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updated: 5/21/2013 9:18 PM

Top team today means little tomorrow

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  • Who's to say the Detroit Red Wings, here celebrating their 3-1 victory in Game 3, haven't evolved into a team as good and deep and cohesive and gritty and overall dangerous as the Blackhawks?

      Who's to say the Detroit Red Wings, here celebrating their 3-1 victory in Game 3, haven't evolved into a team as good and deep and cohesive and gritty and overall dangerous as the Blackhawks?
    Associated Press

 
 

The Blackhawks are going to win their playoff series against the Red Wings.

Why?

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Because they're the better team.

Who says?

Just about everybody with an opinion.

Who is this "everybody"?

Fans, members of the media, network hockey experts.

What do they know?

Not really very much, unless they live in Canada where they know the difference between a blue line and a blue moon.

Here's the real question: If the Hawks are so good, why is the league even bothering to play this Western Conference semifinal series specifically and the Stanley Cup playoffs generally?

The NFL should have canceled the Super Bowl when the Patriots showed up with a perfect record before losing to the Giants. Every year, college basketball's No. 1 seed entering the NCAA Tournament should be awarded the national championship. The Yankees should be ordained World Series champs every year based on payroll.

Look, the Blackhawks did set records during their fast start in January and did finish with the most points during the regular season. But that doesn't mean they were the NHL's best team. It just means that they had the league's best record.

Even if the Hawks have the most talent, that doesn't mean they should be handed the Stanley Cup. The best team doesn't win all that often in any league anymore, especially not in the NHL.

Many of the analysts heralding the Hawks' roster depth as the league's best have no idea who plays on Boston's third line or Los Angeles' third defensive pairing.

But it became fashionable to say the Hawks' depth is the league's deepest and by extension that they are the NHL's best team.

Somebody with a Canadian passport on ESPN proclaims it, Americans repeat it to sound hockey smart, and that makes it true.

I hate to keep pounding on this point, but all those points the Blackhawks compiled the first month of the season were due at least in part to them coming out of the NHL lockout pretty much intact from the previous season.

After that the abbreviated schedule was a scrimmage, with the Hawks trying to maintain the foundation they established and opponents trying to become worthy challengers.

So, now, who's to say the Red Wings haven't evolved into a team as good and deep and cohesive and gritty and overall dangerous as the Hawks?

For the sake of filling that big black hole that is cyberspace, news agencies compile power rankings in various leagues. They are written in digital pencil and adjusted from week to week because No. 1 this week could be No. 4 next week.

So tell me this: If there is movement during the regular season, why can't the best team entering the playoffs no longer be the best team a week later?

An injury can change everything. A great player like Jonathan Toews can plunge into a great slump and become a great disappointment. Referees' calls can go against a team like the Hawks instead of going in their favor. Close games that were victories can become losses because the breaks evened out.

So it's etched in the ice that the Blackhawks will rally to beat Detroit this week and go on to win the Stanley Cup because they're the NHL's best team?

Even if experts keep saying it, well, that alone doesn't make it true.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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