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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Devils vs. Kings Prediction

Well, back in February I predicted that the Devils could upset in the East (as long as they did not have to face the Bruins) and that they could win the Cup. They are now four wins away from accomplishing that feat. As you know, the Devils have won three Stanley Cups since 1995 and this could be their fourth since that time.

The Kings overcame the Canucks and then rolled-over the Blues and Coyotes and they did so with their relentless forechecking and skill. They are therefore favored to win the Cup, however, I am predicting that this will be the toughest series that they will have and that it will be a WAR!

Can the Devils overcome the Kings? Below are reasons why the Devils could beat them.  

  1. The Devils have Martin Brodeur and if he plays like he did against the Rangers he will be able to nullify much of the Kings forechecking. This is going to be the key to the entire series in my opinion. Brodeur has to catch the Kings coming in and fire the puck up to his forwards so that they can break out on 3 on 2’s and 2 on 1’s.  
  2. The Devils have more speed than the other teams that the Kings beat, except for the Canucks who also have some faster players.
  3. The Devils are more physical that the Canucks, Blues and also the Coyotes. The Kings are going to experience what the Flyers and Rangers just went through—and that was tough play along the boards and good forechecking.
  4. The Devils have a lot of depth and their fourth line is playing exceptionally well. Carter and Gionta could make the difference in this series.
Let us hope for honest officiating. That obviously was not the case in the Kings – Coyotes series. For the officials to have not called Brown for disabling Rozsival is absolutely unbelievable. Please see my previous article on that hit and on Brown.

TJ Stanley

Monday, May 28, 2012

Why I Want Dustin Brown and his Kings to Lose to the Devils – Brown’s Hit on Rozsival (knee and elbow) and Laziness are the Two Main Reasons

REASON #1

Let us start by watching the video of Brown’s hit on Rozsival. Anyone who has played hockey knows that he widened his stance a little, did not change his course, and braced himself rather than trying to avoid the knee contact. And, also, notice that Brown had time to stick out his elbow and he almost connected with Rozsival’s head (but did hit his shoulder instead). The officials not calling a penalty (elbowing, interference, etc) is a perfect example of game-fixing, and Shanahan not suspending Brown is utter corruption! Roenick and Milbury had quite an exchange over the hit, and this is the first time I have ever agreed with Milbury since he did not like Brown's hit either. The fact is that Brown had made up his mind to hit Rozsival and decided not to turn back even though he could have avoided all or most of the hit.

I have replaced the embedded video with the following link to help speed-up loading of other videos on my site. Click the link below to watch the video on Youtube, and then be sure to click the back arrow in your browser to return to this article and my site.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dlg4qpHumVk

REASON #2

Brown was guilty of excessive laziness this year until just before the trade deadline, and, he only woke up after the Kings traded Jack Johnson for Jeff Carter. I wrote an article about this and it is entitled “Dustin Brown’s Wake-up Call — Kings Might Make the Playoffs.” To save time, I will quote the most important part of that article below. Once you read it you will agree that Brown was taking his job as Captain of the Kings for granted.

Note that by being lazy for most of the year, Brown was slighting the fans who are paying his huge salary!

I quote:

In my opinion, the Kings could have and should have prevented the desperate situation that they are now in, playoff-wise. Kings President and General Manager Dean Lombardi should have made some changes back in December or early January to shake-up the players to see who wanted to stay in Los Angeles and earn their paychecks. He could have started by sending a couple of regular players down to the minors and if that wasn’t successful he could have went forth with a couple of trades. If the players don’t want to give 100 % and are taking life in LA and their positions on the Kings for granted, then they need to be moved out. Make the players fight for their jobs because this is professional hockey and the fans deserve to watch players that give it their all.

Captain Dustin Brown was one of the main players at fault because it is his job to inspire his teammates by word and action. He was failing in his role as captain and as the trade deadline was drawing near he was rumored to be trade bait, and rightfully so because he was not committing himself and giving 100 percent. Well, the Kings made a deal on February 23rd (four days prior to the deadline) that did not involve Brown. They traded Jack Johnson and a conditional 1st Round pick in either 2012 or 2013 to the Blue Jackets in exchange for hard-to-please but talented Jeff Carter. The Kings next game was two days later in LA against the Blackhawks and Carter would make his debut as a King. Meanwhile, the trade winds regarding Brown were still blowing. Would he make it past the Monday deadline and remain captain of the Kings? 

In the game against the Blackhawks it was not Carter who would “steal the show,” but rather, it was a transformed Dustin Brown. Brown scored a hat-trick and also added an assist in a 4-0 victory.

After the game Brown stated (Associated Press):

"I've been a King my whole career, and I expect to be a King beyond the next few days," Brown said. "With all the rumors flying around, it's my responsibility to prepare myself to be the best I can. Tonight felt good."

Including the Blackhawk game, the Kings went forth to win 11 out of 16 games, including three wins over the Ducks, two over Nashville, two over the Blackhawks, and wins over the Red Wings, Blues, Wild, Sharks and Flames. Brown accumulated 16 points during the 16 games, while Carter had nine. Kopitar, Williams and Doughty also improved significantly. 

Brown has played all 77 games for the Kings and sits in third in team scoring with 20 goals and 28 assists for 48 points. However, 16 of those points have come in the last 16 games so it is clear to see that he has put forth more effort since trade rumors were swirling and since Jeff Carter joined the team. Carter has 9 points in his 16 games with the Kings.

Clearly, Brown was fearful of having to move his family from LA to another city and he was also fearful of losing the “C” from his jersey. He did not want Carter to get the spotlight. I like Brown as a person and it is too bad that he allowed himself to under-achieve and to not provide the inspiration that he should have to his teammates. His improved play has been out of desperation and not out of love for the game and desire to win the Stanley Cup. That is pretty sad. I prefer players who are on a mission to win the Stanley Cup and do whatever it takes to try to achieve the goal. These types of players “infect” their teammates and make everyone better. It is possible that Carter can help give that desire back to Brown because it is no secret that Carter wants a Stanley Cup.

CONCLUSION

Due to Brown’s laziness this year and his dirty hit on Rozsival, I hope that the Devils are able to overcome the favored Kings and win the Cup. Let us see to what extent Brodeur is able to nullify the Kings relentless forechecking. This will be the key to the series and if Marty is able to handle the puck as well as he did against the Rangers, I believe that the Devils can win the Cup. By the way, if Marty gets an assist in the series he will have the playoff record for most assists by a goalie—currently he is tied for the record. By the way, back in February I picked the Devils to come out of the Eastern Conference as long as they did not have to face the Bruins, and I stated that they could even go all the way—did my homework and had some luck. The Kings have more offensive ability, of course, but they can expect a series tougher than the one they had against the Canucks.  

TJ Stanley


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Eastern Conference Final Prediction — Devils vs. Rangers

The Devils and Rangers faced each other six times in the regular season and each team won three games—4-1 Rangers, 4-3 SO Devils, 1-0 Devils, 2-0 Rangers, 4-1 Devils and 4-2 Rangers.

In an article that I posted way back on February 15, 2012 (entitled “NHL Eastern Conference Playoff Picture”), I stated:

I believe that the Devils can do a lot of damage in the playoffs and could even go all the way if they get great goaltending—which they have not had this year. Am I crazy? Let us look at the Devils record against the Bruins, the Rangers, the Flyers, and the Penguins. The only team out of those four that New Jersey does not want to meet is Boston. Boston has won all three games this year, and two of them very convincingly. The Devils have split the four games against the Flyers, have won two out of three against the Rangers, and have won three out of four against the Penguins! So, clearly, the Devils would love to play anyone but the Bruins. The Devils will probably have to finish in 6th spot or higher to avoid a 1st Round meeting with Boston, and then hope that Boston is eliminated.”

Well, the Capitals knocked-off the Bruins and the Devils managed to get by the Panthers and then picked-up the pace in crushing the Flyers. Now they shall take on the Rangers and I am predicting a Devils victory in six or seven games.  

I don’t like Tortorella and the league has had to fine him on at least two occasions this year. In a previous article on the Rangers and Devils brawl on March 19th, I wrote:

“Rangers coach John Tortorella had started his tough guys on December 20, 2011 when they visited New Jersey so Devils coach Peter DeBoer decided to do the same in his return visits tonight and also back on February 7. In the December 20th game in New Jersey Mike Rupp and Cam Janssen fought right at the opening face-off, and in the February 7 game Rupp, Janssen, Prust and Boulton all fought at the opening face-off. When the Devils visited the Rangers on February 27 the game did not start with a fight, and in the following game between the teams on March 6 in New Jersey the game did not begin with a fight, although one occurred between Carter and Dubinsky at 3:03 of the first period.  

Tortorella is ultimately the guy responsible for all of the nonsense during the games between the two teams this year because he should never have started his tough guys in New Jersey on December 20—and he knows that damn well. This is hockey and not boxing so you always start your better players. The NHL should have fined Tortorella for purposely starting the game with intentions of having at least one of his players fight and that would have prevented all of the other fights at the start of the subsequent games. DeBoer is also guilty because he should have let things rest and not started his fighters in Monday’s game. He had already retaliated and he should not have done so again.”

Who wants a guy like Tortorella to win? He has his Rangers play dirty (when allowed to do so by the officials), and Tortorella and Ranger management always bitch and complain about judgments that the NHL has merited out on them, as well as every call that they don’t like by the officials. Mark Messier must be sick of hearing all of these babies crying all of the time?

By the way, Tortorella is a finalist for coach of the year despite the fact that he has been fined by the league, and despite the fact that he purposely went into New Jersey and started the game with his fighters. Honestly, look at Dave Tippett (not in the final three) and Ken Hitchcock (in the final three) for coach of the year but not Tortorella.

In my opinion, the NHL wants an American team to win the Cup again—because it equates to a lot more money for the league. The Rangers or Kings would be ideal in Bettman’s mind. In the series between the Senators and Rangers, the officials allowed the Rangers to play their dirty game because they knew it would be to their great advantage—and it was and they came back and won. In the Capitals and Rangers series the officials changed course and did not allow the Rangers to play dirty—the Canadian team had been eliminated so then it was time for the officials to warn the animals that they were not going to be allowed to carry on with that type of play in Round 2. My imagination? Oh really, please read on. The same thing happened last year when the Canucks had to play the Blackhawks in Round 1, and then later when they met the Bruins—two series that the NHL allowed the animals to do what they wanted on the ice since it would drastically reduce the Canucks chances of winning. Just please watch the two series and see the vicious stick-work by the Hawks and the crosschecking, punching and so forth by the Bruins! Were the Bruins allowed to brutalize the Capitals in Round 1—NO they were not and I recall hearing Ference of the Bruins say it was “good honest hockey.” The Bruins lost because the NHL was not going to allow them to play dirty; but, last year the Bruins were allowed to brutalize the Canucks and they subsequently won big—and so did the NHL financially speaking. I did see some favoritism by the officials towards the Rangers in Round 2 against the Caps, including in the final two minutes of Game 7. Will the officials continue to favor the Rangers? Probably, so the Devils are simply going to have to play harder and stay away from retaliation penalties like they did against the Flyers.

TJ Stanley





Western Conference Final Prediction — Kings vs. Coyotes

The Kings and Coyotes played six times in the regular season and each team won three games—2-0 Kings, 3-2 Yotes, 4-3 Kings, 1-0 Kings, 1-0 Yotes and 5-4 SO Yotes.

Both teams are obviously playing exceptionally well to have made the Western Conference Final, and especially goaltenders Jonathan Quick and Mike Smith. The Kings are definitely favored to win this series and we can expect them to continue with the relentless forechecking that they used against the Canucks and Blues. Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal were the Coyotes two most effective players against the Kings during the regular season, and Vrbata had five big goals in the six meetings. However, in most playoff games this year, Vrbata has not been that effective (4 points in 11 games and minus-2) and I expect the Kings to be able to rough-up a smaller player like him and greatly reduce his offensive ability; and, the same goes for Whitney since he is only 180 pounds—although, the Coyotes have home ice advantage and they can help their cause with wise line changes for home games (and will have the first two games at home). Hanzal is 235 pounds so the Kings can’t push him around, and he will have to be at his best along with Doan, Yandle, Vermette, the young Boedker, and the rest of the team if they want to overcome the Kings and advance to play the Devils or Rangers for the Cup. In Dave Tippett, the Coyotes have one of the best, if not the best, coach in the league and that is another advantage. On the Kings side, Kopitar, Brown, Doughty, Richards and Williams have been playing exceptionally well.

I hope that the officiating is fair and not biased towards the Kings because I want the underdog Coyotes to win. If the Yotes are able to orchestrate the upset it would likely come down to the seventh game in Phoenix.

TJ Stanley