Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Even without Sidney Crosby for a period of time, the Penguins still have talent. Evgeni Malkin is the reigning Hart Trophy winner and is complimented by the likes of James Neal, Kris Letang, and Jarome Iginla. Want toughness? Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray provide that. Marc-Andre Fleury had a shaky playoffs last year and is out to prove that he is still an elite goaltender.
The Islanders are in the playoffs for the first time since 2007, and John Tavares is a candidate for the Hart Trophy this year. Having a good wingman in Matt Moulson gives the Islanders a one-two punch. Their defense isn't that great, but a lot of those deficiences can be covered by great goaltending, and that is what Evgeni Nabokov provides.
Prediction: Pittsburgh in 5
(2) Montreal Canadiens vs. (7) Ottawa Senators
Montreal's strength is in the back end, where Carey Price is the backbone. PK Subban is turning into a Norris Trophy candidate, and that makes the Canadiens a better team. Offensively, the Canadiens get contributions from the likes of Alex Galchenyuk, Michael Ryder, and Brian Gionta, but it is the team chemistry that has the Canadiens where they are.
Ottawa had injury issues throughout the season, but it now seems that the Sens are finally getting healthy again. Craig Anderson was having a Vezina Trophy winning season before injuries hit, and both Jared Cowen and Erik Karlsson were not supposed to be in the lineup for the playoffs, but both are here, and that gives the Sens a big body and an offensive dynamo. Jason Spezza could return soon, but in the meantime, the kids such as Jakob Silfverberg and Mika Zibanejad, as well as Kyle Turris, are filling in nicely. Leadership is no issue with Daniel Alfredsson around.
Prediction: Ottawa in 7
(3) Washington Capitals vs. (6) New York Rangers
Washington struggled early, but they turned it around when Alex Ovechkin became his usual self. For the Caps to win, he will have to put the team on his back, as Martin Erat and Niklas Backstrom are the only true options on offense. Defense was a work in progress, and certainly, the goaltending was an issue for a fair part of the season, but Braden Holtby seized the starting role, and the Caps are better for it.
The Rangers were less than the sum of their parts, as only Henrik Lundqvist played to expectations on a consistent basis. Rick Nash came on late in the season, but Brad Richards didn't play as well as last season. The Rangers are hopeful Marc Staal returns this series, as the blue line can never have enough warm bodies to block shots.
Prediction: Washington in 7
(4) Boston Bruins vs. (5) Toronto Maple Leafs
The Bruins struggled down the stretch, and it cost them a division title. Tuukka Rask played well for much of the season, but the playoffs are a different animal, but he did play well when he started in the 2010 playoffs. Offensively, Tyler Seguin, Nathan Horton, and David Krejci are good options, but a consistent Milan Lucic will be a key to everything. When he's on, he's the best player out there, but that isn't always the case, as he can disappear for stretches. Zdeno Chara will have to be the dominant defenseman that he's been if the blue line is to have a chance.
Much of Toronto's success this season can be attributed to James Reimer, who seized the starting spot in goal. Defensively, the Leafs are good, with Dion Phaneuf leading the way. Offensively, Phil Kessel and a healthy Joffrey Lupul are options, but they need Nazem Kadri to snap out of a recent funk if they want to advance.
Prediction: Boston in 6
Monday, April 29, 2013
(1) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (8) Minnesota Wild
The Blackhawks were the best team from start to finish in the regular season. Patrick Kane is the team's best option on offense, but don't count out the likes of Marian Hossa or Jonathan Toews. The second ranked offense (behind only Pittsburgh) is complimented by the best defense in the league, and it begins with the blue line. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are a top flight duo and are backed by the likes of Niklas Hjalmarsson, who is quietly becoming a premier stay-at-home defenseman. The question mark at the beginning of the season was goaltending, and it remains a question, though Corey Crawford continues to silence critics with his bounce-back year and Ray Emery ensures that the Blackhawks don't miss a beat.
The Wild had high expectations, with Zach Parise and Ryan Suter coming over in the off-season. The offense didn't quite get the spaek that the Wild were hoping for, and at times, team chemistry was an issue, as the team struggled to make the playoffs in a season where they were expected to win the Northwest Division. Still, the Wild will have the backing of the home fans for a couple of games, which should count for a win or two simply because of the energy.
Prediction: Blackhawks in 6
(2) Anaheim Ducks vs. (7) Detroit Red Wings
Anaheim has had a year to adjust to coach Bruce Boudreau's style, and it has paid off, as Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, the oft maligned duo, have had great years. The real story is the goaltending of Jonas Hiller and Victor Fasth, who have turned a question mark into a period. Depth is still an issue, as the team is still relatively top heavy, but they won't be pushed around with a rock solid blue line.
Detroit had to win on the last day to get in, and with blue line questions lingering, there is no reason for Detroit to advance out of the first round. Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are still there on offense, but goaltender Jimmy Howard will have to steal some games for Detroit to have a chance.
Prediction: Anaheim in 5
(3) Vancouver Canucks vs. (6) San Jose Sharks
Vancouver struggled for most of the season, as they bounced back between Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo, but Schneider has seized the starting role lately, and with the team getting healthy again (outside of David Booth), the Canucks are looking more like their 2011 team.
The Sharks also struggled for much of the season, but Antti Niemi has been the reason for the team getting into the playoffs. He's often overlooked, due to the fact that he just isn't spectacular, but when he's on, he provides the Sharks a peace of mind, even when the team struggles to score (paging Patrick Marleau).
Prediction: Vancouver in 5
(4) St. Louis Blues vs. (5) Los Angeles Kings
The Blues had issues in the early going, with Jake Allen at one point being the starting goaltender. Brian Elliot seems to have turned it around, regaining the starting goaltender spot, though, and the Blues will undoubtedly have revenge on their mind from last year's sweep at the hand of the Kings. Alex Pietrangelo will need to step it up if he is to become an elite D-man.
Los Angeles had their consistency issues, especially with goaltending. However, they are also finding their groove at the right time, and that begins with Jonathan Quick. Remember, the Kings did not have home ice advantage at all last year, and they start without that home ice advantage. Jeff Carter will be counted upon to provide clutch goals once again.
Prediction: Los Angeles in 6
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Sacco was canned as the coach of the Colorado Avalanche after a 130-134-30 record in four seasons with one playoff appearance in 2010. Odds are general manager Greg Sherman will soon be joining him in the unemployment line, as no replacement was named. After a promising start to his coaching career in the NHL, Sacco failed to lead the Avs to a playoff appearance, with the final straw being a rant from J.S. Giguere in the midst of the team's slide in the last half of this season. Sherman is almost certainly going to get axed, as he was at the helm for some bad trades, ranging from Erik Johnson and Jay McClement for Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart to Semyon Varlamov for a first and second round pick in 2012.
As for Nieuwendyk, he was relieved of his duties as general manager of the Dallas Stars. At the helm since 2009, Nieuwendyk made his fair share of bad moves, such as trading James Neal for Alex Goligoski and trading Steve Ott for Derek Roy. Seemingly, the Stars were without a clear direction as far as what they wanted to do, and fair or not, that falls on Nieuwendyk. No word on the future of Glen Gulutzan, who was his hand-picked coach after canning Marc Crawford after the 2010-11 season.
It's been a major fall for two teams that dominated much of the late 90's and early 2000's as far as making the playoffs are concerned. Whoever comes in to try and revive those franchises will undoubtedly need to know what they want to do and have a clear plan in getting there.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Hockey Blog in Canada and Icethetics) that's been circulating around is the Minnesota Wild's AHL affiliate in Houston will be relocating to Des Moines, IA. Out will be the Aeros and in will be the Iowa Wild. That's right, the AHL club known as the Houston Aeros (until the conclusion of the Calder Cup) will be calling Iowa home starting next season and will be playing in the Wells Fargo Center in Des Moines. As you can see from the logo, it doesn't look all that much different from the parent club's alternate jersey. And as you will see from the picture below, the jersey design leaves a lot to be desired:
While this move does make travel shorter (and possibly easier) for the call-ups and demotions to be made, one wonders if the Minnesota Wild could have done a little more to distinguish the minor league team a little better. I'm not sold on it, personally, but we'll see how it looks on the ice.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
(1) Edmonton Oil Kings vs. (3) Calgary Hitmen
The Oil Kings dominated the league with a stingy defense and continue to do so in the playoffs. The Hitmen are equally up to the task despite not putting up the eye-popping numbers. Laurent Brossoit and Chris Driedger are the backbones of their respective squads and while the Oil Kings have the more well-known players, the Hitmen just get the job done. Calgary had the tougher road to get here, as they had to beat two defensively stout teams, but the Oil Kings have something that Swift Current and Red Deer do not, and that is offense. And of course, there's the provincial bragging rights on the line in addition to a spot in the finals.
Prediction: Oil Kings in 6
(1) Portland Winterhawks vs. (3) Kamloops Blazers
There's no question the Winterhawks were the best team on offense, and certainly, their defense was equally adept. The Blazers can match the Winterhawks on offense, but of concern is their defense, particularly since they can be quite streaky on offense and given their injuries to Colin Smith and Tim Bozon, will need the likes of Brendan Ranford and Kale Kessy to step up once again. This will be the Winterhawks' toughest test yet, as the Blazers will be looking for revenge for last year's ouster in the Conference semis.
Prediction: Winterhawks in 7
Monday, April 15, 2013
Today's WHL playoff breakdown takes a look at offense.
EDMONTON OIL KINGS
EDMONTON OIL KINGS
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Yesterday, I took a look at the goalies for the remaining teams in the WHL playoffs. Today, it's all about the guys in front of them: the defensemen.
EDMONTON OIL KINGS
EDMONTON OIL KINGS
Saturday, April 13, 2013
With the Conference Finals in the WHL not starting until Thursday and all but one playoff spot in all of the leagues (WHL, OHL, and QMJHL) spoken for, that means there is plenty of time to talk up what to look for in the WHL conference finals match-ups. It begins with goaltenders:
EDMONTON OIL KINGS
EDMONTON OIL KINGS
Friday, April 12, 2013
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Their opponent will also have eight days, as the Kamloops Blazers beat the Kelowna Rockets in four straight. The Blazers will undoubtedly be seeking revenge for last year, when the Winterhawks ousted them in seven games in the Conference semi-finals last year.
If Calgary wins their series today (they're up 3-1 currently), that will mean an entire week will be about hyping the matchups, meaning the Winterhawks/Blazers and Oil Kings/Hitmen.
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Monday, April 8, 2013
As for what the Maple Leafs will wear for the game, Lanny Macdonald (middle left) is wearing that jersey below:
As you can see, the alumni game will also take place, and Darryl Sittler and Kris Draper (the two on the right) are donning the designs for that game.
I have to say that both teams did well in their designs, and with a red vs. blue dynamic, this game is already being looked forward to next season.
Friday, April 5, 2013
Thursday, April 4, 2013
(1) Edmonton Oil Kings vs. (7) Medicine Hat Tigers
The Oil Kings had little trouble disposing of the Kootenay Ice in the opening round, and they look as good as ever in their quest to repeat. Luarent Brossoit is a big reason for the Oil Kings' success. Medicine Hat had a plan against Saskatoon in the opening round, and it worked, forcing the Blades to lick their wounds for a while before their Memorial Cup run. Cam Lanigan has proven to be the answer in goal for the Tigers, and he will need to be the man in goal again, as the Oil Kings are an underrated bunch on offense. Offense for the Tigers will be dependent on Curtis Valk and Hunter Shinkaruk (if healthy) again.
Prediction: Oil Kings in 5
(3) Calgary Hitmen vs. (4) Red Deer Rebels
Calgary won a hard fought five game series against Swift Current, and will need their offense to step up against a rather stout Rebels defense, led by Patrik Bartosak. Red Deer's offense will need to step up, as the Hitmen also have a strong defensive front, with Chris Driedger providing the backbone of that unit. It will be a defensive struggle, and the winner will be the one who finds their offense first.
Prediction: Hitmen in 7
(1) Portland Winterhawks vs. (4) Spokane Chiefs
The Winterhawks had a harder time with the Silvertips than anyone could have imagined. The road to the Memorial Cup does not get any easier, as the Chiefs handily disposed of the Tri-City Americans in five. While Spokane doesn't have great goaltending, they do have a good overall offense, and Alessio Bertaggia is an X-factor for the team. The Winterhawks had a rather inconsistent effort on offense, and that just won't do against Spokane. Mac Carruth played well, all things considered, but he will have to step up his game, as both teams were evenly matched in the regular season.
Prediction: Winterhawks in 6
(2) Kelowna Rockets vs. (3) Kamloops Blazers
The B.C. rivalry that will be a guaranteed barn burner. The Rockets took the hard way in getting to this point, going down 3-0 to Seattle in the opening round before rallying to a 4-3 series win. The Blazers had a hard fought series win in six against Victoria. Kelowna seems to have found a way to compensate for the loss of Colton Sissons, and are looking to build from that momentum of the Seattle series. Kamloops is equally good, with JC Lipon, Colin Smith, and Tim Bozon leading the way on offense. This series is going to be good, with B.C. bragging rights and a spot in the conference finals on the line.
Prediction: Blazers in 7
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
NASHVILLE PREDATORS: Aside from trading Scott Hannan, the only other big deal was trading a minor leaguer (Michael Latta) and a 20-goal scorer in Martin Erat for Fillip Forsberg, who could be a superstar.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS: Big deal was re-acquiring Steve Sullivan, who should be good for veteran leadership and offense while Ilya Kovalchuk recovers from injury.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS: Nothing to see here.
NEW YORK RANGERS: Traded away Marian Gaborik for Derrick Brassard, John Moore, and Derek Dorsett, and picked up Ryane Clowe from San Jose.
OTTAWA SENATORS: Traded Ben Bishop to Tampa Bay for Cory Conacher in a deal that works for both teams.
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: Traded for Steve Mason, likely meaning they will use an amnesty clause on Ilya Bryzgalov after the season.
PHOENIX COYOTES: Traded away Steve Sullivan, Raffi Torres, and Matthew Lombardi.
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: Brenden Morrow, Jarome Iginla, Douglas Murray, and Jussi Jokinen: in. Joe Morrow and some lower end prospects and draft picks: out.
ST. LOUIS BLUES: Picked up Jordan Leopold and Jay Bouwmeester, but sent Wade Redden out.
SAN JOSE SHARKS: Picked up Scott Hannan and Raffi Torres for grit. Lost Douglas Murray (who Hannan essentially replaces) and Ryane Clowe (who has fewer goals than Scott Gomez. Ouch.)
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: Gambling on another lightly proven goaltender in Ben Bishop, giving up Cory Conacher in the process.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: Picked up Ryan O'Byrne from Colorado.
VANCOUVER CANUCKS: Derek Roy from Dallas for Kevin Connauton and a 2nd round pick. Roy should fill in as the second center while Ryan Kesler recovers from injury. And Roberto Luongo was not traded.
WASHINGTON CAPITALS: Martin Erat and Michael Latta for Fillip Forsberg: sure to draw vitriol from most Caps fans...if it hasn't already.
WINNIPEG JETS: Did nothing.
ANAHEIM DUCKS: Nothing of note here, except a trade for Matthew Lombardi (not confirmed by NHL.com yet).
BOSTON BRUINS: Picked up Jaromir Jagr and Wade Redden while maintaining their top prospects. Losing out on both Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla stings, though.
BUFFALO SABRES: Out go Robyn Regehr and Jason Pominville, in comes prospects Johan Larsson and Matt Hackett, as well as some draft picks.
CALGARY FLAMES: Jarome Iginla for lower-end prospects and a first round pick and Jay Bouwmeester for lower-end prospects and a first round pick. Yeah, the Flames waited too long to start rebuilding, and the Bouwmeester trade was actually better. Also gone is Blake Comeau.
CAROLINA HURRICANES: Only one trade: Jussi Jokinen to Pittsburgh for a draft pick.
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: Added a third line center in Michal Handzus, who will help in the PK.
COLORADO AVALANCHE: Traded away Ryan O'Byrne and swapped prospects with Dallas (Cameron Gaunce for Tomas Vincour).
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: All in this time, as they landed Marian Gaborik for underperforming first round picks Derrick Brassard and John Moore, as well as sending Steve Mason to Philadelphia for Michael Leighton and a draft pick and landing Blake Comeau.
DALLAS STARS: Sent Derek Roy to Vancouver for Kevin Connauton and a draft pick, and traded Jaromir Jagr for prospects and a draft pick. Also traded Brenden Morrow to Pittsburgh for prospect Joe Morrow.
DETROIT RED WINGS: Sent Kent Huskins to Philadelphia for a draft pick.
EDMONTON OILERS: Apart from picking up faceoff specialist Jerred Smithson, the only other moves were a swap of prospects and/or minor leaguers.
FLORIDA PANTHERS: Lone deal was trading Jerred Smithson to Edmonton.
LOS ANGELES KINGS: Robyn Regehr arrives as essentially a replacement for Matt Green and Willie Mitchell.
MINNESOTA WILD: Paid a hefty price to pry Jason Pominville from Buffalo, losing Matt Hackett and Johan Larsson.
MONTREAL CANADIENS: Nothing of note here.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Based on the Starkweather-Fugate killing spree of the 1958, in which a fifteen-year-old girl and her twenty-five-year-old boyfriend slaughtered her entire family and several others in the Dakota badlands.The movie stars Martin Sheen as Kit, whose overall demeanor and looks could be mistaken for James Dean, something that is referenced in the movie, and Sissy Spacek as Holly, three years before her breakout role in Carrie.
The plot itself is rather basic and doesn't really have any exciting points to speak of, but where Badlands gets its notoriety is the way in which both Sheen and Spacek act throughout the movie, which is to say rather detached from the reality that they occupy. Spacek's character narrates the movie, which reflects this detachment from everyday life and almost lends a dreamlike quality to the movie. Everything lends itself to the rather laid back nature of the movie, from the scenery to the music, and even the killings themselves, which for all intents and purposes, isn't all that violent. Badlands is a movie that works well when the viewer is not watching with an emotional investment in how things go.