Hello hockey fans! PUCK YOU! has to address the start of the NHL’s second season! The Stanley Cup Playoffs! And while this is slightly rushed, it will continue the always honest, and always awesome theme of this series…. hockey fans talking hockey. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Our panelists include Bruce McGee, Al Creed, BaptisBlacktick, ThinkSoJoE, G, ThatDamnDoubleC, Greg Saga and Armchair MVP.
Note: Not all panelists were able to contribute for this installment due to short notice. But expect them to return in the very near future! Also welcome Greg Saga to our Motley Crew!
What a way to start the post season… of course it could’ve been worse, at least the Bruins MADE the playoffs.
Question 1: What is your opinion of YOUR team’s regular season performance?
ThatDamnDoubleCAh yes, those Pesky Stars. Was the unlucky fourth team in the Pacific Division, and therefore missing the playoffs. However, I would consider us a rebuilding team, after losing Brad Richards to Free Agency. Those bought with the Richards money all suited into the squad well. Michael Ryder, Stanley Cup champion with the Bruins the year before, scored 35 goals and 27 assists in 82 games. Vernon Fiddler was only one of three Stars (Ryder, Eriksson) to play every game this season. Whereas Radek Dvorak looks like being a solid third line winger in the coming years. One of the more controversial signings was that of Sheldon Souray, however, injury kept him to 64 games, but he did score 21 points in that timeframe.
However, Loui Eriksson was the only one over 70 points (71), Jamie Benn (63), Mike Ribeiro (63) and Ryder (62) scored over 60, and the next best was Steve Ott with 39. We didnt have our captain Brenden Morrow, nor Number One Goalie Kari Lehtonen for parts of the season due to injury, and we did bring up a lot of young guys into the Stars lineup, even though the Texas Stars finished 29th in the American Hockey League.
Overall, it is disappointing that we didn’t make the playoffs, after being first in the division with less than two weeks to go. But with all that said, after losing our Number One for the past several years, it was a good season. Ryder will only benefit more playing with Benn and Eriksson, and if this list of the most under-rated players in the NHL according to 179 players is anything to go by http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/multimedia/photo_gallery/1201/nhl.players.poll.most.underrated/content.15.html (How Datsyuk made that list is beyond me), our future is bright.
Well, my Oilers didn’t finish dead last this year. But we still won the consolation prize with the number one pick for a third year in a row. I’m sure there are a bunch of other teams who will be Oiler golf buddies wearing their tin foil hats calling it a conspiracy, or even backup goaltenders on Twitter since Luongo is getting the start with nothing better to do than complain. I’m a patient boy, and know that in a couple years we will have one of the best teams in the league. It’s exciting to watch them develop and grow. Of course we won’t be able to keep them all (as many sour grapes fans feel inclined to remind me). Naturally, they ignore the fact that ALL teams have to deal with that element. Until that day, make mine an Eberle. You wish he was on your team. Sign him for life.
Greg Saga Unfortunately for the Calgary Flames and their fans, the season is exactly as many projected it to be — a team with the highest winning percentage of all the none playoff teams. A non-playoff season for the Calgary Flames is because this year’s team had a shitty start, was inconsistent all year long, was awful in overtime and shootouts, and the worst team in the league at face-offs. The Flames had some bad luck with injuries though, and it appears the Flames management has made improvements at replenishing the organization’s depth, as Darryl Sutter emptied the cupboards in a ill-fated attempt a build championship team.
Al Creed: I’m actually quite happy with the way things went. For the first time in a long time, the Flyers were playing consistently. We had some problems with goaltending, but hey, when do we NOT have problems with goaltending. Losing Richards and Carter during the summer almost gave me an aneurysm, but what we got in return (especially Simmonds, and the free agent Jagr) have been a godsend.
ThinkSoJoE: It sucked. Yes, we can talk about how Buffalo was arguably the best team after the All-Star break, but if you counter-balance that with the fact that they were close to the bottom of the Eastern Conference at the break, this was a team that just simply did not deserve to make the playoffs. And yet, they won’t fire Darcy Regier.
Armchair MVP: Calgary fell short of the playoffs yet again. There aren’t too many teams that haven’t won a playoff series post-lockout, but Calgary looks to be one for the foreseeable future. It’s kind of a broken record at this point.
Dubinsky refused to be refreshed.
Question 2: Tell us why your team will win the Stanley Cup (provided they made the post-season, otherwise ignore or rant. You decide).
Armchair MVP: My annual playoff bandwagon is the Nashville Predators. I honestly believe that if they can get past the Wings, they are going to the cup final. Same goes for if the Wings get past the Preds, in my opinion. Should be a very fun series.
ThinkSoJoE: Well, my team won’t be winning the Cup. But I can also say that for Montreal and Toronto, so that’s always a plus.
Al Creed: Because they are the living incarnation of Philly’s most famous fictional son, Rocky Balboa. No one wants to give them a chance. The League ignores us. The sports media underrates us. The fans (who aren’t Flyers fans) disrespect us. But yet, we’re always in the thick of it. Just when you think we’re out, we come roaring back. And this year more than any other, we have our shit together. Just as long as we don’t face the Rangers at any point…
ThatDamnDoubleC Our overall skill, and usefulness inside the crease. Especially with our skates. Derian Hatcher is a great captain. Mike Modano, Joe Nieuwendyk and Sergei Zubov are leaders in the making. Brett Hull, Jamie Langenbrunner, Pat Verbeek and Jere Lehtinen can score goals, and with a goalie like Ed Belfour guarding the net, we won’t be stopped.
G: Obviously the Oilers will not be winning anything this year, other than maybe some raffle prizes at Klondike Days during the summer. However, I am interested to see how some of the Copper and Blue shirts do in the IIHF series that intertwines with the NHL playoffs. For international hockey, this tournament is essentially preparation for the next Winter Olympics in which Jordan Eberle will score the winning goal against… actually the jobber country’s name doesn’t matter. Let’s go get gold, boys!
I’m still unsure who I want to win the cup this year. Normally I am a cliche Canadian fan who just wants the cup back in the Great White North. This year, I can’t justify rooting for Team Riot after embarassing my country internationally last June. The Sens have a shot, and I have no love for the Rangers who can only win a cup by buying all the best players from another dynasty. The New York Oilers are too much like their Daddy Warbucks baseball team. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Blues, Kings, Pens, or even the Bruins take the Cup.
There must be a winner, so turn-buckles are now legal.
Question 3: Who makes the finals? Who wins the cup?
ThatDamnDoubleC Hmm.. the Detroit Red Wings will face the Boston Bruins. The Bruins will return to the finals, with home ice advantage, against the veteran Red Wings. Wings in 6. Watch for Valtteri Filppula.
Greg Saga Los Angeles Kings vs New York Rangers. Winner: Los Angeles.
G: Ok, while I suggested this question, I hate it. I did great last year in my pool by putting all my eggs in the Boston/Vancouver basket… but Lightning doesn’t often strike twice. Something tells me it will, and Boston will defeat Detroit in the finals.
Armchair MVP: Predators over Penguins in 6 was my pre-playoff prediction, I have to stick with it.
Al Creed: I’m calling a Flyers-Kings Cup final. Two teams that have been completely overlooked, and yet are currently taking the fight to their much more media-friendly adversaries. They’re two of the most complete teams in the playoffs now, and my money is on them to make it to the final dance. Who wins? I gotta go with those lovable Orange Goons.
ThinkSoJoE: Give me Pittsburgh and St. Louis to make the finals. Granted, they’re both down 1-0 in their respective series as I type this, but The Blues have been hungry, and the Pens have been hot this season WITHOUT Crosby. Imagine what they can do with him. As a Sabres fan, I’d hate to say it, but realistically I’d have to go with Pittsburgh to win it all.
“Last Chance To Rant”
G: I’m an Oilers fan. But I also want to see the Calgary Flames do well. They started by firing their coach last week. As far as I’m concerned, their announcement that they are not blowing up the team and rebuilding is a joke. They claim to just do some tweaking. This is a bad mistake. All that’s going to happen, is that they will continue to mire in the midcard and delay the inevitable. It’s frustrating.
Furthermore, I feel bad for the Columbus Blue Jackets. This Nash thing has gone sour after management threw him under the bus. Not only that, but they continue to bleed money like Phoenix (who on ice is successful, congrats to Mike Smith!), but lost out on the draft pick this year. I’m quite content my team got it, but as a club, Columbus is completely screwed. They need to move this team somewhere that people care, generate revenue and actually put together a team that players want to be. Hockey as a whole can only grow with successful franchises, and right now Columbus and Calgary are missing that point. And this has nothing to do with their loyal fans in Calgary and all 6 of them in Columbus.
Armchair MVP: A friend of mine brought up a good point about the Flames. The last 4 coaches have been Brent Sutter, Mike Keenan, Jim Playfair and Darryl Sutter, if I’m not getting my timelines confused. What do all 4 have in common? Tough guy, no-nonsense demeanors. Maybe the Flames would be well-served to hire more of a players’ coach, for once?
Greg Saga I have two very special ‘go fuck yourselves’. One is to all those asshole sports reporters hoping to break the biggest story of their lives. The media has plugged the idea: the only way to get better is by trading franchise players into the mass consciousness of an impressionable populace. My second and very special ‘go fuck yourself’ goes to all those piece of shit so-called Flames fans that want to see Jerome Iginla traded. Sure there might be some benefits to such a trade, but for a fan to promote the idea is well… The idea is a little like hoping for the passing of loved one, just because the inheritance money will give your life a little extra security. Most decent human beings don’t want to think, let alone talk about that kind of stuff.
ThinkSoJoE: People in Buffalo are calling for the head of Lindy Ruff. Fuck that shit. Ruff is doing the best with what he’s got. It’s Darcy Regier that needs to go. The guy has one of the richest owners in the NHL opening up his wallet for him, and he doesn’t do a damned thing with it.
Oh well, at least my wife won’t have to deal with a playoff beard this season.
ThatDamnDoubleC What’s going on here? I’m usually the one to take the piss out of all the questions, and just start going off on some random diatribe about the 1999 Stanley Cup finals. But this time, I have taken it somewhat seriously. Maybe it’s a sense of humbleness after the fantasy season. Maybe it’s a factor of early mornings due to work and the lack of sleep that goes with it catching up with me? Maybe I can’t be arsed taking the piss and it’s actually easier to play it straight. What I do know is, is that G, Joe, Bruce and anyone else, will be taking dirty cheap shots, that makes Shea Weber’s hit on Henrik Zetterberg look like a simple tap on the shoulder, and I thought that I wouldn’t stoop to those levels. I have more class than that. If Puck You! (and puck your mother. puck you sister, puck your aunty and puck your little brother) gave out trophies, I would hold the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. So whilst everyone else rants and sends cheap shots in everyone else’s direction, I shall sit here, and wait for next season, and hopefully, a long playoff run for those Pesky Stars.
This season, the PUCK YOU! crew started an NHL fantasy pool on Yahoo Sports. If you would like to see who we drafted and how we are did, click here.
It was a fun and close pool throughout the regular season. The top spot swapped places numerous times, but ultimately was decided by one point. Our official President’s Trophy winner was ThatDamnDoubleC! Congratulations sir!
Our playoffs included all 8 contributors at the time we began in October. With each week, the contests remained close, ultimately culminating on the final day of the regular season where our two Poolie Rookies ThinkSoJoE and Bruce McGee squared off for Lord Stanley’s Cup. In what looked to be a tie, was edged out as Wonderpod’s own Bruce McGee sneaked one past the goalie in the dying minutes of overtime to capture the NHL’s Holy Grail. Congratulations sir!
Now that all the nice stuff is out of the way….
ThatDamnDoubleC I’m an asshole, I’m an asshole. O-di-o di-o-di-o. As I polish the President’s Trophy from season one. I realize that both myself and G have one thing in common. We are both the San Jose Sharks of the fantasy hockey season. Brilliant in the regular season, with all the potential to make it through to the finals and win the Cup, only to crumble and falter before the Cup finals have even begun. Not even the late season return of Sidney Crosby could get me over the line. I had two problems as to why I faltered. One was the goaltending, my strong point for the entire season. Jimmy Howard, Kari Lehtonen, Antti Niemi and Ryan Miller all played superb when I needed them in the regular season, but come playoff time, and they faltered big time. Howard and Lehtonen, two of only five (Benn, Eriksson, St. Louis)to be in the squad the whole season, struggled in the playoff semis, and it helped lead to my downfall. Two was Dallas, the first week of the fantasy playoffs, they were flying. On a winning streak and looking at the #3 seed in the West, only to falter the next two week, and struggle. I rode with Benn, Eriksson, Ryder, Ribeiro, Daley and Lehtonen at that time, and in the end, it was probably the biggest factor as to why I’m not fantasy champion.
In the five years including this season that I have participated in Fantasy Hockey leagues, I have only finished above fourth once (3rd in 2006), and that I have a history of not drafting well.
G: Ok, I was nice in the pre-able. FUCK YOU! NO “P”! I lost by one point in the regular season, dammit. ONE BLOODY POINT! It’s so frustrating because I can only blame myself for not dressing my goalies the Thursday before the week ended. Whatever. Double C played a great game, and with a strategy that I’ve never seen executed so well. Like I told him with all sincerity, good game. As for the playoffs, there’s a reason I hate the format. But since I’m in the minority, and rectified it by making sure we recognized a regular season winner, as well as giving all poolies a chance to participate in the finals, I’m not going to say anything else other than congratulations to Joe and Bruce for making the finals as rookies. Next year, gentlemen, this pool is mine!
ThinkSoJoE: You had two guys come into this fantasy league as rookies. Bruce and I had never done one of these before, but we were consistently in the top four, and we knocked off G and That Damn Double C to make the finals. In the end, Bruce wound up picking up the victory in a very evenly matched final. Can’t wait to start again in October!
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