Today we will put it on the line with our choices. Based on our track record, I'm not sure you should head to Vegas with our picks. In the first round, I was 3-5 while Jackson was 4-4. We were each 1-3 in the second round as I had Chicago as my lone winner and Jackson had San Jose. In the Conference Finals, we each picked both winners.
In the preseason, I had the Philadelphia Flyers winning the Stanley Cup. I had Ray Emery with a good shot at the Masterton as they rolled over Anaheim in the finals. Most folks have forgotten Emery is even on the team but the core strength of the Flyers team that I held in high esteem is still present.
I thought that Chicago's goaltending would be their downfall as Christobal Huet was not up to the task. I was right about Huet but never saw the emergence of Antti Niemi on the horizon.
On paper, heading into the Finals, the teams appear similar. I do think that Chicago has the edge in speed, defense and depth. If Michael Leighton and Niemi continue to play as they have, they are probably a wash in goal. Philadelphia might have a slight edge in physicality but the Hawks will not be bothered by the Flyers grit.
I will not be totally shocked if Philadelphia wins the series, especially if a "hero" emerges and takes the team on a roll. I fully expect the Hawks to take the cup if they continue to play as they have. I see both teams splitting their first two home games and the Hawks winning game five and six. As for the Hawk's hero, Marian Hossa is going to put the past two years behind him and have a good series. Blackhawks in six
All the ingredients for a long, hard fought series are in place. Two gritty, 60 minute teams going at it at the big dance.
All year long, I said that the Stanley Cup Champion would be out of the Western Conference this year and I’m sticking to it.
At the start of the playoffs, Chicago’s main concerns were with Antti Niemi. As we sit here, a day away from game one of the finals, I think it’s safe to say that Niemi has been anything, but a concern.
Philadelphia? Same thing. Going with two back up goaltenders into the playoffs isn’t something you want to do. Not only did they adapt to the given circumstances, both goaltenders played lights out hockey for their club.
Offense obviously hasn’t been a problem for either of these teams throughout the playoffs. Chicago has a slight edge in Goals per Game with a 3.31 over Philly’s 3.18.
Both teams are in the top two in the GA/G column. Basically meaning we’ll be seeing a lot of low scoring, intense, to the buzzer games.
Without any ease, I’m going to take Chicago is seven.
Are your tired of History Will be Made? Try this...
In Pred Nation...
Seth Lake must read every foreign language hockey blog that there is on the Internet. On Monday, he found the story from Sweden about the Anders Lindback signing. Yesterday, he found the Swiss site that had the details of the Predators signing young defensive prospect Roman Josi. No official announcement from the Preds yet. Section 303 has a more English oriented story.
Tom Callahan has his thoughts on the upcoming Cup Finals.
Paul McCann has a few points about the Finals at HockeyBuzz.
David Boclair points out that the Predators lost to the eventual Western Conference Champs in their last two playoff appearances.
Mark Willoughby has his weekly My View at 111.
Jeremy Gover at Section 303 is very frustrated with the NHL for the alleged choice of Washington playing at Pittsburgh for next New Year's Day's Winter Classic.
The Milwaukee Admiral's Web site has the story of Kimmo Timonen playing for the Cup.
Around the NHL...
From @TSNBobMcKenzie: NHL will announce Friday what has previously been reported: Was vs Pit @ Heinz Field Jan. 1 and Mtl vs. Cgy at McMahon Stadium in mid-Feb.
Adrian Dater lauds the glory of the hardware that is the Stanley Cup.
TSN will have a live blog during the NHL combine today.
So why Chelsea Dagger?
Jon Jordan discusses potential coaches for Tampa Bay and tells what Rick Tocchet had to say about the Steve Yzerman hiring.
Is this year's Windsor Spitfires the best ever in Junior Hockey? Bob Duff looks at some of the best ever.
The city of Glendale actually coughed up $25 million into Coyotes escrow account. I can hear the Goldwater folks warming up for this one.
Michelle Kenneth analyzes the Ilya Kovalcuk situation in New Jersey.
Amanda Fortier analyzes the stages of elimination grief at VFMS.
Word has leaked that the teams of the International Hockey league will join the Central Hockey League to create the largest AA league in the US.
Freddy Charles explores the 1972 Summit Series.
Odds and Ends...
The Space Shuttle Atlantis completed a near perfect flight and may never fly again. Of all the billions of dollars wasted by the government, they get more "feel good" bang for the buck from the space program than anything else. Let's hope the program is extended until firm plans are in place to be able to service the ISS.
Industry week shares how Ford has prospered when other car makers are in deep trouble.
Being a Geography major, I love maps. Here are 10 interesting maps in one article.
The wizards at NOAA are scaring people with their hurricane forecasts to keep their funding level up.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass