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)

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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)

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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)

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It’s Knuckle Puck Time!

10 04 2012

Favorite time of year.  EVER.  Except for maybe my birthday (for those of you who are dying to know, my 21st is coming up on April 15!)  I love the playoffs, because it’s completely anything goes.  Every fan comes out with their predictions and hopes to God that they can say “I told you so” to their friends in the form of stealing their money from the pot.  My friend’s family does a pool every year, and even the dog gets picks.  Take a wild guess as to who has won the last 2 years.  The dog.

Always wondered how they did this without opposable thumbs

So, even though I’m your resident Western Conference girl, I’m gonna give you my picks for both the Eastern and Western Conference first rounds in two different posts just to give your eyes a break form reading my obviously riveting ideas.  Get pumped guys, $#!+ is about to get real.

That's right, Georgie. Time to put on your big boy pants.

Nashville Predators vs. Detroit Red Wings

This is definitely a matchup that will be an interesting one to watch.  The Red Wings are a staple in the NHL playoffs, having qualified for the playoffs every season since 1990-1991 (not including the lockout).  The Predators, however, have lost in the first round of the playoffs 5 years out of the 8 they’ve qualified in their short history.  But I think this year will be different.  They have home ice advantage, and Detorit is constantly riding the struggle bus on their road games.  Shea Weber and Ryan Suter can shut down Pavel Datsyuk, not to mention making major contributions on the power play.  Then again, the Red Wings are the Red Wings.  Their roster is stacked, with players like Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Kronwall, and Stuart, making them a very intimidating team on paper.  At the end of the day though, with their injury problems and road woes, I don’t think that this is Detroit’s year, especially with a first round against Nashville.  The Preds have waited long enough, and they deserve to make it through the first round, especially with their depth.  Predators in 7.

St. Louis Blues vs. San Jose Sharks

I’m still in shock that St. Louis is sitting just below Vancouver on the top of the Western Conference.  But this is why I love hockey:  any team could just be the one to win it all.  Alright, let’s get down to business.  In my opinion, it’s just this side of no contest.  The Blues are going to take this series.  They’ve dominated the regular season and took over the toughest division in the NHL, which, in case you’ve forgotten, holds 4 out of the 8 playoff spots.  Their goaltending tandem is completely solid, as opposed to the Sharks, whose goalies have struggled throughout the season.  Even given that, the Sharks are a playoff-built team.  They’ve made it very far in past years, but have yet to reach the coveted finals and seem to always fall short.  This might be another year for that.  Blues in 6.

Vancouver Canucks vs. Los Angeles Kings

Ah, the Canucks.  Anyone who has read my posts before knows what I think of the Canucks.  I’m not a fan.  However, they’re the President’s Trophy winners for the second year in a row, so you have to give credit where credit is due.  Truly, I think the Kings have a shot with a goaltender whose name should speak for itself.  Jonathan Quick is one of a few goalies in the league that send shivers down the spine of any player skating towards him down the ice with the puck on his stick.  But, aside form the goalie duel that will be one of the best, I think this will be one series that will absolutely go to 7 games.  Like everyone says, now the regular season doesn’t matter.  It’s win or go home, and I’m hoping for an upset on this one.  The Canucks aren’t drastically different than they were last year or the year before, aside from the acquisition of David Booth from Florida earlier in the season.  I think they can only make it past the first round if Roberto Luongo stays hot, because when he’s on he’s great, and when he’s not, it’s a collapsing Jenga tower of crap.  Their forwards are phenomenal, but they’re such perfectionists as well.  You can see it so easily when something doesn’t go their way, they start yet another collapse of frustration.  And for those of you reading this thinking I just want an upset because I’m not a huge Vancouver fan, just hold your horses.  I simply think the Kings’ cooler heads will prevail.  Kings in 7.

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Phoenix Coyotes

I wish I could say I wished for this matchup.  If we’re being honest, I wanted both Phoenix and Chicago to make it to the semis, but unfortunately for me and one of these teams, they can’t both make it.  Now, given past experience, normally this would be a shoo-in for the Blackhawks to win the series in probably 5 games.  However, the Coyotes have won 3 of the 4 regular season meetings with the Blackhawks and have one hell of a solid goaltender in Mike Smith, who is coming off of an absolutely stellar 5-game run.  This is an underdog team, and the underdog fights a hell of a lot more because they feel they have something to prove.  Not to mention, poor Captain Sexpanther is still sidelined with an injury, which could prove to be a major break for the Coyotes.  With that said, I don’t believe that Phoenix is a playoff-built team.  They don’t have the playoff experience to survive against a team that is truly stacked.  Basically what I’m saying is forget the regular season.  The Blackhawks are the legitimately deeper, better, more talented team, and I think the only thing that can save the Coyotes is one hell of a performance from Mike Smith.  He’s their not-so-secret weapon.  With that said, if the Blackhawks don’t underestimate the Coyotes and Captain Sexpanther comes back healthy, they should be unstoppable.  Blackhawks in 6.

What do you guys think about the Western Conference?  Let us know in the comments, and get your playoff beards ready!

-M





And Then There Were Two…

18 03 2012

A hockey team is made up of 20 players:  eight wingers, six defensemen, four centers, and two goalies.  It’s not surprising that the forwards get the most attention, considering they’re the ones scoring most of the goals and making the fancy plays that hit the highlight reels every night on ESPN.  But, on any given night, a team could thrive or completely tank depending on the play of one person:  the goaltender.

These guys make me feel like I need to stretch every day, I mean really?!  They’re crazy flexible!  You think the goal can’t be that big, but when you have a puck coming at you at about 90 mph (or 108 mph if you’re Zdeno Chara, that friggin’ giraffe), your reflexes have to be crazy quick.  In my opinion, the thing the separates a good goaltender from a great goaltender is simple:  he’s not a sieve.  He’s big in the net, crazy quick, and gives his team a legitimate chance to win every game, no matter who the opponent is.  So, in honor of the smallest contingent of men in the NHL, we here at Hockey’s Finest present the Top 6 (because I couldn’t pick just 5) goaltenders of the 2011-2012 season.

6.  Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes

I mean REALLY?!  Marian Gaborik is a dangerous shooter, and Smitty just closes the door.  Unreal.  But like I said before, a team is only as good as its goalie.  And Phoenix is absolutely not an exception to that rule.  When was the last time they were a legitimate threat going into the playoffs?  As of right now, they’re one point outside the race, sitting in 10th place in the West just behind San Jose.  But you had better believe that without Smith posting a .924 save percentage (tied with Kari Lehtonen and Pekka Rinne), they would be an afterthought sitting in the Western Conference basement.  The fact that they can be included in the playoff conversation, especially after their less-than-stellar play the last few season is remarkable, and Mike Smith deserves a huge hunk of the credit.

5.  Pekka Rinne, Nashville Pedators

Homeboy is ridonkulous.  He has to be one of the quickest goalies in the league, second only to Thomas the Tank Engine in Beantown (he’s got those short lil’ legs).  Rinne is truthfully the backbone of that Nashville team.  Yes, Shea Weber gets the bulk of the attention, but if you ask any NHL forward who they don’t like to see between the pipes on the other team, Rinne’s always in the conversation.  Plus, he has a sick name.  You can’t compete with that.

4.  Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

Yet another very appropriate name.  He’s so speedy!  It’s hard for you as a player to look at the goal while you have the puck on your stick because, personally, I’d be thinking, “Oh $#!+, it’s JQ and I’m not gonna score, am I?”  NOPE.  He’s a wall.  Thankfully he gets the recognition he deserves, because even when the Kings hit the skids, Quick is always on the positive side of the conversation.  Great player.

3.  Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins

I know some of you might be wondering why I put Thomas so high on this list, and it’s a valid question.  To me, Thomas is an elite goaltender.  Boston sports fans put their athletes on this pedestal of a God-like status, and Thomas has been up there for quite some time.  Yes, his save percentage is nowhere near where it was last year.  However, that stat was truly unreal, and I’m surprised he bounced back this well after the year the Bruins had and the short summer.  Plus, he’s just a solid dude.  I has a soft spot for Timmay, what can I say?

2.  Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues

Talk about a dark horse team.  If you had asked any pundit out there what team would be the first o reach 100 points the year, very few if any at all, would have pegged the Blues for that distinction.  I put both of their goalies together because they’ve split the season almost down the middle and, truthfully, are one of the best tandems in the league (Thomas/Rask in Boston are the other).  Every night, no matter who seems to be between the pipes, St. Louis is solid as a brick wall back there.  They’re just nuts, I can’t even stand it.

1.  Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers

Oh, Hank.  You’re so dreeeeaaammmyyyyy :) *AHEM* I mean, he’s very talented…..whatever, we all know Henrik is gorg, and then there’s the flow….is it hot in here?  Okay I’m done.  But on the serious, folks, isn’t it always the pretty ones that end up being the most talented?  I like to call it Taylor Swift syndrome:  They’re pretty, they’re nice, they’re talented, and you want to hate them on principle, but you CAN’T.  BECAUSE THEY’RE SO DARN NICE.  And Lundqvist has got to be one of the most humble, nice guys in the league, and to go along with how clutch he is every single night for the Rangers is simply remarkable.  I can’t even fathom putting someone else at the top of this list, even though they’ve hit a bit of a slump lately, but he’s just too good.  Even in the clip above, the Rangers were down by 2 with 8 minutes left in the 3rd period, and he just keeps fighting.  He’s a dirty goalie, in the best way possible.  Now if only I can find a way to just touch the hair and not get arrested…..ideas?

What do you guys think?  Did we leave anyone out?  Let us know in the comments!

-M





Best of the West

12 01 2012

Before we get into what will be an EPIC matchup in the Western Conference, I’ll do a mini “L” freakout on the ASG selections.

SAY WHAT?!

There are two things that immediately come to my mind when I hear the ASG roster.

1) I can’t wait to see all the Hawks from our championship team reunite.  This year it’s Captain Sexpanther, Lil’ PK, Big Hoss, Soupy, and BUFF.  I wish Duncs and Sharpie were in there (I have NO idea why Duncs isn’t in there, but Sharpie’s injured), but hey, I’ll take what I can get.

2) I try to keep a calm head about who they do/don’t pick for the rosters, but DAMN, NHL, you make it really hard sometimes!  Where is Selanne?  Neal?  HELLLOOOOOO?!  Smh.

Even Trekkies are upset

It’s safe to say that Sobfest 2012 started a bit too early for me.  But I digress.

Now, onto the GOOD stuff :)

I love the Western Conference.  Every night, unless Columbus is playing (sorry dudes), there is some sort of a fantastic matchup.  The Western Conference, in my opinion, is the tougher of the two conferences.  Yes, the East has it’s stars, but the teams in the West faceoff in epic battles every night and truly fight for points.

Tonight, especially in the Central Division, we have some epic matchups.  Canucks vs. Blues.  Blackhawks vs. Wild.  Red Wings vs. Coyotes.  Predators vs. Avalanche.  Yes, I know what you’re thinking, “M, you crazy bag lady, how in the world are those good matchups?”  Well, my little hockey fiends, try this on for size:

Hang in there, Columbus :(

As you can see, the Blackhawks and the Blues are tied for first, with Detroit only 2 points behind and a game in hand, and Nashville is not too far off.  So, provided the Red Wings lose, Nashville could close the gap, and we could have ourselves an even better battle here.  No other division in the League has a battle for the top division spot going on right now, or at least one as close as this.  And, for that matter, no other division has 4 out of their 5 teams occupying 4 of the top 8 spots.  This is where I do a celebratory cabbage patch dance.

Tiger Tiger Tiger WOODS, y'all!

Okay I’m back.

If I had to pick one game to watch though, it would be Blues vs. Canucks.  The Blues are on a hot streak (4 wins in a row) and Brian Elliott is a brick wall, but never count out the Wonder Twins.  The Canucks have a great goal differential (but measly in comparison to the Bruins), definitely due to the solid play of the Wonder Twins and Kesler.  The Blues have been solid at home, as most teams are, but the Canucks are 15-9-1 on the road, compared to 12-5-2 at home.  I think it’ll really come down to goaltending.  Schneider is always solid, but if the Blues happen to get Luongo in net, it’s truly anybody’s game.  Luongo can be great, but if you crash the net once, he collapses like a drunk guy at a frat party.  If the Blues take this one, they’ll truly solidify their place among the top Western Conference teams, and everybody better watch out because the Blues are BACK.

-M