Round 1 Predictions here: https://mzrc.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/2015-16-stanley-cup-playoffs-predictions-conference-quarterfinals/
(1) Washington Capitals vs. (2) Pittsburgh Penguins
The Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in 6 games. I’m surprised it took so long. They went up 3-0 and seemed to have it in the bag, then the Flyers switched goalies to Neuvirth and he seemed to handle the Capitals well, at least for a few games. From what I saw of the series, the highlights seemed to be a goal from center ice and a cross check to the knee or ankles.
The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the New York Rangers in 5 games, as expected. It’s really sad for Lundquist that they can never get it done.
As much as I have the Capitals going straight to the finals, if there’s one team that I can see giving them a hard time is the Penguins. Like, if somehow they aren’t able to score or something. But the Pens are without Fleury so that eases any potential issues with that they could have. So the Capitals are my pick.
(2) Tampa Bay Lightning vs. (WC1) New York Islanders
The Tampa Bay Lightning handily beat the Detroit Red Wings in 5 as expected.
The New York Islanders beat the Florida Panthers in 6, in one of the more entertaining series of the first round.
Somehow they decided that this series would start before the first round ended so the Isles are up 1-0 already, and they’re the road team. I originally had picked the Lightning to win the series, but now that raises questions. I don’t mind either way – my hope is that the winner of this can make the finals, but I don’t know if that’s possible. I’m still picking Tampa Bay because I don’t like the idea of switching it because game 1 happened.
(3) San Jose Sharks vs. (WC1) Nashville Predators
The San Jose Sharks defeated the Los Angeles Kings in 5 games, winning three games in L.A. Considering I predicted the Kings to get to the Conference Finals I’m pleasantly surprised to find that my second favorite has advanced.
The Nashville Predators did the impossible – they made me cheer for them which is weird enough, and they eliminated the Anaheim Ducks in 7 games. Suck it, Anaheim. The Preds didn’t make it easy, though – as they were up 2-0 after the first two games going back to Nashville, then lost three in a row before winning the last two.
This is the exact opposite of what I expected to happen here. The Preds are the most surprising to me in terms of still being in it, but that’s only because the skill difference between the Ducks and the Preds is vast whereas the Kings and Sharks are closer together, although I’d have given the edge to the Kings. And since the Preds went 7 with a team full of dirty players and the Sharks only took 5, and the Sharks have home ice, I have to predict the Sharks to win as long as they can keep the offense going.
(1) Dallas Stars vs. (2) St. Louis Blues
The Dallas Stars defeated the Minnesota Wild in 6 games. That’s too many games. They let up four or five goals to the Wild in 2 or 3 of the games, which is not good for a team that’s supposed to be elite.
I’m going to give the prediction here because I don’t want to have it after what’s going to be a rant/eulogy for the Hawks’ season. It would seem somewhat disjointed to me to do that.
So, as far as the Stars and the Blues go, well I’m obviously rooting for the Stars because A) they’re going against the Blues and B) Patrick Sharp and C) I’m rooting for the Stars as much as I’m rooting for the Sharks to win. Ideally we’ll get a Sharks/Stars Conference Final and the winner of Islanders/Lightning will also beat the Capitals or Penguins – that way there will be absolutely no anger in terms of who wins. If it isn’t the Sharks or Stars I will be a little sad for them, but I’d be happy for the Isles or Bolts. That being said, I’m not sure the Stars can beat the Blues. The Hawks’ defense isn’t great and it’s why they lost. The Stars’ defense isn’t great and neither is their goaltending. Unless the Stars can score five goals a game, I worry for them. They had too much trouble with the Wild and it’s why I wasn’t afraid of them had the Hawks played them. (Even though the Hawks could also have lost to them too.) I don’t know. I’ll pick the Stars but I will not be surprised at all if I’m wrong.
The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Chicago Blackhawks in 7 games, allowing the St. Louis Blues to advance to the next round. Because, let’s face it, if the Hawks had wanted to win, they could have. Clearly they didn’t want to with the way they played the first few games, especially games 3 and 4. There’s no excuse to play like that and there’s no excuse to lose two home games, especially when you only get 3, not 4. Keep in mind the Blues only beat the Hawks by a goal. They didn’t dominate the Hawks – they aren’t the better team than the Hawks. The Blues played their game, and the Hawks let them, and they lost because of it. The Blues have one guy – ONE GUY – and the Hawks didn’t cover him enough. Seriously, just cover Tarasenko and there’s nothing the Blues can do. Don’t talk to me about Alex Steen – he’s such an embarrassment that Kevin Steen goes by Kevin Owens now just to not be associated with that last name. (Ok, not really.) Troy Brouwer is so bitter that he isn’t a Hawk anymore that he scored the winning goal of the Winter Classic a year ago for the Caps and now scored the series winning goal for the Blues. Brian Elliot is apparently good. Or so I’m told.
Keep in mind that if the Hawks had just scored in OT in game 1, the Hawks win in six. If the Hawks had decided to play well and win either of the first two home games, they win in six. Sure, we loved Crawford going after that guy. Doesn’t matter – still lost. Get your energy boosts from goals, not hits. Not fights. Fights don’t get you goals. The Blues are going to be the Blues – don’t play into their hands, don’t bitch at the officials about penalties. Just score. And they didn’t. Bitching about penalties that weren’t called is pointless and for whiners. There are no conspiracies against certain teams. There are especially NO conspiracies against the Blackhawks. If you think the referees favor a team in a series the Hawks are in and you think the team they favor isn’t the Hawks, then you’re a goof. The Hawks make the league lots of money – especially more than the Blues. I don’t think they’re for the Hawks, but they’re certainly not against the Hawks either.
The following is brought to you by the Mzrc Rant Department, and it is sponsored by a conversation had on facebook, but is not directed at anyone in that conversation – just about people in general. I may use what was said in that conversation to me, but the rage that may come from it is not directed at the people I was talking to and I do not think about what I may say about anyone I talk to on facebook about this or anyone I know. Just about others.
To those complaining about Andrew Shaw’s suspension, kindly shut the hell up. He deserved it. End of story. You don’t call people things like that. You know better – well, it’s Shaw, I’m not sure he does – but you should know better. It is unacceptable. Don’t tell me it’s a publicity stunt, because it’s far from it. It should be obvious to a decent human being that you shouldn’t call someone something that offends a group of people who are often the victims of unjust discrimination by people in this country by so-called “Christians.” (And people wonder why I’m an atheist.) I love when they come back an say that their “religious freedom is being discriminated against” as if that’s even a thing. It’s comical when I’m told that the NHL wouldn’t suspend or fine someone for saying God Damnit or Jesus Christ or something like that considering those words aren’t used as derogatory terms about a particular person and are also not offensive whatsoever. If they were then no one would even be able to say Jesus’s name at all – we would have to call him He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named or something which equates Jesus with Voldemort which isn’t a thing – although the way these pretend “Christians” act they might like that comparison. There’s a difference between actual Christians and the “Christians” that you hear stories about who are anti-gay marriage, won’t make gay couples a wedding cake, won’t allow transgender people to use the correct bathroom, etc. – and that’s ACTUALLY BEING CHRISTIAN. I was born into a Christian and Jewish family and here I am, someone who doesn’t discriminate against anyone because I am normal. I don’t use my religious beliefs or lack thereof determine how I feel about people. So here’s a hint to any actual Christians – NO ONE IS DISCRIMINATING AGAINST YOU. MOST PEOPLE IN THE COUNTRY ARE CHRISTIANS. I know you love your Christian Persecution Complex, but the idea that you are being persecuted or discriminated against is a figment of your imagination. No one is censoring you, no one is telling you what you have to believe. You have freedom of speech. What you don’t realize is that while you have freedom of speech, you do NOT have freedom to speak without also having to face the consequences of what you have to say. If you have a problem with a particular group of people, it is YOU with the problem. There’s no list of words you can’t say. It is not the NHL’s job to go around and tell people words they have to avoid. I know there are other instances of it that don’t get caught on camera and that doesn’t mean that’s ok either. Don’t tell me that this isn’t ok because hits that are borderline dirty or aren’t dirty go unpenalized. We aren’t equating Shaw’s slur with a dirty hit. And just because someone else got away with something – a similar slur or a dirty hit – that doesn’t make what Shaw did okay. Nothing does. Do not try to justify Shaw not being suspended – you will be wrong every time. The only one at fault here is Shaw. He must be held responsible, and he was. The NHL got it right, which isn’t something they’re accustomed to. And if you still have a problem, then you’re probably an asshole Patrick Kane apologist and you aren’t welcome in this fanbase. So kindly show yourself the door and root for someone else. I am not okay that my being a Hawks fan means I’m associated with you.
For a less rage-inspired discussion about it, the guys on the Steve Dangle Podcast talked about it very fairly. You should listen to them. From the 5 minute mark to the 21 minute mark: https://soundcloud.com/steve-dangle-podcast/the-steve-dangle-podcast-apr-21-2016
That being said, we shouldn’t be surprised that the Hawks lost considering their stars didn’t score a lot. Kane scored once. Toews didn’t score at all. Hossa and Panarin got a few. Also, the Hawks can NOT go into next season without getting better defense. Keith, Seabrook, and Hjalmarsson are the only good defensemen they have. They must know BY NOW that Rosizival is god awful and must go. Svedberg and Rundblad need to go to. TVR will be good in time, but it’s going to take time. Also, the bottom two lines could use work. As much as Shaw got his punishment and served it, he still needs to go. When you take a penalty with two minutes left in the game and you’re down by one and a loss puts you down 3-1 – unacceptable. It’s high time that his undisciplined penalties see him lose his spot on the team. It’s a running problem, and I have very little forgiveness left for it. The problem is, I don’t know how much better the team will be next season – I don’t know how much they will be able to do because of the salary cap. We may have seen the Hawks reach their peak a year ago. It’s possible that they could need a few years to retool before they could win the Cup again. But then some of the core will be older. So who knows. I could be wrong, but that’s just how I feel right now.
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