Awesome North Carolina state lottery commercial. I would do this.
There were some very long, tough deliberations going into a few of this year’s opening round matchups. Its difficult to isolate a ‘Cinderella’ this year because every one of those teams have gaping holes; major issues.
If the Nashville Predators were facing almost any other team but the Ducks in the first round, I’d pick the Preds to finally solve the first-round victory equation. The Preds must jump all over Anaheim at Honda Center in games one and two to have a chance. Pekka Rinne is due for a coming out series and the Ducks will have to get by with Dan Ellis at least for the initial game or two. It will be a long series though and the Ducks have too much firepower to bet against. I’m already planning on regretting this, but…. Ducks in 7.
(1) Vancouver over (8) Chicago – 6 games
(2) San Jose over (7) Los Angeles – 5 games
(3) Detroit over (6) Phoenix – 7 games
(4) Anaheim over (5) Nashville – 7 games
The Canucks are deeper up front and their blue line will outperform the Blackhawks defensive six. Corey Crawford had to start the Blackhawks’ final 27 consecutive games out of necessity and showed signs of wear in the last week. If the Hawks do get under Roberto Luongo’s hair, the key to the series then becomes Alain Vigneault’s trigger finger. In Corey Schneider, Vigneault has possibly an equally as good goaltender to Luongo in the back up position. But if Vigneault waits too long to flip the card, the series’ tide could turn and it could be too late. The Hawks are 18-10-1-3 versus Western playoff teams and five of those losses overall came to Vancouver and San Jose. If they can somehow work their Van-magic again and pull past the Nucks, the Hawks could go on another run. But the Canucks are too deep; special teams are too good and they’re primed to take this series. In both previous Blackhawks’ postseasons, home ice in the first round was a pivotal factor and they don’t have it here. Canucks in 6.
Phoenix gave the Red Wings all they could handle last season and now have another chance to pull off the upset. The difference this year being Detroit has the home ice advantage. Detroit struggled down the stretch and will start the series without Henrik Zetterberg (knee). Jimmy Howard has been just ‘okay’ and he stares down the other end of the rink at Ilya Bryzgalov, who is capable of winning three or four games on his own. Phoenix relies on him and a balanced scoring attack. The Red Wings need Johan Franzen to get going again and guys like Lidstrom, Stuart, Rafalski and Kronwall must be better than they were in March and April. Home ice will be a major factor. Dave Tippett and Mike Babcock are two of the best coaches around. Experience edge goes to eventual series winner… Red Wings in 7.
San Jose were the league’s best team during the second-half of the season. Antti Niemi regained his 2010 playoff form and finds himself now behind another deep and top-end talent rich 2-seed. Los Angeles will be without top center Anze Kopitar. While Kopitar didn’t do much in the Kings’ opening-round loss to Vancouver last year, his absence is a stinger. The season-series between these two teams did split 3-3, but the Sharks needed a shootout to win two of those games. Jonathan Quick and Antti Niemi will wage an epic battle, so the games will be tight. Which is where Kopitar’s loss looms bigger at a position the team isn’t strong at. San Jose has two lines that can score every night and a third that will pitch in too. The Kings secondary scoring line is now its first and thus draws the top checking assignment. If LA is to win this series, they’ll have to do so with a string of 2-1, 1-0 type victories. They can pull it off once or twice, but the Sharks are too explosive to shut down four over seven…. Sharks in 5.
(2) Philadelphia Flyers over (7) Buffalo Sabres – 6 games
(3) Boston Bruins over (6) Montreal Canadiens – 5 games
(5) Tampa Bay Lightning over (4) Pittsburgh Penguins – 6 games
By Rich Lindbloom
“When everybody trying to sleep,
I’m somewhere making my midnight creep.
Every morning the rooster crow,
Something tell me I got to go.
I’m a back door man. – Willie Dixon
Well, it’s been a bumpy ride now, hasn’t it? The road less travelled would certainly be an apt description of our seemingly alternate route to the playoffs. Whether or not it makes “all the difference” as Robert Frost claimed, remains to be seen. In an earlier piece this year, I stated the Hawks’ primary goal should be to just make the playoffs. (I was actually hoping for a lot more, but beggars can’t be choosers.) Little did I realize what an arduous process that would prove to be. Around 7pm last Sunday, in the final game of the NHL season, a Hawk nation breathed a collective sigh of relief and finally exclaimed, “Mission Accomplished.”
Actually, saying “Mission Accomplished” might be as premature as Dubya’s statement when our troops rolled into Baghdad. However, over the course of a season littered with numerous obstacles, some perhaps self inflicted, I can’t help but think, “Well done boys.” We overcame assimilating half of Rockford’s team, significant injuries, questionable coaching decisions, phantom calls and inauspicious bounces. Somewhere in a deep, dark and damp cellar In Vancouver, some tempest tossed Canuck fan is nervously muttering to himself. As he pours over all the now meaningless league leading stats the Canucks amassed this year, he breaks out in a cold sweat as visions of Big Buff resurface in his addled brain. We may not have Big Buff this year, but we do have another black man that could figure prominently into our success during the playoffs – more on that later.
Quite incredulously, many fans throughout the NHL are claiming we got into the playoffs through the backdoor, sneaking around like a Hoochie Coochie man from some juke joint in Mississippi. In my mind, we didn’t back our way into anything, we earned it. Finishing with 97 points, just two points out of fifth place is not exactly tip toeing in with your shoes in your hand trying to remember where the squeaky floor boards are. (Although it appears more than one sports writer was perched behind the back door with a rolling pin, waiting to clobber the Hawks.) In no way, shape or form did we “squeak” into the playoffs. Read more
In place of our weekly TTMI~Radio show this week, we did a simulcast with CT and the “Forklift” on their weekly Hockeenight PuckCast.
You can listen to the show here or over on their web site.
Those of you who download the mp3 file can right-click here. The show is two hours long so its a rather large file this time around.
Dieter Kurtenbach joined the fray as well. We all gave our first-round predictions; discussed Alain Vigneault’s brain, Ben Smith’s game, Bryan Bickell’s aspirations to be the best $525,000 perimeter player in the game, an entire line of Frolik’s, Tomas Kopecky’s next contract, Electric Football, the Rockford IceHogs, sports writers ending sentences with exclamation points, Forklift’s bold prediction, Blackhawk Hope, keys to the series, Herb Abrams, the worst upcoming crop of 1,000 game players you could ever imagine, the “people’s prospect”, Micah Hoffpauir, USA Network drama, chicken nuggets in business suits and so much more.
It was a fun time as always with the Hockeenight guys. Thanks to them as always for sharing their time with us. Check out their show each and every week for a unique brand of wit and cantor you can only find there.
On the home front, I apologize for disappearing for the past week. I was shot down by a bad virus. And of course the timing was just perfect. I’ll have NHL awards, first round and playoff predictions up over the next two days.
For at least the initial fifty minutes I think we have a really great show for you this week.
Our friend Adam Summers of the Breakout! Hockey podcast returns to help us breakdown Tuesday night’s epic battle in Montreal between the Canadiens and Blackhawks. Adam’s allegiance is oddly divided between these two Original Six combatants and he provides us with some great insight on the Habs in particular, but Blackhawks as well.
Join us for a line-by-line detailed overview on the Canadiens (who are captained by three Americans); what to look for Tuesday night; who’s been pulling the wagon and who hasn’t and which of this year’s Habs aren’t expected back next season.
We’ll also get Adam’s take on the Zdeno Chara-Max Pacioretty incident, supplementary discipline and Gary Bettman’s dilemma. We also get the latest on the Whizzinator James Wisniewski, an ex-Hawk heavy Canadiens bunch; Habs on the mend, a little bastard on the Bruins, Blackhawks’ playoff odds, Rockford IceHogs Hockey and so much more.
There’s a hot topic state of pro wrestling discussion as well. Don’t tell Vince!
In all, its a great Tuesday game primer and we thank Adam very much for his insight.
Check out Adam’s show, the Breakout! Hockey Program each week at BreakoutHockey.podomatic.com & Tuesday night about an hour after the Hawks-Canadiens game for his recap, plus all the latest from around the National Hockey League.
TheThirdManIn~Radio, e.80, Right-Click Here to Download
Click the player below to listen here in your browser (If you don’t see the play button below, you probably need to update your Adobe plugins)
In honor of another NHL Playoff season beginning, we have some special audio planned for you next Monday night. Whether the Hawks care to partake in the postseason or not.
Next Monday night, April 11th, We’ll be joining forces with CT and “the Forklift” of Hockeenight.com fame along with Dieter Kurtenbach for a special HockeeNight PuckCast. Its become an annual playoff tradition at this point. I’m sure Fork will have plenty of wit and surprises in store. Or he may have neither. And as always, stop by their site for their unique take on Blackhawks hockey.
So that’s next Monday night. TTMI~Radio will sometime in the next week or two with playoff talk and a 2010-11 Rockford IceHogs season recap show and special guests.
By Rich Lindbloom
Before you make a terrible decision and decide to read the following series of unfortunate events, I must warn you. The review I’m about to record is not for the feint of heart. If you’re looking for a feel good, pick-me-upper, I urge you to turn to the blender, the one with booze in it. If you are easily depressed, inclined to think the glass is half-empty or prone to wallow in crushing pessimism, please turn to another page in this program. Perhaps there is a “Talking to the Ice Crew” segment, maybe a top ten reasons Pavel Kubina should be beheaded feature or a comic page with Toews making funny faces.
If you must continue reading, and again I urge you not to, you will read about considerable worry, hopelessness and even death over the result of a pork chop. This is a review of a good hockey team gone bad. Tales of injuries, halfhearted efforts, neutral zone breakdown, party animals and unfortuitous bounces. All of these maladies are woven together with a tenuous string of hope that we’ve all clung to during this ill-fated season. I write about these things, because that is what I do. You the reader do have a choice; for the last time I urge you – pick something more uplifting out. Read more
Rockford can go without seeing the Oklahoma City Barons for another seven months.
The bubble burst on Rockford’s five-game winning streak and overall recent upswing in the form of a 7-0 pummeling Friday night in Oklahoma City.
Hannu Toivonen made his fifth start in six games but was pulled in favor of Alec Richards during the first intermission. Toivonen allowed three goals on nine shots. Richards didn’t fair much better, letting another three by himself in the second period. Richards stopped 14 of 18 Barons overall in finishing the game.
Toivonen has been pulled from 8 of his 41 starts this season. Four of those have come against the Barons.
Friday, Oklahoma City scored all seven of their goals at even strength. The Barons did go 0 for 2 on the power play but one of those lasted just 26 seconds and by the time they got their second chance the score was already 6-0.
The IceHogs finish the season series with OKC at a record of 1-4-1-0. They were dominated 29-16 (-13) in the scoring column and their lone win came back on Jan 2 in Oklahoma City when the IceHogs needed six goals to defeat the Barons 6-5. Read more