We Are The Champions

12 06 2012

There you have it:  The Los Angeles Kings are Stanley Cup Champions.

This is the stuff that’s only written in fairy tales.  An eighth-seeded team, with enough heart and determination, knocking off the top 3 seeds in the Western Conference, and taking the last game of the Stanley Cup Finals in a dramatic and dominant fashion.

I can’t even begin to say how happy I am for the LA Kings and their fans, but first we have to acknowledge their opponents:  the New Jersey Devils.  They fought back in an amazing way, coming back from a 3-0 game deficit in the SCFs and gave the Kings a legitimate run for their money.  Honestly, if the Kings hadn’t played the Game 6 that is now etched in the record books, the Devils could have easily taken the series.

But, alas, the hockey gods didn’t want it that way.  The entire hockey world respects the Kings and their organization.  See for yourselves:

The great part about all of the praise for both organizations is that it shows the class of hockey players, officials, and executives.  The exchange between Martin Brodeur and Jonathan Quick, in particular, was great to see, because they have such a mutual respect for each other.  At one point, I could read Brodeur’s lips and he told Quick that he was “incredible”.  I mean, seriously?  That’s a unbelievable compliment coming from a future Hall of Famer like Brodeur, and obviously well-deserved.

Conn-Smythe Trophy

Was anyone surprised?  If Quick hadn’t gotten the Conn Smythe, I think a riot would have broken out in the streets of Los Angeles, Vancouver-style.  No?  Too soon?  Meh, whatever.  But back to the point, Quick’s performance was unreal.  Completely dominant from start to finish, and he never missed a beat.

16 wins, 4 losses.  Only one road loss.  A .946 save percentage.  WHAT THE WHAT?!  He’s amazing.  Can’t even handle it.  So deserving, and he’s got a long career ahead of him.

Mike Richards and Jeff Carter

It’s really almost funny at this point.  The picture says it all.  When both Richie and Carter were traded away to markets that, let’s be honest, weren’t the most desirable for them as players, you had to wonder if they’d ever see the success they deserved.  And now look:  Carter was traded at the deadline from Columbus, the bottom of the NHL food-chain, to the Kings, and reunited with former-Flyer Richards.  It’s a cinderella story if you’ve ever heard one.

Colin Fraser

Frazzle Dazzle, I’m so proud of you.  As a former Chicago Blackhawk and member of the 2010 Championship team, I always root for those players.  Kings fans, keep this in mind:  you can and always should root for the players that are important to you, no matter where they’re playing.  It keeps historic moments like this fresh in your mind, and you’ll never get over it.

Fraser was a key 4th line role player on the Kings this season, and was on the ice when the hole blew to end Game 6.  He’s a classy guy, a classy player, but was the ugly duckling of hockey this season.  No one wanted him.  The Oilers and the Kings went back and forth trying to figure something out for him, and thanks to the Kings organization and coaching staff, Fraz has carved out a nice spot for himself in LA.  Let’s hope he sticks around, because he deserves it.  Plus, he’s the first of the 2010 Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup again.  Git ‘er done, Frazzle Dazzle!

Darryl Sutter

Holy schnikes, talk about a 180 degree turn.  Darryl Sutter, HUGE ups to you, sir.  To take an organization and a team that was completely discombobulated (I must’ve swallowed a dictionary, that word is longgggg) and dysfunctional, to getting them into the playoffs, and winning the Stanley Cup as an eighth-seed is incredible.  And to think he did it without ever cracking a smile.

Oh wait, there it is.

It’s moments like this that make me love hockey.  I just fell in love more and more with the sport, watching history happen, and seeing the relief on the players’ and coaches faces to have achieved the most difficult trophy to win in all of sports.  It’s incredible.

Honestly, I could go on and on about Game 6, the hit on Rob Scuderi, and every “what if” moment imaginable.  But I just want to say one thing to the Kings fans:  ENJOY THIS.  It’s history that you just witnessed, and something that will forever go down as the night that cheers erupted from the Staples Center without Kobe Bryant on the court.  I hope LA becomes more of a hockey town, because this organization deserves it.  It says a lot about the resilience of the players and the front office to continue to play and work for an organization that might not have the greatest presence in its location.  So cheers to you, boys, you deserve it.  Now party like you’re Patrick Kane, but try not to get arrested or let the front office get mad at you.  So basically…..party like it’s 1999.

-M





Has it been a year already!?

12 05 2012

S & I can’t believe it. Our little baby is 1 years old today!

We feel like it was just yesterday that we birthed her and now she’s almost ready to walk on her own!

For reals, it’s Hockey’s Finest birthday and we’re stoked. When we signed up for this little shindig — we gave it 1 year. If it didn’t survive, we’d pull the plug. But look at us! We’re still here! And with more writers!

It’s all thanks to Y.O.U.

hugs all around.

We know we skip out on a few teams every once and a while and we vow to try harder next season to cover EVERYONE. And while we’re on the topic of improvement…let’s kick the ball into your court. We’re open to suggestions. What would you like to see this next year? More stats? More yummy goodness? Any specific teams/players?

How about this off season? We know how the withdrawls feel, so we want to keep y’all as hydrated as humanly possible. Swimming in a sea of hockey during those hot summer nights. Anything you’d like us to cover specifically? Or a player to be on the look out for?

I feel like this next season should be dedicated to all our loyal readers. So seriously, comment away! Both negative & positive. We can handle it. We don’t cry….that easy.

For serious, we love you guys. And thank you for reading our random thoughts. Stick around. It’s gonna be one hell of a ride the next year :)

Love, 

The Hockey’s Finest Girls 

XOXO

Happy Birthday to us!





Let #SobFest2012 Commence

24 04 2012

I should have seen this coming.  After all, the Blackhawks are a Chicago sports team.  And what do Chicago sports teams know how to do?  Disappoint you.

We’ll always have 1908….right?

The problem with Chicago sports fans is this:  we’re eternally positive thinkers.  Every year is “our year”.  And if that were true, then the Cubs, White Sox, Bulls, Blackhawks, and Bears would be the greatest franchises in sports because we continually keep the faith.  But back to the hockey.

It’s not like the Blackhawks played terribly, they’re obviously a talented team.  But the Phoenix Coyotes were simply better in one very important area:  goaltending.  I have to give credit where credit is due.  Mike Smith is one hell of a goaltender and was a true brick wall for the Coyotes.  Though some may criticize Joel Quenneville for not replacing Crawford with Ray Emery when things went sour, I trust his judgement.  Crawford was the smarter choice and more consistent one for the team right now.  He didn’t have the wonderful season that was last year, but he’s still young and will hopefully continue to grow and mature as a player.

I don’t want to think about the shakeup the Blackhawks might get, either in the front office or the team’s core because I love the team the way it is.  But, then again, I have to think of hockey as a business and come to terms with it.  But I don’t want to.  Somebody hold me :(

Wait. Now I feel better.

On the other hand, a big congratulations to Shane Doan and the rest of the Phoenix Coyotes.  You have to give props to a guy like Doan who has spent his entire career in a completely unconventional hockey market, to say the least, and has stuck by the team and the organization throughout.

Now if only Italy had Ben and Jerry’s….but I’ll have to settle for some cheesecake gelato to drown my sorrows.

-M





Another One Bites the Dust…or 3

22 04 2012

First it was the Red Wings.

Then San Jose.

Now, it’s the Pens. S & I aren’t quite ready to discuss our boys. We’re still kind of bleeding …. and numb. As are Wings and Sharks fans.

But isn’t this what we love about playoff hockey? The outcome is never certain. The announcers and analysts always say “Just make it to the Playoffs and see what happens.” Because it’s true. Anything can happen.

As much as today’s Pens loss hurts, we’re classy fans. We give credit when it’s deserved.

1. Nashville Predators (4-1)

Not gonna lie, the Preds weren’t on my list of picks but they made it! Pekka Rinne DOMINATED this series. Doing everything a goalie should do. He’s the one who held his team up. He’ll be unstoppable.

So, a big congratulations to the Nashville Predators. Good luck in round 2!

Giving Music City something to cheer about! Good job boys!

2. St. Louis Blues (4-1)

I had you pegged from the beginning. Nothing else is needed to be said. You won it. Good job. Now rock it next round!

When was the last time St. Louis was in the playoffs?! Well deserved!

3. Philadelphia Flyers (4-2)

I won’t lie. S & I took a liking to you this season (thanks to HBO). It kind of sucked to have to put aside our love for you this past week and a half. Every time Hartnell, Grioux, Talbot, or Simmonds did something good — we kind of (reallllllllll deep down inside) cheered. This was the only series I refused to bet on. I mean how could I? Two powerhouse teams going at it. Ask anyone. I bet at one point or another — they were unsure by who they originally picked to win.

To say this was the most INSANE series, is an understatement. I lost count of how many times I wanted to throw up all my nerves into a toilet. And we’re upset. We really are — but this isn’t what this post is about. We’ll “cry” on Break Up day and write up all our emotions in a different post. This is to congratulate the Flyers team/Organization/fans. You all deserve it. You put up a good fight. And I couldn’t be more proud of how it ended. Every player left their hearts out on that ice. Despite one minor — ok, major — disappoint of a game… ::cough::GAME 3::cough:: Everyone seemed to go out with a bit of class and dignity left.

Hate for certain players aside, I truly hope the Flyers go far this year. In fact, S & I have adopted them (and a few other teams) for the rest of the playoffs. I can finally dig my Giroux shirsey out!

As much as you want to hate him -- you just can't. Look at that face!

Since our boys are O-U-T…S & I have to find other ways to occupy our time. Like I mentioned above — we’ve already discussed which teams we’ll be cheering on.

L’s Adopted Teams:

West: Blackhawks

East: Flyers or Rangers (because I love Brian Boyle) I love my Bruins (sometimes) — but I think it’s someone else’s turn. (Geez! Indecisive much? I say you pick the Rangers, just to make things more interesting. -S)

Stanley Cup Champions: Blackhawks — if I had my way. (I knew there was a reason I loved you. -S)

S’ Adopted Teams:

West: Blackhawks (Can’t believe I am moving there in a WEEK! EEEEPP! -S)

East: Flyers (I may or may not have a serious weakness for Talbot and Simmonds. I will now go hang my head in shame in the corner of my bedroom. -S)

Stanley Cup Champions: Blackhawks (Who’s surprised? A girl needs to be selfish every once in a while…especially if my Pens are no longer contenders -S)

———————-

Hey S, 

How cool would it be for you to be in Chicago for a Hawks Cup win?! #SuperJealousBestFriend (I’d turn into #SuperStalkerBestFriend and hunt down that cup! Woop! -S)

———————-

Have your teams been voted off? Have you adopted any others? How are your picks going so far?! Let us know :)

*L

PS– for all our beloved Pens lovers, we WILL be posting something. Probably after the Break Up day when we’ve had the time to lick our wounds and muster up the strength to write. (And after I finish my last final EVER! -S)





#CrosbyWatch2

6 03 2012

Today.

This.

Happened.

Can you believe it!? We’re back on the CrosbyWatch train.

Again?

Annnnnnnnnnnnd cue Hockey’s Finest Office dance party. I’ll bring the chips & dip.

So much for a productive day at work. Geez. One thing happens & all of a sudden my focus is completely gone. But for good reason!

This news has EVERYONE excited.

Stop it, Staalsy! I'm ticklish there!

Hugs and kisses for everyone today.

As for the rumor that he could come back as early as Sunday– I pray not. Sunday, the Bruins play the Pens. And if you all remember what happened last time they played each other……..

Yeah. I’d just rather him stay off the ice for that game.

BUT!

Congrats Sid! Glad you’re making progress. We’ve missed your beautiful face.

Smile puuuurty for the camera.

And in other news:

"feeling better"

That’s a good sign, right?! I keep having to remind myself to breathe in & out. I’m waiting to hear the diagnosis. If it says “concussion” … I’ll go into depression. Someone needs to wrap all these boys in bubble wrap. I’m not playin’ around. Line ’em up. BUBBLE WRAP FOR EVERYONE.

But, Kris has some help on his side:

TEAMWORK!

Good lookin’ out, Sid! Someone’s gotta take care of my man while I’m away.

*L

PS – S & I have cleared our calendars for Nealer’s appearance on NHL36 tomorrow. I pray they show us something we don’t already know. But even if they don’t…it’ll still be the best half hour of television. EVER.

 





In case you missed it.

24 01 2012

I can’t image anyone with a Twitter Feed could have missed it at this point.

His statement:

“I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People.

This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government.

Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL.

This is the only public statement I will be making on this topic. TT”

 

I couldn’t really sit here as the Bruins fan in the mix and not address this. It is big news drawing quite a bit of attention. 

I am not going to make any political statements. Yesterday was not about politics. Yesterday was a celebration for the Stanley Cup victory. When brought down to the basics,  hockey fans come from all walks of life: rich, poor, Republican and Democrat. The Bruins were at the White House for one reason- to accept a congratulations from our president.

What do you guys think?

– D





An Ode to Patrick Kane

22 01 2012

Last night was a big game for Patrick Kane (aka Lil’ Peek-a-boo).

Hhhhnngggghhhhhhh (that's me drooling over Mr. Goldilocks)

HE SCORED A GOOOAAAAALLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!

*cue Chelsea Dagger*

Ignore the NHL’s misspelling of Kaner’s first name, and check out this beauty from last night against the Florida Panthers.

He needed that boost for sure.  And look how happy everyone is for him?!  I love team-wide hockey bromances :)

Plus, can we talk about how even though the weather was AWFUL in Chicago last night, and the fan’s still filled about 80-90% of the United Center?  Talk about dedication.  Kaner,  the #1 Star of the Game, acknowledged the fans for coming out despite the weather.  Yet another thing I love about him.  He always recognizes the fans and gives them a moment of his time whenever he can.  Though I couldn’t find the video form last night, checkout this sweet shout-out to the fans after the Blackhawks took a 3-0 series lead against the San Jose Sharks in 2010 on their way to winning the Stanley Cup:

PRECIOUS.  Anyway, I feel like lately people have been hating on Lil’ Peek-a-boo because he hasn’t been playing well (cough MIKE MILBURY cough), and I still/will always love him as a player and a person.

One last thing, then I’ll shut up.  At the end of every warmup, he’s usually the last one on the ice.  He’ll gather up a few pucks, and hand them out to some younger kids on his way into the dressing room.  Melts my heart.

-M





The Hockey Gods have heard my prayers

16 01 2012

For the last 16 games or so, the Big Guy Upstairs has heard prayers from me along the lines of, “Sweet Baby Jesus, make Jeff Skinner get better. I CAN’T TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

Just as my patience was wearing off, I see this gem of a tweet from the NHL:

Aaaaaaand commence happy dance! It’s always good news to hear that someone is coming off the IR, especially for a concussion, but for some reason it’s a little sweeter when a young player is improving after a concussion. We don’t need and I don’t want another situation like Sidney Crosby or Marc Savard. You can read the press release here.

-M





High Brouw

14 01 2012

I don’t know about you all, but whenever a player I love gets traded away, I tend to keep tabs on them and just see how they’re doing.  Well, long story short, I have quite a few tabs lately, because a lot of players I love are from the 2010 Championship Chicago Blackhawks’ team.  There was just something magical about that group.  They all got along, from Captain Sexpanter to a fourth-line guy like Colin Fraser, they enjoyed playing the game together and it showed on the ice with their success.

So, last night, one of my favorites, Troy Brouwer, got his first career hat trick!

It's time for the happy dance!

He’s one of those players who never got the accolades he deserved in Chicago.  But, not a lot of players did, especially when your roster is so stacked with the top guys.  Personally I don’t think he’s underrated anymore, and he’s having a great time in Washington.  So, in celebration of his hattie, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you:  M’s Top 3 Underrated NHL Players!

1.  Loui Eriksson, Dallas Stars

To be honest, Eriksson isn’t exactly in the greatest market for hockey.  Maybe if they put grass on the rink and gave them a football to slap around instead of a puck, then people would show up to the games.  But he’s a great player.  He’s had consistent 70-point seasons and is on pace for the same, if not more, this season.  He was an All-Star selection last year and played for Sweden in the 2010 Olympics.  Heck, even in a player’s poll of the most underrated NHL players, he was voted #1.  How can you argue with that?

2.  Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks

Well hellooooooo Mr. Beautiful!  Ahem, sorry, got a little carried away there.  People forget sometimes how Sharp got his start in Chicago.  He was received in a trade from Philadelphia in 2005 for Matt Ellison and a 3rd round pick in the 2006 draft.  I know what you’re thinking:  Who is Matt Ellison?  EXACTLY.  This was an absolute, home-run of a trade for the Blackhawks.  I mean, we might as well just say we stole him from Philly because that’s what it looks like.  He’s not only a great player, but he’s an alternate captain and a true leader in that dressing room.  Plus, as of right now, the Blackhawks has a situation of “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”, since our beloved Sharpie is out for 3-4 weeks with a wrist injury.  But don’t worry, he’ll be back and sexier than ever.  BETTER!  I meant BETTER!  Damn you and your mesmerizing good looks….

3.  Tomas Fleischmann, Florida Panthers

C’mon guys, gingers need love too!  Here’s yet another great case of an underrated player in a bad hockey market.  I mean, let’s be honest here, most people in Miami don’t even know what ice is unless it comes in a drink with a little paper umbrella.  But, to everyone’s surprise, the Panthers are in first place in the Southwest Division.  I’ll give you all a moment for that to sink in.  Yes, the Panthers are winning.  And not Charlie Sheen “winning”, but actually playing solid hockey with a great coach and front office.  Fleischmann is having a breakout season right now, and is only behind Kris Versteeg in points on the team.  He was mentioned by All-Star defenseman Brian Campbell as being overlooked for the All-Star Game.  So yeah, you could say he’s underrated.  I’d keep this long-lost Weasley in mind to be a critical member of their squad in the coming years.

Honorable Mentions:  Ryan Suter, Nashville Predators; Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars; Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks; Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild; Dave Bolland, Chicago Blackhawks

As a quick side-note, I want to point out why Florida is playing so well.  Obviously the players are a huge part of it, but the front office is where it started.  Why do I bring up the front office, you might ask?  Let’s just say history tends to repeat itself, and this is a bit too close to home for me.  Their current GM is Dale Tallon.  Who was the GM when the Blackhawks were a dead franchise?  Dale Tallon.  Who selected Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in their respective NHL draft years?  Dale Tallon.  I think we’re sensing a pattern, here.  Don’t be too shocked if Florida wins a Stanley Cup in a few years.  Just a little food for thought.

Who are your underrated players?  Let me know!

-M





It’s Gonna Be Legen….wait for it…..

12 01 2012

DARY!  Hey everyone!  My name is Marissa and I’m the newest writer for the lovely ladies here at Hockey’s Finest.  I’ve been a hockey fan for most of my life, but now I get to show these to my mommy and convince her that her “tomboy” of a daughter might actually do something productive with that obsession.  I’ll be following most of the Western Conference, so get ready for some sweet blog-lovin’ for the California teams, and I’ll attempt to be nice to the Vancouver Canucks.  But I can’t help it if the Wonder Twins get on my nerves.

Now, before anyone gets on my case about this, let’s get one thing straight:  Yes, I’m from the Chicago-area (first suburb north).  No, I am not a bandwagon Blackhawks fan.  I repeat:  there are no bandwagons that I’m currently on.  Let me tell you a little story, children.  My first hockey game was at the tender age of 5, Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues.  There were four fights in the first period and, according to my dad, I was cheering and jumping up and down for every single one of them in a cute floral dress.  So yeah, you could say I got started young. (Right there with ya, M. Starting early = the hardest habit to kick. I’m addicted and proud to admit it. -L)

Someone's gonna go on timeout

But let’s get down to the cold, hard facts, people.  I live in a (now) great hockey town, with a team that isn’t too hard to look at. (If you want brownie points, you can send me PKane in a box for my birthday. You have until August to seal the deal. -L)

Age:  20

Hometown Team:  Chicago Blackhawks

Favorite Team:  Chicago Blackhawks (what can I say, I’m loyal), but if I was forced to pick another team that I lurve, it would have to be the either the New York Rangers or the Anaheim Ducks.  I have a soft spot for Brandon Dubinsky, and Bobby Ryan and I made a Twitter connection.

Still have no idea what he was talking about

Future hubby:  Jonathan Toews aka Captain Sexpanther.  60% of the time it works every time. (S will NOT be happy about this. But– she’ll have to deal. -L)

Wish-he-was-my-grandpa player:  Stan Mikita.  Dude was the bidness back in the day.

Coach I admire:   Mike Babcock (Red Wings).  I know, it’s almost a crime for me to say anything positive about the Red Wings as a Blackhawks fan, but you can’t deny that they have one stellar team, and Babcock knows how to coach them (every year they’re a given to get into the playoffs).  I think that rivalry is one of the greatest in sports, not just hockey, but it’s one built on respect.  I went to the first Blackhawks-Red Wings tilt this year (HOLY CRAPOOLA it was awesome), and even though every cheer from Hawks fans was “DE-TROIT SUCKS”, I know every legitimate hockey fan in that building was thrilled to be in the same building as Lidstrom and Datsyuk.  Sick mitts, those two.

Twitterbug:  Bobby Ryan.  Like I said, we have a special bond.  And I really want to know what he was talking about.

Least Favorite Team:  Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers.  DUH.  I would say the Red Wings, but they’re a truly talented team.  I feel like Vancouver and Philly are filled with a bunch of goons.

Least Favorite Player:  Truthfully, it used to be Dan Carcillo (he was a PEST in the Finals against Chicago), but now that he’s a part of the Blackhawks and I’ve seen his personality more, he’s actually one of my faves.  Plus Kaner needed another guy to bromance with while Captain Sexpanther sulked about people being mean.

Favorite Hockey Memory:  It’s a TIE!  For my 20th birthday, my parents surprised me with a Jonathan Toews jersey (I screamed in the middle of a restaurant), which was AH-MAZING.  Then, obviously, the Red Wings-Hawks game on December 30.  Fantastic way to close out 2011, Captain Sexpanther scored on a penalty shot, and our seats were right behind the penalty box.  Unforgettable night for sure.

Non-hockey related fun facts:  I can quote almost any movie at the drop of a hat, I do pretty good impressions of Sarah Palin, Harry Caray, and the Swedish Chef (yeah, you read that right), and I once held the door open for Joe Biden at a movie theater in Washington, DC.

But those are stories for another day, kids :) I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to be writing for Hockey’s Finest, but you can be it goes a little something like this:

Iiiiiin West Philadelphia, born and raised

You stay classy, hockey fans! (HAH! Classy hockey fans…HAHAHA…what a thought. -L)

-M