Friday, April 27, 2012

Eastern Conference Semifinals Previews

#1 New York Rangers vs. #7 Washington Capitals
Regular Season Series: Tied 2-2

The Lead Up:
The New York Rangers, the East's number one seed, had their hands full in a seven game series against the eighth seeded Ottawa Senators. The Rangers avoided elimination in the final two games before they eliminated the Senators in a thrilling game seven. The Washington Capitals needed seven games as well to knock of the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins.

The Washington Capitals have several story lines developing and spilling over into the second round. The biggest of the two is rookie, Braden Holtby's, carrying the Caps through the first round and outmatching Tim Thomas. The second and more controversial, Alaxeander Ovechkin's ice time. Ovechkin was benched during game five, and got very little ice time in game seven.

The Rangers were able to escape a monumental upset by the hands of the young and speedy Senators. Henrik Ludqvist anchored the Rangers between the pipes with a 1.70 goals against average, and denying the Senators on several flurries late in game seven.

Western Conference Semifinals Previews

#2 St. Louis Blues vs. #8 Los Angeles Kings
Regular Season Series: Kings win 3-1

The Lead Up:
The Los Angeles Kings are coming into the series after disposing of the Presidents' Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks in five games. While the St. Louis Blues handled the San Jose Sharks in just as many games.

Both teams have been successful thanks to great play between the pipes. The Kings' Jonathan Quick grabbed a .953 save percentage through the first round, including a shutout in game three. On the other hand, the Blues have had stellar play from both Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. Elliott has filled in for Halak after an injury early in game two. Elliott won the next four games and posted a .949 save percentage while doing so.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Stanley Cup Playoffs' Round Two Match Ups

The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is in the books. Eight teams were eliminated, some faster than others, and eight teams' chances at hoisting the Stanley Cup are still alive.

The Western Conference Semifinals have been set for some time now, the last game for the Western Conference was played three days ago. Advancing in the West is the St. Louis Blues, Phoenix Coyotes, Nashville Predators, and Los Angeles Kings.

While the Western Conference has been decided for some time now, the Eastern Conference needed a little extra time to decide its winners. Three series went to a decisive seventh game and one of those three to double overtime. Once the dust settled, the New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils, and Washington Capitals made it through to the next round.

Here is a quick look at how the second round match ups look.

The Western Conference Will Be A Defensive Battle

One thing that is as certain as the teams that will be moving on to the second round of the playoffs in the Western Conference, is that each team is lead by a suffocating defense and anchored by exceptional goal-tending.

Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes, Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators, and Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott of the St. Louis Blues have all turned out stellar performances through the regular season and playoffs so far.

Between the five goalies, there have been 717 shots faced and only 37 of those shots have lit the lamp. Some goalies have faced more shots than others due to the length of  their series and individual and other factors, but the individual stats of each goalie is just as impressive.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Is It Time For Change In San Jose?

Earlier today, the San Jose Sharks lost to the St. Louis Blues 3-1, and were eliminated from the playoffs in five games. In the beginning of the season, many thought the Sharks would be one of the league's top guns and challenge for the Stanley Cup.

Instead they will be getting a little extra time to practice their swing on the golf course this summer.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Could The Canucks Be Rushing Daniel Sedin Back?

Vancouver Canucks fans have had little to cheer for. Their team is in a 3-0 series hole and on the brink of elimination, however they may have found their first reason to cheer. No they are not cheering for the latest near perfect dive one of their Canucks pulls off, but because Daniel Sedin will be joining and skating with the team before game four on Wednesday.

Sedin has been skating while the team is in Los Angeles, and apparently has progressed enough to travel south and possibly make a return in time for game four. However, Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault has said Sedin playing is not yet a sure thing, from,
"That won't be my decision," Vigneault said. "That's a medical decision. He's been skating now for a quite a few days. They feel that he's progressed real well and he's cleared to practice with the team. We'll have a better indication here in the next couple days."
Sedin has not played in a game since he suffered a concussion on March 21, after being elbowed in the head by Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Penguins and Flyers Series Has Had All But One Thing

Coming into the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there was a league wide consensus that the series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers would be one of the best series that the opening round had to offer.

Even with all the lead up, what has unfolded in the first three games could not have been seen by anyone.

Through three games there has been 32 goals scored, over 150 penalty minutes, hat-tricks, Gordie Howe hat-tricks, fights, highlight reel goals and saves, insane comebacks, overtime wins and even a fight involving Sidney Crosby and Claude Giroux. However, despite all the chaos that has unfolded up to this point in the series, one thing has not made an appereance, consistent and solid goal-tending.

The Hockey Hangover: April 15

Last Night's Results:
Capitals 2, Bruins 1 (2OT)
San Jose 0, St. Louis 3
Senators 3, Rangers 2 (OT)
Blackhawks 4, Coyotes 3 (OT)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Video: Rangers And Sens Get Physical, Dubinksky Tosses Gatorade Cooler

When the Ottawa Senators put Matt Carkner in the line-up for game two of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals match-up with the New York Rangers, you had to know something was up. A possible reason for Carkner's suiting up, Brian Boyle roughing up young star, Erik Karlsson, during game one.

Solidifying this theory was Carkners actions during the opening minutes of the first period. While the play was in the Senators zone, Carkner came across the zone and ran Boyle. After hitting Boyle, Carkner dropped his gloves and sucker punched Boyle, before taking him to the ground where he continued to to pound Boyle.

Of course a sizable ruckus ensued (video after the jump).

The Hockey Hangover: April 14

Last Night's Scores:
Devils 3, Panthers 2
Flyers 8, Penguins 5
Red Wings 3, Predators 2
Kings 4, Canucks 2

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Kings Need The 2-0 Series Lead

The Los Angeles Kings won game one of the their Western Conference Quarterfinal match-up with the Vancouver Canucks, giving them the 1-0 series lead. Along with grabbing the series lead, the Kings stole the ever important home ice advantage from the Canucks.

The Kings controlled a good amount of the game, and out shot the Canucks 39-26. If not for the stellar play by Roberto Luongo, the game may have gotten out of hand and ended with a much bigger margin than just 4-2.

Game two of the series is later tonight and when the puck drops for the opening period, the Kings will have the opportunity to take a 2-0 series lead with them as the series switches gears and heads to Los Angeles.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Video: Ovechkin And Seidenberg Collide In Big Hit

The Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals needed extra time to decide the first game of their Eastern Conference Quaterfinal match-up. Just over one minute into the extra frame Chris Kelly beat Branden Holtby to give the Bruins the 1-0 series lead.

While the goals did not come until late in the game, the two teams did not wait to throw their bodies around. The physical play included Alex Ovechkin and Dennis Seidenberg, who collided during the second period.

Seidenberg, who initiated the hit, seemed to take the blunt of the force and hit the ice harder and before Ovechkin. Ovechkin did hit the ice as well but braced himself coming into the hit which prevented a very big collision.


The Hockey Hangover: April 12

Last Night's Scores:
Flyers 4, Penguins 3 (OT) (Flyers lead series 1-0)
Red Wings 2, Predators 3 (Predators lead series 1-0)
Kings 4 , Canucks 2 (Kings lead series 1-0)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Schenn Plays Huge Role In Flyers' Comeback

The Philadelphia Flyers acquired rookie Brayden Schenn last summer in a blockbuster trade that included Wayne Simmonds from the Los Angeles Kings for former Flyers captain, Mike Richards. When Schenn left Hollywood and came to the city of Brotherly Love many questioned Dean Lombardi's decision to ship out one of his organization's top prospects.

Over the course of the regular season Schenn played in 52 games, scored 12 goals and recorded 18 points. Schenn did suffer a broken foot when he blocked a shot against the Montreal Canadiens, and missed a few weeks of play which may have hindered his production during his first real stay in the big league.

However, in the first game of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Schenn played with the composure and looked like anything but a rookie.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Western Conference Quarterfinals Preveiws

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs. #8 Los Angeles Kings
Regular Season Series: Tied 2-2

The Lead Up:
Two years ago, the Canucks finished off the Kings, in Los Angeles, in game six of their first round match up. This year, the Canucks and Kings will once again meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the second time in three years.

Coming into the post season, the two teams were on two very different paths. The Canucks finished the last leg of the season on a torrid run, won their fourth consecutive division title, and wrapped up a second consecutive Presidents' Trophy.

On the other side, the Los Angeles Kings struggled to close out the season. The Kings found themselves in first place in the Pacific Division, and in third place in the Western Conference with two games to play. However, they gave up consecutive two goal leads and lost the season's final two games against the San Jose Sharks and dropped from third to eighth place on the last day of the regular season.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Stanley Cup Playoffs' Round One Match Ups

The NHL regular season has come to an end and the first round match ups for the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs have been set. In the Eastern Conference the seeding ended with the New York Rangers atop the conference, while the Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals and Ottawa Senators finished in second through eighth receptively.

In the Western Conference, the Vancouver Canucks finished with the most points in both the conference and league, taking the Presidents' Trophy for the second consecutive season. Rounding out second through eighth is the St. Louis Blues, Phoenix Coyotes, Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings respectively.

It took 82 games, but, this season saw two teams, in the Coyotes and Panthers, win their first division titles in franchise history. All but the Panthers, Devils, Senators and Blues are returning to the post season dance. 

Nine teams in the playoffs (Kings, Sharks, Coyotes, Capitals, Panthers, Canucks, Senators, Predators, and Blues) have never won a Stanley Cup, but come April 11 those and the rest of the teams will start their try at a run to win the Stanley Cup.  After the jump is a quick look at each match up.

Video: Patrick Kane's Slick Shootout Winner

Patrick Kane scored Chicago's only shootout goal, and Corey Crawford stopped all three Detroit Red Wings' shots to give the Blackhawks the 3-2 victory on the final day of the NHL's regular season.

Kane, the second shooter of the shootout, came in slow on Detroit's Jimmy Howard, and pulled the puck between his legs, before he cut back to his forehand and tucked the puck five-hole on Howard.

This game locked Detroit's first round opponent, the Nashville Predators, while Chicago's opponent is yet to be decided and could be Phoenix, Los Angeles, or San Jose depending on how tonight's late games play out.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Video: Mike Smith Robs Wisniewski

The Phoenix Coyotes have embedded themselves in the race for the Pacific Division title. One of the major reasons the Coyotes have not fallen out of playoff contention, like many other teams, has been the recent play of goaltender, Mike Smith.

Smith saved all 54 shots that found their way to the net in a 2-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier today. His most recent shutout has pushed his shutout streak to 219 minutes and 59 seconds, in which he has also shutout San Jose and Anaheim over his last three games.

Saves like the one below, on James Wisniewski, where he rolled on his back to make an outstanding glove save, have allowed this streak to continue. Smith may not have to shutout the Coyotes remaining opponents but he will have to continue his stellar play if the Coyotes want to grab the Pacific Division title.

Roy Scores OT Winner, Saves Buffalo's Playoff Hopes

The Sabres skated into the locker room after a period of play as boos echoed from the fans at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo. The Sabres had fallen into a 3-0 hole against the Maple Leafs, and seemed to have watched their chances at a playoff berth fade away.

However, when the puck dropped for the second period a revitalized Sabres team seemed to have taken the ice. After a period that was dominated by the Sabres, who out-shot the Leafs 19-6, and goals by Tyler Ennis and Alexander Sulzer, the Sabres pulled within one goal of the Leafs with one frame to play.

After a back-and-forth first 13 minutes of the third period, and goals by Toronto's Clarke MacArthur and Jake Gardiner and Buffalo's Derek Roy the Sabres found themselves once again down by two with a score of 5-3.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Capitals Slip, Give Sabres Life

The Washington Capitals entered their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the best possible scenario. The Caps found themselves in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and just three points behind the Southeast Division leading Florida Panthers.

A win would have put the Capitals virtually out of reach of the Sabres, who are the only team that could catch the Caps, and one point behind the Panthers. Two points would have made the Panthers and Caps game in Washington on Thursday a vital game in the race for the Division title, now a win by the Panthers could seal a Division title for Florida.