There’s no way around it: I’ve been living a charade. I’ve been deceiving almost everyone I’ve ever met for far too long. I could feel the complex web of lies I’ve built starting to crumble around me for a few months now, but then, last night, everything came crashing down around me. So, it’s time to come clean: I am not a hockey expert. Man, that felt good. Like a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I’m not a hockey expert. Whatever you think the correct punishment is, I’ll take it. Throw the book at me. Lock me up and throw away the key. I’m not a hockey expert.
I thought I had everything figured out. Sure, pretty much all of my half-baked playoff predictions have been wrong, but I was still feeling good about my Finals pick. I mean, no one repeats in the NHL. It just doesn’t happen. It’s ingrained in the very fabric of the league: unpredictability and parity. But, lo and behold, the Penguins went and did it. It wasn’t always pretty, but they grinded out every game. Won it on grit and balls alone (with a sprinkling of two of the best players of the last 25 years). They just made the plays they needed to make. I’ve seen a couple places now comparing the Penguins to the Patriots due to the continued success in a league that doesn’t lend itself to it. I can definitely see the parallels. Built around a transcendent superstar (Brady/Crosby), a dominant secondary guy (Gronk/Moss/Malkin), and a rotating cast of fairly anonymous role players, both franchises are pretty much good every year. They’ve had the odd hiccup or two, but the Penguins almost always have one of the two or three best records in the East. They always play their best in the postseason. Literally everyone hates their fans and their best players. I’d embrace Penguins fans as kindred spirits, but then I’d have to associate myself with multiple people from Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is one of those places where you really only want to know one person from there. One of my buddies is from Pittsburgh, so I’m at my quota. I’ll keep on disliking the Penguins so I can fit in with everyone else. Sorry. Now the question is, will they three-peat? Probably not. For all their talk of parity, the last ten or so champions have been the same three or four teams. It’s time for a random team to win. I thought we were gonna get that this year, but I’m definitely feeling it next year. I’m going with the Winnipeg Jets. Been a long, looooooooong time since a team named the Jets did anything noteworthy, and we all know the NFL version isn’t doing anything any time soon. So, the hockey version is about to pick up the slack. And, Canada is due for a win. The way these things work, the most forgettable Canadian team is going to be the one to break the dry spell. Write in pen: Jets 2018 Stanley Cup Champions.