Friday, May 29, 2009
Well it's like dejavu, all over again! In a re-match from last years finals, the Detroit Red Wings look to make it two straight Stanley Cup Championships. The Pittsburgh Penguins are back for another shot at the champs and are playing terrific hockey. Evgeni Malkin spent the Eastern Conference Finals playing in another universe and pummeled the Hurricanes into more of a light coastal breeze. He has now matched the level that has been played by Sidney Crosby since the puck dropped on the playoffs. Crosby has shown up literally every game and these two guys playing at this high a level can give the Red Wings a real test.
Speaking of the Red Wings, this team is playing about as well as I have ever seen a team play. They move the puck with a crisp efficiency that looks downright artistic at times. The Wings play with complete lines with many inter-changeable parts. You have the scoring snipers in Hossa, Zetterberg, and Sammuelson. Next are the power forwards led by Johan Franzen, Holmstrom and Cleary. So who gets these guys the puck? How about Datsyuk, Fillpula, and even Jiri Hudler. This team is very deep and totally complete. Chris Osgood has silenced all his critics while getting stronger as the playoffs have gone on.
The key to this series would appear to be the health of Captain, Niklas Lidstrom. When he is healthy, the rest of the Wings D, Brian Rafalski, Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall can assume their regular roles in the line-up. Oh yeah, and 63 year old Chris Chelios can assume his role of press box analyst. If Lidstrom can slow down Malkin and Crosby and leave it up to the rest of the Penguins to have a big series, Detroit is the clear favorite. Home ice advantage is huge for Detroit as Joe Louis Arena seems to affect the psyche of the visitor seemingly every game. Detroit plays a high paced, well thought out attack and wears down the opponent with quick passing that leads to a barrage of scoring chances.
For Pittsburgh to win the series, they need to win at least one, if not both games this weekend. If Detroit goes up 2-0, Pitt won't win the series, even if they tie it eventually. A split is critical for the Penguins. Marian Hossa has stepped up his contribution in light of the injuries to Datysuk, Draper and Lidstrom. The former Penguin came to Detroit to win a cup and now is just 4 wins away. Marc-Andre Fleury shut the red hot Hurricanes down and must carry that over. Pitt shunned tradition and handled the Prince of Wales trophy upon winning the East. Lemiuex and company pulled that same move when the Pens won it all in '91. Crosby and Co. didn't handle the trophy last year and lost. It was time to try a new approach.
The bottom line is that Detroit is playing as well as I have ever seen a team play. I told many hockey fans I felt even though the Sharks had more points, Detroit is still clearly a better team. Detroit is at the top of the NHL food chain. This team appears to be headed for back to back titles. If Pitt can get back to the Igloo at 1-1 at the very least, they will have a shot. However, it seems like Detroit is destined to win it all again.
Player to watch: Marian Hossa
Possible sleeper hero: Ruslan Fedotenko
Likely series scoring leader: Evgeni Malkin
Prediction: Detroit in 6. (Just like last year)
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Well all good things must come to an end right? At least until September when we fire things back up at KSFS. The Think Tank has been a lot of fun. Big love for Big Papa Knockout for all his hard work and dedication this semester. I am loud and obnoxious, and BPKO is calm and smooth. The "perfect" mix. That is until last night when we talked in Part 2 about OJ Simpson, Michael Vick, and Barry Bonds, which gets BPKO FIRED UP! Mr. San Felipe came through for the last show and spent some time with us. The last show had a couple good calls and we had a heated discussion to round out the semester. Good times! Thanks to everyone for listening and supporting the show.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Game, set, match. Sidney Crosby reigns supreme. In what was supposed to be a Game 7 for the ages was over in the first when the Penguins scored 2 goals in 8 seconds to stun the Cap faithful. The series was awesome. Crosby and Ovechkin trading hat tricks in Game 2, or the OT thrillers in game 5 & 6. The top two players in the world trading hits, blow for blow. The Caps going into the Igloo and winning Game 6 on the road to force Game 7. Then we have Game 7. This was supposed to be Ovechkins night. Home ice advantage, having momentum from a Game 6 OT win, the crowd decked out in red and in a frenzy before the face off. Ovechkin had a break-away early in the game that was denied by Fleury. If that goes in, this game may take on an entirely different complexion. Instead, Fleury flashed the leather, and Crosby scored a few minutes later to get the Pens going. Varlamov is a rookie and perhaps too much was asked of him. He looked VERY average at times in this series, but those Penguin forwards can make alot of goalies look average. The Capitals should have realized they needed help in net when Jose Theodre changed his name to Jose "Three or more". Pittsburgh came to play, the Caps didn't.
For the sake of the NHL, this going 7 games and the stars playing phenomenal, was as good as it could get for 6 games. Back and forth, blown leads, physical play, OT winners. All the components of an exciting series. If the NHL had their choice though, I think they would have preferred if the Caps went through. Some will argue that the Pens are the better choice for the NHL, the greatness that is Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. A two headed monster of talent not seen shared by teammates since Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux. But the NHL already has the Pittsburgh market cornered because of those names that I just mentioned. Washington DC on the other hand is NOT a hockey town, but is quickly becoming one. Having the most dynamic player in the game will do that for a city. A deep run to the Stanley Cup finals would have been more beneficial for the NHL had it occurred in DC. That being said, the Penguins aren't a bad option. And now with the Bruins out of the way, the Penguins become the favorite in the East. Not to take ANYTHING away from Cam Ward and the Hurricanes who have blazed a trail through their opponents for the better part of 3 months now. We could be looking at a re-match from last year, Pittsburgh and Detroit. The NHL loves dynasties, but loves an underdog even more. That re-match would be good for the game and if anyone is going to knock off the Wings, Crosby and Co. are the team for the job.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Back to basics this week. Just Big Papa and me, Ryan Covay. We do a Sharks post-season failure analysis, Kobe vs. Lebron, Ovechkin vs. Crosby, The Derby, and even some draft re-cap. It's been a treat to have Big Papa as my co-host and much love to all of our great callers tonight. This show has been a TREAT to be a part of. Thanks everyone for listening!!!