Moving into the offseason

well, it’s now the off-season. Time for all of us hockey geeks to take a breather, relax, and wait for something interesting to happen.

Not. they may not be playing, but it sure isn’t quiet or boring right now, is it?

Anyway, I’m starting to firm up my off-season plans. With any luck at all, here’s what you’ll see at Two for Elbowing during the offseason:

First — as previously threatened, I’m going to start my series of articles on what’s wrong with hockey. And also what’s right, because there’s a bunch of both. I won’t pretend to have all of the answers (or even all of the questions), but I do think what I have planned will be interesting and make folks think. And since (if you don’t read my personal blog) I’m leaving StrongMail friday, until I get a new job one of the things i plan on working on is my writing portfolio — and this is one big piece of that. So hopefully, you’ll find it worth reading.

Second — a project I’ve wanted to do for a long while: get my various collections online; Laurie and I own about 60 jerseys, almost a hundred pucks and probably a similar number of pins, we have about 450 volumes in our book collections (including all volumes of Trail of the Stanley Cup), and Laurie’s collection god knows how many program books, and I’ve been wanting to put some of the more historic highlights online for a while, whether it’s classic images of Peter Puck or our personal friend, Big Head Referee.

Maybe even some “can you name this poor schmuck” based on their program pictures. Wait until you see the one we found of Wayne Thomas — if I can find it again…

So hopefully hockey off-season will be anything but boring around this place…

Posted in Hockey and Other Sports

Prediction: stanley cup final

Two for Elbowing: Third round predictions…:

So, I’m 9 for 12 for the playoffs, my best run in years.

The two conference finals:

Anaheim/Detroit: Anaheim in 5.

Ottawa/Buffalo: I’ll pick Buffalo in 7. (now, watch Ottawa sweep…)

And, because I didn’t believe in Ottawa quite enough, I went 1 for 2, and 10 for 14 so far in the playoffs (too bad I didn’t have money down this year…)

In the final?

Ottawa in 5. I think they’re playing better right now. but there are so many wildcards, you could flip coins and get it right. Guigere outplaying Emery? Or will Emery start getting recognition for how well he’s played? Wlll Pronger be the good witch or the bad witch? will he focus his game or go *pop* again? The ducks are doing a “win it for Teemu”, which, if Teemu plays well, could make this interesting.

I think it’s going to be a fun series, no matter what. Either team could win it in five, but I think it’s Ottawa’s year.

My conn-smyth candidates: Alfreddson if Ottawa wins, Guigiere if Anaheim wins.

Posted in Hockey and Other Sports

one reason Doug Wilson is so pissed.

Some might think that Doug Wilson’s reaction (as I’ve pointed to this week) might be a bit — extreme. It’s not like the Sharks missed the playoffs, after all.

But the reality is, this was the year this team was aimed at; last year, “the kids got good experience” was good enough, this year, the expectation was for all the pieces to be there and click. Now, that didn’t happen — Mark Bell just never came close to what he was expected to be, not in any remote way, and I think the team spent a lot of time trying to fill that hole, never completely successfully.

But, also realize this: In the mid-90’s expansion, the Sharks showed up, then a year later, the Senators and Tampa. Then a bit after that, Anaheim and Florida.

Tampa’s won a cup. Anaheim and Florida have been to the finals. This year, the Senators and Anaheim are going to the finals, and one of them will win a cup.

San Jose is the only one of the teams from this round of expansion that haven’t made the cup finals.

That has to hurt, and cause heartburn. And it has to hurt even more that it’s two teams from that expansion period fighting it out this year… And I’m convinced Wilson believes the western team should ahve been the Sharks, and while we saw the Wing’s ability to make game 6 VERY interesting and the series a lot closer than maybe we expected, ultimately, Wilson’s convinced it’s waht the Sharks did NOT do, not what the Wings did.

And in that context, his reaction makes sense….

Posted in Hockey and Other Sports

Third round predictions

Time for Conference final predictions.

I was 6 of 8 in the first round.

In the second round, I picked:

I picked San Jose in 6. sigh. whine. moan. grump.

Actually, I said:

Detroit/San Jose: San Jose in 6.

Going to be a fun series, but I think San jose is better. but Detroit worries me if the Sharks falter a bit, and Hasek is, well, Hasek.

Which hit it on the head wonderfully, except for the fun part. the Sharks DID falter, the Red Wings didn’t, and Hasek was, well, very Hasek-like. Damn him, anyway.

Anaheim in 7: thanks to Luongo, it was almost that close.

Buffalo in 6: but congrats to the rangers for a great run.

Ottawa in 6: and New Jersey found it was just not like the good old days, Lou behind the bench or no. Ran out of pixie dust, Lou.

So I ended up 3-4, missing the one series I really wanted to get right. Of course.

So, I’m 9 for 12 for the playoffs, my best run in years.

The two conference finals:

Anaheim/Detroit: Anaheim in 5. Hasek can’t be hasek-like enough to beat the Ducks, and with Schneider out — I don’t know about you, but Chelios playing 25 minutes a game doesn’t worry me, but after seeing him in game 6 against the sharks, Chelios on the power play does. I don’t think this’ll be as close as some people do.

I heard on XM today that one of the ways Chelios stays in shape is that he spends a lot of time on the exercise bike — in a sauna. Holy hyperbaric chambers, Batman, I get heatstroke thinking of watching him…. Kids, do NOT try that at home.

Ottawa/Buffalo: I have very good friends who are senators fans. I very much want to see the Senators move on. The Sabres haven’t shown their best hockey yet (but win). This one can go either way. My heart says Ottawa, my head says buffalo. I’d call it a coin flip, but I can’t, so I’ll pick Buffalo in 7. (now, watch Ottawa sweep…)

Posted in Hockey and Other Sports

Second Round Playoff Predictions

Two for Elbowing: Playoff Predictions:

Here in the west, there are no underdogs, there can be no cinderella, no upsets. the teams are too closely matched. Of course, having said that, we’re going to lose at least two teams in the first round that will consider that a season failure. that’s how strong the west is.

My cut on the matchups:

First, a look at how I did in the first round…

Detroit/Calgary: I chose Calgary in 7.

I’m a little surprised Calgary didn’t do better. Veteran motivation beat out younger legs; Calgary just didn’t seem able to compete; too defensive, not enough offense. Too much of the Sutter thing, perhaps, without Sutter behind the bench forcing it to work through force of will. Not that I’m blaming Playfair — this team merely didn’t over-achieve like a Sutter coached team does.

Anaheim/Minnesota: Anaheim in 5

Minnesota simply couldn’t trap Anaheim to death.

Vancouver/Dallas: Vancouver in 5

We can stop wondering if Turco can get it done in the playoffs. Even in a loss, he was the only thing between Dallas and disaster. The only way he could have helped the team more was skating up to Luogo and breaking his arm… It’s time for Modano and Lindros to ride into the sunset — to standing ovations.

Nashville/San Jose:

Nashville was a better team than last year. the Sharks were a MUCH better team, once the kids got their playoff sea-legs. I think the big risk for sna jose going into the playoffs was whether the younger players could handle the pressure. They exit this series bloodied and battle hardened, and the rest of the west is not going to send the Preds flowers for doing this. It makes the Sharks scary tough, as long as they stay focussed and healthy. Nashville’s main fault was a lack of discipline — or perhaps it wasn’t doing a good enough job of making sure the players they whacked stayed whacked. Either way, the team needs some tweaking, but not major retooling. they’re ALMOSt there.

3-4. Not bad.

East:

Buffalo/NY Islanders, Buffalo in 5.

The Islanders played much better than expected to me, and turned themselves into a team that we didn’t expect to serously compete into one that looked like it snatched defeat from the hands of victory. And for once, that’s a compliment.

New Jersey/Tampa: Devils in 5

Tampa simply doesn’t have the depth, and gassed out. can’t win a 500 mile race by driving real fast for 490 miles. Tampa needs to re-think how it pays players so it can add depth. New Jersey was beatable, and then Brodeur realized it was the playoffs and woke up, and it was all over.

Atlanta/Rangers: Atlanta in 76

And Atlanta proves that it’s different in the playoffs, and the pressure can get to people who aren’t used to it. They’ll be back, but I’m not sure they have the right mix of players.

Ottawa/Pittsburgh. Ottawa in 6.

The penguins pushed the senators harder than I expected, but the better team won. But pittsburgh is close.

3-4

so I’m 6 of 8 in the first round. Not bad at all.

2nd round:

Detroit/San Jose: San Jose in 6.

Going to be a fun series, but I think San jose is better. but Detroit worries me if the Sharks falter a bit, and Hasek is, well, Hasek.

Anaheim/Vancouver: Anaheim in 7.

I’m tempted to pick Vancouver; I think Luongo is the better goaltender — but I also think Anaheim has enough to overtake that different. But I think it’ll be close.

Buffalo/Rangers: Buffalo in 6.

honestly? the rangers are playing better than I expected. but I don’t think it’ll be enough, but it’ll be a series, and one worth watching.

New Jersey/Ottawa: Ottawa in 6

well, Brodeur is awake and making folks crazy. But Ottawa should win out. I won’t be surprised if they don’t, though, not much. Probably the closest series in the 2nd round.

Posted in Hockey and Other Sports