Category Archives: NHL

On The Brink

As the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs starts to reach a boiling point. There is strong possibility that there will be a Western Conference Champion not hailing from Chicago or Los Angeles for the first time since 2011. This is one of the many surprises that has emerged out of the playoffs so far.

The Blackhawks and the Kings both face the second hardest tasks possible to advance. They must come back from 3-1 deficits in order to keep their hopes alive. While there are other teams that are down 3-1, the Flyers and the Red Wings, these two teams are a big surprise as many people had them progressing far in the playoffs. Tonight is going to be interesting because there is the possibility that the defending champion Blackhawks could be eliminated.

The other two huge games tonight are the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Detroit Red Wings game as well Pittsburg Penguins and the New York Rangers game. The Lightning could eliminate the Red Wings tonight and with a win the Penguins could have a strangle hold 3-1 lead on the Rangers in their series.

In the final game today the Nashville Predators have a chance to take a 3-1 lead over the Anaheim Ducks. This could be interesting especially if the Ducks cant find a way to stop Predators star Flip Forsberg from scoring.

 

Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview

stanleycup

Wednesday April 13, 2016 is considered to be one of the most exciting days in the year. This is because the most exciting playoffs in the world start today. Every year at about this time sixteen teams enter the race for Lord Stanley’s Cup. By the time June rolls around the competition will be over. A team of heavily bearded individuals will be skating around a rink in the United States with the object of their childhood dreams held proudly over their heads. Today begins the nearly two month journey, that comes after the 82 game regular season, that makes all of the physical pain worth it.

Eastern Conference

Florida Panthers v. NY Islanders:

This matchup contains two teams that look to be contenders for years to come. Both of these teams have a talented young core of players that should help propel the team for years to come. In the end I think the veteran leadership of Jaromir Jagr coupled with the talented youth of the Panthers will help them advance to the next round of the playoffs.

Panthers in 6

Tampa Bay Lightning v. Detroit Red Wings

This is a matchup of teams that did not look quite like playoff teams at the end of the year. The Lightning limped their way into the playoffs having lost their best defender, Anton Stralman, as well as captain and best player Steven Stamkos. The Red Wings 25th straight was very much in doubt for the last few weeks of the season. The Red Wings were one of the two benefactors of a late season Boston Bruins collapse and their season will end in the first round of the playoffs.

Lightning in 7

Washington Capitals v. Philadelphia Flyers

The last few days has been difficult for the Flyers. Owner and founder Ed Snider passed away yesterday. Knowing Snider was in poor health the Flyers put together a fantastic run of games at the end of the year and somehow made the playoffs. The Capitals come in to the playoffs after cruising to the Presidents Trophy. While I believe in the curse of the trophy, I think that this Capitals is the better rested of the two teams because they have not really played a meaningful game in over a month. In the end I think already having played over a month of playoff games will take its toll on the Flyers and they will inevitably fall to the more talented Capitals team.

Capitals in 6

Pittsburg Penguins v. NY Rangers

Both teams pieced together good seasons and are full of seasoned veterans with plenty of playoff experience from the last decade of playing. The Rangers have the advantage because they have the better overall team. The Penguins have two of the most dynamic players in the league on their side and Sidney Crosby has been on an absolute tear since the start of 2016 scoring at an incredible rate. While I believe that the Rangers have the better team and they should win the series, I feel Sidney Crosby is playing too well to stop and despite the recent playoff struggles of the team, the Penguins will advance to the second round.

Penguins in 5

Western Conference

Anaheim Ducks v. Nashville Predators

The Ducks are a team that changed its identity part of the way through the season after the team looked awful trying to play as an extremely offensive team. Since switching to a more defensive style the team has improved and came into the playoffs looking strong. The Predators look like one of the top teams in the league and their playoff hopes have been bolstered by the play of goalie Pekka Rinne. The team looks solid on the offensive side of the puck led by young Filp Forsberg, as well as on the defensive side of the puck led by Shea Weber. In the end I think the Predators will prevail in a long and exciting series.

Predators in 7

LA Kings v. San Jose Sharks

This series features one of the best playoff goalie that is around at the moment, Johnny Quick, going against his understudy from last year, Martin Jones. The Sharks are trying to get past the early playoff dropout that has plagued them recently. The Kings are full of holes, however Coach Sutter has done fantastic things to keep the Kings in playoffs past and I think believe that he will be able to engineer a first round series victory over the in state rival Sharks.

Kings in 4

Dallas Stars v. Minnesota Wild

One of the most shocking things of the season was the play of the Dallas Stars. If you look at the roster it should not be very surprising, however because Dallas is not a big hockey town the team is overlooked more times than not. The Wild have been playing well coming into the playoffs but they do not have quite the talent that the Stars have. That being said the Wild have more players with playoff experience and that could be crucial if the series runs long. In the end I think the Stars will prevail over the Wild in a long, hard fought series.

Stars in 7

St. Louis Blues v. Chicago Blackhawks

A very defensively strong Blues team comes into the playoffs and face the team that has caused them trouble in the past few years. The Blues may struggle to win games in the playoffs due to their lack of high scoring offense. The Blackhawks are a team of seasoned veterans looking to defend their Stanley Cup title. Duncan Keith will return and he will be better rested than the rest of the team and he will be the most important part of this team as they look like they are gearing up for another long run in the playoffs. The Blackhawks will win this series as quickly as possible.

Blackhawks in 4

Those are my first round predictions for the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

After the first round I have the Bolts over the Panthers, and Washington over the Penguins with the Lightning winning the Eastern Conference.

In the West I have the Blackhawks over Dallas and the Kings over the Ducks with the Blackhawks winning the Western Conference.

In the finals I have a rematch of last year with the opposite result. The Lightning, with the addition of Stamkos who claims he would be back for the finals, will end up winning the second Stanley Cup in franchise history and first since the 2004 lockout.

The excitement begins tonight as 16 teams and their players fight to make their childhood dreams of being Stanley Cup Champions come true.

Fallen Star


The Chicago Blackhawks hockey team has had a long period of sustained success over the past decade. This includes winning multiple Stanley Cups. The team has had a backbone formed by defenders Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. The season is into the home stretch and Chicago has clinched a playoff spot but they have now lost the backbone of the defense. Seabrook is out through injury which was causing Keith to play an even bigger role than before. Now that Keith has let his anger get the best of him by doing one of the dumbest thinks he could have done he could be out for a while.

For those of you that do not know what I mean I am talking about the incident from last night’s game with the Minnesota Wild where Keith fell down and then deliberately swung his stick towards the head of Wild player Charlie Coyle. Keith’s stick hit Coyle in the face drawing blood and Keith we ejected on the spot. With the league trying to protect the heads of players now more than ever before Keith should receive no less than a 25 game suspension. It should not matter that he is a key player on a playoff team. He made his choice, undoubtedly a poor one, and he should have to live with the punishment.

The NHL has given Keith the opportunity to have his hearing in person since the Blackhawks do not play on Friday. This incident will definitely show how hard the disciplinary committee is willing to come down on a high profile player for an extremely dangerous attack on another player. Undoubtedly the NHL will mess up this decision and will fall under scrutiny from fans and members of the media for not having the balls to discipline a star player.

Quest for the Cup

Caps

The NHL season is a long perilous journey that culminates with the best teams from each playing for the trophy that each and every player has dreamed about their whole life, Lord Stanley’s Cup. With a few weeks left in the season, fans of the Washington Capitals can breathe a sigh of relief after their team became the first in the NHL to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Having won 50 of their 69 games this season, the Capitals are almost a shoe-in to win the Presidents trophy for having the most points at the end of the regular season. Even more impressive is that Left Wing Alexander Ovechkin is on pace to win the Rocket Richard trophy as the league’s top scorer. At the moment Ovechkin is only four goals ahead of Patrick Kane who is having the type of season that can win a player the Hart trophy at the end of the season. The incredible thing for the Capitals and for Ovechkin is that this year is not much different than any other year. The Capitals are usually in the running for the Presidents trophy and Ovechkin is due for 40-50 goals. That kind of consistency is what many teams dream for, however for fans of the Capitals, consistency is not enough anymore. The next goal is to win the Stanley Cup.

This year may look like they year of the Capitals on paper but just ask the 2010 Capitals what winning the Presidents trophy will get you come playoff time. The NHL playoffs are a completely different animal from the regular season. Each individual game means a lot more than they do in the regular season with each team only needing to win four times in seven chances to advance. One of the strengths of this years Capitals team could be the best thing for them come playoff time. The play of netminder Brayden Holtby has been incredible this season and he has shown in the past that he can be cool in playoff situations. If Holtby can continue his impressive play in net and Ovechkin can maintain his goal scoring run then there is a good chance that the Capitals can make a deep run into the playoffs and maybe even win Lord Stanley’s Cup.

The Curious Case of John Scott

hockey fights

Like all of the major sports in the USA, hockey is trying to move away from some of the violence that many fans go to games to see. This is mostly due to former players having mental issues that are attributed to head injuries sustained during their careers. With the NHL cutting down on some of the violence there has been less need for teams to carry an enforcer. This was once a position that was celebrated by the league for adding a certain level of spice to the game that other sports did not have, fighting. In fact two great franchises had teams that were celebrated for their enforcers in the 1970’s. The Boston Bruins with their “Big Bad Bruins” and the Philadelphia Flyers with their ” Broad Street Bullies” both enjoyed success during a time when the game allowed teams to have the luxury of having players who did not possess the technical abilities to assist his team on the score sheet. Since the lockout in 2004 many teams have opted not to carry an enforcer because the game has changed so that there is more scoring and the play is faster than it ever was before.

John Scott

To try and spice things up for the 2016 All-Star game, the NHL let the fans vote on the captains of the four teams. The first three players that were chosen, Patrick Kane Jaromir Jagr and Alex Ovechkin, to be captains were voted in because they have had great seasons and are more or less well respected players, although that really depends how you feel about Patrick Kane at any given moment. That brings me to Coyotes grinder John Scott, the fans vote for the Pacific division captain. He was part of the Arizona Coyotes organization until he was traded to the Montreal Canadians on January 15th and subsequently was placed on the Canadians AHL team. Scott really hasn’t had much of a year in terms stats putting up no goals and only one assist in 11 games this season. That being said, he has not ever been expected to produce points with only 5 goals and 6 assists to his name in 285 career NHL games. In the All-Star game he will be representing a nearly extinct species of player in the NHL and it will be good to have a real player on the ice with all the skill players for once. That is why I am glad the NHL is allowing him to continue to be the Pacific captain even though he is not with the Canadians organization  who are in the Atlantic division.

So Ends the Streaks

The past week has seen two of the greatest streaks of the year end and by the end there could be a third great streak fall.

Golden_State_Warriors_2010_04

The Golden State Warriors lost to the Milwaukee Bucks 108-95 on Saturday night. That ended the Warriors perfect 24-0 start to the season which is absolutely impressive especially with the last six of those wins coming on the road. While everyone knew this was coming it was still nice to wonder how long Steph Curry and co. could keep it going. Now the Warriors can focus on other accomplishments for the season, such as the 72 win mark set by the ’95-’96 Chicago Bulls or to be repeat Larry O’Brian Trophy recipients.

Patty Kane

On Wednesday night in Chicago another streak, this one quite possibly more impressive, was ended. No it was not the World Series drought. Chicago Blackhawks star Right Wing Patrick Kane had his 26 game point streak ended with a 3-0 defeat to the Colorado Avalanche. I think this streak was more impressive because in hockey it is still difficult to score goals, so for a player to either score a goal or assist on a teammate’s goal for 26 games straight is amazing. Even more impressive is the American broke the old record for longest point streak all the way back on November 28th with his 19th game with a point in a 2 point outing against the Los Angeles Kings. This streak did help draw interest to the NHL with highlights even showing on SportsCenter.

Carolina

The end of this week could feature the ending of yet another streak in one of the major sports. In the NFL, the Carolina Panthers take on a team that has ended perfection before, the New York Giants. Do I think that it is possible that this will happen, not a chance. Most of the time there just seems to be a different Eli Manning on the field when the Giants take on an unbeaten team. That being said, with the way that Cam Newton and the rest of this team are playing, and coming off a 38-0 drubbing of the Atlanta Falcons, I think the Carolina Panthers are going to remain undefeated through the rest of the regular season. I think they will end up losing eventually though. I think they will lose their playoff game in the NFC Divisional Round.