Yes, it's baseball season so I'm spending a good chunk of my time on the Toronto-Cleveland corridor, at Coca-Cola Field and over at the Inside Pitch blog, but there's been plenty of press box TVs tuned to the Stanley Cup playoffs the last few weeks as well. So here are a few ice chips I've collected:
Ilya Kovalchuk: Regulars here and on my Twitter feed know I was consistently pounding on the Devils for the Kovy deal, both for the way it circumvented cap rules and for the stupidity of handing that kind of money to a guy who didn't win a single playoff game in Atlanta in his career. I don't take it all back but I basically gotta take 95 percent of it back. Kovalchuk (right, after Game Six goal against Rangers) has been mostly brilliant this spring and the Devils are in the final. You get to the SCF and any kind of big-money deal has to be worth it now, right?
The Rangers: I never thought they had enough offense to win the whole thing and they were, frankly, lucky to get to Game Six of the conference final. Both the Senators and Capitals had good shots to get them in seven-game series in the first two rounds. Good thing they didn't win the Cup, by the way. We wouldn't want coaches to copycat that style either.
John Tortorella: I wonder which Rangers or NHL official got to him midway through the Devils series, when he finally stopped the sub-human act during his postgame pressers. That NEVER would have played had the team made the final. For those who ridiculously said "good for him," I remind you that dealing with the media is part of the head coach's responsibility to the league to promote the sport -- especially at this time of year. Lindy Ruff is one of the best in the league at it on most days. Every other coach in the playoffs was doing it. No excuse for Torts' act.
The Kings: Keeping the string alive of teams opening the season in Europe and making the final (remember how often we pulled that stat out on the Sabres?). They look awesome right now: Goaltending, defense, offense. Still baffling how they finished eighth in the West, baffling how they were 29th in the league in goals during the regular season. So many of you keep saying, "they were two points out of third" and that's true but they didn't get there. They were eighth in an 82-game schedule, no small sample. You can do that with any team -- the Sabres, remember, were four points out of seventh.
Coaches: It's now three of the last four years (Pittsburgh 2009, Philly 2010, Los Angeles 2012) where a team fired its coach during the season and made the SCF. And the Devils, remember, hired Peter DeBoer over the summer so he's in his first season. And the Sabres move on with the same coach who has won a playoff series in only two of the last 10 seasons -- including none in the last five -- and a coach who hasn't even made the postseason in six of those years. Just sayin'.
The Sabres: Don't agree with those who say it's no biggie they didn't get in because they wouldn't have done anything anyway. Their four games against the Rangers were a 4-1 win, a 4-1 loss, a 1-0 shootout loss and a 4-3 overtime loss. Seems pretty tight to me. They had whacked the Caps on the road in the final 10 days of the season -- and Washington took out Boston. Certainly, they were up against it without Christian Ehrhoff and Tyler Myers and it's all speculation how Ryan Miller would have played (stop Joey Crabb on a breakaway, please) but Darcy Regier said plenty of times this was a year for a low seed to maybe win the Cup.
Lo and behold, we've got a 6 and an 8 in the Cup final just as Regier said. Just get in. This isn't the NBA where bottom seeds almost never win. Major miss coming in ninth.
The pick: I've got Kings in six. Devils, remember, needed double overtime in Game Seven just to get out of the first round in Florida. The Kings are on a roll we've almost never seen before, especially on the road. I don't see them cooling off in bucolic Newark.
Photo: Associated Press