Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lessons Learned

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special “Hey” goes out to Hazel Mae if she is checking in.

So what have we all learned after the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, other than the heartbreaking news that Brian Burke isn’t coming to Toronto to rescue the Maple Leafs?

1) Even the most well thought out prognostications/predictions are a crap-shoot at best;
2) The regular season in the “new NHL” doesn’t mean all that much, it all comes down to your six best players against the oppositions six best; and
3) The collective fan bases of the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers are the biggest bunch of douchebags in the world of hockey - unfortunately, we’ll have to put up with one group for another week or so. Hopefully the other will be gone by mid-May.

That about sums things up on lessons learned from the opening round - other random musings:

Should Bruins coach Claude Julien be questioned about his decisions this post-season?

The answer is a resounding yes. While the Bruins are being given credit, rightly so, for giving the Habs everything they could handle - Julien should have to answer as to why he adopted a “play not to lose” strategy against Montreal for the first four games. Once the B’s backs were to the wall - it was only then that Julien called on Phil Kessel to inject some life/offense into a team sorely lacking in both departments. Would Kessel have changed the series from the outset? Maybe not. But with nothing to lose, why didn’t’ Julien give him a shot from the outset - who knows, a goal here or there could have changed the face of the series; not to mention the experience the kid would have gotten from the outset – you have to find out if he is going to be a front-line player who responds to challenges. Julien was fired by the Devils with three games left in the regular season - Lou Lamoriello’s explanation was that the didn’t like the way the team was playing, despite them being in first place. Maybe the miserable curmudgeon was on to something. Either way, Julien has to answer as to why he didn’t pull out all the stops when he (and the Bruins) had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The Tards faithful are questioning whether or not their window of opportunity to win a Stanley Cup has closed after watching their beloved Tards get swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ummmm how about another resounding YES? This is no longer a “young up and coming team” – the core of their team has been around long enough to have won something if they ever were going to. This team still has questions in goal, on defence, and with secondary scoring up front – areas that can’t all be addressed in the off-season given Tards’ cap issues. They might become marginally better with a few player moves – but they are starting to look more like the Tampa Bay Lightning than a legitimate cup contender. The competition in both conferences is fierce, with younger, cheaper teams having much more upside than the Tards who have locked up six guys to long term deals – a reward for winning nothing. Welcome to the downturn Tards, it’s a fast drop to the ranks of “also-rans”.

Is it time for Minnesota to part ways with Jacques Lemaire? Another year of playoff disappointment for the Wild – yes they were banged up, but at some point, Lemaire has to get them over the hump. Lemaire is the Western Conference version of Claude Julien – or maybe Julien is the Eastern Conference version of Lemaire. Either way, both guys seem incapable, or just plain unwilling, to change the game plan on the fly.

Good Ol’ Iron Mike Keenan - why can’t he ever get along with his goalies. Following the Flames loss in Game 7 to the Sharks, the slick one pulled no punches on why his team lost. Keenan addressed the media and basically hung goalie Miikka Kirprusoff out to dry – “I thought Kipper would come up with a big game for us, but the fourth goal really hurt.” This will certainly carry over into next year – the Flames are going to be faced with a decision by the end of the 2008/09 season; it is going to be Keenan or Kiprusoff, because it is becoming painfully obvious that these two are not going to be able to co-exist together.

Round 2 picks
Montreal in six
Rangers in seven
Sharks in six
Avs in seven

A sign of the Apocalypse – Part I
Sharks C Jeremy Roenick scores two goals and assists on two others in the deciding game against the Flames and is actually humble.

A sign of the Apocalypse – Part II
Eric Hinske seems to be flourishing in Tampa Bay – 5 HRs to start the season.

An abbreviated week, but it will be a profitable one. Tonight’s suggestions:

Los Angeles over Arizona – Dodgers P Chad Billingsley has to pull it together sooner or later (or he’ll be dropped from Maeple Leafs roster), who better to do it against than a team he is 4-2 against? Lay $100 on the Dodgers - $140.

Toronto over Tampa Bay – The Jays have once again failed to live up to all the pre-season hype – big surprise – but they should pick up a win tonight to make up for losing last night with Roy Halladay on the mound. Dustin McGowan likes pitching against the Rays. Lay $100 on the Jays - $120.

Detroit over Colorado – the Avs came off a tough and physical series against the Wild and will feel the effects for a few days. This will be a great series, but the Wings win the opener tonight. Lay $100 on the Wings - $200.

That’s it for today gang – thanks for taking the time to check in.

Hazel, here’s hoping things are groovy in your world.

I’m Out.


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