Archive | May, 2012
Aside

Game 1 is in the books

31 May

OK, the feeling out process is over.  Now we can have a series.

It started slow.  It played like two teams that are not that familiar with each other and have no animosity towards one another.  Watch for that to change.

The Devils finally woke up late in the 2nd and all of a sudden we had a hockey game.  That third period was some great hockey if you missed it.  I got a text from a friend of mine who said that was the best period of hockey he saw in this years playoffs.

Neither team played the way they wanted to.  Anze Kopitar admitted so much after the game when a reporter asked if they planned to have a feel out process in the first 40 minutes.  He responded with “that wasn’t the plan”.

The game went to overtime and when the Devils made one mistake, the Kings capitalized and scored.  Brilliant pass by Williams who got it right on the tape to Kopitar who was all alone in neutral ice.  He skated down and went forehand and scored.  Game 1 over and the Kings are up 1-0 in the series.  They deserved the win.

The Devils need to be better and they know that.  They lost game 1 of two previous series in these playoffs.  They were shut out 3-0 in Game 1 against the Rangers and they responded quite well to that.  They have responded in all three rounds and I expect a much better effort in Game 2.  They had just come off an emotional series against the Rangers to a team that they don’t hate.  It won’t stay like that for long.

The Kings are a big tough physical team and the Devils out hit them.  They hung with them despite not playing a good game.  18 shots against Johnathan Quick isn’t going to get the job done.  You’re going to need around 30-35 with some traffic in front of him to beat him.  Plus you need to get shots up around his head and shoulders.  He won’t let any low ones in.  Parise and Kovalchuk didn’t have very good games.  I would expect them to respond.

However I also expect a better game out of the Kings.  Both teams finally have game 1 out of the way and can get to hockey.  I think the offense, chances, goaltending and hitting should all elevate as the series goes on.

Can’t wait for Saturday night.  Let’s drop the puck.

TTS

Los Angeles Kings vs. New Jersey Devils

29 May

VS

Regardless of your expectations at the beginning of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, few could have seen this match up coming.  Seriously, how many people went to Vegas and said give me a $1,000 on a NJ – LA Finals.  If you did, I’m sure you got some serious coin back.

Anyway on to the match up.

The Kings are still looking for their first Stanley Cup in their 44th NHL season. The only NHL franchise with a longer championship drought is the Maple Leafs, who won their last Stanley Cup in 1967. The Kings entered the league in the fall of ’67. Other active droughts: Blues (44 years); Sabres (41); Canucks (41).

LA’s run has been impressive.  An 8th seeded team who takes out the President Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks.  Then they dispatch the 2nd seeded St. Louis Blues in a sweep.  Next up, the 3rd seeded Phoenix Coyotes who ironically enough have become the new NJ Devils with their brutal style of play.  I’d rather watch grass grow, paint dry, listen to an insurance seminar, etc. then watch the Coyotes.  Thank god they lost.

LA has never won the Stanley Cup in their 44 year existence.  Can you still call it a non traditional market if a team has been there 44 years?  Either way it’s the ultimate bandwagon city.  They love a winner.  This years team has been a Cinderella….no make that a Hollywood story.  They have gained so much momentum in the public that they are now the odds on favorite.  No road losses in the playoffs and going 12-2 will do that.  Everyone is on their side.

Even Las Vegas has jumped on the “we want the Kings to win” bandwagon.  Las Vegas’ set line for the series has the Kings a -150 favorite, making the Devils a +130 ‘dog.  That’s right, a ninety-five point eight seed is now your odds-on Stanley Cup favorite.

Remember that NJ has home ice!

But let’s talk about those Devils.  In my first, second and third round predictions I picked whichever team was playing the Devils.  Shows what I know.

Let me tell you something, even though I would like the Kings to win just because 45 years is long enough and I would love to rub it in Vancouver fans faces that the Kings would have won a cup before them.  My throat would be sore from taunting.  Despite all that….I’m starting to think the Devils are going to do it.

Why are they winning me over when everyone is saying the Kings got this in the bag?  Well their 4th line is playing outstanding.  A Stanley Cup winning team needs contributions across the board.  When the other team shuts down your big guns, then you need the other guys to step in.  NJ’s 4th line has, in limited minutes, played very effective hockey.  They are contributing across the board.  I think that line is a + 16 through the first 3 rounds.  That’s impressive.

Ilya Kovalchuk is playing team hockey.  He is turning my opinion of him around.  He’s really screwing up Don Cherry’s theory that Russians are no good lazy SOB’s who disappear when the going gets tough in the playoffs.

Zach Parise is an animal.  He is also in a contract year.  He is contributing to his team every way he can.

Speaking of the Minneapolis native, this is the first time in Stanley Cup playoffs history that two American born captains will square off in the Finals.  Facing off against Parise is Ithica, NY native Dustin Brown.  Can’t wait to see these two suit up for Team USA in the next olympics.  But that’s a post for another day.

One more caveat I’d like to add is that teams that have gone 12-2 in the post season, like LA has, have not done well in the finals.  I remember quite well a certain team doing just that.  In 1992 the Chicago Blackhawks went 12-2 through the first three rounds.  They were on fire and we knew they would bring Lord Stanley’s Cup back home to Chicago.  Didn’t happen.  Despite getting out to a 3-0 lead in game 1, Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux staged a comeback and won game 1.  Then they won the next three for a sweep.  I was at game 4.  I saw Captain Dirk Graham score a hat trick as he tried like hell to win at least one game for Chicago all by himself.  Didn’t happen.  Instead I got to watch Super Mario lift the cup over his head and skate around the old Chicago Stadium.  Damn.

I think I read that it’s happened 2 other times where a team went 12-2 and lost in the finals in addition to it happening to the Hawks.

So yeah, i’m going to buck the trend and say the New Jersey Devils will win this series.  I’ll go 6 games.

What do you think?

TTS

That Was a Great Game.

24 May

Maybe not so much if you’re a Devils or especially if you’re a Rangers fan but it certainly was entertaining for the rest of us.

I never thought I would see NJ come out with a 3-0 lead.  I also thought we had some offsides on the Devils 2nd goal but that’s not how it was ruled.  The Rangers fought back, brilliantly.  They pretty much took over the momentum of the game from the end of the 1st to the beginning of the 3rd.  Once the Rangers tied it….they stopped making plays.  Then they allowed the Devils to get some forecheck going again.  Then the Devils scored that 4th goal and that was it.

The Rangers played great but the start of the game was too much to overcome.  However the Rangers seem to have a never say die attitude and you HAVE to think that the Blueshirts come out on fire in Game 6 tomorrow in Newark.  You Have to….right?  I have to think that King Henrik will put on a show.  But then again, these Devils almost seem to want it more.  They also seem to have more depth.  I can’t believe I’m writing this about the New Jersey Devils but they seem to have more offensive depth.  What planet am I living on?

I love the douche stache Carter.  Keep it going, keep it going strong.

said Lundqvist post game:

“It just hurts, the way it ends, a late goal there,” said goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, sitting in the New York Rangers’ dressing room Wednesday night after their devastating 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils. “We worked so hard to get back in this game. We did so many good things. So, uh …”

He took a deep breath.

“We just have to remember that for the next one, how many good things we actually did tonight, and hopefully we can get two straight here.”

That last goal wasn’t his fault.  But now the Rangers are facing elimination.  I still think this series goes 7 games.

TTS

LA Kings are in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 19 years

23 May

Congrats to LA.  You guys earned it.  First beating the #1 seed, then the #2 seed and now the #3 seed.  That’s awesome.  They are playing good hockey at the right time.

Hey Phoenix

Couldn’t have said it better myself Nelson.

Did you hear Shane Doan after the game?  Wow.  Is he kidding?  He sure was complaining about the refs tonight.  What game was he watching?  The funny thing is he only had problems with certain parts of the officiating.  He didn’t mind that his team had 6 power play opportunities.  He didn’t mind when Ray Whitney grabbed Doughty’s stick and Doughty got a 2 minute penalty.  He didn’t mind when in OT Doughty kept the puck in the zone and the refs called it offsides cooling off the momentum the Kings were generating at that moment.

It seems that he only has a problem with the refs when it goes against his team or doesn’t work in his teams favor.

Now there was the hit by brown.  Doan said if Torres got 25 games then Brown should be gone forever.  Hold on there a minute.  Really?  Are you sure about that?  Browns hit was thigh to thigh.  He wasn’t head hunting, he didn’t leave his feet.  He was finishing his check.  Yes it was offisides and the whistle had just blown.  Perhaps he could have backed off but by how much?  The whistle had just blown and he was skating at him with the intention of finishing his check.  Rosival had his head down and who isn’t going to finish their check in game 5 of the conference finals?

Then there was Doan running his mouth in the hand skake line post game.  Way to stay classy Doan.  Speaking of classy, how about those Phoenix fans?  Throwing all that crap on the ice after the game.  Reminds me of Philly fans.  Did you hear that Phoenix?  You remind us of Philly fans.  Is that what you want?  Actually I have more respect for Philly fans because at least they go to Flyers regular season games and not just the playoffs.  “Hey look, they are giving away free white T Shirts…Let’s go to the Coyotes playoff game”

But I digress, those Kings were great.  They earned it.  They are Kings of the road.  8-0 in this years playoffs and 10-0 if you go back to last year.  That’s impressive.

Maybe the media in LA will finally discover who these Kings are?  Now that the Lakers and Clippers are out, the Kings are the only ones left.  I think the bandwagon is about to swell.

Now who do they want to play, NY or NJ?  Tough question.  That’s like asking would you rather get kicked in the balls or punched in the face.  You really don’t want either.

Can’t wait for puck drop tonight.  Based on how they have played in these playoffs you have to think that NY will bounce back tonight and win.  We shall see.

TTS

LA Kings have a sense of humor

22 May

First comes this delicious move.

Rainn Wilson (who plays Dwight Schrute on the Office) wanted tickets for the NHL’s Western Conference Finals. Since he’s a celebrity who has more than enough money to buy his own, the Kings sent him tickets for free. The only catch was that they put them in a jello mold to pay tribute to the very first episode of The Office when Jim put Dwight’s stapler in jello.

Next you might have heard about the NBC station in Los Angeles that doesn’t know the difference between the Sacramento Kings of the NBA and the LA Kings of the NHL.

Also KCBS had their turn by using the wrong mascot in discussing a win over the Coyotes.  LA Mascot Bailed responded with this tweet and saying do we even look alike?

Now they made a media kit for such well informed sports departments.

TTS

We Have A Series

22 May

We really do.  I predicted this series would go 7 games and nothing has happened to make me think otherwise.

These two teams don’t like each other.  These two cities don’t like each other.

The following video gives you a great feel for it.  Warning there is a movie preview at the beginning but you can skip it after 3 seconds.  It is a James Bond preview so not the worst thing in the world.  But in the video, at about the 1 minute mark, you see the hit Rupp makes (I’m not so sure it’s a penalty) and then the subsequent hit he makes on Brodeur.  Then you see all the players react and even better you see the two coaches yelling at each other.

As a player you want to see your coach emotionally engaged.  Especially when, as a player, your emotions are running on overdrive.

Great stuff.  I saw some of the players being interviewed after the game.  They all basically said the same thing but I think Ilya Kovalchuk said it best when he said “this is not chess, this is a mans game”.  You’re God Damn Right!  This is why we love it.  We don’t want to see anyone get hurt.  We don’t want to see the Raffi Torres Goonery, but we do want to see these guys pushing and shoving and jawing at each other.  That we like.  Not Torres.

Speaking of that series, Game 5 is tonight between the Coyotes and the Kings.  Let’s go Kings!

Great picture on yahoo, they show a LA broadcaster discussing how 3 LA teams are in the playoffs.  In the background they show the Lakers and Clippers logo’s along with a Sacramento Kings logo as the third team.  Hey Moron it’s the LA Kings that’s in the playoffs not the basketball team that plays in Sacramento.  How clueless are those idiots?  Newsflash LA, there is a professional hockey team that plays there and they are playing quite well.

During the last series I went to the LA Times, which has many many Pulitzer prizes, and they had nothing on the Kings sweeping the Blues.  I had to do a search in the newspaper to find anything.  Nothing on the main page and nothing on the main sports page.  Come on guys.

I know a couple of guys out in LA and they are huge hockey fans.  But they are the minority out there.  However I did read that prime seats for Kings games are going for twice as much as tickets for either basketball series.  How about that?

TTS
PS – sorry about the delay in posting, I had an out-of-town guest followed by a bachelor party which knocked me on my ass for a couple of days.  Apparently I’m now too old for a heroic intake of alcohol.  Sucks getting old.

Also WTF happened in the World Championships?  First Canada chokes and then USA says – Hey that looks like a pretty good idea let me try.  They choked with 8 seconds left!  Congrats to Russia on the win and to Slovakia as the runner-up.  Looks like at the Sochi Olympics USA and Canada will be in different pools.  If the NHL even participates in the olympics this go around.

Rangers Take Game 7 and 3rd round predictions.

13 May

The NY Rangers have never lost a Game 7 at home in the history of the franchise.  Last night was no different.

The Capitals played them tough but in the end couldn’t generate enough offense.  You never would think that could be possible a couple of years ago with the offensive juggernaut that the Caps used to be.

The team that scored first in this series won every game.  The first goal was crucial and Brad Richards delivered.  He is a stud.  Brad is now 4-0 in his career in game 7’s.  He is showing why the Rangers showered him with money this past offseason.  He delivers on the big stage in crucial moments.  It doesn’t get much bigger than Broadway in game 7.  He scored on the first shot of the game.  Game over.

The Rangers have now gone to  7 games in both rounds.  No team has ever won the Stanley Cup when they’ve had 2 game 7’s in one playoff.  The thing is…..they are only half way there.

“To me, we’re still in the middle of the process of the New York Rangers trying to become one of the elite teams,” coach John Tortorella said. “For a young group of guys, it’s a tremendous experience. … This is where your legacy’s made, in the playoffs, and so it’s going to be interesting to see what happens in the next couple weeks here as we go into another phase.”

The Rangers, Devils, Phoenix Coyotes and Los Angeles Kings.

“Four teams,” Richards said. “Everybody plays a solid, hard team game. We feel we have as good a chance as anybody.”

3rd Round

So here we go.  Game 1 in the West is tonight and game 1 in the East is tomorrow night.

Time for predictions.

This years playoffs have not been kind to TTS’ predictions.  But then again a lot of people have not been doing very well.

In the first round I got 50%, in round 2 I got 25% right.  If the Rangers lost last night I would have been at zero!

So here goes.  Based on the first two rounds don’t take my pics to Vegas but…..

I’m going to say in the West – Los Angeles in 6 games.

In the East – I’m going with the Rangers in 7 games.  This is a tough call.  I really think this series can go either way.  The Devils are playing great hockey and I want to pick them, but the Rangers have shown an ability to adapt to their opponent and their style of play.  Plus throw in home ice.

LA vs. NY in the Finals.

TTS