Thursday, April 28, 2011

Round 2 Predictions

And here we go! Round 2 predictions for the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs


Vancouver Canucks vs Nashville Predators
This is by no means going to be the gutwrenching dramafest that Chicago-Vancouver was... I hope. I'm out of ativan, I can't take another epic battle like that. Nashville is a determined defensive team. They remind me a lot of the Minnesota of the past and lord knows the Canucks had trouble with that. But this is a new Canucks. And if they can ride the moment of the last win and harness mental power of banishing their demon (Hawks) then this should be a surmountable task. Mr. Underwood is no match for Mr. Kesler. Weber is their biggest threat but our D is more than one person deep and if they ALL (I'm looking at you Rome and Glass) work their hardest they'll be able to contain him fairly well. Plus we all know that SOB is a lose cannon. And Burrows as well as the rest of the Canucks know what buttons to push to set O'Brien off. If he takes stupid penalties (a given) we can capitalize.
Puckbunny predicts Canucks in 6.

Detroit Red Wings vs San Jose Sharks
I want this to be a big, grueling battle. I don't even care who wins in the end as long as it goes to 7 and both teams have to perform to their fullest to get a win. Why? Because I see both teams as a formidable opponent for my Canucks and I want whoever wins to be weary, weak and as depleted as possible. I think in the end, Detroit will win. Because if history teaches us anything it's that the Wings never ever give up and the Sharks always at some point do.
Puckbunny predicts Detroit in 7.


Washington Capitals vs Tampa Bay Lightning
I want Tampa to win. Yes, I am a Penguins fan and they just tore my heart out but the fact is, if the Pens had to go down it's better they go down to someone who doesn't just turtle in the next round. Makes the loss that much cheaper. And besides if the Caps were playing the Devil himself, I'd be in the stands with a pitchfork and horns. Anyone over the Caps. Anyone. That said, the Lightning aren't going to win this, sadly. Realistically they don't have the offensive power or the defensive strength that the Caps have. Well they do have it, but it takes them too long to capitalize on it. The Caps play fast and furious. The Lightning playing more of a thinking man's hockey, taking time to set stuff up and holding back more than rushing. It won't pay off like it did against the Pens (who were already exhausted from just making the post season with a injury-depleted roster).
Puckbunny predicts Caps in 6.

Boston Bruins vs Philadelphia Flyers
Boston just beat their arch nemesis and now have to face last year's demons. Not an easy ride. And their cheap shots and dirty plays are going to be equally matched by a team that wrote Cheap and Dirty Playbook. Difference is, Flyers also have some tried and true scoring talent (Briere). I think it's going to be a battle but I see Philly doing what the Hawks did to Vancouver last year - repeating history.
Puckbunny predicts Flyers in 6.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Round 1 Recap

Sigh. This was one hell of a bumpy ride for fans of just about every team in the NHL Playoffs. There were 14 Overtimes - 2 of them in Game 7 between the most heated rivalries of the Round. Here is my recap of Round 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Best Series
I have say this is a tie between the Canadiens-Bruins and the Blackhawks-Canucks. The games between the Habs and Bruins were much closer and more of a dogfight every night which made it exciting. However, the Canucks falling asleep in Games 4 and 5 and bringing their series against the Hawks to the brink of complete collapse and then grinding it out in OT in Game 7 makes it equally as compelling.
I guess if you put a gun to my head I would have to say the Canucks-Hawks was the best series, but I was at Game 7 and I'm a Canucks fan so.... my fiance (A Habs fan) would argue I'm sure.

Worst Series
I guess the Coyotes and Wings was a bit of a disappointment. I expected more of a fight from the Yotes, after all they had put up a much bigger one last year in the same match-up. Coyotes had it in them, but just couldn't find it in time. Honorable mention should go to the Anaheim - Predators match-up because anyone with a white hot scorer like Corey Perry should have advanced.

Best Playoff Beard
Another tie here. First I have to give props to Dan Hamhuis of the Vancouver Canucks (see top photo). He's got a beautiful baby face normally but the addition of a little scruff (that grows much more evenly than other baby faces like Sidney Crosby) makes him uber-sexy.
The person who ties him - Jordan Staal. Why? because he's Jordan Freaking Staal and with the Pens gone, I won't be able to say his name again on this blog so... Jordan Staal. But seriously folks, he went from zero to Amish in 7 games - and made it look hot. If you can make Amish look hot, you win Best Playoff Beard. End of Story.

Worst Playoff Beard
Shea Weber. The dude already looks like he's part sasquatch. It scares me. By the end of the 2nd round his whole face will be hair. He's going to have to shave eyeholes so he can see.

Biggest Irony
Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis bitching to the media about the refs not calling penalties thereby not giving his team enough Power Plays. Game 7 - Canucks get a Power Play and Jonathan Toews scores a shorthanded goal. That's Irony at its painful best folks.

Biggest Hero
Hands-down Alexandre Burrows of the Vancouver Canucks. What makes him the biggest hero is that he also almost became the biggest goat. He scores the first goal, then failed to score in a penalty shot, takes a penalty in OT, scores the winning goal. He should get his own damn Disney movie.

Biggest Goat
Anti Niemi. Yes the Sharks advanced but it wasn't from his lack of his trying to stop them. He was pulled twice in 3 games. He also had the worst save percentage (.863) of any starter in Round 1, and a lame 3.99 goals-against average.

Dirtiest Team
Let's be honest, there was a lot of dirty hits in all series. Too many. Torres, Bickell, Kunitz, Downie, etc. But the team that, in my opinion, played the dirtiest every night - with consistency - the Boston Bruins. I have never seen one team take so many dirty shots. A shoulder to the head, another face into the stanchion, and even a middle finger to the crowd. The only thing sicker than watching them play like that was watching their Rabid Ostrich of a captain chug a freaking coca-cola in the middle of the game. Barf.

History did NOT Threepeat Itself

We did it. I know this is only round one – at least it appears that way on the outside. But Canucks Nation and the players themselves know that beating the Hawks – is MUCH more than a first round victory. It’s a 3 year battle and we’re finally victorious.

The demon has been exorcised. The monkey is off our back. We did it.

There were a lot of brave words. A lot of confident tweets and tough talk but let’s be honest fans… we were all freaking terrified. We all knew they could do it. We just didn’t know if THEY knew they could do it.

Turns out while my tweets might have been bravado and hope, the Canucks words were truth and fact. For them it was just another game. One they knew they could win.

They came out hard and strong. They were physical and aggressive. And they never not once appeared or seemed defeated. I have to admit the irony was not lost on me when Mike Gillis complained about the lack of power plays and then Toews goes and ties it up shorthanded (on one of our power plays). It was clear to me right then the Hockey Gods had a sick sense of humor.

My Top 5 Moments of Game 7

1) Kesler owning Toews. I know people are complaining Kesler wasn’t scoring goals. But he was doing something else – he was containing Captain Serious. He was also checking the crap out of any Hawk he saw. He was attacking the puck. He was owning the zone. He was setting Burrows up. He was taking pucks to the head. Most importantly he kept his temper in check and was playing cold, hard smart hockey. He was a WARRIOR.

2) Alexandre Burrows – what can you say? He was the best of the game, he was the worst of the game. He was the game. I own a Burrows jersey. It’s my only Canucks jersey. I chose it for 3 reasons – We’re from the same suburb of Montreal. He’s a yippy chirpy guy and I love snarky plaayers. And last but not least when he gets angry or upset, he gets even. Burr may chirp or take a penalty but he also produces. Tonight was textbook Burrows.

3) Reliving the Gold. I wanted to go to the Gold Medal Olympic Men’s hockey game more than I wanted anything else in the world. I guess the Hockey Gods decided to give me a reenactment. I can say thanks now, but when the clock hit 1:56 and Toews shorthanded it past Luongo, I wanted to kill myself. As I waited impatiently for the break to end and OT to start I found myself staring at the stairs of Rogers Arena. They are still painted in the pastel blues and greens of the Olympic theme and then I realized…. Lu’s done this before. My confidence in our goalie swelled like the Grinch’s heart after that. And then Burrows pulled a Sidney Crosby and I screamed and cried. I actually cried.

I have a problem with Lu-haters who get angry that he said this felt better tha a gold medal. Put yourself in his pads people. He didn’t lose the Gold medl two yearsstraight to Team USA (he wasn’t even in goal when they beat us the first time in the series). But he DID have his playoff runs decimated 2 years in a row by the Hawks. Of course this feels like a bigger conquest. I more well-earned victory.

Top 3 Quotes
“I wanted this game more than the gold medal. Not to take anything away from the gold medal, its something really special" - Kesler

“This one might be better than the Olympics.” – Luongo

“I just want to thank the guys for killing that penalty early in OT.” - Burrows

Honorable Mention
Corey Crawford. The kid is a warrior. A king. A beast. The Hawks should be very proud and very happy that this guy is there’s. This was his first rodeo and he almost school the best team in the league. He is the single solitary reason we didn’t blow them out of the water in both Game 6 and 7. He stood on his head. I have to give him nothing but props. Great job Crawford.

On a personal note
A million thank-yous to my amazing friend Christy, who when she won Game 7 box seats, invited me to go with her. It was honestly the best hockey game I have ever seen live and in-person in my life. Truth. Christy, you are a rockstar. Thank you.

Now who wants to join me for a round of drinks at The Roxy? Shane O’Brien , I’m looking at you…..

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dear Vancouver Canucks

Dear Vancouver Canucks,

When you hear your fans bitching and moaning and the media crucifying you I want you to understand why. We’re confused. We don’t understand this at all. It's making us sad, scared and depressed.

What pisses me off and makes me feel sick to my stomach is that you, Vancouver, don’t just lose a playoff game, you completely and utterly meltdown. You implode. You disintergrate.

If these losses were 3-2 or 5-4 I wouldn’t be this panicked or this upset. A 7-2 loss and a 5-0 loss are worse than the collapses the Rangers and the Kings have suffered so far this round – where they give up 3 or 4 goal leads. The reason? At least the Rangers and Kings showed up. You, my dear sweet Canucks, may as well not have left the dressing room for game 4 and 5 against Chicago.

I don’t coach hockey – never have. I don’t even play hockey – never have. Hell I don’t even sleep with hockey players (shocking, I know) so I admit I have absolutely no insight on how this type of all-encompassing breakdown in mental and physical play can happen to a team that won EVERYTHING and NEVER gave up on ANYTHING for 6 months.

(If anyone has a logical explanation for why this happens to the canucks, please – I am begging you – enlighten me.)

I don’t want to pick on Kesler or Burrows who are yet to produce this series. I don’t want to pick on the Sedins who have been better than last year but that just means they’ve been sporadic instead of non-existent. And I don’t even want to pick on the defense – mostly because I was taught not to talk ill of the dead. And I definitely do NOT want to pick on Luongo. I just don’t. It's not about one performance - you're a team - and you need to start playing like one again. So if Kes doesn't score, Hansen does. If the Sedins don't check, Oreskovich does. If Burrows misses a shot, Edler nails the rebound. You remember those days don't you? We do, because it was just last week!

But I will say this to you my Canucks....

After getting blown right out of Game 4 you all went to the media and said the fans were panicking needlessly. That the world was not ending. You didn’t expect to win the cup 16-0. That fans and media were being irrational. The loss was "not a big deal"

You made me feel bad for doubting you, despite your history. So I bit my lip and believed in you. Trusted you. I was confident and excited at puck drop for Game 5.

So now YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO ME CANUCKS: getting blown out of Game 5 - AKA not showing up for 2 games in a row - THAT is a BIG DEAL.

You need to wake the hell up and figure out where your regular season mojo went and get it back – NOW. No more of this crap. The Hawks are not better than you. They’re just trying harder. They aren't winning the games - YOU are losing them! That means you have no one to blame but yourself. So FIX IT.

I believe you can win this series. But I also believe that if you fall apart like this in Round 2 or Round 3 or (please Hockey Gods) the Stanley Cup Final – you won’t get a chance to bounce back.

So figure it out now, kick the Hawks asses, and don’t do it again. Okay? Okay.

Thanking you in advance,


Sunday, April 10, 2011

2011 Round One Playoff Predictions


Capitals – Rangers
On paper this prediction makes me crazy. And to be honest I jumped back and forth with this one. The Caps had the better season. But the Caps always have the better season and are yet to perform at that level in the post. The Rangers work harder and are used to fighting for their lives. Just like Montreal last year, that type of gumption and unrelenting fortitude will undo the Dirty Russian and the rest of the Caps.
Rangers take it in 7

Flyers – Sabres
Flyers will murder the Sabres. They’ve got more talent and experience. Not that I care either way, which is why this synopsis is so short. I refuse to care about the Flyers. I’m hoping if I ignore them, they will go away. (Yes, I’m a 12 year old).
Flyers take it in 4

Bruins – Canadiens
This one is hard for me. According to my Hab-obsessed fiancĂ©, the Canadiens have only fallen to the Bruins 7 of the 24 times they’ve met in playoffs. But my burning concern is Carey Price. He’s been known to turtle under pressure and Halak is not there to save him, or the team when they start slow like they tend to do. But I will throw caution and fear to the wind and go with my fiancĂ© and my other Habs guru – my dad. My dad says Habs in 5 so I say Habs in 5. Let’s hope father knows best.
Canadiens take it in 5

Penguins – Lightning
This one is probably the biggest guess of all, theoretically. The two teams have never met in playoffs before. I know some people are saying it’ll be Lightning because Stamkos and Lecavalier aren’t playing against Crosby or Malkin. But they ARE playing Kennedy and Staal. Talbot and Kunitz and most importantly Marc-Andre Fleury. Penguins have shown all year that they don’t hang their hope on The Kid and Russian Frankenstein and that won’t change in post. They’ll grind and dig and shoot and push and Flower will stand on his adorable French Canadian head.
Penguins take it in 6


Canucks – Blackhawks
First things first, if this was a shirtless player competition, Kesler would annihilate Kane. (See photographic evidence to the right) But since it’s not I have to use different logic and here it is: Canucks aren’t the team they were in previous years – they’re better. On top of that, and maybe more importantly – Hawks are not the same team. Sure they still have Kane and Toews but gone is they’re giant, annoying secret weapon against the Canucks – Dustin Byfuglien. Sure they’ll stick the next fattest person they have in Lu’s face but Lu has tweaked his style, sitting back farther in his crease. Most importantly, the Vancouver Canucks’ mindset is a very different beast this year. Canucks come back from behind, push through bad losses and never give up until the final buzzer. The Hawks, without head games and big fat Buff, won’t threepeat raining on our parade.
Canucks take it (finally!) in 5

Sharks – Kings
This one is simple for me. Sharks all the way. Although they do, like clockwork meltdown at some point in the playoffs, it won’t be against the Kings. The Kings have raw talent in Quick, Doughty, Simmonds and Stoll but the key word is “raw”. LA won’t have the emotional aptitude to be a real threat to a bunch of veterans who are no strangers to this dogfight.
Sharks take it in 4

Red Wings – Coyotes
I want the Coyotes to win this. But they won’t. The Wings have age as both an asset and a deficit. It means they’re like to suffer injury and exhaustion before other teams, but it also means they’re players play smarter than a team stack with youngins’ like the Yotes. Although Coyotes will put up a might good fight because they are young and tough and because they’ve played the Wings in playoffs before. But in the end, even without Zetterberg, the Wings will prevail.
Wings take it in 6.

Predators – Ducks
This is the hardest match-up in the West for me to predict. The Predators are a defensive wall. They shut down and wear down their opponents. The big question is will they be able to do that to Corey Perry, one of the hottest streaking scorers in the league? I say yes. Barely but yes.
Preds take it in 7