Monthly Archives: April 2013

NHL 2013 PLAYOFFS: ROUND 1 – ST LOUIS vs LOS ANGELES

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BLUES VS KINGS 2013 PLAYOFFS

SERIES BEGINS: TUESDAY 30TH APRIL 2013

PUCK DROP: 8PM ET (1AM GMT)

HOW WILL IT GO DOWN? The Blues look on the surface like the better team.  However, it was a similar situation last year and LA dominated the series in a 4-0 sweep.  Both teams play a similar puck possession style, built on teams with heavy, hard-to-play-against players, but I think that the Kings’ top end talent will be too much for the Blues to handle this year.  The biggest question mark for the Blues is their goaltending.  It got better as the year went on, but was still pretty atrocious.  Jonathan Quick hasn’t had a great year, but he is a proven playoff performer, and has the highly talented Jonathan Bernier waiting in the wings should he falter.  One issue for the Kings may well be their poor record on the road this year.  Seeing as they don’t have home ice advantage (again, like last year), they are facing an uphill battle against a Blues team that has performed well both on the road and at home.  The Blues are also coming off a nice run to end the regular season.

PREDICTION: This will be a hotly contested series, with the Blues wanting to avenge last year’s crushing defeat.  However, the Kings took off in the playoffs last year, and could do so again this year.  Kings win it in 6 games.

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NHL 2013 PLAYOFFS: ROUND 1 – ANAHEIM vs DETROIT

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DUCKS V WINGS 2013 PLAYOFFS

SERIES BEGINS: TUESDAY 30TH APRIL 2013

GAME 1 PUCK DROP: 10:30PM ET (3:30AM GMT)

HOW WILL IT GO DOWN? This should be an extremely interesting match-up.  A Ducks roster filled with good players have great years, with a good helping of luck to get them where they are, pitted against an experienced Detroit team with a depleted defence unit but still plenty of talent all over the roster.  The Ducks look to be a better team in every area highlighted above, plus have more offensive threats – though their players don’t have the versatility of guys like Datsyuk or Zetterberg.  Detroit also finished the season very slightly better than the Ducks did.  This one will be a battle I think, and it could go down to the wire.

PREDICTION: This one will go to 7 games I think, and despite what I said in my Ducks write-up, I could see them taking this if their luck continues.  Something tells me that the offensive talent on the Ducks will be able to overcome Detroit’s puck possession system.

 

NHL 2013 PLAYOFFS: ROUND 1 – CHICAGO vs MINNESOTA

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HAWKS V WILD 2013 PLAYOFFS

SERIES BEGINS: TUESDAY 30TH APRIL 2013

PUCK DROP: 8PM ET (1AM GMT)

HOW WILL IT GO DOWN? The Wild should be elated to make the playoffs, but they couldn’t have found a tougher matchup than the powerhouse Hawks.  Deeper than almost any team in the league and possessing some of the best players in the game, Chicago was the class of the league this year and it wasn’t really even close.  The Wild were a pretty good team at home, but Chicago were dominant at both home and on the road, were miles better defensively and in another universe offensively.  The Wild were the only team that made the playoffs this year that posted a negative goal differential.  The Wild however can frustrate their opponents with their tight checking systems, and do have several quality players, so it’s not the like Wild don’t deserve to be there.

PREDICTION: The Blackhawks shouldn’t have too much trouble with this one.  I think they take it in 5.

 

P.S. check out my mad graphic design skillz!!!  Not one of my core skills…

COLORADO WINS DRAFT LOTTERY, WILL PICK FIRST; UPDATED BOB MCKENZIE DRAFT RANKINGS.

NHL Deputy Commissioner congratulates Avalanche GM Greg Sherman on "winning" the Draft Lottery.  Image courtesy of aol.sportingnews.com.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly congratulates Avalanche GM Greg Sherman on “winning” the Draft Lottery. Image courtesy of aol.sportingnews.com.

Well, the Oilers’ luck had to run out eventually.  The new draft rules, designed to allow more teams the chance at the 1st Overall Pick and hence try and limit the chance of 3 straight first overalls for one team, actually gave the Oilers the chance to “compete” for an unprecedented fourth consecutive one.  A very small chance however, and ultimately the Draft Lottery this year saw the 29th place Colorado Avalanche win, moving 30th place Florida into the second draft spot.

Florida fans may be disappointed with losing the lottery, but the top end of this draft looks fantastic, and they will still get an outstanding player to add to their young corps.  For Colorado, this is the first time they’ve had the 1st Overall Pick since they left Quebec – they’ve come close with the 3rd pick in 2009 (Matt Duchene) and the 2nd pick in 2011 (Gabriel Landeskog) – and this is a fantastic opportunity to add another potential star to their talented roster.

BOB MCKENZIE’S UPDATED DRAFT RANKINGS

Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks. Image courtesy of fullscalesports.com.

Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks. Image courtesy of fullscalesports.com.

For the best draft rankings, Bob McKenzie of TSN is the go-to-guy.  The rankings aren’t his own, but being one of the most connected media guys in hockey allows him to poll a number of scouts from each NHL team and thus get a very sense of the overall consensus on each draft eligible player.  It’s widely known that if an NHL team were to completely disregard their own draft list and simply go by McKenzie’s, they would end up with a very good bunch of players.  Of course, teams have their own needs and wants, and so that likely doesn’t happen, but it’s worth noting how accurate Bob is in rankings.

Anyway, without further ado, here are Bob’s latest rankings for the 2013 NHL draft:

  1. SETH JONES – D – PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS (WHL)
    He’s big at 6’3″, 208lbs and highly skilled with 56 points in 61 games from the blueline, and also finished the year at +46.  Being called the best defence prospect since Chris Pronger, although it’s worth noting the same was said of Erik Johnson in 2006.  Still, looks to be the real deal.
     
  2. NATHAN MACKINNON – C – HALIFAX MOOSEHEADS (QMJHL)
    Inevitable comparisons to Sidney Crosby aside (from the same town, went to same high school), MacKinnon likely won’t be that good, but he will be a great NHLer.  Lightning quick, highly skilled, driven, and defensively responsible have him as the best all-around forward in the draft.  Had 75 points in 44 games and was +40.
  3. JONATHAN DROUIN – LW – HALIFAX MOOSEHEADS (QMJHL)
    MacKinnon’s linemate in Halifax, Drouin at times had scouts wondering whether he was actually better than his more famous counterpart.  Probably the best pure skill player in the draft, had 41 goals and 105 points in 49 games, and was +48.  Performed very well as one of the youngest players on Canada’s WJHC team.  Won numerous end-of-season QMJHL awards, including top player, best pro prospect and personality of the year.
  4. ALEKSANDER BARKOV – C – TAPPARA (SM-LIIGA)
    As much a contender for the top spot on this list as any of the three above him, Barkov enjoyed an outstanding year in the Finnish top-flight, putting up outstanding numbers – 21 goals and 48 points in 53 games and +18 – as a second year pro; and he doesn’t even turn 18 until September.  Offensively the season he had compares favourably to the likes of Peter Forsberg, and defensively he is very highly regarded.  At 6’3″ and 205lbs, he represents a complete package that team’s will find hard to pass up.
  5. VALERI NICHUSHKIN – LW – CHELYABINSK (KHL)
    Rapidly gaining ground in the rankings of many scouting services, Nichushkin has everything going for him except the “Russian factor” that has unfortunately crept in to the mindsets of NHL organisations.  Ignore that, and he is an outstanding mix of size (6’4″, 196lbs), great skating and power-forward style.  Had 15 goals and 23 points and was +16 in 41 games this year, great stats for a 17 year old in the KHL.
  6. ELIAS LINDHOLM – C – BRYNAS (SEL)
    Swedish center is not as big as some of the other center prospects this year, but is still highly talented.  Had 11 goals and 30 points in 48 games in Sweden’s top pro league and was an important part of Sweden’s entry at the last World Juniors, where they won the silver medal.  Is considered very good in both ends of the rink, though just what his top-end will be offensively in the NHL is not certain.
  7. SEAN MONAHAN – C – OTTAWA (OHL)
    Next in line of this year’s great center crop is Sean Monahan, a 6’2″, two-way player in the OHL.  Was the best player on an awful team, and despite his -18 rating is considered very good defensively.  Not the best skater, but not bad either, and reportedly thinks the game extremely well.
  8. RASMUS RISTOLAINEN – D – TPS TURKU (SM-LIIGA)
    Big defenceman had a solid year in the top Finnish pro league, scoring 15 points in 52 games.  Does everything well, and at 6’3″ and 203lbs is an intriguing package.  Will likely need a couple more years before coming over to North America.
  9. NIKITA ZADOROV – D – LONDON (OHL)
    Massive Russian had a solid first North American season, putting up 25 points in 63 games and finishing at +33.  At 6’5″ and 230lbs is one of the biggest players in the draft, and combined with top physical play, has been on an upward trajectory for quite some time.
  10. HUNTER SHINKARUK – C/RW – MEDICINE HAT (WHL)
    Hunter Shinkaruk actually finds himself tied with Darnell Nurse for the 10th spot.  A highly skilled forward in the WHL, Shinkaruk is one of the smaller forwards available but makes up for it with exceptional skating ability and goal-scoring talent.  Had 37 goals and 86 points in 64 games this year.

    DARNELL NURSE – D – SAULT STE. MARIE (OHL)
    Nurse has surprised many with how far he has come from the beginning of the season.  He’s big at 6’3″ and 190lbs, and demonstrated quality two-way ability with 41 points in 68 games and a +15 rating.  Is a good skater aswell, but there are questions as to whether his offence will translate to the pro game.

NHL PLAYOFFS 2013: St Louis Blues – Late bloomers.

Image courtesy of stlouis.cbslocal.com.

Image courtesy of stlouis.cbslocal.com.

As we get closer to the playoffs, IceNationUK will be taking a look at each team’s roster as they clinch a spot in the postseason.

Next, the St Louis Blues.

Read more

NHL PLAYOFFS 2013: New York Rangers – From contenders to underdogs.

Image courtesy of bleacherreport.com.

Image courtesy of bleacherreport.com.

As we get closer to the playoffs, IceNationUK will be taking a look at each team’s roster as they clinch a spot in the postseason.

Next, the New York Rangers.

Read more

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