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In Hockey on June 3, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Sorry I’m getting this out as late as I am, but Pierre Canard is back and was nice enough to send me his picks for this round. I got lazy and didn’t bother opening the blog for a few days. What? The weekend and booze got in the way.

So without further ado, take it away, Pierre!

The good news? I went 3 for 4 in my predictions. The bad news? The LA Kings are still in the playoffs. As a Ducks fan, this makes me sick. Oh well. On to the conference finals, which features matchups of recent cup winners.

(1) Pittsburgh Penguins v (4) Boston Bruins

In the east, we see a clash of the titans. Two great teams, with lots of headline worthy storylines, be it the Iginla trade drama, the two series the penguins won en route to cups in the 90s, the recent cup wins, the personalities on the star laden teams, and so on, there should be no shortage of east coast bias coverage of this series.

Both teams have incredible depth up front, a solid defensive core and oozing playoff experience. Pittsburgh had a goalie controversy that led to Tomas Vokoun’s emergence as a start. Fleury can be brought off the bench and provide the Penguins with a level of consistency and experience, barring another psychological breakdown (Ed. note: HAHAHAHA). Boston does not have that luxury.

In my mind, Boston has the chance to win this as they’ve faced “harder” challenges in the playoffs, and are much more physical. That Chara guy can change games with a single shift, and plenty of youthful (but tested and proven) forwards in names like Lucic, Marchand and Horton. Pittsburgh on the other hand throws four solid lines at all times (actually, they probably could throw 6…), has a good mix of hungry veterans in Iginla, Morrow and Vokoun, and performers like Crosby, Malkin and the very under rated Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis.

I don’t know who to pick in this series. This will be a great hockey series to watch. I have Boston  winning the series in 7.  I think that Boston slowly grinds the Penguins down.

(1)Chicago Blackhawks v (5) Los Angeles Kings

The team that never really quit, Chicago, versus the team that just won’t go away (and seems to be playing lights out hockey when they want to) LA…

Chicago rode into the playoffs building off that impressive start. This team boasts very good depth at all positions and a very under rated goaltending tandem that gives the Hawks a consistent level of play in net. The team has experienced strange “funks” during the playoffs, but always seem to bounce back. With no shortage of offensive talent, this is not a team to trifle with.

LA on the other hand, hit its way out of the series with St. Louis, and then was pushed to the brink by an impressive Sharks team that finally lived up to its (albeit lowered) postseason expectations. The Kings seem to be channeling last years cup team, and seem to be benefiting off of the shortened season. They are relying heavily on the talented goalie Jonathan Quick, who could very well win another Conn Smythe trophy this year.

So who wins? I say this as a hockey fan, and not a Ducks fan. Los Angeles to me seems to be the team that emerges from the West, if they keep up this pace. Kings in 6. (Part of me just died saying that).

There you have it, with a cross-country matchup between Boston and LA in the finals.

I am Pierre Canard. Thanks for reading my incoherent ramblings on round three. Feel free to disagree with me on twitter @SargeTheDuck.

You heard the man, follow away.


Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: #1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #5 Los Angeles Kings

In Hockey on June 1, 2013 at 11:38 am

All right, kids. I’m really hung over and need to hit the road soon. So this won’t take long.

The Western Conference final comes down to the two best teams in the conference. The Presidents’ Trophy winners and the defending champs get their hands on each other for what should be an awesome series.

Chicago nearly pulled off one of the biggest choke jobs in recent memory, but rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat Detroit in a thrilling game seven that was nearly taken away from them. The Hawks are at their best when they roll four lines and when Corey Crawford isn’t letting soft goals past him. My biggest concern for Chicago remains the absence of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane from the score sheet. Yes, the two superstars were frustrated by Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Trouble is the matchup this time around doesn’t get any easier with Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards waiting. Toews and Kane are going to need to start finding the net or the Hawks are going to be in serious trouble.

L.A. is coming off a game seven win of their own, and they appear to be hitting their stride at the right time. At times against the Sharks, the Kings looked just like the scary Kings that rolled over everyone one year ago. Of course, that means that Jonathan Quick is pissing shooter everywhere off again with his play in net and his antics. Say what you will about the guy, but one stat stands out for me in Quick’s current run of disgusting play. Last year in the playoffs, Quick’s save percentage at even strength was .946. This year? An eye-popping .960. Freaking .960!!! That’s ridiculous! So if Jimmy Howard gave Chicago shooters fits last round, Quick is going to drive them mental this round.

Chicago Will Win If…
All four lines continue to produce. What the Blackhawks possess that San Jose did not is scoring coming from the bottom six forwards. That’s critical to a team’s success when Toews and Kane are having trouble hitting the twine.

Los Angeles Will Win If…
They win the physical game. We saw in the last round from Detroit that if you punish the Hawks, they tend to lose focus and get off of their game. Every single member of the Kings contributes by throwing their body around, and they’ll look to turn the Hawks black and blue.

LA pushes the Hawks around in the physical game and Jon Quick keeps the dream alive for the defending champs. I would elaborate a little more, but this LA team is a nightmare for anyone to play right now. Also, I need a Gatorade. Kings in 6.

I am Ryan Thomas, and I’m never drinking again. Follow me on Twitter @rthomas_22, because I said so damn it.