Hockey fans greet Saturday with a beautiful thing: uncertainty.
Remarkably, both the Eastern and Western Conference Final series are tied at 2-2. There’s a solid chance that the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs will set a new record for overtime games. The Chicago Blackhawks were swept in the first round; the Los Angeles Kings didn’t even make the playoffs.
Yes, there are some common threads. The Washington Capitals, somehow, ended their season with heartbreak once again. The Pittsburgh Penguins, meanwhile, find ways to compete even as their defensemen barely enjoy better luck than Spinal Tap drummers.
In the grand scheme of things, the postseason is very, very difficult to forecast. And it’s been that way for quite some time.
Now, contrast that to the NBA.
Basketball’s postseason sometimes feels like a long coronation for the status quo, but the 2017 playoffs have taken that to an extreme.
The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are both two wins away from a third consecutive championship bout and neither team has even lost a game yet. Last night, the Cavaliers absolutely demolished the Boston Celtics by a double-take score of 130-86. If this was NBA2K17, you would need to raise the difficulty level to avoid total boredom.
Don’t take this as a #PleaseLikeMySport screed. The uncertainty of the Stanley Cup Playoffs isn’t inherently “better” than the consistency on the hardwood. Sports fans love seeing a clash of the titans, after all, and it doesn’t get much better than Lebron vs. Seth and Durant.
Still, it’s reasonable to take a step back and note just how different these two postseasons have been.
The tantalizing part is that there might be more surprises ahead in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, too.