Tag Archives: Stanley Cup

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.

Have you met the Minnesota Wild’s gun Goaltender?

So, I discovered something this morning, and I have a feeling I am very (very) slow on this. Still, I think it is worth mentioning since it is likely to be THE best story to come out of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Minnesota Wild v Chicago Blackhawks. Game 1. The Minnesota Wild lose regular starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom to injury…..during warm-up. Bring on back up goaltender, Josh Harding, (who had only played in 5 games this season) just minutes before the opening game of the playoffs.

The Blackhawks admitted they knew very little about Josh Harding. When asked if the Blackhawks had spent much time before the series examining Harding, Patrick Kane said “No”.

Stopping a remarkable 35 shots during the game, Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews commented post match that Harding’s effort was “nothing short of amazing”.

The Blackhawks came away with the win 2-1 in overtime. But without the exceptional goaltending of Josh Harding, the score line could have been much greater.

The most impressive part of this story, is that Josh Harding suffers from Multiple Sclerosis (MS), an auto-immune disease which affects the central nervous system. Symptoms include muscle weakness, spasm, fatigue and cognitive impairment. Harding publicly announced his condition during the lockout to avoid distracting saying:

It would make me happy to overcome this……..to really succeed with it. I don’t want people treating me different.

Phenomenal.

The only thing that bothers me about this is Harding’s failure to acknowledge his disease post-match. On one hand I understand that he didn’t want the whole sympathy thing to overshadow his brilliant performance, he wants to be seen as a hockey player, not a victim and when questioned post-match about the MS, he responded with “No comment”. However, on the other hand it would have been nice to allow himself to be the inspiration everybody is writing him up to be despite his protests. If you are going to be hailed as an inspiration, own it.

Regardless, the publicity generated by Harding’s performance coupled with fact that he suffers MS, can only be seen as positive for the cause. So a job well done to him whether he owns it or not.

I’m pretty sure we will all be cheering for him to continue his good form. Well, maybe not us Blackhawks fans (we’ll be doing it quietly).

 

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