Conference Finals Set

Round two of the Stanley Cup Finals came to quite a dramatic conclusion Thursday night, did it not? With the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins looking on with the rest of us to see which team they’ll face off against in the Conference Finals, the Bruins, Canes, Wings and Ducks treated us to a pair of down-to-the-wire game sevens.

The Penguins, of course, made short work of Washington Wednesday night in their game seven and earlier in the week the Blackhawks had beaten the Canucks with their Kane in game six of that pairing.

Now, before we move forward to discuss who you might like in these matchups, I can’t let this moment go without commending the Anaheim Ducks in their efforts this post-season. In the opening round, they dispatched the Presidents Cup winning San Jose Sharks in six games…remember, the Sharks had lost only five times at home in the regular season and the Ducks came away winners in games one and two in the Shark tank. San Jose’s only home win being a 3-2 overtime job. They then came three minutes away from dispatching the 2nd-seeded Red Wings into, what for them would have been, an early summer vacation.

Jonas Hiller kept the Ducks in many of the games and for the playoffs he posted a very impressive 2.23 GAA and .943 SV%.

As for the Hurricanes, they entered the hunt for Lord Stanley’s Cup as a six-seed. They ousted a very good New Jersey Devils squad by winning the final two games after falling behind three games to two. They did so in dramatic fashion in the deciding game of that series by scoring a game-tying…then game-winning…goal in the last minute-twenty of the third period. Then in round two, they were facing the prospect of choking away a three games to one lead against the big, bad Bruins…who forced a game-seven in Beantown. There, they won on Scott Walker’s overtime tally with 1:14 left in first OT session.

Caniacs just have to be worn out today with frazzled nerves! But they’ll get a little bit of a breather until Monday night when their series begins in Pittsburgh.

So…Canes vs. Pens and Hawks vs. Wings. Who ya likin’ here?

It’s tough to bet against The Big Red Borg…but these Blackhawks just seem to be too young to know they shouldn’t win. And these are the same kids that put 21 goals past Roberto Luongo in six games. The Wings have been quite stingy in the playoffs, giving up only 2.18 goals per game, (Boston actually ended the playoffs better with 2.00 GA/G)…so Chicago is gonna have to bring the “O”!

The heart wants to see Chicago win…the head says don’t be a fool, go with the Red Wings.

The head wins…Detroit in six.

I’m picking Carolina in six as well over Pittsburgh. Logic should dictate that Pittsburgh is the one to go with here…but I am siding with these guys if for no other reason than because right now I’m living vicariously through their fans this spring. The Caniacs have absolutely rocked their barn in the six games played there so far and the electric atmosphere just explodes through the television.

Plus…Carolina is going into the series with a 2.29 GA/A, which is only higher than Boston and Detroit’s this post-season. I’m a firm believer that defense is the key once the playoffs begin, and Carolina is playing well in their end of the ice.

(For the record, both Chicago and Pittsburgh have goals-against averages of 2.91).

Oh, and Pens fans, don’t get angry with me. I picked Philly and Washington both to oust your team, so my picking against them should come as good news to you.

Playoff Viewing Party At TJs Sunday

And now that we know the schedule for the Conference Finals…I can announce that the Playoff Viewing Party will be this Sunday at 3:00. We’ll be enjoying game-one of the Chicago – Detroit series that afternoon.

Tim will have available tickets to an upcoming Braves game to raffle off as well. So come join the fun.

38 comments Add your comment

Dwayne

May 16th, 2009
8:17 am

same here…heart wants Carolina vrs Chicago…i’ve picked against Carolina in both their series, i hope i didn’t jinx them.

Bob Vance

May 16th, 2009
8:45 am

I’ve got to disagree with you. Bettman will do anything he can to get Pittsburgh back in the Finals. Chicago should take down Detroit too and he’ll have his young stars vs. young stars final. Once he finally realized he could get the refs in on it to help with the outcome like the NBA it has been fairly predictable. He’s taking a page from David Stern’s book and having Chicago take the torch from Detroit a la Jordan’s Bulls. I know Pittsburg dominated Game 7, but come on… ZERO penalties??? In the “new NHL”??? Let’s be serious.

Brendan

May 16th, 2009
9:54 am

Ya know, rubbin’ my chin, when the East’s playoff field was finally set, I suspect Commssioner Bettman popped the champagne! I mean, think about it. What are his league’s biggest markets? What are his most TRADITIONAL markets? His one regret was probably that Carolina got in instead of Toronto.

Bettman had two NY teams in (Rangers & Devils), Montreal, Boston (as #1 seed, vs. Montreal!), Washington (Ovechkin), Pittsburgh (Crosby/Malkin/Fleury), and Philly (intimidating fans, traditional hockey market). Bettman must have mused, “Dang, if I could only get that SOUTHERN team (Carolina) outta there! No worries, though. They won’t win the East, and destroy my TV-ratings this year.”

Uhhh. Uhhh. Whatever.

Go ‘Canes!!!

Out West, Bettman should be thrilled he’s got an “Original Six” matchup of Chicago vs. Detroit. I’m hoping the Red Wings don’t dispatch them early. I have Detroit in six. I’d love to see Chicago win. In the East, I do have Carolina over Pittsburgh, in seven games. Logic says, “It’s Penguins, all the way.” But I’m playing a hunch. Lord knows, my chances of running the table are long since over, so what do I have to lose?

By the way, I tried flipping the coins again this year, to determine the series winners. My coins went 4-4 in the opening round, and 2-2 in the CSF. So, they are 6-6. I am, with my “vast hockey knowledge,” 7-5 and doing one (1) game better than a non-conscious coin, whose flip landing on “heads” means taking the higher seed, while a “tails” means taking the lower seed. If it’s any comfort to the rest of you, who also may not be doing so well in your picks, “Maggie, the Monkey” went 2-6 in the opening round. I don’t know if she made 2nd round picks. Someone find out.

Glovesave29

May 16th, 2009
9:57 am

After the huge scandal with the crooked ref last year, do you REALLY think the NHL would get the refs “in” on some sort of conspiracy? C’mon…someone always talks, and the refs are not going to risk a job that both pays well and that they have been working to get to their whole lives just to make sure the Pens meet the Hawks. The league is not going to risk it’s reputation to assist one team for one SC Final.

Brendan

May 16th, 2009
10:22 am

By the way, if anyone used the method of “picking the higher seeded teams,” you’d also be 7-5 right. For the #1, #2, and #3 seeds are gone from the East, and the #1 and #3 seeds are gone from the West.

What is it that Poster Bob always correctly told us?? “The only season that matters is the playoffs.” So, it doesn’t matter where you’re seeded. Not really. Not enough. It’s a seven game series. Every team should be able to win on the road, at some point.

In the opening round, Washington had home ice and defeated the Rangers in the 7th game. Detroit had home ice for Game Seven in Round II, and won. But Carolina was a road team for both of their Game 7’s, and won both of them. Even without benefit of that final line change. And overtime Game 7’s have been won by the road team for the past seven straight times. What does it mean? It means when the playoffs come, you either “do it” or get eliminated. Best time of the year.

This is when the magic happens, if it’s ever going to happen. Good luck, Chicago. Even if you don’t win, you took a monumental first step in these playoffs. Free Agents will knock on your door this Summer. This is the “effect” of years of good drafting, intelligent trading, and player development. It also doesn’t hurt Chicago that they are a “traditional hockey market.” There’s “belief” going on, all around Chicago. And it is GOOD TO SEE.

For Carolina, they’ve done all this before. And it wasn’t ancient history ago. It was just 2006 that the ‘Canes won the Cup. With Staal and Cam Ward, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner. I don’t think there’s this “prove you belong” thing going on. For Pittsburgh, they won the Conference last year. For them, this is just about “sweet repeat.” And it looked BAD FOR THEM at Christmas. They still had Therrien behind the bench. The players weren’t responding to him. The Penguins waited awefully late to replace him. There was, honestly and geuinely, concern about whether the Penguins would even make the playoffs. But they poured it on under Blysma (Sp?). They were red hot in the 2nd half of the season. Good luck, Penguins. If Pittsburgh gets to the Finals, and Detroit is their opponent, I will cheer for the Penguins. If it’s the Blackhawks, I’ll root for them. Folks, the last Blackhawk Cup win was an upset, back in 1961. Remember something else, folks. A Chicago Cup win means that Toronto will be officially “on the clock,” with the last Leaf Cup win occuring in 1967. This blog LOVES to harpoon the Leafs. So, go Blackhawks!!

kracker

May 16th, 2009
11:05 am

Regarding the AJC hockey page poll, note this: Something went very squirrely with that poll on Thursday night. Early on the first day of the poll, the “Not at all” choice was by far the least chosen answer, let me repeat, BY FAR the least chosen. Then I see sometime after 11PM the same day (Thursday night) that “Not at all” had jumped 3-to-1 into the lead with nearly 400 votes. I’m thinking “Huh, WTF is up with that?” The next day, all thru Friday morning and after lunch “Not at all” is holding at 401 votes and now, a full day later, it remains at 404 votes while the other two choices have been steadily amassing votes and now the “A lot” choice has move ahead..

I can’t say how it happened but it had to be a typo or some kind of a glitch. Comparing the numbers on the hockey page poll to the results of the poll on Mark Bradley’s blog page indicates that the main poll is flawed:

How would you feel if the Thrashers were to leave?
Massively disappointed. (53%, 671 Votes)
Utterly unmoved. (33%, 420 Votes)
Slightly disappointed. (13%, 168 Votes)

This poll looks more realistic. In fact, one would expect the Bradley poll to show weaker support for the Thrashers due to all the non-hockey ppl reading the Bradley column but even here the Pro-Thrash sentiment handily won his poll.

kracker

May 16th, 2009
11:15 am

I also want to see the Hawks and Canes in the Cup series and the Canes win it. I don’t know if the Bettman fix is in or not but if the Pens don’t go to the box, I don’t see them losing.

Alan

May 16th, 2009
11:48 am

Red Wings in six.
Hurricanes in seven.

LAC

May 16th, 2009
12:20 pm

Atlanta in 5 in 2025 or 2030…. When will waddell and these worthless owners die ? Our ONLY hope it so appears !

Tony C.

May 16th, 2009
12:51 pm

from the last blog:

Murray’s “victim” declined to press charges and also wouldn’t say what publication got her press credentials-sounds a little fishy to me.

Adios

May 16th, 2009
2:49 pm

LAC … which Atlanta team are you predicting 5 in 2025? A minor league team or a third NHL team? The Thrashers will be long gone by then.

Alan

May 16th, 2009
7:15 pm

Begone, troll. You somehow feel you’re amusing, but we’re not laughing with you.

Rawhide

May 18th, 2009
8:47 am

Congrats to kracker for winning the 4 dugout level Braves tickets during Sunday’s playoff viewing at TJs!

ThrasherFan

May 18th, 2009
9:09 am

Red Wings in 5
Pittsburg in 7

Wings – Pens final year 2.

Tony C.

May 18th, 2009
10:29 am

Alan

May 18th, 2009
11:30 am

Tony, it’s about time someone looked at how the move to Hamilton might affect the Sabres. Their fans might (generally) be a bunch of *cough*sucking d-bags, but seeing a team in Hamilton suck away like a leech at an existing NHL city would be hard for just about anyone to swallow.

Alan

May 18th, 2009
11:48 am

Tony C.

May 18th, 2009
11:51 am

Alan- indeed. Also, if you’ve got the time I’d suggest reading the comments-some very good arguments for and against raised there…all with considerably less venom than we see when we have “guests” posting from above the 49th on our boards here.

Anyway, I thought it was a good read and really drives home the real reason why Betteman/NHL is going to fight Basille tooth&nail on this one; dude just doesn’t want to follow the rules. NHL owners/Govenors are nothing if not a very protective “Old Boys’ Club”.

Also, I see where Philly has rumors linking them to moving Lupul/Briere + NHL-ready/high-ceiling prospect to Montreal or Vancouver for Jeebus Price & rights to Komisarek or Luongo & rights to Ohlund (although word is Vancouver’d want Richards as well/instead).

Wonder if we could trade Pavelec & Exelby to Philly for Nittymakii & Van Riemsdyk?

Just a thought.

Bob

May 18th, 2009
12:57 pm

I would love to see the ‘Hawks knock off the Red Wings, but I think it’s going to be a Pens – Red Wings rematch. Wouldn’t that be sweet if the Pens take it this year and Hossa has to watch the Pens skate the Cup after bailing on them and going to the enemy?

Rawhide

May 18th, 2009
1:25 pm

Bob – I’ve never considered myself “anti-Hossa”…but the irony in that would be just too good!

Alan

May 18th, 2009
1:52 pm

NHL extends line of credit with CitiBank.

Extended it to $200M. That’s $130M more than what it was.

Reinsdorf’s offer for the Coyotes, in contrast, is rumored to be about $130M.

The things that make you go “Hmmm…”

Riceowls8891

May 18th, 2009
2:12 pm

Evil of two lessers: Deciding whether to cheer for “Cindy Hits Below the Crotchby” or Marian “Half-Hearted” Hossa. Go Hawks and Canes!

Tim

May 18th, 2009
2:21 pm

Brendan, your comment about Bettman wanted traditional teams to go into final for TV rating and marketing is in contradiction with his philosophy of expending southern market instead of relocalising southern market into more traditional area. A Stanley Cup final for those southern market can only help those small market in the future :)

As for me, I choose Carolina vs Detroit in final. I want to see Detroit winning it just because I am a big Hossa fan, despite the fact that he left Thrashers.

Brendan

May 18th, 2009
3:53 pm

No it isn’t, Tim. Bettman needs southern franchises to be schedule fodder for his northern favorites to play and defeat, en route to the Cup. :)

Tony C.

May 18th, 2009
4:06 pm

Brendan OUCH! But your theory has merit Prof.

Tony C.

May 18th, 2009
4:12 pm

Also, I believe seeing hossa sitting on the ice watching as Kunitz and Cindy hi-5 would be just fine.

One thing struck me about the ‘Wings scheme against the Hawks: they are really really daring Chicago to beat them without Toews and Kane on the ice.

I wondered why Quinneville(spl?) didn’t sick Byfuglien’s line out there more often in the 2nd?

After the physical pounding Detroit took against the Ducks, you’ve got to think that just a few more hard hits will take their toll on Detroit’s blueliners… Of course, Chicago has to actually hit the wings-instead of the “just missing” like they did all day on Sunday.

Also, I’ll give it up to Msr. Eric Staal-he’s now #1B for my Conn Smythe Watch; #1A is his teammate Cam Ward. Dude is !en fuego!, and not showing the least little bit of anxiety.

Spud Webb

May 18th, 2009
6:27 pm

I’m hoping for the Canes vs Chicago. I doubt that is going to happen, but I can hope!!!!

Alan

May 18th, 2009
9:35 pm

[F]rankly, if this team had to move it should first be offered to Winnipeg.,” according to a Bettman email on 4 April 2009.

Very, very interesting.

Brendan

May 18th, 2009
10:22 pm

Tony C., good to have you onboard the Eric Staal candidacy for Conn Smythe. Though, Cam Ward’s certainly right there with him. And, Sidney Crosby is right there, too. Twelve goals already. If the Penguins advance, and win, I’d have to think Crosby or Malkin is going to get the MVP. Although, I still say Kris Letang has scored very important and timely goals for the Penguins in these playoffs.

Rawhide

May 18th, 2009
10:28 pm

Something I just thought of while watching Carolina and Pittsburgh play tonight…I’ll pose the thought as a riddle.

What do the Chicago Blackhawks, Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins…three of the four teams in the conference finals…all have in common?

Brendan

May 18th, 2009
11:02 pm

Interesting. I’d actually like to see hockey return to Winnipeg, if possible. If not, I think Regina is another favorable spot, for a prospective NHL team. I don’t think Bettman likes Jim Balsillie. Balsillie is a bit of a bully. But ya know what? He’s willing to OVERPAY to get a team. So, all the other owners should like the sound of that. It drives up the value of their clubs. In theory.

I never like to see a city lose its team. Unless that team is WELL-RUN, but not supported. At that point, it ISSSS the fans’ fault. I don’t think the Coyotes have been particularly well-run. They haven’t been in the playoffs since 2002. And in the franchise history, they’ve never won a playoff series in Phoenix. Point of fact, since entering the league in 1979-80, the team has only won two (2!!) playoff series. Both against Calgary, when the franchise was located in Winnipeg. The last series win for the organization occured in 1987.

Amazingly, also, the Coyotes/Jets have NEVER WON A DIVISION TITLE. Hear that, Waddell-backers! More things to trumpet!! Phoenix/Winnipeg has had four (4) second-place finishes, in 1982, 1985, 1999, and 2002. There’s something else for the Waddell fans to cheer about, the Coyotes/Jets highest point total, in franchise history, is 96-points, in 1985, in an 80-game schedule. Atlanta got 97-points, in an 82-game schedule. Heyyy, it’s still more points!!! More points is more points, dagnabit!

In the 1996-97 season, Winnipeg relocated to Phoenix, where they had a bit of a rally. In 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2002 Phoenix made the playoffs. Yes, it’s true!! That’s five out of six (5/6) years. They didn’t win a blessed thing, but they got there! In ‘97, they lost to Anaheim, 4-3. In ‘98, they lost to Detroit, 4-2. In ‘99, they lost to St. Louis, 4-3. In ‘00, they lost to Colorado, 4-1. And in 2002, their last playoff appearance, they lost to San Jose, 4-1.

Uhh, that’s more than you probably ever wanted to know about the Phoenix Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets. The quote I remember most, from their days in Winnipeg, “We feel like the only reason our team exists … is to give Wayne Gretzky and the Oilers someone to play and beat in the 1st round of the playoffs.” I think, out of sheer guilt, Wayne Gretzky took pity on the franchise, for all his did to crush their hopes and dreams when he was a player, with the Oilers.

Brendan

May 18th, 2009
11:08 pm

Rawhide, is the answer: “They’re all playing with players they selected in the 1st round in 2003?”

1st overall: Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh
2nd overall: Eric Staal, Carolina
14th overall: Brent Seahbrook, Chicago

Was I even close?

Brendan

May 18th, 2009
11:11 pm

Wait, Rawhide, is it that all three FIRED their Head Coach at some point during the season? Peter Laviolette was let go in favor of Paul Maurice. Pittsburgh fired Michel Therrien, under contract until 2011, I might add, in favor of Dan Blysma. And Chicago fired Denis Savard just a few games into the season, in favor of Joel Quenneville.

Was that the right answer?

Rawhide

May 19th, 2009
7:21 am

Brendan – Yes…it’s that all three fired their coach during the season.

Very good sir…you may move to the front of the class.

Oh wait…you’re already there! :lol:

Tony C.

May 19th, 2009
8:39 am

Brendan- Staal has now slipped behind Crotchby and Franzen in my 2K9 Conn Smythe Watch. Dude had the game on his blade and flubbed it last night-Conn Smythe winners bury that opportunity.

Of course, it may have been that Staal was playing into Carolina’s secret plan: loose Game 1 no matter what. Just look how well it’s worked for them so far; lost Game 1 @ Newark-won in 7. Lost so badly in Boston that the Broo-innz didn’t remember that they were in a playoff series until Game 7-which of course Ward doesn’t loose (4-0 all-time in Game 7s). So I think it is possible Staal was following the “Maurice Doctrine”-lull the opponent into a false sense of security of their (perceived) superiority-then crush them against the wall that is Game 7 Cam Ward.

Maybe.

Also, I must say it pains me, but Crosby is playing the best hockey I’ve seen from him-I dislike him, but you’ve got to tip your cap to Nut-Shot Cindy’s play. He is pushing his way up the 2K9 Conn Smythe Watch:

1: Cam Ward
2: Nut-Shot
3: Franzen
4: E. Staal
5: Khabibulin (can you say contract year?)

Tony C.

May 19th, 2009
8:48 am

Also, I will say that Kane would be #5, but dude was ineffective in Game 1, true-that’s mostly a testament to Perfect Nic & Rafalski’s defense-but again Conn Smythe winners find a way to overcome-Khabibulin kept Game 1 from being a bloodbath, hence he’s #5.

ranallo10 (in AT)

May 19th, 2009
9:41 am

Ha, you got Ranallo’d.

Ice Meister

May 21st, 2009
12:22 pm

For everyone who attacks Waddell personally and some of you have gone too far; I think you are taking this way too seriously.