Yesterday I wrote about why the Chicago Blackhawks are not an elite team. It is time to look at their Stanley Cup finals opponents, the Philadelphia Flyers.
It should be even more clear that the Flyers are not a historically elite team. They are not even one of the top teams in the 2009/10 season. They finished the season in 18th place and would not have qualified for the playoffs at all if they were not an East Conference team. Their regular season record had as many losses as wins (they were 41-41 with 6 losses counted as regulation ties). Their trip to the finals has come by playing the three lowest scoring teams that qualified for the playoffs in New Jersey, Boston and Montreal. Statistically, they are a clear example of a mid-level team that managed to fluke their way to the Stanley Cup finals.
With the Stanley Cup finals upon us, it is time to look at the two finalists. It is sad that neither team is a historically elite team that belongs in an argument about the best hockey teams in history. It takes away from the Stanley Cup finals prestige. Here is my finals prediction. I pick Chicago as the most likely winner, but they fall short as an elite team.
I argue that it is necessary, but not sufficient, for an elite team to have several (three or more) players on Hall of Fame career tracks and an elite goalie (who may be one of the hall of Fame track players), who is among the top five or so goalies in hockey. It is also necessary that this group of players play well as a team (hence the necessary but not sufficient condition). Any of the best teams in history (historical Stanley Cup winners) satisfy these conditions.
Hershey Bears defeat Manchester Monarchs four games to two Hershey is the minor league affiliate of the Washington Capitals and Manchester is that of the LA Kings. Hershey was led by its strong offence, which has been led by Chris Bourque, Alexandre Giroux and Keith Aucoin. Michal Neuvirth has provided goaltending. Lower scoring Manchester was led offensively by Bud Holloway and Gabe Gauthier. Their main strength has been goalie Jonathan Bernier who posted a .939 saves percentage in the playoffs.
Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Lightning announced the hiring of Steve Yzerman as general manager. Given the past craziness in the running of the organization, this cannot be considered a bad thing. It is a new start with a new general manager who has a good reputation around hockey.
Tampa has a strong group of frontline talent in Steve Stamkos, Martin St Louis, Vincent LeCavalier and Victor Hedman. Stopping the off ice distractions will go a long way to put this team on the right road and quite possibly into the playoffs.
My third round predictions did not go well as i was 0-2. When combined with my first round and second round predictions, this drops my record to 7-7. I have been as good as a fair coin in predicting the winners. When I look for other predictions on the internet, I find that I am not doing much worse (and in some cases am doing better) than anyone else is. Nobody has successfully predicted a large percentage of series this year as far as I can tell. Which is the way Gary Bettman wants it.
The Memorial Cup completed last night in Brandon, Manitoba. It is the Canadian Major Junior championship. Here are the round robin results. They left a semi-final between the Calgary Hitmen and the Brandon Wheat Kings and a final between the Windsor Spitfires and the semi-final winner.
Here are the results:
Czech Republic 2 Finland 1 (shootout) Petri Kontiola opened the game with a Finnish goal in the first minute. The Czechs finally tied it on a third period goal by Jakub Klepis. The game played to a tie as goaltenders Pekka Rinne and Tomas Vokoun were only beaten once each. Due to the need for a quick winner, some sort of skills competition was played with the Czechs winning.
The NHL has been without a full player transfer agreement with Russia since 2005. This is an agreement that governs players jumping from North American to Russian leagues and vice versa and sets fees for them doing so. This has led to several controvesies. the biggest of which was Alexander Radulov jumping from Saavat Yulaev from the Nashville Predators when he had a contract with Nashville.
Both sides have announced a “memorandum of understanding”. This is not a transfer agreement. it isn’t clear how much of an agreement it is at all. Here is the KHL announcement of the agreement. There is no big NHL announcement on the internet.
In the second round before the Montreal comeback against Pittsburgh, I picked Jaroslav Halak of the Montreal Canadiens as the playoff MVP at that point. Halak has not been as hot in the third round against Philadelphia, though he won last night. It is time to make a new choice - Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Toews leads the playoffs with 23 points (in fewer games played than any of the East Conference teams). On a team with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa, Toews has established himself as Chicago’s premier offensive weapon. That is quite an achievement and not one that many people would have been predicted before the start of this season. Toews is in the early part of what looks like a Hall of Fame track career.
Along with the Stanley Cup and World Hockey Championships, another major hockey tournament is underway in the Canadian Major Junior Championships - the Memorial Cup. This tournament is played between the host city and the champions of the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. This year the host is the Brandon Wheat Kings and the league champions are the Calgary Hitmen, Windsor Spitfires and Moncton Wildcats respectively.
Teams have completed the preliminary round robin portion of the tournament.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
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