Archive for May, 2012

2012 Stanley Cup Final Prediction

In October, no one expected the Los Angeles Kings or the New Jersey Devils to make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. The Kings were expected to make the playoffs, but the main concern was the team wasn’t scoring enough goals. The Devils were expected to make the playoffs, but the main concern was did they have enough to make it in the playoffs, and once they got in, did they have enough depth to make a deep playoff run? At the end of the season, the Kings finished in the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Devils finished 6th in the Eastern Conference by winning their final 6 games of the regular season. In the Conference quarterfinal, the Kings faced the Presidents’ Trophy champion Vancouver Canucks, while the Devils faced the biggest surprise of the season, the Southeast Division champion Florida Panthers. The Kings shocked the hockey world by dispatching the defending Western Conference Champions in 5 games by limiting the Canucks to just 8 GOALS. Despite the slight advantage the Panthers had against the Devils, the series went the distance, and Adam Henrique won it for New Jersey in the second overtime of the deciding 7th game. In the Conference semifinal, the Kings faced another division champion, the St. Louis Blues, while the Devils faced their division rival, the Philadelphia Flyers. The Kings pulled off another upset, sweeping the Blues in 4 straight games while only allowing 6 goals. As for the Devils, they steamrolled over a physically and emotionally drained Flyer team in 5 games. In the Conference final, the Kings faced off against the last division champion standing in the Western Conference, the Phoenix Coyotes. The Devils faced off against their Hudson River rival, the top seed in the east: the New York Rangers. Against the red-hot Mike Smith, the Kings found a way to beat the Coyotes. In 5 games, Phoenix’s Cinderella story came to an abrupt end thanks to an overtime goal from Dustin Penner. As for the Devils, they tried to exorcise the demons of 1994, Messier’s guarantee, and “Matteau, Matteau, Matteau!” It didn’t go the distance, but instead of “Matteau, Matteau, Matteau!”, it was “Henrique, Henrique, Henrique!” as Adam Henrique scored his second overtime winner in the playoffs to give the Devils their first Eastern Conference Championship since 2003.

And now, here we are…2 teams left. When it comes to Final experience, the Devils have a lot of experience thanks to Martin Brodeur, Patrik Elias, and Petr Sykora. The Kings have recent Stanley Cup Final experience in Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, who were with the Philadelphia Flyers along with Simon Gagne in 2010. Yet the only person on the Kings roster with a Stanley Cup ring, Colin Fraser, did not play a game throughout the entire 2010 postseason. Both teams have balanced scoring, led by Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar for Los Angeles, and Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, and Ilya Kovalchuk for New Jersey. In net, Jonathan Quick has consistently been solid. No wonder he was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy this season. On the other side, Marty Brodeur has become the Marty Brodeur that has won 4 Vezina Trophies and 3 Stanley Cups. But as Game 1 approaches, the Kings are 8-0 on the road. And with these two teams meeting for the first time since the beginning of the season, Game 1 will set the tone for the series to come.

Prediction: LA in 6

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Recapping the Epic Weekend at Staples Center

Last weekend in Los Angeles, the place to be was the crown jewel of the L.A. Live entertainment complex, Staples Center. For the first time, the arena’s primary tenants, The Lakers, The Clippers, and the Kings, were playing beyond the second round of their respective playoffs; a feat that has never been done since the arena opened in October 1999. In the span of approximately 100 hours, the venue hosted 6 playoff games (2 Kings, 2 Lakers, 2 Clippers). Add the final stage of the AMGEN Tour of California OUTSIDE the arena on Sunday Morning and you have what Staples Center Arena Management called “Sports-ageddon.” Much like what SoCal natives call Rush Hour traffic on the 405 “Carmageddon”, imagine what would you if your schedule went something like this:

May 17

NHL Western Conference Finals: Game 3

Kings vs. Coyotes – 6 PM

May 18

NBA Western Conference Semifinals: Game 3

Lakers vs. Thunder – 7:30 PM

May 19

NBA Western Conference Semifinals: Game 3

Clippers vs. Spurs – 12:30 PM

NBA Western Conference Semifinals: Game 4

Lakers vs. Thunder – 7:30 PM

May 20

Final Stage of the 2012 AMGEN Tour of California – 10 AM-12 PM

NHL Western Conference Finals: Game 3

Kings vs. Coyotes – 12:30 PM

NBA Western Conference Semifinals: Game 4

Clippers vs. Spurs – 7:30 PM

Logistically, that would be a nightmare, but it reality, it takes 75 minutes to go from the Clippers court to the Lakers court; and it takes 3 hours to switch from the ice hockey rink the Kings play to a basketball court and vice versa. And on Sunday, with the streets surrounding the arena closed due to the final stage of the AMGEN Tour of California on Sunday morning, Kings fans had to arrive a few hours earlier than expected to get inside the arena. By the end of the weekend, the 3 teams combined for a 2-4 record.

May 17

NHL Western Conference Finals: Game 3

LA Kings 2, Phoenix Coyotes 1

May 18

NBA Western Conference Semifinals: Game 3

LA Lakers 99, Oklahoma City Thunder 96

May 19

NBA Western Conference Semifinals: Game 3

LA Clippers 86, San Antonio Spurs 96

NBA Western Conference Semifinals: Game 4

LA Lakers, 100, Oklahoma City Thunder 103

May 20

Final Stage of the 2012 AMGEN Tour of California – Winner: Peter Sagan

NHL Western Conference Finals: Game 3

LA Kings 0, Phoenix Coyotes 2

NBA Western Conference Semifinals: Game 4

LA Clippers 99, San Antonio Spurs 102

To give you a better understanding of what happened inside the arena, this is a time-lapse video condensing the 6-game weekend into 90 seconds of pure awesomeness.

What’s even more amazing is with time to spare between games that weekend,  Staples Center Management and staff made this video lip-synching to the most viral song on the Internet: Mission, BC-native Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” featuring members of LA Kings Ice Crew, members of the LA Clippers Spirit Dance Team, NBA on TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager, Beto Duran and Dave Joseph from ESPN Radio 710, and Vic “The Brick” Jacobs from AM 570.

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2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Conference Final Predictions

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1) New York Rangers vs. 6) New Jersey Devils

It feels like 1994 again. For the first time since 2006, the Eastern Conference Final is another chapter in The Battle of the Hudson River. You may take a PATH train to get to the game, but there will be bad blood in this series. Will the Devils exorcise the demons of Messier’s Game 6 Guarantee and the haunting memory of “Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!” from Game 7? Or will the Rangers do what they did in 1994 again? Here’s what I think will happen: it will be like 1994 again.

Prediction: NYR in 7

WESTERN CONFERENCE

3) Phoenix Coyotes vs. 8) Los Angeles Kings

No one expected these two Pacific Division rivals to meet in the Western Conference Final. But they are here. And they are evenly matched. Both teams rely on good goaltending and solid defense. They also both rely on physical play. But in the playoffs, the Coyotes beat 2 teams with different styles of play. The Kings beat teams that had GOOD, but not GREAT goaltending. Mike Smith has proven to be great in the playoffs, but Jonathan Quick has been greater than great, only losing once in the playoffs. The Kings have all the pieces coming together. They look like the most complete team out of the four teams remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In the current playoff format, no team had to beat all 3 division champions in their conference en route to the Stanley Cup Final. The Kings could make history this year if they could find a way past the pesky Coyotes.

Prediction: LA in 6

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