Tag Archives: Pittsburgh Penguins

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.

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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)

We all love a quickie…

As usual, I have an unrelenting urge to climb up on my high horse and get my rant on. But since I have questionable time management skills, this is just a quickie on the things that have caught my interest this week…..and no, I’m not going to talk about the NCAA Championship game yesterday, it will get a post of its very own when I give up the procrastination.

Knicks are streaking

The New York Knicks are on a 12 game winning streak (apparently it’s the year for streaking) thanks to Carmelo Anthony who has been carrying the team with an occasional assist from JR Smith. Melo has shot at 61 % in the last four games. Yawn. Call me when they get to 27 and I may or may not pretend to be excited. I do not believe they will be title contenders, so I’m only mildly interested in this streak.

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs

The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks are both locked into the Stanley Cup playoffs (go hawks!). Yeah, I ordered my Patrick Kane jersey today to commemorate the occasion. I noted, importantly I might add, that both Patrick Kane and Dale Jr. compete with the number 88, and both are legends. Coincidence? I think not.

Kyle Larson doing double duty this weekend

Kyle Larson can add mind reader to his list of talents since apparently he read mine last week when I was thinking how much I would like to see him race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series again. This week it was announced that Larson would race the #30 Autism Speaks Chevy Silverado for Turner Scott Motorsports at Rockingham this Sunday in the NCWTS. Should be cray cray.

Danica is a two trick pony

Danica Patrick had a really good day in Martinsville last Sunday finishing 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP Gas Booster 500 exceeding expectations. Even her Crew Chief didn’t expect her to finish in the top 25 and most assumed she would go a few laps down at the paperclip. Unfortunately for us viewing the race, Danica’s good day meant we had to suffer through more painful banter as Darrell Waltrip further proved that he has an unhealthy obsession with Danica. Mate, ask the girl out and be done with it.

The Gronk to go under the knife…..again

Rob “The Gronk” Gronkowski, tight end for the New England Patriots may need a fourth surgery on his injured forearm, which may render him unavailable for the start of the NFL season. This should be a major concern for the Patriots. Whilst New England are not short of tight ends, The Gronk is, well, The Gronk, and not easily replaced. Not having the ability to replace a talent like Gronkowski will limit the Patriot’s offensive options….especially since they just lost their safety blanket receiver Wes Welker to Denver.

Seattle signs back-up QB

Staying with NFL, The Seattle Seahawks have agreed to terms with Brady Quinn, who will join the Hawks from the Kansas City Chiefs. The former Notre Dame Alum will be QB Russell Wilson’s backup. I don’t know much about this guy, but it’s safe to say I’m happy after all those Tim Tebow rumors started flying around. Anyone but Tebow!

That’s all I’ve got for now. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @jaimelouisegray

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I’m dying to rant….

I’m abroad – thus, keeping up with stuff is enormously difficult. Also I have massive FOMO (fear of missing out) and rightfully so….Europe seems to have an aversion to showing sports other than soccer and tennis. So unreasonable.

Here are the bits and pieces that have really caught my attention.

Pens Streaking

The Pittsburgh Penguins are at 11 straight wins in the NHL, looking very good for the Stanley Cup eh?

Have I mentioned Kyle Larson?

Kyle Larson, my new favorite race car driver came second in the NNS race at Bristol last weekend, and he is looking the goods this weekend at Fontana especially after his World of Outlaws win last night! So excited for this kid!

Kahne wins at Bristol.

Hendrick Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne won the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol last weekend in his #5 Great Clips Chevy SS. Everyone who knows me is aware of my stalkerish tendencies towards Kasey, so needless to say I was jumping around my hotel room in Rome after reading that he had won. Really looking forward to watching the race. It’s a shame that idiots like Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin got more post race publicity than Kahne…..but I digress.

Australian Grand Prix

Kimi Raikkonen won the F1 season opener in Melbourne last weekend. My fellow countryman, Mark Webber is off to a slow start finishing 6th in the Australian Grand Prix, and qualifying 5th for the Malaysian Grand Prix after an issue with tyre changing (forgot to come in? Oops, his bad). Vettel is on pole for this race.

Blackhawks lose to Ducks

The Chicago Blackhawks lost to the Anaheim Ducks yesterday. I have a problem with this for 2 reasons……

1. The Blackhawks are so much better than this, and;

2. The Anaheim Ducks are not really a team, as far as I’m concerned. They were created by Disney for a movie and shouldn’t count. Jonathan Toews – Oh Captain, My Captain…..save us from this.

March Madness

March Madness…..gosh. Where to begin?? I want to go into this in much more detail, so I’ll be brief. Basically, my mother and I just needed an entire bottle of wine to discuss our sweet 16 since our brackets are pretty messed up (I’m looking at you St.Marys and Gonzaga). I still have Louisville for the win. Mama Gray is on Michigan.

NFL Free Agency

NFL free agency began on March 11. Notable moves: Wes Welker from the Patriots to the Broncos (huge move, and makes the Broncos look infinitely more dangerous for 2013), Jake Long from the Dolphins to the Rams, Mike Wallace from the Steelers to the Dolphins, Greg Jennings from the Packers to the Vikings, Cliff Avril from the Lions to the Seahawks (Go Hawks), Keenan Lewis from the Steelers to the Saints and Reggie Bush from the Dolphins to the Lions. Aquib Talib has agreed to terms with the Patriots for another year.

Miami Heat continue winning streak

The Miami Heat, still streaking! That makes it 25 games and makes LeBron MVP of the world.

Ok, Paris is calling. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @jaimelouisegray