There were a lot of stories in the 1st round and I would imagine that we are going to see a few more storylines open up in the 2nd round of play. The puck drops on Tuesday night with 2 games, Ottawa in Pittsburgh 7:30pm & San Jose in Los Angeles 10:00pm.
Let’s take a look at the conference semi-finals in the west first and then the east to see who will have a chance to play for the right to face-off for Lord Stanley’s Cup!
Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks: Kings in 6
The Sharks swept the Canucks in their first round match-up which was not expected and showed us all how much “will to win” they are bringing to the Stanley Cup tournament in the spring of 2013. Meanwhile, the Kings were in a helluva physical battle with the Blues in St. Louis that resulted in many claims (and rightly so) that it was the best series in the first round (that was before the game 7s).
In this 2nd round go I’m taking the Kings because that’s who I think is going to win. I think that they’re going to do a better job handling the Sharks attack and, if they aren’t hurting too badly, will be able to dish out some hits that could get the Sharks off of their game. I also think that the mental toughness and recent positive experience of the Kings will help them out while their twitter account (@lakings) will continue to be brilliant. Look for Jeff Carter to score 4 goals in the series.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings: Blackhawks in 5
The other western conference series gives us an original 6 shootout that should be just another step to the finals for Toews, Kane, Hossa, Sharp and company. Kudos to Detroit for outlasting the Ducks in the 1st round, but while they may be better than we gave them credit for, they aren’t as good as the boys from the windy city.
If the Blackhawks are able to get on the powerplay they should put up some series goals that may be too much for the Red Wings to overcome. I also think that the ‘Hawks feel like they should win, can win and know how to win this series and that’s a good feeling for a team to have. Provided they don’t take 4 wins for granted when the puck drops, they should get through to the conference finals.
Note: I had the Ducks getting through the west to the finals… that isn’t going to happen – so I’ll take Chicago in their place now.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators: Penguins in 6
Listen, I know that as a Habs fan I picked Ottawa to be moving their gear out of Kanata and onto the golf course. I was wrong. But this time I won’t be. The Penguins are the favourite to win the east. They are stacked with offensive talent. And while they have questions in goal, they are good enough to move on.
Yes, I addressed the Penguins problems in net. How could I ignore them? In my round 1 preview I said this: “I think NYI will solve Fleury in 1 game and make everyone question him just like last year…”, well they did a little bit more than that and now we’ve seen back-up Tomas Vokoun in game action. Maybe we’ll see him again against Ottawa. I think they have to give Fleury a chance to regain his form and I think that the Penguins will get the job done.
Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers: Bruins in 7
Both the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers had to play 7 games in the 1st round to get their 4 wins and they are probably/likely/without a doubt tired and worn down. That is why I think this series will go to 7 games as well. Neither team is at full strength or full speed and I think games 1 and 2 will highlight those facts in Boston.
This series is also the 2nd original six pairing in the 2nd round – that’s pretty cool. And the series also features 2 top tier goalies with Rask looking to stay confident and Lundqvist looking to stay hot. I think King Henrik is the better tender… but I think Boston is deeper and more productive in their 3 top lines and that will be the difference. Don’t look for a ton of goals in this series – you probably won’t find them. The Bruin will bang and crash and grind this one out on their way to Pittsburgh.
So… there we have it. My picks for the conference finals: Chicago vs. Los Angeles and Pittsburgh vs. Boston.
There’s a lot of hockey left to be played, so buckle up and get your water bottle ready.
And prepare yourselves for more cheering and more heartache… Because It’s The Cup!
A few days ago I posted about the great weather that Toronto has been having and gave some suggestions for spending lovely summer days in the city. However, as beautiful as our city is, it can be nice to get out of town and enjoy the sunny days out in the country.
Whether you’ve got a cottage to go to, you want to camp or you’re lucky enough to have parents you live out in the country like me, it can be refreshing and relaxing to get out of the lights and out where you can see the stars.
When you pack up and head down the highway the question starts to become, how are you going to spend your time? Here are some ideas for you!
Swim in Nature’s Water
That’s right kids, it can be okay to swim in water that isn’t in your pool. I did it when I was a kid, it’s a ton of fun. And let me put your mind at ease, the fish and turtles do not want to be anywhere near you, so you can stop worrying about them. If you are visiting a provincial or national park you can ask about the water quality and it will likely be posted at the beach as well, pay attention to those posts. Get out your bathing suit, bring a towel, blow up a beach ball and get your swim on!
When I was little we fished with my dad when we went camping, good times. Once the fam took a trip out to Napanee to fish near the bridge. If you’ve ever been to Napanee you know what I’m talking about. I love fishing, learned it then, still do it now. Last summer I fished in the pond at my parent’s place and even got some friends involved. Look, Rayanne even pulled a little bass out of the water on her first cast. She’s a natural. But mine was bigger. Whether you’re fishing from a boat, from a dock, with worms or with lures, I wish you a ton of luck. Don’t hook yourself and make sure you get your licence – it’s cheap and many Canadian Tire stores issue them.
Hit the Trail for a Hike
Walking in the city is much different than walking out on the trails in the country. Trade the concrete sidewalk for a dirt path and change out of your loafers and into your boots. When you’re going for a long hike remember to bring water with you so you can stay hydrated, it’s important. And bring snacks too, trail mix got it’s name for a reason and homemade treats are a great idea when you’re out for the day. Remember to keep packaging to a minimum and ALWAYS PICK UP YOUR TRASH when you are on the trails. Everyone will appreciate it. Thank you.
Cruise the Water
Boats are awesome. Canoes, paddle boats, dragon boats, fishing boats, speed boats, sail boats, all of the boats! There’s something magical about cruising on top of the water with the breeze in your air and the smell of the water in your nose. When the weather is right, it’s awesome. When the weather is rough, it’s a challenge. The trick is to enjoy it no matter what and always be prepared. Please remember that if you are going to be driving a boat you MUST HAVE A LICENSE. It’s not hard to get, you can do it today with an online boat licence test.
Sit Around a Fire
Campfires are great. I love ‘em. I love building them, lighting them, playing with them and enjoying them with friends. Get your firewood ready, pile it up and get a match. And once your flames are tickling the sky do whatever you want. Tell stories, play games, drink beer, have a sing-along, the options are endless! Remember that safety comes first so don’t leave your fire unattended and make sure that it’s out before you go to bed. Also remember that a camp fire is one of the greatest things ever, so enjoy the heck out of it. Whether you sit on a stump or a lawn chair or right on the ground, there’s no end to the good times that it can bring!
There are a million options when you’re looking for things to do when you’re outside of the city. Get some friends together, come up with a plan and enjoy the heck out. It’s going to be an awesome summer wherever you choose to be.
Remember to play safe and be awesome!
The question becomes, what can you do to maximize your time in this awesome sunshine while taking in the best that Toronto has to offer? It’s a great city that we live in, full of cool places and people and options…
Here are some of my favs.
Toronto Blue Jays Baseball at Rogers Centre.
I know that some of you are deadset on calling it the SkyDome until the day you die and that’s fine… the important thing is that you get yourself down there and enjoy the show. The Blue Jays may not be performing the way that we all hoped they would to this point in the season, but they still need our support and the ballpark is still a great place to spend a weeknight or weekend afternoon. Especially now that we’ve ventured into roof open status. Check out the Blue Jays 2013 schedule and pick a game or 2 to check out!
Explore a Neighbourhood.
Toronto is full of unique, quirky, awesome neighbourhoods that have their own personality and attractions. Whether you pick Roncesvalles, Leslieville, Kensington or the St. Lawrence Market you will surely find places to wander into, food to taste and a bunch of interesting people who are also checking things out. Set aside an afternoon and take a walk, explore your city, enjoy what you’ve got right here in your own backyard.
Perch in a Park.
Toronto has some great green spaces available to hang out in. If you haven’t spent a day on the grass at Trinity Bellwoods, you should. And if you have never taken a trip to High Park to see the zoo or walk the trail or see the Cherry Blossoms (now, go now) then you are missing a pretty great experience. You can also check out places like Kew Gardens and the Toronto Botanical Garden if you want to stop and smell the flowers. All of the options are yours!
Relax on the Beach.
We may not think of Toronto as a beach town since we’re in the great white north and we don’t have an ocean at the edge of the city. But there are some great beach options available to you if you want to stick your toes in the sand and tan. You’ve got Cherry Beach, Sunnyside, Centre Island, Woodbine and more to lay down your blanket and soak up the sun. Bring a book, bring friends, bring sunscreen. Do whatever the heck you like while you imagine that you are in the tropics without leaving the GTA.
Sit on a Patio.
There are 1,000,000 or so patios in Toronto. All offering various drinks and shade and sun and views and excitement. Get some friends together and settle in for a day to enjoy a beverage or 4 while you people watch or debate Phil Collins vs Peter Gabriel. Remember that the company you keep is more important than anything else… but great location, service and prices doesn’t hurt! I have no doubt that you can all find a patio space that fills your needs and gives you hours of fun in the sun.
There you have it. 5 options for spending time in Toronto during our season of wonderful weather.
They may be things that you already do, they may be so obvious that you never think of them. Either way, they can all give you something to do when your agenda is otherwise blank.
Get out there and enjoy Toronto!
Yes, I know, the playoffs started Tuesday night – but about an hour ago the puck dropped in Montreal to kick off the 1st round series between les Canadiens and the Senators and so my Journey To The Cup has officially begun!
Because I love the Habs and I am encouraged by the (shortened) regular season that they had and I am a fan – I am picking them to win this series against Ottawa. Now, it may not be the sweep that I would really love to see. In fact, I think that this thing goes at least 6 games. But I do think that the speed, points from the D, fore checking and goaltending are good enough to get the job done.
Elsewhere (Toronto), there is a ton of excitement as the Maple Leafs have played their first playoff game in 9 years. It didn’t go as planned for the blue & white faithful (a 4-1 loss in Boston) and there is now a search for answers and options to turn things around for game 2 vs. the Bruins. I’m taking Boston in this one. They’re bigger, stronger, more experienced and frankly, the better team. Look for 5 games here.
Out west the Canucks did not look exceptional in their game 1 match-up with the San Jose Sharks. But I do think that they have a roster that can turn things around and win this series. The Sharks won’t go quietly into that good night though and this thing will take 6 or 7 games with Roberto Loungo holding on to the goalie job as long as he can.
In the non-Canadian team series I’ve got picks too…
Kings vs. Blues: Kings in 6
I know they lost game 1 in OT, but I think that the reigning champs can get it done. Also, I want more tweets from their team.
Red Wings vs. Ducks: Ducks in 5
The Wings are in the playoffs for the 200th season in a row – but the times they are a changing and the Ducks are the deeper and better team.
Rangers vs. Capitals: Capitals in 5
They’re explosive, talented and playing really good hockey right now. Look for the power play to get the job done and King Henrik to be beat when it’s not always his fault.
Blackhawks vs. Wild: Blackhawks in 4
They were the best team in hockey this season and they are deeper up front and have had solid goaltending almost every night. Look for more close games, but game 4 could be a blow out on the road.
Penguins vs. Islanders: Penguins in 5
The Pens are a ton better than the Isles and this could be a sweep – but I think NYI will solve Fleury in 1 game and make everyone question him just like last year before Pittsburgh moves on to round 2.
I’ve got the Penguins in the final for the east vs. the Ducks from the west when it’s time to hand out the Stanley Cup.
And in that series I’ll take the Pittsburgh Penguins, with Sidney Crosby on the ice, the win the 2013 Stanley Cup.
Good luck to all hockey fans, I could be wrong on all of these predictions so keep cheering!