Category Archives: NHL

2015 Stanley Cup Final Preview

Welcome Sports Fans!! It’s time for my annual Stanley Cup Final Preview.

It’s original six powerhouse Blackhawks – MY BOYS – versus that little yappy terrier you can’t stand, but can’t help but love Tampa Bay Lightning, in what should be a cracking showdown in the battle for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

How They Got Here

My Blackhawks have had an up and down journey to the Final. Finishing third in the Central division, they went on to face Nashville in the first round, defeating them in six games without home ice advantage. They swept Minnesota in the second round, before meeting Anaheim Ducks (basically not a real team) in the third round, eventually beating them in seven games and A LOT of overtime. Seriously, my heart.

The Tampa Bay Lightning finished second in the Atlantic Division meeting Detroit in the first round and beating them in seven. Props for that, I still have an irrational fear of that team. The second round was another tough battle for the Lightening, though they went on to eliminate Montreal in six games, sending them to a Conference Final against King Lundqvist and his New York Rangers who would have home Ice advantage. Against the odds, Tampa Bay took care of NYR at The Garden in Game 7, sending them to a Finals match up that totally ruined my Bracket and made my mate Maree all sad, which made me sad. Thanks, Rangers.

Who To Watch For

My boy, Duncan Keith has shown some type of crazy ass superhuman strength and endurance, averaging over 31 minutes of ice time per-game. A lot of which have been racked up after Michael Rozsvial’s horrific injury in game four against The Wild. And, Keithy has made amazing use of his time, racking up 18 points throughout the 17 games the Blackhawks have played this post season, sparking talk of Duncan Keith’s name on The Conn Smyth Trophy should the Hawks take win the Final. The First D-Man since 2007.

For the Lightning, Captain Steven Stamkos is touted as one of the best goal scorers of his generation, winning the Rocket Richard Trophy, for the League’s top goal scorer twice. Already, he has 7 goals and 10 assists in the Lightning’s finals run, and he is only getting better as the games go on. Keep an eye out for the Captain playing from the second line and will be pivotal if the Lightning want to hoist the Cup.

The Triplets. Hands up if you are sick of hearing this term to describe three guys that are obviously not related *raises hand*. Ugh. It’s annoying. That said, the Blackhawks will need to find a way to shut down the line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat, if they have any chance of taking the series. Their moniker may be fucking irritating, but they are bloody good players.

The Goalies. This is a problem. Both Corey Crawford of the Blackhawks and Ben Bishop of the Lightening are great Goal Tenders. But, when the Net Minders have a bad day, it tends to be a meltdown of epic proportions that sees them pulled from the game. There is no in between for these blokes.

Toews and Kane, Sharp, Hossa and Seabrook. Enough said. Dynasty right there. I’m expecting Brandon Saad to continue his wonderful form along with other fringe players like Vermette, Shaw and Teravainen.

So, Who Ya Got?

Have you even read this?? It’s so one sided. I obviously have the Blackhawks winning the Cup. But I’m not expecting the wins to come easily.

Chicago in seven.

The one where I rate the @NHLBlackhawks suit game.

Oh look! It’s another one of those posts that is less about sport and more about the objectification of male athletes…..AND YOU LOVE IT!

Truly though, this post comes at the request of Mama Gray, who some years ago joined me in my love of the Chicago Blackhawks, even going so far as to (at my request) wear our lucky 88 Patty Kane jersey for every single Blackhawk game this last post season like the legend that she is, only complaining once that it was somewhat limiting her wardrobe. I myself wore the lucky 88 Paddy Kane jersey UNDER my work clothes, for Game 7 v Detroit the year before because I was convinced the Blackhawks would lose if I didn’t – and I work in an office…. have you ever tried to wear a hockey jersey under a pencil skirt and blouse?? Awkward. As. Fuck.

Anyway, this past week the Blackhawks had a red carpet event prior to their game v Buffalo, and I’m a Judgemental Judy, so this was the perfect opportunity to appreciate/throw shade at my Blackhawk boys.

Here we go…..

AndrewShaw

Andrew Shaw

First up we have Andrew Shaw. Andrew Shaw has a girlfriend. A girlfriend who let him leave the house with ill fitting trousers, that have failed in an attempt to reach his shoes. I will give him a point for at least wearing dress socks – but then I’m taking it away for wearing what appears to be a Burberry tie. I like Burberry – but wearing a Burberry tie is the most pedestrian “I’m trying to look flash and have no idea how since I’m really a bogan” move ever. On the other hand, if it isn’t a Burberry tie, it’s definitely an attempt at a knock off, in which case, Andrew Shaw is cheap. Or ignorant.

He also appears to be wearing button cuffs. Ugh.

Suit Game = WEAK

AnttiRaanta

Antti Raanta

You’ll note via the coming pictures that brown shoes are apparently a ‘thing’ with the Blackhawks. I don’t mind this look overall, but I’m undecided about the tan shoes and belt, I really feel like the suit may be a little too dark and the tan a little light. Good overall fit. Excellent cuff length.

Suit Game = FAIR

BenSmith

Ben Smith

Not sure if this is Harvey Spectre or Ben Smith. Either way he looks very nice. I’m going to overlook the tie length and approve of the pocket square addition. Points off for button cuffs.

Suit Game = FAIR

BradRichards

Brad Richards

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (and if you don’t you totally should – @graysfanatomy) may remember in January I was at the United Centre watching the Blackhawks play the Rangers. I also lost a bet to my best heckler buddy, and Rangers fan, Maree (shout out) when the Blackhawks lost. Said loss resulted in me having to wear Maree’s Rangers jersey in NYC for 5 days and to 2 Rangers games – which turned out to be fun. True Rangers fans were on to me though, and I ended up being heckled when a group of guys around me decided I wasn’t excited enough, this realisation was followed with a “Wait – you’re not even a Rangers fan are you?” and me dropping my head and muttering “I lost a bet”. Good natured banter and free beers ensued, and by all accounts a grand time was had by all. Anyway, as usual I digress (it was just so fun!). The point I was getting to was that said Rangers jersey was in fact a Brad Richards Jersey – and now Brad Richards is a Blackhawk. TAKE THAT MAREE!

Brad Richards scrubs up very nicely indeed.

Suit Game = STRONG

BrandonSaad

Brandon Saad

Manchild nearly had it right…….then he wore pants that are too short. HOW DID YOU NOT NOTICE THIS?

Suit Game = WEAK

BrentSeabrook

Brent Seabrook

Not sure if Brent Seabrook was trying to look like he doesn’t really care to be there, but he certainly pulls it off. You know what else he pulls off? Slob. Bad hair, take away coffee, the suit doesn’t fit well, nor does his shirt – where are your cuffs?? Half an inch – that’s the minimum amount of cuff you should be showing MINIMUM. The tie is too long (a pet peeve of mine) although it is quite a nice knot. Also, why is there a puck in your pocket??

Gentleman! I beg you, close your jackets!

Suit Game = SO WEAK

CoreyCrawford

Corey Crawford

Hello Wall Street. Corey looks bang. No further comment.

Suit Game = STRONG

DanielCarcillo

Daniel Carcillo

I don’t like Daniel Carcillo. Therefore I don’t like his outfit. Next.

Suit Game = WEAK

DavidRundblad

David Rundblad

Well, hello handsome. Lovely hair, neat pocket square. I’m generally not keen on skinny ties, but this one werks.

Suit game = STRONG

DuncanKeith

Duncan Keith

Duncan Keith is adorable. His wife is one of the 2 luckiest women on the planet. I’m thinking though, that perhaps Dunc was hanging with his bash brother Brent Seabrook prior to this event since they both look like shit (SORRY DUNCAN!). Even Duncan’s hair looks unwashed. The suit itself is not horrible, could even be nice if tailored correctly, which it isn’t. craptie.com.

Suit Game = WEAK

JeremyMorin

Jeremy Morin

Yes! Faith in humanity restored. Look at those lovely cuffs. LOVELY. I’m choosing to ignore your Burberry tie since it is purple and not obviously Burberry. Close your jacket and you are perfect Jeremy Morin.

Suit Game = PADAWAN

JohnnyOduya

Johnny Oduya

Johnny Oduya is my birthday twin and on occasion my fantasy husband – but not in that suit. So, I’m not going to be too hard on him. But WTF is going on here? No, just no. Each piece is probably lovely on its own, but a godawful mess together.

Suit Game: WEAK

JonathanToews

Jonathan Toews

Here is Captain Serious, looking, well, serious – and like he is about to pull out an arabesque right there on the red carpet which would be sure to entertain the woman on the right there who looks way too happy to be in Tazer’s presence. I like what he has done here, the jacket is quite nice, though long in the sleeve.

Suite Game = STRONG

MarcusKruger

Marcus Kruger

Marcus Kruger could have walked straight from the pages of GQ magazine. Marry me.

Suit Game = THE STRONGEST

MarianHossa

Marian Hossa

Mama Gray’s favourite, both on the ice and in a suit – so I’ll need to be very careful with how I proceed. JK he is fabs – good enough to leave my father for Mum.

Suit Game = STRONG

NiklasHjalmarsson

Niklas Hjalmarsson

Niklas wins. This look is just lovely on him, although it is a little late in the year for a suit of that colour, and his trousers could really do with a belt. Still, two thumbs up.

Suit Game = JEDI MASTER

PatrickSharp

Patrick Sharp

Ah, the husband of the other luckiest woman on the planet. He’s a bit older than the other lads, hence the more classically styled suit, which works very nicely indeed on Mr. Sharp. I’m only going to pick at sleeve length cos ugh.

Suit Game = STRONG

PattyKane

Patrick Kane

My boy Paddy Kane. I can see cuff, of a very nice rose coloured shirt. Pant length is good, jacket is closed, what appears to be a very nice double windsor knot and shoes that don’t say “Look at me, I’m wearing shoes!”. Aye, he’s bonnie.

Suit Game = YODA

*

*

Okay, so if I have taught you people anything today let it be these things:

1. Always wear shirts with French Cuffs. ALWAYS.

2. A minimum of 2cm of cuff should be showing from your jacket.

3.  You will always look better with your jacket closed. You can unbutton it when you sit, but not before.

4. Your tie should reach your waistband or your belt buckle. If it is longer than that START AGAIN. DON’T BE LAZY.

5. For the love of all that is holy, have your suit properly tailored.

2014 Stanley Cup Final preview

As far as I’m concerned we have already seen the two best teams in the NHL play in this year’s post season, so everything else from here on out is pretty much just a formality. The Blackhawks and Kings did not disappoint, totally epic series. In related news, fuck you LA Kings.

Unfortunately, despite my firm belief that all teams other than original six teams don’t actually exist, the final series for Lord Stanley’s cup will see the Western Conference Champion Los Angeles Kings take on the Eastern Conference Champion New York Rangers in what is bound to be a yawn fest of goalie v goalie.

How they got here

The LA Kings have had a finals run for the ages. No other team has ever played three game 7s to make it through to the final, all of which were road wins, the last of which came against my 2013 Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks. The two prior series saw the Kings put away both San Jose and Anaheim in what were tough and physically demanding rounds against teams that were 5th and 2nd overall in the NHL at the end of the regular season.

The NY Rangers in comparison to the LA Kings have had a somewhat cruisy run to the final. The series versus the Flyers was as rough as everyone expected, the Pens suck, and Montreal seemed to just fall apart after their inspired win over the Bruins in the second round.

Who to watch for

For me, I expected Marian Gaborik of the LA Kings to have much more of an impact against the Blackhawks, but found he was surprisingly quiet. I doubt we will see the same thing this series when he comes up against his former team who traded him to Columbus before he wound up with the kings, expect him to start racking up the goals early if only to rub it in the faces of his past teammates.

Also expect Conn Smyth favourite D-Man Drew Doughty and (hot) Center Anze Kopitar to continue being as dangerous as they have been pervious rounds.

Jonathan Quick is tricky, when he is good, he is very very good. But when he has a meltdown, it can be spectacular. If the Rangers manage to rattle his cage enough for a meltdown, they could get away with a couple of wins this series. Quick rarely has difficulties two games in a row though so I doubt he will be the deciding factor.

For NY, Martin St. Louis will remain stoic as he plays for the Cup with his recently passed Mother on his mind. St.Louis, who was acquired by the Rangers this year has been brilliant since the loss of his mother, and his teammates have rallied around him and shown what a close team they are throughout. I expect this will continue to have some impact during the final series as the Rangers know what we know – they are the underdog.

Rick Nash seems to have found form as the post season progresses, NY will need him to be physical and accurate if they are to stand a chance against the Kings.

King Lundqvist. Need I say more. The Rangers will only stand a chance if he is nothing short of a brick wall.

So who ya got?

It is no secret that the Western Conference is a much deeper Conference and that the Kings had a much tougher task to make it to the finals. Their physically demanding run to the finals will likely show, and I expect them to drop a game early.

The times the Kings looked most vulnerable against the Blackhawks were when the Hawks forced the play to be speedy. If the Rangers, who are a very fast team, can keep the game fast and physical, it would definitely be an advantage to them.

Nonetheless, I have the LA Kings in 6.

An open letter to Network Ten Re: Sochi Olympic Ice Hockey Coverage.

Dear Network Ten,

You stink.

Your coverage of the Ice Hockey at the 2014 Sochi Olympics is nothing short of appalling and you should all be ashamed of yourselves. The Olympic Games is a special event and frankly, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) should really be stepping in at some point since you are limiting our viewing of said ‘special event’. Most of the hockey games are on in the middle of the night, which generally means the people who are watching are actual fans of the sport, so why short change us?

I mean really, must I see a bloody McDonalds’ advert just when Canada have a breakaway goal run? MUST I? Because I really would have preferred to see what happened with that play rather than be encouraged to add to Australia’s increasing obesity problem. The issue is not just that you are showing commercials at inopportune moments, it is the astounding frequency for which the commercials appear. Just horrible.

Don’t even get me started on the commentary. Who is that posh bastard anyway? He gets the player’s names wrong more often than he gets their names right, is frequently struggling to keep up with the game and listening to him is about as exciting as jamming thumbtacks into the soles of my feet. Seriously, it is better to have the TV muted than to listen to that.

Fortunately, you still have time to make amends during the qualification and finals rounds. I suggest asking the US network or Canadian network politely if we can tap into their commentary (both NBC and CBC have their NHL commentators in Sochi), and don’t switch to a commercial break UNTIL THERE IS A BREAK IN PLAY.

All we are really asking for is fluid coverage with minimal interruptions and commentary that is both exciting and knowledgeable. Sort it out.

Sincerely,

Jaime, on behalf of hockey fans everywhere.

 

Stanley Cup final preview – Chicago Blackhawks v Boston Bruins

Stanley Cup finals are a pretty special sporting event on their own. Add two ‘Original Six’ teams who’ve both won the Stanley Cup in the last three years. Mix in the fact that they’ve not met in the playoffs since 1979 and you know this series is going to be bigger than Brad Marchand’s nose.

Get excited.

How they measure up……

The Chicago Blackhawks are the President’s Cup winners for being the best team in the NHL and the number 1 seeded team in the Western Conference. The Boston Bruins come in as the number 4 seeded team in the East.

The Blackhawks beat out the Philadelphia Flyers to win the Lord Stanley’s Cup in 2010, with the Bruins taking the title off their hands against the Vancouver Canucks the following year, in 2011.

The Bruins, fresh off a clean sweep of the number 1 seed in the East, the Pittsburgh Penguins will face off against the Blackhawks still reeling in the momentum of their double overtime series win over defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Los Angeles Kings.

Both the Blackhawks and the Bruins have played one seven game series in these playoffs. Chicago against Detroit in the second round, and Boston against Toronto in the first. Both teams were dominant in their other series.

The teams did not play each other during the 2012 – 2013 truncated season due to the lockout.

Forwards

Bryan Bickell has been the wildcard player the Blackhawks needed in their post season. Not simply for the fact that the guy can find the back of the net, but also due to his physicality. Being a big lad, he is able to get up close to the net, and hold his position.

Patrick Kane found form at the right time, scoring a game and series winning hat trick in Game 5 against the LA Kings, becoming the first player to reach that level of awesomeness since Wayne Gretzky in 1993. With his speed and puck handling ability, if his hot streak continues he will be a danger to Boston this series.

Marian Hossa has been consistently outstanding along with Blackhawks top goal scorer Patrick Sharp whilst Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger have been fantastic fucking amazing on the penalty kill. Brandon Bollig has been added for Game 1 and will bring the brute to the fourth line.

The Bruins have two of the league’s top scorers in linemates, David Krejci and Nathan Horton with 21 points and 17 points respectively.

Patrice Bergaron is the epitome of a clutch player, and one of the best defensive forwards getting around. Not to mention his linemate Brad Marchand, the little guy who quite literally packs a big punch. Marchand frustrated the hell out of Sidney Crosby in the previous series, making him ineffective. Look for Johnny Toews to have his back checked more times this series than Amanda Bynes has been checked for STDs in the last month.

D-Men

Both Chicago and Boston have strong defence, and both have defenders that contribute offensively as well.

For Chicago, Duncan Keith has been invaluable, especially since being reunited with his bash brother Brent Seabrook in Game 5 of the Detroit series. Both are in great form these playoffs, and neither mind scoring goals.

Niklas Hjarlmasson in my opinion is totally underrated. He was fantastic last series, and isn’t afraid to put his body on the line to defend the net. Line mate Johnny Oduya is great in defence and great at getting up close to the net setting up scoring opportunities. These two legends have been killing penalties like bosses.

For Boston, Zdeno Chara was brilliant against Pittsburgh, and is arguably one of the best D-Men in the NHL. He was instrumental in the shut down of Evgeni Malkin in the Eastern Conference Final where the Penguins were held to just 2 goals.

For me though, he is the only stand out. His line mate Dennis Seidenberg is consistently good along with other defencemen Johnny Boychuck and Adam McQuaid.

Goaltenders

Corey Crawford for the Blackhawks has been wonderful for the Blackhawks. Crawford hasn’t won any games for the Hawks, but he hasn’t really been tested either. The Crow has a save percentage these playoffs of .935%.

Tukka Rask for the Bruins was phenomenal in their series against Pittsburgh, where the Pens were shut out in 2 of the 4 games. Rask stopped 134 of 136 shots on goal in the series and has a save percentage these playoffs of .934%.

Rask has faced 53 more shots these playoffs than Crawford.

So who ya got?

Due to the lockout, there were no crossover games for these teams at all, which of course means there is no basis for comparing these teams outside of statistics. In fact, the last time these teams met was in 2011. On paper, they appear to be fairly evenly matched, although Chicago have a slight defensive edge.

The Boston Bruins are a far more physical team than the Chicago Blackhawks and will use their size and strength in an attempt to neutralize the Hawks. I see them going WWE on Toews and Kane much the same way as the Detroit Redwings did in the second round. The Blackhawks figured out how to handle the Redwings then, and I’m confident they will do the same with Boston.

For the Blackhawks, the fact Patrick Kane seems to have found playoff form and is dangerous almost every time he has the puck in the offensive zone coupled with the fact that they have the home ice advantage and are virtually unbeatable in the Madhouse make them my favourite to win the Cup.

If Toews can keep his cool this finals series, and their defence holds, Blackhawks will win it in 6.

Game 1 is Wednesday at the United Center in Chicago 8pm ET (Thursday 10am AEST)

Susannah Collins’ Freudian slip gets her sacked.

Now this is just sad.

CSN Chicago Correspondent, Susannah Collins has been sacked after one of the best live blunders ever. While reporting on the Blackhawks’ win against the Minnesota Wild in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, an obviously excited Susannah remarked that the Blackhawks had enjoyed a “tremendous amount of sex”. She had meant to say success, not sex.

Whilst her initial observation may in fact be correct (lucky buggers), the word sex is apparently not television friendly, and poor Susannah was sacked as a result of the Freudian slip. Frankly, I thought it was awesome, she handled it well and the fun police just need to relax.

Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @jaimelouisegray

I like my hockey rough, but that was ridiculous!

236.

That is the number of combined penalty minutes earned by the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens in game 3 of the first round of The Stanley Cup playoffs. 236. That shit cray.

The third period of Sunday night’s game was so violent, I questioned how it was allowed to continue. There was a full line brawl and players punching on at every opportunity.

Of course, the center ice war today stems from the controversial hit on Canadien Lars Eller in game 1. Eric Gryba who laid the hit on Eller was subsequently suspended for 2 games, but the escalation of bad blood today shows that the incident has not been forgotten. Hold on to your hats people. This series is wild.

The penalty minutes in the third quarter went like this…..

Ryan White (MTL) 17 minutes, P.K Subban (MTL) 17 minutes, Colby Armstrong (MTL) 15 minutes, Jared Cowen (OTT) 15 minutes, Matt Kassian (OTT) 15 minutes, Francis Bouillon (MTL) 15 minutes, Chris Neil (OTT) 15 minutes, Travis Moen (MTL) 15 minutes, Chris Phillips (OTT) 15 minutes, Zack Smith (OTT) 15 minutes,  Jarred Tinordi (MTL) 15 minutes, Cory Conacher (OTT) 9 minutes, Rene Bourque (MTL) 8 minutes, Brendan Gallagher (MTL) 5 minutes, Kyle Turris (OTT) 5 minutes,  Brandon Prust (MTL) 4 minutes, Tomas Plekanec (MTL) 2 minutes, Sergei Gonchar (OTT) 2 minutes, Jean-Gabriel Pageau (OTT) 2 minutes.

Yeah. That happened.

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