the Kings. Thats a huge difference.

The Devils might actually stand to be the Eastern Conference opponent more able to give a Los Angeles team of destiny the best fight possible.

One thing is certain if both the Rangers and Kings make the Cup Finals: Yet another team that began the year in Europe at the Premiere Games will hoist the Cup overhead just as the Black and Gold did last season.

Morning Skate: Flames land Hamonic in trade with Islanders

Morning Skate: Flames land Hamonic in trade with Islanders

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while touching back down from the Windy City of Chicago.

 

*The Calgary Flames step away as one of the big winners in the NHL Draft weekend after securing defenseman Travis Hamonic on Day 2 of the festivities.

 

*Here’s a good piece on a Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick, and the lengths that hockey families will go to better their career chances.

 

*Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion sure sounds like a guy that’s working to try and deal Dion Phaneuf away from the Sens, doesn’t he?

 

*Cool story about the second round pick of the Los Angeles Kings, and a family background that is just going to become more and more commonplace as time goes by. Congrats to the family on what must have been a great weekend in Chicago.

 

*The Flyers are loading up on draft picks and trading some veterans, but don’t dare call it a rebuild in Philadelphia.

 

*Speaking of picks from Saturday’s second day of the draft, the Blue Jackets actually drafted a kid from the same hometown in the French Alps, Grenoble, as Andre the Giant. That is pretty damn noteworthy.  

 

*For something completely different: I’d always wondered about the backstory with the father in the Toy Story movies, and this is certainly a major bummer of a background story.

NHL shouldn't overthink offsides challenges any longer; they should just get rid of them

NHL shouldn't overthink offsides challenges any longer; they should just get rid of them

When the hockey world grew tired of shootouts, the league took something of a half measure. Rather than eliminate the shootout, the league moved overtime from 4-on-4 to 3-on-3. It worked; games that were tied at the end of regulation were more likely to end in the five-minute OT period than before, thus reducing the frequency of shootouts. 

Now, the NHL is dealing with its latest cumbersome gameplay issue: the offsides challenge. A half-measure isn’t as desirable in this case. No more half measures, Walter. 

The offsides challenge was introduced with good intentions, but it’s simply too easy to abuse. And really, when the option is there with only a timeout at risk, why wouldn’t a coach roll the dice that maybe a guy was offsides entering the zone 29 seconds before the goal was scored? 

The option needs to be taken away. Rely on blueline cameras and automatically look at anything close on a goal that’s scored off the rush. It would take two seconds and would save the refs from another Matt Duchene incident while saving the viewer a lot of time. Let anything else go the way of the dry scrape. 

There’s the temptation to instead tweak -- maybe make offsides challengeable if the entry in question occurs within however many seconds -- but that would just mean more time would be wasted seeing if a play was even challengeable. 

It was proposed at the GM meetings in Chicago that if a coach loses an offsides challenge, his team will be assessed a two-minute penalty. That sounds great as a deterrent, but it won’t stop instances of the needless why-the-hell-not challenge. Late in games, coaches might be just as likely to take their chances in a tie game or a one-goal game. That goal allowed could likely be the deciding tally, so if they’re likely to lose anyway, some coaches might still go for the time-wasting Hail Mary. 

And of course, the loser there is the person hoping to catch their train out of North Station in time, or the person who might doze off during the stupid challenge, wake up four hours later on their couch and develop back issues over time. That was a friend, not me. 

Colin Campbell said at the GM meetings in Chicago ahead of the draft that the league is trying to "temper" the negative reaction the offside challenge has received from players and fans. 

There’s really only way to do that, and that’s to get rid of it.

See you in a year when we’re going through the same thing with goalie interference.