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.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

2009-10 ITG Between the Pipes

I really like the Between the Pipes series annually put out by In the Game. Although I couldn't justify spending the cash to buy a box (money is tight at the moment). I did purchase a few packs. Here are some highlights:

I got a bunch of Future Stars, here are a few

I am a little familliar with Jake Allen, I know there was talk of him coming up to Columbus this year when Steve Mason struggled.  I don't recall if he did or not, I think not, correct me if I'm wrong.

Tyler Beskorowany looks to be the future goalie in Dallas, making this card's claim as a "Future Star" very appropriate.

I like the Stars of the Game subset. Sometimes when card companies try to do the "sketch" thing it looks awful, but in this instance I think it looks pretty cool. Is it just me or is Luongo looking more and more like Borat every day?

One of the few non Blackhawks I'm actively collecting is Buffalo net minder Ryan Miller. This is a nice looking card of the Olympic hero.

Two Rival League cards, spotlighting goalies who played in the WHA. I really like the Minnesota Fighting Saints sweater, although you can't really see much of it on Curran's card here.

These Greats of the Game cards are nice, if a little blah.

Although I somewhat detest Patrick Roy, you can't deny his greatness.  This is a decent looking card, though I would prefer him in a Canadiens uniform.

I did score a auto in my purchase, one of Peter Budaj of th Avs. I know two things about Budaj, he backs up Craig Anderson, and he's the guy with Ned Flanders on his helmet.  Unfortunately, you can't see good 'ol Ned on the card.  I suppose ITG would be face with a lawsuit it they allowed that to happen.

I also scored a nice 2 color jersey card of Edward Pasquale.  According to the back of the card, this jersey was used in the OHL All-Star Game. That's pretty cool.

I do plan on buying a box of these eventually.  Too bad I didnt get any of the masked men cards. Later, I found out that someone pulled a Brodeur glove card in the same box. Needless to say that put a little damper on things. Has ITG put a checklist out for the glove/pad cards? A Ryan Miller would be pretty sweet.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Greatest Sweater Numbers: #1 Glenn Hall

In an idea blatantly copied from White Sox Cards,  today is the debut post of a new feature here at Blackhawks Cards, a look at the greatest Hawk players wearing a particular sweater number.  We'll start at #1 and work our way up.

Fortunately for me, #1 is a complete no-brainer. The number hangs in the rafters of the United Center and belongs to a legendary Hall of Famer, "Mr. Goalie" Glenn Hall.

Glenn Hall is most famous for two things, his ridiculous record of 502 consecutive games played between the pipes, and the fact that he vomited before each game. It's hard to imagine a goalie playing 500 straight games, especially considering the fact Glenn wasn't wearing a mask while he did it.  As far as the vomiting goes, legend has it it was his way to calm his nerves before taking the ice. Some other facts about "Mr. Goalie":

  • He originally signed with the Red Wings in 1949, although he languished in the minors until the 1955-56 season, replacing Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk.
  • Recored 12 shutouts in his rookie year en route to winning the Calder Trophy. He played every game of the season, and would continue for 8 more years.
  • He was traded, along with Ted Lindsay, to Chicago before the 1957-58 season.  According to the book Net Worth, the trade occured due to Lindsay orgainzing the first NHL union, and Detroit originated the trade to the lowly Blackhawks in an effort to "punish" Lindsay.
  • Won the Stanley Cup with the Hawks in 1961.
  • The streak ends at 502 on November 8, 1962, due to Hall having back problems.
  • Won the Vezina Award in 1963 and 1967.
  • Was picked up by the Blues in the 1967 Expansion Draft.
  • Won the Conn Smythe Award in the 1968 Stanley Cup playoffs, despite the fact that the Blues were swept in 4 games by the Montreal Canadiens.
  • Shared goaltending duties in the 1968-69 season with fellow Hall of Famer Jacques Plante, and won his third Vezina Trophy.
  • He retired after the 1970-71 season, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975.

There have always been "unbreakable records" in sports, such as Babe Ruth's home run records or Gordie Howe's goals scored record, that turned out to be not so unbreakable.  But I think Glenn Hall's 502 straight games just may be the safest record in all of sports.  Not only does it speak to tremendous toughness to accomplish that feat (remember, no mask was worn), it takes remarkable consistency. And that, I believe, is the most amazing thing about the streak, the fact the his abilities were at such a high level during its course. Looking at the Blackhawks goalies woes today, I definately appriciate the streak even more.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The NHL and head shots.

After first watching Alexander Ovechkin knock Hawks D-Man Brian Campbell out for what looks like the remainder of the season on a cheap hit on Sunday, last night James Wizniewski of the Ducks makes a cheap retalitory head check on Brent Seabrook and taking him out of the game. It's not just the Hawks falling victim to this BS, this has been going on all season.

When will the NHL do something about this?  Are they going to wait until a career is ended before they act? The time to act is now, stop talking it over in comittee, Mr. Bettman, grow a pair and do something. The WWE has banned the use of their wrestlers using metal folding chairs on other wrestler's heads, and also the use of "ad-libbed" head shots.

Really? The WW f'n E is being more proactive on head safety than the NHL? The same WWE where guys launch themselves off ladders?

I'm all for hard play and hard hitting, but it is getting ridiculous lately.