The first round of the NBA playoffs have come and gone. The Lakers are out *sad face* and can finally stop being on every single headline in sports pages around the world. There were upsets, and superstars were made in the first round. Let’s have a preview on what the conference semi-finals can give us…
(1) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (5) Memphis Grizzlies
Why Oklahoma City can win the series?
Kevin Durant. If you have last season’s MVP who can be a scoring machine and is the second best player in the NBA, you’ve got a chance to win. Oklahoma City can depend on Kevin Durant for outside scoring and interior scoring if needed. Their defense is extremely quick, with Serge Ibaka as their power-forward/center, he is averaging three blocks a game during the playoffs, and can provide a somewhat decent secondary scoring. Losing Russell Westbrook will be tough though, as he is out of the playoffs with a right knee injury. They will have to depend on Kevin Durant a lot, and he is more than capable of carrying his team on his shoulders. #DurantOrBust
Why Memphis can win the series?
The Twin Towers of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Marc Gasol and Z-Bo were the reasons why the Los Angeles Clippers cannot win. The interior offence by Memphis is extremely hard to control. Marc Gasol is arguably one of the best playmaking big men in the NBA. In the regular season, he averaged four assists per game as a center. He also carries a jumpshot, and is extremely underrated for a 7″1′ center from Barcelona, Spain. As for Z-Bo, he’s been averaging close to 25 points in his last four games. He continues to harass the paint against defenders. He too carries a jumpshot, and is one of the hardest working big men around. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan cannot contain either of them. Now OKC has Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, both are much better defenders than Griffin and Jordan. But if Memphis can continue to play their stingy defense and if Mike Conley continues to feed the ball inside, Memphis can definitely take the series.
Verdict: Memphis in 7
These two teams hate each other. Memphis has a defense that is number one in the league this season. Lionel Hollins has been doing a great job. If Kevin Durant can be contained by the Grizz, and because OKC is missing Westbrook, which already takes away 23.2 PPG away from OKC, Memphis can win the series.
(2) San Antonio Spurs vs. (6) Golden State Warriors
Why San Antonio can win the series?
Experience. Gregg Popovich is arguably one of the best NBA coaches of all time. The San Antonio Spurs are extremely consistent, and can always find a way to win games. Tim Duncan is playing one of his best seasons in a long while. Tony Parker can still shoot from anywhere on the court, and Manu Ginobili can still run, run, run. Balanced scoring and team defense can carry this Spurs team into the Conference Finals. I know they’re getting old, but when you have someone as smart as Popovich coaching the team, anything can happen with a wise Spurs team.
Why Golden State can win the series?
Steph Curry. Curry has turned himself into a star this season. Most people argued that he was the biggest snub in the NBA All-Star game in February. (It’s OK Steph, you didn’t miss much) In the playoffs, he’s hitting big shots every game (except game 1, he probably had the jitters). On the four good games he had against Denver in the first round, Curry averaged 52.25% from the field, and that’s from shooting jumper after jumper, showering three after three. The injury of David Lee will hurt their interior game, but if you have other shooters like Klay Thomson, Harrison Barnes, and Jarrett Jack showering threes like Curry is, and an Andrew Bogut that everyone thought he’d be when he was drafted 1st overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2005, then Golden State might upset the Spurs.
Verdict: San Antonio in 6
I really wanted to say Golden State, as Stephen Curry is slowly turning into my favourite player. The addition of Jerry West in Golden State solidified a winning atmosphere in the Bay Area, and all those shooters are just so unpredictable. They can get hot for one night, and cold in the next. San Antonio will advance because of balance and adversity. Gregg Popovich will make sure the Spurs will advance and their defense will do something when Curry is on the court.
(1) Miami Heat vs. (5) Chicago Bulls
Why Miami can win the series?
Why not? They’re the best team in the NBA. They’re the defending champions. They have the best player in the NBA right now in LeBron James. Last time I checked, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh is still there, and they are even a better team than last year’s championship team. The addition of Ray Allen and Chris “the Birdman” Anderson just added more depth in the already scary lineup. They just swept a pesky Milwaukee Bucks team at ease, with LeBron scoring at 62.7% from the field. They are the best team in the NBA right now, and to really… who can beat them?
Why Chicago can win the series?
Tom Thibodeau. I don’t know how Chicago does it. In the season where they don’t have Derrick Rose from a torn ACL, they can still pull off a fifth seed. Then, in the first round of the playoffs, they lose their best scorer in the regular season in Luol Deng to the hospital with flu-like symptoms, Joakim Noah has been suffering with a wonky ankle, Kirk Hinrich with a bruised calf, and Nate Robinson was throwing up on the bench in game six. Well, they still manage to go on the road in Brooklyn and beat the Nets in game seven Saturday. Their resiliency just scares me, and should scare Miami. And if Derrick Rose’s brother will let him play in this series, it can get really interesting.
Verdict: Miami in 6
It all depends if Rose plays. Thibodeau’s defense will be a lot better than Milwaukee’s. And it was the Chicago Bulls that broke Miami’s 27 game win streak in March. If Noah can play like he played against the Nets, along with Carlos Boozer, I don’t know if the Heat have a big man to stop these two players. It’ll definitely be an interesting series to watch.
(2) New York Knicks vs. (3) Indiana Pacers
Why New York can win the series?
It all depends on whether we see the Carmelo Anthony of the regular season, the one that puts up 28.7 PPG, or the one we saw the past three games against the Boston Celtics, the one that went 25 of 82, which meant his FG% that past three games was 30.4%. He missed 52 shots the past three games. 52! The possible return of Amar’e Stoudemire can ease some pressure off Carmelo a bit. But Jason Kidd has to play more minutes. If we see the Knicks from the regular season, where J.R. Smith was putting up 18.1 points off the bench, and where Tyson Chandler can continue his defensive dominance, then New York can definitely edge the Pacers past this round.
Why Indiana can win the series?
Paul George. This guy has to be one of the most underrated players in the NBA. He can take you from outside with a sweet jumper, or take you inside with an aggressive lay-up. Indiana also has depth. Roy Hibbert can be a beast in the middle, and David West can take jumpers outside and power himself inside as well. George Hill is a point guard no one in the NBA talks about, but he can quietly put up 15 PPG in the playoffs with a couple of dimes a game. Tyler Hansbrough is a great inside defender, and D.J. Augustin and Gerald Green coming from the bench defines how deep their bench really is. Pacers may be the least talked about team in the playoffs this year, but don’t underestimate what damage they can do in the playoffs.
Verdict: Indiana in 6
New York basically runs on Carmelo Anthony. If Anthony is good, New York will win, if Anthony is bad, then the Knicks will be really bad. I feel Indiana’s overall game will eventually wear and tear the Knicks. The Pacers can beat you from both inside (Hibbert and West) and outside (Hill and George). In the end, Indiana will steal a game at Madison Square Garden and will take the series in six games.
That’s it for the preview. Let’s see how inaccurate my picks are. Until the next round…
Aaaaand… I’m a couple of days late. Not to worry. Better late than never right? An end to a shortened season, and for the first time in nine years, we see the Toronto Maple Leafs making the postseason. I guess that’s why it doesn’t feel like it’s the postseason yet… the Leafs are still playing…
All kidding aside, let’s have a small preview and my predictions for the first round..
(1) Chicago Blackhawks vs. (8) Minnesota Wild
Why Chicago can win the series?
Chicago is running on a high. They started the season with a 24 game point streak, basically not losing in regulation. Their line-up consist of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, and Duncan Keith. I know Patrick Sharp is coming off an injury, but they still have a lot of hustle and firepower up front. Corey Crawford is hot, and you only need a hot goalie in the playoffs.
Why Minnesota can win the series?
Minnesota on the other hand, barely squeaked into the playoffs. They achieved their goal already. After the signing of marquee free agents of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, Minnesota turned into a team with lots of speed. Don’t under estimate them, as they will race you with Parise and Heatley on the wing, and Mikko Koivu as their playmaker. Goaltender Nicklas Backstrom suffered an injury in the warm-up of game one, and forced Josh Harding into playing. Harding is currently suffering from MS, and still performed real well in Game 1.
Verdict: Chicago in 5
Minnesota showed the NHL that they can play with Chicago in game 1, going into overtime before surrendering a winner to Bryan Bickell. They’ll win a game, but the firepower of Chicago is just too much for the Wild to handle.
(2) Anaheim Ducks vs. (7) Detroit Red Wings
Why Anaheim can win the series?
Who would’ve thought that the Ducks are for real. Their first line of Corry Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Bobby Ryan is as good of a first line as any line in the NHL. Their depth is what carries the team. Teemu Selanne is still a 40-year old wonder, and the improved play of Francois Beauchemin and Sheldon Souray solidifies their defense. Jonas Hiller can be shaky at times, but Viktor Fasth has proven in the regular season that he can be as good as Hiller. In short, the Ducks are a well balanced team, in all areas, and can easily take this series.
Why Detroit can win the series?
They’ve been in the playoffs for 22 straight years. They have two superstars that can carry the team past any round. Their experience is their X-Factor. Pavel Datsyuk is a magician with the puck. Looking at the playoffs last season, he single-handedly helped Detroit come back from a 3-0 series deficit from the San Jose Sharks before losing in game seven. Henrik Zetterberg can also do the same. Jimmy Howard as a goalie can either be real good and is simply unbeatable at times, or he just leaks in the oddest goals, questioning his ability in net. Their only weakness is their defense, but if their forwards can hustle back and help the backend out, I don’t see why they can’t beat the Ducks.
Verdict: Anaheim in 6
Anaheim is too balanced and too deep. Detroit’s defense will let them down. Datsyuk can be a magician, but he’s also getting old. Anaheim will eventually score more than Detroit to take the series.
(3) Vancouver Canucks vs. (6) San Jose Sharks
Why Vancouver can win the series?
Depth Depth Depth. They are deep in all areas. Sedins as first line, Kesler centering the second line, and the addition of Derek Roy at the trade deadline benefited the Canucks in many ways. He can play in the middle, or play as Kesler’s wing. This crafty playmaker also has a scoring touch. Their defense is deep, with Alexander Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Jason Garrison, all capable in scoring goals from the point. And of course, their goaltending consists of Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo. Enough said.
Why San Jose can win the series?
Because they are sick of losing, and they have a goalie that is a Vezina candidate this season called Antti Niemi. Niemi is disgustingly good this season, and is showing flashes of his 2010 self when he was a Stanley Cup winner with the Chicago Blackhawks. Also, Patrick Marleau has shown the NHL that he is still capable of racking up points, as he went on a tear in the beginning of the season, scoring 14 points in his first six games. Logan Couture is also the next star from San Jose. Unfortunately, San Jose went cold after their hot start, but hey! Who’s to say that they can’t do it again.
Verdict: Vancouver in 7
No bias here, but San Jose’s defense looks shaky to me. Brett Burns turned into a winger, and Douglas Murray, their best defensive defenseman went to Pittsburgh. Vancouver has to get some scoring from their first two lines though. It’ll be a long series.
(4) St. Louis Blues vs. (5) Los Angeles Kings
Why St. Louis can win the series?
Their defense is scary. Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, Jay Bouwmeester, Jordan Leopold, Barret Jackman, and Roman Polak. Any of these defensemen can easily play on a top 4 in any other team. St. Louis is one of the deepest teams in the league. They don’t have a flashy superstar like Crosby in Pittsburgh or Datsyuk in Detroit, but they have great role players, and everyone in their team knows their role. Also, they have a hot goaltender right now. Brian Elliot has won five straight games, only allowing a goal a game during this stretch. St. Louis looks good right now.
Why Los Angeles can win the series?
They’re the defending Stanley Cup Champions. They know how to do this. They have done this before. They too are an extremely deep team. They have players that can contribute both offensively and defensively. Players like Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams, and Dustin Penner all know how to put the puck in the net. They have defensemen with lots of playoff experience; Drew Doughty, Rob Scuderi, Matt Greene, and recently added Robyn Regehr are all rugged defensemen that is extremely hard to score against. And finally, Jonathan Quick didn’t win the Conn Smythe last year because he was terrible, he’s still able to steal many games in the playoffs, and has shown that last season. They are not an easy team to play against.
Verdict: St. Louis in 7
This is going to be a hard fought series. In the end, I feel like St. Louis will survive in overtime in game 7 at home.
(1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (8) New York Islanders
Why Pittsburgh can win the series?
Did you see their roster? Let me list the players they have. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Jarome Iginla, Brendan Morrow, Kris Letang, Jussi Jokinen… That’s only their top two lines on the powerplay. This team is an offensive juggernaut. Oh, and if Marc-Andre Fleury decides he wants to go back to his 2009 Stanley Cup champion self, he is more than capable in doing so. This team is for real, enough said.
Why New York Islanders can win the series?
They won’t. But they have a lot of potential in the future. John Tavares and Matt Moulson can be their future. They have proven they can make the playoffs, and it’s an achievement already.
Verdict: Pittsburgh in 4
SWEEP! Even if Crosby is injured, NYI simply cannot contain the rest of the lineup. Making the playoffs was the Islanders’ goal in the beginning of the season. They have achieved it. They get one more week of hockey. But John Tavares will soon suit up for Team Canada in the upcoming Hockey Championships after his playoffs end.
(2) Montreal Canadiens vs. (7) Ottawa Senators
Why Montreal can win the series?
Secondary scoring and Carey Price. It all depends on Carey Price. If he is Carey Price from most of the season, then Montreal will do well. If not, then well… this may end quick. Montreal Canadiens is a fast, young team. My favourite player right now is Brendan Gallagher. I mean, this guy is a workhorse. Then add in Norris candidate P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov, one of the best pairing in the NHL right now. This is a scary team. However, the loss of Alexei Emelin caused the struggle of Montreal the past few weeks. The bruising defensemen got injured a few weeks before the playoffs, and the Habs just can’t seem to play defense without him.
Why Ottawa can win the series?
Erik Karlsson. The best defenseman in the NHL right now has to be Erik Karlsson. Only just two months before a severe tear in his Achilles tendon by Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke (70% severed), he is still scoring at will. Just before the playoffs, he played in the final three games of the regular season, scoring four points in the process. Game 1, he scored a goal and added an assist. The next Nicholas Lidstrom? Possibly, but I think he may just be better.
Verdict: Ottawa in 7
Montreal has been struggling since the absence of Alexei Emelin. Carey Price can’t find his act right now. If Karlsson can continue to score at a rapid pace, and if Craig Anderson can continue to be Craig Anderson, this series can side towards Ottawa.
(3) Washington Capitals vs. (6) New York Rangers
Why Washington can win the series?
Alex Ovechkin. This guy has been on a tear. He scored 36 points in the last 21 games. He single handedly put the Washington Capitals back into the playoffs after that horrible start in the beginning of the season. I know he can be a streaky player, but this guy is hot, hot, hot. Add in Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Ribeiro, and Mike Green, the Washington Capitals have enough firepower to beat the New York Rangers. Now about their defense…
Why New York Rangers can win the series?
Henrik Lundqvist. The reigning Vezina trophy winner is still carrying his team. He’s led the New York Rangers to the Conference Finals before, and he can easily do it again. This past off season, the Rangers won the Rick Nash sweepstakes. They still have Brad Richards in their line-up, a former Conn Smythe trophy winner back in 2004, when he was with Tampa Bay. Although the New York Rangers was extremely inconsistent the past season, their lineup is actually quite impressive. Rick Nash, Brad Richards, Derek Stepan, Ryan Clowe, Ryan Callahan, and Carl Hagelin are all capable in scoring. Along with a good goalie, New York Rangers can go far.
Verdict: New York Rangers in 7
The hottest team right now in the NHL is the Washington Capitals. But Ovechkin always seem to let us down in the playoffs. This will be a hard fought series. Henrik Lundqvist must steal a couple of games though.
(4) Boston Bruins vs. (5) Toronto Maple Leafs
Why Boston can win the series?
Hard checking, bangs and bruises. This is Boston’s style of hockey. They will outhit anyone that crosses their path. They have a lot of skill both up front and back. And keep in mind, they were the Stanley Cup champions just two years ago, and most of the core from that team is still here. Zdeno Chara will lead the Bruins, and the likes of David Krejci, Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, and Nathan Horton is more than capable to put the puck in the net. And of course, they acquired the ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr from the Dallas Stars during the trade deadline into the mix. Goalie Tuukka Rask is a great goalie, and is capable of stealing a game or two. Boston will go far.
Why Toronto can win the series?
Good question. But they didn’t make the playoffs as a fifth seed for nothing. It’s all about Randy Carlyle. A good coach also makes a good team. Notice after they fired Ron Wilson, the Maple Leafs improved a lot. Phil Kessel turned from a sniper to a playmaker. Joffrey Lupul is extremely good at scoring. And the Leafs can also hit as well. Question marks will be at the inexperience of the team, especially in goal with James Reimer. I know he had a good season, but the playoffs is another atmosphere. Can he handle the pressure?
Verdict: Boston in 5
I was actually gonna go for the sweep, but i think Toronto will win one at home before losing in the game five. Boston will out hit Toronto, and the Leafs’ inexperience will catch up to them.
That’s it. Enjoy the playoffs guys, and I’ll see you in the 2nd Round.
The entire basketball world went silent on Friday night, when Los Angeles Lakers star, Kobe Bryant went down hard clutching his heel, screaming in pain.
“Did he sprain another ankle?”
“He’s coming back!”
“Will Lakers make the playoffs now?”
Staples Center in LA was stunned to see Kobe Bryant get up by his own will, make a pair of free throws before being helped off the floor by North Vancouver native, Robert Sacre. In his post-game conference, he was in tears. On Facebook, he went on a rant…
This is such BS! All the training and sacrifice just flew out the window with one step that I’ve done millions of times! The frustration is unbearable. The anger is rage. Why the hell did this happen ?!? Makes no damn sense. Now I’m supposed to come back from this and be the same player Or better at 35?!? How in the world am I supposed to do that??
I have NO CLUE. Do I have the consistent will to overcome this thing? Maybe I should break out the rocking chair and reminisce on the career that was. Maybe this is how my book ends. Maybe Father Time has defeated me…Then again maybe not! It’s 3:30am, my foot feels like dead weight, my head is spinning from the pain meds and I’m wide awake. Forgive my Venting but what’s the purpose of social media if I won’t bring it to you Real No Image?? Feels good to vent, let it out. To feel as if THIS is the WORST thing EVER! Because After ALL the venting, a real perspective sets in. There are far greater issues/challenges in the world then a torn achilles. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, find the silver lining and get to work with the same belief, same drive and same conviction as ever.
One day, the beginning of a new career journey will commence. Today is NOT that day.
“If you see me in a fight with a bear, prey for the bear”. Ive always loved that quote. Thats “mamba mentality” we don’t quit, we don’t cower, we don’t run. We endure and conquer.
I know it’s a long post but I’m Facebook Venting LOL. Maybe now I can actually get some sleep and be excited for surgery tomorrow. First step of a new challenge.
Guess I will be Coach Vino the rest of this season. I have faith in my teammates. They will come thru.
Thank you for all your prayers and support. Much Love Always.
- Kobe Bryant Facebook
So what’s the deal with the Lakers now? Currently, they’re still leading the Utah Jazz by one game with two games left in the regular season. IF they get into the playoffs, they’re likely to play Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round. If that’s the case, can the Kobe-less Lakers go against the high-octane Kevin Durant-led Thunder? What if they go against San Antonio Spurs, who’s only half a game behind OKC.
The Lakers probably favours a matchup against the Thunder. Now that Kobe is out of the lineup, they have to depend on Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol to do most of their scoring. The Thunder has a much smaller lineup compared to San Antonio. With Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka in the frontcourt, Howard can easily outmuscle any of the two. However, with San Antonio, Tim Duncan is no pushover. They also need a healthy Captain Canada Steve Nash back in the lineup. With him running the offense, it’s much more stable in any sense.
As for Kobe Bryant, fans are just so used to see him overcome injuries throughout his career. Whether it’s playing through a back injury in 2008 through the playoffs, and playing through seasons after seasons with a screwed up finger. Then last season, he had a torn wrist ligament, and still played through the pain. However, that being said, a torn Achilles tendon is something you can’t rush. For a regular player, it’s a 6-8 month process. For Kobe? He’s already aiming for the beginning of the season. As for retirement, please… that’s not even part of the question. At 34 years old, will he still be throwing up 47 points like he did a couple of days ago? Possibly, but most likely not, especially coming out from a torn Achilles tendon. But 20+ points and 5+ assists with 4+ rebounds and a steal is definitely not out of the question.
Back to present day… let’s see if the Lakers can get into the playoffs first.
The past week was extremely eventful for the NHL. Yes, I actually did the honours of trying to sleep for a couple of hours and wake up at 5am PT to flip between Sportsnet’s TradeTracker and TSN’s TradeCentre. It was a day in which NHL teams had the chance to improve their rosters (if they have the right pieces) before the Stanley Cup Finals. It was a rather uneventful day, as the first trade didn’t even happen until roughly 9:15am PT. So I had to go through four hours of repeated analysis from TSN and Sportsnet insiders. I could only imagine how bad it was in the actual studios.
With this being a shortened season, there were a lot more buyers than sellers. In fact, only the Dallas Stars, Calgary Flames, and the Buffalo Sabres did some selling. Here are the winners and losers of the NHL Trade Deadline on April 3rd.
If you get the biggest fish in the market, you are considered a winner. When you get four fishes that are a worth something in the playoffs, you’re almost the champion. Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero did a magnificent job improving their already stacked roster, acquiring Calgary Flames legend Jerome Iginla, Dallas Stars captain Brendan Morrow, San Jose Sharks heavy hitting defenceman Douglas Murray, and Carolina Hurricanes winger Jussi Jokinen. If you look closely, this would be their first three forward lines:
Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla
James Neal, Evgeni Malkin, Brendan Morrow
Pascal Dupuis, Brendan Sutter, Jussi Jokinen
If you have Crosby, Malkin, Iginla, Neal, and Kristopher Letang as your first unit powerplay, I could only imagine how scared the opposing team can be. Oh, and Ray Shero only had to give up some prospects and draft picks. What a great job by Shero without tampering with the team.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Who would’ve known that the Columbus Blue Jackets would be fighting for a playoff spot in April WITHOUT Rick Nash. With the stellar play of goaltender Sergei BOBROVSKY (reference to TSN’s Jay Onrait), as of right now, they are only a point away from the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. So they decided to acquire seven-time 30 goal scorer Marian Gaborik from the New York Rangers in exchange for tough guy Derek Dorsett, center Derick Brassard, and defenseman John Moore. What does Gaborik do in his first game as a Blue Jacket? Score the game winner, and add an assist as Columbus beats Nashville 3-1 Thursday. The Blue Jackets also acquired Blake Comeau from the Calgary Flames for some depth. Good on them for trying, and they didn’t even have to move the three first-round draft picks in next year’s deep draft.
I hate to say this team is a winner, just because Vancouver is in the same division as they are (until this season anyway). Jason Pominville was a GREAT add. He’s a leader, a captain, a power-play specialist, a penalty-killer. To bring that along with what they did in the off-season before the lockout in Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, Minnesota JUST might overtake Vancouver in the Northwest Division. Pominville with Parise and Mikko Koivu as a first line seems pretty deadly to me. The only downside would probably overpaying just a bit to get him. Matt Hackett is supposed to be a really really good goaltender, and he has shown glimpses of that last season. Johan Larsson is supposed to be a future top-six forward. They also have Mikael Granlund for that, and he was known for doing this.
They also gave up a 1st and 2nd round pick for next year’s draft, but quality over quantity right?
Anytime you lose a player like Jarome Iginla, the heart and soul of your organization, you’re going to go down as a loser. The thing about this trade is, you weren’t even able to get an “A tier” prospect from Pittsburgh while trading him away. Sure you can get a first round pick from the Penguins, but right now, it seems like what Buffalo Sabres got for Jason Pominville was a lot more that what the Calgary Flames got for Jarome Iginla. When they’re going on “rebuild” you better make sure you are able to dump most of your contracts. That includes Matt Stajan, Mikka Kiprusoff (Yes I know he wants to stay, but try your best to convince him), and even consider Anton Babuchuk, Cory Sarich and Lee Stempniak. I’m positive that there would be takers. Jay Feaster, you are a horrible GM. Good luck trying to make the playoffs next year with this lineup.
I see why they weren’t sellers. Despite starting off the season in the bottom of the league, they have slowly crept themselves into the Southeast Division lead with around 10 games to go. Alexander Ovechkin is getting hot at the right time. BUT, not trading Mike Ribeiro, an expiring contract to another team was a big letdown, especially when contract extension talks are not going well. Also, the question of trading their future star-forward, Filip Forsberg, just baffles me, especially when they’re only getting Martin Erat and a prospect in return. Martin Erat was once “good” for Nashville, but he is going downhill, and he’s also 31 years old. (Erat also got injured on Saturday against the Florida Panthers) Filip Forsberg on the other hand? Here’s what some scouts have to say…
“A leader who shows by example — I would compare him to Anaheim’s Corey Perry a little bit. Has a nose for the net, and often scores the big goals. He’s a creative playmaker, good skater with fine straight-ahead speed. He’s a right-handed forward with an excellent shot and an effective two-way player with a great winning attitude. Filip’s a solid puck carrier with very good puck-handling skills; mature, good size and physically strong. On top of that, he’ll sacrifice himself to make the play.” - NHL Director of European Scouting, Goran Stubb
So potential to be Corey Perry and they traded him for Martin Erat?
This has to be the joke of NHL Trade Deadline 2013. When Boston thought they have gotten Jarome Iginla six days before the trade deadline, and in the end, it was Pittsburgh that won the sweepstakes. What. A. Joke. TSN Aaron Ward first reported this. (and yes they did apologize… we all make mistakes) Keep in mind, they also lost out on Brendan Morrow to Pittsburgh as well. It feels like every time they have a target on a player, the Penguins will find a way to take it under their nose. In the end, they had to “settle” for Jaromir Jagr from Dallas, which ended up to be alright, as he scored his first goal as a Bruin in his first game. They also got Wade Redden from St. Louis. They’re in the loser section just because they lost out on two star players TWICE… TO THE SAME TEAM!
I’ll have to do a report on the Canucks just because they’re my home team.
Honestly, they didn’t do much. Getting Derek Roy from the Dallas Stars for Kevin Connauton and a second-round pick seemed fair. The Canucks had to find a second/third line center. Throwing wingers in to take faceoffs just doesn’t do it. So far, I’ve been quite impressed with Derek Roy’s chemistry with Chris Higgins. We’ll see how well he fits and what Alain Vigneault decides to do when Ryan Kesler comes back from his injury. As for the Roberto Luongo saga… it’s to the point where it’s sad. Cory Schneider started his 10th straight game on Saturday, and Roberto Luongo looked extremely comfortable just sitting on the end of the bench. When rumours were flying around last season about the Toronto Maples Leafs trading away Nazim Kadri, Tyler Bozak, and a pick for Roberto Luongo, I wonder how much Canucks GM Mike Gillis regrets not taking that trade today. Kadri currently leads the Leafs with 39 points in 38 games. And Tyler Bozak also has 24 points this season. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that Mike Gillis proposed a trade that involved Ben Scrivens and two second round draft picks for Luongo. Leafs GM Dave Nonis kindly rejected. What now Gillis, what now?
Next up… playoffs. Oh yes, and I apologize for not updating as much as I should. I promise my next post won’t be a month and a half away… try to anyways. In the meantime… Happy watching everyone. Cheers to all.
“When you believe in what you believe in no matter what happens or what people believe, the ultimate is the ultimate, this is the ultimate to come and leave the game as a champion.” - Ray Lewis, Linebacker, Baltimore Ravens
What a way to end the 2012-2013 season. Baltimore Ravens, a team that had a hot start, and cooled off to the point where critics and analysts doubted their chances of even making the playoffs, and a team that even changed their offensive coordinator in December, wins the 47th Super Bowl. The Ravens were led by Ray Lewis’s inspirational retirement announcement, just a few weeks before the playoffs, and had that extra drive to give Lewis his swan song, winning the last seven games of the season.
There were all sorts of different storylines that surrounded this game. The San Francisco 49ers had Colin Kaepernick, the rookie quarterback that replaced starter Alex Smith in the middle of the season and pulling off an incredible run, leading the 49ers to the Super Bowl with only nine NFL games under his belt. On the other side of the field, other than Ray Lewis’s final game of his illustrious career, you had impending free-agent Joe Flacco, trying to prove to the NFL that he too is an elite quarterback in the league. As a result, you had Flacco throwing for three touchdowns in the first half, winning the Super Bowl MVP. And Kaepernick? Well, he did his signature kissing his guns after rushing for a touchdown once, and did throw for 300 yards in the game, but his first half performance and his missed passes in the last few minutes proved his inexperience in the league, and may need another few games in him to work things out.
As for the game? Oh, Jacoby Jones had 290 combined yards, including a mind-boggling 109 yard kickoff return to start the second half. Minutes later, a power outage killed Baltimore’s momentum in 3rd quarter, allowing San Francisco to almost come back from a 22 point deficit to make the game more interesting. Reason for the outage? Possibly Beyonce’s unbelievable performance for the ever-famous halftime show. (You didn’t have to bring Destiny’s Child out… just you would’ve been enough!) The Harbaugh brothers going at it. (Congratulations John!) Oh, and there was also a fake field goal attempt in the the first half by Baltimore. Like I said before… this game had EVERYTHING!
It’s great to see a game this exciting. The Super Bowl is a holiday where it’s absolutely fine to get drunk in the morning to the afternoon to the evening. As for the famous TV commercials that are supposedly awesome? Well… I live in Canada… and damn you CTV for not letting me see any of it! Thank God for YouTube for letting me see bits of it… my favourite? The Budweiser Clydesdale one I must say… was extraordinary.
Anyways… another half a year before the next season… Congratulations Baltimore Ravens – 2013 Super Bowl Champions!
A week and a half into the new NHL season, we see a drastic difference between the NHL of 2012, and the NHL of 2013. On opening night 10 days ago, with the NHL lockout ending just a week before, fans got to see goals flying everywhere.
Looking at the scores, we got Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks’ “Goalie of the Future” (Sorry Luongo), letting in five goals before they fell to the defeat to Anaheim Ducks 7-3 on opening night. The same day, St. Louis Blues defeated Detroit 6-0. At the Chicago Blackhawks/LA Kings game, Chicago had a 3-0 after the first period… The next day, other than Minnesota beating Dallas 1-0 (a rarity… trust me), the other five games saw at least five goals scored per game. Scores include 6-4, 6-3, and 5-2… Few days later, San Jose Sharks were able to score six goals on Edmonton in the first period… See the trend?
Of the 30 teams in the NHL, 12 teams have a Goals Against Average over 3.00 (compared to just four last season). Many star goalies of the NHL are struggling out of the gate as well. Let’s take a look:
Last year Venzina Trophy (Best Goaltender) Winner Henrik Lundqvist (NYR) – GAA – 3.14 (11/12 – 1.97)
Last year Conn Smythe (Playoffs MVP) Winner Jonathan Quick (LOS) – GAA – 2.76 (11/12 – 1.95)
Mike Smith (PHO) – 4.62 (11/12 – 2.21)
Cory Schneider (VAN) – 3.13 (11/12 – 1.96)
Cam Ward (CAR) – 4.51 (11/12 – 2.74)
Miikka Kiprusoff (CGY) – 3.45 (11/12 – 2.35)
As you can see, even the best of the goalies are struggling to find their form.
Goalies must have the worst job in hockey, as they never get the credit unless they post a shutout. If they let in more than two goals a game, they lost the game for the team. Is this fair? Probably not, but that’s the way it is sometimes. Now during the lockout, most of the goalies didn’t get a chance to play overseas. Most of the goalies did their conditioning in North America. Other than European goalies (and there aren’t that many in the NHL), the others just trained in local practices and charity games. After being locked out since September, and with there being no games since the LA Kings won the Stanley Cup last June, you’re looking at six good months without much practical training. Then came the announcement of the agreement between the players union and the NHL, goalies then have five days of training camp with their own team before starting the season on January 19th.
With it being a shortened season, goalies will only fatigue faster than playing when a normal season should. For fans that love goals, enjoy it while they last. It’s not going to happen every season…
I’m sure you all know by now that the NHL lockout is over after 113 days. Hooray? I really don’t know how to feel right now. I’m a Canadian sports fan; obviously, I love hockey. I revolve my life around watching Canuck games. Hell, I live in Vancouver, there isn’t really much else to on rainy, cold nights here, so a winter without hockey seemed pretty depressing. Just hours after my favourite NFL team got kicked out of the playoffs (ugh), I find out I can watch my beloved Canucks again. I won’t have to put up with watching poker on sports channels, or reruns of Frasier (whatever, you know Frasier is awesome).
So, why am I not happier? I can tell you why: I’m a pissed off NHL fan. I’m bitter, I’m angry, and as a fan, I feel as though I don’t matter. Though the league did end up salvaging the season, the damage has been done. The NHL lockout cost the league 510 regular season games, but more importantly, it cost the league fans. The NHL, the owners, and the NHLPA insulted every fan with their greed. Were we supposed to feel sympathy for either side? Were we supposed to feel bad for the millionaires fighting with the billionaires? I don’t think so.
According to TSN Hockey Analyst Aaron Ward and TSN Hockey Insiders Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun, the new 10-year agreement features some of the following details:
- The players will get a 50/50 split of league revenue for the next 10 years
- Teams can only walk away from a player in salary arbitration if the award is at least $3.5 million.
- The upper limit on the salary cap in the first year is $60 million, but teams can spend up to $70.2 million. The cap floor will be $44 million.
- The 10-year deal also has an opt-out clause that kicks in after eight years (does this mean we can expect another lockout in 2021?).
- Each team will be allowed two amnesty buyouts that can be used to terminate contracts after this season and next season. This will not count against the team’s salary cap.
Well, I certainly hope it was worth it for the NHL. While many Canadians are rejoicing to the news that there will be a season, others are still mad (like myself), but I imagine with time, they will forgive the NHL. Fans of many teams in the United States however will not feel the same. Do fans in Dallas still care? What about Nashville? How about some of those new hockey fans in Los Angeles that the NHL got after the Kings won the Stanley Cup last year? I imagine they are watching Los Angeles Laker or Clipper games. Av fans are probably on the Peyton Manning-Denver Bronco bandwagon. What about corporate sponsors? Why would they put their money towards a league that is such a disaster, a league that already had problems filling stadiums in several cities across the US? We will absolutely see the ramifications the lockout had on the league.
So, go Canucks. I’m going to be watching them. I’m going to watch lots of games. However, the NHL won’t be seeing a dime from this fan. I’d rather watch the games at pubs or restaurants that welcome my business.