Tuesday, April 26, 2011

2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Lots of interesting stuff in the playoffs thus far...

Western Conference

Detroit def. Phoenix 4-0 - Goodness gracious, the Wings looked solid.

San Jose def. Los Angeles 4-2 - As a Sharks fan, I'm of course glad they won, but didn't see much to inspire confidence going into the later rounds. Very interesting piece Sharks-Kings piece on shooting at a goalie's pads from Puck Daddy at Yahoo Sports.

Nashville def. Anaheim 4-2 - Always happy to see Anaheim lose, but I have a hard time being sold on the Preds chances.

Chicago & Vancouver 3-3 - What a series... great players, panicked coaches (well, Vancouver coach), potential monster comeback from 3-0. It's been fantastic viewing.

Eastern Conference

Washington def. New York Rangers 4-1 - Heck of a team those Capitals are.

Boston leading Montreal 3-2 - I think the Canadiens cooked, but not overly impressed with the Bruins.

Pittsburgh & Tampa Bay 3-3 - Really good series... regardless of who wins, I think it would be tough sledding if a matchup with Washington awaits. Now, either Boston or Montreal... could be a different story.

Philadelphia & Buffalo 3-3 - Another good series, but not sure that it would be if the Flyers were able to get decent goaltending. To that point, amazed that Sergey Bobrovsky didn't even warrant a backup goalie spot for games 3-6 of the series.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

NHL Playoff Predictions

My thoughts on the teams I expect to be in the conference finals come playoff time... along with those that I could see making it:

Western Conference

Elite teams
Vancouver Canucks - serious Stanley Cup contender. Have all the pieces needed.
Detroit Red Wings - see Canucks, Vancouver. A very good team.

Next level
San Jose Sharks - playing well now, but at this point any deep playoff run would surprise me. As a Sharks fan, it would be great to be surprised.
Dallas Stars - I just have a hard time being convinced.
Anaheim Ducks - sort of like the Stars... I don't see them being elite right now without both Pronger and Neidermayer.
Colorado Avalanche - not sold on the goaltending.

Eastern Conference

Elite Team
Philadelphia Flyers - excellent hockey team.

Next level
Boston Bruins - I can't shake the memory of them losing a playoff series last year after being up three games to none.
Pittsburgh Penguins - good team with current healthy parts, but not a great one.
Washington Capitals - think there's a reason they just never break through.
Montreal Canadiens - not a great team, but seems to do the best they can with the skill they've got.
Tampa Bay - looking at next year, me thinks.

Right now, I'd say things point towards a Vancouver - Philadelphia Cup Finals... with the experience from last season pushing the Flyers just over the top.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Steve Rushin on Hockey for Sports Illustrated

Been quite a while since I've posted to this blog (as online writing efforts have been directed here), but recently came across an excellent piece of hockey writing.

From the Sports Illustrated website (maybe just even the mobile version of SI based on the link), was "Hooked on Hockey Again" by Steve Rushin. He's a solid writer and while short, the piece captures some of the elements of tradition I find endearing as well around the game.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs - On To Round Two

Interesting stuff out of the first round of the playoffs. To whit...

Western Conference

#1 San Jose Sharks def. #8 Colorado Avalanche 4 games to 2
Very compelling series for me as a Sharks fan. Best way to describe it is I'm pleased as punch with how San Jose dealt with adversity (in the form of unlucky bounces and great Colorado goaltending) and kept plugging away. I am a bit nervous at how bad the team's presumed best player in Joe Thornton looked, but was thrilled to see Joe Pavelski play so well. To the end, I also think about the absolute monster goal he scored in OT of game 4 to knot up the series at 2. If Colorado takes that game, there's a lot of ways for them to win the series with a 3-1 lead. However, they didn't, he did, and the better team moved on.

#2 Chicago Blackhawks def. #7 Nashville Predators 4 games to 2
Not much to say... I think the better team won and while it's true that Nashville came within 20 seconds of taking a 3-2 series lead, I suspect Chicago would have still found a way to win in 7 games.

#3 Vancouver Canucks def. #6 Los Angeles Kings 4 games to 2
The Kings have a good young team and played pretty well, but similar to the Chicago series, the better of the two teams moved on.

#5 Detroit Red Wings def. #4 Phoenix Coyotes 4 games to 3
Differered from the other three Western Conference series in that it went the full 7 games, but similiar in that the more skilled and playoff tested team just proved too much for their opponent.

Eastern Conference

#8 Montreal Canadiens def. #1 Washington Capitals 4 games to 3
Wow, an 8 seed being down 3 games to 1 and coming back to win the series. Amazing stuff that gets perhaps less amazing when you consider they did it through crazy good goaltending from Jaroslav Halak. An average of 45 shots a game in these three with... 3 goals allowed, that's pretty good.

# 7 Philadelphia Flyers def. #2 New Jersey Devils 4 games to 1
The only one of the 8 series to end in less than 6 games... and pretty much everyone would have thought the winner of a short series here would be the Devils. Happy it wasn't though as I'm much more interested in watching the Flyers in round two than I would be New Jersey.

#6 Boston Bruins def. #3 Buffalo Sabres 4 games to 2
Great goaltending beats... great goaltending. Not much more to say as I didn't watch a lot of this one (and none of the Flyers-Devils series which didn't have any coverage on Versus), but I do like the idea of the Canadiens, Flyers and Bruins as steep in history teams advancing.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins def. #5 Ottawa Senators 4 games to 2
Very much like each of the 4 series in the West, the better team just proved too much for a pretty game opponent. Actually, the only Eastern series in which the higher seed (and presumably better team) wound up winning. Also, that Sidney Crosby... he's good.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Vancouver Olympics Men's Hockey - All Done

Just for posterity's sake (because I liked writing and want to keep track of it)... linking here to a post I wrote after Canada won in OT against the U.S. in the Gold Medal hockey game...

Chip Kelly Oregon Ducks Piece from CNNSI

This of course isn't hockey-related, but I've posted football stuff on this blog previously so when I think about linking here to a story about my beloved Oregon Ducks football, I say "why the heck not?"

The Ducks have been very much in the news lately with multiple players arrested for various legal transgressions (and at least one already booted off the team)... and now there's news about the two most acclaimed current Duck players, Jeremiah Masoli and LaMichael James. James suspending for a game and (Heisman hopeful QB) Masoli for the entire season.

The extent of my knowledge about each case has been (and for the most part still is) limited to knowing that Masoli plead guilty to a charge of felony (reduced to a misdemeanor with his plea) burglary with the theft of a laptop and James plead guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge after an incident with an ex-girlfriend.

This being said, I had no huge opinion about each case except for how they both relate to my twin views I have about (1) athletes on the teams I follow and (2) what I want from said teams followed.

The first is that I recognize that because someone plays for "my team", it does not make them a good guy... some people are just plain bad guys (see: Phillips, Lawrence who played for the 49ers among other teams). Because they're on my team, I don't have to have any illusions that they're somehow a cut above any "riff-raff types who play on teams I don't root for".

The second view is in a way contradictory, but... not really. When I think about my fandom for a given team, it's great for me to think that "my guys" might win a Stanley Cup/World Series/BCS Title, but the more important thing to me is that I be entertained and happy when I'm paying attention.

Yes, part of being entertained is certainly having a good team that's headed towards a championship goal, but part is also my not feeling embarrassed about the guys who are on the field. It's one thing entirely to know that everyone I want to succeed isn't someone I personally admire, but would be another to think that someones skill level gives them a completely different set of rules than apply to the rest of the team (see: Phillips, Lawrence and his Nebraska Cornhusker playing time after a bevy of domestic violence episodes). Basically, all I ask of the players on teams I support is that they try hard, live up to (or exceed) abilities and don't embarrass me to cheer for them... basically, entertain me.

Back to the issue at hand with said Oregon Ducks... I'm certainly not saying Masoli and James are bad dudes, in fact they may be great upstanding guys, but am saying that they have to be held to the same standards that would apply to less skilled players... with those standards hopefully being ones that would cause the University or fans that cheer for it's teams to not be embarrassed. It's not that I cheer the suspension of either (with Masoli's of course having more impact), but I am happy that Athletic Director Mike Bellotti and Head Coach Chip Kelly (with I imagine the input of University President Richard Lariviere) made decisions that don't seem to simply pander to the talent and potential for success on the field.

All of this said... I agree completely with (and enjoyed reading) Andy Staples from his tongue in cheek titled "Coach's decision a head-turner" on CNNSI. Solid.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Vancouver Olympics Men's Hockey - U.S. & Canada Advance

Not to take anything away from Finland's defeat of the Czech Republic or the Sweden-Slovakia game going on now, but man... those victories by first the U.S. and then Canada were interesting today.

The U.S. game stood out to me not because of the high number of American shots on goal (44) or yet another great game from Ryan Miller (this a 2-0 shutout), but because of the reckless abandon with with the U.S. players blocked shots. It seemed to be a "no, I want to get in front of this one" contest with every member of the team sacrificing their body to help get the win. Impressive stuff.


Speaking of impressive stuff... that Team Canada offensive really hit it's (fully anticipated) stride against Russia. Six goals against Evgeni Nabokov (who didn't have a good game) and one more against Ilya Bryzgalov should be enough to get the win, and it was to the tune of 7-3. While he may not get a lot of accolades from the game, Roberto Luongo deserves notice for his keeping Canada off the board during an early first period power play with probably five to six shots against him. If Russia scores early, perhaps their offense really starts rolling.

So... on to the Semifinals for both teams. The U.S. will face a Finland team led by goalie Mikka Kiprusoff and Canada either Slovakia or Sweden (a Gold Medal pick of more than a few people). Hopefully the Americans and Canadians both advance to what would be a highly anticipated (and hopefully shown live on NBC) Olympic Final.

The odds of the U.S. beating Canada twice in the same tournament wouldn't be good, but then... they don't have to be in order for it to still happen.

NBC U.S. Olympic Hockey West Coast Coverage

U.S. vs Switzerland today in the Men's Hockey Olympic quarterfinals... on NBC... TAPE DELAYED ON THE WEST COAST.

I learned from this story on Puck Daddy at Yahoo! Sports and then went out to the NBC website for this information (noted below):

Time (PT)

3:00p - 5:00p
NBC Bay Area
Daytime After posting a stunning 5-3 upset of Canada on Sunday, Ryan Miller and Team USA return to the ice to take on Switzerland for a spot in Hockey's semifinals.

4:00p - 7:00p

Men's Hockey After losing to Team USA, 5-3, on Sunday, Sidney Crosby and Canada bounced back with an 8-2 win over Germany on Tuesday. Now Crosby and the home-ice favorites take on Alexander Ovechkin and Russsia for a spot in the semifinal round.

7:00p - 9:30p

Men's Hockey In the day's third elimination game, Jaromir Jagr and the Czech Republic square off against Finland for a spot in the semifinal round.

9:30p - 11:30p
Men's Hockey The fourth and final semifinal spot is on the line in the day's last win-or-go-home contest. Sweden and Slovakia square off live as Olympic Hockey continues.


US game being aired at 3:00PST after it's already completed and then the Canada game at 4:00PST. Yea, I'm sure for those hockey fans without DVRs, they wouldn't want to see both the US and Canada game... right.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Projected Olympic Hockey Tournament Matchups

Wondering about potential quarterfinal matchups for the Men's Olympic Hockey, I went out onto my good friend the Internet and found this detailed bracket at On the Forecheck... which I came across at From the Rink.

Here's the upshot as of right now with Sweden having a (presumably) commanding 3-0 lead in their game against Finland (assuming everything is correct on the aforementioned sites and I have no reason to think it's not)...

Big assumption: nothing shocking (you know, shocking to the level of say... the US beating Canada today) happens in the Playoff Qualifier games that will happen Tuesday and precede the Wednesday quarterfinal games.

NoonPST - U.S. vs Switzerland: the U.S. would certainly be favored, but as the San Jose Sharks found out last year... Jonas Hiller can play well in net, and in this case, it would be for Switzerland rather than the Anaheim Ducks.

4:30PST - Russia vs Canada: Uhhh... that sounds like a good game, and in a quarterfinal! Here's to not expecting to see Martin Brodeur back in net.

7:00 or 9:00PST - Sweden vs Slovokia

7:00 or 9:00PST - Czech Republic vs Finland

Winners of these games would then meet in the Friday semifinals... which might look like this:

NoonPST - U.S. vs Czech/Finland winner

6:30PST - Sweden vs Canada/Russia winner

Wow, that one game today make a world of difference for both the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. with a very advantageous draw going forward and Canada with... the exactly opposite.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Video of Building a Backyard Rink

Came across this video a few days ago linked from a post on Puck Daddy at Yahoo! Sports and while I found the time-lapse photographs to be a bit difficult on the eyes to watch, I sure did love the result at the latter part of the video...