Our tour has ended, and we are home just in time to watch the beginning of the Stanley Cup finals. We were running into some terrible weather the past few weeks of our tour, so it's great to be home and have it be sunny and 85 here in New York. It's not really hockey weather, but it never is for the Cup finals.
I did watch a decent amount of the Eastern and Western Conference finals; both series were very impressive. Watching the Vancouver Canucks is really something special for a hockey fan. Their process of playmaking is so unique that sometimes I can't even fathom how Henrik and Daniel Sedin and the supporting cast think of a play, try the play and then execute it for a scoring chance. That said, it took a bit of luck and some confusion for Kevin Bieksa to score the Game 5 double-overtime winner against San Jose.
The Sharks have been in the conference finals two years in a row and have been in the upper echelon of the NHL for years. They have hit their stride and are playing the way they need to play to be successful. However, the past two years, one better team has moved on to the finals. It's a tough position to be in, because obviously the Sharks are close and there really isn't a huge problem with their lineup or coaching. It's hard to say what they need to do to get over the conference finals hump.
Out in the Eastern Conference was a bit more even matchup between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins. Throughout the whole series, I couldn't decide who would be a better opponent for the Canucks. Both teams possess enough offensive weapons and solid goaltending. The series took seven games and went down to the wire, as a third-period Nathan Horton goal won Game 7 and the series for the Bruins.
Horton's emergence as a scoring and physical force for the Bruins was quite impressive. He had timely goals and a newfound attitude that I think is giving him confidence in his game and in turn is giving his team confidence. Also, in just one year, Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman found enough puzzle pieces to add to his big-time players such as Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis and Steven Stamkos. Kudos to the Lightning GM and the Tampa Bay organization for putting together a great run.
So the Stanley Cup finals are set with an exciting matchup. Most signs lead to Vancouver taking home its first Stanley Cup for the franchise, but you never know. That's why they play the games.
I'm looking forward to sitting on my couch for a few games and hitting up some local bars with some friends for others. It's good to be home for the finals as well as everything that comes after, such as the NHL awards show, the NHL entry draft and free-agency period. Hockey season never ends for the die-hard fan.
Bayside bassist Nick Ghanbarian has been contributing a blog for ESPN Music periodically during the Stanley Cup playoffs.