Road to the 2011 Stanley Cup

Apr. 13, 2011
The post-season is finally here and it's time to grow that playoff beard (unfortunately I'm incapable of that). Here are my predictions for the first round:

Eastern Conference:
Washington Capitals (1) vs. New York Rangers (8) - Capitals in 5
Philadelphia Flyers (2) vs. Buffalo Sabres (7) - Flyers in 5
Boston Bruins (3) vs. Montreal Canadiens (6) - Canadiens in 7
Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (5)- Lightning in 7

Western Conference:
Chicago Blackhawks (8) vs. Vancouver Canucks (1) - Blackhawks in 7

Detroit Red Wings (3) vs. Phoenix Coyotes (6) - Red Wings sweep
Nashville Predators (5) vs. Anaheim Ducks (4) - Predators in 6
San Jose Sharks (2) vs. Los Angeles Kings (7) - Sharks in 5

Apr. 14, 2011 - Playoff beard day 1: A night of shutouts
Five playoff games went underway tonight and I tried to catch as many of them as I could.  My multi-tasking and channel flipping skills aren’t bad but there is only so much I can watch at one time. 

The games I paid the most attention to were Tampa Bay/Pittsburgh, Washington/NYR, and the full Vancouver/Chicago game.  It could of been a coincidence but not much happened in terms of scoring for all three games. This is probably because the teams knew the stakes were high even if it was the first game and played a very defensively.  However, there were a lot of checking, speed, and intensity in the crowds for all three games.

3  0  It was hard to sit through this game since there was no scoring until the third period.  This game was more of a competition between the goaltenders rather than the players.  Both teams played hard but in the end, Marc-Andre Fleury for the Pens beat Roloson in the competition as he shuts TB out 3-0. Fleury made many key saves, some even highlight worthy.  But keep in mind, it’s only the first game and anything can happen.  Once Stamkos and St. Louis gets going, it won’t be that easy for Fleury and the Pens.  Both teams have players who can bring the puck deep which makes it hard to predict who will take the series.

1  2  No surprises here as Washington beats the New York Rangers 2-1 in OT, especially when it was Ovechkin who tied it up in the final minutes of the third.  

Again, it was hard to sit through this game because there was no scoring until the third.  At least there was a lot of contact and hitting between players.  The Caps are a much stronger team than the New York Rangers.  Finishing first in their division as well as the conference says a lot.  

2 0  This match-up was certainly destined to be.  And this time, it might be Vancouver’s time to finally seek revenge and do what the Hawks did to them in the playoffs two years in a row.

As predicted, Vancouver beat Chicago in every aspect of the game tonight: creating scoring chances, killing penalties, speed, hits, player organization, odd-man rushes, and fantastic goaltending by Roberto Luongo. 

As much as I love the Blackhawks and would love to see them win the cup two years in a row, I don’t think it will happen.  The team is definitely not the same team that won the cup last year.  Assuming Vancouver keeps this up, they can easily take out the Hawks in five games. It was hard for the Hawks to get pass the Canucks’ D tonight and I personally think the Kane-Toews-Sharp line should be together again to create more chances in front of the net.  But even if the trio start playing like they did when they won eight games in a row in the regular season this year, their goaltending will still be an issue.  I don’t think Corey Crawford is capable of carrying his team very far. 

The Hawks are definitely the underdogs in this post-season.  After all, they couldn’t seal their own destiny last Sunday and had to let the Dallas Stars do it for them.  It will be interesting as this particular series progresses.  As a Hawks fan, I do hope they bounce back and win the next game.  Then they will fly back to Chicago and hopefully win those two games, then go back to Vancouver for game five with a 3-1 series lead.

The Canadiens and Bruins matchup is a must-watch tonight and I personally can’t wait to see this game.  Seeing two old time rivals face each other in the playoffs is one of the best things a hockey fan can ask for.  Expect lots of chirping, fights, and animosity.  It’s going to be a good one!

Apr. 14, 2011 - Playoff beard day 2: battle of the goalies

 Carey Price

Video courtesy:

PRICE-less: The video shows only one of many spectacular saves that Carey Price made to shut out the Bruins 2-0 last night.  Montreal was pressured deep in their zone late in the third period but the Bruins just could not break Price.  Tim Thomas also played a very good game, but not good enough.  Both teams played hard defensively and offensively.  They weren’t too deep in their own ends and kept the puck away from the net.  This is probably why it was such a low scoring game.  Boston had numerous chances to score but couldn’t execute. 

 Ryan Miller

Speaking of goaltending, Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres also received a shut out as him and his teammates blanked the 2010 Stanley Cup finalists 1-0 tonight.  I didn’t watch this game as much as the Montreal game but here is a video of Miller being his usual self.

 Antti Niemi
Video courtesy:

  Jonathan Quick
Video courtesy:

“BEAT LA!” “BEAT LA!”: That was waht the San Jose fans chanted all night.  Personally, I think they should think of something more original since it first originated from Boston during the Celtics/Lakers rivalry.  Nevertheless, the Sharks did beat L.A.  Both teams were very aggressive on the forecheck and in their offensive zones.  But this time, both goalies, Antti Niemi (SJ) and Jonathan Quick (LA), made an equal amount of spectacular saves.  This is probably why the game went to over time. 

What to look for next:

Taking away home ice advantage from the Bruins and Flyers was a
huge break for the Habs and Sabres tonight. Lets see if Montreal and Buffalo can win game 2 and take the series back home for a sweep on home ice.  I doubt it will happen in these two series but winning an away game in the playoffs is a huge advantage.

Apr. 15, 2011 - Playoff beard day 3: desperate times...

                                                                     3                              4

It was heartbreaking.  With all the scoring back and forth from both teams, it was difficult to calmly sit on my couch and watch it.  I sat on the floor right in front of the TV nervously covering my mouth with two hands hoping for a tying goal while the final seconds of the game ticked away.  And when it ended, I literally stared at the TV screen in disbelief thinking: “Is this really happening right now?”

I know it’s only the second game but every game counts.  The stakes are so much higher.  After falling 4-3 tonight to the Canucks, the Hawks are half way to being stripped of their title as 2010 Stanley Cup champs.   But like I said here, Chicago fans don’t have to press the panic button just yet.  It is still possible for the Hawks to win the next two games on home ice and keep this series alive.

Not all hope is lost but wow, is this Canucks team good or what?!  Vancouver is strong defensively, offensively, have great ability to bring the puck in deep into their offensive zone, and their penalty killing is stellar.  All in all, the Canucks out-worked the Hawks in all aspects tonight (except for a few fluky goals Luongo let in) .  The only time I saw some real hockey from the Hawks was after they scored the first goal making it 2-1 Canucks.  But that only lasted a few minutes until Vancouver ‘s Alexander Edler made it 3-1 with fourteen seconds left in the second period.  The Hawks played “chase the puck” all night which resulted in extreme fatigue for the team.

Hopefully my post after the game on Sunday will be a positive one...

What to look for next:

Habs and Bruins square off in game two tomorrow night and Vancouver looks to take the series 3-0 against the Hawks on Sunday (lets hope this doesn't happen...).

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE this layout. So helpful!


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