Friday's Baker's Dozen - 4/27/2012
Time for my weekly Baker's Dozen.
- It doesn’t matter what round it happens, there is always an empty feeling when the season ends. All the great hockey and pressure of the stretch run in the regular season and the playoffs makes for an amazing roller coaster ride. Hockey is an emotional sport, and while a deserving St. Louis Blues team bumped the Sharks, the ride was still awesome.
- It’s been 19 years since a team from Canada won the Stanley Cup, the Montreal Canadians being the last team to do so back in 1993. With the Canucks and Senators losing in the first round there are no teams from Canada in the 2nd round this year. I don’t have the answer why, but it does beg the question…
- Coyotes vs. Predators: The good news, one of these teams will be headed to the Conference Finals. Bad news, a great story and season will end in the 2nd round. In a battle of amazing goalies, the Predators are healthier and their power play is better. Those two factors will be the difference.
- Blues vs. Kings: Stifling. Suffocating. No time. No space. This series has the potential to be the lowest scoring seven-game series in NHL history. If you like hard-nosed, gritty, disciplined hockey with great goaltending, that’s what you are about to get.
- “It was a battle all year.” -Joe Thornton
“It was a bumpy ride all the way.” -Dan Boyle
“I think this team’s too good to be going home this early.” -Logan Couture
“To me, the grind style of game exists more now than in the past, League-wide. And I think our team, in the four years of evolution, we’re more of a grind team, too.” -Todd McLellan
- The first round of the playoffs had a bit of everything and there was no shortage of thrilling overtime games (NHL-record 16 OT games in the first round), unsung heroes and on-ice nastiness. Emotion and passion came to the forefront and I believe that is the hallmark of what makes hockey so special. I am biased, but hockey to me has everything; speed, grace, skill, physicality, one-on-one matchups, and every player has to play offense, defense and there is no out of bounds in hockey.
- BakesTakes13 wants to congratulate Marc-Edouard Vlasic on being picked by Canada for the upcoming World Championships. It’s well deserved for one of the best defensive defenseman in the NHL. Here is a look back at ‘Classic Pickles’ in a 1-on-1 against one of the shiftiest forwards in the NHL, Matt Duchene of the Avs.
- Blues veteran forward Jamie Langenbrunner knows a thing or two about winning and playing tough-nosed defensive hockey; he won a Stanley Cup in 1999 with a Ken Hitchcock-coached Dallas Stars team and also won a Cup in 2003 with New Jersey. This is what the Captain of the US Olympic team at 2010 Vancouver Olympics had to say about the Blues:
"It's a real commitment. You have to sacrifice cheating [offensively] for situations. You have to sacrifice -- for some guys -- the way you're used to playing. You have to really buy in and do what's important for the team. It's been proven for us all year that when we do that, we're as good as anybody at doing it. We're pretty successful when we do that. It's a commitment to take care of your own end."
- Rangers vs. Capitals: I’m impressed how Washington has come together and played as a team in the latter stages of the season and in the playoffs. When the Sharks played against Washington, they didn’t look good and it was clear they were not on the same page. They are now and will give the Rangers and Lundquist all they can handle. The Rangers however will benefit from a tough first round series and their depth will be the difference.
- Flyers vs. Devils: It’s Bryz against Brodeur and attack against counter. Bryzgalov will likely be inconsistent but should have enough goal support to lead his team to the Conference Finals.
- A couple of takes on the Phoenix Coyotes, who won their first playoff series since moving to the desert. Good quote in a Yahoo Sports article by John Marshall calling the ‘Yotes, “lunch pail likeable and brilliantly resilient.”
What a job Sean Burke is doing in Phoenix as the goaltending coach. Most people thought the Coyotes would struggle after losing Bryzgalov to free agency last summer, but Mike Smith not only stepped in, but emerged as one of the best goalies in the League.
- The NHL is the hardest League in the world to make it as a player. And once you make it, it’s even harder to be an All-Star because there are so many world-class players. This past we season we saw Logan Couture become an all-star while Tommy Wingels, Justin Braun and Andrew Desjardins establish themselves as NHL players. These are fun players to watch and great people off the ice. All these guys have great upside potential and it’s going to be fun watching them continue to develop.
- I want to thank all the great hockey fans and in particular, Sharks fans that come to games, watch games and of course listen to games. We hockey fans are a different breed and we like it that way. Once you’re hooked on hockey, you are a lifelong fan and when the season is over we can all agree on one thing – hockey is the best sport on earth and so are its fans.