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

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Beauty

19 03 2012

It’s time for when things get a little weird up in here.  And by weird, I mean great.  Why so great?  Because this is a tribute post to one of my have playas in the game.  Oh yes, ladies and…..well, fangirls.  I’m talking about the man, the myth, the beauty.  KRIS.  VERSTEEG.

He’s my favorite man-boy.  And I mean that in the greatest possible way.  Currently a top-line forward for the surprising Florida Panthers, he’s previously played for the Blackhawks, Flyers, and Maple Leafs.  He’s a stud muffin.  Frat star.  White rapper that rivals that Matty B kid.  Yes, he’s 7, but give Steeger credit, he has a different day job.  Plus, for some reason, he makes me fangirl like hhnnnnggggghhhhhhh :) And, for one thing, everyone fangirls over Captain Sexpanther and Lil’ Peekaboo, so it’s only right for me to pick a backup to my backup.

List of reasons why I love the Steeger.  Leggo:

1) His favorite word is beauty.

2) He’s in love with Fergie.

3) He raps like a white boy and I love it.

4) This video just warms my heart.

5) Old School. Sick. Mitts.

6) New School. Sick. Mitts.

I fangirl my face off for that man.  He’s wonderful in every dorky way :)

Tell us your favorite unconventional hotties in the NHL, and maybe we’ll feature them in a post on Hockey’s Finest!

-M





The Race to the Finish: East

1 03 2012

This is one of those times when “slow & steady” has no chance of winning the race.

Can you believe there is only a month & ONE week left in the regular season?! I find myself starting to panic thinking about the off-season. Anyway, this is when the season gets serious. The coaches lose sleep. The games get scrappy. And our boys power through their injuries. All for one reason. For a chance to compete for Lord Stanley’s attention for the next year. Let’s take a look at a few teams…

New York Rangers

With 86 points — they are absolutely blowing every team in the Eastern Conference away. And I don’t want to say word-for-word what I’m thinking in fear of jinxing myself, so I’ll say it a different way. I think something shiny is going to be visiting this team this summer. And I’m not talking about the Lombardi Trophy that has already been showcased.

So there ya have it. I made a prediction without ACTUALLY saying the words. I plan on using my special connections with the NYR to celebrate.

Boston Bruins

Here in Crazyville, MA — everyone is convinced that this team is capable of a repeat. I’m not necessarily saying they are wrong…but there are just BETTER teams this season. ::cough::RANGERS::cough:: But, I’m not here to burst anyone’s bubble. The great thing about hockey is the pace in which things change. Who knows?! This team could, once again, surprise the nation.

Florida Panthers

I really don’t have much to say about this team except: WHERE THE HELL DID YOU COME FROM?! Done.

And our beloved: Pittsburgh Penguins

It breaks my heart to admit this, but without Sid on that ice…I just don’t see anything shiny coming to the ‘Burgh this summer.The boys need the confidence & offensive power that he brings to the ice. Now, before all you Pens fans find your panties in a bunch, let me say that I’m not doubting the skills & abilities of Geno, Staalsy, Nealer, or ANY of the boys. Anything is possible with this team. Exhibit A: Last season. How many call-ups from Wilkes-Barre were there because of injuries!? And they still silenced the critics by powering into the playoffs.

I remember this moment like it was yesterday.

Dear Pens, this is me. Challenging you. Please, prove me wrong. I’d love to visit the ‘Burgh next fall for the Season Opener to see a special banner being raised. ;)

Now let’s jump down the standings a bit.

Washington Capitals

Poor Caps. Everyone’s gunning for their spot! The Jets are one thier heels. Toronto isn’t too far off. Hell, even Tampa has a shot! I hate the Caps just as much as any other Pens fan out there…but I can’t picture the playoffs without them. Hang in there, boys!

And just ONE more comment.

Montreal Canadians

You do realize that the hockey season starts in October, right?! Where are you!? As much as I dislike you (being from Boston and all) I still want to see a Bruins v Habs steel cage death match for the Cup! Seriously boys. Time to get your heads in the game. Especially since I’m coming to Montreal for a visit in 3 weeks. I want you to win when I’m there. It’d be no fun for the home team to lose! What kind of “WELCOME TO MONTREAL” would that be?! Mathematically, I don’t think it’s even possible to fix the hole you’ve dug throughout the season. But then again…I went to art school & took a “Math: for Art Students” class. (no offense to any readers in Art School)

*giggles*

*L





The year of the “WTF” team

14 02 2012

Has anyone else noticed a strange pattern in the NHL lately?  And by pattern, I mean freak occurrences that no one could have predicted (unless of course your name is Miss Cleo).

CALL ME NOW FOR YER FREE TAROT READIN!

By now you should have deduced that I’m talking about the success of teams in strange hockey markets like Miami and Phoenix.  I know San Jose is playing well too, but I’m leaving them out of this because they’ve been a contender for the last few years.

Anyone who has read a post of mine on Hockey’s Finest knows I’m only slightly obsessed with any member of the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks.  So, as you can imagine, I’ve been following the Florida Panthers closely this season, considering about half of that championship team took their talents to South Beach.

South Beach, BRING THE HEAT

At any rate, the Florida Panthers are on tope of the Southeast division, have 65 points on the year, and should be on pace for a franchise-high point and win record.  But, for some reason, they’re consistently flying under the radar.  You never hear anyone talking about this team because, let’s be honest, southern Floridians know next to nothing about hockey.  And I say that with the utmost respect because, again, Florida is simply not a hockey market.  It’s a basketball town and always will be.  Thanks a lot, Lebron.  Long story short, it’ll be interesting to see the reaction to the Panthers next season, especially depending on their playoff run (provided there is one; I know it’s still early).

Now, onto Phoenix.  This is truly the island of misfit toys.  When you used to think of the Phoenix Coyotes, there wasn’t any one particular person you thought of.  Then came Shane Doan.  Mike Smith.  And, thanks to Twitter, Paul Bissonette.  They’re beginning to form a true identity, beginning with their solid play up to this point.  Other teams in weird hockey markets that started quickly (I’m looking at you Dallas), have fallen off the map, making room for Phoenix to take their place.  I mean heck, just last night they took Vancouver to a shootout.  A shootout!  If a team like Vancouver can’t put away the Coyotes in regulation, you gotta hand it to them in that they’re playing with purpose.  Kudos to them and the fans; they’re fighting to keep the franchise where it is.

Now, the only question is:  will they keep it up?  A hockey season is a long 82 games, and we’re at about #55.  It’s always interesting to see the playoff race shape up the closer we get to springtime, so make your predictions now, ladies and gents!  You never know what might happen.





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





Goodbye Atlanta…Hello Winnipeg??

21 05 2011

Before we start congratulating the city of Winnipeg, S & I have to offer our thoughts and prayers to our friend J who *may* be moving to a hockeyless city in the fall for grad school. Just like us, J is an avid Penguins follower (Hockey Husband: Max Talbot) from Florida. Due to blackout restrictions (for all 3 of us) we can’t always catch the Pens game on TV, and that’s when we rely on our hometown teams. Thankfully, Florida has the Bolts…and dare I say it, the Panthers (Do they even count? -S)

Who??

Anyway, at first S & I were more than excited for J to move to Atlanta. I mean, she was going to a great school and plus if she couldn’t catch a Pens game on TV — at least she’d have the Thrashers, right!? WRONG. Sorry J, the Atlanta Thrashers look like they may become the Winnipeg Jets in the near future.

Get ready Winnipeg!!

Poor girl. She didn’t even get to ONE game! S & I are legitimately worried about her. So if anyone is ever in the Atlanta area and you see a pretty girl smashing her head against a wall…that’s J. Tell her to please stop and keep her chin up because S & L love her too much for her to hurt herself. Plus…that just gives us more of an excuse to talk her into coming back to Florida (or even a trip to Boston). We love you, J. Stay strong babe.

Who knows J, maybe you’ll become a Hawks fan! ….no? Ok…well– we tried.

I’d like to think the Thrashers are excited about a possible move. Maybe they’ll actually sell out some games up in the cold North!

"We get fans?! Wahhoooo!!"

Sorry Atlanta hockey fans…looks like you’ll have to travel to get your fix. How ’bout them Preds?!