Sunday, June 04, 2006

Stanley Cup Playoffs 2006 - Final Round

I hope you've got your hip waders on out there - because the *edit* is getting deep! I can't rationalize it yet, but it seems to me that the only way I get comments on my blog is through posting controversial and emotionally charged opinions. What gives? I get on the cutting edge of Internet blogs by debuting my podcast - and nada! No comments or appreciation on the podcast. Not one email was written. I know some of you heard it because the number of listens keeps rising each time I check it.

So, please keep in mind, I am going to look to this series and enjoy it with optimism and objectivity. I haven't gotten my ticket punched on the Caniac bandwagon, but I'd be glad to hear from all the Carolina fans. Conversely, I haven't had too much exposure to the Edmonton Oilers during the season except for the trade that the Penguins made to get Rita and Cross and also getting blown out by them in one of the most embarrassing loss in Penguins franchise history.

The best point was scored by Jes on his blog this weekend who addressed the question of weather this Stanley Cup series by slamming the unbelievers with some rhetorical open-ended questions.
Why do sportswriters care at all if the finals have good ratings or not? Do they work for the NHL? Do they worry that low TV ratings might put them out of work somehow? I just don't get why writers need to care so much who makes the finals for ratings?
That is blogger gold. And I'm not going to add anything to it as it pretty much speaks for itself.

And speaking of Blogger gold, The Universal Cynic: Lame. took it upon herself to be the voice of reason in this war of words. Ouch. Her Ottawa Sun column and supplemental blog basically put the entire situation between her cross hairs and pulled the trigger.

But just like a hero of mine, Walter E. Williams, who's credited a broadcasting slogan "beating back the tide of ignorance", I too have risen to the call in which people who abuse the concept of "free speech" should be confronted vehemently. Such is the case where it was clear that some hockey fans crossed the line of trash-talking and soared straight into stereotyping and bigotry. My take on it is that the Carolinas shouldn't have to rationally debate such claims thereby justifying such ridiculous comments. Maybe I didn't make that clear enough in my last blog entry.

I didn't go looking for the ignorance. It's popping up in message boards and fan forums everywhere I turn. I just want to put a cap seal on it quickly and stop it before it spreads.

Okay... on to the actual preview of:

Stanley Cup Finals

Carolina v. Edmonton
The way that Carolina Hurricanes got to the Finals is something of real marvel. They struggled through a Sabres team that had it's defensive corp. decimated. Carolina got inconsistent in their last series resulting several of the regular post-season heroes appearing on the backs of milk cartons.

Eric Staal, who is my early vote for Conn Smythe this year, has to consistently score points in this series. He's expected to be a future leader of the team. Doug Weight, brought over before the trade deadline, generated some offense on the top line. Will he be able to solve the defensive scheme of his former Oiler team? Rod Brind'Amour is the team captain and wins 59.1% of his faceoffs. But he will be going up against a really strong face-off winning team in the playoffs. The same goes for Recchi and Whitney who's heroics must be regularly seen for the Hurricanes to hoist the Cup for the first time.

The Carolina Hurricanes have made it to the Finals once before, but their stay was brief. Many of those same players have been able to stay around to remember what that was like. One such player is defenseman Glen Wesley who is the last remaining Hartford Whaler. TSN did a story on him that it might be his last chance at putting his name on the hallowed trophy.

The Oilers have to play to their strength of defensively containing the top scoring lines. So far, they've garbled up the Red Wings, Sharks, and Ducks in that order. Each team they beat had been running hot offensively - Carolina is no different than these three teams. They'll be held in check by #44.

Chris Pronger, who was once a Hartford Whaler from 1993-95, has never seen the Stanley Cup finals, but found lengthy playoff experience before in St. Louis. His defensive style and imposing 6'6" 220lbs figure is a match for the Oilers coaching style. They will rip the tongue out and pitch it to the crowd.

It would be a feather in the cap for the Oilers franchise who weathered the storm in the recent lean years pre-lockout and survive being an 8th seed in this playoffs. It could be a huge credit to the NHL to see a struggling franchise like this one to win it all.

Prediction: Oilers in 6
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