Ladies and gentleman, we are gonna have us some fun tonight! There be some serious Hockey going on, and I feel the need to talk about this a wee bit. It’s time for this years…
WILDLY INACCURATE STANLEY CUP FINALS PICK!
Excuse me… before I say anything, let me reiterate something I have said in past and will say again, THE FLYERS SUCK, even if they sweep and
win the cup with 4 consecutive shutouts(which I don’t see happening, and neither does anyone with even three working brain cells) THE FLYERS SUCK. I am a rangers fan, but even if I wasn’t, it would not matter. THE FLYERS SUCK, the fact that they have met significant success in the playoffs is just a simple proof that sometimes the cream doesn’t always rise to the top, that sometimes the crap does.
But one has to admit the large amount of talent they have. Mike Richards, Daniel Briere, Chris Pronger, Simon Gagne, all major talents, and this team could not have gotten here it is today without the efforts of Claude Giroux, and Michael Leighton. Leighton, where would they be without him stepping up this year. During the season he had 3 streaks of 4 wins or more during the regular season, and won 17 games as a backup, and has only gotten better after gaining the mantle of starter when Brian Boucher went down with a sprained left knee. More on that knee in a second. Mike has been unconscious throughout this postseason. 6 wins in 7 starts, a .950 save percentage, and 3 shutouts.
Ooof. I may hate the Flyers, but you HAVE to respect that much talent. Boucher, to touch back on that subject, is actually almost ready to go. He practiced today and is hoping to be ready and dressed for Game one in Chicago on Saturday. It’s something to keep an eye on as things develop. Boucher has been good, but not as good as Leighton, and it would take a serious ass whipping to take the starting job from a hand as hot as that of Mike Leighton. We’ll see as things go on.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
There was no one in the world quite like Plante. I learned more from him in two years with the Leafs than I did in all my other hockey days. He taught me a great deal about playing goal both on the ice and in my head off the ice. He taught me to be aggressive around the goal and take an active part in play instead of waiting for things to happen. He showed me how I kept putting myself off-balance by placing my weight on my left leg instead of on my stick side. He taught me how to steer shots off into the corner instead of letting them rebound in front of me. That old guy made a good goalie out of me.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
The Blackhawks have a helluva goaltender on their side of the ice as well. Antti Neimi. Since you are reading this, you probably know your hockey, and you know who he is. If not, get used to hearing his name. This young man has a TON of talent, and is perhaps THE one goalie who can stand toe to toe with the hot hand in Philly and match him save for save and blocked shot for blocked shot. 12 wins, 2 shutouts, a .920 GAA average.
But their is also a strong offensive story here as well. I have written before about the combo of Toews, Kane, Sharp and Hossa, an offensive powerhouse that is the envy of perhaps every other team in the NHL (with perhaps one exception: Pittsburgh). The one thing that has surprised me, is the lack of effectiveness of Marian Hossa, a man who has gotten tantalizingly close to getting his name on the Stanley Cup the last few years, only to fail. He has scored only 2 goals during this playoffs, and that is clearly not what they are paying him to do.
Other than that though, the kids really have been tearing up their playoff opponents. The one name I haven’t mentioned is that of the teams leading goal scorer, Dustin Byfuglien. 4 game winners, an insanely high .250 shooting percentage, and some of the grittiest play of all the playoffs. This kid has it all, tough, smart, with one hella shot and a five game goal scoring streak. He is the man, and if the Flyers want to win, they will have to go through Dustin Byfuglien to do it.
And for those who don’t know, his last name is pronounced BUFLIN. (I had to fix this, I was wrong with the pronunciation, had it as FUGLIN initially. Sorry.)
I am having a real issue with this pick though. There are plenty of arguments for both teams here. These are two very good, very hot Hockey teams. But I have a real problem with picking the Flyers just because they are the Flyers. …. Dammit ….
ARGH! FLYERS SUCK! But still, the pick is …
FLYERS IN 7.