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Conn Smythe Favorites - Part 4

by Chewbacca 19. May 2009 10:12

    Down to 4 teams, so we've had to trim a few strong performers off the list and cut the list down to 8.  Goodbye to Hiller, Ovechkin, Getzlaf, Luongo, and Varlamov.  You gave us a good run, but you had to go.

     

  1. Crosby / Malkin - How do you choose between the two?  These guys are far and away ahead of the pack in terms of individual performances this spring.  Why NBC passed on the opportunity to showcase these stars in Round 3 is a perplexing.  The legend builds for these two studs.
  2. Malkin / Crosby - see above
  3. Franzen - 24 goals in 28 games over the last 2 seasons.  Look out Claude Lemieux.  The Mule has become the new standard of Playoff Clutch performer.
  4. Ward - He's the only thing standing in the way of Pens-Wings grudge match.  With the way he performs in key situations, Team Canada better free up a spot for this potential 2-time Conn winner.
  5. Staal - Continues to score, win big faceoffs, and control the play.  He won't let little brother show him up in Round 3.
  6. Khabibulin - As unlikely as it is to imagine Chicago beating Detroit, we have to consider the possibility.  And if it happens, it will likely be due to the play of Khabibulin.  He's outfought Kiprusoff and Luongo so far, so he deserves consideration.
  7. Lidstrom - Best defenseman in the world just keeps on doing it best in the playoffs.  Contributing almost a point a game while shutting down the league's best.
  8. Zetterberg - Hank wouldn't mind being the first back-to-back Conn Smythe winner since Mario pulled it off 17 years ago.  With 16 points in 12 games, he's making a strong case for his defense.
  9.  

     

     

Round 3 Predictions

by Chewbacca 18. May 2009 06:17

It appears that one way or another, we're looking at a grudge match in the Finals.  That is, unless Chicago can pull out some magic and overcome the Red machine.  Which seems bloody unlikely.  Here are Chewy's calls for R3.

 

DET/CHI - Everyone is anticipating a great Original 6 series.  NBC is putting all their stock in it by ignoring the other series.  Big mistake.  This will be no contest and will end in 5 games, with the Redwings barely breaking a sweat.  Detroit officially got in the zone in Round 2, and won't look back against a much weaker opponent in Chicago.  It's been a good run for the rebounding Blackhawks, but their story ends here in 09.  Look for Zetterberg and Franzen to score 10 points each in this series.

 

PIT/CAR - 3 years ago, Brooks Orpik broke Eric Cole's neck on a dirty shot from behind.  Beyond that, there's not much in the way of bad blood or rivalry between these two fast paced squads.  That should change over the next 2 weeks.  Expect this to be a high-flying set of contests, much like the Caps matchup.  The big difference here is Cam Ward.  He's become one of the money goaltenders in the league, especially come playoff time.  Tough to predict a winner in this one, other than the fans who tune in to every game for what should be a great one to watch.  Chewy's going with the Penguins in 6 for the rematch of last year's finals.  Wouldn't mind seeing the Canes get revenge from the 02' series if it goes the other way.

The Ballad of Scotty and Ronnie

by Chewbacca 15. May 2009 13:07

The story of this year's final 4 all starts with two guys who won't even suit up for a single game.  It's the story of Ron Francis and Scotty Bowman.  Two men whose histories are interwoven between the teams facing off in the final 2 matchups of the 2009 playoffs.

 

Ronny Franchise is, and has always been, the face of the Carolina Hurricanes franchise, from before it was even the Carolina Hurricanes.  He was the sole reason fans continued to watch hockey in Hartford through many dismal years up north.  Of course, he was part of one of the best trades in history (that is, if you're a Penguins fan), when he was brought in to put the Pens over the top for 2 Stanley Cup victories in the early 90's.  One of those victories came at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks.  Ron later "returned" to Carolina to finish up his remarkable career (we don't count those weeks in Toronto), where he remains a part of the Hurricane coaching staff.  Ronnie captained the Canes in 2002 when they gave the Redwings all they could handle in the Cup Finals.

 

Scotty Bowman has been in the game so long, he's probably affected more franchises than he hasn't, but these teams have been a major part of his story.  Bowman was part of both of the Pens Cup wins, and outcoached Mike Keenan's Blackhawks in the 92 finals.  He then moved on to help architect a buttload of Cup victories in Detroit, before finding his way into Chicago this year.  And, of course, Scotty coached his last game in the NHL against the Carolina Hurricanes, in the 2002 finals.

 

No doubt these men are going to have some struggles of mixed emotions going into the final 2 rounds of this year's playoffs.  Either way, the legends of these two giants will continue to grow this spring.

Lidstrom Injustice

by Chewbacca 13. May 2009 04:38

If you grew up in the 80's, as I did, you'll no doubt remember The Wonder Years.  In this show, it seemed inevitable for years that Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper would eventually end up together.  It was obvious.  It was destined.  They belonged together.  The world just didn't seem right with the two of them apart.  But, alas, after years of heart-break, Winnie eventually moved away.  And that was it.

 

Not since this colossal struggle of emotions has there been a pair of individuals that just couldn't find each other, despite the obvious need to be together.  Until now.  Until Nicklas Lidstrom and the Hart Trophy.  Why these two haven't been able to find each other over the years just baffled me.  Befuddles me.  Bamboozles me. 

 

Lidstrom has been the most dominant defensemen of the past decade.  No competent hockey fan will dispute that fact.  He has shutdown opponents, scored consistently, and brought Stanley Cups and Presidents Trophies to a downtrodden town for over a decade.  So why, through 17 years of league domination, has this superstar never met the Hart.  Or even been nominated for it? 

 

Lidstrom will ultimately be appreciated most when he's finally gone.  I've been waiting (and yes, praying) for the collapse of the Redwings for a long, long time now.  But until Lidstrom decides to take up another hobby fulltime, it just will not happen.  If you need proof of this, or more proof that he has been robbed silly of his due prize, just look at the Detroit's record over the past 2 years when he wasn't in the lineup.  Last season, he missed a stretch in early spring, which coincidently coincided with a major losing streak for the Wings.  This season, he only missed 4 games, but again, they struggled without him.

 

In retrospect, maybe the league would like to consider a re-do on giving the hardware to Jose Theodore in 2002 or more offensively, giving it to Chris Pronger in 2000.  At the very least, can we scratch his name in the empty 2005 spot from the lockout year, just so I can go back to thinking about The Wonder Years?

Conn Smythe Favorites - Part 3

by Chewbacca 8. May 2009 08:53

The favorites list continues to evolve as the playoffs progress.  Here is the latest picture on the Conn Smythe trophy front-runners:

 

  1. Crosby - The best players in the game have risen to the top in this year's playoffs.  It's tough right now to pick a favorite among the top 5, but Crosby is as good a bet as any
  2. Malkin - Just doubt his performance for one game and he comes back and dominates.  Game 3 was a showcase for the league MVP
  3. Ovechkin - Despite his attitude, he continues to perform and score huge goals for the Caps. 
  4. Hiller - Hiller continues to be the biggest reason for the fantastic run that Anaheim is going on
  5. Getzlaf - Oh yeah.  Here's another reason why the Redwings had better be sharp in game 5, if they wish to move on to Round 3
  6. Luongo - Posting huge numbers and showing he's just as good in May
  7. Varlamov - Honestly, we wouldn't even be talking about the Capitals this month if this kid hadn't stepped in to save the team
  8. Franzen - On a Redwings team that is truly spreading things around, he's the one player that has risen consistently to score big when needed
  9. Ward - Cam wants another Conn Smythe to add to his collection
  10. Staal - (Eric, that is).  Leading the Hurricanes to a yet another Finals appearance

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