Thursday, May 24, 2007

Another International Cup Affair

For the third season in a row, NHL players and fans are going to have to clear customs when traveling between the teams' cities.

Ottawa and Anaheim have made the final cut and are ready to win the cup. On one hand, you have Anaheim, who played in the finals just a few years ago, but did not win. On the other, Canada's capital team hasn't taken home the cup since the Charleston was popular.

Two superb teams have made the final round and the games should not disappoint. I picked Ottawa to win in the conference finals and I'm picking them to win again. Anaheim will put up a strong fight, and their defense may make the difference in the series. Ottawa will need to hold nothing back and find a way to neutralize Pronger and Niedermayer to get the edge.

Anaheim's biggest asset is Teemu Selanne, at whom I shake my fist. (I still resent his unnecessary last second empty net goal in Nationwide, but I respect the story of his hat trick this season.) Selanne will be playing in his first ever Stanley Cup Final in his almost 20 seasons in the league. It's telling enough that the guy was selected by the Winnipeg Jets eight years before they moved to Phoenix.

Ottawa's most important weapon is the trident of Alfredsson, Spezza, and Heatley. Those guys are a thrill to watch on the ice. If Anaheim's defense can't slow them down, they'll run up the score quick.

Jacket Times prediction: Ottawa in 6. Anaheim plays incredibly well at home so Ottawa won't be able to steal more than a win or two on the road.

And here's how to do the Charleston:

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Columbus not the only Ohio city to sport Blue Jackets

I learned something today.

The mascot name "Blue Jackets" is also used by another Ohio sports organization- New Riegel high school. New Riegel, which sounds more like a star than a city, is located in Seneca County.

Not Ohio-Geography savvy? It's near Tiffin.

Ok, ok, north of Columbus.

Not handy with a map? Try "up".

Anyway, the website I found doesn't have an image of their mascot, but judging from this picture of a rock that I did find, it seems to be an anchor- which is neither blue nor a jacket. I couldn't find anything explaining this perplexing inconsistency on their school district website, though I did find their school lunch menu. Yum.

Oh, and Congrats to New Riegel Seniors! You did it!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Jackets acquire another 5th round draft pick

If we needed proof that MacLean's influence is more than skin deep, we found it today at the CBJ website. The front office dealt Adam McQuaid, a CBJ organization minor leaguer to the Boston club for -you guessed it- a 5th round pick in the upcoming 2007 draft.

For those who don't recall, MacLean acquired another 5th round pick this draft in exchange for Ty Conklin and a 2008 5th rounder for Anson Carter. Looks like the Jackets have their eyes on some sleeper picks for the next couple of years.

For what it's worth, Adam McQuaid was selected by Columbus in the 2nd round of the 2005 draft. What a difference two years makes, huh? Well, it would seem that twelve years makes even more of a difference- recall that Berard was selected first overall in 1995 and the Jackets couldn't give him away this year.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

NHL Conference Finals Preview

And then there were four.

The 'final four' of professional hockey is upon us, as Anaheim, Detroit, Ottawa and Buffalo contend for Lord Stanley's chalice.

The match-ups:

Western Conference: Detroit vs. Anaheim
Detroit entered the playoffs as the west's #1 seed, though their journey through Calgary and San Jose wasn't without a few set backs. I mentioned in an earlier article that I've been somewhat disappointed by the Red Wings' play. I retain that, and think they're in for a challenge (again) when they face Anaheim. The Ducks are playing very well, and their stars Giguere and Selanne are leading the way. Also carrying the team is Francois Beauchemin (sp?) who the Blue Jackets traded in exchange for Sergei Fedorov.

Anaheim has been a powerhouse all season and they're hungry for the Cup. They came close back in 2003, when they were beaten in the finals by New Jersey. At the time they were coached by none other than Mike Babcock- the current coach of the Detroit Red Wings.

The Wings have been streaky but have found ways to come up with the win when they needed it. I see this series as being a back-and-forth affair, but the Wings have the experience to finish the job. (Heck, Hasek and Chelios have enough experience to start their memoirs.)

My prediction: Red Wings in 7

Eastern Conference: Buffalo vs. Ottawa
Tough call on this game. Buffalo has been the team to watch all season. They've got the talent, skill, and stacked roster to make it happen. The city is behind the team and is desperate for a professional sports championship. They'll be facing off against the Ottawa Senators; a team with which they are developing a bit of a rivalry following the 119 penalty minute brawl earlier this season. Ottawa also has a stacked roster. If they don't make it to the finals this year, fans and hockey afficianados are going to look back on this team in 5 years and say, "what happened?". They've got Heatley, Spezza, and Alfredsson up front, and they've got two great goaltenders. Emery's been taking the most starts, but Gerber can stand up for himself as well. Gerber played for last year's cup winning Carolina Hurricanes and went to the finals with Anaheim in '03.

This series is going to be a great one to watch, particularly if you're into seeing a high scoring game. Buffalo and Ottawa led the league in goals per game with 3.63 and 3.49, respectively. The drama from the brawl earlier this season will probably come back and make for some pugilism too.

My prediction: Call it bold, but I see Ottawa tightening the screws where it counts and wrapping this one up in 5.

Fun Fact: The Blue Jackets have played and beaten all four remaining teams at least once this season.

Photo Credit: Me. Went to the Hockey Hall of Fame last summer. (awesome.)

Doug MacLean to Interview with Phoenix Coyotes

The Phoenix Coyotes organization is looking for a new GM to preside over the Great One and his team full of not-so-great ones. The organization is going to interview nine candidates and former CBJ GM Douggie Doug MacLean is on the short list.

Best of luck with that, to both MacLean and the Coyotes.