The sound you hear is the fashion world jumping the shark.
The sound you hear is the fashion world jumping the shark.
|Some teams definitely seperating themselves from the pack (Texas has a 5 1/2 game lead in the AL West already!)|
|1||Texas||13-4||Lead the majors in batting average, runs scored, slugging, and 2nd in home runs…just like we figured|
|2||Los Angeles||13-4||Can’t say it enough – Matt Kemp is ridiculous – .460BA, 9HR, 22RBI|
|3||Washington||12-4||SP Gio Gonzalez has 225 strikeouts on curveballs since 2010-most in the majors|
|4||NY Yankees||10-6||Offense is coming around – top 2 in batting avg, slugging, runs scored, home runs, on base percentage|
|5||St. Louis||11-6||A questionable pick-up, OF Carlos Beltran is performing – .279BA, 5HR. Only 9RBI – guys have to get on in front of him|
|6||Toronto||10-6||Big week ends with 4 game sweep of lowly Royals|
|7||Atlanta||10-7||1B Freddie Freeman’s week: .481BA, 3HR, 14RBI, 5 doubles, 7 runs scored|
|8||Chicago Sox||10-6||SP Philip Humber’s perfect game was the 21st in MLB history|
|9||Cleveland||8-6||Is DH Travis Hafner officially back? .357BA, 2HR, 3 doubles. And more walks (12) then strikeouts (8)|
|10||San Francisco||9-7||SP Matt Cain’s last 2 starts: 18IP, 3H, 15K, 1BB, 0R|
|11||Tampa Bay||9-7||Okay, what did the Rays do with the real Carlos Pena? Season batting average: 2010-.196, 2011-.255, 2012-.304|
|12||Detroit||10-6||After scoring 37 runs in their first 6 games (5-1), they’ve scored 30 in their last 10 (5-5)|
|13||Baltimore||9-7||CF Adam Jones is off to a great start – .303BA, 5HR, 4 doubles, 1 triple. Needs teammates to get on base|
|14||Colorado||8-7||RF Michael Cuddyer is enjoying the new digs – .345BA, 2HR, 11RBI, 8 doubles|
|15||Milwaukee||8-9||SP Zack Greinke is 13-0 in 18 starts at Miller Park – the longest home winning streak in the majors by a pitcher|
|16||NY Mets||8-8||3B David Wright’s broken finger is definitely affecting him – .208BA, 0HR, 7Ks over his last 7 games|
|17||Cincinnati||7-9||Aroldis Champman’s move to the bullpen has been the move of the season – 0.00ERA, 18K, 2BB, 2H in 10.1 IP|
|18||Arizona||9-8||Have lost their last 3 series, vs Colorado, Pittsburgh, and Atlanta, who are a combined 24-23|
|19||Miami||7-8||SS Jose Reyes is batting over 100 points lower this season (.230) vs last year (.337) when he won the NL batting title|
|20||Oakland||8-10||SP Bartolo Colon threw 38 consecutive strikes in his start against the Angels on April 18th|
|21||LA Angels||6-10||18th in runs scored and 22nd in home runs – don’t think anyone saw that coming|
|22||Seattle||7-10||SP Felix Hernandez (1-1) has only given up 9ER in his 4 starts, but the Mariners have only scored 12 runs for him|
|23||Houston||6-11||Rough schedule (@ Washington, vs. LA Dodgers, @ Milwaukee) had them go 2-6 over the last week plus|
|24||Minnesota||5-12||SP Francisco Liriano (0-3) has given up 20ER in 16.1IP (11.02 ERA), and has more walks (13) then strikeouts (12)|
|25||Philadelphia||7-10||SP Cole Hamels’ 13.9 K/9IP is the best in baseball|
|26||Pittsburgh||6-9||First team to neither score of give up more then 5 runs in their first 12 games since the 1972 Royals|
|27||San Diego||5-12||3B Chase Headley hit .350 with 2HR and 4RBI for the week|
|28||Boston||5-10||RP Mark Melancon has allowed 5HR on 71 pitches this year. Last season – 5HR on 1,121 pitches|
|29||Chicago Cubs||5-12||Cubs have only hit 5HR on the season, and are batting .235 as a team|
|30||Kansas City||3-13||9th straight season with a 6+ game losing streak before May|
You can take Metta World Peace out of the Ron Artest, but you can’t take the Ron Artest out of Metta World Peace.
Dana O’Neil, who I normally enjoy only slightly more than a root canal, has written an interesting piece explaining why fans (and opposing coaches) shouldn’t bemoan Kentucky for their tremendous success with one-and-done athletes.
She explains as follows:
You can fret over the bastardization of academics or denounce the death of college ideals until you are as purple as Frank Martin during a 15-point loss.
It won’t change a thing. Until the NBA decides that, like skilled carpenters or master craftsmen, basketball players don’t necessarily need to go to college, we will live in the age of the flyby.
In other words, don’t blame the people who have benefited from the rule. Blame the people in charge of making the rule.
O’Neil, with open disdain, describes Calipari as the game’s “P.T. Barnum.” A comparison that makes so much sense because P.T. Barnum was a coach in competitive sports that involved teaching and improving athletes as players and people. Oh, he wasn’t? My bad.
That aside, she goes on to make a few very valid points about the state and future of college basketball:
The history of our world, the basketball world, is being rewritten before our eyes. This isn’t 1972. Bill Walton isn’t slinging hook shots in tube socks and short shorts.
… I realize that conventions don’t last. The construct of the rules dictate how the game is played, and one overriding rule from 1972 still applies: He who has the best players wins.
And why does Kentucky get the best players, Ms. O’Neil?
So Mom and Dad. You want your boy to succeed in his field of choice, the field being basketball? Well, tune in on June 28 and watch. UK is to basketball as MIT is to engineering.
I think that sums it up pretty nicely. If your goal is to play and succeed in the NBA, UK is the place to be right now. Don’t kid yourself. Getting to the NBA as fast as possible is most certainly the goal for every top prospect who isn’t lucky enough to have independently wealthy parents.
Kentucky coach John Calipari recruits the best players possible year in and year out because he can and talent equals wins. Unless the NBA changes the one-and-done rule, college coaches will have to adapt or die.
You can rest assured that the NBA will not be changing the rules any time soon. NBA GMs have benefited immensely from having an extra year to watch the top prospects compete against high level competition. The one-and-done rule has produced more players like Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, and John Wall than it has busts like Kwami Brown and Jonathan Bender.
Coach K has recruited and coached a couple of one-and-done players, so has Roy Williams. Rick Barnes and Thad Matta try to recruit as many as possible. They’re just not as successful at it as John Calipari.
In the end, I think that’s what rubs people the wrong way. It’s not that they give a crap about integrity or development. They just hate losing.
As long as they keep clinging to an outdated approach, they better get used to it.
|We’ve completed the first full week of play, and some teams still have some major warts (Red Sox, anyone?).|
|1||LA Dodgers||9-1||CF Matt Kemp is the early MVP favorite, hitting .487 w/ 6HR and 16RBI already|
|2||Texas||8-2||SP Matt Harrison’s 2.38 ground ball-to-fly ball is best in the majors|
|3||St. Louis||7-3||Cardinals lead the majors in runs scored (57), batting avg (.299), OBP (.359), and slugging (.504)|
|4||Detroit||7-3||Monday’s win against KC was the first time in 3 starts the Tigers scored 3+ for SP Justin Verlander|
|5||Arizona||7-3||CF Chris Young is making his case for MVP – .405 avg (.242 for career), 5HR, 13RBI|
|6||NY Mets||7-3||Mets have struggled after starting 0-4, but another whipping of the Braves Monday could get them back on track|
|7||Washington||7-3||RF Jayson Werth was the 1st player to hit a walk off HR on Fri the 13th in the 13th inning since 1963 when his grandfather did it|
|8||Philadelphia||4-4||After a terrible start, Phillies are rolling thanks to (surprise) their pitching. Offense is 27th in runs scored|
|9||Chicago Sox||5-4||Sox won 4 in a row before dropping last game of series vs. Detroit and getting whipped by Baltimore|
|10||Baltimore||6-4||Sweep at the hands of the Yankees brought them back to Earth, but then won series at Toronto|
|11||NY Yankees||5-5||Through Monday, Yankee 3-4-5 hitters had only 5RBI – only Pittsburgh has less|
|12||Cleveland||4-4||Had an inning of 5+ runs against Royals starters in each game of sweep at KC|
|13||San Francisco||4-6||SP Tim Lincecum has given up 8ER in the 1st inning so far – only gave up 7ER in the 1st last season|
|14||Seatlle||6-5||Mariners rank 20th or worst in most offensive categories|
|15||Toronto||5-4||RF Jose Bautista is batting .206 with just 1HR and 2RBI so far this season|
|16||Tampa Bay||5-5||Needed stellar outing from SP James Shields (8.1IP, 4H, 0ER, 5K) to avoid 4-game sweep at Boston|
|17||Boston||4-6||Definitely needed series win vs Rays, but is Valentine wearing out his welcome already?|
|18||Atlanta||5-5||Bounced back from sweep at the Mets win series at Houston and sweep of Brewers|
|19||Miami||4-6||Wll be interesting to see the crowd reaction to manager Ozzie Guillen’s return in Miami|
|20||Houston||4-6||LF J.D. Martinez has been the pleasant surprise early – .333avg, 3HR, 10RBI|
|21||Kansas City||3-7||The starting pitching that looked so great in LA and Oakland fell apart at home against Cleveland|
|22||LA Angels||4-6||1B Albert Pujols is still struggling – his longest start to a season without hitting a HR continues|
|23||Cincinnati||4-6||SS Zack Cozart is getting comfortable at the plate – .342BA, 8R, 2 doubles, 2 triples, 1 home run|
|24||Milwaukee||4-6||Thought to have one of the better rotations in baseball, Brewers rank 29th in ERA and BAA, and 30th in WHIP|
|25||Pittsburgh||3-7||So maybe the excitement was a TAD premature…|
|26||Colorado||4-6||Rockies need LF Carlos Gonzalez (0HR, 4RBI) to get healthy and start producing soon|
|27||Oakland||4-7||A’s have lost 3 in a row, scoring 3 total runs (shut out twice) during that span|
|28||Minnesota||3-7||1B Justin Morneau has 5HR in 11 games at New Yankees Stadium – he has 5HR in 80 games at Target Field|
|29||San Diego||3-8||Contributed to Dodgers fast start – got swept by LA, outscored 20-13|
|30||Chicago Cubs||3-7||When Bryan LaHair is leading you in home runs, you know you’re in trouble|
Let me preface all this by saying I am a UK fan and I’m really excited that Nerlens Noel chose the Cats. I think he’s a transcendent defensive player and he automatically makes UK a Final Four contender next season.
That said, his announcement was an indictment on the ridiculousness we’ve come to expect from college basketball recruiting. Exhibit A:
In case you’re blind (and sorry to hear that), Nerlens Noel decided the best way to tell the world where he would be playing college basketball was to shave a logo in the back of his head. He then awkwardly spun around for the cameras, while Dari Nowkhah silently tried to decipher the follicle message. This is what we’ve come to.
On the long journey that began with faxing letters of intent to your school of choice with little or no fanfare, the media saturated recruiting landscape has drug us here. Big-time recruits are no longer satisfied with a local TV hat picking press conference. Through the magic of ESPN, they can now have entire specials devoted to their decisions.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame Noel or Shabazz Muhammad for taking advantage of an opportunity to promote themselves. Hype and the NBA draft go hand in hand. Calipari’s “Kentucky effect” is proof of that (see Orton, Daniel and Bledsoe, Eric). They’re not the problem. We are.
Through recruiting sites, team blogs, and national networks we’ve made these kids into media darlings before they’re old enough to vote. The law of supply and demand, puts the blame squarely on our shoulders. If we didn’t buy it, they wouldn’t sell it.
“So what’s wrong with a little fanfare?”, you might ask. As entertaining and suspenseful as these announcements might be, they are providing these values at the expense of the kids themselves.
After you’ve made a huge deal about where you are attending college for a couple semesters, you have to deliver. Gone are the days when a freshman was allowed to develop into a super-star over the course of 2-3 seasons. For kids like Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad, there is no learning curve. Start and deliver on your promises immediately or be deemed a bust. Who cares if you started shaving two weeks ago? You’re a pro now.
Admittedly, Kentucky has benefited greatly from the hype machine. Top 5 high school players have delivered back-to-back Final Fours and a National Title. The question is… Do the ends justify the means? Would you want that kind of pressure put on your 18 year old?
It’s the ecstasy of stardom or the agony of the D-league for today’s crop of high school phenoms. That’s the reality we live in.
What worries me is where do we go from here? How far are we from commercializing high school basketball in the same model as college basketball?
The scary answer is not very far at all.
|After four opening days have (finally) been completed, all teams have wrapped up their first series. Some early season surprises (Mets, Orioles, Astros) will try to keep their momentum, while some disappointments (Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Braves) will try to overcome their bad starts into the first full week of the season.|
|1||St. Louis||4-1||Not many expected the defending champs to start off this well, losing their face (Pujols) and their leader (LaRussa), but they have|
|2||Detroit||3-0||They lead the league in BA (.345), slugging (.593), and runs scored (26)|
|3||Tampa Bay||3-0||A sweep of the Yankees to start the season has confidence high in Tampa|
|4||Arizona||3-0||The defending NL West Champs put the Giants in an early hole with their season opening sweep|
|5||Texas||3-1||SP Yu Darvish struggled early (4ER in the 1st), but the potent Rangers offense still got him a win in his debut|
|6||LA Dodgers||3-1||Many thought SP Chad Billingsley was about done, but a great 1st start (8.1 IP, 0ER, 1BB, 11K) says otherwise|
|7||NY Mets||4-0||A team thought to be a cellar-dwellar, the Mets swept the Braves, then got a walk-off vs the Nationals|
|8||Pittsburgh||2-1||Is this the year they break the losing streak (20-straight losing seasons)? Probably not, but made the Phillies look old|
|9||Baltimore||3-1||So it was at home against the awful Twins, but the O’s have to be happy with their start|
|10||Houston||3-1||Another team thought to finish near the bottom of the standings, the Astros took care of the Rockies over the weekend|
|11||Cincinnati||2-2||Can OF Jay Bruce (3HR, 5RBI) keep up this pace? SS Zack Cozart is batting .500 early|
|12||Kansas City||2-2||Took the series from the Angels with spectacular play from the starters (17.1IP, 12H, 4ER, 5BB, 12K)|
|13||Milwaukee||2-2||Outside of SP Zack Greinke’s gem (7IP, 4H, 0R, 0BB, 7K), got totally outplayed by the Cardinals|
|14||LA Angels||2-2||Losing a series to the Royals wasn’t the way the Pujols era (.214avg, 1RBI, 2GIDP) was supposed to start|
|15||Toronto||2-2||Pitching has been there (.168 BA against), but the offense must pick up (19 runs scored in 46 innings)|
|16||Washington||2-2||Would be higher, but let a win slip away against the Mets on Monday|
|17||Seattle||3-2||Will have to beat someone other then the A’s to move further up the rankings|
|18||Miami||2-3||Offense finally starting to pick up after sluggish start at home|
|19||San Francisco||1-3||Who knew four games in the best pitching performance would be from…..Barry Zito?|
|20||Chicago Sox||2-2||Sox rank 20th or worst in most major offensive categories so far|
|21||Boston||1-3||That bullpen is obviously going to be an issue. Must get that resolved quickly|
|22||Oakland||2-3||Good outing for Milone vs the Royals doesn’t overshadow giving up 18 runs in 3 losses to Mariners|
|23||NY Yankees||1-3||Looked completely over-matched vs Rays before getting first W against the O’s|
|24||Cleveland||1-3||You have to wonder if RP Chris Perez still has lingering injury issues with the way he’s pitched so far|
|25||Philadelphia||1-3||Losing 2 of 3 to the Pirates while only scoring 6 runs makes the concerns with the offense seem justified|
|26||Chicago Cubs||1-3||Haven’t looked good at Wrigley so far, having only scored 14 runs|
|27||Atlanta||0-4||25th or worst in most offensive and pitching categories will get you an 0-4 record|
|28||San Diego||1-3||Avoided the 4-game sweep against the Dodgers, but the starting pitching must do a better job|
|29||Colorado||1-3||Ugly way to start the season, losing the series at Houston. Only scored 10 runs through 4 games|
|30||Minnesota||0-4||Oustcored 20-6 so far in what could be a very long season in the twin cities|
Note from Al: It’s my honor and privilege to post the Stanley Cup Playoffs predictions made by the EJSIC message board’s very own rocket scientist, Magic. (Yes, I have resorted to posting the work of guest writers because I have been seized by writer’s block and am unable to write anything brilliant of my own. I blame the forward thinking granular jargonistic writing leveraged by my colleagues across all projects.)
Ah yes, the time has finally come for one of my absolute favorite sporting events: The NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. And while I know that Gary Bettman has done his best to kill this sport off by putting this fantastic event on a television channel that all of about 3 people nationwide have access to, he can’t get rid of me that easily. So here it is, my preview of this year’s playoffs and my predictions.
Western Conference: 1st Round
(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (8) Los Angeles Kings
The Vancouver Canucks have been the most talented team out West this year, but it was only a late season blistering hot streak that allowed them to lead the NHL in points. And oddly, after star and perennial crybaby and diver Daniel Sedin was lost for the rest of the season with a concussion from a vicious elbow, Vancouver has gotten even better. With an extremely talented offense, strong netminding, and decent defense, Vancouver has the makings of a team that could win the cup. The Los Angeles Kings, meanwhile, only made the playoffs because of their own late season hot streak. The Kings, who had struggled offensively most of the year, suddenly started finding the back of the net, and, considering how solid this team is on defense and in net, if they can get some consistent offense, they’re a very dangerous playoff team. When I think of goalies that can single-handedly win a series for a team out West, the first name that jumps to mind is Jonathan Quick and his 1.95 Goals Against and 92.9% Save Percentage. To win this series, L.A. is going to need Quick to steal them a few games and be able to put the puck in the net when they get their high-quality scoring chances. I don’t see Vancouver losing this series, but expect these games to be a lot closer than they would appear on paper.
Magic Prediction: Vancouver in 6
(2) St. Louis Blues vs. (7) San Jose Sharks
St. Louis has certainly been the surprise team out West, leading the incredibly strong Central division with some great defense, timely offense, and phenomenal goaltending in the form of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. And while they have 107pts, they enter the playoffs struggling, losing 7 of their last 10. Yes, this could just be complacency from wrapping up their division, but it is very tough to “flip the switch” in hockey come playoff time, especially if you aren’t a team with a whole heck of a lot of playoff experience and you’ll be considered a favorite. San Jose, meanwhile, has struggled mightily this season. They were expected to challenge for best record in the West and have really fallen short of those expectations. That said, they put a heck of a last two weeks together, playing some very good hockey, and “sneaking” into the playoffs. With Cup Winner Antti Niemi in net and playing much better hockey, and with San Jose having a lot of playoff experience on this roster, I really think the Sharks might just pull the shocker this year, especially because they will be a bit out of the spotlight for once. While St. Louis has only lost 6 games in regulation all season, and has a 4-0 record against San Joe in the regular season, I have a feeling they find themselves in an early hole this series, losing 1 or 2 at home and falling flat against a team playing much better hockey than them at the moment
Magic Prediction: Sharks in 6
(3) Phoenix Coyotes vs. (6) Chicago Blackhawks
The Phoenix Coyotes ended the season on a tear, winning the Pacific Divison from behind, catching the Dallas Stars, L.A. Kings, and San Jose Sharks in surprising fashion. Phoenix is a team that doesn’t really do a single thing in an impressive manner, but they do a lot of things well. Very balanced and consistent team with a good 1st line in Vrbata, Whitney, and Doan. The Hawks also come into the playoffs streaking, only losing 1 game in regulation in the past 10, but they have given up late leads in the past three games and that is a bit worrisome. The big question mark is will the Hawks get their captain back? Jonathan Toews has been sidelined with a concussion for a quarter of the season. The Hawks are optimistic they’ll get him back, but in what capacity? The Hawks when healthy are a very dangerous offensive team. Their problem has been special teams, goaltending, and defense. While they’ve made strides in the latter two, Power play and Penalty Kill have been a killer for them and could lead to an early exit. I just don’t see it happening against this team.
Magic Prediction: Hawks in 6
(4) Nashville Predators vs. (5) Detroit Red Wings
An incredible matchup pitting two of the best teams in all of hockey against one another. There’s the youngblood Nashville Predators, a team built on speed, the counter, getting to the net, and really punsihing teams for going to the penalty box. Then there’s the old guard Detroit Red Wings, a team with extremely skilled forwards with phenomenal net presence, and they’re extremely well disciplined to boot. The one thing really holding them back this year has been injuries. This should be an absolutely phenomenal series, and the Wings are used to long 7 game 1st Round Series. I really like the Preds, but I don’t think they’ll get over the hump if this series goes 7, even in their home arena. Shame these 2 Central teams have to meet so early in the playoffs
Magic Prediction: Red Wings in 7
Eastern Conference: 1st Round
(1) New York Rangers vs. (8) Ottawa Sentors
Similar to the Blues in the West, the Rangers in the East have been absolutely surprising this season, coming out of nowhere to lead the Eastern Conference standings. With extremely strong goaltending in Henrik Lundqvist, solid defense, and a great 1st line of Gaborik and Richards, this team is built for very consistent play. Ottawa also didn’t have all that much preseason buzz, but they had a good start to the season and with a strong final week road it to a playoff spot. Their play has certainly been spotty at times this season, especially on the defensive end where they have had problems all year keeping the puck out of the back of their net, but offensively with Spezza, Michalek, and Alfredsson they certainly can light the lamp. Problem is, in the NHL playoffs, great defense and toughness with a decent offense beats great offense and spotty defense almost every single time
Magic Prediction: Rangers in 5
(2) Boston Bruins vs. (7) Washington Capitals
Boston is as steady as they come. They have a great playoff goalie in Tim Thomas, a Stanley Cup caliber defense, and they have multiple lines that can score with no single offensive name jumping out at you. These are the types of teams that win Stanley Cups. One half expected a Stanley Cup layover for this team, but it just didn’t happen. And they will be an awful matchup for most in the playoffs. The Capitals have been a major disappointment this year, and the reason for that is that their team is the exact opposite of Boston’s. They have a player in Alex Ovechkin who, while phenomenal, overshadows his teammates and doesn’t play within the structure of their team. They have a defense that seems like they couldn’t care less some games and goaltenders in Neuvirth and Vokoun who don’t scare anyone. Washington might have a game or two where they put on a dazzling offensive display in this series, but it won’t get them anywhere.
Magic Prediction: Bruins in 6
(3) Florida Panthers vs. (6) New Jersey Devils
Similar to the weak Pacific division out West, the Panthers won the very weak Southeast to face an extremely dangerous team from the powerful Atlantic division in the New Jersey Devils. Florida stumbled and bumbled their way into the playoffs winning just 2 of their last 10 games and one has to think that at this point they are happy just to be there. New Jersey on the other hand has the likely immortal Martin Brodeur in net for his 60th or 70th Stanley Cup Playoffs and has great scorers in Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, and Petr Sykora and the strong Patrick Elias in center. The one worry for this team is their defense, but Brodeur, when on, could win a hockey game 1 on 6. Mainly because he’d keep it scoreless until everybody on the other team died of old age, pnuemonia, and dysentary. I almost never would predict a sweep in the NHL playoffs, but this might be it
Magic Prediction: Devils in 4
(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Philadelphia Flyers
Just like Predators-Red Wings, this is an incredible matchup pitting two of the best teams in all of hockey against one another. It’s an absolute shame and almost a catastrophe that these teams have to meet in the first round as both teams are Stanley Cup caliber teams and one for sure won’t make it through the first week. In this case, there are the extremely flashy, highly potent Pittsburgh Penguins featuring numerous scoring lines, highly skilled players and the top offensive team in the NHL. Then there are the high scoring and physically nasty Philadelphia Flyers. Both teams have problems on the defensive end with the slight edge going to Pittsburgh and both teams are very questionable in goal with a Marc Andre Fleury who seems to struggle come playoff time in high pressure situations and an Ilya Bryzgalov who has struggled to find his game since he was on the Coyotes. Here’s the thing: In a series where you expect a ton of scoring and little goaltending, the team that has the most fight in them and gets the ugly goals is the team that will end up taking it. Whoever wins this series has a good chance to win the Stanley Cup. I just think it’ll be the Flyers who win out, sending the Penguins home early yet again.
Magic Prediction: Flyers in 7
Western Conference: Semifinals
(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (7) San Jose Sharks
The Sharks, after pulling the upset, will have to face a step up in competition, and Daniel Sedin or no Daniel Sedin, I see Vancouver moving forward rather easily in this one.
Magic Prediction: Vancouver in 5
(5) Detroit Red Wings vs. (6) Chicago Blackhawks
This made for a great regular season series with two very similar teams. If the Predators make it through the first round, I think they win this series, but since I have a feeling it’s Detroit, I see a very tough series unfolding where goaltending and defensive ability will be the key. Chicago has played fairly well against Detroit in recent years and with Jonathan Toews I think they win this series in 6. Without him they lose in 6 or 7. Either way, if this goes 7, I think Detroit takes it.
Magic Prediction: Blackhawks in 6
Eastern Conference: Semifinals
(1) New York Rangers vs. (6) New Jersey Devils
New York has had a tremendous season and a ton to be proud of. I know they’d like to add a Stanley Cup Finals appearance to that list, but I don’t see it happening as the Devils pepper the net and Brodeur does all the rest
Magic Prediction: Devils in 6
(2) Boston Bruins vs. (5) Philadelphia Flyers
This would make for a great great series with two physical teams going at. The winner of this series, I have a good feeling will be playing for the Stanley Cup. Boston is the far superior defensive team and has a much better goalie. But the Flyers just seem to know how to score bunches of ugly goals no matter the goalie. I see Philly beating the Bruins in an OT or double OT game in Game 7.
Magic Prediction: Flyers in 7
Western Conference: Finals
(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (6) Chicago Blackhawks
I’d have Chicago going out earlier especially because of their deficiencies on the power play and penalty kill, but I cannot possibly foresee a Stanley Cup Playoffs where these two teams don’t meet up for the fourth consecutive year. This series is extremely nasty with their most recent meeting resulting in Daniel Sedin getting T.K.O’d with a vicious Duncan Keith elbow. Both teams clearly hate each other. Vancouver is still a team of headcases. And if these two teams met again, I see Vancouver looking to “settle the score” and forgetting the game in hand, resulting in yet another year of Canada not bringing back home the Stanley Cup.
Magic Prediction: Blackhawks in 6
Eastern Conference: Finals
(5) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (6) New Jersey Devils
For the 5 vs. 6 matchup I’m projecting, what a great matchup this is. Two very solid teams and I could see each winning this one. That said, I think the Bruins, Penguins, and Flyers are all beter than the Devils, and Brodeur, while he certainly can steal a series will have trouble with the hard charging Flyers.
Magic Prediction: Flyers in 5
Stanley Cup Finals
(5) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (6) Chicago Blackhawks
Can you say rematch? I sure can. The talented Hawks facing the gritty Flyers would make for must see TV. And this time, I think Philly gets the best of the Hawks with timely goals, hard hitting, and good net presence
Magic Prediction: Flyers in 6