2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Finals So Far
Well this has been a pretty disappointing Conference Finals Round so far. The Pittsburgh Penguins were exposed for what they are, vastly overrated, and the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks, while mostly close on the scoreboard, is not close in the series tally. Here’s hoping we get a better Stanley Cup Final. On the other hand neither series is over because it ain’t over till it’s over.
1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 4 Boston Bruins
What we learned: The Bruins are a damn good team, the Penguins not so much. It always comes back to the fundamentals of the game, everything else is just gravy on top.
Things I Like: Game 3 was a double overtime classic. It might end up being the best game of this years playoffs. Tuukka Rask really brought his A game to this series. He was the main reason the Bruins won Game 3. The Bruins depth is the main reason for their success. Shut down one line, or they have a bad night, the others pick up the slack. Brad Marchand has reverted to his 2011 Stanley Cup winning “Little Ball of Hate” play and is always where you need him to be. There’s one thing the Penguins have the edge on in the series and that’s hits. They have lead every game by at least 12. Kind of surprising, if really think about it. Honorable mention goes to Tomas Vokoun for playing well through everything.
Things I Don’t: The Flyers gave everyone last year a blueprint for how to beat the Penguins, expose their goaltending and defense and get in the heads of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to frustrate them and make them take dumb penalties. The Bruins took that script and blew it up. Crosby and Malkin both came to play in Game 3 but too little too late. Chris Kunitz and Jame Neal proved that without their big centers help they have no game on their own. While I feel for Marc-Andre Fleury I thought the reaction he got when he came in was a bit over the top for a guy who hasn’t played well and then to have him give up a goal on the first shot well that shows you why he isn’t playing anymore. Worse was when NBC analyst Eddie Olczyk suggested that Fleury should have started Game 3, what are you high? The bottom line though is it’s tough for any team to win if you are going to turn the puck over and not play good defense in your own zone. On the Bruins end, their powerplay still sucks but the Penguins isn’t any better. The Bruins also need to learn to change better and stop taking too many men on the ice penalties.
Likely Winner: Bruins, though they did blow a 3 game playoff lead against the Flyers so who really knows.
0 – for 22 on the powerplay by both teams combined
3 – Giveaways by the Bruins in the 1st 2 games
20 – Giveaways by the Penguins in the 1st 2 games
2 – Players who have points in every game in the series, David Krejci and Milan Lucic
1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. 5 Los Angeles Kings
What we learned: Both goalies have been stellar, except for Quick in Game 2 but it was a back to back game.
Things I like: Who needs Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane when you have Bryan Bickell. Bicks is on fire. Slava Voynov has also played well for the Kings. Jonathan Quick and Corey Crawford haven’t really let in any bad goals and have both made key stops. Other than Game 2 (and a little bit of Game 3) this series has either been tied or separated by one goal.
Things I don’t: I don’t like the fact that the NHL and NBC scheduled the teams to play back to back games, there was no need for that. It’s a disadvantage to both teams, particularly the goalies, but I think it slightly favors the home team. Toews, Kane, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown still aren’t playing very well. Kane and Toews played fairly well in Game 2 at least. The Kings really need to do a better job of changing lines. They basically lost Game 3 because of it. The only win the Kings have is the only game they had more takeaways than the Blackhawks. The Kings generate most of their offense via turnover. They need to find some other way to score.
5 – Points (3 goals, 2 assists) for Bickell against the Kings
5 – Points (2 goals, 3 assists) for Voynov against the Blackhawks
.765 – SV% for Quick in Game 2, his 2nd worst of the whole season
2 – for 27 on the powerplay by both teams combined
Likely Winner: Blackhawks, but never underestimate the Kings.
Goat of the Week
The Whole Team – Pittsburgh Penguins
If you want to know everything you aren’t supposed to do in a hockey game just watch the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 against the Bruins. Half the goals the Bruins scored were a direct correlation to something stupid the Penguins did. No videos because there’s too many to list and I’m sure everyone who cares saw it already.
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
June 1, 1988 Philadelphia Flyers named Paul Holmgren as their new head coach, the seventh in the team’s 22 year history. Holmgren replaced Mike Keenan, to become the first former Flyers’ player to coach the team.
June 2, 1980 Boston Bruins obtained goaltender Jim Craig from the Atlanta Flames, in exchange for two future draft choices. The Flames later used the picks to select Steve Konroyd and Mike Vernon.
June 3, 1993 Eric Desjardins became the 1st NHL defenseman to score a hat trick in the Stanley Cup Finals. His third goal of the game at :51 of OT gave Montreal a 3-2 win over the Kings in Game 2 of the Finals. It was the Canadiens 8th straight overtime win.
June 4, 1999 Mike Keane scored twice within a span of four minutes in the second period to lead the Stars to a 4-1 win against the visiting Colorado Avalanche, in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. The win advanced the Stars to the Stanley Cup Finals.
June 5, 1967 Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings, Oakland Seals, and St. Louis Blues officially received their NHL franchises.
June 6, 1986 Boston Bruins obtained Cam Neely and Vancouver’s first round choice in the 1987 Entry Draft (which they used to select Glen Wesley) from Vancouver, in exchange for Barry Pederson.
June 7, 1997 Red Wings beat the Flyers 2-1 in Detroit to win the Stanley Cup Championship in a sweep in the Finals. Mike Vernon won the Conn Smythe Trophy and Scotty Bowman became the first coach to win the Cup with three different teams.