Friday, September 24, 2010

2010-2011 Playoff Predictions

Okay, this is it. I’ve consulted my tarot cards, my magic eight ball, my lucky Chihuahua foot and sacrificed a goat (don’t worry San Fermin friends, it’s not the goat from Pamplona).

And here it is. My predictions for the 2010-2011 NHL Season.

New Jersey Devils
Washington Capitals
Pittsburgh Penguins
Buffalo Sabres
Florida Panthers
Boston Bruins
New York Rangers
Toronto Maple Leafs
Philadelphia Flyers
Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators
Tampa Bay Lightning
Atlanta Thrashers
New York Islanders
Carolina Hurricanes

I know, I love to watch them fail too, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are actually going to see the benefits of Brian Burke’s hard, smart work this year. A full season with JS Giguere will help as will the addition of Phaneuf and Versteeg. The Rangers will make the cut this year, as long as Gaborik isn’t sidelined by injuries. The Pens will continue rely on the Russian Frankenstein, Evgeni Malkin and the Canada’s Golden Child (and my not-so secret crush) Sidney Crosby. The Devils will be the only surprise here. They’ll not only do well (they always do well) but this year they’ll take top honours with the help of Kovalchuk, Jason Arnott, Patrick Elias and Olympic Silver medallist Zach Parise. In not surprising news, Pierre Gauthier’s gamble on Price won’t payoff. Despite the best efforts of Gionta, Gomez and the gang, the Canadiens won’t come close to the playoffs this year.

Detroit Red Wings
Vancouver Canucks
Chicago Blackhawks
San Jose Sharks
Los Angeles Kings
St. Louis Blues
Phoenix Coyotes
Calgary Flames

Anaheim Ducks
Minnesota Wild
Colorado Avalanche
Nashville Predators
Columbus Blue Jackets
Edmonton Oilers
Dallas Stars
Shocked? I know a lot of people think the Bad News Bears story of the Phoenix Coyotes last year was a One Hit Wonder thing but I disagree. Maybe the limbo state of their club gives them a chance to focus more on hockey and less on hockey politics. Whatever the reason they work harder than most and it will pay off again. Vancouver’s acquisition of Malholtra will be a key in their success and I see Torres also making a big positive impact. The Flames are angry about last season and that’ll be enough to push them into playoff ranks. The Kings young, fresh line up will only be made stronger by vetran Willie Mitchell, if he stays healthy, and they have 2 solid goaltenders in Joanathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier.

Devils over Leafs – this will be easy.
Capitals over Rangers – not as easy but still not hard
Penguins over Bruins – quick and easy.
Panthers over Sabres – the upset.

Wings over Flames – but Calgary puts up a fight.
Canucks over Coyotes – I see this being easy.
Hawks over Blues – Halak won’t be able to do it all himself this year.
Kings over Sharks – the biggest surprise and longest fight of the round.

Devils over Panthers – not a hard series.
Penguins over Capitals – It’s a simple case of good over evil. Superman over Lex Luthor. Hot over Ugly. Crosby over Ovehckin.

Wings over Kings – It won’t be easy though.
Canucks over Hawks - FINALLY! With the C off Luongo’s back – and Dustin Byfuglien out of his playoff crease he’s bound to finally live up to his hype – and paycheck.

Devils over Penguins – I heart you Sid, but this isn’t going to be your year (again).

Canucks over Wings – 7 nailbiting games but Vancouver will prevail.

Canucks over Devils.

Canuck’s goalie bailed out Team Canada when the Devil’s goalie melted down. Brodeur is on his last legs. With the “C” off Luongo’s back, he’s bound to finally fully live up to his hype – and paycheck. And after 40 years of failure…. Vancouver will finally do it.

Please keep in mind that I’m a Canucks-Habs fan so for me to predict anyone else would be ridiculous. The Habs made moves so stupid even I can’t pretend they’ll succeed this year, but Vancouver – even with the GM from Hell, Mike Gillis – are making smarter moves. They’ve kept a core of solid performers together and added Torres, Malholtra and Schneider is ready to be a solid back-up goalie. If we don’t have it this year, it’ll be another 40 years.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The "C" word

So Vancouver's beloved LUUUUUUU gave up the big "C". If your shocked by this, you're an idiot. The media was buzzing after last season that it should be removed but Gillis - the General Manager from hell - had always said the decision would be Luongo's. And Monday before training camp Luongo gave up the "C". He told reporters; "I enjoyed the experience. It was fun. I took a lot of pride in it, and that was one of the main reasons it was tough for me to come to this decision."

Mike Gillis, GM from H, of course said that Bobby Lou made the right decision and Luongo can now solely focus on winning instead of dealing with heightened pressure and expectations.


I'm not hopeful that this'll improve the Vancouver Canucks chances at winning a Stanley Cup but that's because I don't blame the goalie for the perpetual Playoff meltdowns. I think it has more to do with Vingeault's coaching style, Gillis bad decisions off the ice (I'm looking at you Andrew Alberts) and the coma nap that the Canucks defense and the Sedin twins take every year.

All this really does - IMO - is give the future Captain a chance to blame the goalie.

And who is that future Captain of the Vancouver Canucks? Nobody knows yet.

Other teams tend to let the players vote on the Captain position. When Roberto Luongo was given the "C" it was the sole decision of Coach Vingeault and GM (from Hell) Gillis. No one has explained how the new Captain will be chosen. Personally I think it should be voted on by the players but knowing Gillis he'll make the decision himself, and screw it up again.

Since he can't make his decisions, I will make mine. Let's talk about the players who are rumored to be in the running.

First off we have newbie Canucks Dan Hamhuis and Manny Malholtra. Their names are running around in the rumor mill because they're "league veterans". But they aren't Canuck veterans. If they haven't proven themselves with the team or with the fans of that team they shouldn't have the "C". End of story.

Other potentials include Ryan Kesler. Seriously?! Gillis is going to make a 25 year old hot-head, with a reputation of being a diva and a baby Captain? Why not give it to Burrows then? Or Shane O'Brien? Princess Kesler makes about as much sense. Forget it.

Think I'm wrong? Put it this way, just before the Olympic gold medal hockey game a reporter asked a bunch of the Canucks which of their teammates they wanted to see grab the gold. Kevin Bieksa's told the reporter he wanted to see Luongo win and not just because he was Canadian, but because Kesler was his roommate on the road and he would be INTOLERABLE with a gold medal.

I'm betting that applies to a "C" on his jersey too.

Another rumor - the twins.

Personally I think Henrik or Daniel Sedin are solid choices. I lean more towards Henrik because I think he's come out of his shell more in the last few years. Especially with the goal streak. He's learned to be articulate and he's handled the spotlight just fine. And I know people moan that the Swedish are too quiet to be Captain, (Marcus Naslund blah, blah, blah) But do we really need a loud mouth? If Gillis and Vingeault get their act together then the Canucks' actions on the ice won't need so much explaining/apologizing off the ice.

My other choices, that the rumor mill is ignoring, are Kevin Bieksa and Mikael Samuelsson.

Bieksa is comfortable speaking publicly and I personally think he's a good player and hello, eye candy. If the Canucks are going to turtle again this season at least give me something pretty to look at. I know that he's rumored to be traded - like every 5 minutes - but keep him and give him the "C" trade someone ugly instead.

Samuelsson doesn't have any issue speaking his mind - just ask the Swedish Olympic hockey team he was left off of. He's blunt, to the point and honest. We need that. Nothing annoys me more than Captains that pussyfoots around stuff. Also, he's been a pretty strong, solid force on the Canucks. He's got grit. He's got a voice. What's the problem here?

And last but not least, they could always give it to Sammi Salo since he's always injured he'll have lots of time to address any questions the world might have! And then at least we'd be paying him to do something other than hobble around on crutches.

If you're uncertain why I think Mike Gillis is the GM from Hell, because our tanking and his bad decisions (like Alberts, giving Luongo the C, etc) aren't enough. Here is further proof: At the press conference, Gillis hinted that the Canucks could start the season without a Captain.

It's that hard a decision for the idiot? Really? Again, just leave it up to the players.

My prediction is if we start a season without a Captain, we won't even MAKE the playoffs. The Canucks are a very emotional team and they need a centre from the get-go.

I also predict if Gillis doesn't pick a Captain before the season starts then he's waiting so that Hamhuis and Malholtra can play a few - so they can appear to earn the "C" he'll give one of them.

If he picks a Captain before the start of the season, I'm betting it's Kesler. Because it would be the wrong choice and I don't see Gillis ever making a right one.

Who should it be? Henrik Sedin or Samuelson.

Guess we can do nothing but wait.

(If I'm right about any of my predictions then I'll be setting up a 1-900 Psychic Hotline. Feel free to ask me anything... for a $1.99 a minute, of course.)