Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stanley Cup: Round 2

I went 7 for 8 in my first round predictions. Not bad if I do say so myself. I was pretty close on most of the game counts too. I knew I should have predicted more sweeps, but any team could win any night in the NHL.

This round looks to have some awesome matchups. Unfortunately, I haven't seen too many Western Conference games this year, so my predictions out there will be mostly stats/gut based.

East:

(1)Boston vs (6) Carolina. This should be an AWESOME matchup. I picked Carolina to upset New Jersey, and my prediction proved correct. They've been playing great hockey since the beginning of March and pulled off an amazing comeback last night. Boston, however, has been my pick in the East since the Penguins started their downslide in January. The goaltending should be great in this series since Boston's Tim Thomas is a Vezina finalist and Carolina's Cam Ward is one of the big reasons the Hurricanes made the playoffs. Boston won this year's season series and outscored Carolina 18-6. The 'Canes have lots of magic going into this one, but Boston's play this season and 4 scoring lines make me think they'll come out on top. Bruins in 6.

(2)Washington vs (4) Pittsburgh. I think Pittsburgh lucked out not getting the Bruins, but Washington is no walk in the park. The Capitals won the season series 3-1, but 2 of those victories came before Dan Bylsma, Sergei Gonchar, and Chris Kunitz joined the Penguins. This matchup features the league's top 3 regular season scorers (Malkin, Ovechkin, and Crosby), but I think the series will come down to defense and goaltending. Washington's Mike Green is an amazing young talent (31 goals, 42 assists in 68 games), but the rest of their defense isn't as talented. Washington gave up the 6th most goals in the Eastern Conference (though Pittsburgh is 7th). Goaltender Simeon Varlamov has done an outstanding job since coming in for relief of Jose Theodore, recording two shutouts, two games letting in only one goal, and one game letting in three. Washington can continue to ride the hot hand, but how long until the rookie runs out of steam? Marc-Andre Fleury looked good vs Philly and has the ability to steal a couple games if need be. I can see Washington winning this, but I'm going with an upset. Pittsburgh in 7.

West

(2)Detroit vs (8)Anaheim. Like I said, Anaheim is the best #8 seed we've seen in years. Both teams have balanced scoring and great defense. Both teams have goalies who deserve more respect (Hiller and Osgood) and good backups for both (former Conn Smythe winner JS Giguere and Ty Conklin). I think Detroit is just too good for Anaheim to pull another upset. Detroit in 6.

(3)Vancouver vs (4)Chicago. Chicago has a younger, more talented team. They have great offensive depth, but Vancouver has one of the best goalies in the league with Roberto Luongo. Chicago has more offensively minded defensemen - which is big in the playoffs - and has a better powerplay unit than Vancouver. But Vancouver has more experienced players and a goalie I have more confidence in. This is another matchup that can go either way. Do I dare pick another upset? Why not? Detroit vs Chicago will be a hum-dinger of a Western Final. Chicago in 7.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Playoffs Round 1

Let’s take a look how I’ve done so far on playoff predictions:

East:

Boston/Montreal – Boston in 4. I predicted Boston in 5 games because I figured Montreal could at least steal one.

Washington/Rangers - Game 7 tomorrow night. I said Caps in 7, so I could still be right. Though I’m surprised the Rangers got themselves a 3-1 lead and even more surprised they’re blowing it. Hardly anyone gave the Rangers a chance, but my prediction of veterans vs flaky goaltending seems pretty solid so far.

New Jersey/Carolina – Game 7 tomorrow. I picked Carolina to upset, and that can still happen. This series has been a true goaltenders duel. Game 5 in was a 1-0 win for the Devils with the goalies making a combined 85 saves! Should be a good one tomorrow.

Pittsburgh/Philadelphia – Pens in 6. And I picked Pens in 6. What makes this one even better is I was at all three games in Philadelphia. Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stole Game 4 with an amazing performance. Philly crowds are always something to behold, but there’s nothing like watching the Flyers blow a 3-0 lead and having Pittsburgh clinch the series with a 5-3 victory in Game Six.

West:

San Jose/Anaheim – Game 6 tonight (Anaheim leads 3-2). Well, I seem to be off on this one. Anaheim is probably the best 8 seed in years, but I expected San Jose to finally get over their annual postseason letdown. Maybe they can still pull it out, but it’ll be a tough one.

Detroit/Columbus – Detroit in 4. I predicted Detroit in 4. Looks to be pretty much what I expected.

Vancouver/St. Louis – Vancouver in 4. Looks like I gave St. Louis a little more credit than they deserved. True, they had lots of injury problems. But they finished the season hot and surprised a lot of people by even making the playoffs. Vancouver is looking good.

Chicago/Calgary – Game 6 tonight (Chicago leads 3-2). I picked Chicago in 7. This could very likely be the case. The first four games of the series were nailbiters (like I expected), but Chicago exploded in Game 5. They could close it out tonight, but I’m still going to say seven games.


Overall, I don’t think I did too badly. I’ll revisit again after the remaining series are completed and the second round matchups are set.

Friday, April 24, 2009

MST3K Friday: Catching Trouble

I would love to see that cub's mom come through the woods right about now.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hockey Predictions

I used to send these predictions out via e-mail, but I think I'll blog them. Every year I make my predictions for the Stanley Cup playoffs. This year, I'm going to do them round by round instead of the whole thing at once. Here we go!

East:
(1)Boston vs (8)Montreal - Montreal has a lot going for it, especially since they are celebrating 100 years of the franchise this year. However, Boston has been the beast of the East all year long. Boston in 5.

(2)Washington vs (7)Rangers - Washington is still a young, untested team. They have some great scorers and an awesome d-man in Mike Green. But how much faith do you put in their goaltending? The Rangers are the more veteran team, but have basically backed themselves in to the playoffs. Washington in 6/7.

(3)Devils vs (6)Carolina - Never count the Devils out. But they really stunk it up in the last month of the season. That and Carolina tied Pittsburgh for the best March record at 11-1-2. I'm going with an upset and saying Carolina in 6.

(4)Pittsburgh vs (5)Philadelphia - As I mentioned with Carolina, Pittsburgh is hot, hot hot. Philly...not so much. A rematch of last year's Eastern Conference finals and two teams that hate each other will make for a good series. And I get to go to at least 2 of the games! Penguins in 6.

West:
(1)San Jose vs (8)Anaheim - is this the year San Jose gets over the hump? They have the best record in the entire league, but Anaheim is another veteran club. San Jose in 5.

(2)Detroit vs (7)Columbus - It's good Columbus finally made it into the playoffs after 8 years. Their rookie goalie Steve Mason has been unbelievable this year. However, you just can't bet against the Red Wings. Detroit in 4.

(3)Vancouver vs (6)St. Louis - At the halfway point of the season, it looked like St. Louis had no shot. But they turned things around and got themselves the 6th seed. But Vancouver is a scary good team with one of the best goalies in the league. Vancouver in 6.

(4)Chicago vs (5)Calgary - Calgary has flown under everyone's radar this year. Mike Cammalleri lived up to his potential this year. The additions of Olli Jokinen and Jordan Leopold at the trade deadline solidified an already strong team. This one could go either way. I really like Chicago and their young stars, so I'm going to go with the team I'm rooting for. Chigago in 7.

In two weeks we'll see if I'm right or wrong. What are your predictions?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Harry Kalas

The Phillies' great announcer Harry Kalas has passed away after collapsing in the broadcast booth prior to Philadelphia's game at Washington. I'm not a Phillies fan, but I love Kalas. He had the best announcer voice and his signature home run call of "Outta here!" puts a smile on my face every time. I'm sad at his passing, but glad that he was able to see the Phils win the 2008 World Series before he passed away.

It pains me to think of young baseball fans not being able to grow up listening to Harry call games every night.

RIP.

How About That

I watched yesterday's Pirates/Reds game thanks to the free preview weekend of MLB Extra Innings. Although the Pirates lost 2-0 (a 2-run homer in the bottom of the first), it was a fun game to watch. The Pirates only managed three hits in the game, but their infield made some great defensive plays.

Shortstop Jack Wilson and second baseman Freddy Sanchez are the best double-play tandem in the league. Here's a clip of a phenomenal double-play to end the sixth inning. Jack makes a diving stop on a ball clearly headed for center field, flips it with his glove to Freddy, who makes a diving throw to first. If you're a fan of great baseball, it's worth your time to check it out.

If you let the player run after the double-play clip, you'll see the year's first triple-play. It was the Pirates' first triple play since Aug. 10, 1993, Jay Bell to Carlos Garcia to Kevin Young against St. Louis at Three Rivers Stadium.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Southland

I happened to catch the sneak peek of NBC's new cop drama "SouthLAnd" over the weekend (free on Hulu and TV Guide.com). It's not bad. The whole thing feels very familiar. There's a rookie cop from a rich family and his hard-ass Training Officer. A chauvinistic cop and his female partner, and a couple detectives.

The pilot follows a similar line of lots of other cop shows. The uniform officers have their story (rookie's first day on the job) and the detectives have theirs (missing girl).

Fans of cop shows will like it. I'm interested to see how it plays out with the general public. I'm not 100% sold on it, but I'm definitely going to check out the next couple episodes.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the (Sports) Year

April is a pretty good time of the year. The NHL and NBA playoffs are starting. Today is opening day of the baseball season. We have the Final Four and Frozen Four. The NFL draft is just around the corner. It's a great time to be a sports junkie.