Tag Archives: nhl

Can Anyone Beat LA?

25 May

No, this title has nothing to do with the NBA or the MLB, believe it or not, it has everything to do with the NHL. And while the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils are in the midst of a pretty heated Eastern Conference Series, the Los Angeles Kings are just sitting pretty while they wait to see who they will face in the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals. The Kings, a #8 seed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs have proven that they are clearly more than their #8 seed represents. They have knocked off #1 Vancouver, #2 St Louis, and #3 Phoenix. And the thing is, none of these series went to 7 games. In fact, the Kings have made playoff hockey look easy.

So while its still to early to look ahead to the Stanley Cup Finals, both NY and NJ fans should be a little wary. The Kings look unstoppable right now and seem to have all the weapons. Great goal-tending mixed with just the right amount of offense and defense. Regardless of who wins this “Battle for Hudson” can either of the teams actually beat the Los Angeles Kings?

Solely based on the many playoff series’ of the East and the West I’m going to say that there is definitely more parity in the East and they are definitely on the stronger side of the playoffs this year. However, the Kings are a #8 seed and they beat #1 Vancouver, easily. If everyone on the Kings plays well, including all-star goalie, Jonathan Quick, they are unstoppable.  The Kings are also averaging 36.3 hits per game and have been able to kill off almost every power play penalty that comes there way. They have also beaten their opponents so easily that they have been well-rested before starting each series and the Stanley Cup Finals will be no different. For now, they can enjoy watching 2 other teams fight it out to earn the right to play against them.

Either way, the Stanley Cup Final is most probably going to come down to the goalies. There will be no shortage of comparisons regardless of the opponent and that is for sure.

If you want to look at this past season, the Kings and Rangers have only played each other once, and the Devils only twice. All 3 games were in the first 3 weeks of the season. While the Kings beat the Rangers and the Devils beat the Kings, these games have really no indication of who will win now.

Being that I am from New Jersey, I will definitely be rooting for whichever team emerges from the East. But honestly, who wouldn’t want to see Los Angeles win? They are already on this improbably run and winning the Stanley Cup would finally earn their team some NHL respect.

But, let’s not look ahead anymore because we’ll have plenty of time to preview the 2012 Stanley Cup. If the Rangers/Devils rivalry is any indication of what is to come, then tonight’s game 6 match-up should be a good one. Here’s hoping it goes to a game 7.

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An Epic Battle for the Hudson River Begins

14 May

Tonight starts the beginning of what could be the best series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Call me partial, but being that I’m from New Jersey and root for most New York/New Jersey teams, this is an epic series. Even casual hockey fans in the tri-state area are getting excited about this one.

First we have the New York Rangers, they have been the Eastern Conference’s best team all season but have almost let 2 series slip away. Its a tough feat to reach the Stanley Cup Finals after playing in a few 7 game series but they can definitely do it. The New York Rangers have all the right pieces but just need them to click at the same time.

Then on the other side of the Hudson River, in the state that only has one real major professional team to call their own, the New Jersey Devils are threatening at just the right time. After pulling upset after upset, the Devils look too good to stop right now. If you ask me, the people of New Jersey need this win for state pride.

One of the biggest stories in this series are the goalies. The Devils are anchored by their legend, Martin Brodeur. While Brodeur has been the star for the Devils for nearly 20 years, he is also getting old. No criticism here though, he has shown that he is probably one of the best NHL goalies ever. Plus, the Devils don’t rely on him as much as they used to so when he is performing well its a plus for the Devils. On the other side, Henrik Lundqvist (a personal favorite of mine) is proving he is among the NHL’s elite goalies as well. The Rangers definitely rely on his impeccable ability to catch that puck and if the last 2 series are any indication, Lundqvist can come through in the clutch.

Neither team would have this much success if it wasn’t for their other stars as well. The Captain of the Rangers, Ryan Callahan, together with Marian Gaborik, rookie Chris Kreider, and Brad Richards have proved incredibly important in the playoffs. Likewise, the Devils have their Captain, Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, David Clarkson, and another rookie Adam Henrique who have all proven to be keys to the Devils current success. Both teams are pretty even and I will be shocked if this series goes less than 7 games.

But wait, there is more. Aside from the players, there are also the fans. Anyone in New York or New Jersey would probably tell you that hockey fans are pretty much crazy. Take a New York hockey fan and put them in the same room as a New Jersey hockey fan and madness will no doubt ensue. If you are lucky enough to go to one of these playoff games, you should definitely watch your back.

Drama seems to always follow New York and New Jersey whenever they meet. The last time they met during the regular season on March 19th, there were 3 fights in the opening minutes of the game. Even the coaches got in on the excitement and exchanged some harsh words for each other. Two months ago, emotions were running high in just a regular season game and there was craziness.

And so the drama leading up to this series just keeps building. This almost never happens. The last time both teams faced each other in the Eastern Conference Finals was in 1994. That series also went to 7 games but the Rangers knocked off New Jersey in double overtime. Stephane Matteau was the star for the Rangers that year as they went on to win the Stanley Cup. 1994 was an epic season for the New York Rangers and Martin Brouder and his New Jersey Devils have not forgotten.

Here’s the thing about rivalries and battles between teams that are close in proximity, its not like everyone in New Jersey is a Devils fan and that’s probably the part that kills New Jersey the most. In fact there will probably be a large number of blue jerseys at the games in Newark, NJ just because a lot of people in the tri-state area root for New York. If you are a Rangers fan you are loyal to New York and if you are a Devils fan you are loyal to New Jersey. The Rangers and Devils don’t like each other. The fans pretty much hate each other. Sports are about team loyalty and this series will be no different.

The pressure is on for both the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils. And as a native New Jerseyan I cannot wait.

We, the hockey fans of the world are now left to wonder, wait, and watch. Who will be this series’ game changer? What kind of battle will ensue on the ice? Will history repeat itself? and most importantly, which team wins the Battle for the Hudson?

Obsessed with the East Coast NHL Playoffs

2 May

If you’re looking for me between the hours of 7:30-10:30pm this week, you’ll find me on the edge of my couch with eyes glued to the tv. I’m completely hooked. I don’t know if its the excitement that surrounds the 4 eastern conference teams, the complete madness of how they’ve made it to this round,  or the extreme likability of each of the players but I do know that the current Eastern Conference playoffs have not disappointed. Perhaps its because they are all so close in vicinity to each other or because the possibilities of the next round match up is even crazier to think about. Either way, I’m obsessed.

The 4 teams in the Eastern Conference Semis – The New York Rangers, The New Jersey Devils, The Philadelphia Flyers, and The Washington Capitals are lighting up the east coast as we speak.

Let’s visit the Rangers-Capitals series first.

The New York Rangers (my personal favorite) beat the Ottawa Senators in a 7 game series that I almost thought was going to slip away. The Senators were fast and exposed the Rangers weaknesses but with the help of Boston College rookie, Chris Kreider they pulled out a win. Then you have the Washington Capitals who beat the highly regarded Boston Bruins in another 7 game series that was close throughout. The Caps are really peaking at the right time and it shows. In the last game the Caps showed why they cannot be counted out.

All playoffs come with stars but this series really has it all. Henrik Lundqvist, the do it all goalie who was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and is single handedly one of the reasons the Rangers are in the playoffs. Chris Kreider, the lovable rookie who just turned 21 this week and continues to help the Rangers when he is most needed. Ryan Callahan, the captain who always seems to come through in the clutch. The Caps have Alex Ovechkin. While he hasn’t been as dominant as of late, he has the ability to heat up and really bring it.

Right now the series is tied 1-1 so its really anybody’s series to win.

Then just a few exits away on I-95 the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers are growing their rivalry with each game. They are also tied 1-1 and its anybody’s guess who will win this series. The Flyers were definitely the favorite going in because of the way they took out the Penguins in the first round but it doesn’t look like the Devils are backing down from a fight. After 2 periods of hockey last night the Devils looked like they had given up but whipped out 4 goals in the 3rd period to shock the Flyers. The Flyers looked like a team that lost their way in the last period of the game and for that I would be scared.

The Devils have their always reliable goalie in Martin Brodeur. Another rookie, 19 year old, Adam Larson is showing why he was a first round pick last year. The Flyers are doing it with their stars Claude Giroux and Danny Briere.

The winners of these series is anyone’s guess. I for one would love to see a NY/NJ or NY/Phila match-up. No more then 2 hours a part and probably the craziest and loudest fans anywhere.

As a person who really didn’t get into hockey until recently, this year’s playoffs have breathed new life into the world of NHL hockey. There is so much excitement that its contagious.

If the 1st four games of this week are any indication of what is to come in the rest of the series, then the east coast better be ready.

 

A little bit more about Kreider: http://nymag.com/daily/sports/2012/04/chris-kreiders-crazy-april.html

 

NHL playoff madness

16 Apr

let me set the stage for you: the usual playoff beards are in effect, the fans are going crazy, and the fights are a plenty. it is playoff hockey season in the national hockey league and so far it has not disappointed. well, if you are a canucks or penguins fan then you might not agree completely.

so what’s going on? the playoffs are pure madness as far as the flyers/pens and canucks/kings fans might agree. the pittsburgh penguins most known for their star player sidney crosby have been favored to win it all. or at least to beat the philadelphia flyers. but they look like a team about to collapse and on the brink of being swept. to make matters worse, this game is such a huge rivalry that emotions are constantly flaring. however, the penguins do have the ability to come back and while they are down 3 games its always a possibility.

then you have the vancouver canucks and the los angeles kings. i don’t know if people are more surprised by this series or the flyers/pens right now but i do know that this is craziness. the highly favored president’s trophy winner, the canucks, are on the verge of being ousted by a team that has never taken a 3-0 in the series. if any team can come back from this, the canucks have that power. they can score a lot of points as we have seen this season so game 4 should be good.

the other playoff series are pretty reasonable, a few ties right now and a 2-1 lead by the predators. but none of these games are short of the drama. there have been 2 suspensions from the rangers/senators game that could provide costly in their current series. right now, it looks like there are a lot of teams that could grab the stanley cup but the question is, how easy will their road be? will there be more suspensions? who will emerge as the stars? the suspension of hagelin (ny rangers) and carkner (ottawa senators) just further proves that while the nhl will allow some of the drama, they are still serious about the punishments.

some critics might say that hockey is too violent and that the grown men and hockey players should not be fighting on the ice but really, that’s what everyone loves about it. what i like about hockey is that the excitement and passion from the fans translates to the ice and vice-versa. its not like the players don’t know what they’ve signed up for.  i went to my first professional hockey game last week and really felt the energy. everyone wants to get in on the game and the players exude the passion and excitement.

being that im a fan of sports, i love this madness. no one has really predicted that this was going to be the way the 2012 playoffs would pan out. from the looks of the 1st week of the playoffs, things will definitely get more interesting. not gonna lie, im more likely to watch these games now just to see the increased fan craziness and the ever present possibilities for more drama.