May 31, 2013

Pucks On The 'Net: Round Three

In round two I correctly predicted 3 out of the 4 series, missing only on the New York Rangers. For the entire playoffs I now stand 9 for 12, also missing on Vancouver and St. Louis in the first round.

I really do not mean to brag as usually the TSN monkey outdoes me easily. But you have to admit that's pretty. So lets see if I can fluke out and continue the hot streak with my official round two predictions.

Pittsburgh vs Boston - I'm going with the Penguins here. The Bruins are team built for the playoffs but I have to believe their beat-you-up-and-beat-you strategy will meet it's match vs. Sidney Crosby and the high flying Penguins. And that is primarily because of the Pens power play.

The Bruins strategy is basically to intimidate and physically impose themselves on their opponent willingly, fully knowing the referees can not possibly call every infraction and therefore getting away with an awful lot. Still, that strategy does lead to a lot of penalties, and Pittsburgh's potent PP (operating upwards of 30% efficiency) will either light up the B's, or at the very least force the Bruins to play a more timid game.

Chicago vs Los Angeles - This series is a real coin flip. Chicago was the league's best team in the regular season, though I do not think we have seen the best of the Hawks yet in the playoffs. That is either a good thing, meaning they can play better. Or it is a bad thing, meaning they aren't as good as the regular season suggested.

The Kings, who are of course the defending Stanley Cup champions, are rolling again. They are rough and tumble, and bigger than anyone. They have the best goalie in this series, and perhaps in all of hockey.

But the Kings can't score. The Hawks have a more dynamic offense, though Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane need to break out. They've combined for 2 goals this post-season. That's not good enough.

My coin says I'm picking Chicago. They are supposed to be the better team, with more dynamic players. Now is the time for those players to come through.

Regehr's Contract Extension - When I first heard the news that the LA Kings have signed defenseman Robyn Regehr to a 2 year contract extension, I found it initially quite odd that the team and player were negotiating through the playoffs. But in reality I suspect GMs of all teams, including the teams remaining in the playoffs, are busy behind the scenes and that will result in a flurry of news as the playoffs end. Don't forget, because of the lockout, the Stanley Cup will be awarded possibly as late as late June. The compliance buy-out window opens 48 hours later, while the NHL draft and free agency period start soon after that. Teams have to their plans in place very soon if they haven't already.

Luongo to the New York Islanders? - Bob McKenzie reported on Thursday that Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo may be headed back Long Island, where he started his career, but only if Vancouver takes back Rick Dipietro and gives him a compliance buy-out. I sure hope not, but if the Islanders are willing to give up a top prospect or young roster player in return, perhaps it is something of interest for the rich Canucks?

Wilt The Stilt Traded For The Golden Jet? - How's this for a retro trade rumour. According to Bob Verdi of the Chicago Daily Herald, the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers explored the idea of trading the great Wilt Chamberlain to the Chicago Blackhawks for none other than Bobby Hull. How is that possible? Here's the full details.

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