Sunday, April 22, 2012

NHL Playoffs: How They Reveal Character, Especially The Masks Ones.

The great men's basketball coach at UCLA, John Wooden once said that, "Sports don't build character, they reveal it."

NHL playoffs this year? No exception!

Character is what is on trial in the NHL playoffs, not talent. The mentally strong survive, while the weak fade into oblivion.

Believe it or not, I have also seen some character being build this postseason, already.

The Washington Capitals have always looked good on paper, during the regular season, at the All Star Game Skills competition.

But somehow, not quite in the playoffs. All that could soon change.

With their 4-3 win this afternoon, right there in Boston, the Capitals are one win away from pulling off an upset of the defending Stanley Cup champions.

I guess the newest character is the most unlikeliest of them all, Branden Holtby.

All of 7 regular season games this year, to go along with 14 last year.

Now, granted, his career record is now 21,  14W / 4L / 3OTSOL /  2.02GAA / .929S% / 3 SO, but did anyone expect him to perform this well.

See, this is why the Capitals have struggled in the postseason, they've never had the goaltender who can steal series, or even one game for them in situations like this.

Holtby stats in this year's postseason, his first, are: 5, 3 / 2 / 1.86 / .946 / 0, shades of Jaraslav Halak two years ago. And he has everyone in the Caps locker room believing in themselves.

Goaltending is like that. You get into situations where you should have been scored on, but instead, because you weren't you feel like you've been given another chance. Like another chance at the other end.

And it's all over the playoffs.

Detroit has been the first team to lose. And they lost because of Pekke Rinne. How about Rinne's stats: (5, 4 / 1 / 1.81 / .944 / 0). Similar to Holtby, and the kind of stuff you need from your net man if you are going to beat a team like Detroit. And yes, I know Detroit had a worse record then Nashville, but lets face it, the pressure was on Rinne. He had to prove his league leading 43 wins and 1, 987 saves weren't and fluke. Just like getting the Preds to round two last year wasn't just by accident.

Clearly it wasn't.

Los Angeles has a chance to knock out Vancouver, having taken a 3-0 series lead (now down to 3-1) thanks to Jonathan Quick, who already posted a career high 3 playoff wins, almost as many as he won the last two playoffs combined.

Gotta start somewhere!

In addition to three wins, his GAA is 1.76 and his S% is .952. I suppose that's all just a matter of luck, right?

The series might not be over yet, as Corey Schneider, taking over for Roberto Luongo, leads all goaltenders with a GAA of 1.02 and .969 S% in two games.

Elliot and Halak (Hey, I though he was just a fluke after 2010) have San Jose down 3-1 and grasping for air. When is the last time you saw two goaltenders on the same team, bot with a GAA under 2 (1.51, 1.73) and S% around .950 (.944, .935)?

Craig Anderson has the Ottawa Senators (the 8th in the East) thinking upset. How about this: The Senators have never lead in any of the 4 games so far, yet have come out on time twice in overtime. The reason is, the Rangers, sans game 1, haven't ever been ahead by more than two goals at any point in this series. Anderson has been keeping the Senators in every game, game 2 onwards.

Phoenix has come out on top 3 times so far in overtime against Chicago, and amazingly, their only loss so far was at the same stanza. Here's honestly, how their three wins have gone, if we throw away game 3:

One goal lead, late in the game, Chicago ties it, Coyotes win it in overtime.

And their one loss, so far?

One goal lead, late in the game, Chicago ties it, wins it in overtime.

So as you can see, every single game has gone to overtime, which is also where you need goaltending. Mike Smith has faced more shots (164) and made more saves (154) than every other goaltender except Holtby, who has stopped 175 of 185 shots.

Scott Clemmensen's only previous postseason experience came back in the 2006 playoffs, all of 7 minutes for the Devils.

But this year, he has come back to haunt them.

Taking over for Jose Theodore (momentarily) he helped Florida to a 2-2 vice-like-deadlock with the Devils, picking up a key win in game 3.

And as for the Pens and Flyers, the first 4 games had no goaltending, but game 5, a 3-2 Penguins win, both Marc Andre Fleury and Ilya Brzygalov shined. Looks like that series is coming down to goaltening, after all!

Anyone surprised?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Stanley Cup 2012 Predictions, 1st Round: Blues VS Sharks


St. Louis (2) VS San Jose (7)



Offense

St. Louis

Forwards

Backes (82 GP, 24 / 30 / 54)

Oshie (80, 19 / 35 / 54)

Perron (57, 21 / 21 / 42)

Berglund (82, 19 / 19 / 38)

Arnott (72, 17 / 17 / 34)

Stewart (79, 15 / 15 / 30)

Defenceman

Pietrangelo (81, 12 / 39 / 51)

Shattenkirk (81, 9 / 34 / 43)

San Jose

Forwards

Thornton (82, 18 / 59 / 77)

Couture (80, 31 / 34 / 65)

Marleau (82, 30 / 34 / 64)

Pavelski (82, 31 / 30 / 61)

Clowe (76, 17 / 28 / 45)

Defenceman

Boyle (81, 9 / 39 / 48)

Burns (81, 11 / 26 / 37)


Edge: (Slight) San Jose

Defence


St. Louis

Defenceman

Jackman (81, (+20)

Shattenkirk (+20)

Pietrangelo (+16)

Russell (+13)

Forwards

Steen (43 GP, +24)

Perron (+19)

Oshie (+15)

Backes (+15)

Arnott (+13)

D'Agostini  (55, +12)

Sobotka (73, +12)

San Jose

Defenceman

Vlasic (82, +11)

Boyle (+10)

Forwards

Pavelski (+18)

Thornton (+17)

Havlat (39, +10)

Marleau (+10)


Edge: (Wide) St. Louis

Goaltending

St. Louis


Halak (46GP, 26W / 12L / 7OTSO / 1.97 / .926 / 6)
 
Elliott (38, 23 / 10 / 4 / 1.56 / .940 / 9)

San Jose

Niemi (68, 34 / 22 / 9 / 2.42 / .915 / 6)

Greiss (19, 9 / 7 / 1 / 2.30 / .915 / 0)

Edge: (Wide ) Combined goaltending, St. Louis. (Wide) Starting Goaltending, St. Louis


Toughness


St. Louis (55 Team Fights)

Reaves (60GP, 15 fights)

Crombeen (40, 10)

Nichol (80, 6)

Stewart (6)

San Jose (49 Team Fights)

Clowe (9)

Winchester (67, 8)

Vandermeer (25, 6)



Edge: Neither

Season Series


St. Louis

4-0-0
San Jose

0-4-0


Edge: (Wide) St. Louis


Prediction: Blues in 5 games


References

"Hockey Fights, Stats, Reviews And Trading." Hockey Fights, Stats, Reviews And Trading. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <http://www.dropyourgloves.com/Top.aspx>.

"Official Site of the National Hockey League” NHL.com. National Hockey League. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <https://www.nhl.com>


Sports Reference LLC. Hockey-Reference.com - Hockey Statistics and History. http://www.hockey-reference.com/. Web. 14 Apr. 2012.

Stanley Cup Playoffs, 1st Round: Coyotes VS Blackhawks


Phoenix (3) VS Chicago (6)

Offence

Phoenix

Forwards

Whitney (82GP, 24G / 53A / 77PTS)

Vrbata (77, 35 / 27 / 62)

Doan (79, 22 / 28 / 50)

Korpikoski (82, 17 / 20 / 37)

Hanzal (64, 8 / 26 / 34)

Langkow (73, 11 / 19 / 30)

Defenceman

Yandle (82, 11 / 32 / 43)

Ekman-Larsson (82, 13 / 19 / 32)

Chicago

Forwards

Hossa (81, 29 / 48 / 77)

Sharp (74, 33 / 36 / 69)

Kane (82, 23 / 43 / 56)

Toews (59, 29 / 28 / 57) *

Stalberg (79, 22 / 21 / 43)

Bollard (76, 19 / 18 / 37)

Defenceman

Keith (74, 4 / 36 / 40)

Leddy (82, 3 / 34 / 37)


Edge: (Neither slight nor wide) Chicago

Defence

Phoenix

Defenceman

Aucoin (64GP, +14)

Klesa (65, +12)

Forwards

Whitney (+26)

Vrbata (+24)

Hanzal (+12)

Chicago

Defenceman

Seabrook (+21)

Keith (+15)

Forwards

Sharp (+28)

Hossa (+18)

Toews (+17)

Kruger (71, +11)

Carcillo (28, +10)

Edge: (Slight) Phoenix
 
Goaltending
 
Phoenix

Smith (67GP, 38 / 18 / 10 / 2.21 / .930 / 8)

LaBarbera (19, 3 / 9 / 3 / 2.54 / .912 / 0)

McElhinney (2, 1 / 0 / 0 / 1.67 / .944 / 0)

Chicago

Crawford (57, 30 / 17 / 7 / 2.72 / .903 / 0)

Emery (34, 15 / 9 / 4 / 2.81 / .900 / 0)


Edge: (Slight) Combined goaltending, Phoenix. (Wide) Starting goaltending, Phoenix


Toughness
 
Phoenix (39 Team Fights)

Bissionnette (31GP, 8 fights)

Chipchura (53, 7)

Torres (79, 6)

Chicago (51 Team Fights)

Mayers (81, 12)

Bollig (18, 8)

Carcillo (6)

Shaw (37, 5)


Edge: (Slight) Chicago

Season Series


Phoenix

3-1-0

Chicago
 
1-2-1


Edge: (Slight) Phoenix

 
Prediction: Coyotes in seven games


References


"Hockey Fights, Stats, Reviews And Trading." Hockey Fights, Stats, Reviews And Trading. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <http://www.dropyourgloves.com/Top.aspx>

"Official Site of the National Hockey League” NHL.com. National Hockey League. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <https://www.nhl.com>

Sports Reference LLC. Hockey-Reference.com - Hockey Statistics and History. http://www.hockey-reference.com/. Web. 14 Apr. 2012.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions, First Round: Panthers VS Devils


Florida (3) VS New Jersey (6)

Offence

Florida

Forwards

Fleishmann (82GP, 27G / 34A / 61PTS)

Weiss ( 80, 20 / 37 / 57)

Versteeg (71, 23 / 31 / 54)

Kopecky (80, 10 / 22 / 32)

Defenceman

Campbell (82, 4 / 49 / 53)

Garrison (77, 16 / 17 / 33)

New Jersey

Forwards

Kovalchuk (77, 37 / 46 / 83)

Elias (81, 26 / 52 / 78)

Parise (82, 31 / 38 / 69)

Henrique (74, 16 / 35 / 51)

Clarkson (80, 30 / 16 / 46)

Sykora (82, 21 / 23 / 44)

Zubrus (82, 17 / 27 / 44)

Defenceman

Larsson (65, 2 / 16 / 18)


Edge: (Slight) New Jersey

Defence

Florida

Defenceman

Garrison (+6)

Forwards

Goc (57GP, +5)
New Jersey

Defenceman

Salvador (82, +18)

Forwards

Josefson (41, +10)


Edge: (Slight) New Jersey

Goaltending

Florida

Theodore (53, 22 / 16 / 11 / 2.46 / .917 / 3)

Clemmensen (30, 14 / 6 / 6 / 2.57 / .913 / 1)

Markstrom (7, 2 / 4 / 1 / 2.66 / .923 / 0)

Foster (1, 0 / 0 / 0 / 0.00 / 1.000 / 0) [I think they should start him!]

New Jersey

Brodeur (59GP, 31W / 21L / 4OTSO / 2.41 / .908 / 3SO)

Hedberg (27, 17 / 7 / 2 / 2.23 / .918 / 4)


Edge: (Pretty much even) Combined goaltending. (Slight, due to experience) Starting goaltending, New Jersey

Toughness

Florida (41 Team Fights)

Barch (41GP, 9 fights)

Gudbranson (72, 7)

Bradley (45, 6)

New Jersey (50 Team Fights)

Janssen (48, 11)

Boulton (51, 11)

Clarkson (5)

Mills (27, 5)

 
Edge: (Slight) New Jersey

Season Series
 
Florida

2-1-1

New Jersey

2-2-0

Edge: (Slight) Florida
 
 
Prediction: Devils in 7 games


References



"Hockey Fights, Stats, Reviews And Trading." Hockey Fights, Stats, Reviews And Trading. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2012. <http://www.dropyourgloves.com/Top.aspx>

"Official Site of the National Hockey League” NHL.com. National Hockey League. Web. 13 Apr. 2012.


Sports Reference LLC. Hockey-Reference.com - Hockey Statistics and History. http://www.hockey-reference.com/. Web. 13 Apr. 2012.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Stanley Cup Playoffs, 1st Round: Bruins VS Capitals


Boston (2) VS Washington (7)

Offense


Boston

Forwards

Seguin (81 GP, 29G / 38A / 67PTS)

Bergeron (81, 22 / 42 / 64)

Krejic (79, 23 / 39 / 62)

Lucic (81, 26 / 35 / 61)

Marchant (76, 26 / 27 / 53)

Peverley (57, 11 / 31 / 42)

Kelly (82, 20 / 19 / 39)

Horton (46, 17 / 15 / 32) *

Pouliot (74, 16 / 16 / 32)

Defenceman

Chara (79, 12 / 40 / 52)

Washington

Forwards

Ovechkin (78, 38 / 27 / 65)

Semin (77, 21 / 33 / 54)

Johansson (80, 14 / 32 / 46)

Backstrom (42, 14 / 30 / 44)

Laich (82, 16 / 25 / 41)

Chimera (82, 20 / 19 / 39)

Brouwer (82, 18 / 15 / 33)

Perreault (64, 16 / 14 / 30)

Defenceman

Wideman (82, 11 / 34 / 45)

Carlson (82, 9 / 23 / 32)


Edge: (Wide) Boston

Defence

Boston

Defenceman

Chara (+33)

Bouchuk (77GP, +27)

McQuaid (72, +16)

Seidenberg (80, +15)

Corvo (75, +10)

Forwards

Bergeron (+36)

Seguin (+34)

Kelly (+33)

Marchand (+31)

Peverley (+15)

Pouliot (+13)

Washington

Defenceman

Alzner (82, +12)

Hamrlik (68, +11)

Forwards

Ward (73, +12)


Edge: (Slight) Preventing goals, Boston. (Wide) Overall defence, Boston

Goaltending


Boston

Tim Thomas (59GP, 35W / 19L / 1OTSO / 2.36GAA / .920 S% / 5SO)

Rask (23, 11 / 8 / 3 / 2.05 / .929 / 3)

Turco (5, 2 / 2 / 0 / 3.68 / .855 / 0) **

Khudobin (1, 1 / 0 / 0 / 1.00 / .978 / 0)
Washington

Vokoun (48, 25 / 17 / 2 / 2.51 / .917 / 4)

Neuvirth (38, 13 / 13 / 5 / 2.82 / .903 / 3)

Holtby (7, 4 / 2 / 1 / 2.49 / .922 / 1)


Edge: (Slight) Overall goaltending. (Neither wide nor slight) Starting goaltending, Boston

Toughness

Boston (75 Team Fights)

Thornton (81 GP, 22 fights)

Campbell (78, 10)

McQuaid (8)

Lucic (7)

Washington (35 Team Fights)

Hendricks (78, 13)

Brouwer (6)


Edge: (Wide) Boston

Season Series

Boston
1-2-1

Washington
3-1-0


Edge: (Slight) Washington


Prediction: Boston in 6 games

* injured

** ineligible


References


"Hockey Fights, Stats, Reviews And Trading." Hockey Fights, Stats, Reviews And Trading. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <http://www.dropyourgloves.com/Top.aspx>

"Official Site of the National Hockey League” NHL.com. National Hockey League. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <https://www.nhl.com>

Sports Reference LLC. Hockey-Reference.com - Hockey Statistics and History. http://www.hockey-reference.com/. Web. 12 Apr. 2012.

2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, First Roud: Rangers VS Senators


New York (1) VS Ottawa (8)

Offense

New York

Forwards

Gaborik (82GP, 41G / 35A / 76PTS)

Richards (82, / 25 / 41 / 66)

Callahan (76, / 29 / 25 / 54)

Stepan (82, 17 / 34 / 41)

Hagelin (64, 14 / 24 / 38)

Anisimov (79, 16 / 20 / 36)

Dubinsky (77, 10 / 24 / 34)

Boyle (82, 11 / 15 / 26)

Fedotenko (73, 9 / 11 / 20)

Defenceman

Del Zotto (77, 10 / 31 / 41)

McDonagh (82, 7 / 25 / 32)

Girardi (82, 5 / 24 / 29)

Ottawa

Forwards

Spezza (80, 34 / 50 / 84)

Michalek (77, 35 / 25 / 60)

Alfredsson (75, 27 / 32 / 59)

Foligno (82, 15 / 32 / 47)

Greening (82, 17 / 20 / 37)

Turris (49, 12 / 17 / 29)

Neil (72, 13 / 15 / 28)

Smith (81, 14 / 12 / 26)

Condra (81, 8 / 17 / 25)

Defenceman

Karlsson (81, 19 / 59 / 78)

Gonchar (74, 5 / 32 / 37)

Kuba (73, 6 / 26 / 32)


Edge: (Slight) Ottawa

Defence

New York

Defenceman

McDonagh (+25)

Del Zotto (+20)

Girardi (+13)

Forwards

Hagelin (+21)

Dubinsky (+16)

Gaborik (+15)

Stepan (+14)

Anisinov (+12)

Mitchell (+10)

Ottawa

Defenceman

Kuba (+26)

Karlsson (+16)

Phillips (80GP, +12)

Forwards

Alfredsson (+16)

Turris (+12)

Condra (+11)

Spezza (+11)


Edge: (Wide) New York


Goaltending



New York

Lundgvist (62GP, / 39 W / 18 L / 5 OTSO / 1.97 GAA / .930 S% / 8 SO)

Biron (21, 12 / 6 / 2 / 2.46 / .904 / 2)

Ottawa

Anderson (63, 33 / 22 / 6 / 2.84 / .914 / 3)

Lehner (5, 3 / 2 / 0 / 2.01 / .935 / 1)

Bishop (10, 3 / 3 / 2 / 2.48 / .909 / 0)

Auld (14, 2 / 4 / 2 / 3.35 / .884 / 0)


Edge: (Wide) Combined goaltending, New York. (Neither Wide Nor Slight) Starting Goaltending, New York


Toughness
 
New York (83 Team Fights)

Prust (82 GP, 20 Fights)

Bickel (51, 16)

Rupp (60, 15)

Dubinsky (8)

Ottawa (66 Team Fights)

Konopka (55, 18)
 
Neil (12)
 
Smith (10)
 
 
Edge: (Slight) New York
Season Series

New York
1-2-1

Ottawa

3-1-0

Edge: (Slight) Ottawa
 

Prediction: New York in 6 games


References


"Hockey Fights, Stats, Reviews And Trading." Hockey Fights, Stats, Reviews And Trading. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <http://www.dropyourgloves.com/Top.aspx>

"Official Site of the National Hockey League” NHL.com. National Hockey League. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <https://www.nhl.com>

Sports Reference LLC. Hockey-Reference.com - Hockey Statistics and History. http://www.hockey-reference.com/. Web. 12 Apr. 2012.

Stanley Cup Playoffs, First Round: Canucks VS Kings

Vancouver (1) VS Los Angeles (8)

Offence

Vancouver

Forwards

Henrik Sedin (82 GP, 14 / 67 / 81)

Daniel Sedin (72, 30 / 37 / 67) *

Alex Burrows (80 28 / 24 / 52)

Ryan Kesler (77, 22 / 27 / 49)

Higgins (71, 18 / 25 / 43)

Hansen ( 92, 16 / 23 / 39)

Hodgson (63, 16 / 17 / 33)

Booth (56, 16 / 13 / 29)

Raymond (55, 10 / 10 / 20)

Defenceman

Edler (82, 11 / 38 / 49)

Bieksa (78, 8 / 36 / 44)

Hamhuis (82, 4 / 33 / 37)

Salo (69, 9 / 16 / 25)

Los Angeles

Forwards

Kopitar (82, 25 / 51 / 76)

Williams (82, 22 / 37 / 59)

Brown (82, 22 / 32 / 54)

Richards (74, 18 / 26 / 44)

Stoll (78, 6 / 15 / 21)

Defenceman

Doughty (77, 10 / 26 / 36)

Johnson (61, 8 / 16 / 24)

Mitchell (76, 5 / 18 / 23)

Voynov (54, 8 / 12 / 20)


Edge: (Wide) Vancouver

Defence

Vancouver
Defenceman


Hamhuis (+29)

Bieksa (+12)

Taney (25 GP, +10)

Salo (69 GP, +7)

Sulzer (12 GP +6)

Forwards

Burrows (+24)

Henrik Sedin (+23)

Hansen (+18)

Daniel Sedin (+14) *

Higgins (+11)

Hodson (+8)
Los Angeles


Defenceman

Mitchell (+20)

Voynov (+12)

Forwards

Brown (+18)

Kopitar (+12)

Williams (+10)


Edge: (Slight) Preventing goals, Los Angeles. (Wide) Team defence, Vancouver

Goaltending

Vancouver

Luongo (55 GP, 31W / 14L / 8OTSO / 2.41GAA / .919 S% 5 SO)

Schneider (33, 20 / 8 / 1 / 1.96 / .937 / 3)

Los Angeles


Quick (69, 35 / 21 / 13 / 1.95 / .929 / 10)

Bernier (16, 5 / 6 / 2 / 2.36 / .909 / 1)


Edge: (Slight) Combined goaltenders, Los Angeles. (Slight) Starting Goaltending, Los Angeles

Toughness

Vancouver (65 Fights)

Lapierre (82 GP, 9 fights)

Weise (68 GP, 8 fights)

Volpatti (23 GP, 8 fights)

Ballard (47 GP, 5 fights)

Los Angeles (42 Fights)


Clifford (81 GP, 12 fights)

Fraser (67 GP, 7 fights)


Edge: (Neither slight nor wide) Vancouver

Season Series

Vancouver
2-1-1

Los Angeles

2-2-0


Edge: (Slight) Los Angeles


Prediction: Vancouver in 6 games

* Injured


References


"Hockey Fights, Stats, Reviews And Trading." Hockey Fights, Stats, Reviews And Trading. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <http://www.dropyourgloves.com/Top.aspx>

"Official Site of the National Hockey League” NHL.com. National Hockey League. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <www.nhl.com>

Sports Reference LLC. Hockey-Reference.com - Hockey Statistics and Historyhttp://www.hockey-reference.com/. Web. 12 Apr. 2012.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Stanley Cup Playoffs: 1st Round, Predators VS Red Wings

Nashville (4) VS Detroit (5)

Offense

Nashville

Forwards

Erat (71GP, 19G / 39 A / 58 Pts)

Legwand (78, 19 / 34 / 53)

Fisher ( 72, 24 / 27 / 51)

Hoengvist (76, 27 / 16 / 43)

Sergi Kostityn (75, 17 / 26 / 43)

Smith (72, 14 / 22 / 36)

Wilson (68, 15 / 20 / 35)

Tootoo (77, 6 / 24 / 30)

Halischuk (73, 15 / 13 / 28)

Spaling (77, 10 / 12 / 22)


Defenceman

Weber (78, 19 / 30 / 49)

Suter (79, 7 / 39 / 46)

Klein (66, 4 / 17 / 21)

Detroit

Forwards

Zetterberg (82, 22 / 47 / 69)

Datsyuk (70, 19 / 48 / 67)

Filppula (81, 23 / 43 / 66)

Franzen (77, 29 / 27 / 56)

Hudler (81, 25 / 25 / 50)

Bertuzzi (71, 14 / 24 / 38)

Cleary (75, 12 / 20 / 32)

Helm (68, 9 / 17 / 26)

Miller (80, 14 / 11 / 25)

Holmstrom (74, 11 / 13 / 24)

Abdelkader (81, 8 / 14 / 22)

Defenceman

Kronwall (82, 15 / 22 / 37)

Lidstrom (70, 11 / 22 / 33)

White (77, 7 / 25 / 32)

Stuart (81, 6 / 15 / 21)


Edge: (Slight) Detroit

Defence

Nashville

Defenceman

Weber (+21)

Suter (+15)

Hillen (55 GP, +6)

Ellis (32 GP +5)

Forwards

Erat (+12)

Fisher (+11)

Halishuck (+9)

Horgvist (+9)

Sergei Kostitsyn (+8)

Andrei Kostitsyn (19 GP, + 7)

Wilson (+5)

Detroit

Defenceman

White (+23)

Lidstrom (+21)

Ericsson (69 GP, +16)

Stuart (81 GP, +16)

Kindl (55 GP, +7)

Forwards

Bertuzzi (+23)

Franzen (+23)

Datsyuk (+21)

Fippula ((+18)

Zetterberg (+14)

Hudler (+10)

Miller (+6)

Helm (+5)


Edge: (Slight) Detroit



Goaltending

Nashville

Rinne (73 GP, 43 W / 18 L / 8 OTSO / 2.39 GAA / .923 / 5 SO)

Lindback (16, 5 / 8 / 0 / 2.42 / .912 / 0)
Detroit

Howard (57, 35 / 17 / 4 / 2.12 / .920 / 6)

MacDonald (14, 8 / 5 / 1 / 2.16 / .912 / 0)

Conklin ( 15,  5 / 6 / 1 / 3.28 / .884 / 1)


Edge: (Slight) Collective goaltending, Nashville. (Slight) Starting goaltending, Detroit


Toughness

Nashville (26 Fights)

McGrattan (30 GP, 6 fights)

Tootoo (5)

Detroit (21 Fights)

Abdelkader (6 Fights)


Edge: (Slight) Nashville


Prediction: Detroit in 7 games


References


"Hockey Fights, Stats, Reviews And Trading." Hockey Fights, Stats, Reviews And Trading. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <http://www.dropyourgloves.com/Top.aspx>

"Official Site of the National Hockey League” NHL.com. National Hockey League. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <https://www.nhl.com>

Sports Reference LLC. Hockey-Reference.com - Hockey Statistics and Historyhttp://www.hockey-reference.com/. Web. 11 Apr. 2012.

Stanley Cup Playoffs, 1st Round: Pens VS Flyers

Pittsburgh (4) VS Philadelphia (5)

Offense

Pittsburgh

Forwards

Malkin (75GP, 50G/59A/109P)

Neal (80, 40/41/81)

Kunitz (82, 26/35/61)

Dupuis (82 25/34/59)

Staal (62 25/25/50)

Sullivan (79, 17/31/48)

Cooke (82, 19/19/38)

Crosby (22, 8/29/37)

Kennedy (60, 11/22/33)

Defenceman

Letang (51, 10/32/42)

Martin (73, 2/25/27)

Niskanen (75, 4/17/21)

Philadelphia

Forwards


Giroux (77, 28/65/93)

Hartnell (82, 37/30/67)

Jagr (73, 19/35/54)

Simmons (82, 28/21/49)

Voracek (78, 18/31/49)

Briere (70, 16/33/49) *

Read (79, 24/23/47)

Talbot (81, 19/15/34)

Couturier (77, 13/14/27)

van Riemsdyk (43, 11/13/24) *
Defenceman

Timonen (76, 4/39/43)

Carle (4/34/38)

Meszaros (62, 7/18/25) *

Coburn (81, 4/20/24)


Edge: (Slight) Pittsburgh, because of injuries to Philadelphia

Defence

Pittsburgh


Defencman

Letang (51 GP, +21)

Orpik (73, +19)

Engelland (73, +10)

Forwards

Malkin (+18)

Dupuis (+18)

Kunitz (+16)

Crosby (+15)

Staal (+11)

Kennedy (+10)

Philadelphia


Defencman

Gusfsson (30 GP, +12)

Coburn (+10)

Lilja (46 GP, +9)

Timonen (+8)

Meszaros (+6) *

Grossman (22GP, +5) *


Forwards

Hartnell (+19)

Couturier (+18)

Read (+13)

Wellwood (24 GP, +12)

Voracek (+12)


Edge: (Slight) Pittsburgh

Goaltending

Pittsburgh


Fleury (67 GP, 42 W /17 L/4 OTL / 2.36 GAA / .913 S% / 3 SO

Johnson (16, 6 / 7 / 2 / 3.11 / .883 / 0

Thiessen (5, 3 / 1 / 0 / 3.72 / .858 / 0
Philadelphia

Bryzgalov (59, 33 / 16 / 7 / 2.48 / .909 / 6

Bobrovsly (29, 14 / 10 / 2 / 3.02 / .899 / 0


Edge: (Slight) Combined goaltending, Philadelphia. Starting goaltending, Pittsburgh

Toughness

Pittsburgh (47 total fights)

Asham (64 GP,  9 fights)

Engelland (9 fights)


Philadelphia (76 total fights)

Too many to list!

Edge (Wide) Philadelphia

Season Series

Pittsburgh


2-3-1

Philadelphia

4-2-0

Edge: (Slight) Flyers

Prediction

Pittsburgh in 7 games


References


"Hockey Fights, Stats, Reviews And Trading." Hockey Fights, Stats, Reviews And Trading. N.p., n.d. Web. 111 Apr. 2012. <http://www.dropyourgloves.com/Top.aspx>

"Official Site of the National Hockey League” NHL.com. National Hockey League. Web. 11 Apr. 2012. <www.nhl.com>

Sports Reference LLC. Hockey-Reference.com - Hockey Statistics and Historyhttp://www.hockey-reference.com/. Web. 11 Apr. 2012.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Tale Of Four Different Tennis Players: Have We Seen Them Before?

Last year (2011) was, without even a thought, the year of Djokovic.

But this year there are other tennis players who are looking for a breakout.

(Disclaimer: I know Nole won the Australian Open 3 years before last year. I have to)

Andy Murray

Amazing how is path to greatness is sort of like his coach, Ivan Lendl. Take a look:

1981: Finalist @ French Open, 0/1

1982: Finalist @ US Open 0/2

1983: Finalist @ Australian Open & @ US Open 0/3, 0/4

1984 WINNER @ French Open, Finalist @ US Open 1/5, 1/6

1985 Finalist @ French Open, WINNER @ US Open 1/7, 2/8

You get the idea, eh? Lendl had his problem with Grand Slam finals, even after he got not one, but two Grand Slams under his belt. Look again, notice you don't see Wimbledon there? 0 for 2 in finals. In all, he lost 11 Grand Slam Finals.

But he also won 8.

I'm not sure if Murray can be Lendl, but I do know he will win a Slam.

Although, winning a slam might not be his plan (Yup, got that quote from Star Wars: A New Hope). This year, he has the Olympics, right there in London. He's got to have that circled.

Thomas Berdych

He reminds me of a young Goran Ivanisevic or even Marat Safin between times when his head was on straight.

Two years ago he reached the semifinals of the French Open, then knocked off Federer and Djokovic at Wimbledon to make the finals. A loss to Federer little over a month later brought him down to earth, and Thomas went out in the first round as the US Open.

The best he has done since is two Australian Open quarterfinals.

It seems like all or nothing with Berdych. When he's on, he's tough to beat and tough to break. But too many times his game just falls apart and he's just another player, much like Goran and Marat.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

He came out of nowhere back in the 2008 Australian Open. Unseeded he beat Rafael Nadal, then in the final faced someone else looking for his first slam, Djokovic. Tsonga took the first set, then proceded to lose a tough four setter.

Since then, he's reached the final four again down under, two years ago (and two years after getting to the final), plus the Wimbledon semifinals last year, beating Federer on the way before again falling in four to Nole. Federer then beat him in straight sets in US Open quarterfinals. Roger and him hooked up in a gem of a match at the Barclays Finals to cap off the year, with the Fed man taking it in a tough three setter.

Tsonga is 3-7 against Nadal, 5-4 against Djokovic (plus one win by walkover), 3-8 against Federer (plus a walkover win earlier this year on his way to a title in Doha).  Also is should be noted he's just 1-5 against Murray. Still, he's been making life tough in his matches recently Federer.

Tsonga, because of his appearance similar to Mohammad Ali, is a fighter in more ways than one. Not just in looks.

Maybe is his fate not to win Slams, but always fight his way to the semifinals and finals. The new Todd Martin?

Juan Martin Del Potro

I swear, this guy is taller than 6 ft 6 inn.

And he moves well.

Granted, he's gotta start doing better at Wimbledon, but that US Open win of 2009, which does seem like a long time ago, doesn't seem like a fluke. It just seems like a matter of time before he wins again.

After his injury in 2010, he is slowing getting back to where he once was.

Problem is, Federer seems to have his number again.

In fact, Delpi, as I call him, beat Federer later in 2009 at the Barclay's.

He has lost all five matches they have played since. In fact, he has yet to win a set off him since 2009.

Yet it is important to remember, that at one point in his career, he beat Federer twice in a row, Nadal, three times in a row. Yeah, he was at one point a giant killer. Kinda maybe like Adriano Panatta, who always gave Borg a tough time on clay.


References


Infosys, FedEx, Peugeot, and LeSports. "Official Site of Men's Professional Tennis | ATP World Tour | Tennis." ATP World Tour. Emirates. Web. 4 Apr. 2012.  <http://www.atpworldtour.com/>

Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 4 Apr. 2012. <https://en.wikipedia.org/>

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Why I'd Like To See An NHL Team In Quebec

I last visited Quebec in 1995.

That was also the last time the NHL was played there.

Now, years later, with the return of Winnipeg (gone since 1996), can the team that they became, Phoenix, come to Quebec?

I would like to see it.

I can give you three good reasons:

1) Back in the day of 24 NHL teams (The way it should be now, btw), I liked it that 1/3 of the teams were Canadian. Now with 30 teams, only 7 are Canadian. One more team gives me the feeling that a Stanley Cup can be won by a Canadian team. The odds just will go up, slightly.

2) I sort of liked the old Nords, as they were called. My favourite player was Peter Stastny, who could skate pass and score with everyone not named Gretzky in the early 80s. He ended up recording seven 100 + point seasons in Quebec City. Stastny was just fun to watch, go watch a classic hockey game with him in it!

Plus also, one of my favourite "finishers" played with Quebec. Michel Goulet. Every time the Nords would score at home, the Quebec PA announcer would say,

Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooulet!

It was good.

So getting to the point, imagine if Quebec gets a player with a name anywhere near that name. Every time they score a goal...

3) For you Habs fans who don't care, remember when the Nords had the resurgence in 92/93? That first round matchup, propelled the Habs to the Stanley Cup.

They had not won one since.

But I suspect another team, one that could rival the Canadians (it was quite the rivalry from 1982 - 1993) would push the Habs. A team you compete against for standings, playoff series, but more importantly, geographical bragging rights is always great for both teams, and the NHL.

2) Nothing against Seattle, I don't want to see a team there. Sorry, but the Seattle Metropolitans were the first non Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup, the first sign that United States was taking over hockey. Also that year (1917) was the last hockey year before the NHL was established that fall.

'sides, the city couldn't even support the Supersonics. Gary Payton was one of my favourite basketball players (Hey, how could I not like him after holding MJ himself to 51-123, 27.3/5.3/4.2 in the '96 NBA Finals), so I got nothing against Seattle. Get an NBA back first before getting an NHL team.

1) It'll piss Bettman off, something that we all like! After all, despite missing the playoffs, haven't we all enjoyed Winnipeg's year this year (with one obvious exception). Quebec will be in the Eastern Conference, one more Canadian stop for Sid and Alex!

And perhaps, just perhaps, we'll have Patrick Roy behind the bench. And maybe, just maybe, we'll have in goal for Quebec against Montreal. How many of you Nords always thought that was just a dream?