In fact, the last final with relatively easy travel was in ’02, when the Red Wings defeated the Hurricanes. It was also the last time a Western Conference team prevailed in a Stanley Cup final, no small coincidence. One could argue that teams in the West are used to the rigors of the travel and that makes it an advantage, if they have to start ping-ponging back and forth, across the country for Games 5, 6 and 7.Guys like The Hat, who are on the beat all postseason long, certainly have a good feel for the travel schedule, and without the benefit of chartered flights, they spend an awful lot of April and May shuttling from airport to airport in places like Dallas and San Jose.
More likely though, the toll of a year’s worth of logging travel miles tends to catch up with the Western Conference representatives – and that certainly might have been the case if Detroit had advanced.
My guess is the travel is harder on the western based sportswriters, as well — although I doubt it affects their chances in the finals.