Quest for the Stanley Cup: The Final Four

Written by :
Published on : May 14, 2016

 

 

Then there were four. Only four bands of bearded warriors left in this epic quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup. In case you just woke up from a hundred year slumber, here is the situation. First, out of the West we have St Louis Blues battling the San Jose Sharks and out of the East we have the Tampa Bay Lightning clashing with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Winners of these series will meet for a chance at historic greatness. Let’s meet each team and get caught up as we speed toward the Stanley Cup Finals.

 

St Louis Blues

 

If the Blues do finally capture their first Stanley Cup, the opening chapter of that story is how they overcame the Blackhawks in the first round. That was a herculean feat. Seems like every solid Blues team in the past is always bounced out of the playoffs by Chicago, Detroit (before the conference shift) or whoever had the hot hand. Not this team. Vladimir Tarasenko, David Backes and Troy Brouwer are scoring. Plus goaltender, Brian Elliott, looked excellent against Dallas. St Louis will be singing at the end of the year, but it might not be the usual blues. Look out.

 

San Jose Sharks

 

I really don’t like these guys. They are loaded with firepower and seem to score goals at will. The tv tells me this is Joe Pavelski’s team now and it’s different. Maybe that’s true. But I still don’t like him, Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau or Joe Thornton. Though, I do like Joe Thornton’s beard. This offense is scary. If you play them, you better play clean because you don’t want to give them an extra skater. Their power play is killer.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning

 

Those uniforms make them look very superhero-esque and they have been playing like it. GM Steve Yzerman has built a wicked team that is young and talented. Last season, the Lightning lost to the Blackhawks in the finals. Now they are looking to rebound and take that next step. If Tampa Bay does win its second Stanley Cup (first was 2004) it will be on the back of goalie Ben Bishop and the stick of Nikita Kucherov.

 

Pittsburgh Penguins

 

Pittsburgh is the only franchise of the four that has won a championship (2009) in the last decade, so they seem like the de facto favorites. It’s Crosby, Kessel, and Malkin doing work as usual. They only needed six games to get past a very complete Washington Capitals crew that looked primed for a deep playoff run. Tampa Bay will have their hands full. Sounds dumb, but stop sleeping on the Pittsburgh Penguins. I feel like most hockey fans outside of Pennsylvania aren’t ready to see Sid the Kid lift another Cup. Yuck.

 

So which crew will be drinking champagne out of Stanley’s Mug? It’s a tough call. I don’t want the Penguins to win again. I hate the Sharks. Tampa Bay has Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman running the team but they’ve knocked the Wings out of the playoffs the last two years and I don’t want a hockey trophy to live anywhere in Florida. So, by process of elimination, the St Louis Blues will hoist the Cup. It’s cosmic sports retribution for the Rams leaving (too soon?). The city loses a football team but gains a Stanley Cup to help cushion the blow. Makes sense to me.

 

 

Go Blues.

 

 


World Cup Of Hockey 2016: Team USA Roster Released

Written by :
Published on : March 5, 2016

 

Team USA, along with the 7 other competing national teams, have released their initial rosters of at least 16 players for the World Cup of Hockey 2016, the best-on-best international hockey championship that will be held Sept. 17 – Oct. 1 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

 

The balance of each team’s roster – a total of 20 skaters and three goaltenders – must be announced no later than June 1.

 

The initial roster is as follows:

 

TEAM USA

  • G Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning
  • G Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
  • G Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils
  • D Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets
  • D John Carlson, Washington Capitals
  • D Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers
  • D Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild
  • F Justin Abdelkader, Detroit Red Wings
  • F Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
  • F Ryan Kesler, Anaheim Ducks
  • F T.J. Oshie, Washington Capitals
  • F Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens
  • F Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild
  • F Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks
  • F Derek Stepan, New York Rangers
  • F Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets

 

There are a lot of names on this roster that you would expect. 12 players from the Sochi Olympic Games, including shootout hero T.J. Oshie, have been selected. There is one name that might not look so familiar: Justin Abdelkader of the Detroit Red Wings.

 

He is a high-energy player with lots of speed that plays a big role for the Red Wings. But in a best-on-best tournament? It’s a head-scratcher based on who else was available, especially when you’re only naming 16 players to start.

 

Team USA didn’t surprise anyone with their choice of goalies though, which will be the strength of their team. It will be interesting to see who gets the No.1 spot going forward. Quick was the guy in Sochi and was very good until the bronze medal game. He has the two Stanley Cups as well.

 

Their defense will be strong with three members of the Olympic Team returning and new face Dustin Byfuglien joining the defensive core.

 

Keep an eye out for the players still in the mix to be selected for the final roster. Players like Phil Kessel, Bobby Ryan, Kyle Okposo, Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan are all possiblities for offense.

 

On defense, Faulk is likely to be there, but then who else do they bring? Olympians Cam Fowler and Kevin Shattenkirk should be in the mix based on their experience. GM Dean Lombardi has a known affinity for Keith Yandle.

 

Team USA will be missing players though, due to the fact Johnny Gaudreau, Seth Jones and Brandon Saad are all competing for Team North America.

 

Along with the roster, the jerseys that Team USA will wear have been released as well.

 

USAJersey1

 

USAJersey2

 

The Adidas jerseys are foreshadowing what is to come, as Adidas will replace Reebok as the official outfitter of the NHL in 2017.

 

Personally, I like the jerseys. They look crisp and the diagonal “USA” lettering is something I LOVE. The Adidas stripes down the sides don’t even bother me that much because they blend with the rest of the jersey.

 

All-in-all, I’m pretty freakin’ excited to watch Team USA tear it up in Toronto this September. Here’s something that’s guaranteed to get you hyped up:

 

 

I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!

 

 


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