Three overtime games — five overtime periods — and this year's Stanley Cup Final is only four games old. It has to go at least six, but even if it stops there, it will go down as a classic. For the first time since 2004, the Final was tied after its first two games, and in this case both of those games were decided in extra time. The full extent of this series' classic-ness cannot even be guessed at until we see it end — Game 7 overtime anyone? — but if the first four games are any indication, it won't disappoint.
Skimming over the record books (and by record books I clearly mean web pages, because, honestly, record books?), it may seem as though we've seen some truly great Stanley Cup Finals recently. Eight of the last nine Finals have gone at least six games, and five of them have gone seven. But for those of us who have watched most or all of them, a few things stand out. Take the last seven-game final, 2011. The games Vancouver won were great, weren't they? All three of them were one-goal games, including one in overtime. But in the four games Boston won, they outscored the Canucks 21 to 3. That's seven times the goal output over four games for you math majors out there. Even if you include the entire series, the scoring is still 23 to 8. And what about the crown jewel, Game Seven itself? A 4-0 drubbing by the road team, albeit with an empty netter.
2009's Game Seven between Detroit and Pittsburgh was a different story. A riveting 2-1 game decided in large part by a last-second save? That's better. But the series as a whole wasn't. Games Six and Seven were the only two in the series decided by one goal, and Game Five was a 5-0 blowout in favor of the Red Wings.
In fact, this year's Final is one of only two since the 2004-05 lockout that has not featured at least one game in which the score differential was four or more. The other was 2010, when Chicago beat Philadelphia in six games. That series, I would argue, was the most exciting of any Final since the lockout. Exciting in the objective, not-a-fan-of-a-particular-team kind of way. Obviously, the most exciting Final for myself or most people likely to be reading this was 2007. But let's revisit that one for a moment, shall we? What an absolute bore. Only five games long, and only one of which — Game 2 — was a really good game. The clincher was awful, from a non-Ducks fan point of view, and we all know it.
I must come off as a bitter, difficult-to-please angry sort of fan here. And I don't mean to. No matter who is playing or what the series is shaping up to be, I have yet to watch a playoff hockey game of any sort and not be entertained, much less a Stanley Cup game. So I write this piece not with the wish to voice my complaints about the on-ice product of the NHL — because the Stanley Cup is the Stanley Cup, whether it's won in four straight routs or seven overtime games — but rather to encourage everyone to really enjoy this year's Final. Watch every game, as I assume you all have been doing, and take care to remember what happens. This might just be one to tell the grandkids about.