Posts Tagged ‘NHL’
The NHL postseason is here.
How will the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs shake out? Is this the year the Toronto Maple Leafs end their championship drought? Can the Pittsburgh Penguins repeat? Will the Chicago Blackhawks keep their decade-long dynasty going? Keep reading to find out.
Fresh blood: that’s the easiest way to describe the four teams remaining that still have Stanley Cup dreams on their mind. The San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins represent impressive turnover in the NHL’s final four playoff slots with three new teams for 2016.
They are a true representation of the league’s Salary Cap era, but the Conference Finalists in the 2010s were rarely made up of fresh faces. The usual suspects, near dynasties Chicago and Los Angeles, and perennial favorite the New York Rangers in the East, bowed out in the first round.
Replacing Chicago and Los Angeles in the West are two of the most star-crossed franchises in the NHL.
Emerging from the Central Division was the usually disappointing Blues, a squad that has been stuck in neutral over the past few years trying to outlast the Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators in easily the league’s toughest grouping. However, this is St. Louis 2.0, a retooled team that combined its prior size, grit and outstanding blue line with new skilled young offensive weapons.
TORONTO — My knowledge of the Hockey Hall of Fame prior to today consisted of two facts: One, it’s in Toronto; two, it’s where the Stanley Cup stays when it isn’t out on the road (which is rather often). Safe to say I carried an open mind into Brookfield Place.
So, about Brookfield Place. Let’s start there.
Read on to see Jason Karnosky’s complete predictions through to the Final:
One day into the “second half” of the NHL season, Connor McDavid reminded us why he was the number one pick last summer by shredding the Columbus Blue Jackets defense for a beautiful breakaway goal. Thanks, Connor.
There’s a reason that Danny DeVito is starring in a series of coffee commercials alongside George Clooney these days. Someone once let a 5-foot tall man into Hollywood and we kept laughing, laughing, laughing. First there was Taxi, then Twins, then Batman Returns, then It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, to the point where a couple years ago this real-life penguin had enough power and status in town that he was able to sleep around with enough women to force his wife to file for separation rather than passively tolerate his philandering. And, yes, he makes George Clooney seem like the dashing leading man he is when the two sip a cup of Nespresso side-by-side — as if Danny DeVito was needed to propagate that image of Clooney.
In Hollywood, DeVito is somewhere between a talent and a novelty act, not quite enough of one to elude the other label.
So it is with John Scott.
Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler went undercover during a preseason game at Honda Center, and had some fun at the expense of some fans — and even a teammate. (He gets Corey Perry’s autograph at a concession stand, then charges him for popcorn.)
Check out the video, which the Ducks uploaded to YouTube today:
For the third time in six years, Chicago begins a season as the defending champion. This time, the Blackhawks are in their best position ever to repeat. Chicago’s most likely challenger is Anaheim, which underwent a serious off-season overhaul after falling one win short of the 2015 Final. Helping the Ducks is the team’s station as the best in the Pacific Division, which is surprisingly the weakest in the league.
Overall, the parity-based NHL suffers from a serious imbalance in both conferences. The Central and Metropolitan divisions are far stronger top to bottom than either the Atlantic or the Pacific. A team with a better record (a sixth-place team, likely in the Central) might be left out of the postseason in favor of a third-place team with a weaker record.
How will 2015-16 shake out? Here is my 30-team season preview, broken down in 30 words or less:
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Hockey is back.
There are old faces in new places (Mike Babcock and Lou Lamoriello in Toronto). There are new faces in old places (Slava Voynov in Russia). Jaromir Jagr is still employed in the NHL, joining Chris Chelios and Gordie Howe as a rare “once in a couple different generations” player.
Already a treasure trove of storylines have emerged, with more on the way. Here are eight to whet your appetite for the upcoming season: