I just came back from a walk to discover that round 1 of the NHL playoffs is over and in the last 2 games we witnessed 2 of the biggest meltdowns of the entire round.
My predictions and results for round 1 are as follows:
Penguins in 5 WRONG Penguins in 6. I got close
Senators in 6 WRONG Senators in 5. Another close one.
Capitals in 7 WRONG Rangers in 7. It was a close series. I figured the Rangers inability to score would end their season and then they scored 5 unanswered goals in game 7. I know stuff *derp*
Bruins in 5 WRONG Bruins in 7. The Leafs made it a better series than I expected and when I left for my walk it looked like they were going to get through to the 2nd round. Queue amazing collapse.
Blackhawks in 5 CORRECT. I figured the Wild would steal a game but they’re still a few pieces and a little experience away from going deep.
Red Wings in 7 CORRECT. Despite their regular season successes I just did not believe in the Ducks ability to grind out a 7 game series against the experienced and extremely well coached Red Wings.
Canucks in 7 WRONG Sharks in 4. Oh how wrong I was. I don’t want to talk about it *sniff*
Kings in 5 WRONG Kings in 6. I didn’t give the Blues much chance against the Stanley Cup winning Kings. I still think the Kings will be in the Stanley Cup Final.
Speaking of the Stanley Cup Final, I predicted Bruins v Kings in the Final and I’ll stick by that.
Matchups have been confirmed. My predictions:
Chicago Blackhawks vs Detroit Red Wings – Chicago in 6
LA Kings vs San Jose Sharks – Kings in 5
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Ottawa Senators – Senators in 6
Boston Bruins vs New York Rangers – Bruins in 6
In just over 1 month world class ice hockey hits Australia with a 3 game series between a Canada team and a team from the USA. The teams will play 2 games in Melbourne at Hisense Arena and 1 game in Sydney at the Allphones Arena.
14th and 15th June – Melbourne
22nd June – Sydney
Rosters have not been announced as yet, I think mostly because the NHL season is still in full swing with the playoffs rolling along and the Stanley Cup Final possibly not finishing until the 28th of June. Zenon Konopka and Kyle Quincey have been named the US and Canada captains respectively but with the Wild and Red Wings still (as of writing) in the playoffs this may change. It will be very interesting to see who they can fill the rosters with but with any luck they can convince a number of NHL names to come along. Given the captains I’m not expecting to see Ryan Kesler or Roberto Luongo playing. Still, whoever they bring (with all due respect to the AIHL) this could be the best hockey seen in Australia for a while so let’s all buy tickets and go cheer on Canada! And the USA. If you feel so inclined.
Tickets starting from $85 in Melbourne and $79 in Sydney. With some of the more expensive ticket packages you can get a meet and greet with the players and a full “North American Style Buffet meal”. So… chicken wings.
Like International Ice Hockey Australia on Facebook to get all the updates and news. Looking forward to those roster announcements.
It’s probably too late for this as the puck has already dropped in Chicago as I type this but I do not care. My 2013 playoff predictions:
Penguins in 5
Senators in 6
Capitals in 7
Bruins in 5
Blackhawks in 5
Red Wings in 7
Canucks in 7
Kings in 5
My pick for the Stanley Cup Final is Kings vs Bruins, with Boston winning in a fairy tale moment for the city after the shocking year they’ve had so far.
If someone said to me late last night “Oh man did you see Shea Weber turnbuckle Henrik Zetterberg?” I would have called bullshit and glove slapped them. I would have been apologizing profusely though because that is exactly what Weber did:
I’m a big Shea Weber fan. If Mike Gillis came to me and said “Wayne, I need you to go and commit atrocious acts of moral bankruptcy in order for us to make Shea Weber a Canuck” I would not hesitate. This incident may have changed my view of him a little and it may make me disinclined to acquiesce to Mike’s request. It’s no Chara/Pacioretty incident (after which I vowed to never say a nice thing about Zdeno Chara again) but it’s still very ugly and entirely not needed in the game. Weber should face a lengthy sus…
What’s that? He got FINED $2500? This is one that I think Brendan Shanahan has got entirely wrong. I quote from the official press release:
Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber has been fined $2,500, the maximum allowed under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for delivering a blow to the head of Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg in Game 1 of the teams’ Western Conference Quarterfinal series in Nashville on Wednesday, April 11, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today
That, my friends, was not a blow to the head. Bryon Bitz’ hit on Kyle Clifford – now that’s a blow to the head. What Weber did was just a dirty wrestling move and I don’t care what Marek & Wyshynski say, wrestling and hockey should not mix.
The Predators are a good team. One of the best in the West. Their record (41-21-7, good for 6th overall in the league) would be much better if they weren’t battling out of the toughest division in the NHL. GM David Poile made some good additions to the lineup before the trade deadline, bringing in big Hal Gill on defense, big Paul Gaustad up front and not big but not small either Andrei Kostitsyn to score some goals. They boosted an already good team and to me and right now they are the biggest threat to the Canucks and the Red Wings in the Western Conference playoffs.
But now there is talk of a prodigal son returning to Nashville. Someone who played 2 seasons with the Predators before getting a case of the homesickies and flying back to Russia to dominate a weaker league. Someone who scored 61-91-152 in 62 games for the Quebec Ramparts of the QMJHL in 2005-2006. Someone who always had the potential to be the most explosively offensive (as in scoring a lot) players the Nashville Predators ever had. The man, the enigma, Alexander Radulov.
Reports have it that his path has been cleared to return the NHL and the Nashville Predators for the stretch run and the playoffs. Usually a player who has played overseas must clear waivers before returning to play for the NHL (ala Nabokov, Turco) and may not be allowed to play in the playoffs (ala Turc0), but not this time. Radulov will be allowed to return to North America without going through waivers and being claimed by the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets to help mentor, oh, I don’t know, Nail Yakupov. He will be eligible to play in the playoffs as well.
Understandably, some teams (reportedly the Canucks are included in this) have protested against Radulov’s return. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said “Any resistance would be competitive-based resistance, not logic-based resistance” and I agree with him. Like Greg Wyshynski from Puck Daddy inferred on the excellent Marek vs Wyshynski podcast, this is mostly sour grapes and terror from other teams in the Western Conference. Radulov’s return makes the Predators an even more scary prospect in the playoffs.
What can Radulov bring to the Predators? Offense. More offense than we’ve ever seen from them. Funny thing is though the Predators score more goals than perceived. They are 9th in the NHL in goals for per game (2.84) and have the 2nd best power play (21.1%). Radulov will give that potent power play another boost and he will be strong 5 on 5 too. In the 2 seasons he played with the Predators earlier in his career he put up 44-51-95 in 145 games. Since then playing for Ufa Salavat Yulayev in the KHL he has put up 91-163-254 in 210 games. The guy can score, and setup scoring as well. Potentially he could push the Predators to another level.
Unbelievably to me considering their goaltending and defense, the Predators are 10th in the NHL in goals against per game (2.54), behind even San Jose. Radulov probably won’t improve that stat for them, but at least with him in the line up they are a better chance of scoring more than 2.54 per game and therefore winning. Radulov could be the hero they need.
The Western Conference had best be scared. The Nashville Predators are fast becoming the Boston Bruins of the West – big, tough, skilled with strong d and a great goalie. If the Canucks (or even the Red Wings) come up against them in the playoffs, they are in for a hell of a tough series.
I really like Cody Hodgson as a player (and he seems like a good guy too – just adorable). So to say goodbye, here are just a few of his highlights playing for the Vancouver Canucks. Good luck in Buffalo kid.
Cody Hodgson’s first NHL goal 2nd Feb. 2011 vs Phoenix
That slapshot vs Jimmy Howard and the Red Wings
That slapshot vs Tim Thomas and the big bad Bruins