Friday, May 26, 2017

Poor Len sets the table for the NHL Stanley Cup finals

Poor Len here here, with a few words before catching up on my sleep after Game 7 of the NHL Eastern Conference finals. I won't pretend it was a great hockey game, and the result seemed to me inevitable. After 85 minutes of play, Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Ottawa Senators 3-2.

A big tip of the toque goes to Sens beleaguered goalie Craig Anderson, who kept his team in there. Finally, though, Ottawa had the same problem that beset the Montréal Canadiens. It takes more than a great goalie and an all-star defenceman to win a championship. You have to have guaranteed goal-scorers up front. Pittsburgh has 3, and Ottawa... not so many.

Time now to review my picks (as adjusted) for the Stanley Cup finals, which begin this coming Monday night. I had the Eastern Conference pretty much figured out, although I thought (hoped?) the conference final would pit les Glorieux against the Penguins. The upside of being slightly wrong on that was that I didn't need my crying towel last night, and didn't lose any money. In fact I made a couple of bucks from Canucks dreaming of a big upset following their team's Game 6 win.

As for the Western Conference, the Nashville Predators continue to astound and confound me. I thought the Anaheim (Formerly Mighty) Ducks had a nicely balanced team and should have been able to get by the Preds. I underestimated Pekka Rinne, who is a contender for MVP in the playoffs and must be rated right up there -- perhaps above -- all-star goalies Carey Price, Hendrik Lundqvist and Braden Holtby, all of whom are now on the golf course or practising for the rodeo (Carey! Carey! Carey!) or whatever they do in the off season.

Nashville too has a nicely balanced team, and play as such, in spite of the efforts of one egotistical player (hello, P.K. Subban!) to glorify himself. (Memo to P.K.: Nothing wrong with blessing yourself before a game, if you're Catholic, but you don't kneel on the ice in front of your bench to do it. Nor do you tear off your sweater to reveal your black body after your team wins. Those showoff stunts are for soccer players.) I watched most of the Preds vs Ducks games, waiting for Mr Ego or someone else to make some horrible gaffe. No-one did. Congratulations to coach Peter Laviolette on great work getting these guys to play as a team.

Will the Predators' (and Rinne's) hot streak continue through the Stanley Cup finals? Will Penguins' Phil Kessel be wrapped in a wet sheet and taken to the funny farm before the series ends? Will P.K. Subban "lose an edge" and cough up the puck for a Pittsburgh goal? Can almost-rookie goalie Matt Murray stand the heat for six or seven games? If not, will Marc-André Fleury be mentally ready to get back between the pipes? Should be an entertaining series. I stand by my earlier prediction: Pittsburgh in 6... or maybe 7. Lifetime pct (still) .973.

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