Pure unadulterated joy for a team 10.5 games out of first. So good.
Pure unadulterated joy for a team 10.5 games out of first. So good.
It’s deja vu all over again. Blackhawks vs Kings in the Western Conference Finals. Its a rematch of last year’s WCF and a battle between the past two Stanley Cup Champions. The standings didn’t show it during the year, but these have been the best two teams in the West all along and LA will certainly provide the toughest challenge for the Blackhawks. The Kings have a top 3 goalie in the NHL, a top 3 defenseman, and great depth up front including Selke Finalist Anze Kopitar. That’s the magic formula in today’s NHL. As Rear Admiral put it on the podcast yesterday, the Kings have a Selke-Norris-Vezina triumvirate with Kopitar, Doughty, and Quick. Being in the Conference Finals is beginning to feel like a birthright. Fourth time in six years the Hawks have reached the WCF. Going the through the Kings will no doubt be the highest level competition the Hawks have face in 2014.
How We Got Here:
–The Kings certainly didn’t make it easy on themselves this year. LA lost three straight games to open the playoffs vs San Jose before climbing back from the brink. Then in the 2nd round the Kings lost three straight games again, this time in the middle of the series, before winning games 6 and 7 to eliminate the Ducks. I am hoping the we see a repeat of last year when the Kings limped into Conference Finals and just didn’t have enough left in the tank to skate with the Hawks. Playing 6 elimination games and two very physical series has to take a toll on the Kings.
–You know how the Hawks got here. Dispatched a couple of Central Division foes in 6 games a piece. The Hawks don’t lose elimination games. That’s why they are the Champs.
Marian Gaborik leads the playoffs in goals with 9 and Kopitar has the most point with 19. 19 points in 14 games, pretty decent. The Kings have their top 6 really rolling right now. Kopitar and Gaborik are leading the way, but Jeff Carter(fuckboy #1) and Justin Williams have been playing great hockey as well. The Kings are a very deep team up front. Scary deep. Same cast of characters as last year. Dustin Brown(fuckboy #2) and Mike Richards(fuckboy #3) will be playing a heavy game trying to wear down the Hawks. Scoring had always been an issue for LA in the past, but Gaborik really gave the Kings an explosive option that they always needed. The Hawks depth has been called into question, but I think it shows up in this series. Sounds as if the 4th line of Bollig-Kruger-Smith will be reunited for at least the start of this series. If the Hawks can get 8-9 mins per game from that line they’ll be in good shape. I’d also like like to see Benny Smith get some top 6 center mins as well. The Hawks are in the WCF and haven’t gotten much from Patrick Sharp as of yet. Only two goals, both of which were fluky. Can’t keep that type of talent down forever and Sharp got more dangerous as the Minnesota series went. Look for him to break out against LA.
This is, again, where the Hawks separate themselves from their opponents. Drew Doughty, as I said earlier, is as good as anyone in the NHL, but things get a little dicey for LA after that. Willie Mitchell and Robyn Regehr have been out with injuries, but even if they were healthy those guys aren’t exactly elite skaters. I really like Muzzin and Voynov offensively, but they each can be shaky in their own end at times. The Hawks continue to have the best defense corps in the NHL. Keith and Seabrook have both been fantastic. Hjalmarsson and Oduya are finally starting to earn some national recognition. Hopefully the 3rd pair continues to be solid. I am sure we will see Rozsival, Brookbank and Leddy rotated throughout the series. I really believe that Rozsival was just worn down. This time off could do him some good. Look for him to get back in the lineup at some point vs LA.
Quick in the 2014 NHL Playoffs: 2.72 GAA and .914sv%.
Crawford in 2014 NHL Playoffs: 1.97 GAA and .931sv%
For my money Quick is the best goalie in the NHL. He is supremely athletic and competitive. He has won at virtually every level going back to his New England Prep days. With that said, numbers don’t lie. Corey Crawford has been sensational in these playoffs. He doesn’t get the respect he deserves. If the Hawks win the Cup again he has to be considered leader in the clubhouse for the Conn Smythe. So this matchup becomes a question of resume vs current form. Quick has the edge in terms of resume. Definitely has a higher ceiling than Crawford, but Crawford has played better of late.
Key Matchup: Toews vs Kopitar
This is the most important matchup in this series and it will be interesting to see how the coaches try to play it. Both guys are their team’s best offensive centerman while also being Selke Trophy Finalists. I can’t decide if I would rather see Coach Q try to go best on best or if I would rather have him chase matchups and try to use the home-ice last change to keep Toews away from Kopitar. Anyone who follows me on twitter knows I have a hockey hard-on for Kopitar. I have repeatedly called him a top 5 forward in the NHL. He is already a Stanley Cup Champion, but he is finally starting to get some national recognition. He is big, skilled, strong, and responsible. I wouldn’t trade Toews for anyone, but if I were starting a team from scratch I think Kopitar would be next on my list. Whoever gets the better of this matchup probably wins the series.
It will be a longer, more challenging series than last year, but things are shaping up in a very similar fashion. In a vacuum or on paper I think these teams are just about even, but LA’s road to the WCF was such a struggle. Their schedule and the Hawks having home ice should be enough to put the Hawks over the top. Official prediction: Hawks in 6
I don’t feel well.
Any team ever come out with less on a Game 7 than the Ducks last night? I get that bad night happens but 6 goals in a game 7? 5 goals in the first 2 periods? 5 goals before the home team even comes close, except of course for Quick picking Corey Perry’s pocket on a penalty shot.
Just a brutal game through and through for the Ducks.
Anyway, Quick and the Kings it is. Kind of nuts after all that went down during this Blackhawks season, all the ups and downs and slumps and OT and shootout losses the Hawks are sitting with home ice throughout. Game 1 Sunday, 2 pm. Quick scare you? Nah, Showtime*.
*Quick definitely scares me a little, and so does Kopitar.
Teemu Selanne mic’d up in the handshake line for his last game in the NHL ever was cool to watch.
Well, guess Dad thinks Summertime Is Great was such a hit he could go Solo.
Have a good one.
Viva La Dogs, Viva La Weekend.
Send all Stoolie Dogs to email@example.com
First child’s pose. Annnnnd downward facing dog. Now let’s try starfish up the butthole. Good good. Back to child’s pose. Try to find your center.
Poseidon’s wrath for pretending to be exercising when you’re really just stretching knows no bounds. Because that’s all yoga is. Vigorous stretching perpetuated by dudes who want to see chicks stretching. I wonder what the ratio is on people who watch yoga Youtube Channels that are actually do yoga versus dudes jerking off to chicks doing yoga? Maybe 20/80? I mean, if you’re a chick what benefit do you get from watching another chick do yoga on a rock in the ocean while foamy discharge laps at her thighs? None really. Spank bait if I’ve ever seen it. Shameless.
That’s why the ocean gotchya, bitch! Just start an instagram page doing your special stretches and save yourself the danger of a rip tide sucking you and the cameraman who looks like he just got back from Bonnaroo out to sea.
Like these girls: