Carolina does not in fact, suck.
They two remaining teams in the East match up pretty well, but I'd give the initial advantage to Buffalo, as they hit a little harder, and as I saw in game 4 of Carolina/Devils, hitting the 'Canes early and often can slow them down.
Yet, for a beleaguered Bruins fan living in the New York metropolitan area, I'm sorry to see the Devils go, and not just because I'm always in favor of a longer playoff series. For one thing, The Devils have been a hell of a lot of fun to watch over the past month. Those who say that the Devils are still a boring, trapping team obviously never saw Patrick Elias pulling off a toe-heel drag deke on the power play or saw Cam Janssen smashing an opponent into the boards so hard that the little cartoon birds circling his head are clearly visible to those watching on HDTV.
Ultimately, I think the Devils just burned too hot, too fast, and with Jagr's injury and the Rangers' subsequent collapse leading to a week-long layoff, you had a team on a winning streak forced to sit around too long, and they just lost the hot hand. Conversely, the Hurricanes couldn't have been better prepared by dropping the first two games to a vastly weaker Montreal squad, and the adversity caused them to come together and jump all over the Devils early. Add a couple of lucky bounces and a few goals where they just refused to stop pressing, and they were ultimately the better club.
Still, I gotta tell you, after attending a Devils playoff game, for a team that has been as consistently excellent over the past 10 years, I was surprised to hear the repeated chant of "Rangers Suck,” of all things. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm from Boston, and I understand what it is to have a sports inferiority complex, but the Rangers actually DO suck. At least when we pre-2004 Boston fans chanted "Yankees Suck” it was because they beat us all the time. Or, more specifically, they may have beaten us on the scoreboard, but in a larger, more philosophical sense, we beat them- we were superior parents, had better public schools, and were big enough people to root for them after 9/11. And why were we so certain of our superiority?
Because they SUCK.
OK- it doesn't make much sense, but this is sports, not life, and it's a good thing to have at least one thing remaining in society where adults can revel in some sour grapes. It’s fun to have a forum where you can say, for example, “even though you're better you STILL suck, and the reason is because I say so, you fat fucking douchebag Yankee fan. And while I’m at it, fuck Derek Jeter and that goofy-ass little bat waggle he's got.”
But why the sour grapes when you're so obviously, clearly better? I know it must be frustrating for Devils fans to have Ranger fans coming into their building all the time, but c'mon, Devils fans, you've won more playoff games in the last 8 days than the New York Rangers have won in the past 8 years. The Rangers DO suck, and when you chant it all the time, especially after you already swept them, it makes you look more than a little pathetic.
Now the only thing to hope for in the immediate future is that the Sharks-Oilers go seven.
Here's some fun fan pics from the guys over at Covered in Oil, they've been fun to read this week as they have risen from misery to elation as the Oilers fought back to take a 3-2 lead- my favorite pic is the one about Cheechoo's panties.