NHL Playoffs 2013 – Predictions (Part One)

This is the first of three posts regarding my predictions for the NHL Playoffs 2013 as three first-round series start this evening in the Western Conference. I heard on radio today that flipping a coin is as good as trying to predict the outcome of some particular series. The odds in Las Vegas were out on Monday. Not that I rely on these too much but it is Interesting how some teams are definitely labeled as underdogs. As far as I am concerned I make predictions according to how ”hot” or ”cold” the teams are entering the playoffs, how experienced each roster has in past playoffs, their respective coaching staffs and of course goaltending which as you know can win you a Stanley Cup – think Tim Thomas version 2011 here.

With that said here are my predictions along with analysis and comments for the three series starting this evening:

  • Minnesota Wild (8) vs Chicago Blackhawks (1)

What else could we add to comment on the Hawks’ performance this season I wonder. I don’t think they are taking anything for granted with the Wild but in my opinion Chicago is the most confident team in the league. With the Jennings trophy going to Emery and Crawford for less goals allowed by a team the defense and the goalies have accomplished wonders for the Hawks. Add to that a second place overall in the league for Goals for per game (GF/G). Among top players Patrick Kane has finally got back in scoring mode this season and him alone could spark the offense when necessary. Both the Hawks and the Wild are in the middle of the pack for PP% so no real advantage there for a team. Both played well at home. The Wild will not be an easy prey but they are just not ready yet for what they are aiming for with the money they spent last summer. The goaltending has been questionable at times. They were officially in the playoffs on Saturday. Heatley is still injured. They will need to score more than their 2,46% GF/G to create an upset.

Prediction: Chicago in 5.

 

  • Los Angeles Kings (5) vs St.Louis Blues (4)

The Blues have constantly improved though out the short season despite various issues with goaltending. Lately however they have one of the NHL’s hottest goaltenders in Brian Elliott, who went 11-2 in April, allowing one goal or less 10 times. Last year’s Conn Smythe trophy winner Jonathan Quick will have to show greatness again for the Kings to score 3-4 goals per game. Both of these teams have allowed the same Goals against per game (GA/G) % with 2,38%. I could toss a coin here but I don’t think St.Louis will be able to beat the Champions. Mind you I don’t think as well the Kings will repeat this year but they will make it to the second-round. Jeff Carter could be the difference maker for the Kings. I don’t see any player who can do the same for St.Louis. Too much experience and pride in Los Angeles to drop that contest.

Prediction: Los Angeles in 6.

 

  • Detroit Red Wings (7) vs Anaheim Ducks (2)

That one will be short. I am not a fan of the Ducks and the Wings are my second favorite team in the West after the Hawks. This will be the upset among first-round series as Jimmy Howard will make miracles and the Ducks will fall short. I just have a feeling that Babcock will make miracles with his team. It will be a long series with details making the difference and coaching is one.

Prediction: Detroit in 7.

I will back tomorrow with predictions on the three other series starting. In the meantime let’s see what we’re gonna get this evening.

 

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Interview With Jon Gillies!

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We had some time recently and caught up with Jon Gillies of the Providence Friairs in the NCAA. He’s a big goalie, standing at 6’5. Jon grew up in South Portland, Maine playing high school hockey at multiple schools. Some accomplishments of his career so far include getting drafted by the Calgary Flames (75th Overall, 2012), representing Team USA at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Tournament, 2nd Team All-American Honors, Gold Medal at the 2013 World Junior Championship, and NCAA Rookie of the Year. On a personal level, I must say, he is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever interviewed. He seems like one of the actually down to earth type of people. He’s a great follow on Twitter @JGillies32. Follow me on Twitter, @HkyBlogger, and “like” us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/NotYourAverageHockeyBlog

Without further to do, here is our interview with Jon Gillies. We are in bold.

First things first, how has your day been?
Haha it’s been good.
 
So we know who Jon Gillies is, but we also don’t who he is. We know you’re name, but nothing about you. Anything cool/unique you could share about yourself? Nothing really cool or unique that I can think of. – I bet there’s something really cool, but really embarrassing he’s too embarrassed to share.
 
How old were you when you started playing hockey? 
I was 2.
 
Why goalie?
My grandpa played goalie at Norwich, my dad at UNH (University of New Hampshire), my uncle at Denver, and my cousin at Northeastern, so I always saw the pictures of them around my house and really wanted to be like them, especially my dad.
 
I’ve always wanted to ask this, when you get hit in the mask by a puck, whats the feeling like?
It depends on where it hits you, but it can vary from not even noticeable to making the ears hot/ring and leave the smell of burning rubber for a good five minutes. 
 
You competed internationally for Team USA at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Tournament, what was that like?That was an amazing experience, it’s always an honor to put on the USA jersey. The tournament itself obviously didn’t pan out like we had hoped, but it was my first time overseas and it was a great group of guys so it was unforgettable nonetheless.
 
You were drafted in the 3rd Round by the Calgary Flames at the 2012 NHL Draft, where were you when you got the call, and what did you do after getting the call?
I was at the Consol Energy Center for the draft, and I went down and met everyone at their draft table before proceeding to the interviews and taking pictures. 
 
Your first season at Providence was a success with you winning Rookie of The Year honors, what helped you reach that status?
I had great teammates this year, they really helped me have a smooth transition and had my back from day one.
So what are you studying at the University of Providence?
Business management.
 
How do you balance hockey life and school life?
I developed those skills from playing in the USHL and being in high school for the previous two seasons, and those skills managed to carry over into college. The biggest skill is time management.
 
What has been the highest point of your career?
Winning the gold medal at this past WJC, for sure.
 
What has been the lowest point of your career?
Getting cut from my high school varsity team when I was a freshman. 
 
How did you bounce back from such a low point?
Just kept going, went to a different school the next year and the next April (sophomore year) I was committed to a DI school. 
 
This second part is more of a “rapid fire” round. Say what you think of first. We do this because even the non hockey lovers have something interesting and relatable they enjoy reading. Ready? 
 
iPhone, Blackberry, Android, or Windows Phone?
iPhone
 
App on your phone you can’t live without?
NHL Gamecenter
 
Favourite food?
Boneless Buffalo Wings
 
Fancy dinner or backyard barbecue?
Backyard barbecue
 
Country you’d love to visit?
Italy
 
One thing about people that drives you insane?
Cockiness
 
Favourite NHL team?
Recently converted to a Flames fan. – haha! I just realized why!
 
What’s on your iPod?
Country
 
Every team does pranks. Providence is no different. Best prank seen/done?
Most of the pranks happened over Christmas break when I was away for WJC, I don’t have anything to report. – That’s a bummer, looking forward to hearing some funny stories! But trading a prank for a gold medal isn’t a bad trade!
 
Favourite class in school?
Accounting
 
One class you dreaded going to?
 Development of Western Civilization
 
Final questions:
Any advice for aspiring hockey players?
Have fun, it’s just a game.
 
Anyone you suggest me to interview?
Casey DeSmith
 
Thanks for your time,
No thank you
 
Make sure to comment, share, follow, and like us! Oh and of course, follow Jon as well!

Award Predictions/Suggestions?

It’s that time of the year again. The end of  the regular season is winding down again. Reminds me of the calm before the storm. Basically all the playoff spots have been decided, and teams are just trying to finish the season. Especially if you’re a fan the Montreal Canadiens, you’re just counting down the games until the season’s over. 

Just to make some thing clear. Yes we know our season predictions sucked. We messed up big time with the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Minnesota Wild, and the New York Rangers, but come on, cut us some slack. At the beginning of the year, who would have guessed that the Columbus Blue Jackets would over deliver so much and the New York Rangers would under deliver so much. Minnesota Wild? Ok yeah we screwed up there. My bad. The Ducks, our problem too. Yeah yeah, if you’re going to freak out about it, comment below. If you’re not going to freak out and say something nice, you should comment about it too. Never hurts right?

But moving on, here are our predictions on who should win the awards. The awards that we will be giving out are the following; Calder, Hart, Maurice Richard, Norris, Vezina, Selke, GM of the Year. For obvious reasons, (aka we have no idea how to do the judging for it, we’re just going avoid) doing the Bill Masterton trophy. Aside from the NHL awards, we’re going to give out Not Your Average Hockey Blog trophies, for players who surprised us the most, dissapointed us the most, made us go nuts the most. If you have ideas what to name the awards, comment below! So without further to do, lets begin.

Calder: Our choice for the Calder is Panthers’ forward Jonathan Hubderdeau. I feel him and Jacob Markstrom have been two bright spots on a otherwise dark season for the Panthers. He’s leading the league in rookie scoring, with 28 points, 14G and 14A. Yes he has a nasty -16 but remember, its the Florida Panthers, the highest +/- is a 0. Not that great I must say. 

Hart: Yeah the mainstream sexy pick is Crosby I know, but we’re going to totally hipster this. If you’re a bit older and don’t know what hipster is, lets just say, we’re going to go against the system here. Our pick is Jonathan Toews. Wow the Jonathans are on a roll, who’s next? Quick for Vezina? We considered Bobrovsky for this but we thought, “hey the goalies already get their own award, lets keep the Hart as a skater’s award shall we? When you lead your team to this kind of run to start an extended break, you kind have an advantage. Crosby yes, he’s been great, but when you’ve played so few games, it’s really hard for me to get a sense of how good you could have been.

Maurice Richard: Ovechkin. Unless Stamkos scores like 3 goals in one game, it really becomes a guarantee.

Jack Adams: Bruce Boudreau, while the Blackhawks have been on a roll this year, Anaheim quietly became a powerhouse in the West. Nobody thought that the Ducks would become such a powerhouse this year. Lets give a bit of recognition to where it is deserved. 

Vezina: Our pick for Vezina is Bobrovsky. Kind of obvious, but there was no other choice. He single handily led the Blue Jackets into playoffs. Everyone thought that the Blue Jackets would just tank this year, and now they’re in the playoffs? It’s ALL Bobrovsky.

GM of The Year: I want to “hipster” this one too, but it’s basically impossible to hipster this one.Ray Shero wins this one in a landslide. Douglas Murray, Brendon Morrow, Jarome Iginla,and no roster players moved? Has anyone checked if he’s on PED’s yet?
Selke: Going off the chart. Pascal Dupuis. Two way forward right? So Dupuis has 37 points, and a +30, while maintaining only 26 PIMs. I know he won’t win, but would be nice if he does…
Surprise of the year: Bobrovsky. I’m really not going to pump his tires anymore…
Dissapointment of the year: Corey Schneider. This was supposed to be HIS year. The year he emerged as the top dog. He was known as the “savior” of the Canucks. But now? We’re at the same spot as last year. Exact same. Luongo playing the end of the season, and Schneider not really taking the top spot away from Luongo either. Tough season eh Corey?

Made Us Go Nuts Moment of The Year: I think i’m just going to go out on a limb and name this the, “OH SH*T Award” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjbbqXAay9U The last minute of the Leafs – Sens game. I was watching this on TV and when that list minute started, it sank in. The drought is over… Everyone used to say, “Leafs can’t get in to playoffs! Ever!” But who can say that now? Nobody. I know this season has an asterisk on it because it’s short but, it’s still a season.

So what are your award predictions? Let’s hear ’em! I know a few journalists who choose the winners read this blog, so maybe you can influence them? Share this, “like” this, Tweet this, do your thing! Follow me on Twitter @HkyBlogger and “like” us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/notyouraveragehockeyblog

Interview With Sebastian Stalberg!

ImageWe have a new interview to present to you guys! We caught up with Sebastian Stalberg of the Worcester Sharks of the AHL! So a little bit about him first. Sebastian’s from Gothenburg, Sweden, grew up playing for Frolunda, until he moved over to North America play for the University of Vermont Catamounts. You might know his brother Viktor who currently plays for the Chicago Blackhawks. You can follow him on Twitter @SStalberg8. You can follow us on Twitter, @HkyBlogger, and you can “like” us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NotYourAverageHockeyBlog 

So the usual applies here, we are in bold.

Let’s have a nice little introduction about yourself, who are you, and do you have any interesting facts about yourself you could share?
I’m born and raised in Goteborg Sweden, got two brothers, Viktor and Alexander.

How old were you when you first played hockey?
I started playing hockey when I was four years old.

Why hockey?
We all played hockey growing up, as well as other sports. We all started playing hockey because my dad and his brothers played hockey growing up.

Did you play any other sports growing up?
Growing up I was also very much into Golf and soccer so it was always a packed schedule but hockey was always my number one sport.

How hectic was it at the Stalberg household with you and Viktor playing hockey at such high levels?
No matter what we did it was always a competitive atmosphere at our house.

On to your pro career,
What do you think is your biggest strength as a player?
It’s always hard to pin point your biggest strengths and weaknesses but if I would have to pick I would say my shot is my strength.

What is your biggest weakness as a player?
My weakness is at this point my physicality. I know I need to get bigger and stronger.

What kind of player do you consider yourself?
I am definitely an offensive player!

When you first decided to play in the NCAA, what was the main
difference you noticed between playing for the University of Vermont and Frolunda?
The biggest difference was the change of adjusting to North American hockey which is more of a “North-South” type of game. Also, before I started playing in North America, I’d only played with and against players that are in my age group (one two years older). In college hockey, I am playing against players that are 18 to 25 years old, which is a big difference..

Now that you look back on your University of Vermont career, what is one thing you wish you could have changed?
Looking back at it I don’t think there is anything in particular that I would change. I had a great 3 years at Vermont and I learned a lot both on and off the ice. I would have done it all over again if I had the chance.

When you signed you first professional contract, what was that like? Take us through it.
It was obviously a dream come true, its been a goal of mine all my life. I think all hockey players have that same goal and it was fantastic to get the opportunity and confirmation that all your hard work had paid of.

We interviewed Jon Matsumoto a while back, any embarrassing secrets you’d like to share about him?

Haha I don’t really have anything on Mats. He’s a great guy and hockey player.

The next part is more of a “rapid fire” session, don’t think, just answer.
Ready?
Favourite food? – Sushi
Who’s the roomie on the road? – John McCarthy
What’s on your iPod? – Everything
Worst taste in music on the team? – Sena Acolatse
Which one do your prefer? Read the book, or watch the movie? – Movie
Xbox or Playstation? – Xbox
Favourite TV show? – Friends
One thing you can’t stand in people? – Don’t know
If you weren’t playing hockey what would you be doing? – Be in School
Left handed or right handed? – Right
Most memorable team prank? – Secret Santa; Freshman year at Vermont

Couple last words,
Words of wisdom to young hockey players? – Have fun, its the most important part, work hard, and eventually good things will happen.

Who should we interview next?
Don’t know haha

Thank you for your time.

Who Wants Free Stuff?

We have a giveaway currently going on! It’s a signed _________ from a NHL/AHL/NLA/KHL/OHL/WHL/QMJHL player, he’s in one of those right now. So here’s how you can win. We’ll be doing the draw sometime this week! So keep your eyes peeled on your inboxes!

I’m going to got random.org, and choose a number from that count the number from a list with all of your names. The winner will be notified through either Facebook message or Twitter Direct Message.

Now how can you have a bigger chance to win? If you follow us on Facebook AND on Twitter @hkyblogger, you obviously get double the odds, but what else can you do? If you like/comment on this post, you get 1 more entry for like, and 1 more entry for comment! But there’s more! If you share, you get 2 more entries, and if someone follows because of the share, you get 5 more entries! Yes, FIVE more entries! Now how will I know if its’ your friend who followed? Tell them to write on our wall telling who their suggested friend is, and they’ll get one more entry!

Oh one more thing too! If you RT it on Twitter, it’s like doing a share on Facebook! TWO MORE ENTRIES! If I get a follow? FIVE MORE ENTRIES! So lets get RT’ing! Now here’s something special for our blog readers… If you comment, you get THREE more entries. So your chances of getting the giveaway could start at 1/200 chance, but it’s not too hard, RT here, share here, to get five or maybe even ten chances! Tell me that doesn’t help your chances…

Winners and Losers of the Trade Deadline

With the 2013 NHL Deadline now history, we’re going to tell you who we thought were the deadline winners and losers. For simplicity’s sake, only today’s deals are deadline deals because, well today’s the deadline right? So Jarome Iginla’s trade is NOT a deadline deal, nor is Brenden Morrow’s. But if I must comment, they are both great deals for Pittsburgh.

If you’re not sure who was dealt today, here’s a link with a detailed list of who was dealt from today till, Janurary 13th: http://www.tsn.ca/tradecentre/feature/?id=11986

So some customary stuff of course, “like” us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/NotYourAverageHockeyBlog , comment, share, voice your opinion! 

Winners:

Nashville Predators: We’re not really going to cover the Scott Hannan deal, cause that deal was done really for the sake of getting it done. 7th Round Picks rarely pan out. Sure there are guys like Joe Pavelski who pan out, but more likely than not, they don’t pan out. The main deal for the Preds today was acquiring Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat and Michael Latta. This was a huge win for the Preds because not only did they acquire Filip Forsberg; one of the best prospects in all of hockey, they traded away Martin Erat as well. Erat had requested a trade out of Nashville because he wanted to win a cup. They appeased Erat, and got a prospect I believe will be an All-Star some day. Win-win! Tell me that isn’t great?

Columbus Blue Jackets: They acquired 3 players and a 3rd round pick today. The big one first, Marian Gaborik. Even though he’s been in a slump recently, he’s still Marian Gaborik. He’s still a big name player who can score whenever he wants. Watch for him to score in bunches when he starts playing on Columbus’ 1st line. They also acquired Blake Comeau for a 5th Round Pick. I personally love this move. Comeau can easily come in and provide some scoring depth for the Blue Jackets. Even though he may never reach his potential many perceived he had when he got drafted, he can still score. Last one to cover, Philadephia acquires Michael Leighton and a 3rd Round Pick for Steve Mason. I like this deal. In my opinion, Mason is only worth a 5th Round Pick. I thought Philadelphia overpaid for Mason. Yes I know he’s young, but he’s still an RFA after this year, and Philly’s qualifying offer must be more than $3.2M. No one is paying Mason that much, especially since the cap is going down after this year. So its basically a rental player. Columbus stole this trade. Heck, they almost stole the deadline.

Reporters at Roberto Luongo’s Press Conference: Man, the reporters at the Roberto Luongo were all incredibly lucky. No, Luongo didn’t waive his No Movement Clause, but you know what he waived? His No Quotes Clause. Yes I just made it up. And yes it was horrible, but you know what wasn’t horrible? Luongo’s quotes. How often do you hear a player say, “My contract sucks.”? In summary, what does Luongo think his problem is? He makes too much money. I’m sorry but I think anyone of us would have no problem making his money just sitting on a bench.

 

Losers:

Philadelphia Flyers: I’m gonna paraphrase what I said above. They overpaid for a goalie who could leave at the end of the season. They also couldn’t help their incredibly shaky defense. When you can’t patch up your weaknesses, and overpay for things you’re not overly weak on, you’re a loser in my books.

Calgary Flames: Yes they traded away Iginla, yes they traded away Boumeester, but they didn’t trade away Kipprusoff. If this is a rebuild, then it Kipper had to be traded. Now Kipper didn’t get traded AND he’s going to retire at the end of the year. They basically won’t get anything for Kipprusoff. I guess this is what happens when your reported asking price is a 1st Round Pick…

The Fans: Yes the fans are included in this as well. In this short season, everyone is a buyer except maybe, Calgary, Buffalo, Florida, and Colorado. Funny thing is, amongst those four teams, only four deals were done, and besides Pominville being traded to Minnesota, the biggest name to get traded today was Ryan O’Byrne… Naturally with not much supply and tons of demand, you heard the same comment over and over again, “The prices were too high.” So the fans lost out. There were 17 deals today. I think I speak for many fans when I say, I miss the good old day of 25+ trades on trade deadline day…

Vancouver: They’re up against the cap and they really don’t have much salary to shed by next year. They couldn’t pull the deal off for Luongo, especially with the reported price of Ben Scrivens and 2 2nd Round Picks (Pierre LeBrun of ESPN).  They should have been happy with someone to just take the contract of Luongo off their hands. Now in the off season, they have the task of figuring out who to buy out. Keith Ballard? David Booth? Well it’s certainly not Roberto Luongo, his buy out is $27M over 16 years… 

Let me know what you think, comment below, and share with your friends!