Monday, May 28, 2007

Stanley Cup Monday - We're Breakin It Down

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to Hazel Mae.

The Stanley Cup starts up tonight in Anaheim with the Ducks hosting the Ottawa SenaTards. We haven't picked the Tards yet in the playoffs and we aren't about to start now - this time though, we are not going to wind up with (Ducks) egg on our face. The Tards have been the prime beneficiaries of some very good fortune so far in this year's playoffs - we aren't saying that is the only reason they are in the finals...but it has been one of the primary reasons. All three of the Tards Eastern Conference opponents had issues heading into their series with the Tards; some of it their own fault, others outside their control:

The Penguins went into their series with Sidney Crosby trying to play with a broken foot;
The Devils' Martin Brodeur was playing (arguably) his worst hockey of the season - he was, without a question, THE goat in two of the four Tards wins;
The Buffalo Sabres' power play was anemic during the playoffs - a "bad" power play would have been enough to get them an extra win or two against the Tards and maybe win the series.
Every hockey fan knows that in order to win a Stanley Cup, a team has to be good and lucky - but this year's edition of the Tards have gotten more of the latter. Well, it all ends with the drop of the puck tonight - the Tards are going down...and going down hard. We like the Ducks in most facets of the game - we are calling for the Ducks to win this one in six (likely five) and here's why:

Tards goalie Ray Emery has been good when called upon, but that hasn't been very often during the playoffs. Emery has proven that his rebound control is suspect, and there is always the likelihood that he could snap with the slightest provocation (crease crashing - which the Ducks are known for). While Emery has played well, he hasn't proven that he could steal a game or two for his team - before Tards' fans think "He hasn't had to", you go with that...but you know its true.

On the other hand, Ducks G J.S. Giguere has been outstanding during the playoffs, he is showing the form that got the Ducks into the Finals a few years ago. His positioning is almost perfect, his rebound control has been better than any other goalie in this year's playoffs, and he doesn't let the occasional bad goal mess up his game. Giguere was the main reason the Ducks got past the Red Wings - the team wasn't at its best (you'd think they were playing Phoenix for chryss sakes) but Giguere held his team in and gave them a chance to win.

Goaltending may be a saw-off - but we'll give Giguere a slight edge.

The Tards defence is solid but unspectacular. They rely on their defence to minimize chances against and any offence is really a bonus. The Tards' D was able to push smaller teams like the Sabres and the Devils around - it won't be nearly as easy against the Ducks who possess both size and speed. Pushing Daniel Briere and Scott Gomez off the puck is one thing - trying to push Dustin Penner and Ryan Getzlaf off the puck is another. The Tards defence is soft - Redden, Corvo, and Preissing aren't very physical; not good if you are playing the Ducks.

The Ducks will rely heavily on Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermeyer - one will push you off the puck, the other will pick your pocket and start the transition game in a heart beat. The Tards big line will likely be seeing a lot of Pronger on the ice - which isn't good news for cream puffs like Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley. Throw in a steady defenceman like Sean O'Donnell and Francois Beauchemin who has raised his game a notch (and then some) in Anaheim and you have a pretty damn good D.

Edge goes to the Ducks because Pronger and Niedermeyer combine for 60 minutes of ice time - the Tards will find themselves up against one or the other...pick your poison.

The Tards like to claim they have everyone contributing - that all four lines can score - don't buy it. The Tards have relied heavily on their number one line of Spezza, Heatley and Krusty the Klown (Alfredsson) - they have gotten a few goals from the supporting cast. The Tards can look forward to being matched up against Pronger - as I mentioned earlier, not good news for the Tards. Spezza and Heatley can be bullied right out of the game - two of the softer guys in the league (don't be fooled by the scraggily beard and the dude with the missing tooth).

Anaheim has missed Chris Kunitz on their number one line with Teemu Selanne and Andy MacDonald - but the number two line of Dustin Penner, Cory Penner and Ryan Getzlaf have the potential to dominate a soft Tards defence with their size. The Ducks stick to rolling three lines - due to coach Randy Carlisle's obsession with line matching - so the fourth line gets sent out to bring some energy. The Ducks will benefit from the long layoff before the Cup Finals - so they won't be able to use the excuse of being tired.

Special Teams
Edge goes to the Tards - but it all goes out the window during the Finals. The Ducks have been one of the most penalized teams this year (the playoffs have been no different) - but we expect the refs to allow a bit more to go in this final, meaning the Tards won't get six or seven PP opportunities per game.

It all adds up to a Ducks win - the team with 19 Canadian born players wins the Cup. I know my boy Johnny will be emailing me today to say he disagrees with my assessment - but what does he know? He's a stinkin Habs fan.

A good and bad day in the majors yesteday.

The Good - Red Sox West win when Juan Pierre gets hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the 11th - he hasn't done much this year, so we'll take it. Not to be one of those fantasy baseball geeks - but the win spoiled a great outing for Rich Hill (of the Maeple Leafs in the yahoo pool). Still though, we'll take the win and move on.

The Bad - We like the Sox here, really we do; we couldn't hate the Sox on a page called "Thoughts of Hazel Mae" - but with the best record in the majors, you would think they could have let yesterday's game against the Rangers go; especially since our favourite porkchop Mark Texeira had a great game. We won't complain...but, damn, we wanted to give Texeira one of Hazel's Stars. The silver lining was that Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia (who we are pretty sure is a porkchop) hit a home run, that wound up being the difference, against Eric Gagne (added bonus, my pal Renee has Gagne in the yahoo pool).

Philadelphia Phillies 1B Ryan Howard had three hits, including two home runs, and four runs batted in to lead the Phillies to a 13-6 win over the Braves.

Minnesota 1B Justin Morneau is proving that last year's MVP award was no fluke. Morneau hit his 15th home run yesterday and drove in three runs in the Twins 4-2 win over the Blue Jays - one of the few times we pick the Jays on the Three Play and we end up paying for it.

San Diego P Jake Peavy dominated the Brewers yesterday, pitching seven shutout innings and limiting the Brew Crew to two hits and a walk - while striking out eight. What were we thinking when we suggested backing Suppan yesterday? Sorry.

We had our worst week in a long long time - apologies. We've always responded with a good week after a bad one. This week should be no different. We start the week at + $390 for the year (it was a really bad week).

Anaheim over Ottawa - for all the reasons I listed above...Lay $100 on the Ducks - $140.

Milwaukee over Atlanta
- its risky to bet on a team that is coming off a long road trip...but the Brewers will be happy to be home after their trip out we like Capuano. Lay $100 on the Brewers - $130.

Minnesota over Chicago - We'll go with Santana over Contreras today. Lay $75 on the Twins - $190.

We'll try to get back before tonight's action for a couple more suggestions. Have a great one peeps!

Chill out and put the past behind you. You need to put things to rest. You can find a solution through communication if you are honest. A change of heart may force you to look elsewhere. 3 stars

Hazel, I hope things are groovy in your world.

Song of the Day on Hazelspeeps - seems like the right call today

Combat Baby - Metric

Combat baby come back

Fight off the lethargy

Don't go quietly

Combat Baby

Said you would never go quietly

Combat baby come back

Peesth Out...Buh Bye!


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