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NHL ROUND TWO-QUARTER FINALS

ROUND TWO -QUARTER FINALS

ROUND TWO -QUARTER FINALS

Gary Norris Gray- BASN Newsroom-Staff Reporter

All of the weak shooters and sloppy goaltenders have vacated the playoffs. Now it becomes a game of skill and grace. It now becomes a race for the Cup.

The Montreal Canadiens might be rethinking that monster trade a year ago sending the talented P.K. Subban to Nashville for the older, taller, defenseman Shea Weber. Many Canadian fans may never forgive the Montreal brain trust after the Habs lost to the New York Rangers in six games. The regenerated Nashville Predators moved on to the second round for the first time in their short history with P.K. Subban as their defensive leader. Montreal learned a lesson you can’t teach, it’s called heart. The Montreal Canadiens might have the best goalie on the planet (Carey Price) but P.K. Subban is the best defenseman in the National Hockey League.

The Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks, and Montreal Canadiens all went down hard and unexpected in the first round.

The Boston Bruins made too many mental errors early with delay of game penalties. The Ottawa Senators capitalized on those mistakes to take the series.

The Chicago Blackhawks were simply outscored 13-3 in four games. Despite this loss in Blackhawk land fans should be happy with their rebuilding program, as it points out the probable future success.

On the west coast, this could be the end of the Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, and Patrick Marleau era in San Jose as the Sharks made another early exit. This time as the young upstart Edmonton Oilers took them out. The Sharks might have problems in net as goalie Martin Jones was not impressive letting in 3 easy goals during this series. The new players of the Edmonton Oilers and the new Toronto Maple Leafs are the wave of the future.

WEST

Nashville vs. St. Louis

Edmonton vs. Anaheim

EAST

Ottawa vs. New York

Pittsburgh vs. Washington

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS VS. WASHINGTON CAPITOLS

The National Hockey League blew this one. The number one team in the east will be playing the number two, instead of by conference. This matchup could happen again. It is not fair for the teams (Washington-Pittsburgh) that have worked hard all season to win their division and get these high seeds only to have face each other in the second round. The playoff system was cute to watch the first four years with close rivalries, but it is time to go back to the old 1 through 8 seeding in conference, not division.

That being stated the Washington Capitols should shake off the President’s Trophy Curse (Best record) and defeat the injury-rattled Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Penguins should be called the MASH unit of the NHL with Matt Murray, Chad Ruhwedel, Chris Kunitz, Carl Hagelin, and Kris Letang all on the injured reserve list.

The Penguins continue to use Marc-Andre Fleury in net when everybody knows that Matt Murray is the future net-minder. Murray will not play in this series.

Goal Brother Defenseman Trevor Daley had a good series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, initiating Pittsburgh rushes for scoring chances. Pens need Kris Letang in this series to help Pittsburgh’s defense.

The Washington Capitols might have finally found a way to win. The rested Braden Holtby in the Capitols net could be the key to victory for the men in red. Backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer really helped Washington during that mid-season run.

Kevin Shattenkirk stopped the speed of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the last series. Can he do it again against Pittsburgh?

Washington is number one this year in defense; they will need it against Pittsburgh. The two headed monster in net will have to stop Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin AGAIN.

The Capitol firepower will have to come from Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and T.J. Oshie. Justin Williams earned stardom with three critical goals in the Toronto series.

The Capitols are 1-7 vs. Pittsburgh so the odds are in favor of number 8-Ovechkin and crew in our nation’s capitol.

Washington finally enters the conference final with upset victory over Pittsburgh. Caps find a way.

WASHINGTON CAPITOLS IN SIX

NEW YORK RANGERS VS. OTTAWA SENATORS

The Original Six of Hockey are down to one, the orphan child, the New York Rangers who will play the upstart Ottawa Senators. This will be a knockdown drag-out defensive struggle with two great goalies; Mr. Craig Anderson for the Sens and the self anointed King Henrik Lundqvist for the Blueshirts. If you like low-scoring games, this is the series to watch.

For those who don’t know, I call Craig Anderson “Mr. Anderson,” in reference to the 1990 movie “The Matrix.” The way he defends and moves in the net reminds me of Keanu Reeves mysterious character.

The Senators block teams at the blue line, disrupting the offensive flow, as the Boston Bruins found that out the hard way. The New York Rangers have to watch out for Ottawa’s LONG strong stretch-passing late in games, zipping the puck into the offensive zone creating scoring chances before the defensemen can react. The Bruins never found the answer and lost. The Rangers could be looking at the same fate if they don’t find a way to stop this.

The Senators are the New Jersey Devils twin. Ottawa employs the 1-3-1 zone just like New Jersey in their glory days. The League outlawed the left wing lock defense so this is the next best thing.  The lock is a defensive strategy. This strategy is very much like New Jersey’s neutral zone trap.

This is when the puck changes possession and the left winger slides back with his two defensemen into their zone pushing the offense into the left side boards squeezing the team into a box or into a given area. This tactic also ended the odd man rush to the goalie.  The Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils were masters at this, and were defensive teams of the year. When the Devils played the Wings for the Cup in 1995 (strike shorten season) the league decided to change the rules because scoring had dropped 35 per cent. The 1-3-1 is now the modern version of the Left Wing Lock.

The Ottawa Senators might be scrambling to find offense and defense with the foot injury (hairline fracture) to defenseman Captain Erik Karlsson. This hurts Ottawa because he is the heart of the team.

The Ranger right wingers are on fire.  Mats Zuccarello and Jesper Fast are playing well and center Rick Nash finally showed up to defeat the Montreal Canadiens.

My heart is with the Senators but my mind is with the Rangers.

NEW YORK RANGERS IN SIX       

EDMONTON OILERS VS.  ANAHEIM DUCKS

The Edmonton Oilers are in good hands with young center rookie Connor McDavid who has Mila Lucic on his left and Jordan Eberle on his right; it’s a speed skating scoring machine.. McDavid is one of the fastest skaters I’ve seen in a while.  Toronto’s Auston Matthews is another player as the new wave continues to change the landscape of the NHL

Goalie Cam Talbot played well against San Jose but this writer is not impressed with his play in the net, he could be the Oilers weakest link. The Anaheim Ducks will exploit this weakness because they will pressure the Edmonton defense. The two-headed Duck monster in the nets with Josh Gibson and Jonathan Bernier could stop the young Oilers.

The Ducks are powerful up the middle with centers Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler. The player to watch in this series would be right winger Patrick Eaves.

This series will come down to experience for the Anaheim Ducks vs.  The young Oilers, this will be the first time in ten years for Edmonton in the playoffs.

Watch the Conner McDavid-Ryan Kesler matchup in this series.

ANAHEIM DUCKS IN SIX

  1. LOUIS BLUES VS. NASHVILLE PREDATORS

The St. Louis Blues are kind of “the new kid on the block” and are the first expansion team to make it to the Finals, four years in a row in the early 1970’s. Nashville is really the new version. The Blues played in the old Checker Dome but could not beat any of the Original Six. The past seven years they had to deal with another one of the Original Six, the Chicago Blackhawks. Some hockey fans are calling the Blues snake- bitten but this year they defeated the Minnesota Wild in the first round in a spirited series. They are just happy not to meet the red, black, and white of Chicago-AGAIN.

The Nashville Predators are part of the last NHL expansion package in 1998 with the Florida Panthers, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the relocation of the Minnesota North Stars to Dallas to become the Stars, and the Quebec Nordiques to Colorado to become the Avalanche. The next season two more teams would move before the league finally settled down, the old Winnipeg Jets moved to Arizona to become the Phoenix Coyotes and the Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina to become the Carolina Hurricanes.

The St. Louis Blues and the St. Louis Cardinals are the only two professional teams in town and they do not have to share the Gateway City fan base with the old St. Louis Rams. The Blues have the second best goalie in the mid-west Jake Allen, but Allen has to share the spotlight with Chicago’s Cory Crawford.

The first line for St. Louis is the key for victory. Right winger David Perron, Center Paul Stastny, and left winger Alexander Steen must produce. Right winger Goal Brother Ryan Reaves and center Patrik Berglund are the players to watch in this series.

Reaves is the de-facto enforcer because of his size and many teams respect his play on the ice.

For Nashville this will be their first trip to the second round. Goal Brother defenseman P.K. Subban has changed the culture for the Predators. Subban gives the line in front of him the confidence and drive to make aggressive moves. If that line makes a mistake they know that P.K. will cover up for that mistake.

Left winger Filip Forsberg reminds me of another Forsberg, Peter who played with the Colorado Avalanche many moons ago. Filip carries the same swagger on the ice as Peter.

The Preds power line would be Right winger James Neal, Center Mike Fisher, and Left winger Kevin Fiala. Success are in defensemen Ryan Ellis and Yannick Weber hands. This team can shut-down any team with that strong defense.

Goaltender Pekka Rinne has become hot at the right time and could guide Nashville to the Western Conference Finals. A hot goaltender can carry a team to the Stanley Cup Finals; so far Rinne has been standing on his head the past month. For those who do not know what standing on his head means, it means the goalie is stopping every puck he sees.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS IN SIX    

Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email at garyngray@blackathlete.com

Garynorrisgray@Wordpress.com

©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod

 

 

 

 

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ALL LIVES MATTER ????

ALL LIVES MATTER?????

Gary Norris Gray-BASN-Newsroom Staff Reporter

These are the following nine reason African Americans are still slaves in the United States, yet some people say ALL LIVES MATTER. If that were true, everybody would be working to change the criminal justice system. This justice system only reinforces institutional racism: propping up white supremacy.

Black people are imprisoned in exceptionally high numbers.

 People should be asking how 12.5 percent of America’s population can be 54 percent of America’s prison population. That is 2.3 million BLACK people.

The numbers exploded during President Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs but what the American media will never tell you, is how those drugs came into America.

NOW THINK REALLY HARD. How many African Americans owned a boat or a plane in 1970’s?

Black people are more likely to be arrested for nonviolent offenses.

Question, how many white individuals get arrested for Jay-walking, DWB, Driving While Black, selling loose cigarettes on the streets, or walking in the middle of the street? Black people are 3.2% more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than their white peers, even though blacks and whites use the drug at similar rates.

The wheel of justice turns very fast for Blacks but slowly for whites when it comes to penalties for crack cocaine vs. powder cocaine. African Americans receive a five year sentence for crack cocaine while suburban Caucasians get five months or less for powder cocaine. This is the American justice system.   

New Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions appears to be seeking a return to higher incarceration rates. Will this really MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN?

Black people are more likely to be sentenced to death for crimes against white people.

White citizens who kill Black people receive lesser sentences at trial (life in prison) than when African Americans take a white life (death row).

The death penalty was reinstated in 1976: 80% of people who have been executed have been put to death for crimes against white people. Again, the news media will never inform the American public about this fact.  Blacks and whites are likely to be murder victims at roughly equal rates.

Black people are less likely to be judged by a jury of their peers in criminal trials.

All- white-juries are commonplace in the American court system, but it is rarely seen an all-Black-jury at a criminal trial. Is this equality under the law for African Americans? The law states you shall be judged by your peers. African Americans never get this opportunity. Government studies have found that racism is common in jury selection.

Black children are more likely to be disciplined in school than their white peers.

African American children are sometimes physically assaulted and are assessed harsher punishment by school authorities when that child breaks any rule.

Black children are suspended and expelled from school twice as much as their white counterparts for the same offense.

This begins the school-to-prison pipeline which starts at preschool. The path to incarceration begins.

YET ALL LIVES MATTER

Each day, 500,000 people fill America’s jails awaiting trial because they are too poor to afford bail.

 Americans technically are innocent until proven guilty, but if you are poor that can be a problem, because they are sent to jail until their trial date because they do not have the funds for bail. The Vera Institute found that 50% of people awaiting trial couldn’t afford bail of $2,500 or less.

Even Black men who do not have criminal records are less likely to be hired for jobs than white men who’ve been convicted of felonies.

Discrimination runs rampant in the job market. NBC News reported in 2015 that if the applicant had an African sounding name he/she did not get a second interview but white individuals with European names received phone calls after the first interview. This was also true with apartment hunting in major cities.

Key findings include:

  • Both Black and Hispanic men were less likely to receive a positive response from employers—including a call back or email for an interview or a job offer—compared with white men.
  • Men with criminal records were more likely than women with criminal records to receive a negative response from employers.
  • White men with a criminal record had more positive responses than Black men with no criminal record.

Black Disabled Americans are literally the last hired and the first fired.

The Disabled Revolution of the 1970s favored most white disabled community and left African American disabled folk behind. Many leaders of the movement stated that they modeled their revolution after the Civil Rights Movement, but they forgot one thing: BLACK PEOPLE. America’s Black disabled had to play the game of catching up in the 1980s. African American disabled women fared much better then disabled Black males.

Mental health assistance is not as available in the African American communities as it is in the white communities.

The recent murder on Easter Sunday of 75-year-old Mr. Robert Godwin in Cleveland by a distraught African American, Steve Stevens and who later suicide in Erie, Pennsylvania just magnifies this problem of mental health in the Black communities.

PART II

REMEMBER ALL LIVES MATTER

In World War I and World War II, African-Americans were sent overseas to defend our nation. They all went there, abled and willing to fight against fascism.

These young men were fighting for freedom in a foreign land and when they came home to America they did not have that same freedom. Under the Red, White, and Blue these veterans returned to be second class citizens AGAIN…

Shannon Sharp explains why Colin Kaepernick is protesting, kneeling for the National Anthem.

Mr. Sharp makes it clear why Kaepernick is taking that knee.

Mr. Sharp states, Some Americans insist that Black Lives Don’t Matter but All Lives Do…Now think about these Black men who go to Germany to fight for people who they have nothing in common with and gain their freedom, only to return home and sit in the back of the bus for 15 more years. DOES THIS MATTER?

Black men are being killed, beat up, shot, and arrested for noncompliance, when white criminals who stab, kill, and rape get tased, pepper sprayed, and handcuffed. In other words they live to tell the story. DOES THIS MATTER?

Another young white male travels miles and miles then walks into a church in South Carolina and joins their prayer group. He stands up and shots nine members to death, premeditated. The arresting officers take this young man to Burger King because he is hungry…BLACK LIVES DON’T MATTER…

Noncompliance to a Black man is a death sentence.

Mr. Sharp continues: If I don’t tell you my Religion, If I don’t tell you my political affiliation, If I don’t tell you my mom’s name, The one thing that I’ve been for 48 years is Black and that’s what America sees.

Americans don’t see my religion, they don’t see my orientation, they don’t grasp my political affiliation, but they see the Black skin.

This is what upsets many African Americans: the double standard that permeates the country.

In 2008 President Barack Obama tried to invite the United States into a bi-racial community, a multi-racial family.  It did not happen and President Donald J. Trump is currently pushing in the opposite direction, creating a clear racial division among Americans. The forces of white supremacy would not let President Obama succeed.

Slavery is still here under a new name, and new political, social, and economic face. This country lacks a moral compass when it comes to the issue of race.

This is a sad commentary on the United States of America.

Special Thanks to Jamilah King-Sr. Editor of MicDaily

The Justice Center-The Council of State Governments

Arizona State University

Shannon Sharp

Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email at garyngray@blackathlete.com

Garynorrisgray@Wordpress.com

©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod

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THE AMERICAN TEAMS-NHL PLAYOFFS

THE AMERICAN TEAMS-NHL PLAYOFFS

Part II

Gary Norris Gray-BASN-Newsroom Staff Reporter

Could it be that we are witnessing the changing of the guard with all of the new teams entering the playoffs? The old guard Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins, winners of the last two Stanley Cups are defending their turf.  The pre-playoff favorites are the Penguins in the East and the Blackhawks in the West.

The New Kids on the Block; The Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Nashville Predators, and Columbus Blue Jackets will have plenty to say about this in the first round. There will be eight Goal Brothers (Black Players) on the ice this year and all eight will make an impact on this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

This is what the playoffs would look like under the old system. Many NHL old-timers do not like the new playoff system because teams will not play each other within their conferences. If the Washington Capitols and Pittsburgh Penguins win their first round series they will meet in the second round. This is not good for hockey having the number one and two seeds meeting in the second round.

Eastern Conference

  1. Washington vs. 8. Toronto
  2. Montreal vs. 7. Boston
  3. Pittsburgh vs. 6.Ottawa
  4. Columbus vs. 5. New York Rangers

Western Conference

  1. Chicago vs. 8. Nashville
  2. Anaheim vs. 7. Calgary
  3. Minnesota vs. 6. San Jose
  4. Edmonton vs. 5. St. Louis

THE 2017 PLAYOFFS -THE AMERICAN TEAMS

Minnesota Wild vs. St Louis Blues

The Blues are just happy they are not facing the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round. The Hawks have put them out each year.

Everybody dismisses the Wild and Blues because they are both unknown. They do not pay attention to these teams because they are not in the glamour cities or glamour states.

Long time St. Louis Head coach Ken Hitchcock was relieved of his duties on Feb. 1, of this year and the Blues were blowing in the wind until Mike Yeo took control. Hitchcock’s firing was moved up four months after the Blues hit rock bottom

Goal Brother Ryan Reaves was drafted by St. Louis in 2005 in the 5th round. The big 6′ 1″ right winger has to get more time on the ice. This year he only missed one game that shows his durability.  

Goalie Jake Allen could be the downfall of the St. Louis Blues, he has not played well the last two months. Forwards Ryan Reaves and right winger Vladimir Tarasenko could be the key to Blues victory.

For Minnesota, Devan Dubnyk has to carry this team in net. He is still the unknown goalie and the Blues will find this out the next week.

The Wild are a collection of ex-eastern players and young stars. Ex-New Jersey Devil Zach Praise, Ex-New York Ranger Eric Staal, and Mikael Granlund have to carry the Wild offense. Goal Brother Chris Stewart will hit the ice again playing against his former team. Stewart will add pop to the Minnesota left side with 13 goals and 6 assist.

The St. Louis Blues have to stop center Mikko Koivu and left winger Nino Niederreiter or they will be heading home again.

Both teams use the same offensive systems so they will be looking in the mirror at themselves on the ice.

Take your pick.

SAINT LOUIS BLUES IN SEVEN

Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks

The Nashville Predators are not the same team as last year. They have the firebrand head coach Peter Laviolette who could fly off the handle at any time. The Blackhawks are counting on that.

The Preds have added a fiery sparkplug, Goal Brother P.K. Subban from the Montreal Canadiens. The Preds offense can bury teams in the first period. Subban changed the culture in Tennessee from “we should win” to “we will win.” 

Subban elevated the Preds this year to a real playoff contender.

Forward Viktor Arvidsson, center Ryan Johansen, and young left winger Filip Forsberg have confidences with Subban on the team; then you cannot forget the veterans Mike Fisher and James Neal who have been there before and will teach the young ones what to expect. The second line of right winger Craig Smith, Austin Watson, and Kevin Fiala could be the difference in this series.

Goaltender Pekka Rinne has had an up-and-down season and at 34 years old the clock is beginning to tick. Nashville’s defense has to help Rinne if he goes into playoff slump. Defensemen Mattias Ekholm, Ellis and Roman Josi are up for the job this year. Watch the blocked shots.

This will be the Nashville Predators third try to win a series.

The Western Conference Hockey royalty, The Chicago Blackhawks, are back again one year older. The Chicago Blackhawks got the number one seed in the west-AGAIN. This could be their fourth Stanley Cup in seven years if they get passed the determined Nashville Predators.

The Hawks plug in five rookies, and re-signed Goal Brother Johnny Oduya from the Dallas Stars who is a model stay-at- home defenseman. Oduya could teach the younger defensemen the tricks of the trade.

Chicago kept their core of forwards Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Marian Hossa with defensemen Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook. These guys are just a step slower than last year and this could be their last run at the Cup. Jordun Tooto adds bounce to the right side of the Hawk offence.

The Blackhawk’s weakest  point is goaltender Corey Crawford as teams are beginning to figure him out, shooting high to his glove side. As a former goalie, I find this very noticeable. The Hawks might install Scott Darling in net in games 3 and 4 to give Crawford rest on road playoff games.

The Chicago Blackhawks have the experience and could overwhelm the Nashville Predators; but this is where P.K. Subban and the Nashville determination could be the difference.

NASHVILLE IN SEVEN- the upset of 2017 playoffs

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

The Pittsburgh Penguins are called The Eastern Conference Team of Royalty. They have the longest playoff streak with 11 years. This team has not played well the past two weeks so it will be interesting to watch how the Penguins start this opening series. Injuries have been a major issue of why Pittsburgh has slipped the past two weeks. Center Evgeni Malkin will return to the team after recent injuries.  Left wingers Carl Hagelin, Chris Kunitz, and defenseman Zach Werenski are all expected to play in this opening series; again, the injury bug has hit them all.

Former Dallas Star and Chicago Blackhawk, Goal Brother, defenseman, Trevor Daley returns to the playoffs with the Penguins. Daley is the picture of consistency around the net and should help either Murray or Fleury around the net.

Veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will be handing over the goal tending duties to young Matt Murray this year as we are witnessing the transition of power in the Penguin net.

The old horses will carry this team to the conference finals if they can get past their trips to the doctor’s office. Veterans right winger Phil Kessel, centers Sidney Crosby, and Bryan Rust, defensemen Trevor Daley and Kris Letang will protect Murray or Fleury around the net.

Super -brat Sidney Crosby has a target on his back and teams have done this all year. He has hit opponents low in the undercarriage a few times this year and teams are not in love with him. Expect the Columbus Blue Jackets to do the same as other teams, blanketing or shadowing number 87.

Columbus, New Jack City goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky had his best season in net and is a candidate for the Vezina Trophy-Best Goalie of the Year. He shed pounds during last summer to play this year and he has more mobile skills in the net.

Goal Brother Seth Jones might be on his way to Stanley Cup Finals with the Jackets. His stats are the best in 5 years with 12 goals and 30 assist. Jones has to score in order for New Jack City to move on to round two.

Defenseman Jack Johnson has to rock some Penguins off the boards to disrupt the Pittsburgh offense. The Jackets have to get an early lead in each game to be physical against Pittsburgh. Columbus cannot let Pittsburgh fly by them on an offensive rush or this series could end quickly.

Pittsburgh has the experience but the Columbus Blue Jackets have the will and the coach, John Tortorella. Tortorella can lose his temper at times and he must control himself in these playoffs.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS IN SEVEN- another big upset

Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email at garyngray@blackathlete.com

Garynorrisgray@Wordpress.com

©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod

 

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THE CUP RETURNING TO CANADA?

CUP RETURNING TO CANADA?

PART I

Gary Norris Gray-BASN-Newsroom Staff Reporter

The National Hockey League walked into a sweet situation. Many hardened hockey fans were not happy with the playoff format and complained that no Canadian team would challenge for the Cup in 2016. Last year the NHL playoffs had something missing,.. It was a team north of the border.

The possibility of Lord Stanley’s Cup returning north of the border greatly increased this year, with five Canadian teams playing in the first round. That no Canadian team will play each other in the first round also increased their chances to raise the Cup in the great white north.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will be gunning for their 2nd straight Cup and no team has repeated since the Mario Lemieux 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Edmonton Oilers return to the playoffs after ten years and that is a good thing for the sport because history follows the orange crush, the expansion team that could

Under the new playoff system teams will play within their division unlike the old system of 1 through 8. This will be the fourth year under this system but I think it is time to return to the old 1-8 system. The reason that fans are unhappy is that if the Washington Capitols win and the Pittsburgh Penguins win. It would be number 1 vs. number 2 in the Eastern Conference in the second round. This is not acceptable and needs to be changed.

The experiment is over. It was fun to see the New York Rangers play the New York Islanders in the east and Chicago play St. Louis in the mid-west and last the San Jose Sharks play the Los Angeles Kings in the west but how many times do you want to see this?

Under the old system the playoffs would look like this

Eastern Conference

  1. Washington vs. 8. Toronto
  2. Montreal vs. 7. Boston
  3. Pittsburgh vs. 6.Ottawa
  4. Columbus vs. 5. New York

Western Conference

  1. Chicago vs. 8. Nashville
  2. Anaheim vs. 7. Calgary
  3. Minnesota vs. 6. San Jose
  4. Edmonton vs. 5. St. Louis

 

THE PLAYOFFS 2017

The Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers

If you are a goalie fan this is the series to watch with two veteran star goaltenders, Montreal’s Carey Price and New York’s Henrik  Lundqvist a.k.a. the self proclaimed king. The King might get dethroned by the Canadiens, Lundqvist has not played well the last two months and the Rangers have not scored, that is a bad combination.  Ranger goalie Antti Raanta might be the one to save Rangers in the latter stages of this series.

Montreal’s Shea Weber and Andrei Markov could be the stone wall for the Rangers to penetrate the net, then the Blueshirts have to get past 6′ foot Carey Price standing in net to block Blueshirt goals.

The New York Rangers are leaning on Henrik Lundqvist to carry them to the Cup but his up and down season makes many wonder how far they can go with number 30.

The right side of the New York Ranger offense is loaded with Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello who have to score early to relieve the Ranger defense. Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh have to hold the fort in front of Lundqvist for Blueshirts to win.

CANADIENS IN SIX  

The Ottawa Senators vs. Boston Bruins

My favorite goalie Mr. Craig Anderson of the Ottawa Senators will try to fend off the high power offense of the Boston Bruins. Backup goalie Mike Condon did not let the ceiling fall down when Anderson left the team for family matters. So Ottawa could use a two-headed monster in nets for the playoffs if needed.

Forwards Erik Karlsson and ex-New York Ranger Derick Brassard will carry the Sens as far as they can with their offensive power. Right winger Bobby Ryan is also a great sniper (shooter) in the middle. The Sens went through horrid middle of the year and ended up near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Then head coach Guy Boucher lit into them during a game and they motored into playoffs. This is a muck and grind team, they will have to be to beat the Boston Bruins.

The Boston Bruins are dealing with defensive injuries coming at the close of the regular season ex-Winnipeg Jet  Drew Stafford has put a spark in the Bruin offense but Boston will still look to David Krejci to score Bruin goals. The veteran defenseman Captain Zdeno Chara will play old school and bounce Senators off of the TD Gardens boards.

BOSTON BRUINS IN SIX  

The Washington Capitols vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

The Washington Capitols won the President’s Trophy this year for most points in season but it might not be the kiss of death for winning the Stanley Cup as the Caps have improved this year. The past eight years the winner of the trophy has made the finals only once. History will not repeat itself because the Capitols will be going to the finals since 1998. This is the best Washington team since 1998 and they have one of the best goaltenders in the league with Braden Holtby. Holtby has taken many days off this year so he has rested legs for the playoffs. This team will be difficult to beat with their balance.

Center Nicklas Backstrom and number 8 Alex Ovechkin will carry the Capitols offense and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk will help Holtby around the net.

The Washington Capitols have to forget about the past and move on with this new and improved team.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have brought fresh air to the National Hockey League with young stars and probable rookie of the year, with 40 goals, center Auston Matthews . The Leafs lack playoff experience, with forward Leo Komarov being the only one who has played in the playoffs.

The centers will carry the men in blue with sniper Nazim Kadri, and the steady hand of Brian Boyle. This will be a learning experience for the young Leafs.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS IN FIVE

The Edmonton Oilers vs. San Jose Sharks

The San Jose Sharks are in deep water. Too many Sharks are injured going into these playoffs. Joe Thornton and Logan Couture could miss this series because of their injuries and San Jose needs both of them to out skate the young Oilers. The Shark led the Pacific Division early in the year before the mid-season collapse sending them out of the playoffs. The Sharks finally got it together in mid-January to make it back into the playoffs picture.

Goalie Martin Jones has been inconsistent in the nets and it has cost San Jose many games. Home ice does not mean what it did years ago in the South Bay. Teams are not afraid to come into the Tank. The second line of Marc Vlasic, Brent Burns, Goal Brother Joel Ward, and Patrick Marleau, Thomas Hertl have to step up for the Sharks first line. Center Joe Pavelski could change the men of teal season by scoring goals. Ward has stabilized the San Jose defense and can strike at the blue line with his wicked slap shoot. Wherever Ward has played the team wins in the playoffs. This could be his last chance at Lord Stanley’s Cup at 36 years old. Number 42 stats are 10 goals and 19 assist for 2017.

The Edmonton Oilers created the new energy in the western conference. This team may have built a team for the future with many young players. Goal Brother Darnell Nurse should keep the Oiler defense in line, with young gun center Connor McDavid and left winger veteran Milan Lucic should keep the Oilers in the playoffs on the offensive side. The Oilers finally got into the playoffs for the first time in seven years. The only question would be the man in net; goaltender Cam Talbot is an unknown, both nations will see him for the first time.

Nurse’s big body will protect Cam Talbot and can score if needed with 11 points the highest in three years.

This team is so talented but they just don’t get it done. They lack leadership on the ice. Joe Thronton should have been the enforcer but he has not shown up.

Sorry, Bay Area, but too many injuries to start this series…..

EDMONTON OILERS IN SEVEN    

The Anaheim Ducks vs. Calgary Flames

Those freaking Ducks will not go away. You can’t kill them. Early in the season the Anaheim Ducks were in last place in the Pacific Division. General Manager Bob Murray found a new coach to fire the Ducks up in the middle of the season and it worked, the Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division the last month of the year. Goalie John Gibson has stabilized the Duck defense and has put confidence in the Anaheim defense.

The Ducks have retooled on the fly and kept moving; veterans Center Ryan Getzlaf and Patrick Eaves will carry this team with the new bloods. Ryan Kesler and Antoine Vermette are Anaheim snipers and should keep the offense rolling.

The Calgary Flames have made the province of Alberta remember the old days of the 80’s and 90’s with both Edmonton and Calgary in the playoffs at the same time AGAIN. The Flames are leaning on rookie Matthew Tkachuk and veteran Johnny Gaudreau to make the Flames dangerous on the left side. I love T.J. Brodie because he is my kind of defenseman, playing hard and feisty.

CALGARY FLAMES IN SEVEN    

Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email at garyngray@blackathlete.com

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