Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions- Eastern Conference

Everyone else is, so what not me? Here's my picks for the upcoming 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, starting with the Eastern Conference.

(1) Washington Capitals vs. (#8) Montreal Canadiens

 The Capitals offense is so good, its ridiculous.  With Ovechkin leading the charge, the firepower on this team cannot be matched by anyone.  Oh yeah, they also have Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Green. They also don't lose many games at home, only five all season.  Their defense is their weakness, especially in regards to penalty killing, where they ranked 25th in the league. Jose Theodore has had a very good second half, but has been prone to have a bad, inconsistent streches. It will be interesting to see how he performs when the series moves to Montreal, the site of his past successes.

The Habs have limped into the playoffs, finishing the season winning just three of the last 11, including ending the season by losing to the terrible Maple Leafs. The Canadiens offense is built around speed and puck control, which will be neccesary to avoid Washington's big defenders. Jaroslav Hasek will be making his first playoff start, and he'll need to be standing on his head to keep his team in the game. If he falters, Carey Price will be waiting. I don't see Montreal making a series out of this, unless the ghost of Rocket Richard comes to the rescue.
THE PICK: Capitals in four.

(#2)New Jersey Devils vs. (#7) Philadelphia Flyers

Despite the Devils being the #2 seed, you can't think they're excitied about facing the Flyers in the first round. Philadelphia finished the season with a 5-1-0 record against New Jersey. The Devils's strength is, as it has been for over a decade, is Marty Brodeur. He led the NHL with 45 wins and will be facing Brian Boucher, who is in the net primarily because Philly has no other options at this point. The key to this series will be the play of Ilya Kovalchuk and Chris Pronger. Is Kovalchuk capable of putting a team on his shoulders and taking over? Chris Pronger always steps up his game in the playoffs, can the old man do it again?
THE PICK: Flyers in seven

(#3) Buffalo Sabres vs. (#6) Boston Bruins

Much like the New Jersey/Philly series, Buffalo enters the playoffs at the better seed despite only winning 2 games out of six against Boston. Both these teams offenses kinda stink, this series is all about the goaltending. Olympic hero Ryan Miller squares off aginst surprise stud Tukka Rask. These guys had the two best goaltending seasons in the league this year. This will be a low scoring series, and I think its gonna go down to the wire.
The Pick: Sabres in seven.

(#4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (#5) Ottawa Senators

For the second year in a row, the Pens get the 4 seed. Despite their talent, the defending champs have been inconsistent at times this season. While the Sens have been perhaps the most inconsistent team in the league this year. The key to the Penguins success begins and ends with Crosby and his ability to make his teammates even better. No one handles pressure better the Sid the Kid. The Senators will miss D-man Filip Kuba and winger Alexi Kovalev. Daniel Alfredsson is the best player in franchise history, and he always shows up in the playoffs, I think the key for Ottawa lies in Jason Spezza, if he steps it up the Senators can make it a series.
The Pick: Penguins in five.

Monday, April 5, 2010

2009-10 Central Division Champions

Congratulations to the Blackhawks on winning their first division title in 17 years!!!!!! The Red Wing monopoly has been busted!!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Greatest Sweater Numbers: #2 Duncan Keith

Picking the best #2 in Hawks history was a little tougher than #1. A little, but not much.  Current d-man Duncan Keith takes the prize over 50's goon Gus Mortson and edges out 70's d-man Bill White.

YEARS WITH HAWKS: 2005-Present

Keith is now regarded as one of the top defensemen in the game today. He, along with linemate Brent Seabrook, form one of the most talented d-lines in the NHL. They were picked as a line for Team Canada for the Olympics this year, where Keith had 6 points in the tournament in route to winning the gold.

I think its Duncan skating ability that separates him from the rest of the pack, the guy can realy fly. He also has steadily became an offensive threat from the blue line. His point totals have improved from 31, 32, 44, to 66 thus far this year.

Keith was the Hawks second round pick in 2002 Draft. He was always a pretty prolific two-way defenseman in the amateur ranks, the knock on him was always his size.  He was thought to be too small to be a successful defenseman in the big leagues. He proved the nay-sayers wrong, however, by bulking up to near 200 lbs.

It has been a fun journey watching Keith mature as a player from his rookie season to today. He's a tremendous asset to team not just by being a superb shut down defenseman, but also contributing nicely with the power play as well.

Earlier this year, the Hawks signed Keith to a 13 year contract extension, locking up #2 for the forseeable future.  That signing, along with long term deals given to Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Marian Hossa, gives us long-suffering Hawks fans hope that a Stanley Cup may be in our future.