Since 94, we haven't seen anyone but the Wings, Devils, Avs, and Stars(only 1 cup, but they had a great 3 year run a few years back) win the cup. This year will obviously be quite different.
Dallas hasn't been beyond the 2nd round in 4 years.
Detroit hasn't been beyond the 2nd round in 5 out of the last 6 years(when you see that, it's a little shocking).
Colorado hasn't won the cup in 3 years, and haven't been beyond the 2nd round in 2 years. Most franchises would kill for a record like that, but Colorado set that standard for themselves.
New Jersey is New Jersey. They're out in the 1st round, or in the finals every year. But they did have their best run over a span of a few years before this year when they weren't the same team.
But in the West, it's now been two consecutive seasons with 4 different teams in the conference finals. That's pretty amazing. In a way, the West still went through Detroit, Colorado, and Dallas. Anaheim, Minnesota, San Jose, and Calgary all beat at least one of those teams on their way to the 3rd round.
It's a shame the Kings missed out on the fun. The Kings were getting better while the Wings, Avs, and Stars were still beating everyone. Then the last 2 years, all the injuies killed them. I'm not saying the Kings would've been a lock for the fun Anaheim, Minnesota, San Jose, and Calgary have been having. Look at the Blues and Canucks. But who would've picked San Jose and Calgary for a conference final in the West this year? Says a lot for pre-season predictions.
Should be an awesome conference finals though. Both series have terrific potential.
It makes sense that an era on the ice ends, just as an era off the ice is coming to a close as well. Hopefully both sides will just get things together with the new CBA. Nobody watches hockey as it is, and if the owners and players fight over millions of dollars, with the way the world is today, it'll be tough for the NHL. Just get it done.
Quite easily this season could be the last for a Hall of Fame group deciding to retire. It all depends on the CBA resolution, but Chelios, Messier, Yzerman, Belfour, and others are at the ends of their careers whether this season or the next.
There has already been a lot of talk about the newer players emerging in the league, but it didn't just happen this year. It started when Iginla was the Art Ross trophy a few years ago, and you were hearing less about Hasek, Belfour, and Roy to hear more about Turco, Nabakov, and Theodore. The change of the guard is in full effect right now, and that even includes teams. The super powers mentioned earlier have won for the best decade, and while that was happening there were many teams who were building on youth and that youth is coming into their own right now. It'll continue to develop the next couple of seasons, it's a cycle that the older fans or longer term fans have seen before.