Thursday, May 27, 2010

2010 Stanley Cup Final Prediction/Preview. . .

Well...this is it. As early as a week from tomorrow (or as late as two weeks from tomorrow) we will have our 2010 Stanley Cup champion crowned.


Well, yay from me because the Champion will not be:

a) Pittsburgh

b) Detroit

But, I'm not going to lie, the idea of it being Philadelphia raising a banner next fall does not exactly inspire warm and fuzzy feelings for a Rangers fan.

Either way, I am excited for the Final.

Not as excited as I'd be if Les Habs could have continued their "Feels like '93" drive-for-25 journey, but...

instead we have:



I will not take credit - much - for this but I did pick Philadelphia to win their division this season. So, on some level, I did think they'd be better than a team that was struggling to gain entrance to the playoffs on the last day of the season (yeah, you reading, me typing - still painful). Anyway, I thought they'd be good. Without care for major details here, just 3 seasons ago they finished the season dead last. 30th of 30. The following year they were one of the four final teams standing, before they lost to eventual runner-up Pittsburgh in the Eastern Finals. They bowed out to Pittsburgh early last year, before the Penguins,

(oh stop, I can't type that too; I'm trying to get through this).

Anyway, point is, Paul Holmgren and co must be doing something right. Teams don't go from so bad to so good without someone capable in charge do they? (Other example, please see Phoenix Coyotes, Don Maloney, Dave Tippett).

The Flyers are in the Final because they are a good team, whether we want to believe it or not, but probably more importantly, because as cliche as this is, they believed in the why not us, mentality. And hell of goalie performances (how great were Boucher and Leighton for this team? Those are great stories!) for a team that has - well quite honestly - for the last few decades had goalie situations about as stable as Glen Slather's understanding of simple math.

But I digress...



Chicago is the team that we wish would win, as Rangers fans. They are young, they are fun, and they are a pleasure to watch. In fact, my only regret (if I can name one) in watching both a West and an East coast team on such a regular basis, is that I have no real chance to watch Chicago as much as I would like to. They are a treat.

Probably one of the unique stories in sports for me, I was too young to know or appreciate the Blackhawks when they were good. In fact, the Blackhawks have not existed for me until 2008. (As some may say is true for those in Chicago as well). They've had a renaissance, part because of drafting well, and part because of the timely death of their principal owner who had many antiquated thoughts. Until three years ago this team didn't show home games on TV! Until they made the playoffs and went on a run to the Western Final last year - they had made the playoffs once in the previous nine seasons!

They, as Rangers fans may or may not know, are the only Original Six team to be less successful - if true success is measured in Stanley Cups) - than the New York Rangers themselves. Both around since the 1926 campaign, the Hawks have only lifted Lord Stanley's chalice 3 times. The Rangers, thank all that is wonderful and holy, finally won their 4th in 1994.

Interesting to note, however, the Blackhawks have won 14 division titles to the Rangers 5, and 2 conference championships to the Rangers 1. (Guess we really do know who is the most un-inspired of the Original Six, now, don't we. Sigh).

Anyway, the Blackhawks raised from the ashes on the backs of two young forwards in Kane and Toews. And they may just complete - what I would assume - is one of the greatest turnarounds in franchise history. 9 years of obscurity, to a Final 4 appearance, to a Stanley Cup appearance to....


Well we'll just have to wait and see now, won't we. ;)

Even though the Blackhawks winning would make the Rangers that much more unsuccessful, I'd like to see the Hawks do it. And not just because I really don't want to see Philadelphia win it, but because I want to see their story completed. The right way.

I want to say this will end in fewer games, but I do not want to take credit away from Philadelphia, because they've been mighty impressive.

Final Prediction: Hawks in 6!

Monday, May 24, 2010

And Your 2010 Final is....

Chicago Blackhawks and...Philadelphia Flyers.

yeah. Take a breath.

Look, I picked the Flyers to win the Division. They barely - NYR fans close your eyes/ears - made the playoffs. And yet, on for the chance to win Lord Stanley's chalice they go.

I take small, very small, solace, that the Flyers ended up where they were. I mean, because I thought they'd be a good team in the first place. Not, because, I thought they'd get there as the season rolled, or in the end. Neither.

They did. Credit them. Credit all of them. As much as we hate it. And credit Leighton. He's a good story. Injured. Back. And remarkable in the semi-Final. Credit him.

Credit too, les Habs. They did not have a good round, but I will forever be thankful for what they did last round. For taking out the Penguins, I owe them.

We all owe them for making a little history. Not a ton, but a lot. Taking out Washington, taking out Pittsburgh.



Pyatt, Lappy, Moore.

We owe them. For making a series, for making a playoffs, of what perhaps would not have been so.

Thank you Montreal. As much as I do love you in some respect, I did not, in any way, believe, that you'd be there, 3rd team remaining out of 30! No way. No way at all.

Thanks for making it remarkable.

So now, Chicago, we root for you. Because, really, as NYR fans, as much as what PHI did was remarkable, we don't really, in all honestly, think we're rooting for you! What you did was remarkable, yes, but Chicago, we root for you. Kane, Toews, Niemi, et all. We Root for YOU! Go Chicago! Go Hawks Go!


On a side note, made it to Warren tonight. Will not take it seriously that the girl in the tables in back cheered WILDLY when the FLYERS scored, despite the FACT she was wearing a HABS hat!


Good atmosphere. Had sound on. AND arguably best burgers (sliders) I have ever had.

Cheers to that!

Too bad the game did not roll the way we wished.......

Sunday, May 16, 2010

2010 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions - 3rd Round . . .

**The other blog I was writing upcoming. With best intent. I the meantime, I realized I need to get these predicts done before 3pm!**

MTL/PHI - Habs in 6. As much as I have to seriously helmet tip to Philly (come on, you really do), I'm going with the Halak, Cammalleri combo and saying Habs will win out, in continuation of one of the true miraculous playoff performances I've ever seen!

SJS/CHI - Chicago in 7. This is harder for me to predict. I honestly feel like I could have flipped a coin. Sharks have finally proven they can make a statement, and play together this playoffs. Chicago has done that already over the last two years, but will the Sharks prove too much for them this time around.

Overall, I think both series will be very evenly matched, and a hell of a ride. I'm very excited. Either team winning out West will be fine with me, be it Chicago because they are Chicago, or the Sharks because of Manny and Jed! And I'll continue to root for Les Habs here in the East.

<3ing these playoffs!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Random Hockey Thought of the Day - Is It Over For Detroit?. . .

**Please note, this was written before Game 4. I've just been without internet access for a couple days and could not post. Attribute any inconsistencies to that, or well, you know, just to me not being perfect. ;) **


I just got done reading a bunch of comments from Sharks fans, Detroit fans, non-fans, and I'm baffled. The Sharks fans are crediting their team's different play and more heart this year. The Red Wings fans are complaining that the referees are the reason their team is in a 3-0 hole after last night's third consecutive 4-3 loss in this year's Western Semi-Finals. And the non-fans are split down the middle.

Okay, maybe I'm not so baffled after all.

Look, I'll say it right here, right now. I don't like the Red Wings. It used to be a case of my not liking them because they were the anti-Rangers. An Original 6 team that did it the right way - drafting well, adding key pieces, having a system that everyone who was there or was called up knew how to follow perfectly. They did it right. As a Rangers fan, a fan of a team that seemingly could do nothing right, I hated them. As an example of what my team so clearly was not. Successful.

That dislike didn't come about right away. In 1995 I was, of course, devastated that the Red Wings got swept by the Devils and I, as a Rangers fan, had to hear for a month just how wonderful New Jersey was. I appreciated Detroit in 1997 and 1998. Again, a team that did it right. A team that had guys that I liked. Think back to 1998 and the Cup celebration with Vladimir Konstantinov and tell me that doesn't make you remember how good it once felt to watch Detroit win. I do remember that feeling. I certainly do.

But after those two Cups and even after the one in 2002, things would go on to change for me. There came a time when it seemed like the same teams were winning the Cup every year. What, wait? You mean that did happen? Sigh. Yes, it did. And I could (and maybe will another time) go on to explain how horrible a time I thought that was and how I came to dislike Colorado and NJ for the same reason, but we'll pause on that. Frankly, it just got to be too much.

And if it wasn't already too much, it certainly became too much in these recent years where it seemed like the Red Wings became the chosen team. The team that was always there, again. And even if they weren't, they should have been. They were perfect. And I get it, I get they are good. But the whole Hockeytown mentality and the NHL seemingly loving it, and literally shoving it in everyone's faces, became a lot to handle.

So I began to root, mightily, for the Red Wings to fail every year. When the Oilers knocked them out of the first round in 2006 en route to that Stanley Cup push, I was elated. When Nashville failed to do the same to them the following year, I knew it would end badly (ie; Cup for Detroit. Another year of how great everyone is). That in fact, was the only year, that I rooted for Detroit. Why? Because they were - ironically - playing the only team I wanted to see win the Cup less. Pittsburgh. And in 2009, well. I was mad at Detroit for not taking care of business for me there either.

Before I get trampled here, let me give credit. Nick Lidstrom is one of the rare, amazing talents. We may never see another exactly like him again once he retires. Steve Yzerman was someone I always highly respected, as long as they didn't refer to him as the greatest leader in the NHL, only the greatest captain. (Mark Messier had that distinction in my mind). There is nothing I can say against Detroit. Once Chelios left the team and Hasek left the NHL, I disliked no one on it. Datsyuk, Zetterberg, those are amazingly talented guys that with the exception of Selke's and Lady Byngs, will get no recognition.

That's almost ironic really. Besides Lidstrom, who on Detroit gets real, honest to goodness, credit for being so good, from the masses. And yet, Detroit, the team, the ownership, the organization gets so lauded.

Anyway, point is. Detroit is good, has always been good. A machine, if you will. No one is denying that. I'm certainly not.


However, now in 2010 we have Detroit on the brink, the 3-0 brink of elimination to San Jose. And it feels good.

Why? Honestly. It just would feel so good to see another team represent the West this year. Chicago, San Jose, Vancouver. I'll cheer for any of those teams - happily.

Does that mean Detroit is evil? Does that mean I truly hate them? No. and No. It just means I got tired of seeing the same guys do it over and over again.

And, even worse, if the fans feel some entitlement. The team is good. We get it. TRUST us, we get it. But they, for the first time, in a long time, did not have an easy road to the playoffs, let alone the Final. They made the playoffs for 19 straight years. They are never out of anything. They are arguably one of the greatest teams - collectively over the years - of NHL history and certainly the most successful of my lifetime.

I just hope another team can be better this year. I just really, really, really! need someone new to root for.

Rather than the same two teams to root against.

**Note. Obviously Detroit didn't get swept. But to expect that would have been probably too much. I'll be curious to see how tomorrow goes. Obviously you know who I'll be rooting for there.**

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Random Hockey Thought of the Day - Vancouver Canucks and What May Have Been. . .

I was listening to Team990 this morning. (On a side note, I'm still suffering through the loss of PJ Stock on the station as he was my favorite 3 hour listen every day, but who doesn't enjoy Montreal radio when the Habs are in the playoffs, surprising people and doing well?).

Anyway, Tony, the host of The Montreal Forum, said that even though he's a Habs fan, he'd want the Canucks - Canada's only other representative team - to win the Cup if the Habs got knocked out. I get it. I'm sure many people would feel the same. I'm not a full-time Habs fan or a Canadian, but I know I rooted for Calgary in 2004 and Edmonton in 2006. I mean, why not see a Cup back in Canada if the team is able to win it, right?

His reasoning was interesting though. He said he'd root for them for all they'd gone through. Luc Bourdon's motorcycle accident (two years ago this month, unbelievably so). Coach Alain Vigneault's up and down trip to the NHL. And the tragedy of Taylor Pyatt's (who noteably no longer plays for the Canucks) fiance dying last year.

Now, granted, I didn't understand the last one. While I do understand Pyatt was well liked by his teammates and I'm sure they sympathized with their friend, I'm not sure a year later that is going to be a reason. This takes nothing away from the importance of Pyatt to either the Canucks (or the Coyotes he played for this season) or the extend of the tragedy, which was extreme, but I'm still not sure I connect the two.

Regardless, it got me thinking why - even though I'd surely love to see the Hawks win a Cup. I mean unless you hate them, why wouldn't you? - I wouldn't mind if one of these years turned out to be Vancouver's year.

I'm a Rangers fan, was a Rangers fan in 1994. Obviously I wanted 1994 to go exactly as it did. The good guys won. The guys that needed to erase a 54-year curse. Magic. And it may never happen again. Especially if the last 16 years are any indication.

But, I always hoped in the back of my mind that the Canucks would get back there. Probably in the early stages of my hockey watching I assumed that they'd be right back there next year. I mean why not, right? They came as close as you could to winning it all. I'm still curious how that happens, even though we've seen it before. Ask the Florida Panthers of 1996. Sometimes you just get there and no one knows why, and you don't get close since.

If you look at the Canucks though and the years that followed (and it's worth it) it was an odd journey.

The 1995 shortened season saw the team struggle, but make the playoffs to lose in a 4 game sweep to Chicago in the 2nd Round. In 1996 their leading scorer Pavel Bure was injured early in the season, struggles continued, and the Canucks didn't make it out of Round 1. The following year, 1997, they didn't even make the playoffs. They, as Rangers fans know, ushered in the Mark Messier years in Vancouver, which as we also know, didn't really go well for either team. They made the playoffs every year after that experiment, but never made it out of the 2nd round.

Post lockout, they'd narrowly miss the playoffs in 2006, causing the team be torn apart and re-made, and the start of the Roberto Luongo Era in Vancouver. They make it to the 2nd round in 2007. They narrowly missed the playoffs again in 2008, and the great Trevor Linden retired from the NHL. In 2009, the Canucks made the playoffs, swept St. Louis, before going on to lose the heartbreaker in Game 6 to the Blackhawks and Patrick Kane's hat trick.

So, what this tells us is that, not including this year or the full lockout year, and since 1994, the Canucks made the playoffs eight out of fourteen years, but never made it out of Round 2. Never came even close to getting back to where they were in 1994. (Although besides the blip of 1997, neither did the Rangers, if we're being honest).

Just goes to show you, there really are no givens or guarantees in professional sports. You may really never get that chance again.

I think of those Canucks that I really liked, those that aren't there anymore. Legendary good guy Trevor Linden. Former Canucks turned Rangers Kirk McLean and Pavel Bure, who carried the team that playoff year. Even though those guys aren't there anymore today, I felt for them afterwards. Not many I've ever liked more than I like and respect Trevor Linden.

As for the current team, there are certain things you have to admire about them. Luongo, may not be perfect, but he's damn good at times. And he, last year when things went badly, stood up through tears to speak to the media post game. Only 2 players did. The Sedins (who I am actually pretty sure I can tell apart if I met them both face to face) are a great story. Not long ago, it was all about their contracts and how many years, and how much $$. Proving a few people wrong now, aren't they? A very well deserved Hart nomination for Henrik too. Alex Burrows, like him or hate him, is a good story, of a kid that was playing ECHL hockey years ago and is now playing alongside two of the league's best.

So, honestly, if the Canucks end up winning the Cup...I'm not disappointed. It may have just been a long time coming. we've just proven, sometimes you don't get a second chance.

**Note: This was not one of the segments I planned when I went into this season and said I had new, fun segments. You know the plan I had every intention of following unti life got in the way. We'll see how this goes. Also, major helmet tip to Sports Encyclopedia Vancouver Canucks for the info. What, you thought I remembered every single year of Canucks history over the last 16? If you did, I love you for it, but you gave me way too much credit. Great site, great info.**