Latest posts by Beerguyrob (see all)
- Your “I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Used This Yet” Wednesday Evening Open Thread – June 19, 2019
- Your “Pretty Much Nothing But Footy” Tuesday Evening Open Thread – June 18, 2019
- Your “Not Much Goin’ On” Monday Evening Open Thread – June 17, 2019
Psst – You know that Monday after Super Bowl, or Christmas Eve, when there’s almost no sports worth watching on the teevee? Well, we’ve entered that two-day realm tonight. There’s no hockey, and basketball only has one game worth caring about and that’s on Wednesday. There have been some firings today – Don Maloney OUT as GM of the
Arizona Phoenix Arizona Coyotes – but it’s nothing compared to the thrill of Black Monday in the NFL. We might literally DIE!!11!1!
BUT, did you know there’s actual sports playoffs starting soon? Hockey’s starts this Wednesday, and basketball starts theirs on the weekend. The long slags of the regular season comes down to exciting battles to win 16 games and hoist a trophy.
Before Canada shuts down all foreign sports broadcasts until September due to our non-participation, I thought I would try and get some interest in following along by previewing the annual quest for Lord Stanley’s mug. After that, and once the Raptors get bounced, it’s just two months until the start of the CFL season.
In Gary Bettman’s infinite ‘wisdom’, the NHL playoffs start this Wednesday, a seemingly randomly-chosen date doomed to be overshadowed in the media by the Warriors quest for 73. Nonetheless, with only the NBA as a viable form of sports entertainment for the next couple of days – I like baseball but c’mon, it’s Week 2 of a 26-week, 162-game season – for the next two nights the Open Thread will consist of laying out simple previews for each Conference’s first-round series. I’ve asked various Commentists to provide, in the following days, individual previews in response to my barbs/guesses.
Eastern Conference – Round One (first 4 game dates in parenthesis)
Florida vs NY Islanders (Wed/Fri/Sun/Tues)
This has the potential to be the dullest series in the Eastern Conference. Up until last year, you could get a season’s ticket in Miami for as little as $500, and they were rumoured on the move to Quebec City. Now, the Panthers are led by a revived Roberto Luongo and the too-old-for-the-Penguins Jaromir Jagr. Somehow, through a combination of efficient hair grooming and probable eastern European “supplements”, that turned into MAGIC! and a first-place finish in their division. For the Isles, who were once also rumoured on the move to Quebec before being bought by a Russian and moving downtown, it’s been goaltender-by-committee in Brooklyn, but their Goals Against Average (GAA) has remained steady throughout the year, which helped keep them in playoff contention. Speculated future Maple Leaf John Tavares led the Isles in scoring, but not by a lot. Tight netminding and close games got both of these teams into the playoffs. Whether or not Lui has a(nother) case of the yips will be the determining factor here, because Jagr seems on a mission.
Prediction: Panthers in 6.
Tampa Bay vs Detroit (Thurs/Fri/Sun/Wed)
Oh wait, I’m sorry – this has the potential to be the dullest series in the Eastern Conference . Tampa, due to not having speculated future Maple Leaf Steven Stamkos available due to blood clots, have a pretty weak offence. The scoring drop-off is pretty dramatic below him, so they are going to have to rely on goaltending; luckily, Ben Bishop is a stud between the pipes. Detroit, however, backed into the playoffs, and their leading scorers are either old or retiring. Which goalie will let them down is the only mystery here. To think Mike Babcock left all this to go coach the Leafs; methinks he just wanted to golf two weeks earlier this year.
Prediction: Tampa in 5.
Washington vs Philadelphia (Thurs/Sat/Mon/Wed)
Now we’re cooking with gas. This will be some good old-time playoff hockey between two teams that don’t like each other. These teams played a barnburner a couple of weeks back, and made it look like they actually had some good hate built up that only a seven-game series could alleviate. These two teams have a playoff history that goes back to Dale Hunter cheap-shotting Pierre Turgeon in 1993. The Capitals ran away with the East this year, and the Ovechkin-Holtby tandem accounts for 90% of the reason why. Philly won both their play-in games, but shaky goaltending, low scoring and the death of owner/dictator Ed Snider will put a dent in their chances. Still, there’s going to be lots of hitting, and – Ovie aside – the Capitals don’t like to be touched. This might be Washington’s hardest challenge on their way to the Finals.
Prediction: Washington in 6.
Pittsburgh vs NY Rangers (Wed/Sat/Tues/Thurs)
This is the other on-paper fun Eastern Conference series. Glorified Trent Dilfer Sidney Crosby leads a battered but resilient team into a potential slobberknocker with a goaltending-first team in Henrik Lundqvist & the Rangers. Pittsburgh’s scoring comes in bunches, and that can hurt them if they go cold at the wrong time. The Rangers have equal scoring: they’re going to get 3-4 goals a game; it all depends on whether they can keep out 3-4 goals a game. The reason Pittsburgh is hosting to start is because of how those 4-3 scores finished during the season. In the end, it will all come down to whether Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury lets in too many soft goals on the four third-lines the Rangers dress, and if the Penguins signed former overpaid Maple Leaf Phil Kessel’s conditioning coach through May.
Prediction: Pittsburgh in 6.
Tomorrow, the Western Conference preview. But for now, GET TO ARGUIN’!