It’s time for this fourth liner to step it up. Playoffs start Thursday in St. Louis.
Let’s do this, Chicago.
Before Game 3. Raucous crowd, disappointing finish.
Please welcome the Blackhawks’ new assistant coach, Jamie Kompon. He won a Stanley Cup with the Kings last month.
How do you win the Stanley Cup? Well, this animated infographic will tell you.
The Devils delay the inevitable thanks to Henrique. Going back to Newark with the series 3-1 for L.A.
I have never heard Doc Emrick so elated. His team is in the Finals! Devils win 3-2 very quickly in the first overtime.
I’ve done it. Scott Stevens has done it. Mario Lemieux has done it. It’s one thing that you can’t judge somebody or overthink certain things that happen. He had his reasons. At this time of the year, emotionally and physically it’s a grind, and sometimes you’re not ready to show it to people. I’m all good with it. If you do what you do all the time you should have a little break once in a while. That’s the bottom line.
Marty Brodeur on Zach Parise’s refusal to speak to the media after Game 3.
Brodeur: fast, nimble, hybrid between stand-up and butterfly. Handles the puck beautifully. Magical pads and glove. Number one in almost every goalie stat. He’s been there before: two times his name has been inscribed on the Cup. Works hard. Could be final year. Looks to go out with a bang.
Lundqvist: stellar, high expectations, very quick. Very rarely loses crease. The blocker and glove don’t fail much: 1.57 GAA. Has huge standards and expectations set for him. Has played like everyone knew he could so far this season. No signs of slowing down. If he doesn’t win it all this year, he will soon.
Advantage: Brodeur for Game 4, Lundqvist for the series.
The L.A. Kings will most probably stun the league -again- by sweeping the St. Louis Blues tomorrow night at the Staples Center, and the ‘Yotes look to knock out another Stanley Cup favorite on Monday. This would lead to a Western Conference Final duel that almost no one would have even guessed, save a few L.A. and Phoenix fans. So, it’s time to see how such a match-up would unfold.
The two teams share the same strengths: hot goalies, smart defense, even offense and great PKers. Therefore, the winner of this series will be the one that is the most consistent. Because of this, L.A. will win. Jonathan Quick is not just a hot goaltender; he is one of the best in the league. Not the same can be said about Phoenix’s Mike Smith. On top of that, the Kings don’t only have good scorers; they have prolific offensive magicians. Richards and Carter are scary together, as they proved two years ago in the Flyers’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals. However, that’s not to say that Phoenix doesn’t have natural scorers. They do. But who would put Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal on the same level as perennial 35 goal-scoring Carter and his partner-in-crime Richards?
However, there is still hope for the Coyotes. They are turning up the speedometer of their offense and they remain stingy defensively. Smith has remained exceptional. Their stars are playing their part. Raffi Torres isn’t there to get stupid penalties. In short, things look good for the Coyotes (and therefore, their owner, the NHL!) and it would be very disappointing for them to come up short of the Stanley Cup Finals. This could be the franchise’s only opportunity to fight for the Cup. If they don’t take advantage of it, Phoenix WILL lose their hockey team in the next few years. For this reason, I hope I’m wrong. The organization has done so much to make the Coyotes competitive again; they truly deserve a chance to win it all before the rug is taken out from under them.
My prediction: L.A. in 7. But I’m hoping it will be PHX that moves on this time.
As Phoenix holds off a 5-3 lead with 2:00 left in the third, a huge question is emerging; is Pekka Rinne in a slump, or is he undergoing a Luongo moment?
Rinne has given up 9 goals through two games thus far in the series. Yes, the defense is also a big reason why nine have been given up, but Rinne hasn’t helped them out. He has been sloppy with his rebounds, he flops on the ground very early, and he seems to be lost in his crease at times. Even worse, Rinne is giving up goals just when the Predators gain momentum. This will doom the Predators.
Head coach Barry Trotz has said, Nashville will win if they give up two goals or less, but giving up four or five a night does nothing but destroy Nashville’s chances of winning. In short, Nashville can’t play like the Flyers. They’re the antithesis of Philly; they’re defensively minded and they score at most 4 goals a game. Because of this, Rinne’s issue must be addressed.
In my opinion, Rinne has had a couple of bad nights. He had some bad bounces, and some defensive lapses didn’t help him. However, he must break this funk in a must-win Game 3. He will be in front of the faithful Nashville crowd, and his team will be pumped.
I stand by my prediction that Nashville will win this series in seven; Rinne’s play from here on out will either prove me right or wrong.