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Posts Tagged ‘NHL Playoffs’

Penguins vs Flyers is absolutely bananas

April 16, 2012 Leave a comment

 

 

This is unlike any playoff series I have ever seen.  The Flyers and Penguins rivalry has reached a new level.  The amount of venom in this series is beginning to rival the old Avalanche vs Red Wings series.  We all knew this series had reached a boiling point.  The fighting, chirping, and hitting was to be expected.  What wasn’t foreseen, at least by me, was the low-level of play by the Pittsburgh Penguins.  They were considered by many experts to be a favorite for the Stanley Cup, now it seems as though they are becoming the Canucks of the Eastern Conference.

The Penguins flat-out refuse to play team defense.  I love that NHL playoffs are proving once again that will defeats skill every time.  The Penguins are the more talented team, but they haven’t had the committment to defense needed to win in the playoffs.  The lack of team defense by the Pens is compounded by the fact that they are getting squirt level goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury.  Fleury was phenomenal for most of the regular season before becoming a little leaky down the stretch.  What was a leak in the final few games of the regular season is now a full-blown flood.  Fleury looks completely rattled.  17 goals against in 3 games with a .798 save percentage has to go down as one of the worst performances by a former all-star goalie.  Fleury isn’t the Penguins only problem though.  They have completely lost their composure, and have everyone in North America outside of Pittsburgh pulling for the Flyers

The Penguins are becoming a team that is easy to hate.  The actions of James Neal and Aaron Asham are deplorable.  Neal is quickly earning a reputation as a punk.  His late blind side hit on Couturier was disgusting.  Definitely warrants a suspension.  While Neal won’t be able to skate in game 4, hockey players have long memories.  The first clash between Pittsburgh and Philly next season will provide the opportunity for vigilante justice to go with the formal suspension to be handed out by Brendan Shanahan.  I personally believe that Asham’s suspension should be more harsh than Neal’s.  Schenn delivered a great, clean, hard hit on a Penguin.  That’s playoff hockey.  There is no honor to the way the Penguins are playing this series.  Having said that, I loved everything Sidney Crosby did on the ice and in the post game press conference.  He is an easy target for some, but the guy is a winner and a tremendous competitor.  I love that he fought Giroux.  I loved that he saved Neal from getting murdered by Hartnell.  I love that he pushed Voracek’s glove away. I love that he HATES everyone on the Flyers.  Sidney Crosby is my guy.  Like it or lump it.  If only he could get the rest of the Penguins to play and compete as hard as he does.

While the hockey universe begins to hate the Penguins, for maybe the first time ever, fans are starting to LOVE the Flyers.  Removing the Flyers two biggest villains (Pronger and Carcillo) has made the team much more likeable.  If you love what Crosby did for his teammates, you also have to love how Giroux responded.  Giroux might just be my favorite player in the NHL not on the Blackhawks.  He is everything you could ever want from a superstar.  He battles, he goes to hard areas, he plays in every zone, he stands up for teammates, and now we can say he has the “clutch gene”.  Giroux has been without a doubt the best player in the playoffs.  He is skilled enough and tough enough to carry the Flyers to the finals.

The extra-curricular stuff has been great, but I am somewhat disappointed in this series as a whole.  The Penguins have let the NHL down.  Their failure to compete has robbed us of a great 7 game series and their conduct feeds some of the negative stereotypes that casual observers have about hockey.  I am hoping the Penguins are now desperate enough to recommit themselves to playing defense because fans deserve more of this rivalry.  Even though I want the Pens to extend the series, I am 100% on board with the Flyers the rest of the way.  SING IT MAC!!!

 

PS: Ain’t nothing but a G thang baby…

Follow me @WindyCitiSports

NHL Realignment, Relocation, and Expansion

June 23, 2011 3 comments

So I got into a discussion with a couple of people on the old twitter machine about NHL realignment now that the Winnipeg Jets are on their way back(side note: if True North calls them something besides the Jets that would be so stupid.  The fans are Jets, and once you’re a jet you’re a Jet all the way). The discussion spiraled out of control into some discussion about the overall strength of the NHL.  The guys on twitter want the NHL to contract a couple of teams, where as I think the NHL should expand.  The game is growing. More and more kids are playing.  Just signed a big TV deal. More teams=more fans=more money=a better league.  It’s just so simple.  Here is what I am proposing to “fix/enhance” the NHL.

Expansion:

Add two more teams bringing the total to 32.  I propose that the two new cities should be Seattle and Quebec City.

Seattle:

  • Seattle is a major US Market with corporations like Boeing, Apple, and Starbucks that would be able to support a team financially.
  • The NBA packed up and left so hockey would be the only show in town
  • The WHL team does well in Seattle
  • It would be a nice geographical rival for the Vancouver Canucks
  • It’s a great sports town. Even the MLS team gets 18K fans a game

Quebec City:

  • Building a new state-of-the-art stadium
  • It was always a great hockey market and many of the reasons why they had to leave before have been resolved(exchange rate, salary cap, venue)
  • It would just be sweet, who are we kidding. Great colors, great rivalry with Montreal, and I love the odd occasion where the only broadcast they have for the Canadiens is the french feed on NHL Center-Ice. I don’t speak a word of french, but I find it entertaining and having a second french team would make that situation far more likely.

Relocation:

Some of these cities just aren’t working.  Phoenix is a mess and Miami is the worst sports town in America.  Time to just cut bait and find new cities for those clubs. The Islanders need a new venue too and they should really just move to Brooklyn and share that brand new building with the Nets.  Brooklyn is kind of  an island, right? Name still works.  For relocation cities, I would say Southern Ontario and Houston. Houston is an enormous market with big money and some hockey history.

Realignment:

In this scenario the NHL would have two more teams and 4 new cities.  I propose 4 divisions of eight.  Naming the divisions after the four greatest hockey players in history; Orr, Lemieux, Howe, and Gretzky.  The divisions would be as follows:

Orr Division

  • Boston
  • Montreal
  • Toronto
  • Ottawa
  • Buffalo
  • Quebec City
  • Southern Ontario
  • Columbus

Lemieux Division:

  • Pittsburgh
  • Philadelphia
  • New Jersey
  • New York Rangers
  • New York Islanders
  • Carolina
  • Washington
  • Tampa Bay

Howe Division:

  • Detroit
  • Chicago
  • Saint Louis
  • Minnesota
  • Nashville
  • Dallas
  • Houston
  • Winnipeg

Gretzky Division:

  • Edmonton
  • Calgary
  • Vancouver
  • Seattle
  • San Jose
  • Anaheim
  • Los Angeles
  • Colorado

Scheduling:

84 games with a somewhat balanced schedule.  Each team plays 4 games against their division (7×4=28), 3 games against the other division in your conference (3×8=24). The teams would just alternate years where one team has the extra home game. Then a home and home against every team in the other conference (2×16=32). Pretty sure that is a total of 84 games(28+24+32=84).  Everyone plays everyone and I don’t have to wait 3 years to see Crosby come through Chicago only to be out with a concussion.

Playoffs:

Rivalries are born in the playoffs. I want to create scenarios to make rivalries happen more often.  The top 4 teams in each division make the playoffs.  For the playoffs, I would like there to be essentially four mini conferences.  Top seed plays the 4th seed and no re-seeding.  Teams would have to beat their division rivals in the playoffs to get to the Eastern or Western Conference Finals.

This is pretty much genius and how Gary Bettman should play it.  Somebody forward this to him please.

follow me @windycitisports

Lock of the Century: NHL Edition

May 27, 2011 1 comment

Tampa Bay +140 @ Boston -160

Over/Under 5.5 Goals

Ho-hum another lock of the century pick that I am going nail.  I am honestly starting to get board with this whole bankrupting Costa Rica thing.  But when they spit lines out like this I am left with no choice but to rob them blind.  Tampa Bay is the underdog simply because they are the road team.  Which is some dumb.  Tampa Bay has proven that they can win in Boston and this series would be over already if Tim Thomas didn’t steal Game 5.  Tampa Bay has dominated the past two games and I expect their elite forwards Stamkos, Lecavalier, and St. Louis to continue capitalize on powerplay chances.  Special teams have given Tampa Bay a sizeable advantage all series and there is no reason to believe anything will change tonight.

The other half of this equation is over/under line set at 5.5.  Are you kidding me?  Is Costa Rica waving the white flag on this one?  These two teams have been solid defensively this year on the surface, but they each have been bitten by a their major flaw in this series.  Tampa Bay hasn’t gotten the quality of goaltending they enjoyed in the second half of the season.  While Boston has continued to give up a ton of shots.  Tim Thomas has largely masked this defensive issue with his spectacular play, but when facing quality snipers, like the ones employed by the Lightning, giving up a ton of shots isn’t a formula for success.  Give me the OVER and start looking up flights to Costa Rica.

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