Boston and Chicago Rolling Along

Wow, was I way off base on my predictions for the Conference Finals. At least Game 1 in the West was a close one but the other 3 games, especially both games so far in the Bruins and Penguins series haven’t been close, AT ALL. Take last night for example, Marchand scores :28 in and then I felt this would have more accurately summed up what Boston was shooting at all night.

I’m a little shocked by what the Penguins have brought to the ice so far in this series, especially after dominating Ottawa the way they did. After losing the first game to Boston, I would have expected to see the Penguins best game last night but instead we were treated to their worst. I’m not sure where the Penguins entire defensive unit is but clearly they haven’t been anywhere near the Consol Energy Center. For those Penguins fans out there, I hope they know what time their flight to Boston is and how to get to the airport.  I was right about one prediction going into this series, I just didn’t realize it would be greeted with such thunderous applause.

If I am a Penguins fan, I am a bit worried that I’ve dropped the first two games and that they haven’t been close. Now, the Bruins get to go home and get the crowd behind them, get last chance, etc. Pittsburgh better figure it out quick.

Look, while my predictions on the number of games won’t turn out to be right, I’m not sold that LA and Pittsburgh aren’t going to find a way to come back. Both of these teams are too good to just roll over here and head home for the summer. LA has been great at home so Chicago will have some work to do. Pittsburgh’s situation is a little tougher because now they have to go win on the road.

What do you think? Boston and Chicago continue to roll or can LA and Pittsburgh find a way back into this round?

 

The Red Wings Continue To Surprise Us

I love playoff hockey and right now, the Detroit Red Wings are a prime example as to why I love it so much. When there were only a handful of regular season games remaining, you really couldn’t browse hockey web sites and forums without seeing the discussion about the possibility of the Red Wings playoff streak coming to an end. But then, this team went on a tear, winning their last 4 games of the regular season and outscoring their opponents 15-3 in those 4 games, which secured them a spot in the post-season. Streak still intact and now Detroit looking to turn some heads but no one really gave them a chance, yours truly included.

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Hawks-Wings Series Preview

This is a match up that very few saw happening a few weeks ago but a very welcomed match up since the upcoming re-alignment will put an end to this rivalry. Let’s be honest for a moment, this isn’t the deepest or most talented team or even the most experience team that Detroit has put on the ice over the last 20+ years but the growth that they’ve shown over the last month has been very impressive.

Just a few short weeks ago, the Red Wings were being inserted into the conversation about the draft lottery, not about making a run in the playoffs. Yet here they are, one of the final 8 teams to remain in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs and they are coming off an impressive series win against the #2 Anaheim Ducks. They’ve managed to go further into the playoffs than the 2012 Red Wings, a team that put together a league record 23 game home winning streak. The Red Wings have come a long way but now, they face an enormous task, the rival Chicago Blackhawks.

It’s no surprise that the President’s Trophy winning Chicago Blackhawks are still around. They are a team loaded with guys that know how to score, defensemen that know how to minimize the opposition’s opportunities and a goalie that cleans up after those rare mistakes are made.

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LET’S GET OLYMPIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So by semi-popular demand (and my own need to keep busy during this Olympic Break… and well the fact I hate when this site becomes a Ghost Town… but I am the last one standing here… not by design… believe me one of the reasons I joined here was to be a supporting member not the featured writer… but seems with anything I do I end up running the damn show anyway no matter how much I DON’T want to… so here we go again….)…anyway,…. I don’t think I’ll recap any games till we get to the medal round….so insert quality filler here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (and as a reference point… I bolded all players in the NHL)

    Teams that could only win if Tommy Salo made an Olympic Return
    (aka, Dark Horses/the teams that suck!)

  • BELARUS
  • Goaltenders: Vitali Koval, Maxim Malyutin, Andrei Mezin
    Defense: Andrei Antonov, Andrei Bashko, Vladimir Denisov, Viktor Kostiuchenok, Ruslan Salei, Nikolai Stasenko, Vadim Sushko, Alexander Syrei
    Forwards: Oleg Antonenko, Sergei Demagin, Mikhail Grabovsky, Alexei Kaliuzhny, Konstantin Koltsov, Andrei Kostitsyn, Sergei Kostitsyn, Alexander Kulakov, Andrei Mikhalev, Andrei Stas, Alexei Ugarov, Sergei Zadelenov

    Alright… be honest you barely know anyone on this team either (though one or two of the people who love to piss and moan at me, hell they probably blame me for every one else retiring)… the only reason I remember Mezin is I think he was the goalie when Tommy Salo headbutted team Belarus into one of the biggest upsets in Olympic History… they have a few NHL players, and none of them are exactly all-stars…. I ain’t wasting much time on the cannon fodders……

  • GERMANY
  • Goaltenders: Dennis Endras, Thomas Greiss, Dimitri Pätzold
    Defense: Michael Bakos, Christian Ehrhoff, Jakub Ficenec, Jason Holland, Korbinian Holzer, Chris Schmidt,
    Dennis Seidenberg, Alexander Sulzer
    Forwards: Alexander Barta, Sven Felski, Marcel Goc, Thomas Greilinger, Jochen Hecht, Manuel Klinge, Marcel Müller, Travis James Mulock, André Rankel, Marco Sturm, John Tripp, Michael Wolf

    FYI, Thomas Greiss is Nabby’s backup in San Jose in case you wasted time reading this part (no I didn’t need to look it up :p)… Strum and Hecht are functional NHL’ers… but again…. they ain’t got the guns… they are improved from the days of it being the “beat on Ollie Kolzig show”… but they’re stilla LONG way from being competitive in a top-tier way…..

  • LATVIA
  • Goaltenders: Edgars Masalskis, Ervins Mustukovs, Sergejs Naumovs
    Defense: Oskars Bartulis, Guntis Galvins, Rodrigo Lavins, Georgijs Pujacs, Krisjanis Redlihs, Arvids Rekis,
    Karlis Skrastins, Kristaps Sotnieks
    Forwards: Girts Ankipans, Armands Berzins, Martins Cipulis, Lauris Darzins, Kaspars Daugavins, Martins Karsums, Gints Meija,
    Aleksandrs Nizivijs, Mikelis Redlihs, Aleksejs Sirokovs, Janis Sprukts, Herberts Vasiljevs

    Ah… WORLD FAMOUS Latvia (ok you had to read the facebook status to get that), but like I hinted there and the two teams above….. there’s not much here to brag about… and this is one of them teams that will have a parade if they win a game in the prelims and call it a GREAT SUCCESS on a Borat type level (hopefully without the hairy naked man-wrestling scenes :p)

  • NORWAY
  • Goaltenders: Pål Grotnes, Andre Lysenstøen, Ruben Smith
    Defense: Alexander Bonsaksen, Jonas Holøs, Tommy Jakobsen, Juha Kaunismäki, Lars Erik Lund, Ole Kristian Tollefsen, Mats Trygg
    Forwards: Mats Zuccarello Aasen, Morten Ask, Anders Bastiansen, Kristian Forsberg, Mads Hansen, Marius Holtet, Mathis Olimb,
    Martin Røymark, Per-Åge Skrøder, Lars Erik Spets, Patrick Thoresen, Tore Vikingstad, Martin Laumann Ylven

    Funny that a country that is so friggin COLD all the time sucks so bad at ice hockey… but they do…. the only reason I know Tollefson is I grabbed him on waivers in NHL 09 and he was a nice 6th D on the video game… and admit it that’s more then you know about him unless you cheer for the Winged Wheel…. the rest of this team… yeah right, there’s a reason they’re in the jobber category…..

      Teams that can Scare the Piss out of you, but Not Win
      (should clear the prelims and maybe medal but not expected to do much)

  • CZECH REPUBLIC
  • Goaltenders: Ondrej Pavelec, Jakub Stepanek, Tomas Vokoun
    Defense: Miroslav Blatak, Jan Hejda, Tomas Kaberle, Filip Kuba, Pavel Kubina, Zbynek Michalek, Roman Polak, Marek Zidlicky
    Forwards: Petr Cajanek, Roman Cervenka, Patrik Elias, Martin Erat, Tomas Fleischmann, Martin Havlat, Jaromir Jagr, David Krejci, Milan Michalek, Tomas Plekanec, Tomas Rolinek, Josef Vasicek

    See, now we’re talking some teams that can make a little noise!! Vokun is a legit top-tier goalie (but he’s also erratic enough he could implode at any time… he’s been solid to flat out REALLY GOOD of late though)…. the defense corps are solid too, the forwards have some serious talent in them (Elias, Jagr, Erat, etc…)… they can score some goals, the D is a little weak… but they won’t be a walk over for damn sure, and the Czechs are nowhere near as deep as some of the other teams in the tournament….

  • SLOVAKIA
  • Goaltenders:Peter Budaj, Jaroslav Halak, Rastislav Stana
    Defense: Ivan Baranka, Zdeno Chara, Milan Jurcina, Andrej Meszaros, Andrej Sekera, Martin Strbak, Lubomir Visnovsky
    Forwards: Lubos Bartecko, Martin Cibak, Pavol Demitra, Marian Gaborik, Michal Handzus, Marcel Hossa, Marian Hossa, Tomas Kopecky, Zigmund Palffy, Branko Radivojevic, Miroslav Satan, Jozef Stümpel, Richard Zednik

    Goaltending is questionable here, but for Halak the pressure of carrying his country on his back is probably less then playing in Montreal :p… being able to roll Chara out there every other shift will make up for some shortcomings on D… the Slovacs also have some nifty scorers (who will all look better if Gaborik plays… he’s allowed to get hurt in the last Olympic game :D )… and just seeing Ziggy Palffy again made me chuckle a little again! It’s a shame them and the Czechs had to split… if they didn’t they might be a medal worthy combination team… if Halak is on though they won’t go down easy either……

  • SWITZERLAND
  • Goaltenders: Ronnie Rüeger, Jonas Hiller, Tobias Stephan
    Defense: Goran Bezina, Severin Blindenbacher, Rafael Diaz, Roman Josi, Luca Sbisa, Mathias Seger, Mark Streit,
    Yannick Weber
    Forwards: Andres Ambühl, Thomas Déruns, Hnat Domenichelli, Sandy Jeannin, Thibaut Monnet, Thierry Paterlini, Martin Plüss, Kevin Romy, Ivo Rüthemann, Raffaele Sannitz, Julien Sprunger, Roman Wick

    Jonas Hiller is good enough to make this team a contender on his own (hell David Aebischer almost did a few Olympics ago), there’s not much else here….hell only one other NHLer and some almost’s and never-were’s… but if Hiller was good enough to purge Jiggy-Pout from the PondScum… he’s good enough to take the Swiss outta the “jobber” category in the Olympics… and he’s not the guy you wanna face in the first game of the medal round… he’ll make it WAY tough on you…..

  • USA
  • Goaltenders: Ryan Miller, Jonathan Quick, Tim Thomas
    Defense: Erik Johnson, Jack Johnson, Tim Gleason, Ryan Whitney, Brooks Orpik, Brian Rafalski, Ryan Suter
    Forwards: David Backes, Dustin Brown, Ryan Callahan, Chris Drury, Patrick Kane, Ryan Kesler, Phil Kessel, Jamie Langenbrunner, Ryan Malone, Zach Parise, Joe Pavelski, Bobby Ryan, Paul Stastny

    I struggled with making the US an “elite” team in the pool, but maybe as I overrated the Swiss, I may underrate the US team here… but it makes for easier reading to have 4 teams in each bracket… so NYAH!!! One of only two teams to sport an all-NHL roster, the US team is stacked with good young, fast forwards (well and Langs and Drury)… and that youth is a big advantage… sometimes being young and too dumb to realize you don’t belong there is the best thing you can have… the US team also boasts the goalie who’s playing the best hockey in the NHL all-season long, the D is a little soft, but in the Olympics it’s more about speed, movement and recovery then crash ‘n bang… so this too may suit the US team well…. this team is the most likely to make medal noise of the non-elite eight I’ve previewed so far and I am fully aware of that… but with this roster and it’s youth and inexperience… it seems like a “next time” type of team more geared for 2014….

      Teams that if they don’t win Their Country Will Riot
      (aka: the Favorites)



    CANADA
    Goaltenders: Martin Brodeur, Marc-André Fleury, Roberto Luongo
    Defense: Dan Boyle, Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Brent Seabrook, Shea Weber
    Forwards: Patrice Bergeron, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Dany Heatley, Jarome Iginla, Patrick Marleau, Brenden Morrow, Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Mike Richards, Eric Staal, Joe Thornton, Jonathan Toews

    Well this one is obvious…. not only an ALL-NHL… but a freaking all-star one too!! The Canadians can put two all-star level teams and still have players to spare… after all… it’s their freaking sport man!!! But add that and the intense pressure of home-ice and the high-end demands of their fans and country wanting “gold or don’t come back”… the biggest opponent they could face is their own issues….not to mention EVERY move is gonna be second-guessed as they first happen… Scott Niedermayer… ain’t he too old… hasn’t he sucked this year?? MB30 vs Luongo… hey both have struggled the last few weeks… what about Fleury??? This team may have too much talent for it’s own damn good… and the first line is all-Sharks… we know how they do under pressure and duress, but still… any thoughts of cutting this team down are a reach….anyone who doesn’t think they can win it all and maybe not lose a game is fooling themselves…..


    FINLAND
    Goaltenders:Niklas Bäckström, Miikka Kiprusoff, Antero Niittymäki
    Defense: Lasse Kukkonen, Sami Lepistö, Toni Lydman, Janne Niskala, Joni Pitkänen, Sami Salo, Kimmo Timonen
    Forwards: Valtteri Filppula, Niklas Hagman, Jarkko Immonen, Olli Jokinen, Niko Kapanen,
    Mikko Koivu, Saku Koivu, Jere Lehtinen, Antti Miettinen, Ville Peltonen, Jarkko Ruutu, Tuomo Ruutu,
    Teemu Selänne

    Strong in goal… finalists last time around… solid defenders… decent enough up front….and Selanne gets hot and they can be dangerous….Kipper’s carried teams on his back before in the Olympics and the Stanley Cup Playoffs….but also in contrast… if Kipper goes ass-up (he’s done that too)… and Selanne and the Koviu’s do nothing… this team is cannon-fodder (no I am not ignoring Jokinen, I’m just stating the obvious on how he is under pressure.. hence him being the perfect Ranger!)…. certainly not a team to be taken lightly either


    RUSSIA
    Goaltenders: Ilya Bryzgalov, Evgeni Nabokov, Semyon Varlamov
    Defense: Sergei Gonchar, Denis Grebeshkov, Dmitri Kalinin, Konstantin Korneyev, Andrei Markov,
    Ilya Nikulin, Fedor Tyutin, Anton Volchenkov
    Forwards: Maxim Afinogenov, Pavel Datsyuk, Sergei Fedorov, Ilya Kovalchuk, Viktor Kozlov, Evgeni Malkin, Alexei Morozov, Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Radulov, Alexander Semin, Danis Zaripov, Sergei Zinoviev

    Any team that has a SECOND line with Kovalchuk and Datsyuk on it… you just look and go WOW… not a packed with NHL-talent team… but you can make a case they have more top 10 players in the NHL then anyone else in the event… so what they have is absurdly GOOD talent, the strength of this team is up front (you can say in goal, but Bryzgalov only did it once in the playoffs… and that’s one more then Nabokov ever did…. and Varlamov got exposed by the Penguins last year… so I’ll give the goalies a maybe grade with a chance to stand up and prove themselves)… the D is mobile and finesse which is Olympic-style hockey, so that’s not a minus… and admit it… this is a fun team to watch… thankfully the Cold War is over and we can say that without being called Communists or worse :p.. probably the co-favorite with Canada… not medalling at all would be a MASSIVE fail for this team….


    SWEDEN
    Goaltenders:Jonas Gustavsson, Stefan Liv, Henrik Lundqvist
    Defense: Tobias Enström, Magnus Johansson, Niklas Kronwall, Nicklas Lidström, Douglas Murray, Johnny Oduya, Mattias Öhlund, Henrik Tallinder
    Forwards: Daniel Alfredsson, Nicklas Bäckström, Loui Eriksson, Peter Forsberg, Tomas Holmström, Patric Hörnqvist, Fredrik Modin, Samuel Påhlsson, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Mattias Weinhandl, Henrik Zetterberg

    OMG IT’S HENRIK LUNDQVIST!!! HE REDEFINED THE GOALIE POSITION… HE MAKES SAVES WITH HIS MASK!!! HE’S GROUNDBREAKING!! (sorry I watched the Ranger game on Sunday… and listening to them beat up on Tampa the way the announcer shills were I thought they made the conference finals :p)… but that aside Henrik DID carry this team to Olympic Gold last time around….and like with Chara, when you can put Nik Lidstrom out there every other shift it fixes many flaws….and with the Sedin’s playing out of their skulls good this year, supporting players like Alfredsson, Zetterburg and maybe the biggest wild card in the tournament in Peter Forsberg… this team is dangerous too…. and another team with much medal pressure on them……

    This should be a fun two weeks of hockey… hopefully you get out there and ENJOY IT!! (not to mention when the women’s hockey gets to the medal round that will be good stuff too!!)… We’ll let this sit for a while and once I check the schedules… I’ll decide what games I’m gonna pick, choose and write about… I’d say the first game is likely the US/Canada one…. well unless it’s Sat night, then I’m in Delaware having a life…. we’ll worry about that when it’s about to happen soon enough….