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





Holy Potential Sweep, Batman!

6 06 2012

It’s D-Day, ladies and gents.  Game 4, Devils vs. Kings, with a potential sweep on the line.

I don’t even want to think about the game, because I’m going to be jumping at every time move those players make, and my new roommate is going to think I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

And what do I think of that?

Yup.  That’s how I feel about it.

Anyway, how awesome would it be for Richards and Carter to hoist the Cup after being traded away from the Flyers, separated for the first half of the season, then reuniting and becoming the dynamic duo they once were on the east coast?  I’ll tell you how awesome:  it would be nearly as awesome as Stammer growing his flow back, Jeff Skinner and I becoming besties, and Captain Sexpanther walking into my apartment right now and proposing to me COMBINED.  Okay, it probably wouldn’t be as awesome as me and Tazer getting’ hitched, but it’ll be close.

Get excited, everyone.  No matter what the outcome of this game, it’ll either extend an already exciting series, or give a franchise it’s first ever Stanley Cup.  Leggo.

-M





Dear Sidney

5 06 2012

Must you do this to us? I mean, it’s hardly fair.

You got us all literally panting over here at the Hockey’s Finest Office.

________flatline__________

Please wear that shirt more often. And unbutton one more button. Or two. Or three. Oh hell…unbutton them all.

Love,

Us. 

xoxox

PS — for those who need more context to this photo, Crosby was at Game 3 last night with Matt Duchene. So if you wanna know where he is right now– it’s LA. Happy hunting, ladies.

 





Kings of the Castle, Masters of Their Domain

31 05 2012

*If anyone gets the reference from this post’s title, you’ll be my bestie for life.  But seriously.*

Oh, the Kings.  A team after my own heart.  I’ve always rooted for the underdog, and since every “favorite” team (save for the New York Rangers) lost in the first round of these seemingly backwards playoffs, this year will be forever known as the year of the upset.  I’m not even going to go through which teams lost in the first round (because then I’d have to relive the heartbreak of my Blackhawks blowing it), but you all know what happened.  And let’s be honest, if your reaction wasn’t:

…then you’re either crazy, a liar, or both.  It’s going to be a special thing to see Los Angeles win, but then, there’s the other guy.

New Jersey Devils

The Devils, though not as much my favorite as the Kings are, they deserve to be here.  How they dethroned King Henrik and the New York Rangers, coming back from 2 games down in the Eastern Conference Finals will be the stuff of legend.  Every game was a classic in that series, and they worked hard to get to the Finals.  No Doubt.

Now, I’m not going to make any predictions for this series.  But, if I’m honest (which, lezbehonest, I always am), I want the Kings to win for a few reasons.  One, Colin Fraser is on that team, and I always root for former Blackhawks.  They’re coached by Darryl Sutter, another former Hawk.  And, finally, probably my most legitimate reason, I want Mike Richards and Jeff Carter to succeed.  As much as I despise the Flyers, and they are the former captain and alternate captain of that team, what happened to them last summer was brutal.  They were the faces of that franchise, and were blindly traded away.  Carter struggled quite a bit this season with injury, and it’d be nice for him to get some vindication.

Either way it goes though, I’m so excited for this series.  It’s gonna be magical :)

-M





D-Day

12 05 2012

Tonight’s the night, ladies and gents:  It’s Game Friggin’ Seven.

How pumped are you?  Because I’m too excited for words.  I’m pulling for the Rangers, because they completely deserve it, but we shall see.

The winner of this game plays the who-would-have-thought-they’d-be-here New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals.  Get excited, fans, it’s gonna be a rocking game in the Garden tonight!

-M

 





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





This Means War

18 04 2012

This is it, folks. Do or die.

Game 4 of the Penguins vs Flyers series. I can’t believe that after tonight it’s possible that our boys (the one’s who WERE favorites to win the Cup) won’t be playing again until October. GASP — that’s like 160ish days away!! I, for one, am not ready for the season to be over. In fact, the stress of the playoffs is good for my diet. So I would love to keep this going.

For those of you who live under a rock and/or haven’t been following this intense series because you are occupied with another team or have a social life (unlike me), why don’t we show you a little of what happened in Game 3.

That game is getting a lot of heat. This is just my opinion, but I feel what Captain & Tanger did were fine. *shrugs* Fights happen. No biggie. It kind of lifted the team up. Showed that SOMEONE on that ice cared. It’s the stuff that Asham (cross check to Schenn and sucker punch to the face), Neal (completely blindsided Couturier), and Adams (instigated Hartnell in a fight) did that I have a problem with.

Playoff hockey has always been an entirely different animal. Faster. Scrappy. There’s a fine line between what’s right and what’s wrong. And sometimes “in the heat of the moment” the players don’t use their brain ::cough::NEAL!ASHAM!ADAMS!::cough::. This sport is getting more dangerous by the day. Just look at what happened to Hossa last night in the Blackhawks game. Torres completely LEVELED him. Hossa was lifeless and taken off by a stretcher (Heard he is fine and at home recovering! Thank you Hockey Gods!). Or how about the hit on Nathan Horton last year? Do y’all remember that one? I couldn’t get his face OUT of my head.

The Penguins need to play like tonight is Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. There’s no room for error– THAT INCLUDES THESE STUPID PENALTIES!!!! With Neal, Asham and Adams suspended I will admit, the chances of a win is slim. But maybe they just needed to hit rock bottom– I can’t imagine them going anywhere but up.

While struggling through work today I put on my EPIC playlist and This Means War by Nickelback came on. Say what you will about the band (because it seems like everyone and their mother has a problem with them — EXCEPT S & I) but this song just seems to sum up tonight’s game. Or series, for that matter.

Penguins fans! Let’s rally. These boys need us.

I got you, Captain!

Don’t lose hope just yet. There’s still at least 60 minutes of play left in this season. Look at how many people predicted Penguins in 7! Maybe this is just all part of the master evil plan the Hockey Gods put in place.

I just can’t see it ending this way. Not with a sweep. So dig down deep. Muster up ALL the power you can and send our boys all the good vibes you can. You can do this, boys. Screw “Game 4”. It’s a “Game 7” to me.

Go ahead, give this a listen. Get amped!

-L





Here We Go Again

18 04 2012

I honestly never thought I’d see this many suspensions handed out during the playoffs.  Yes, there’s something to be said for the fervor and passionate playing that gets kicked up a notch at this time of year, but this is completely out of control.  I don’t even know where to start, but let’s go with the most covered of them all:  everybody and their brother on the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers.

I know this might not be a very popular opinion with everyone, but hear me out.  As a hockey fan that does not like the Flyers in the least bit, I’m honestly so disappointed in the Penguins for their behavior during that game.  You know what Philly is going to bring to the game:  grit and aggression.  They’re known around the league as a team and organization that likes to push its opponents’ buttons.  With that said, Pittsburgh gave an uncharacteristic and inappropriate reaction to them.  I mean really?  You’ve got Sidney Crosby picking fights with Claude Giroux now?  Kris Letang and Kimmo Timonen both got tossed out of the game before it really started.  It seems like Pittsburgh wanted to let their fists do the talking instead of their skill, which only hurt them in the end.  Philly instigated maybe one or two of those fights.  They sat back, chirped, and let the Penguins come to them and take the fall.  Now you’ve got Asham out for 4 games, Neal is suspended for 1 which, to be honest, could be the last game of the Penguins’ season if they don’t clean up their act.  It’s just disgraceful.  And again, I know this might not be the most popular of opinions, but that’s what it is.  Take it or leave it.


New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators

Matt Carkner got into it with Brian Boyle in Game 2 in New York to start his team out with a little more energy.  However, I don’t think this was the right way to do it.  It’s a completely one-sided fight.  Carkner takes down Boyle, who doesn’t respond, and throws these sucker punches at the bottom of an 8 player pile-up.  I understand fighting and its place in hockey, but I thought there was more of a mutual respect between players in terms of fighting.  If Boyle doesn’t respond, you let him go.  You don’t take him down to the ice and start punching him around.  I didn’t think there should be a suspension here, I just thought it was uncalled for and inappropriate.

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Phoenix Coyotes

So I have two bones to pick with my team:  one in favor, one against.  This hit by Andrew Shaw on Mike Smith wasn’t, in my opinion, dirty in any way.  However, I completely see how this hit requires review by the league and, ultimately, a suspension.  If this had happened to Corey Crawford, I’d expect a suspension too, strictly because goaltenders are like the quarterbacks of hockey:  you can’t touch them.  And no matter how much I like Andrew Shaw and think he isn’t a dirty player, if anyone else did this I’d expect to see the same punishment for them, too.

Now, on a more serious note, I was absolutely furious last night when I saw the hit that Rafi Torres laid on Marian Hossa.

If he doesn’t get at least 4 games for this hit, Brendan Shanahan needs to have his head examined, because this was dirty in every sense of the word.  Torres left his feet, targeted the head, and is a repeat offender.  Hossa was carted off on a freaking stretcher, and there was NO PENALTY CALLED ON THE PLAY!  I couldn’t believe it when I saw it.  Torres did this last year too, with Vancouver, on Brent Seabrook.  This feels like last season when Aaron Rome laid that hit on Nathan Horton.  But, in case you forgot, here’s a video:

There is no way the refs can play ignorance on this.  Skip to 2:48.  The ref, who is standing right in front of the hit, lurched back as a reaction, then did NOTHING.  Absolutely disgraceful.  I’d like to think that players were past this, but it seems that Torres missed that memo.  I would love to see what the league does with this, because I think they need to treat as they did Matt Cooke.  He was a repeat offender, and after being suspended repeatedly, he switched up his game.  Torres needs to do the same.

What do you guys think of the scrappy nature of this first round of the playoffs?  Let us know in the comments!

-M





Sweet Baby Jesus…

16 04 2012

I was planning on waiting until the end of the first round to give my thoughts on who came out on top, but considering the way a few series have been going, all I have to say is this:

For the Vancouver/LA series:

For Pens/Flyers:

In the name of all that is good and holy, what the FRICK is going on?!

 

What do you guys think about these series?  Let us know!

-M





Beasts of the East

12 04 2012

Time for M to show the Eastern Conference just a little bit o’ love.  And heeeeeere we go!  UPDATE:  I know I’m posting this after the first day of games, but the internet in Italy doesn’t exactly understand timeliness.  Or, for that matter, working in general.  Booooo. -M

Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals

This would be a matchup to watch had the Capitals performed the way they should have during the regular season.  But, inevitably as they always do, the Caps find a way to disappoint.  But who knows, maybe that frustration will lead to a deep playoff run.  Personally, I wouldn’t bet on it.  The Bruins are just too good, even though I don’t think they’ll make it to the finals this year.  Thomas is still an elite goaltender, and if you’re Washington, you can’t just expect those issues to go away.  The Bruins have a grittier, deeper team, and they’re going to make a deep playoff run, starting with knocking off Washington.  Bruins in 6.

Ottawa Senators vs. New York Rangers

Once again, this has to be no contest.  The Rangers have dominated the regular season, and have an elite goaltender (with some sick flow) in Henrik Lundqvist.  Not to mention, they have the character of a championship team.  You see the guys in the locker room they have, they personalities on that team, and honestly I think because to the last few Stanley Cup Champions.  With the Bruins last year you have Marchand, Ference, Seguin, all guys that know how to keep it loose in the locker room.  With the Blackhawks, it was their role players like Burish, Versteeg, Byfgulien, Ladd, and Madden.  This year, the Rangers have characters like Boyle to balance out the offense talents of Marian Gaborik, among others, and I truly think this team can be unbeatable if they keep their eyes on the prize.  Rangers in 5.

New Jersey Devils vs. Florida Panthers

I can’t tell you how happy I am that the Panthers made it into the playoffs.  Dale Tallon made too many big offseason moves for them not to have drastically improved upon previous years, and they did.  I don’t think this series will be a blowout, because they’re both fairly evenly matched, but just for the sake of nostalgia, I’m hoping for a Panthers win here.  They deserve it.  And, as you’ll recall, I did predict they’d win a Stanley Cup in the next five years, so they need to get a little more playoff experience under their belts so they can git ‘er done.  Panthers in 6.

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

It’s only appropriate that I put a picture up of these two teams getting into a scrum, because let’s face it:  this is going to be an all out fight to the finish and a series for the record books.  You couldn’t have scripted it any better.  I see this series as the Vancouver-Chicago series from last years playoffs.  It’s two teams that legitimately hate each other, both are extremely talented, and both like to get under the other team’s skin (though I think Philly is a bit better at that).  This series is for sure going to 7 games, and I think there are a few keys to show which team could come out on top.  For the Flyers, it’s their goaltending.  Bryzgalov is a talented guy, no question, but when he hits slumps, he just takes an epic tumble like that girl Scarlett from YouTube.  But, the Flyers have Giroux, Jagr, Hartnell, Briere, Talbot, and all these other offense threats on their teams that give them a chance to balance out potentially poor goaltending every night.  With that said, the Penguins are just too good to be true.  Crosby has scored 25 points in 12 games since coming back for the second time from his concussion.  But when you hear the names Malkin, Neal, Dupuis, Staal, Kunitz, Letang, etc., you might start shaking in your skates a bit.  Too many Penguins are having career years for them to waste away in the first round.  They need to keep a cool head and not let Philly get under their skin, because we all know that’s what they do.  And, to be honest, it works, so why stop?  The Pens need to just play their game and respond to all the trash talk by winning hockey games.  Penguins in 7.

-M