NHL Pick Your Fish.

No Nashville Catfish, or Detroit octopus, but things are changing in the NHL.

S. Samek

Recently the NBA milled over changing the playoffs.

 

 

So not to be left out why not the NHL may change play off proceedings.

 
The new offerings come in the form of finish number one and get your pick of any of the fifth through eight seeded teams. You can pick the team you just plan think you can beat.
Then the second seed gets the next pick and the third the last pick. The fourth seed gets the left-over team. Then after playing the first round you do a reseed based on regular season records.

 

The idea comes from the Southern Professional Hockey League. They call out potential playoff opponents and then reseed as a unique calling card.

 

It also comes to the United States from Australia and their Erste Bank Eishockey Liga.

 
I do see the merits in this format. It is pretty much think you can beat a team, call them out and do it. Its put your money where your mouth is. Its heads up in your face hockey, good stuff.

 
It also does offer a change from the traditional way of matching up with seeds. Though there isn’t anything to stop the one seed from going after the eight seed and creating the same matchup.

 
It also could lead to some epic implosions. Call out the wrong team and lose to them and you’re in for it. The ridicule will be endless. Could be rather entertaining.

 
Conversely, I think it’s more work to reseed after a round. Why not just create one bracket and advance the teams that win? Seems to be a good system.

 
The good thing about the playoffs is that aura of unpredictably. Just because your high seed doesn’t mean you are winning it all. Just because you’re an eighth seed wouldn’t mean you couldn’t be a champion either. Seeds are just numbers on paper for organizational purposes. Once you get in you all have a fair chance in the playoffs.

 
The focus should be to get into the playoffs, not against you have to face during them. Yes, try your best to win games and get a higher seed, but it shouldn’t be about the seeding. It should be about winning games.

 
Overall, I think it could be worth a try, especially at the lower levels of the minors, or independent leagues. If it works out there maybe the NHL could adopt it.

O and for the reference this idea of a fish comes from the Good Ol Uba. They held an event where players called each other out. They named it pick your fish.

It could be time for NHL teams to start picking fish in the playoffs.

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To Be or not to Be

S.Samek

No doubt there was a lot of buzz surrounding the NHL’s latest team when it was announced. Then with the expansion draft fans were eager to see who would make up the roster of this new entrant.
Now the Los Vegas Golden Knights have begun play for their first season. They continue to make headlines.
The Los Vegas Golden Knights name is under trademark dispute with Army and the College of St. Rose. The dispute was first filed in December, but nothing came of it. Now within the past couple of weeks, both institutions have filled opposition requests.

The names Vegas Golden Knights and Las Vegas Golden Knights being both called into question. The two schools now have three months to make a move.

 
Vegas has let two trademarks for other names expire. However, they did extend a domain name for sandknights.com.

 
Interesting that they may have to change their name to the Vegas Sand Knights. Why in the world would they do that though? It just sounds ridiculous.

 
Though there had to be a better name than the Knights for this team to begin with. Hoping they go back to the drawing board to pick something better. Better yet maybe just drop the suit and let the Golden Knights stay. Like if this was a problem why wasn’t this taken care of before the team name was announced.

 

Why would you do it after they begin play and have merchandise and the works in play. Hoping this gets fixed soon, hopefully just with a let it slide and move on.

NHL POPS

By S. Samek

As the weather turns colder the season changes from baseball to football. Add to the mix basketball and hockey. With the change in sports season comes additions. Football and basketball made additions. Now it’s the NHL’s turn.

Yep, new wave of hockey themed Funko pops coming at you. Brad Marchand, Brent Burns, Evgeni Malkin, Jeff Carter, Vladimir Tarasenko, Braden Holtby, Corey Crawford, Wayne Simmonds, and Devan Dubnyk suite up in-home sweater. There is also a wave of players from Canadian teams going to Grosnor as exclusives.
These look great as the prior wave is. I just hope it’s easier to find a Malkin pop than it is to find a Sidney Crosby.
The NHL is also getting pint sized heroes. They look cute, but I don’t like the idea. NHL players aren’t really known for being cute so why do it. Pick them up if you want, but the pops are still better. Grosnor will also carry exclusives in these.
Overall really good addition to the sports line. Should only leave MLB without another recent wave. I see that following in spring.

Steelers Happenings

By S. Samek

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been busy the past couple of days. Roster additions and honorees being the tasks at hand.
The first class of the new hall of honor was announced recently. 27 former members of the Black and Gold make up this team. The class is as follows. Jerome Bettis, Mel Blount, Terry Bradshaw, Jack Butler, Dermontti Dawson, Bill Dudley, Joe Greene, Kevin Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Dick Hoak, John Henry Johnson, Walt Keisling, Jack Lambert, Bobby Layne, John McNally, Chuck Noll, Arthur J. Rooney, Sr., Daniel M. Rooney, Andy Russell, Donnie Shell, John Stallworth, Ernie Stautner, Lynn Swann, Mike Webster, and Rod Woodson.

It’s an awesome idea and I can’t wait to see who all enters. My vote though is Heath Miller when he meets the requirement for retirement should. He was a great guy and a champion as a player. The impact Miller made was for sure notable.

As for roster moves, two went down. The first was trading for a new tight end. Vance McDonald comes over from San Francisco with a fifth-round pick for a 2018 fourth round pick. I must admit the move confused me at first, think they were set with Jesse James. Yet you didn’t give up much to get better. You get a former second round pick with 64 receptions, 866 yards and seven touchdowns in three seasons. I could see him benefitting from having a better quarterback at the helm.

The second is the signing of Joe Haden the corner back from Cleveland. Corner has been one of the deficiencies for the Steelers the past couple of years. Haden is a former pro bowler and annoys A.J Green, of the Cincinnati Bengals. This helps out against a division rival in games that could have playoff implications. Welcome addition for sure.

 

Stanley Cup Final 2017

By S. Samek

Here we go. From 16 teams, down to two in the NHL playoffs. It’s the surprise Nashville Predators and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Penguins looking to go back to back in winning Stanley Cups, while the Predators look for their first.

Nashville stunned Chicago in round one, before beating St. Louis and Anaheim. Pittsburgh run to the cup went through Columbus, Washington and Ottawa.

This could be the most interring series yet. During the season, the Pens and Preds have split their two games. The home team took the victory in each game. Nashville outscored Pittsburgh seven five in those two meetings.

 

Though offense may be hard to come by in this series. Nashville is the top team in goals against average in the playoffs with a 1.81 mark. Having only surrendered 29 goals.

 

 Big reason for this is goaltender Pekka Rinne. Rinne has the top playoff marks for save percentage with .941 and wins with 12. Combine that with a 1.70 GAA and you have a brick wall.

The goalie tandem of Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray should also make it difficult for Nashville to score. Fleury has a 2.56 gaa and a .924 save percentage while picking up nine wins. Both Fleury and Rinne have posted two shutouts during the playoffs.

Though Rinne will be tested. The Penguins lead in goals per game with 3.05. This is highlighted by Jake Geuntzal’s nine playoff tallies. Evgeni Malkin is the playoffs leading scorer by points with 24.  Back him up with ESPN ranked number one player in this series Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel and there is no shortage of threats to light the lamp.

Nashville will look to Filip Forsberg to score with his team best eight goals and 15 points during the playoffs.

Though it may be close in goaltending it isn’t close in experience. The Penguins boast 156 games of Stanley Cup Experience, with 19 goals scored and 24 winners of the Stanley Cup. The Predators have no Stanley Cup winners, 2 goals scored and a mere five games played in the cup. Note that doesn’t include the injured Chris Letang for Pittsburgh.

 

This is the third time the Penguins have played in back to bac finals. The first in 1991 and 1992 in which they won both. Then in 2008 and 2009 they split two finals with Detroit, but won the second of the two.  On top of that the Penguins have been the dominant team in the playoffs the past 10 years ranking first or second in Stanley Cup finals appreances, wins and playoff wins.  Throw in the home ice advantage of gold standard mark 481 consecutive sell outs and Nashville is in for a brutal fight.

Nashville will take at least one game, maybe two. You don’t sweep a Chicago team, built very much like Pittsburgh in terms of star power, and not feel confident. I wouldn’t say it was luck as Nashville followed it up by beating St. Louis and Anaheim too, both times presumably as the underdog.

This could be a cause where if Pittsburgh underestimates them and comes out flat it could be in for a surprise. Much like the series against Ottawa that should on paper have been domination. Pittsburgh’s star power and experience has the ability to win this in quick fashion. They just need to play like it.

Bold prediction is Pens in 5. Realistic is Pens in 6. Though I would venture to say a game seven would be incredibly interesting and would be anyone’s to take.  This series is the rubber match from the regular season with so much more on the line. Looking for both teams to come out hungry and have this be an intense final. One that should end with Crosby hoisting his third cup and adding to his legacy.

Not even this viral video with catchy tune will stop Pittsburgh.

 

 

Pens Playoffs Round Two 2017

By S. Samek

After dispatching Columbus in five games the Pittsburgh Penguins eagerly awaited the conclusion of The Washington Capitals and Toronto. Toronto made its first time in the playoffs in a while a short one, being overmatched by the President’s trophy winner in six games.

Cue the Déjà vu. Penguins and Capitals for the past two season meeting in round two of the NHL playoffs. Pittsburgh walking away with the series victory last season in addition to winning eight of nine playoff meetings between the two.

During the season, Washington took the season series 2-0-2 during their 55-win campaign.  Though the Pens earned 50 wins of their own in route to the runner up spot in the Metropolitan division.

The Stars are display in this one. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin ready to role for Pittsburgh against the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Jake Geuentzel stepped up against Columbus with five goals and is your playoff goal scoring leader. Malkin’s 11 points is tops in playoff points.

 

Though the possibly overlooked stars are the goaltenders. Marc-Andre Fleury is stepping up after the injury to Matt Murrary. Fleury contributed a 2.52 goals-against average and .933 save percentage against Columbus. Fleury’s has also led the Pens to an addition cup win and a finals appearance and is showing veteran leadership.

Washington has Brandon Holtby between the pipes. Holtby led the league in regular season wins with 42 and nine shutouts. He did this while contributing a .925 save percentage and 2.07 goals against average. All of these numbers put him in the top five statistically for regular season play.

 

Though the biggest question is can the Capitals break through and stop the trend of the Presidents trophy winner begin ousted. Can they fight back after last year’s series loss? Does the Penguin’s all-time series domination come into play. How much will the Penguin’s playoff experience and four cups matter against the Capitols?

I would say that experience should hold a small advantage, but not a big one. Anything can happen in the playoffs. Nashville told that to Chicago this season. Washington is a good team. You don’t put up the best regular season mark if you’re not a good team.  Give the Caps a small advantage there and for a 2-0 season series advantage.

This one is going seven games. Anything else should be a disappointment. Two talented teams that are playing in a faux Stanly Cup as the winner of this series is being a popular pick to win it all.

The only four times the Pittsburgh has hoisted the cup it went through Washington. Does this happen again. I think so Pens in seven games is my prediction.

 

Penguins playoffs 2017 Round One

Pens and Blue Jackets open up first round.

By S Samek.

82 Games led up to this. It’s the NHL playoffs. In the first round, it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets. It’s a revenge matchup from 2014 when The Penguins dispatched Columbus in six games.

During the course of the year each team went 2-1-1 against each other. Though the Penguins used some better play in the last 21 games of the season to best Columbus after being tied at 86 points through 61 games. The Penguins produced a 12-6-3 record while Columbus went 11-8-2. Giving the Penguins the two seed and home ice in the first round. Worth noting is the Pens beat the Jackets 4-1 in Pittsburgh the last time these teams met on April 4th,2017.

Why the Pens lose. Defense and injuries. The loss of Kris Letang will hurt a lot.

 As will the rotating carousel of defenders the Penguins used this season.  This could put stress on the goaltenders and led to disaster.

Though the Goalies should be able to hold their own. Even if Matt Murray starts over Marc-Andre Fleury. Murray went 32-10-4 this season with a 2.41 goals against average and .923 save percentage, which was eighth best in the league.

 Fleury backed him up going 18-10-7 this season with a 3.02 gaa and .909 save percentage in 38 games with 34 starts.

Columbus also has a strong goaltender in Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky went 41-17-5 with a 2.06 gaa and .931 save percentage, which was the league leader in save percentage and gaa.   Bobrovsky was also number two in the league win wins behind Braden Holtby and Cam Talbot.

Though NHL goal leader Sidney Crosby and his 44 tallies are shooting at him. As is Evgeni Malkin and his 33 goals and Phil Kessel and Connor Shery with 23 goals apiece. The Penguins offense is definitely enough to give any goalie nightmares even the best in the league.

I think experience will also play a role in this series. The Penguins are coming off a cup run. Columbus hasn’t made the playoffs sense 2014. The Pens have also made the playoffs 11 years in a row with two cup wins and another finals appearance. It’s just hard to beat the experience and winning tradition the Penguins have.

I think home ice for the Pens will help too. The last two times these teams played in Pittsburgh The Pens won. The trend for the season series is the home team winning, so if the trend stays its Pens 4-3. Both teams play well at home though with the Blue Jackets sporting a 28-12-1 mark at home, while Pittsburgh is 31-6-4. I would say that’s a home ice advantage for sure.

 

I would say that Columbus is on the upswing, and would win a playoff series if given a better match up. They finished third in a tough Metropolitan division. If the current system wasn’t in place they don’t have a harder first round matchup than they deserve. Though the weaker stretch run than the Pens have put them in the position to win from the lower seed. Though I wouldn’t count it as an upset if the Blue Jackets win.

They won’t however. I’m taking the Pens in six games to win the series. Offense and a solid two goalie system with experience in the playoffs paying off.