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Posts Tagged ‘St. Louis Blues’

2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview Bonanza

In Hockey on April 16, 2014 at 6:35 pm

5281948Oh hey there, playoff hockey. Welcome back. Please, come in. Can I take your coat? Would you like a beer or are you more of a wine fan? Excellent, now please stay forever.

That’s right, we get playoff hockey back and I’m ready to actually do some writing for you loyal readers along with the binge drinking that comes with it. But as usual, work and video games got in the way of doing detailed breakdowns so I’m cramming everything into one post. I have avoided any preview material on the internet, so no one can alter my thoughts.

This is the part where I’m supposed to insert something funny before we get going, but I got nothing. I’m tired and the games are on, so let’s get this over with.

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
The fun and loveable Blue Jackets have a chance because Marc-Andre Fleury will be in the Pittsburgh net during the playoffs and damn it, it will make for an entertaining series at the very least. But too much Sidney Crosby and not enough support for Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky means the Pens move on. Don’t worry, their fans will still find plenty to complain about. Penguins in six.

New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers
I have bounced back and forth on this series several times. Henrik Lundqvist vs. Steve Mason feels like it should be enough for me pick the Rangers alone, but I can’t help myself. Claude Giroux has been nuts after the team got off to a terrible start and he carries it over to the playoffs. Flyers in seven.

Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings
If any team in the East might give the Bruins a scare in the opening round, Detroit is the one that could do just that. This is great for the game because it throws the Red Wings into a series with someone that they could develop an intense rivalry with. It should be deja vu for the Bruins as far as round one goes this year, but the result will be the same. Boston is too good. Bruins in seven.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Montreal Canadiens
Everyone is sleeping on this series but I think it will be an entertaining slugfest featuring the game’s best goal scorer and Canada’s only hope. Early advantage goes to Montreal as they boast one of the best goalies in the world while the Bolts’ MVP (Ben Bishop) is out for at least game one. That’s enough for me to take the Habs. Montreal in six.

Western Conference

Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild
Everyone in hockey has been waiting for the Avs to come crashing back to Earth based on their unsustainable fancy stats numbers and a goalie playing out of his mind. They’ll play former division foe Minnesota who would be primed for an upset if there wasn’t a giant question mark in the net. Avalanche in six.

St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Norris Division, we have missed thee. This series won’t be a throwback to the chaos that ensued during the Black and Blue Division’s heyday, but it’s going to be a war. St. Louis had the President’s Trophy in their sights before crapping the bed late in the year, giving us the matchup we all wanted one round early. St. Louis has been bad in every aspect of the game as of late and they’re going to need to get up for the Hawks before it’s too late. Chicago is too deep and the Blues have too many questions in net and on offense. Blackhawks in six.
Ed. Note: It was REALLY difficult to not rip on the Blues during that. Don’t worry, I’ll do plenty of that on Twitter.

Anaheim Ducks vs. Dallas Stars
Fire wagon hockey will be present in every single game of this series as both teams love to get up and down the ice. Dallas has been a blast to watch and they have the edge in net with Kari Lehtonen over, well, whoever the hell the Ducks decide to play in net. Both teams have a superstar duo and plenty of secondary scoring. But the Ducks have Cam Fowler. That’s enough for me to make my pick. Stars in six. #CamSucks

Want to read an actual preview of the series? Check out our buddy Pierre Canard’s in-depth preview.

San Jose Sharks vs. Los Angeles Kings
My preview for this series is that I drink a lot and wind up in the fetal position because Antti Niemi can’t keep the puck out of the net. Yeah, I’m not going into much detail. Let’s just say I’m not optimistic and I don’t wanna talk about it and JUST LEAVE ME ALONE. Shit. Kings in six.

That’s it. If you want something more in-depth, I’m sure you can find about 5,283 articles on each series. Want more of an in-depth answer from me on the series in the West? Follow me on Twitter and I’ll be sure to answer. Also, follow along for the retweets, especially if you don’t like the Blues.

Because I’m a Very Busy and Lazy Person

In Hockey on October 23, 2013 at 11:58 pm

AbeSooo yeah. I didn’t exactly meet the opening bell when it came to getting my season previews done. Work and life get in the way, so deal with it.

But I am not about to deny my loyal reader(s) the remainder of these previews. Here they are in fast forward, unchanged from the start of the season, beginning where I left off.

Metropolitan Division

Washington Capitals – 3rd Place
Lots of offense, not alot of defense, but this team is going back to the playoffs.

Atlantic Division

Detroit Red Wings
The move East helps this old roster earn their first divison crown as members of the East.

Boston Bruins
Still a physical and nasty group, the Bruins will contend for the division title but just miss out after playing lots of hockey over an 18-month span.

Ottawa Senators
Maybe the most fun team in the league to watch, but with a few of their top forwards prone to injury, the team lacks depth to contend for the top spot. Still a playoff team though.

Toronto Maple Leafs
Defensive issues and possession numbers don’t favor the Leafs as they aim for a second straight playoff berth. Adding Jonathan Bernier means there’s no easy night for opposing shooters.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Suspect defense and a lack of consistent goaltending spells trouble for the Bolts this season.

Buffalo Sabres
They’re not good and the most entertaining thing about this team will be the Ryan Miller/Thomas Vanek trade watch.

Florida Panthers
Still a young group trying to find their way. Adding Tim Thomas helps, but these guys are a long way away from contending for anything other than a lottery pick.

Central Division

Chicago Blackhawks
Loaded at every position, the Blackhawks won’t run over everyone like they did last year but they’re still the class of the NHL.

St. Louis Blues
Great on defense and solid in goal, the Blues are one still one dynamic scorer away from challenging for the top spot in the Central. But man will it suck to play against these guys every night.

/laughs knowing the Sharks pounded the Blues early this year

Minnesota Wild
Still a year or two away from being a serious threat. But this team showed great strides last year and I expect that to continue this year.

Dallas Stars
They’d be higher on this list if I knew Kari Lehtonen wasn’t one play away from falling apart. Still a really good group of young forwards and veterans and a sneaky good defense.

Nashville Predators
They won’t run away with many games this year, but defense and goaltending will keep the Preds in most games this year. Plus, they have American Hero Seth Jones on the rosters, which is awesome.

Colorado Avalanche
A fast and skilled group of forwards makes the Avs a fun team to watch. A shaky defense and spotty goaltending do them in. But man will Patrick Roy be fun to watch as a coach.

Winnipeg Jets
They couldn’t win the worst division in hockey the last two years. That’s bad news as they transition to the West. Ondrej Pavelec is not a franchise goaltender. Why can’t Jets’ management understand this?

Pacific Division

Los Angeles Kings
They have the right mix of skill, toughness and great goaltending. They’ll be in the mix for the Stanley Cup again this year.

San Jose Sharks
It’s the last shot for this group to win. They’ll still roll out world-class talent at forward and have a very good goaltender in Antti Niemi. One serious injury to the forwards will doom the Sharks.

(This was my thought before their red-hot start. I never would have expected what has happened.

Anaheim Ducks
Lucky for you, Pierre Canard has you covered with an actual in-depth preview. Read it now.

Vancouver Canucks
They’re a tire fire waiting to happen, but they still possess some of the best talent in the world. They’re not elite anymore though. And the Sharks own them, which is great for everyone.

Phoenix Coyotes
Still stingy on defense and the score more than you think. I’d be shocked if they didn’t earn the West’s final wild card spot.

Edmonton Oilers
I still don’t trust this team on defense and in net. That’s bad news for a fan base that expects to win now.

Calgary Flames
Oof. Calgary needs to fail badly to try to lock up the top pick in next year’s draft. They’ll battle, but they’re very short on talent.

There ya go. I did not take anything that has happened so far into account for these brief previews. I’m sure everyone will agree with me though…

I am Ryan Thomas, and I’m glad I don’t do this for a living. Follow me on Twitter @rthomas_22, because if you like hockey, you’ll like following me.

Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview: #5 Los Angeles Kings vs. #6 San Jose Sharks

In Hockey on May 14, 2013 at 6:55 pm
Ah memories...

Ah memories…

UGHHH, I barely had enough time to recover from watching the Leafs crap all over themselves before I needed to get my series preview out for the Sharks and Kings. DAMN YOU, NHL SCHEDULERS.

OK now I’m done. Time to preview what might be the most stressful series I will ever watch. If you’ll excuse me, I need to take off my black and teal tinted glasses, wipe the remains of the Vancouver Canucks off my shoes and throw in a fat dip before I dive in.

Much better.

The last time these two clubs met in the playoffs in 2011, I was given wonderful memories that I will be able to cherish for a long time, smacking a pesky young Kings team that appeared to be two year away from being a major contender. Well I was right about the contender part, but a year off. Damn it all…

The defending champions did the entire hockey world a favor in ridding us all of the St. Louis Blues in the first round, even if their goalie made a couple of boneheaded plays to put the Kings down 0-2. The Kings aren’t flashy. They’re quick, skilled, but will beat teams down with their physicality. And the scary thing is, they’re playing as well as they did during last year’s playoff run.

LA is the only team left in the West that can match the Sharks’ depth down the middle with Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards and Jarret Stoll going against Joe Thornton, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski. Defensively, the Kings should have the edge with Drew Doughty playing out of his mind once again and the rest of the D following suit. And the one spot where the Sharks should have had the edge, in goal, suddenly becomes a wash after Jonathan Quick found his game against the Blues. Well, at least he looks like he found his game because the Blues were horrendous offensively.

I’ve had a week to sit back and smile after watching the Sharks rid the Stanley Cup Playoffs of the Canucks. San Jose was better in every facet of the game en route to the first sweep in franchise history. But could the time off have spawned some rust on the Sharks express? It could have, but I have to think the Sharks used that time productively and they should be all over the Kings to open the game. My biggest worry for the Sharks is how they’ll respond to the Kings’ physical play. It’s no secret that the Canucks are soft, and outside of Raffi Torres and Brent Burns, the Sharks don’t exactly have a bunch of guys that can bang bodies.

With as much talk about how this is now Couture and Pavelski’s team, the old guard is still going to need to be very good for the Sharks to win. Yes, the Sharks’ power play dominated in round one. But the Kings aren’t sieves on the penalty kill the same way the Canucks were. Everyone is going to need to contribute offensively for the Sharks, as LA boasts four lines that can pitch in.

Oh, and Antti Niemi needs to be better this time around against the Kings after giving up 19 goals in that six-game series back in 2011. He’s a much better goalie now but he has to continue to keep his team in games like he did all year. This time, Nemo is going to need to be better than a former Conn Smythe winner. And damn it, he better be.

Los Angeles Will Win If…
Their bottom six forwards contribute each game. The top-six forwards are a wash in my opinion, but LA got contributions up and down the lineup en route to the Cup last year. In the first round, that was no exception. LA has guys that are not only bears to play against (or in Dustin Penner’s case, actual wild life), but they create chances with their forecheck. San Jose’s defense needs to be ready for that pressure and keep the puck away from the LA grinders.

San Jose Will Win If..
Antti Niemi wins the goaltending duel. Only two starting goalies left won rings as starters, and they’re matched up against each other in this series. While Quick was the biggest reason for LA winning last year, Niemi kept things steady for Chicago when they won the Cup in 2010. He needs to keep up his Vezina-worthy play in this series to down a red-hot team in the Kings

Prediction
Blood will be lost, tears will be shed and my liver will take an absolute beating. I’m sure at some point, you’ll find me in my apartment curled up in the fetal position after watching these games. I don’t know if I can handle another series like the Red Wings series in 2011, but I don’t have a choice.

This series is going to be awesome, but I give the edge to the only team left that can beat the Blackhawks. Kings in 7.

Time to start drinking…

I am Ryan Thomas, and I’m a bad fan for not picking my team. Follow me on Twitter @rthomas_22 to join in with the misery I’m sure this series will bring me.