Posts Tagged ‘Stanley Cup’
In the first round, we predicted six of the eight series correctly. The two we were most unsure about were the two incorrect picks – no surprise at all that New York or Los Angeles won.
Now that the second round is here, the picture becomes a little more clear. Only one of the four series will go the full seven games. Which will it be, and who will move on?
The playoffs have been interesting so far. Some teams have surprised me. Others haven’t at all.
The biggest surprise was the play of the New York Islanders. I thought Pittsburgh would wipe the floor with the Isles and that they should feel lucky if they pick up one game in the series. New York ended up staying with the Penguins in almost every game, and lost two heartbreakers at home in overtime. I never thought I’d say this, but the Islanders look as if they are finally turning things around. (Just in time for their move to Brooklyn!)
Another surprise was the performance of the Minnesota Wild. I’m not surprised that they lost to Chicago, but because they got bounced in only five games. Losing their top goaltender didn’t help, but Minnesota’s offense was stagnant the whole series. The Wild also looked terrible in Game 4 as they got shut out at home and handed the Blackhawks all the momentum in the series. Nevertheless, Minnesota looks stable and if they can add another scorer and fix their inconsistency in the net, they should be a force next season.
Speaking of net consistency, here’s Vancouver. The Canucks’ first-round sweep didn’t surprise me at all. They looked flat-out awful against the Sharks. Roberto Luongo started the first two games in net and didn’t look that bad, but then he was pulled for Cory Schneider, who wasn’t an improvement. Vancouver needs to fix its goaltending problem next season, or else they can kiss their fading Stanley Cup hopes goodbye.
Anyway, we’ve said goodbye to eight teams and are now off to the Conference Semifinals. Here are my predictions for the second round.
May is my favorite time of year. College hockey wrapped up a few weeks ago, the AHL playoffs are under way and most importantly, the NHL playoffs have begun.
Just a few months ago, amidst the constant bickering and endless debate over a new labor agreement, I didn’t think any of us would be watching playoff hockey. Now that it has begun, I have a feeling it’s going to be just as unpredictable as last year. Did anybody see Los Angeles and Phoenix battling for a bid in the Stanley Cup Finals, or New Jersey getting on an impressive roll at the right time? As I write this, six of the eight opening NHL playoff series have begun, so I’m a little behind. So before Game 2 starts, here are my first round predictions.
A trend is building in the NHL and it’s a good one. Long-suffering franchises will either win their first title or their first in many decades. It started with the Blackhawks in 2010, continued with the Bruins in 2011 and now, the Kings have finally hoisted the Stanley Cup after 45 years of mostly ineptitude.
Not every hockey season in Los Angeles was a bad one – the Kings reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993 and have made the playoffs quite a few times – but many ended at the bottom of the Western Conference. Or in bankruptcy.
That’s what made Monday’s victory so heartwarming. Read the rest of this entry »
A woman checked in to a gym in Glendale, California, about 10 miles north of Staples Center, on a recent morning. “The Kings are in the playoffs for first time since 1993,” she told the clerk at the front desk. “Can you believe it?”
Mercifully, the clerk let the error go uncorrected. “I know,” he said. “I was 3 then.”
I’m sitting on at least a dozen good anecdotes from the Kings’ bandwagon, but that one is my favorite. There was a naive charm to their exchange. On one hand, Los Angeles has one of the biggest and fastest teams in the NHL, one that subdues opponents with an aggressive forecheck, superior goaltending and timely scoring. On the other hand, the team has inspired an affection that’s rather cute and innocent, sort of like Mickey Mouse, en route to the Stanley Cup final.
Since the NHL lockout in 2004-05, several unlikely foes have faced off in the Stanley Cup Finals. But all of those prior match-ups pale in comparison to this year’s duo, which pits the sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils (48-28-6) from the Eastern Conference against the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings (40-27-15) from the West.
When either team is crowned champion, that squad will be the lowest-ranked ever to hoist the Stanley Cup, surpassing the 1995 Devils, who entered the postseason seeded fifth before sweeping Detroit to capture the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
The puck drops on the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs in a few hours. The cast of characters includes some new faces (Brian Elliott), some familiar faces (Sidney Crosby), and some faces that are just plain old (Nicklas Lidstrom).
AllPuck.com breaks down each of the first-round series, and offers its first prediction for a Stanley Cup champion.