Brief and to the Point …
>> The Monday column measures the gap between the Pirates’ ability to evaluate and teach pitching and the same for the hitting. It took an extra-long stick.
If you haven’t seen the mindboggling quote Neal Huntington gave to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal yesterday, it’s in there, too.
>> The puck doesn’t drop until Wednesday, but I’ll take the Kings in six.
I love Jonathan Quick in goal, the great Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown up front, and the totality of a deep, diverse defense, especially Drew Doughty when his head is on right. It’s a talented team with enough toughness and chemistry that what they’ve done so far — knocking off the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 seeds in the West convincingly — hasn’t looked remotely fluky.
Above all, though, I can’t help but factor in how fresh Los Angeles is, having played only three games above the minimum. Remember when Badger Bob Johnson was with the Penguins and famously said how that any team winning the Cup needs to have at least one easy series along the way? Just for the wear and tear.
Well, the Kings essentially had three easy series, while the Devils … haven’t exactly labored, but there’s no question they had to sweat and bruise more.
Big, big deal in an attrition tournament like this.
So is the big goal, which is why I’ll take Kopitar for Conn Smythe.
>> You’re going to hear a lot leading up to Wednesday about the “bandwagon” in L.A. for the Kings. There’s no doubt they’ll draw way more attention than usual. Every team in a championship does. But anyone who knows their Kings history knows that there have always been about 10,000 total diehards there, people who are pucks first, who know more about the team’s background than the Triple Crown line or the Miracle on Manchester. They’re real hockey fans.
For me, that’s going to make this final more fun than anything.
>> This was my appearance on KDKA-TV’s Showdown last night.
>> The weekly appearance on TribLIVE Radio was pushed back to Wednesday because of Memorial Day.