2008 Finals or 2009?
Anyone starting to lose a bit of interest in the Conference Finals yet? You aren’t the only one. Fans from Chicago to Pittsburgh to Carolina to Detroit are probably thinking the same thing… “Wait a minute, this seems a bit familiar…” And it isn’t that much fun.
Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. Last year it was Dallas who made it to the Western finals against Detroit. And last year it was the Flyers who made it to the Eastern conference finals against Pittsburgh. But all the same, things are starting to look a little too familiar to everyone else around the league. Last year, it was both Detroit and Pittsburgh who conquered in the conference finals and moved on to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Hockeytown vs. Hawkeytown?
Ahhh, Hockeytown. I’m not so sure it was a nickname deserved so much as it was a nickname that Detroitians (Detroiters?) gave themselves. First, let’s do a little recap of the Detroit Red Wings history (remember Avs fans, you should know your enemies as well as you know your friends):
- 1926-49: This is apparently what was called “The Early Years.” The Wings were founded in 1921 and didn’t waste much time — making a Stanley Cup playoff appearance in 1929.
- 1950-66: Apparently this is “The Gordie Howe Era.” Obviously named because this was when Goride Howe peaked. He started with the NHL (and the Wings) in 1946 and carried his team to the playoffs a few times. But the Wings didn’t return to greatness until 1950, then reaching the finals nine different times between these 16 years and winning it four times.
- 1967-82: And here we have the “Dead Wings Era.” By the way I got all of these clever names from Wikipedia. While I, and many others like me, still refer to them as the Dead Wings, apparently this term actually refers to a distinct era where the Wings, for lack of a better term, sucked. During this time period, there were 14 different head coaches. It was during this era in which poor old Howe retired.
- 1983-03: These are the Wings that I’ve known, “The Yzerman Era.” 1983 is when the Wings drafted youngster Steve Yzerman 1st overall, who later became captain and will of course be inducted into the Hall of Fame now that he is retired. Yzerman retired in 2006.
- 1994-04: This overlaps with the “Yzerman Era,” but this is loosely labeled as “The Russian Five and The Return to Glory.” This was the era in which the Wings and Avalanche rivalry began; when Scotty Bowman became one of the most loved/hated men in the NHL; and when the Wings started to scare me.
The rivalry continues.
I’m sure I’ve lost plenty of credibility after my round 1 matchups, but I’m giving round 2 a shot anyway.
Here’s a recap of my round 1 picks and who advanced:
Boston v. Montreal – Boston in 6 – actual was Boston in 4
Washington v. New York – Washington in 6 – actual was Washington in 7
NJ v. Carolina – Carolina in 7 – actual was Carolina in 7
Pittsburgh v. Philadelphia – Pittsburgh in 7 – actual was Pittsburgh in 6
San Jose v. Anaheim – San Jose in 5 – actual was Anaheim in 6
Detroit v. Columbus – Detroit in 6 – actual was Detroit in 4
Vancouver v. St. Louis – St. Louis in 6 – actual was Vancouver in 4
Chicago v. Calgary – Chicago in 6 – actual was Chicago in 6
So actually I only guessed wrong in two teams… let’s see if I can do a better job here. This time, let’s preview the western conference first since they were decided much earlier – no series in the West went to 7.
After a few looooooong nights, the first round of first round games are through. I think it’s fair to say we’ve seen some pretty fantastic games so far, a few surprises and maybe even a fight or two. Not bad – the players seem to be getting off on the right feet so far. I’ve decided to break down the most significant events of Game Ones into the three categories: good, bad or ugly.
Good: NY Rangers. That was the best game I have seen so far and I’m pretty stoked the Rangers won. Yes, I know I picked the Caps to take the series – and I still think they will – but I knew the Rangers were going to come out swinging and play with a lot of heart. But if they are going to win another game they have to play better defense on A.O. Henrik Lundqvist was the only reason that Ovechkin didn’t score (although he did notch two assists). But besides not holding off Ovechkin to the best of their abilities (although he did get hit five times in the 1st alone), the Rangers played a fantastic game. Sean Avery was at his absolute worst; picking meaningless fights and complaining like it was his job – oh wait, that’s right, it is his job. Rumor has it that NY Captain Chris Drury will be back tomorrow… let’s hope so. I think the Caps will take game two.
-by Alaina Scarano-Isbouts
Well all, it’s that time of year — playoffs. Round 1 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs will begin on Wednesday night. Get ready to hear of every possible story line; rookies and old-timers ready to fight for the death for the chance of a life time — to win Lord Stanley’s Cup. Here’s my take on what this year’s playoffs have to offer and who will make it out alive.
Boston v. Montreal: What a great series for old rivalries. The two Original Six teams have faced each other many, many times since the modest beginnings of the NHL. Boston, after having missed the President’s Trophy by just one point, has the home ice advantage but the more fickle fans. I’m going to bet this will be a rough-and-tumble series, but the ultimate battle will be between Tim Thomas and Carey Price. I’m going to go with Boston in 6 for this series. Continue reading
-by Alaina Scarano-Isbouts
While last night was a much more calm night around the league with only two games, it certainly wasn’t boring. A brief recap of what went down:
Buffalo 3, Toronto 1: Even though they gained two points in their win last night, Buffalo isn’t going anywhere. If they win their next two and the Rangers lost their next two, the Blueshirts still have that ever-so-crucial tiebreaker between the clubs; Buffalo’s only shot will be if the Panthers also lose at least once. I could see Florida dropping a game, but there’s no way the Rangers will drop their last two. Sorry Sabres.
Columbus 4, Chicago 3 SO: Columbus made history last night by clinching the first playoff appearance in franchise history. As long as the Blue Jackets get at least one point in their next two games (first St. Louis, then Minnesota) they will stay in 6th. Not bad after nine years! I love that both these teams are in the playoffs, along with St. Louis. These are the best games to watch — the teams who really want to win.
by Alaina Scarano-Isbouts
Last night, with seven playoff spots left still up for grabs, 26 different teams fought pretty damn hard to move in, move up or move closer to a chance for Tavares. Here is a recap of what went down in the most important games last night.
NY Rangers 3, Montreal 1: Montreal could have locked up a playoff spot with a win at The Garden. The Rangers didn’t yet clinch a playoff berth, but instead earned two extremely important points over the Canadiens. The win was crucial for the Rangers, who are now two points ahead of Florida and has the lead in wins if there were to be a tie. Was it just me or did Carey Price play like he was extremely nervous? The Montreal goalie (who was the topic of my first ever TAS article), after letting in a horrible 2nd goal that shouldn’t have been a goal at all, wasn’t up to his normal par. Price wasn’t covering the puck when he should have been and seemed to not be paying attention to where the puck was going to be — only looking at where it was that moment. Not to discredit the Rangers’ effort… after some speculation on exactly how great Chris Drury is Monday on TAS, it looks like Drury is showing up to the Rangers games after all. Drury had two goals and six shots on goal, truly living up to the C on his sweater.
Toronto 4, NJ 1: This game didn’t matter much for Toronto or NJ. The Devils had already cliched a playoff spot and the Leafs — although not giving up on a playoff run — were an extremely long shot. Martin Brodeur played another horrible game, letting in 4 goals, while the offense for NJ didn’t make much of an effort. Jamie Langenbrunner had the only goal — a power play goal in the 2nd period. Toronto picked up two ill-timed points to bring them to 79 and keep them out of the playoff run. The only news here is that NJ did not yet clinch the Atlantic Division title. NJ could be overtaken for the title if Philly wins their last three and the Devils lose their last two. It’s all going to depend on Brodeur and if he can play at the level he was playing less than a month ago.