(Photo from Wikipedia.org)
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are about to get underway and there is no time like now to give you my predictions for who will meet in the finals. Playoff hockey is the best time of the year and I can not wait to watch the games even though the Devils did not make it this year.
Eastern Conference: As much as it pains me to say this, the New York Rangers will make it to the Stanley Cup finals for the second straight year. Their team is stacked from top to bottom. They have four balanced lines that can score, three solid defense pairs and the best goalie in the world with Henrik Lundqvist. They are also a year older this year so that experience will help them out when they face their opponent there. Their road will not be easy though as they will most likely have to go through their soon to be cross town rivals the New York Islanders, as well as the young and talented Tampa Bay Lightning.
Western Conference: My selection for the western conference was a lot harder for me because I really don’t get to watch many of their games because I do not get the channels or the games are on too late. But with that being said I have decided that the Chicago Blackhawks will make it out of the gauntlet that is the western conference. Now the Blackhawks will only make it to the cup final if Patrick Kane comes back healthy. If he does not I can not see this team be successful without him. This team needs his goal scoring and playmaking ability to be successful. He and Jonathan Toews are the heart and soul of that team and I’m sure they will win many cups in their lifetime.
Winner: When these two teams meet in the finals, I have the New York Rangers winning it all in a game seven. The Rangers have the edge in goal and on defense but they do not have the forwards that can take over the game like Kane and Toews can. It will definitely be a highly entertaining series, but when it is all said and done, the Rangers will hoist the cup in Madison Square Garden for the first time in 21 years.
(Photo from NJ.com)
I want to start out this post by saying I know exactly how Cory Schneider feels after this season. When I was younger, I played youth hockey and I played on a team one year that absolutely stunk. We could not score a goal for the life of us and if I let in a goal or maybe two it was game over.
The same thing happened this year with Cory Schneider, the way he was playing from the middle of the season on would have had any team that was somewhat capable of scoring goals in the playoffs for sure. He showed up to arena every game day and was lights out. He would be peppered for 35+ shots on a nightly basis and would not give up more than one or two goals. Even with him playing that well he would lose 1-0 or 2-1. It was frustrating for me to watch so I am sure he wanted to pull his hair out most nights.
Schneider finishes the season with 26 wins 31 losses and 9 overtime/shootout losses. He also posted a .925 save percentage and a 2.26 goals against average, both numbers in the top ten in the league for goalies who have played more than 40 games. This was his first season as a true number one goaltender and he his classified as one of the elite goaltenders in the league.
It will be hard for Schneider to up his performance from last year but not having to start the first 22 games of the season will certainly help with the fatigue factor for later on in the season. Hopefully the team in front of his next year will find a way to score some more goals for him, I mean it honestly can not get much worse.
(Photo Courtosy of http://www.letsgoflyers.net)
Well the New Jersey Devils season is all but over. They are 12 points out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with only 26 games left. Their 51 points put them in a tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs for 5th to last place in the entire league. This morning, the Toronto Maple Leafs made a trade sending promising young defenseman Cody Franson and center Mike Santorelli to the Nashville Predators for forward Ollie Jokinen, a first round pick in this year’s NHL Draft, and a second round prospect from last year.
Now why is this trade significant to the Devils? Well it solidifies that the Maple Leafs are giving up on this season and they have more games to play than the Devils do. It is time for General Manager Lou Lamoriello to stop being so blind to the fact that the team he has assembled this year has been terrible besides the goaltending. If Cory Schneider was on a winning team he would be in consideration for the Vezina Trophy, but because he does not get any goal support he loses games he honestly should not be.
So who do the Devils try to move at the deadline? The obvious choices are forward Jaromir Jagr, defenseman Marek Zidlicky, and the disappointing Michael Ryder. Any of these players would help any cup contenders. I would even be okay if the Devils retained a percentage of their salaries if it is easier to move them.
(Photo Courtesy of http://www.NHL.com)
Now what about some of the other players that could be traded? Tuomo Ruutu would definitely have some teams interested in a depth forward on an expiring deal. If Lou could work his magic and somehow move Dainius Zubrus, it would be the best thing he has done as GM since the Cory Schneider trade. The final person that could be moved and would without a doubt bring back a first round pick is Patrik Elias. Elias is the Devils all-time leading scorer and it would be a shame to see him in another jersey, but since he won’t be able to help the Devils reach the playoff this year, the least he could do is give us a promising prospect or a first round draft pick.
The goal for the trade deadline for the Devils is to stock up on picks and prospects because right now, they do not have many.
Last night Cory Schneider put on an absolute show, only to be let down once again by the team in front of him and losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in overtime. He finished with 41 saves, breaking his season high previously set earlier this year.
A few takeaways from last nights game…
1. Peter Harrold and Mark Fraser need to take a seat in the press box or be sent down to the AHL immediately. They each finished with a -12 and -17 even strength shot attempts respectively. Not to mention Harrold’s costly penalty with 3:34 left in the third period which led to the game tying goal.
2. #JagrWatch2015 is officially a go and the Devils coaching staff is doing their very best to put him in a successful position to score. Adam Oates is known for his power play to have a right hand shot in the slot and last night Jagr, a lefty, was there. There is no other explanation other than #JagrWatch2015.
3. Steve Bernier scored again last night, maybe the Devils could get something for him at the trade deadline.
Tonight the Devils will be taking on the Florida Panthers at the Prudential Center and I will be in attendance for the second straight night. Let’s hope for a more aggressive Devils team tonight and who knows, maybe they will finally win a game.