Hello again everybody...
It's mid-week time again and it's all downhill from here, right? I sure hope so, since I'm off on Friday! No, I'm not trying to rub it in. I'm merely hoping that tomorrow won't be even worse than a normal Thursday.
(Aside: Ask me sometime about my theory about why Thursday is the worst day of the week. I guarantee you'll feel less neurotic by comparison.)
And since I'm off on Friday, that gives me a little more time to work on the column. That's especially helpful, since I've decided to put off my 2009 Kentucky Derby pick til then. I know I promised it for today, but this year's field is a little trickier than usual, and I've decided to hold off making a pick until I see the draw later this afternoon.
Rest assured, you'll have your chance at Recreational Gaming greatness come Friday. And there'll be a DFTU too. So consider it a bonus!
Today, however, we venture back to the world of the NHL. Last night wrapped up Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was a mixed bag for the Hammer. I'll let him explain, but he felt compelled to preview the second round of the playoffs.
So let's get to it!
"Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in."
- Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Italian polymath, being a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer.
My educator friends may have thoughts on this. But I've always see this as the struggle with educating kids. Kids don't want to be at school, they want to be out playing and causing a ruckus. So how do you get them to learn when they really don't want to?
I don't have all the answers people. Sometimes I just ask the questions!
On to today's column. As I mentioned, the Hammer had something of a mixed bag in the results of his Round 1 picks. Here's what he has to say:
"Well, the 1st round of the NHL Playoffs are done and I am proud to say that I predicted six of the eight series correctly. Unfortunately one of the series I got wrong involved my pick to win the cup, San Jose. With the Sharks out of the mix it will be interesting as to what tweaks they make to the roster to try and get over the hump. I’m sure Dan will keep you up to date on all their moves in the off-season.
(Ed.'s Note: The NHL off-season really isn't my bag, since I'm usually in full-on baseball mode. But if the Hammer points something big out. I'll mention it.)
That being said I did not come here to dwell on what might have been. (Ed.'s Note: copyright Mark McGwire) Since my pick to win the Cup lost in the 1st round I figured the least I could do is come by and give you my picks to win in the conference semi-finals. That and try to redeem myself in the process. Without further adieu, here are my conference semi-finals picks:
1. Boston vs. 6. Carolina: For as good as Boston was in the regular season I still needed convincing as if they were the real deal. They were able to exorcise their nemesis the Montreal Canadiens in four games to win their 1st series since 1999. I’m still not sold yet. I think the sweep was more of the fact that Montreal was in disarray than it was for the Bruins being really good. Boston will get another test when they face Carolina in the 2nd round. Carolina defeated New Jersey in seven games to advance to the 2nd round. Carolina won two of their games in that series by scoring the game winning goal in the final minute of play. Goalie Cam Ward is playing like he did in 2006 when he won the Conn Smythe award and led Carolina to their 1st Stanley Cup. This should be a fun series. And while I am not sold on the bruins yet as being a legit Cup contender, I do think they have enough talent to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Bruins in six.
2. Washington vs. 4. Pittsburgh: This couldn’t have worked out any better for the NHL. The Capitals come back from a three games to one deficit to win the series against the Rangers four games to three. Meanwhile Pittsburgh does me a huge favor and rallies from down 3-0 to score five unanswered goals to eliminate Philadelphia four games to two. (I love happy endings.) Because of this you have Pittsburgh vs. Washington in the 2nd round and most importantly Sidney Crosby & Evgeni Malkin vs. Alex Ovechkin. Do yourself a favor, even if you aren’t a hockey fan try to make a point and watch this series. I won’t guarantee you will become a huge NHL fan but you will find a new appreciation for the game. I think (and I hope) this series goes seven games with Washington winning the series.
Capitals in seven
3. Vancouver vs. 4. Chicago: The Vancouver Canucks made quick work of the St. Louis Blues winning that series in four games. The Chicago BlackHawks meanwhile had to outlast the Calgary Flames in a hard-fought six game series. When I look at these two teams I see a lot of similarities. They have quality scoring forwards, and both teams are solid on the blue line. But I think the difference in this series comes between the pipes. Roberto Luongo is the backbone for the Canucks. As he goes so does Vancouver. Meanwhile Nikolai Khabibulin stepped up this season to fend off Cristobel Huet and become the number one goalie in Chicago. Luongo has only won two post-seasons series in his career. Khabibulin has won a Stanley Cup in Tampa but hadn’t won a series until Chicago beat Calgary. After going back & forth on this I had to refer to rule number seven of the Manifesto to make my pick. When in doubt go with the Canadian team.
Canucks in seven.
2. Detroit vs. 8. Anaheim: The Anaheim Ducks stunned the President’s Trophy winner defeating the San Jose Sharks to move on to the 2nd round. Congratulations Anaheim, your reward is the defending Stanley Cup Champions. But unlike Columbus, this Ducks squad isn’t just happy to be there. Most of the nucleus from their Stanley Cup team in 2007 is still on this roster and they are good enough to play with anyone. Jonas Hiller has come out of nowhere to take over in goal for J.S. Giguere (which convinces me even more that he is overrated) and their depth up the middle and on the blue line is good enough to match up with Detroit. Being a Wings fan I’ve gone back and forth on how I feel about playing the Ducks. It’s no secret that the Ducks have had their way with Detroit the last two times they have met in the post-season. And I realize that this will not be easy for the Wings. That being said, they are the Defending Stanley Cup Champions and they are not going to be afraid to play anybody. The best way to beat the Ducks is to force them to take dumb penalties and capitalize on the power play. Detroit has more than enough talent to do just that plus they remember what happened in 2007 & 2003. They won’t let this happen again.
Wings in six."
So there you have it. The Hammer coming through with his Round 2 picks/preview. If you disagree, attach a comment and let him know!
That's going to do it for today. Remember, Friday's post will have my Derby pick as well as the DFTU. No need to thank me. I'm happy to provide for my people!
Until then, thanks for reading!