Tag Archives: Stanley Cup

The Winners and Losers of NHL Free Agency So Far

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. The New Jersey Devils are one of the big winners in this years free agency period due largely to the fact that they resigned star goalie Martin Brodeur (pictured above).

By Nick Craddock

Two weeks ago the NHL free agent frenzy (not sure if you could call it that this year) began, and in the spirit of prematurely judging things, here is a compilation of the winners and losers of the free agency period thus far.

Winners

New Jersey Devils: The Devils lost captain Zach Parise to his home state Wild (see below), but every true hockey fan knows that the real heart, soul, and leader of the Devils is Martin Brodeur, who resigned with the team for two years. Brodeur’s contract all but guarantees that the 40-year-old goalie will see out his Hall of Fame career with the only team that he has ever known.

Replacing the void of Parise will not be an easy task, but as the old adage goes: Defense wins championships, and Brodeur’s stellar play almost won the Devils a Stanley Cup title this past June.

One thing’s for sure: People in the Garden State will be able to forget about Parise much quicker than they would have been able to forget about their starting goalie for the past two decades had their beloved Marty left. Continue reading

Weekly Nickel 6-11-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Will Rafael Nadal (pictured above) make history today and break Bjorn Borg’s record with a 7th French Open Championship?

By Josh Kramer

Thank you, may I have another?  So I’ll Have another was unable to compete in the Belmont Saturday.  As usual, the race did not disappoint nor did the entire week in sports.  The playoffs are all about the finals now as there are only two teams remaining in both the NBA and NHL playoffs.  Plus the French Open is not quite done yet.  Last week was great, but this one will be good in its own right.  Here are the events to keep an eye on.

5.  Rain, rain, go away.  Or keep the French Open going another day.  Maria Sharapova became the tenth woman to complete the career Grand Slam on Saturday.  Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are all looking to further stamp their imprint on history as the fourth set of the Men’s final continues this morning.  I would highly recommend waking up and checking this out now on NBC. Continue reading

Food for Thought 6-5-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. The two best bench players in the NBA put on quite a show last night. James Harden (left) hit the big shot in the end though to help the Thunder go up 3 to 2 in the Western Conference Finals

By Josh Kramer

We could quite possibly be watching history in the making in regards to NBA Playoff basketball.  94% of teams that have gone up 2 to 0 in best-of-seven NBA series have gone on to take the series.  Only 14 teams in NBA history have ever climbed out of a 2 to 0 hole to win a best-of-seven game series.  Both conference finals series began with the higher seed taking a 2 to 0 lead.  Things appeared to be over.  Then both lower seeded teams miraculously defended their home floors (and OKC won one on the road last night).

Can Boston and/or Oklahoma City pull off the unthinkable?  Oklahoma City can.  Yes, I am going to keep doubting San Antonio.  I wouldn’t count on it from Boston.  The Thunder have been the team to watch out West all year.  Despite a very slow start in the conference finals, their bigs (Ibaka namely) awoke in Game 4 and James Harden hit the shot of the year in Game 5.  Remember, Westbrook and Harden combined for a mere 18 points on Saturday.  OKC still won.  Last night, the OKC bigs, Ibaka and Perkins combined for just 13 points.  OKC still won.  The Thunder will knock off the Spurs and become team number 15 to climb out of a 2 to 0 hole. Continue reading

Weekly Nickel 6-4-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Curtis Granderson (left) and Derek Jeter (right) are two of the main reasons why the New York Yankees are right in the thick of things in the AL East as usual.

By Josh Kramer

Can you say playoffs?  The past month and a half has been defined by playoff action.  Last week though, Grand Slam tennis in Paris was added to the slate.  Not to mention Tiger Woods tied Jack Nicklaus with PGA victory number 73.  I thoroughly enjoyed last week, but this week will be even better as we delve deeper into the playoffs and action at Roland Garros.  Here are the events to keep an eye on.

5.  A 20-minute long red flag at Dover on Sunday.  12 cars were involved in the massive collision that occurred on the exit of Turn 2.  Hopefully next Sunday will be a little less eventful at Pocono Raceway as Jimmie Johnson looks to jump Greg Biffle atop the Sprint Cup Series.

4.  It took 8,020 and games and 134 pitches from Johan Santana.  But the Mets finally have a no-hitter.  Both Roy Oswalt and Dustin Pedroia are making two very different types of comebacks.  And after a stellar career in which he posted a career .309 batting average, Magglio Ordonez is officially hanging up the spikes.  Also what is the deal in the East?  All teams are within striking distance in both the AL and NL East, with no team trailing first place by more than 3.5 games.  The matchup of the week will take place in the Bronx.

Tampa Bay Rays vs New York Yankees:  Every team in the AL East is very much in contention at the moment.  Amazingly, all five teams have a positive run differential.  The AL Central currently only has one team with a positive run differential (Cleveland).  But let’s be entirely honest.  Does anyone truly think the Orioles or Blue Jays will be in contention come October?  The AL East has been a three-team race for years now and will continue to stay that way into the foreseeable future.  The Yankees and Rays happen to be two of those three teams in contention each and every year.

As is typically the case in New York, the Bronx Bombers have been dropping bombs all year long, leading the American League in home runs.  Tampa Bay on the other hand has won in a much different fashion, relying heavily on their very talented pitching staff.  David Price and Jeremy Hellickson have both been stifling the opposition since the beginning of April.  For the Yankees, the Captain (Derek Jeter), who actually just celebrated the ten-year anniversary of becoming the Yankees captain yesterday, has turned into a modern-day version of Ponce de Leon, discovering the baseball fountain of youth.  Also, Curtis Granderson’s insane power has been another key to New York’s success.  The Rays swept the Yankees to open the season back in early April.  New York returned the favor by taking two of three at the beginning of May.  Look for Tampa to turn the tables yet again taking two of three, with Hellickson and Price starting two of the games. Continue reading

Food for Thought 5-29-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Manu Ginobli (pictured above) stole the show in Game 1. Will OKC slow down the streaking Spurs tonight?

By Josh Kramer

Continue to doubt the Spurs.  I know that I have.  19 victories in a row is no fluke.  Not to mention that nine of them have occurred during playoff basketball.  Through three quarters on Sunday night, it looked as if the Thunder were on their way to making a major statement, and negating San Antonio’s home-court advantage.  Instead, San Antonio came out firing on all cylinders in the fourth court, denying OKC a major opportunity.  Sunday was as prime example of why no game is every over until the final horn sounds.  Now history is against the Thunder who lost in the conference finals last year as well.

First of all, winners of Game 1 in the conference finals have gone on to win the series 80% of the time.  Secondly, San Antonio became the fourth team in NBA history to start the playoffs with nine straight victories.  All of the previous three advanced to the NBA finals with two taking home the championship.  Thirdly, the Thunder outplayed the Spurs for well over three/fourths of the game and still lost.  Scott Brooks has to be scratching his head still as to what happened late Sunday night.

Manu Ginobli was the difference maker as he has been for the better part of a decade now.  How many players can come off the bench and influence a playoff basketball game the way he can?  Not many, though James Harden, OKC’s bench star, can really play.  Also, OKC has to find a way to get some point production out of their bigs.  The Spurs cleaned up in the paint, outscoring the Thunder 50 to 26.

Despite all of my rambling, I still like the Thunder to take this series in the end.  There is something about this young and exciting group out of OKC that has really caught my eye.  The “Big Three” of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden will not be denied two years in a row.  They are far too good and determined to let that happen.  Look for an inspired effort tonight from Russell Westbrook after a less than stellar Game 1 performance.  The majority of the country wants a Thunder versus Heat finals matchup.  With a victory tonight, the Thunder will really increase the likelihood of this dream matchup coming to fruition. Continue reading

Kings will win the Stanley Cup (I think…)

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. This was the scene late last night as the Los Angeles Kings (pictured above) clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup. Can they win it all?

By Nick Craddock

Don’t fret about the aging Lakers, good people of Los Angeles, your Los Angeles Kings will win the Stanley Cup and bring joy and a championship banner to the Staples Center soon enough. Without being so bold as to bet my own money, I would assure any willing (and possibly chronic) gamblers to place their bets on the team in Black and White to hoist the Cup as NHL champions in June.

Despite Games 4 and 5 of the Western Conference Finals arguably being the sloppiest two games of the Kings’ playoff run to date, the boys from LA managed to edge the Coyotes 4-3 in overtime in Game 5 to take the series in five games and advance to the Stanley Cup to face the winner of the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. Somehow, the Kings survived a lackadaisical start, particularly from stars Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, a 5-on-3 Coyotes powerplay in the third period, and a Phoenix powerplay in overtime to avoid giving the fellow upstart Coyotes yet another breath of life in the series.

Really, the Kings were just a “Mike Smith” away from sweeping the Coyotes in four games as the Phoenix goaltender briefly returned to his earlier round form in pushing the series back to Glendale, Arizona for what turned out to be the decisive Game 5.

Still, the fact remains that the Kings have only needed 14 games to dispose of the Western Conference’s top three seeds and own a perfect road record (8-0). The small sample size of games has been proof enough that the Kings are playing the best hockey of any team in the playoffs. Continue reading

The Conn Smythe Trophy Frontrunners

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Dustin Brown (pictured above) is a major favorite to bring home the Conn Smythe Trophy.

By Nick Craddock

The 2012 NHL playoffs are coming to a crescendo.  Between a closely contested Eastern Conference Finals featuring the rival New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils and what has turned into a one-sided Western Conference Finals featuring the Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes, the muddled playoff picture which began with 16 teams vying for Lord Stanley’s Cup is coming into focus.

Of all the players who have made their mark this postseason in helping their teams to this stage, these five look poised to have the best shot at capturing the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the NHL playoffs’ Most Valuable Player.

1. Dustin Brown, right wing, Kings: Brown is proving why he wears the “C” on his jersey this spring. He leads his team in scoring with seven goals and eight assists, including three game-winning goals. He’s tied with teammate Anze Kopitar for the best plus/minus rating of any player in the playoffs. He delivers crushing hits. And even when he’s not making an incredible play, he influences the game to such a degree that it affects his opponent’s psyche (i.e.Phoenix’s Martin Hanzal cross-checking Brown from behind into the boards during Game 2, resulting in a one-game suspension).  All in all, Brown’s outstanding play makes it unfathomable to think the Kings contemplated trading Brown at the trading deadline. Simply put, the Kings’ stellar play through these playoffs thus far would not be possible without Brown. That description sounds like the embodiment of a Conn Smythe winner. Continue reading