Stanley Cup Semi Finals Predictions
And with that crazy game 7 in Boston behind us, we are now in the semi finals of the Stanley Cup Play Offs with two upsets notched in the quarter finals. Most didn’t expect Detroit to win and I barely saw any hands register when it came to Ottawa winning their series. While it was unanimously that Boston would beat Toronto, I don’t anyone that picked seven games or picked the Bruins to win so dramatically.
With that being said, I’ll keep this short
1. Chicago Vs 7. Detroit
An original six series and while I was rooting for the Ducks (because I wanted to see an LA semi final series), Detroit winning and playing Chicago isn’t a bad consolation prize either. Seeing these once bitter rivals square off will be an entertaining series but I think it would be a bit more entertaining if the teams were on equal footing. Chicago dispatched Minnesota so quickly that I feel like the series ended weeks ago and Detroit I believe put in everything it had in that Anaheim series. With all of that being said though, Detroit simply doesn’t match up well against Chicago. Chicago is a deep team and one that I believe is going to make quick work of Detroit as well. I believe Zetterberg and Datsyuk will do their magic in this series and it won’t be a sweep but I think we’ll see Chicago’s depth is just too much for the patchwork defense of Franzon and Co.
Chicago in Six
5. Los Angeles Vs 6. San Jose
If there is one thing the Sharks did, it’s proven that GM Doug Wilson has successfully retooled this team on the fly and Head Coach Todd McLellan’s shrewd moves and line up changes such as moving defenseman Burns up to the Forward position has been a success with a rewarding point total. But with all of that being said, they’re playing against the Kings, a team that just started rolling after two defeats against St Louis and just seems to have their swagger back after an inconsistent regular season where they dominated and then played lackluster (kind of like the Bruins but with less media scrutiny) but simply put the Sharks don’t have the physical presence that LA has and LA will hit and hit them into submission. But with two heated rivals it could change on a dime and I believe you’re going to see a physical series where the rivalry is reheated. I think you’ll see one team win one and the next game it’ll be a different winner.
Los Angeles in Seven
1. Pittsburgh Vs 7. Ottawa
I don’t think this series is as easy a match up as people think it will be and the Senators are a high flying team with depth and rugged defenseman that if they had been healthy all year, probably would’ve won the division over Montreal. I believe in this Senators team and wouldn’t be surprised if they defeated Pittsburgh as that team showed it had many weaknesses it can be exploited especially on defense. But Pittsburgh is built on depth and during these playoffs they’ve gotten balance scoring and every let leads bring them down.
Pittsburgh in Seven
4. Boston Vs 6. New York
Boston and New York, they meet again, except this is the first time they met in the post season in a long time. This is a chapter that needs to be updated in a story that hasn’t been read in a long time. These two teams are similar in their match up and were both considered Cup Contenders from the beginning of the season. Boston showed it’s strength in game seven and the Rangers showed they can be the dominant team that many predicted them to be. I believe this is going to be a physical series but New York has the edge in goaltending. As a Bruins fan it pains me to say it but our defense is green, while not impossible but after seeing Ranger shutout Washington, I believe this is their year. I believe in the New York Rangers.
New York in Seven
Team USA in Sochi 2014
With news being leaked that the NHL will send it’s players to the Sochi Olympics, every armchair GM around Hockey will probably start predicting whom they believe will be playing for each country and what the chances are of each country going.
For me, being an American and only seeing my beloved Stars and Stripes only winning one senior men’s tournament (apparently there was some other one known as ‘the miracle’), the US program I believe has developed an unbelievable wealth of talent that had many journalists overlooking their chances in the last Olympics as they were constantly underestimated on their way to the Gold Medal game where they were just one goal away from winning the Gold Medal.
With 2014, I believe the chances are that you will see a similarly constructed team of physical wingers, crafty centermen and the perfect pairings of puck moving, swift skating defenseman with rugid stay at home types.
Goaltending is now the biggest question in that whom should the US choose as their number 1 starter. Tim Thomas, I believe won’t make the cut. If he somehow decides to play for New York next year and becomes the Goaltender we all know he’s capable of being then, that could provide another question mark.
As for whom will be GM, I believe Brian Burke did an amazing job of constructing the team and given that he’s not currently employed in a full time position in Toronto, that he should be given the full time job of constructing this roster. Choosing coaches is another question. Most would say Dan Bylsma has earned his opportunity but going with Ron Wilson, whom has guided the team on multiple occasions and has taken the US team to two Gold Medal games, should be given large consideration as well. Though not to overlook John Tortarella or even Ron Rolston who was just hired by the Buffalo Sabres. If I had to guess, I would assume Wilson, Blysma and Tortarella will all be behind the bench but whom would be the main boss is up for grabs. I predict Blysma.
With all of that I’m basing this off reports that Olympic Teams will have 23 players plus three goaltenders as is the rumor surfacing out of the media.
Jonathan Quick, Corey Schneider, Craig Anderson
I couldn’t predict who would be the starting goaltender but picking three wasn’t easy. If Schneider isn’t hurt, I suspect he’ll rebound and prove to be the goaltender that Vancouver envisioned him being and seriously contend Quick for role of number 1 but Quick had an inconsistent this past season after his Conn Symthe, Stanley Cup winning season. With that certainly Ryan Miller will rebound and Jimmy Howard is also an elite American Goalkeeper which makes this all the more difficult. Craig Anderson would bring a veteran presence and I believe could just as easily be the starting goalkeeper in 2014 but age is an issue and despite his amazing season this year on putting the Senators in the playoffs, I believe if he doesn’t have a season similar to this past one, he won’t be the starter or even considered for the roster altogether. My pick is Jonathan Quick will be the Number 1 goalie.
Ryan Suter, Jack Johnson, Paul Martin, Dustin Byfuglien, Keith Yandle, Justin Faulk, Kevin Shattenkirk, Ryan McDonaugh
The defense is also a toughcall. In the last Olympics, many felt the USA lack of star power and big names would be their biggest achilles heel and when Paul Martin went down prior to the Olympics, many felt their chances grew even slimmer in getting past the group stages. Yet in the face of it all, the team sustained and made it to the Gold Medal game, even defeating Canada once along the way. This time around, the USA is not for lacking in defenseman that could be included this time around. With Nick Leddy and John Carlson being the hardest names to leave off this roster. Ryan Suter will be the undisputed number 1 defenseman on this roster but whom he will be paired with will be interesting. USA is not short on hard hitting, swift skating defensemen that can score as just about everyone on this roster can contribute on both ends but where it’s gets interesting is how do you pairs these players together. I believe Suter will probably lead in minutes and leadership won’t be an issue with Suter on the roster.
TJ Oshie, David Backes, Ryan Callahan,
Bobby Ryan, Ryan Kesler, Phil Kessel,
Joe Pavelski, Dustin Brown, Derek Stephan,
Zach Parise, Alex Galchenyuk, Patrick Kane,
Jason Pominville, Erik Cole, Kyle Okposo
If there is anything the USA forward corp doesn’t lack, it’s leadership and grit. The team boasts three current Captains and two others that were Captains of their previous organization and not too mention, most of these players were on the 2010 team giving them the experience and hunger from being just one goal short of winning the Gold Medal. How they will match up will depend a lot from here but I believe you’ll probably see the lower scoring forwards more focused on matched up defense duties with forwards such as Ryan Callahan and Dustin Brown centered with Joe Pavelski proving to be a great shutdown line that will counter and leave the opposing countries trying to decide how to match up.
Predicting the players being invited to USMNT camp and Gold Cup
In a few weeks, the USMNT will begin a long stretch of World Cup qualifying that will end in mid October. In the middle of all this, is the Gold Cup tournament which will have a new caveat added to it with this years winner and 2015’s winner squaring off to determine whom will go to the Confederation Cup in 2017, in what is now considered a crucial tune up before the World Cup, and no longer just considered an unimportant dress rehearsal for the big show the following year.
These crucial games will determine whom will end up at next years World Cup in Brazil.
USMNT has a lot more questions than answers for the upcoming set of friendlies and qualifiers. But one of the biggest is ‘whom will be JK’s final 23 man roster for next years World Cup in Brazil?’
After the successful showing against Costa Rica and Mexico, the USMNT is riding high with confidence and now believe this cycle is in their own destiny.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s side has done well under his reign despite a publicity heavy article that was released prior to their qualifying match against Costa Rica that many thought publicly acknowledged that Jurgen Klinsmann’s side had doubts about his ability as a tactician and that would ultimately cause problems for the team down the road.
Yet after their impressive showings, many questions going in seemed to have been silenced by the team and now these critics had to dig up new questions about the team. Not all bad ones, I might add.
1. With Guzan’s impressive showing at the Azteca, does that mean Tim Howard’s spot as the undisputed number 1 keeper for the USMNT is now, no longer a sure thing?
2. With Geoff Cameron’s shaky showings in both games, does he now belong lower on the pecking order once Johnson and Chandler return to form?
3. Has Zusi played well enough to take over Landon Donovan’s once untouchable position?
4. Is it a given that players whom get called but get no action during the May/June qualifiers will likely be the starters for the Gold Cup?
5. What 23 players do you think will be called in May/June and whom do you think will start? Same for the Gold Cup?
I have no crystal ball nor am I a ‘respected journalist’ with ‘connections’ but my gut has been pretty accurate when I’ve allowed myself to be swallowed up by my biggest fears but I will say this.
1. I don’t believe that any players position should be safe by any means and as a coach, I believe the best motivation to is make sure every position is up for grabs but with a sport like soccer where chemistry is essential to success and that’s what made the 2009 Confederation Cup and 2010 World Cup teams such a ‘success’ was the chemistry cultivated by Bob Bradley and Tim Howard was essential to that. Though after Brad Guzan’s impressive showing, one would be quick to say that it should be Guzan’s position to lose. But with such a small sample size, I believe it to be hasty to make such proclamations and say that Tim Howard is no longer the number 1. If Tim Howard is healthy, I still believe he is the undisputed number 1 choice but having the goaltender depth is never bad thing, ask LA Kings or Boston Bruins if it is.
2. I don’t believe Geoff Cameron’s performance was as ‘bad’ or as mediocre’ as everyone is proclaiming them to be but I do believe he is a work in progress and you will be seeing him in 2014 in Brazil if the US makes it and he would be a big part of it. I believe he should if able, join the team on the Gold Cup roster for more international experience as it would sting to have end up as Ricardo Clark, a talented player just not ready for the big stage.
3. No, he hasn’t. Zusi has been great and even downright amazing but he’s no Landon Donovan. Not even close. Donovan could control game and paces and Zusi just doesn’t have that talismatic quality that Donovan can be known to have.
4. I think so. I think whomever you see on the bench and not starting during the qualifying matches in a few weeks, will mostly likely be in the starting XI or camp for the Gold Cup. I also believe any fringe players with dual citizenship like Mixx and John Anthony Brooks, will probably be called up for the Gold Cup to be cap tied to the US squad.
5. This requires a whole page but I’ll keep this as short and sweet based on my readings in websites such as Yanks Abroad, US Soccer boards, Goal.com, ESPN and just about everyone else that reads what I read and the many hours spent watching American players on TV.
Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson
Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, Steve Cherundolo, Omar Gonzalez, Fabian Johnson, Clarence Goodson, Edgar Castillo
Joe Corona, Jose Francisco Torres, Jermaine Jones, Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan, Alejandro Bedoya, Danny Williams, Graham Zusi, Stuart Holden
Herculez Gomez, Jozy Altidore, Terrence Boyd, Clint Dempsey
Goalkeepers (3): Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid, Nick Rimando
Defense (6): Tony Beltran, Matt Besler, Perry Kitchen, Michael Orozco Fiscal, Alfredo Morales, John Anthony Brooks
Midfielders (9): Mixx Diskerud, Joe Corona, Stuart Holden, Benny Feilhaber, Alejandro Bedoya, Amobi Okugo, Conor O’Brien, Graham Zusi, Kyle Beckerman
Forwards (5): Juan Agudelo, Terrence Boyd, Jack McInerney, Chris Wondolowski, Joshua Gatt
For Everyone I mentioned above, I’m fairly certain 80% of the names up there will be called up. The Gold Cup roster is a bit trickier to predict as some players could go on fire from now until the end of June and injuries and the like. Midfield, is where the US has it’s strength and I believe the starting core of our Defense is in place and ready to go but it’s the forward corps that Bob Bradley and now Jurgen Klinsmann have had problems with finding the right forward to get the finishing done for the USMNT.
I believe for the starting XI for the qualifying matches, you will see a lot of mix and match going on, especially depending on each opponent, and you will see a core of names always selected with minor changes on defense pending on the speed and their results from the friendlies before hand. I believe you’ll the see the USMNT taking the friendlies before qualifying very seriously as he tries to determine which players will make it to the starting XI.
I also believe in the end, Donovan will get selected for all of JK’s tough talk it would be hard to omit him but then again, Jurgen Klinsmann is anything than predictable and most didn’t expect Bocanegra to be omitted and he was the USMNT was fine for it. So Jurgen Klinsmann is bold in his selection.
With that being said, Chandler is again, hurt. So, as it amazing as it would’ve been for him to be and easier for Klinsmann’s starting XI.
The starting XI I predict would be something along these lines:
Cherundolo - Gonzalez - Goodson - Johnson
Bradley - Jones
Bedoya - Zusi
With the Gold Cup, I predict, you’ll see a more offensive oriented formation.
Besler - Morales - Orozco Fiscal - Beltran
Corona - Bedoya - Diskerud - Beckerman - Gatt
NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Prediction
With that, the 48 game season is over and the playoffs begin. Unlike in past years where a President Trophy winner is unlikely to win the cup after grueling 82 game campaign, this year, that possibility could still exist. The Chicago Blackhawks were a consistent group that had only seven regulation losses this year. For most people they’re the consensus pick to win the Western Conference and even the Stanley Cup three years after their win.
In the east, we saw almost everyone’s top eight predictions particularly not pan out and I don’t think many people expected to see Ottawa or New York Islanders in the mix for the playoffs but they made it. The eastern conference is just as formidable with a few hot teams and old favorites making it to the playoffs this year. The Bruins, the Leafs and Canadians were lucky to make it based off their great starts but their sluggish finish had left many of their fans nervous. All in all, the Eastern conference is prime for an upset and unlike the NBA there is always a team riding high at the last moment that doesn’t get everyone’s attention until after the first round.
1. Chicago Vs 8. Minnesota
Simply put, Chicago can roll four lines against Minnesota’s one shutdown defense pairing and their depth will undo Minnesota.
Chicago in Five
2. Anaheim Vs 7. Detroit
Detroit’s on a roll and comes with a swagger of 22 years of playoff appearances but the Ducks are a deep team and their forwards are big and their secondary line is dangerous along with their top line.
Anaheim in Seven
3. Vancouver Vs 6. San Jose
If you have to choose a team, choose based on goaltending and you’ll know why everyone is picking San Jose to oust Vancouver.
San Jose in Six
4. St. Louis Vs 5. Los Angeles
The hot hand is St Louis with a deep blue line and a goaltender riding high confidently but these are the Kings whom have been widely inconsistent but are still the same team that won it last year minus Willie Mitchell. Gotta go with the gut.
Los Angeles in Seven
1. Pittsburgh Vs 8. New York
If Pittsburgh takes too many bad penalties, this could be an upset but the Penguins have been good all year with untimely injuries and if it’s one thing they’re built for it’s a possibility of a long postseason.
Pittsburgh in Five
2. Montreal Vs 7. Ottawa
I know everyone wanted to Montreal Vs Toronto but maybe a new rivalry can emerge with this series. Both teams played an equal game to each other but the Senators had held the advantage over the last few weeks and Karlsson back, they could take the series.
Ottawa in Seven
3. Washington Vs 6. New York
This will probably a very entertaining series that will go back forth and end with a game seven victory. With that being said, it can’t be stated who has the advantage here. New York is a new team after the Gaborik trade but Washington is a team on the verge with surprising run to the Southeast Division. But it goes without saying that this was a Rangers team many predicted to win the Stanley Cup.
New York in Seven
4. Boston Vs 5. Toronto
This is a series with story lines that will be a physical series. But as a Bruins fan, this was the match up I was hoping for. This is a team that Bruins match well against and this is the team that could give them the confidence needed to make a deep run this postseason. But Rask as their goaltender will tip the series.
Boston in Five
Last week I visited Upstate NY. I saw the battlefields of the American Revolution, I saw the capitol of NY, I saw the National Baseball Hall of Fame and I saw the village of Kinderhook. It was beautiful in it’s own way. Vast open spaces, history and folklore all combined and weaved together to see Columbia County. For someone from California, to walk streets and pathways that people walked on four hundred years ago is something interesting as nothing of that really exists in California. Sure, someone walked the streets of my street years ago but it’s significance is not as historical as walking past the Bourgoyne house or seeing where Washington Irving’s presence was so felt that they named a school after one of his characters as the little village inspired him to write one of the first American folktales. I saw Connecticut, just a short drive from Columbia County and got to drive through Western Massachusetts. I saw country roads in Yankee territory. But most of all, I was charmed by a beauty of a whole new world. On the same land but a whole new world. I am grateful that my girlfriend is from such a lovely land. As I would’ve never been able to experience this myself.
All in all, it was a fun trip. I look forward to the next time I get to go. I’ve never seen the magical New England fall. Where foliage and cider and pumpkin patches with beautiful leaves and cool weather feel like Autumn. I’ve not seen autumn like that before. I hope to see it next this October.
Albany, NY (at The Egg - Lisa Lampanelli)
These are their parking signs (at Cascades)
Tensions are high between North Korea and the United States right now.
And it gets even worse. The kids who sit at the North Korean table in the school cafeteria are throwing mad shade at everyone who walks by, my North Korean friends won’t answer my text messages, and just this afternoon Kim Jong-Un stuffed me in a locker and stole my lunch money.
I guess they’re just really pissed about this whole losing at Pearl Harbor thing that we’re learning about in History class now.
Soccer Update 03/31/2013
Tim Howard returned, Landon Donovan is back in action and guess what, Carlos Bocanegra made a return to the starting XI for Racing Santander!
Also, Brad Davis wasn’t looking too bad yesterday.