It hardly feels like a year since our last Conference Finals Tale of the Tape, but it’s time to break out IPB’s highly scientific approach to determining who should win. Today we’ll address the Western Conference. You know, that conference we know we sooooo much about. Tune in tomorrow for the Eastern Conference.
Detroit (1) vs. Dallas (5)
We are really well-informed about this series. What can we say? We’re bloggers. That makes us experts. We’ve been paying very close attention to the Stars in the early rounds of the playoffs, and have watched a grand total of maybe 40 minutes of all the Red Wings games so far. But they were a very convincing 40 minutes. If the Stars decide to look at all like the Avalanche did in Game 4 of the second round, it’s going to be a quick and bleak series for them. Apparently, when their opponent is utterly incompetent at the sport of hockey, the Red Wings are really good. But are they as good when their opponent is, like the Stars, not utterly incompetent? Probably. But don’t go trying to burst our bubble of newfound Stars fandom. We love how confident both of these teams look, and the fact is that while we know a lot of the names of the players on both rosters, we wouldn’t be able to pick more than three guys from either team out of a police lineup. Advantage: Red Wings
This is a head-to-head battle between two guys who’ve long struggled with a terribly unfair, burdensome label — no, we’re not talking about the whole “playoff choker” or “underrated” thing, we’re talking about us thinking they’re douches. As it turns out, we were just projecting our dislike of their teams, when in reality, they’re both adorable in their own unique ways. First up, there’s Marty Turco, who won us over completely with his charming mic’d up turn during last year’s All-Star Game. Who knew he could be so personable? And he blazed a trail by doing in-game play-by-play that made the way for Manny Legace’s star-making hilariousness during this season’s ASG, and Pretty Ricky’s magnificent slip-up when he declared over an open mic that he’d just “fucked up” his hip during the Superskills. On the other side of the coin is Chris Osgood, who, for some inexplicable reason, has prompted us for years to shout, “Yo yo yo! Ozzie in da house!” every time we see him on TV. Seriously, we have no idea why we do this. But look at this picture! He’s too cute for words! Advantage: Push, unless Hasek gets back in net. Then decided advantage Stars
This one’s a no-brainer. Dave Tippet is freakin’ adorable. Bored during the lock-out he took up motorcycle building to pass the time! Following the 8th longest game in NHL history he wrote on the dressing room white-board that every player had given “195%”! We’re fairly certain he spends his weekends volunteering at the animal shelter, delivering food to shut-ins, and planting flowers in downtrodden neighborhoods. Mike Babcock, on the other hand, is a monster. He once said IPB’s beloved Mike Commodore “never should have been drafted”. He held hockey fans everywhere hostage in 2003 with his overuse of the word “greasy”. We’d be surprised if he doesn’t spend his weekends releasing kittens into the wild to repopulate feral cat colonies, boxing in Meals on Wheels trucks, and planting invasive weeds on every corner. Advantage: Stars
As Devils fans we have to salute the Red Wings for making as few changes to their uniform as was possible for this season of the Sexy Slimfit Look. The winged wheel is hands-down one of the greatest logos in all of sports, maybe even of all logo-dom. That logo alone more than makes up for the fact that the Wings wear red pants, which is almost always a terrible idea. The Stars, meanwhile, took the makeover opportunity and ran with it, completely revamping their look. Since the previous look included the mooterus and those dopey star ponchos, it should leave us without complaint. But… We’re just not sure about the “Dallas” baseball-style design. It’s a little too sparse for us. We’re not “sparse” people. Advantage: Red Wings
While both teams’ media guides might tell you they don’t actually have mascots, that’s a load of bunk. The only reason the Stars don’t have an official mascot is because they promoted him to co-GM after firing Doug Armstrong. And we’re not talking about Les Jackson! ZING! Meanwhile, Detroit acts like they’re all “too Original Six” for a mascot, but if Toronto, Montreal, Boston and Chicago can have them, then really all you’re doing by refusing to have a giant plush dude wearing team colors and running around your arena is aligning yourself with the Rangers. The Wings seem to be hedging their bets by having that insipid purple polystyrene octopus that descends from the rafters, a half-measure that fails worse than not trying at all. So the tale of the tape for the mascots in this series come down to the unofficial mascots Brett Hull and Octopussy — Advantage: Stars
Players We Love, In Spite Of Ourselves:
Remember how we mentioned earlier that we don’t really know anything about these teams? Yeah. That means we don’t know which guys we shouldn’t like. There’s really no “in spite of ourselves” when we say we’ve fallen in playoff love with Brenden Morrow, is there? Schnookie has strangely set her playoff goggles on Tomas Holmstrom, but really, that’s not really very “in spite of ourselves” either. We’re not sure if the problem is us, or if it’s that neither one of these teams is particularly ugsome if you don’t play in the Western Conference. Advantage: Push
Players Who Annoy The Living Crap Out Of Us:
Relevance is no issue here, as in one corner we have Darren McCarty, washed-up ex-grinder, and in the other we have Willa Ford, who we think was on some network reality show we don’t watch (if it ain’t ANTM, it’s a waste of airtime). Darren McCarty was the cherry on the sundae of the Wings-’Lanche Turn The Clock Back To 1996 fiasco this post-season. ’96 was the first playoffs we watched as truly crazed hockey fans, but even then, when we were jumping on any and every bandwagon we could, we hated McCarty. Willa Ford reminds us why we’re glad we don’t care about celebrity gossip anymore. Advantage: Stars
Playoff History Against New Jersey:
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Advantage: Push
City Claims To Fame:
In 2003 we packed up trusty Pando the Prius and headed out from Arizona to New Jersey. The best part of the drive, by far, went through North Texas. North Texas? Is stunningly beautiful. (The 80 mph speed limit is also beautiful.) The worst part of the drive, by far, went through Dallas. Our driving directions from AAA involved merging into the far left lane of an 8,000-lane highway and then taking an off-ramp on the right-hand side of the highway 10 feet later. We still have the white knuckles to show for it. After a long day of being in the car and after braving and barely surviving the famous Death Merge, we arrived at our hotel, desperate for room service. Gentle Reader, there was no room service. We dragged our sorry asses to the front desk and begged for directions to the foodstuffs that would require the least amount of driving on our parts. The concierge directed us to the one place that didn’t require getting back on the highway — some chain restaurant industrial park. Whatevs, said we, as long as there’s no death merge. In place of a death merge we got a series of shadowier and shadowier back service roads littered with billboards for strip clubs and gun shows. Now when we think of Dallas we think of the Famed Stripper-Gun-Show District. Good times, good times. The only time we’ve been to Detroit, we sat on the tarmac at the Detroit airport in a non-deplaning layover while waiting to fly to Vancouver for the ’98 All-Star Game. Advantage: Detroit
This one’s almost too close to call, Gentle Reader. At first glance, it looks like a 3-3 tie, but if Hasek gets in net, the Stars eke out the win in the Tale of the Tape.