Archive for April, 2010

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Cup Predictions – Round Two

In Hockey Hits on April 29, 2010 by geespotting

Alright, here is a look at what to expect for round two. As for round one, I scored 6 right out of 8. Yes…I DID pick the predictions of Philly and Montreal upsetting the Devils and Caps respectively. The 2 I got wrong were the Sabres/Bruins series, which is upetting considering I picked Buff to go to the final. The other one wrong was the Coyotes and Wings…which did go to game 7, but, my Desert Dogs were dismissed by Detroit! Here is round two:

EAST CONF.

4  PITTSBURGH  VS.  8 MONTREAL

– I think that the Habs Stanley Cup was won in the first round. I don’t expect this to be a long series, even if Jaroslav Halak stands on his head again! The Pens are much stronger in their back-end and in goal than Washington was. In addition, I don’t think guys like Crosby, Gonchar, Malkin etc. will be messed with mentally like the Caps were in their series against Halak. PENGUINS IN 5.

6  BOSTON  VS.  7  PHILADELPHIA

– This should be a long series, and a tough one too. Expect the Flyers to key in on Zdeno Chara, and the Bruins to do likewise on Chris Pronger. Tuukka Rask will be better than Marty Brodeur was, and the Bruins will get the added boost of Marc Savard returning. The Flyers have a strong team, and could pull off the win, but, without Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne, it will be hard. Some people forget that this Bruin team is the same one that won the East last year (remove Phil Kessel). BRUINS IN 7.

WEST CONF.

1  SAN JOSE  VS.  5  DETROIT

– Even though I had the Sharks moving on to round two, and the Wings being upset by the Coyotes, I believe the Motor City will advance in this one. It was a long tough series with the Coyotes, but, I think the Wings, and their franchise players are on a roll. Even if the Sharks turn this into a track meet with all of their offensive power, the experience of the Red Wing role players will be the key to their moving on. In addition, there is nothing to suggest that the likes of Joe Thornton, Patty Marleau or Dany Heatley will get rolling. It’s the same broken record come playoff time for those regular season scoring machines. I don’t think goaltending will be too much of an issue in this one. WINGS IN 6.

2  CHICAGO  VS.  3  VANCOUVER

– This promises to be the best 2nd round matchup, and a rematch of a pretty memorable round two battle from last season. I think it will be a long one, a tough one, and one that just might be a tad nasty! The Hawks have a ton of depth at foward and on defense. The key will be how Anti Niemi handles the banging around that will happen in front of him courtesy of Bernier, Burrows, Kesler etc. On the other hand, the Hawks will do the same to Luongo. Canuck fans know who Dustin Byfuglien is because of his net prescence last year. In the end, home ice, young wheels, and more depth will mean BLACKHAWKS IN 7.

…Should be another great 2nd round. Watch for the daily updates too.

Articles

The Cup Baby – Day 13

In Hockey Hits on April 29, 2010 by geespotting

3 games from yesterday…and only one team on the brink survived:

EAST CONF.

(1)  WASHINGTON  1  AT  (8)  MONTREAL  4.

– SERIES TIED AT 3-3.

…The Habs have done it…and forced a game 7 with the mighty Caps. The story was Jaroslav Halak who made an amazing 53 saves in leading the Habs to a one game showdown for the 2nd round. The Canadiens also got some scoring help for Halak with a 3 point night for Mike Cammalleri. Here is his goal that stood up as the game winner:

Will Halak be just as invincible for game 7…and if so, will he get in the heads of the talented Caps? OR, will Washington pull through, and win a game 7 at home like they did in the 1st round like last year against the Rangers? We will see Wednesday night!

STARS 1. Jaroslav Halak, MON. 2. Mike Cammalleri, MON. 3. Tomas Plekanec, MON.

(3)  BUFFALO  3  AT  (6)  BOSTON  4.

– BRUINS WIN SERIES 4-2.

…I didn’t see this one coming after my prediction of the Sabres making the final…that ain’t gonna happen! Even without Marc Savard, the Bruins found a way to score on Buffalo, and Vezina trophy candidate Ryan Miller. On the other end, Tuukka Rask was just as good, and the firepower that the Sabres have up front fizzled. Even the return of Thomas Vanek couldn’t do it. David Krejci was among the Bruins who found their scoring touch, and his 2 goals paced the way. Here is a recap:

Even though he wasn’t the MVP of the series, Miroslav Satan was a huge part of it, with an OT winner earlier in the series, and the game winning, series clinching winner in game 6.

STARS 1. David Krejci, BOS. 2. Nathan Gerbe, BUF. 3. Miroslav Satan, BOS.

SERIES MVP: Tuukka Rask

…The rookie goaltender up against the goalie of the year in Ryan Miller, and Rask responded in a big way. He was save for save with Miller, and never had a bad game in leading the Bruins to the upset series win.

WEST CONF.

(2)  CHICAGO  5  AT  (7)  NASHVILLE  3.

– BLACK HAWKS WIN SERIES 4-2.

…It was a wild start to this game, and looked like an old Chicago/Edmonton series from the 80’s with a 7 goal first period. The Hawks got the last goal on a power play to take a 4-3 lead…and that’s how it stayed for the rest of this odd game until an empty netter sealed it. Speaking of odd, here is a look at some highlights including a Patty Kane beaut from centre ice:

Up next, a Chicago vs. Vancouver re-match from last year:

STARS 1. Jonathon Toews, CHI. 2. Patrick Sharp, CHI. 3. Jason Arnott, NAS.

SERIES MVP: Patrick Kane

…It took a while for some of the Hawks big snipers to get rolling, but, Kane was instumental in some way in each game. He had 4 goals to lead Chicago, and was a threat from the Pred’s blueline in just about every time he entered the zone. Anti Niemi has to get some consideration too. He had some bad moments in this series, but, also 2 shutouts.

– Tomorrow, it’s a game 7 between the experienced Detroit Red Wings, and the overachieving Phoenix Coyotes. If history has anything to do with it…it won’t be pretty for the Desert Dogs. They have lost all of the game 7’s they have ever played. Let’s hope that history isn’t a repeater in this instance.

Articles

And The Award Goes To…HART

In Hockey Hits on April 29, 2010 by geespotting

Alright, one more major award to get to. Yesterday, I was able to predict 2 of the 3 nominees for coach of the year in Dave Tippett and Joe Sacco, but, left off the under-rated Barry Trotz in Nashville. Here is a look at the picks for league MVP:

HART (MOST VALUABLE PLAYER): Henrik Sedin, VANCOUVER

…This might come as a suprise to some, but, there was no player that was more consistent through the regular season than Hank! Even when his Brother Daniel went down to injury, Henrik’s point pace did not change, and he was able to lead the Canucks to another division title. The Canucks had a number of key injuries throughout the season, and also endured the longest road trip in NHL history. Not to mention, that Henrik was a key member of Sweden at the Olympics in Vancouver. The fact that he was able to outscore super snipers Ovechkin and Crosby, and the huge supporting casts they have is another big factor in Henrik being the MVP!

RUNNER UP: Ryan Miller, BUFFALO

…Like Sedin, Miller was easily the most consistent goaltender all season long. For a team that seemed to be goal deprived, Miller kept them in a ton of games, and won just as many as Buffalo rolled to the division title.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Sidney Crosby, PITTSBURGH & Ilya Bryzgalov, PHOENIX

…For the first time in his already legendary career, Sid the Kid was a goal-scoring phenom, and shared the Rocket Richard trophy with Steven Stamkos from Tampa Bay. It was a season in Pittsburgh filled with key injuries (Malkin, Gonchar, Fleury) as those aforementioned players missed a fair amount of time, but, Crosby and the Pens kept pace in the East. Crosby almost rallied to win the Art Ross Trophy by scoring 5 points in the regular season finale. The Coyotes were the story of the NHL season, and the main reason they finally made the playoffs had to be the play of the Bryz. He alone probably won more games by himself than anyone else in the league. That is the reason why he will be considered for this award.

– There you have it…my picks to click for 2009/2010. Still to come, a full review of the 1st round of the playoffs and round two predictions!

Articles

And The Award Goes To…ADAMS

In Hockey Hits on April 27, 2010 by geespotting

Just 2 more big awards to be announced. First…I was able to pick the 3 d-men nominated for the Norris…and all from Canada. Duncan Keith is my pick to win it, followed by Drew Doughty and Mike Green. All 3 were nominated. Here is a peek at the top bench boss of the season:

ADAMS (TOP COACH): Dave Tippett, PHOENIX

He was named head coach of the Coyotes just one week before the season was to begin. He had the task of guiding a team that didn’t even know if they would finish the season, or even start it in the desert. Many said they would finish dead last. No one gave them a chance. Coach Tippett had a plan though. A number of the young stars to be for Phoenix were sent to the minors to work on working on their game. He added some veteran leadership, had a star goalie, and launched this team into the post season for the first time in 8 years! He changed the style and system of this team almost overnight…and everyone bought into it. There is no way that he can’t be named Coach of the Year!

RUNNER UP: Terry Murray, LOS ANGELES

– Another coach who was able to guide his team back into the post-season. The Kings do have a young team, but, were able to gel and put up some of the best regular season numbers in the team’s history. Murray’s patience and leadership behind the bench was a major contributor to this team’s resurgence. He was also able to get the most out of his young stars as players like Kopitar, Quick, Brown and Doughty took immense strides this season, and should continue to do so over what should be great careers.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Joe Sacco, COLORADO & Lindy Ruff, BUFFALO

…For Sacco, it was first year as an NHL head coach, and motivated maybe the youngest team in the league to a playoff spot. The Avs always attack fast and hard, and Sacco made stars of young players like Duchene, Stewart and O’Reilly. For much of the season, those skaters acted as players with 10 years of NHL experience under their belts, and that has to attributed to the teachings of Sacco. As for Ruff, he has to have some credit for year after year finding ways to get the Sabres into the playoffs. Obviously, most of that credit should go to goalie Ryan Miller, but, the Sabres seem to lose one or two decent free agent players season after season, yet Lindy gets the most out of his team, and this season a division crown.

…So, there is a peek at the top coaches this season, and tomorrow a look at the NHL’s “Best Picture Oscar Award”…the Hart Trophy. Will some super-star forwards be on the list, some special goalies, and a little Swedish touch? I will let you know tomorrow!

Articles

The Cup Baby – Day 12

In Hockey Hits on April 26, 2010 by geespotting

2 games in the West yesterday. One team lives another day…and another team moves on.

WEST CONF.

(4)  PHOENIX  5  AT  (5)  DETROIT  2.

– SERIES TIED AT 3-3.

…The first game 7 of the playoffs will come up tomorrow night in Phoenix as the resilient Coyotes staved off elimination with a huge win in Motown. It didn’t look all that good for the Desert Dogs early as they took a number of penalties in the games first 5 minutes, and killed them off, including a 5 on 3. The turning point may have happened early in this one when Phoenix opened the scoring with this shortie:

They went up 2-0, and the Wings replied in seconds…but, the Coyotes kept coming…their PP clicked again…and they rolled to the game 6 stunner in Hockeytown. Once again, Captain Coyote Shane Doan was not in the lineup. Tomorrow’s game will see either the upstart no-star Coyotes and their MVP goalie move on, or the experienced, always playoff bound Wings win another. Should be fun!

STARS 1. Taylor Pyatt, PHO. 2. Ilya Bryzgalov, PHO. 3. Keith Yandle, PHO.

(3)  VANCOUVER  4  AT  (6)  LOS ANGELES  2.

– CANUCKS WIN SERIES 4-2.

…The Canucks had the league lead in 3rd period comebacks this year…and they displayed that flair for rallying as they came back from a 2-1 deficit to win the game and the series. Early in this series, many were critical of the ‘Nuck’s Roberto Luongo and the Sedin twins. That criticism all but disappeared by the end of the series, as all 3 stepped up when it counted, and paced Vancouver to 3 straight wins and the advancement to round two. Roberto had maybe the save of the first round with this gem on Ryan Smyth:

Daniel Sedin scored this game winner with just over 2 minutes to go:

Vancouver will now get some rest before the start of round two. Could it be another Chicago-Vancouver showdown? Time will tell.

STARS 1. Roberto Luongo, VAN. 2. Daniel Sedin, VAN. 3. Drew Doughty, L.A.

SERIES MVP: Mikael Samuelsson

– Maybe the best player of round one, Samuelsson scored 7 big goals in just 6 games. It didn’t matter if he was on the power play, playing with the Sedins…or someone else, Samuelsson found a way to puck the puck in the back of the net. He was the most consistent player too, having not really played a bad game the whole series.

…Tonight, it could be curtains for the Sabres, who have to win in Beantown to stay alive, the Habs, who are o for 2 at home vs. the Caps, and the Preds, who have to find a way to even their series with Chicago after that game 5 collapse. Otherwise…bring on some more game 7’s.

…Tomorrow, I will unveil my nominees for Coach of the Year. Howl do you think it will go?

Articles

The Cup Baby – Day 11

In Hockey Hits on April 25, 2010 by geespotting

2 series wrapped up yesterday…and a couple of OT encounters too:

EAST CONF.

(4)  PITTSBURGH  4  AT  (5)  OTTAWA  3 (OT)

– PENGUINS WIN SERIES 4-2.

…It was deja vu for the Pens as they rallied in this first round series to come back and clinch. A year ago…they were in Philly, leading that series 3-2, but, trailing 3-0 in game 6.  They came back and won the game 5-3, and the series too. Same thing last night as the Sens had a ton of jump, and jumped out to a 3-0 lead. The Pens rallied to tie the game, and then won it in overtime thanks to Pascal Dupuis:

Despite the remarkable play of Sidney Crosby in this series, it was the pluggers who rallied the Pens. For most of the Sen’s success in this series, it was their pluggers who paced the way. Kinda funny that guys like Staal, Cooke and Dupuis got it done for Pittsburgh, and got them into round 2. This is the 5th consecutive series in which the Penguins have won a series on the road.

STARS 1. Matt Cooke, PIT. 2. Matt Cullen, OTT. 3. Pascal Dupuis, PIT.

SERIES MVP: Sidney Crosby

– A no brainer here as Sid was awesome, scoring 5 times, assisting on 9 others, and ending up with 14 points in 6 games. He was just 5 off of the record for most points in a series.

WEST CONF.

(1)  SAN JOSE  5  AT  (8)  COLORADO  2.

– SHARKS WIN SERIES 4-2.

…I would imagine a big sigh of relief was heard from the Sharks, their management, and fans everywhere, as they made it through a very tough first round. In the end, it simply looked like the Avs had run out of steam. They played a pretty good game 6, and had a 2-1 lead, but, the Sharks tied it shortly after, and then got the game winner from Joe Pavelski, the best player in the series, other than Colorado goalie Craig Anderson. A couple of empty netters were added, and the Sharks advance. If they are to continue further, they will need bigger and better contributions from Thornton, Heatley and Marleau.

STARS 1. Joe Pavelski, S.J. 2. Doug Murray, S.J. 3. Dan Boyle, S.J.

SERIES MVP: Joe Pavelski

…You would almost pick Craig Anderson, but, with the Sharks moving on, had to go with Pavelski. He had the game tying goal in game 4, that lead to a Sharks OT win, and then scored the game winners in games 5 and 6. He ended up with 5 goals, and “Little Joe” was easily the big player for San Jose in this opening round.

(7)  NASHVILLE  4  AT  (2)  CHICAGO  5 (OT)

– BLACK HAWKS LEAD SERIES 3-2.

…This was a wild affair to be certain. The Hawks had the early control of this game, and a 3-1 lead, but, the Preds found a way to fight back, and eventually take a 4-3 lead late. Marian Hossa then got a 5 minute penalty with a minute to go thanks to this deadly hit on Dan Hamhuis:

So, with the Hawks trailing, and Hossa in the box, Chicago still pulled their goalie and then Patrick Kane tied it with a dozen seconds to go. Then in the extra frame, the Hawks still had to kill off the remaining 4 minutes to Hossa and his 5 minute boarding major. They did, Hossa got out of the box, and here is how it ended:

What redemption for Hossa and the Hawks. They should have been down in this series 3-2, and facing elimination back in Nashville, but, it is now theirs for the taking. There will be no suspension for Marian…and yet again, he finds a way to make headlines in the playoffs.

STARS. 1. Marian Hossa, CHI. 2. Martin Erat, NAS. 3. Niklas Hjalmarsson, CHI.

– 2 more games on Sunday, and 2 more series could end. Coyotes and Kings both on the brink!

Articles

The Cup Baby – Day 10

In Hockey Hits on April 24, 2010 by geespotting

4 games last night, and NO eliminations! Here is the dealio:

EAST CONF.

(8)  MONTREAL  2  AT  (1)  WASHINGTON  1.

– CAPITALS LEAD SERIES 3-2.

…It looked enivitable for the Habs heading into D.C. down 3-1. That high-powered offence should have no problem finishing off the Canadiens. Right? Not so quickly, said Jaroslav Halak. Halak returned to the goal for Montreal after Carey Price got the start…and loss at home for game 4. Halak was the difference as Montreal jumped out to a 2-0 lead and hung on for the win. The teams will get the weekend off before would should be a wild game 6 Monday back in Quebec.

STARS 1. Jaroslav Halak, MTL. 2. Semyon Varlamov, WAS. 3. Travis Moen, MTL.

(7)  BOSTON  1  AT  (2)  BUFFALO 4.

– BRUINS LEAD SERIES 3-2.

…The Sabres came through with a big effort in downing the Bruins and still a shot at the unlikely, but, not impossible rally from a 3-1 series deficit. Finally, some production from Buffalo’s top scorers as Jason Pominville and Derek Roy both hit the scoreboard. Once again, Thomas Vanek was on the sidelines…and he will be needed if Buffalo is to pull off the win back in Beantown Monday night. Ryan Miller was the difference, and will have to do likewise for the win. Controversy at the end of this game as Zdeno Chara went nuts, and was given an instigator penalty and a game misconduct, which usually carries a one game suspension. In this case though, the Bruins got this call over-turned, and big Z will be in the lineup on Monday. Here is a peek:

Even Ryan Miller got into it. Let’s hope the nastiness carries on for game 6!

STARS 1. Ryan Miller, BUF. 2. Jason Pominville, BUF. 3. Tyler Ennis, BUF.

WEST CONF.

(6)  LOS ANGELES  2  AT  (3)  VANCOUVER  7.

– CANUCKS LEAD SERIES 3-2.

…A huge game for the Canucks, as they got scoring from everywhere in a whitewash of the Kings. Mikael Samuelsson, who may be the best player in the playoffs other than Sidney Crosby, paced the way with a pair of goals and an assist. His 7 markers lead the playoffs:

As you might imagine, the game got a little chippy in the third, but, that didn’t faze the Nucks as Rypien and O’Brien took care of business in their respective tilts. Game 6 in LA-LA Land Sunday night.

STARS 1. Mikael Samuelsson, VAN. 2. Pavol Demitra, VAN. 3. Steve Bernier, VAN.

(5)  DETROIT  4  AT (4)  PHOENIX  1

– WINGS LEAD SERIES 3-2.

…Once again this game was close until the Wings found a way to score, take the lead, and then ice the game. Jimmy Howard was also the star for the 2nd straight game. All season long, the Coyotes have found ways to fight back into games, but, you certainly didn’t get that sense once Pavel Datsyuk made it 3-1 with this beauty backhand:

It will be a tough task for the Coyotes to win at the Joe in Detroit, and come back home and win. (The Wings rarely lose 2 in a row in the playoffs) If they are to do it, they will need that fast attack that allowed them to win a couple of games in this series. They would also need their Captain, Shane Doan, back in the lineup to give them that shot. Ilya Bryzgalov needs to stand on his head too. Could happen!

STARS 1. Jimmy Howard, DET. 2. Tomas Holmstrom, DET. 3. Pavel Datsyuk, DET.

…3 games on tap for Saturday, including the Sens trying to stave off elimination again vs. Pittsburgh, and the Avs trying to even up their series with the Sharks.