Why I Love the NHL

I’ve been busy the past few weeks with term papers, etc. so I didn’t a chance to update this in awhile. Anywho, I know it’s unofficial to make playoff pics at this point, but if we’ve talked at length about the Stanley Cup recently, you’d probably know I picked Boston to beat Vancouver in the finals. That said, I’ll just run through the series thus far and offer some thoughts.

3.Boston (4) vs. 6.Montreal (3) (East)

We’ll start with my team, Les Habitants. While I picked the Bruins to win the cup, that doesn’t mean I want them to, so naturally I’m cheering for my boys. Unfortunately, the Habs came into the playoffs pretty beat up, missing Josh Gorges, Andrei Markov, and Max Pacioretty. The first two are especially bad because they’re our top two defencemen. Markov is an all-star, but the last two years he’s had injury troubles and we’ve learned to win without him. However, Gorges is a clutch stay at home D-man, and is very underrated as such. Last year, he was shot blocking machine. Despite all that I had hope because Habs have tradiotionally upset the Bruins and we actually owned the season series 4-2.

When you haven’t had a great season and you’re up against a higher seed, you adjust your expectations. I didn’t think the Habs would beat the Bs, so all I really wanted was a legit series that went the distance. They delivered. The Bruins were actually lucky to escape this series; 3 of their wins came in OT (including game 7) so this really could’ve gone either way. But, I’m happy the Habs took the to the brink, and I’m especially happy with how Price and PK Subban played. I’ve been pumped about PK ever since they drafted him. He played awesome in the Juniors, had a great intro in last year’s playoffs, and had a Calder worthy season. Yet everyone wants to hate on him. Why? Supposedly because he talks smack and showboats. I hate this cloistered, bourgeois bullshit the NHL and their fanbase gets on with. If PK pulled half the shit Brad Marchand and Andrew Ferrence did, he’d be lynched (yes, I’m implying there’s a racist tone to PK’s treatment). So PK pumps his fist and hurts people’s feelings and deserves to be disciplined according to Joffrey Lupul and Mike Richards, but Ferrence can flip the bird to a packed stadium and Machand can make golf swings at the Leafs and that’s cool? Not to mention all the headshots the Bs have been throwing around. Well, I guess that’s why they keep Colin Campbell’s son on the payroll.

1. Vancouver (4) vs. 8. Chicago (3) (west)

I’ve had mixed feelings about Luongo as of late. I never really got the chance to watch him much aside from his highlight reel stops playing for Florida and now the Canucks. He had an amazing year in 06-07, but after that he’s been so so, especially in playoffs, ESPECIALLY against the Blackhawkes. I saw him play with Team Canada last year and was pretty underwhelmed. I thought he was totally out shined by Miller, and it seemed like he couldn’t make the big saves. But I let that slide seeing’s how it was the Olympics and there’s a lot of pressure playing for the favorited hometeam, etc. etc. Hell, Ken Dryden never played well for Canada neither. I also didn’t think he deserved the Vezina nomination. Sure, the poin is moot because there’s no way in hell anyone’s challenging Tim Thomas, but I still think Price deserved a nod. This begs the question, how do you judge a goalie’s performance? It shouldn’t be just reduced to stats. Anyone hockey fan knows the numbers don’t tell the whole story. I think the best goalies take a sad song and make it better; they give their team a chance to win when they don’t deserve it; they steal games. Price took a pretty shitty team (lowest scoring team to make it into the post-season and one of the lowest in the league) and got 38 of their 44 wins. That’s some Roy Halladay shit right there.

But I digress. The ‘Nucks managed to slay their dragon and finally beat the ‘Hawkes. I still think they’ll come out of the west, and lose to the Bruins in the finals. The ‘Nucks are the most talented team in the league, but they’re just so damn soft. If they do win, it’ll be from Ryan Kessler’s blood, sweat, and tears.

(“balls: do you have them?”)

2. Philadelphia (4) vs. 7. Buffalo (3) (east)

Is anybody else as sick of Mike Richards as I am? Jesus Christ, all that guy does is bitch and complain. At least Sidney Crosby keeps it on the ice (for the most part). What is up with professional athletes complaining to the media these days? I loved how Lindy Ruff handled that. What a legend. Seriously though, with Richards, Chris Pronger, Dan Carcillo, and Bobby Clarke in front office, the Flyers are contenders with the Leafs for biggest douchebaggery in the NHL. What’s unfortunate is that, unlike the latter two, Phily is actually a great team. Likewise, Richards and Pronger and also great players. It’s tempting to think Phily might make another run this year, but with Pronger nursing an injury, and Jeff Carter out, I don’t think they have it in them. Next year might be their last chance before they have to start thinking about changing up.

4. Pittsburgh (3) vs. 5. Tampa Bay (4) (east)

Speaking of Sidney Crosby, how ’bout them Pens? Without Malkin and Crosby, no one thought these guys would do anything, but they kept on trucking and finished strong. I didn’t think they’d beat the Lightning, but I didn’t think it’d go the distance like it did. While I think the Jack Adams is going to Alain Vigneault, Dan Bylsma is damn good second choice. Just please don’t give it to Dave Tippet again? Great, you turned the Coyotes around last season and we respect that, but you’ve got a great goalie and use the trap. So what? But I think the real question here is, do you trade Malkin? The Pens are seriously lacking in depth, and could get a king’s ransom for Geno. I don’t think it’ll happen, but it’s an interesting scenario.

I also think Tampa are a legit darkhorse. Especially with Dwayne forever young Roloson in net. Stamkos has to step up though. As much as I hate teams below the sunbelt, I respect the Lightning. They’ve made it work by building contenders and winners. Can’t knock the hustle.

(Ovie is a “special” player)

1. Washington (4) vs. 8. New York (1) (east)

Finally, the Caps play like a number one seed and eliminate the Rangers in 5. I feel for Lunqvist though. That guy’s a trooper and is time and time again let down by his team. As for the Caps, it’s hard what to make of this team. For the last few years they’ve had dominant regular seasons only to underperform in the playoffs. This year they scored significantly less goals (especially Ovechkin), but they quietly made it to the top of the east. Maybe they’ve finally made the needed adjustments to win. I doubt it. If they don’t make it to the 3rd round, serious changes are in order.

(a little outdated but meh)

2. San Jose (4) vs. 7. Los Angeles (2) (west)

After Kopitar went down, so too did LA’s chances of making any kind of noise in the playoffs. A shame because this is a great, young and exciting team. The franchise bit the bullet and built up through the draft and they deserve to be rewarded. Unfortunately, this was not the year and the Sharks yet again hang on try and prove they’re not the consummate losers everyone thinks they are. I can’t wait for them to lose again so they can hurry up and blow up that franchise. I’m sick of hearing about them every year and they just disappoint. I was actually a fan of this team once Vincent Damphousse joined back in the day, and I was happy to see Joe Thornton come into his own there, but I lost interest once Dany Heatley joined. Man, fuck that guy.

3. Detroit (4) vs. 6. Pheonix (0).

Gotta love the Red Wings. I can’t even remember the time when they weren’t a dominant team in the NHL. I would love to see Lidstrom win another Norris this year. If this guy were Canadian, we’d be talking about him as one of the greatest of all time, which he is. Must be nice to be a Detroit fan. As for the Coyotes, good riddance. The sooner that team moves, the better. Hopefully to Winnipeg, but at this point I don’t really care anymore. Fuck that city and State.

(omg celebrity couple!!!!)

4. Anaheim (2) vs. 5. Nashville (4)

The only series I picked wrong. I thought for sure the Ducks had this one in the bag as the Preds have been perenial losers like SJ. But give credit where credit is due. Any team that can turn Sergei Kostitsyn into a 20 goal scorer deserves respect. Furthermore, Nashville has finally gone out and gotten some kind of scoring instead of just relying on Rinne and the trap. I don’t think they’ll be much trouble for Vancouver, at least I hope not. Whenever these backwater franchises make some noise, I get nervous because I cringe at the thought of a Stanley Cup celebration in the arena’s parking lot (a la Carolina). Then again, maybe Carrie Underwood (she should so change her name to Carrie Fisher) will add some ET factor and put NHL on the mainstream. Unlikely.

Next round’s picks: Washington in 6 and Boston in 7. Vancouver in 6 and Detroit in 6.

cheers,

-B

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~ by braddunne on April 29, 2011.

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