Wednesday, April 27, 2011

NHL Second Round Playoff Preview and First Round Wrap-up

It was a very entertaining first round of the playoffs, alot of great hockey being played.  Only problem was, if you do not get the VS. channel you probably did not get to see much of it.  Not having VS. was a little bit annoying but most of the games were streaming online.  If you think for one second that this blog does not know anything and these idiots on ESPN are the only people that can pick and analyze match-up then you are crazy.  If you go back and see the series that I picked which was 6 of 8 series, I had all six right.  Yeah this blog is that good. No, we arent good here at Season in the Sun blog we are freaking awesome.  So why are we freaking awesome?

Eastern Conference

Washington Capitals -  New York Rangers - We picked the Capitals, and the Capitals won in 5 games.  The Capitals did not choke in the first round, unbelievable.  They played well and they won in 5, I thought the series might have gone a bit longer but oh well.  I am just glad New York is out, its no secret I do not like New York.

Philly Flyers - Buffalo Sabres  - We picked the Flyers, and the Flyers won in 7 games.  We said the only way that the Flyers would lose is if they had a meltdown in net, they almost did.  The Flyers used 3 different goalies in the series.  In the end, they were just too much for the Sabres.  The Flyers have so many weapons on offense.

Boston Bruins - Montreal Canadians - We picked the Bruins in 7 and the Bruins won in 7.  We said the Bruins would luckily win, they won almost all the games in OT.  This was a really great series, very intense, very physical and just very entertaining.

Pittsburgh Penguins - Tampa Bay Lightning - We put Pittsburgh on upset alert and they did not listen.  We picked Tampa Bay and Tampa Bay won in 7 games.  Tampa Bay beat Pittsburgh one to nothing in game 7.  It was the first time since the 1970s that the Penguins have blown a 3-1 series lead.

Western Conference

Vancouver Canucks - Chicago Blackhawks - Vancouver wins in 7, this was one of the series that I did not want to pick in fear of jinxing my team.  Vancouver has a better team and a cry baby GM.  The Hawks were down 0-3 but came back and forced a game 7.

San Jose Sharks - LA Kings - We picked San Jose and they won in 6.  San Jose Sharks much like the Flyers have alot of offense and alot of questions in net.  Niemi has not played as well as he did last year, but he has time to make that up.  The Kings are a quality team and forced the Sharks to the limit, but the Sharks got the W in the series.

Detroit Red Wongs - Phoenix Coyotes - We had to picked the Red Wongs unfortunately, we were hoping for 6 but the Coyotes were never in the series getting swept 4-0.

Anaheim Not So Mighty Now Ducks - Nashville Predators - We picked this series too close to call, and the Predators won in 6.  The Predators defense was able to shut down Corey Perry and friends for most of the series.  I am going to be honest, I thought that this would go 7 games but Nashville came to play and the Ducks not so much.


Eastern Conference

Washington Capitals - Tampa Bay Lightning - The Capitals looked very impressive in their opening round series against the Rangers.  The Lightning took down an undermanned Penguins team that was without its star players.  I think the Capitals are the better team here, not to discount the Lightning in any way but the Capitals just have more talent. Let's go with the Washington Capitals in 6.

Philly Flyers - Boston Bruins - This is going to be a great series.  Two very physical teams and there will be some fighting here.  If you like hockey, it does not get any better then the Bruins and the Flyers.  This series is going to come down to whether or not the Flyers can get good goal tending from any of their goalies.  I think the Flyers win in 7 games.

Western Conference

Vancouver Canucks - Nashville Predators - If the Canucks fall asleep again they might not be so lucky against the Predators.  The Canucks have a better team, they are deeper with more talent, but do not write off the Predators.  They have great defense and Pekka Rinne the goalie is pretty solid.  I am going to have to go with the Canucks, just too much for Nashville, but its going to be a hard series.

San Jose Sharks - Detroit Red Wongs - This series is going to come down to whether or not Niemi and the Sharks play well on defense and in the net.  The Sharks have the offensive weapons to destroy the Red Wongs.  The Red Wongs seem to play very well at this point of the season but they are getting old.  I want to pick the Sharks but I am going to pick the Red Wongs to try to jinx them.  Red Wongs in 6.

The second round should be just as good as the first, couple of the series that the teams know each other very well, especially with the Sharks - Red Wongs, Flyers - Bruins, and Capitals - Lightning.  It should be very entertaining, if you do not have VS., go to a bar and watch the games, its going to be awesome.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Whale That Just Wont Die.

On this date 14 years ago, Kevin Dineen scored the game winning goal as the Hartford Whalers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in the Whalers final game.  This game ended an 18 year run for the NHL in Hartford as new ownership packed up the team and headed south to the Carolinas.  After watching a 3 part segment on youtube from the final game and it was very emotional for the fans in Hartford.  Hartford really doesnt have any other teams. Many people have asked me why Hartford, why now?

Hartford is a hockey town, they have hardcore fans unlike Miami, Tampa Bay or Los Angeles.  When you think of hockey you think cold, ice, and Canada.  When you are thinking hockey you are not thinking about going to the beach after the game.  There is a reason why the players wear "sweaters" not jerseys during the games.  I mean come on Florida is not prime hockey country, no offense.

The Hartford Whalers have one of the best logos in the history of the NHL.  If you are not aware of what the logo looks like you should Google it, you will not be letdown.  They also have one of the greatest songs, its called the "brass bonanza."  It is so good, I would suggest that you stop reading this blog for 2 minutes, go to youtube or itunes.  Ok good, you're back now, lets continue.

Currently, there are way too many teams in non-hockey markets.  The NHL really does not need teams in cities like Atlanta, any place in Florida, or Carolina.  Teams like the Thrasher and the Coyotes of Phoneix are always near the bottom in attendence.  The Thrashers are currently 4th from the bottom, and the Coyotes are 2nd from the bottom.   Not to mention that the Thrashers and the Coyotes are having much trouble getting some one to buy their teams.

The biggest problem that the Hartford Whalers have in the coming back to the NHL is the commissioner Gary Bettman.  Gary Bettman does not want to admit to the epic failures of moving teams South.  Why do you think all these teams won cups after they moved south? Gary Bettman was trying to stabilize his decision but it was more like building castles in the sand.  If Gary Bettman would swallow his pride, the Hartford Whalers would have a much better chance getting back to the NHL

Is there any real hope for the Hartford Whalers come back?  Hell yeah there is, Hartford's minor league hockey team has been re-branded as "The Whale."  The Whaler original owner Howard Baldwin was behind the re-branding of the minor league team.  They also had a hockeyfest, an outdoor hockey event for a week, that was highlighted by an alumni game between the Whalers and the Boston Bruins.  Also, Megan Fox, the actress was seen wearing a Hartford Whalers t-shirt, who can agrue against one of the hottest women on the planet?

You may know or you may not but I have signed online petitions for a new stadium in Hartford.  I have sent emails to the government of Connecticut asking how I can help get the Whalers back, they probably thought I was crazy.  I have started a Facebook group entitled "Lets bring back the Hartford Whalers."  If you are not currently a member you should join right now.

How can you help? Join my facebook group, you can join Hartford Whaler Nation another facebook group!

Have a great day!  Pucky the Whale will live for ever!

Monday, April 11, 2011

NHL First Round Playoff Preview

Welcome to the NHL preview for the first round of the playoffs.  The greatest thing about the playoffs is that the seeds really dont matter, for example there have been numerous times that the #8 seed has defeated the number #1 seed in the first round.  If you remember from last year the Flyers came out of nowhere and got all the way to the Cup Finals before bowing out to the Chicago Blackhawks.  What about the improbable run of the Montreal Canadians last year defeating both the Capitals and the Penguins.  It is really shaping up to be a great playoff this year so lets get to the match-ups.

Eastern Conference

#1 Washington Capitals vs #8 New York Rangers - The Rangers were on the outside looking in last year but this year they get in by the seat of their pants.  They needed a loss in the last game by the Carolina Hurricanes and got it.  The Washington Capitals after struggling for the most of the beginning part of the season seem to have gotten things together lately.  The Capitals though have been disappointments in recent years in the playoffs, and Caps have be very nervous again this year.  In the end, I think the Capitals will get it done in this series, if not there has to be some real questions raised about Alexander the Great.

#2 Philly Flyers vs #7 Buffalo Sabres - The Flyers come into the series and the playoffs on a bit of a downswing but do not let that fool you, this team is better then the team last year.  They have looked a lot better this year, and if they can get solid goal tending they will be a tough out this year.  The Buffalo Sabres do not do it with flash or big name players but they just get the job done.  I think much of their success or failure is depending on how well Ryan Miller players.  The defense for the Sabres cannot leave him out to dry though.  The Flyers should win this series, they have more talent and they are deeper.  The only way they lose is if they have a total meltdown in net.

#3 Boston Bruins vs #6 Montreal Canadians - There has been much bad blood between these two teams this season.  This should be a very exciting series.  The Canadians had a great run in the playoffs last year but they dealt Halak to the St. Louis Blues.  The Boston Bruins have the Slovakian Crusher, Mr. Chara the captain, bringing pain to everyone that stands in his way.  I really like this matchup its the best matchup in the Eastern Conference first round, the series should have great intensity.  I think this one will go 7 games, and the Boston Bruins luckily get by the Canadians.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Tampa Bay Lightning - In Pittsburgh they are saying no Crosby no problem, the team still does not know when the kid can come back but that has not stopped them from making the playoffs.  This is another very interesting series, because I think that it will be a very high scoring affair.  You do not hear much about the goal tending from either team, and both sides have very explosive offensives.  This is the first series that I am putting the higher ranked seed on high upset alert.  Tampa Bay is very talented and I think they are going to find a way to get it done.

Western Conference

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs. #8 Chicago Blackhawks - The Blackhawks needed a Stars loss in the last game to get into the playoffs after losing half the team from last year due to cap problems.  The Canucks have been the best team during the season.  The only thing the Blackhawks have going for them is that they have had to play desperate for the last month to get into the playoffs and the Canucks have had no pressure on them for a while.  Also, the Blackhawks have put the Canucks out of the playoffs the last two years, so there has to be some revenge on the Canuck's minds.  I really think this series could go either way, so I am not picking either side because I do not want to jinx the Hawks.

#2 San Jose Sharks vs. #7 LA Kings - It was just a year ago when Niemi the goalie for the Sharks was helping the Blackhawks win the Cup now he looking for more in a different jersey.  The San Jose Sharks will be looking to shake the failures of years past with early exits in the playoffs.  The LA Kings have been playing good hockey as of late and they get very good goal tending from J. Quick.  At first glance, one might think oh the Sharks are going to run the Kings out of the building, I think this is going to be a close series.  The Sharks will win this series, but it is going to be tougher than most of the media thinks.

#3 Detroit Red Wongs vs #6 Phoenix Coyotes - The Red Wongs put the Coyotes out of the playoffs last year in a very hard fought series.  I think the Coyotes will draw much confidence from the series last year but I do not know if they have enough talent to beat the Red Wongs.  If the Coyotes want to win this series they are going to have to make things very tough on Jimmy Howard, the Red Wongs goalie.  Detroit is an aging team and they are dealing with injuries, especially to Zetterberg.  I hope I am wrong but I think that Red Wongs take the series in 6.

#4 Anaheim Mighty Ducks vs. #5 Nashville Predators - I think this is the best match-up in the first round of the playoffs in either conference.  You have two up and coming teams with great goalies, much will depend on the health of Hiller the Ducks number one goalie.  Both teams play very sound defense, especially the Predators being one of the lowest goals against teams in the league.  Corey Perry and the rest of the Ducks are going to put that to the test, Perry led the league in goals this year.  I really am excited for this series, and I think that this one is too close to call.

We will be back to preview the 2nd round match-ups once the first round is over.  If you are still out work, God bless ya, you probably need a beer by this point.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cindy Crosby - the most overrated player in the history of sports.

Warning if you are a Cindy Crosby fan I would urge you to use your best judgement on whether you want to continue reading the paragraphs and sentences below.  There will be much discussion about the most overrated player in the history of sport, not just hockey.  Do not get me wrong, he does have some talent, if he did not have any talent the kid would have not made it to the NHL.  The part that make me sick is how bad Gary Bettman and NBC seem to be in love with this guy.

First things first, he is so overrated.  Look at the team in the cup finals, he got injured and Malkin and the rest of the guys took over and won the cup with Cindy on the bench.  I personally feel that Malkin, when healthy, is so much better then Crosby that they should give Malkin the "C" on his jersey.  I also feel that no one else gets any credit on the team because the NHL is always kissing Cindy's feet and throwing rose pedals all over his path.  

The team's success without the so called greatest player in the NHL does not end there.  Cindy has been out since January with a head injury because someone hurted him.  I doubt they were sorry either, but that is another topic for another day.  The Penguins this year have 102 points, and they are within striking distance of Philly and the division.  This is hard proof that the Penguins really do not need Cindy anymore.

Another thing the Penguins do not need is all of Cindy's crying.  He has the full nickname of Cindy Crybaby Crosby or just call em Triple C (kinda like Triple H but alot less manly).  I have never seen anyone cry to the refs as much as he does.  Maybe he just had too good of a childhood and got everything he wanted but now he is getting nothing; I better get the kid a box of kleenex.  Sometimes, I even feel bad for him because he just looks so sad out there, a boy among men.

His crying reach ignorant levels in the playoffs a couple years back when he asked the officials to tell the fans to stop throwing hats after Ovechkin scored a hat trick.  Seriously, Cindy who does that?  He was asked about it in the post game press conference to explain what happened and he just looked like a total jerk.  If you want to see what I am talking about just go to you tube and search for Crosby crying about Ovechkin's hat trick.  It's really a sad day for all Penguins history, have a little respect Cindy for Alexander the Great.

Another part of his game that is really suspect is his diving.  Now Jay what is diving in hockey?  Diving in hockey which is actually a penalty but its rarely called like travelling in the NBA; is when a player is barely touched by anyone and falls to the ground like a ton of bricks just fell on him.  Cindy has a real bad habit of diving all over the ice.  That is why most hecklers in the NHL when anyone else is diving, they say, "Quit diving like Crosby out there, child please."  Cindy must have watched a lot of soccer when he was growing up and learned to dive from the soccer players.

In conclusion, I really do not have any beef with the Penguins, except for beating the Black Hawks in the Stanley Cup finals when Roenick was playing.  They are a great team, they just have one problem Cindy Crosby.  I feel that there might be hope he could stop crying and diving once he gets older.  If this happens I am sure that the rest of the NHL will respect him, plus the fans will not be as harsh on him.  Though, there is nothing more pleasing to my ears when the Philly fans chant "Crosby sucks, Crosby sucks, Crosby sucks."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Columbus Blue Jackets

With only about 180 minutes left in the Blue Jackets season, I felt it necessary to provide them a nice send off to which ever golf courses they will be going to once the playoffs start.  I really felt at the beginning of the season there was some promise for this squad they were winning games, and looked like they could challenge the likes of Detroit, Chicago and Nashville for a spot in the playoffs.  Over the last two months, the wheels have really come off the bus though.  For some reason, they have blown so many leads in the 3rd period only to lose in a shootout.  Personally, I think they need to stop settling for one point and win the game.

I think much of their problem exist because everyone is standing around waiting for Rick Nash to save the game.  It is hard when your being double and tripled teamed to do anything, but I have seen Nash make some goals from incredible angles.  He has great hands with the puck unlike most of the players on the team, and in the NHL for that matter.  The guy is light years ahead of the rest of the team.  I hate to say it but the Columbus Blue Jackets may need to look into trading him to get as much value as they can because they have so many holes.

The biggest problem the Jackets have in my opinion is defense.  They have no solid defense men, not one, Stralman should be sent down to Springfield.  This lack of any respectable defense men had left the goalies Garon and Mason very vulnerable.  This is going to sound really biased but take a look at Chicago they have Keith and Seabrook anchoring the defense; Chicago brought in two new goalies this year Turco and Crawford, and the Blackhawks are still in the playoff hunt after heavy cap restrictions.  Good defense goes a long way and right now the Jackets just are not getting any.

Another point of the game that I think could really help the Jackets, is getting traffic in front of the goalie.  You can take a million shots on net but if the goalie can see every one he is going to have a better chance of stopping.  My idea would be to send guys like Jared Boll to the front of the net on every offensive set, so you have a better chance of scoring.  The defense need to be encouraged to fire the pucks on net once the traffic is in place and not pass it around until we all fall asleep.  Detroit always has someone in front of the goalie, most of the time interfering with the goalie, but it gets the job done.

The Blue Jackets have a lot of raw talent that is just not shaped well.  For example, Jakub Voracek he has great speed, one of the fastest players in the NHL but he has not hands.  He is always going across the blue line and then coughing up the puck.  If the Jackets could get him to control the puck he could be a very dangerous player.  Matt Calvert, just a rookie but he has already shown flashes of brilliance with a hat trick in his first season.  I think if you move Calvert up to many the 1st or 2nd line next year I think his production could go through the roof.

I really think if they could bring in some solid defense men, they could be a real playoff team next year.  Many games this year the goalies Mason and Garon have been asked to stand on their heads, and they have come through but it just has not been enough.  The Blue Jackets in my opinion, should keep Garon and Mason because they are both sound goalies and are both very talented.   If the Blue Jackets could play better defense many of the games that they are giving up 3 goals would be down to 1 or 2 maybe even shutouts.

Outside of the defense, the Blue Jackets have another glaring problem, and it has nothing to do with the team, it is the fans.  The Blue Jackets fans need to be less accommodating to fans from other teams.  I am serious when the Detroit Red Wongs come to town, it should be as rabid as Ohio Stadium during Michigan week, and on the game of the Michigan game.  This is another reason why the Jackets do not have any real rivals yet, rivalries are started by the fans.  Its not like it costs an arm and leg to go to Jackets games, come people get pissed!

In conclusion, I will continue to attend Blue Jackets games because I love hockey and because they are the hometown team.  I swear though next year, any time the Red Wongs come to Columbus, I will be ruthless, I do not give a damn for the whole state of Michigan, and I mean it.  If you are with me Columbus, I bid you to stand by me, and show them no quarter.  Oh, and one other thing, we need to make it clear to the players, team, water boys, trainers and the front office that it is unacceptable to lose to the St. Louis Blues.  Thank you for your time, and have a good day.