Round Three Predictions

Round three is underway and surprisingly the two teams in the west most known for choking in the playoffs are the only ones remaining.

I’m not surprised to see Tampa in the conference finals but am very disappointed that the Bruins are still alive.

Boston (3) vs. Tampa (5)

During the season the Bruins won three of four games against the Lightning but that was before Dwayne Roloson went between the pipes.

Tampa Bay has won five straight road games so they will have a definite advantage in the first two games of this round in Boston where the Bruins dropped two in a row against the Montreal Canadiens in round one.  

Again, the Bolts “Big Three” of Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier will be dangerous.

Head-to-head both teams have incredible goaltending which is absolutely key this far into the post season. It will come down to which team has the stronger offense to pass these brick walls.

I’m giving this round to Tampa Bay in five.

Vancouver (1) vs. San Jose (2)

In an appropriate, yet surprising, matchup between the best two teams in the west the difference will once again come down to goaltending; one with a Stanley Cup ring, the other an Olympic gold medal.

Neither team has done too hot in the post season in recent memory so they will both be looking for redemption.

I’m still playing the “Luongo is going to choke like he always does” card. He has messed up many times in each round almost costing the Canucks two series (again, he’s not the only one to blame here) so I am expecting this round his errors will do them in.

I’m giving this round to San Jose in seven.

This year the Stanley Cup finals will be between the Bolts and the Sharks. I’m taking Tampa Bay for the Cup. My Canadiens of the south, Go Bolts Go!

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April Showers Bring May Flowers

As the end of my hockey season with the York Buds in the Senior B division of the Golden Blades Women’s Hockey League approached my anticipation for preparing for the CWHL draft heightened.

Heading into provincials weekend at the beginning of April I had a workout regiment planned and was ready to give up chocolate.

After my team went 3-0 to start the provincials we headed into our fourth game in under 30 hours; quarter-finals. The game ended in a tie and went to a double overtime where our team was handed a penalty. As I was attempting to clear our zone I wound up on a breakaway, and scored short-handed to put our team into the semifinals the next morning.

Our semifinal game also went to overtime where we lost a heart breaking match on a goal that deflected off one of our own player’s skates. We still had a berth in a championship game though, for the bronze medal.

Early in the second period of the championship game I went into the boards awkwardly with an opposing player and threw my lower back out. I came off the ice and my teammates sent me back out to play, they weren’t going to let me miss the rest of this game.

I was playing centre and taking faceoffs was becoming extremely excruciating, usually taking me a few seconds to fully stand up again from the bent position for the draw. I kept playing anyways because I was determined to take home a bronze medal.

Once again my team would face the familiar threat of sudden death overtime in a do-or-die game.  I was put back on the ice and our line took the puck into the offensive zone. I took a pass from the left-winger who was at the top of the faceoff circle and put it through the goalie’s legs. The provincial bronze medal was ours.

 

Provinvial Bronze Medalists, 2011

 

In the days following provincials I went to physiotherapy for my back where I was told I had slipped two of my lower discs and all of my muscles had gone into spasm and locked in order to protect the injured spine.

Right away fear crept into me; would I be able to skate in time for the draft? Would I even be able to train in the upcoming months until the draft?

Since I had absolutely no movement in my lower back I was told to stay off the ice and away from the gym until my muscles relaxed and unlocked, the time frame was at least a month.

An entire month of sitting around, not playing hockey and not hitting the gym was not what I had in mind as a way to prepare for the CWHL.

Finally, the second week into May and over a month since my injury occurred I have been cleared to skate and train again. I have been given an intense leg workout to regain the strength I lost over the past month and have been advised to do a ton of abdominal and back exercises to rebalance and strengthen my core and avoid injury in the future.

Until the CWHL Draft in late July I will be updating my blog with how my training is going; getting back into shape after a month of absolutely no activity, getting my skill level back up to a highly competitive level after 18 months of playing Senior B hockey and the sacrifices, speed bumps and road blocks along the way.

Round Two Predictions

Round 2 Predictions:

Something I find interesting going into the second round of the playoffs is that in both the East and the West the teams still remaining were seeded first, second, third and fifth.  

Since none of the teams seeded sixth or lower made it through to the second round there weren’t really any upsets.  Surprises, yes (Chicago winning three straight and almost knocking out the league’s best team) but upsets, no.

Vancouver (1) vs. Nashville (5)

The Predators are coming off their first series win in the team’s 12 year history while the Canucks are barely standing after almost collapsing to the Chicago Blackhawks in round one after going up 3-0 in the series.

While I predicted Vancouver would get past the first round I said from the get go that they would not get past the second round.

In my opinion Luongo is not a solid playoff goaltender and that became apparent in games four, five and six against Chicago. While he cannot be the only one to blame (there are five players in front of him, including the Sedin twins who also played some unimpressive hockey those games) a team cannot be a Cup contender with a goalie who is shaky come post season.

I’m taking Nashville in six. 

San Jose (2) vs. Detroit (3)

San Jose is a team famous for choking in the playoffs. While I’d love to see the Sharks oust the Red Wings, I don’t think it will happen.

Detroit had a week of recovery after sweeping the Phoenix Coyotes in round one; while some say the extra time off could do more harm than good, it has allowed the Red Wings to get healthy.

The start of the series might see more momentum in favour of San Jose because of the long break Detroit had but as the series wears on the recovery period will work in favour of the Wings.

In terms of goaltending Antti Niemi obviously gives the Sharks a one up but Detroit has a lot of depth and veteran playoff experience.

I’m taking Detroit in five. 

Washington (1) vs. Tampa (5)

With Vincent Lecavalier healthy and scoring again the Lightning pose as a dangerous threat to any team they face with their power forwards.

Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis have racked up the points all season long and now Steve Downie has emerged as a post season scorer too.

The offensive depth along with Dwayne Roloson between the pipes will be too much for Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals to handle.

I’m taking Tampa in 6

Philadelphia (2) vs. Boston (3)

Both Boston and Philly have big teams who use brute strength and size to their advantage and both teams went to game 7 against lower seeded teams which means neither team got much rest after the first round of the post season.

This series will come down to which team can out muscle the other. Both teams will be tired from all the hard hitting in round one so the end result will ultimately come down to which team has more skill on top of strength.

I’m taking Philly in five