Monday, May 24, 2010

That Was Quick - On to the Stanley Cup Finals

So I tried to make a successful round in picking teams again, and yet, again, I failed. At least it couldn't have been as astronomically bad as the last round since there aren't as many teams to scout, analyze, and pick. However, I still managed to be wrong.

Out West, I figured the Blackhawks were too good for the San Jose Sharks. Chicago in previous series looked a little bit inconsistent, as they did during the season. Nonetheless, I just didn't see the Sharks being better than the Hawks. It was as easy as that.

I still thought that the series would be a little more competitive, predicting the Hawks winning in six or seven games, but the Sharks ended up completing a four-game sweep of San Jose. The individual games featured a Sharks team that was very good and had a lot of fight, but the Hawks were just that much better.

Chicago looked dominant, despite their slow starts. Three out of the four games, the Sharks scored first, although Chicago would often get their legs moving later in the game and dominate the remaining time.

The Blackhawks, at least, were the one team I can say I picked correctly all the way through, as I had them in the Stanley Cup Finals since the beginning of the playoffs. In fact, my Western Conference picks were not that heinous throughout the entire playoffs, so congratulations to me!

In the East, however, the mess continued for my predictions. I assumed that the Flyers would struggle mightily, as they still didn't have Jeff Carter and lost Maxim Lapierre, and thought that they spent everything they had completing the historic 3-0 comeback against the Boston Bruins. I also thought that the Canadiens would have had luck on their side, and the continuing stretch of Jaroslav Halak's impenetrability.

Boy, I was wrong...

The Canadiens decided to play dead and lose 6-0 in Game 1 to the Flyers in Philadelphia. But I wasn't moved because in the last series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Habs lost 6-3 in Game 1 and won that series in seven games. So I had no worries.

Again, I was wrong...

The Flyers continued to punish the Canadiens, winning Game 2 by the score of 3-0, giving them another record in the books in having the longest scoring stretch. I had faith after Montreal returned the favor by winning Game 3 5-1 on home ice, and figured that they just needed to change the venue.

Then came Game 4 and the Habs went back to the same crappy-crap-crapshoot style of hockey, losing that one 3-0 in another scoreless effort with only 17 shots (they call that something like the Diffusion of Responsibility in psychology). You must give credit when it is due, though. Michael Leighton, goaltender of the Flyers, has been outstanding in the place of Brian Boucher. Just imagine if he went down - Chris Pronger or something would have had to play goalie.
*Lester Patrick for the New York Americans anyone?

Game 5 was hopeful for those who picked Montreal to win, as they seemed to win every game where they faced elimination. This hope was built up when they scored first in Philadelphia. But once they let in an unfortunate goal (video coming soon), it went downhill from there. The Habs regained life after being down 3-1 coming within one goal at 3-2, but they were unable to get the equalizer and there it was - the #7 seeded Philadelphia Flyers were the 2010 Eastern Conference Champions in the playoffs.

How the hell this happened is beyond me; it baffled me enough a #7 seed got home-ice advantage in the Conference Finals.

Oh well, I am on my knees with this one to be right...

STANLEY CUP FINALS

#2 Chicago Blackhawks over #7 Philadelphia Flyers in 5 games

The Blackhawks are too legitimate to lose to the Flyers in the Finals. The Western Conference has shown to be much stronger, and that the best teams truly do win out. I will give the Flyers credit to steal one game from them, but I highly doubt they have enough to win, even though they got almost their whole team back, minus Boucher.

I don't care that Barry Melrose predicted this final from the start. I still am bitter, I will admit. Considering the Flyers ran through a team they owned during the regular season a million times in New Jersey, then played a #6 seed and an #8 seed, they were given a better path than most of the other teams playing in the playoffs for an extended period of time. Nonetheless, they got past it, and I will give them that.

Still, the Blackhawks are winning, and I'm going to need them to win anyway. I live in a place there are wayyyyy too many Flyers fans right now.

The Finals will begin Saturday, May 29 at 8 p.m. on NBC at Chicago.

And no worries Red Sox fans, hockey season is almost over, and I will be getting to baseball soon :).

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