Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Hoop & The Harm: NBA Lockout Looms

It looks like it’s going to be a long summer for NBA fans!

The collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players expires today, which will more than likely signify the beginning of the second big pro sports lockout in North America this year. The two sides are meeting for one last bargaining session today, but the word on the street is that they are still very far apart on a number of issues, and a work stoppage is almost inevitable at this point.

What are the issues? Just like in the NFL labor situation and the NHL one before it, the owners say the players are making too much money and are earning too big a share of overall league revenues. Other issues plaguing the NBA process are the owners desire for a “hard” salary cap to control spending and non-guaranteed contracts, which players are staunchly opposed to. So, despite any progress that was made in the past month or so, there is seemingly still a long way to go.

According to the AP, the players have offered to reduce their salaries by $500-million over five years and the owners have dropped their calls to scrap fully guaranteed contracts, but neither move has really brought the sides closer together. The owners floated the idea of a “flex” cap, to replace the current system, but the players say it is just a “hard” cap in disguise and so they refuse to budge.

What’s the answer?

Well, when the NHL locked out its players for a full season back in 2004-05, it took a 24 percent salary reduction and the installation of a hard salary cap to get things rolling again. At the time it was quite a blow to the players, but the average salary surpassed pre-lockout levels just three seasons later, and after three more seasons, we’ve got a goalie signing a deal that will pay him $10-million next year!

The point is, the players have to realize that this whole thing is just part of what has become a vicious cycle: owners go overboard with their spending, they blame the players, some sort of cost reduction measure is brought in and then the situation repeats itself.

I think if a lockout starts to threaten the upcoming season, the pressure will be on the players to give a little more in terms of salary reduction. Here’s the thing though – as long as they avoid a hard salary cap, there’s a good chance the owners will be back to their old ways within a year or two!

If there is a lengthy lockout, it’ll be interesting to see who goes where to get some playing time in. The first big rumor was that LA Lakers forward Ron Artest would be making the jump to, of all places, Finland in the event of a lockout.

His agent tells the LA Times though that there is no truth to that story, while the newspaper also points out that FIBA rules require teams to honor the contracts of other leagues. That means any player who is under contract in the NBA wouldn’t really be allowed to go off and play somewhere else.

Soon-to-be free agent guard JJ Barea, who took a stiff arm from Artest in the playoffs, is one guy who could end up playing overseas if there is a lockout, but he says Spain is his “plan B.”

Maybe the Edmonton Energy can pick up a few ringers for the IBL playoffs!

What do you think: Will the NBA be able to avoid a lockout?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Are You Watching the Women’s World Cup?

We’re into the fourth day of action at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany, and if you haven’t been paying attention, you’re missing out!

While there haven’t really been any upsets so far, the first three days of the tournament have provided us with some magical moments on the field and a few controversies off of it. From Christine Sinclair’s wonderful strike for Canada on Sunday, to some strange roster issues in Equatorial Guinea, it’s safe to say that it has been a very interesting few days on the WWC front.

Let’s start with the controversy – “sisters” Salimata and Bilguisa Simpore were dropped from the Guinea roster before the tournament started because they were accused of actually being brothers. ESPN reports the two were “key” players on the team at the 2010 African Women’s Championship in South Africa, but these allegations just wouldn’t go away. One of the two was also rumored to have featured for other national teams in the past, which of course isn’t allowed.

As if that wasn’t enough, Equatorial Guinea lost another player on the eve of their opening game due to eligibility issues. Striker Jade Boho was suspended on Tuesday because she apparently played for Spain within the last five years! Do the national footy associations not check for this sort of stuff?

Don’t worry Guinea fans, you’re not the only team being disgraced in the opening days of the tournament – the first drug suspension has been handed out!

Colombia goalkeeper Yineth Varon was “provisionally suspended” on Tuesday for a failed drug test. Reports say there was an irregularity with her “A” sample, though she still has the right to ask for her “B” sample to be analyzed. Luckily for the Colombian national team, Varon is only the backup.

Oh, then there was that awesome story about how North Korea lost to the United States on Tuesday because a few players were struck by lightning while training before the tournament!

It’s not all strange storylines though, folks. There has also been some absolutely sublime soccer being played out there, and here is proof!

First up, a highlight-reel worthy goal from Canada’s Christine Sinclair off of a set piece in a 2-1 loss to Germany on Sunday:


It should be worth noting too that Sinclair had her nose broken during the game and she actually got mad at the trainers for telling her she might have to come out! Tough as nails!

The second of the three goals I’m going to show you came off the foot of Japan’s Aya Miyama and was the game winner against New Zealand on Monday (fast forward to the 1:10 mark):


This goal is quite similar to the Sinclair tally, but once again, it’s just fantastic finishing off of a set piece!

If you need another example of why you should be getting up early to watch this year’s Women’s World Cup (or at least watching the replay at night), this should do it – check out this wonder strike from Mexico’s Monica Ocampo:


Watch it a few times – that goal is just ridiculous!

Now that I’ve converted you, Canada face France on Thursday and Nigeria on July 5th and there are other games just about every day until next Wednesday when the opening round wraps up!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hulsizer Out?

When the NHL bought the Phoenix Coyotes back in the fall of 2009, who would have thought it would still own the team almost two years later?

Believe it or not, after two full seasons, the league does still own the team and it appears there is still no end in sight to the Coyotes ownership saga. The Phoenix Business Journal reported on Monday night that another potential owner has pulled out, making it three unsuccessful bids since the NHL took over.

Sources say Chicago’s Matthew Hulsizer is no longer interested in becoming the owner of the franchise, joining Ice Edge holdings and Jerry Reinsdorf in the category of groups that showed interest, but were never able to come to a lease agreement with the city of Glendale.

At one point, the Hulsizer deal looked like a slam-dunk, with the city bending over backwards to “help” him buy the team. They put together an enticing package, which included a $197-million “bond and arena management deal,” but it was challenged by a local watchdog organization, which eventually led us to this point. The threats from the Goldwater Institute drove up the price of the bonds the city was going to purchase and saw both sides back off on certain aspects of the deal while they tried to renegotiate.

With Hulsizer out of the picture, the Coyotes are now back to square one after losing an estimated $37-million last season.

Are there any other potential owners out there? Will the NHL now start to consider buyers who might want to move the team out of Glendale? What about Jim Balsillie, wouldn’t that be ironic?

There were rumblings last month that the Research In Motion co-CEO could find himself back in the thick of things, but his company has taken a real turn for the worse in recent weeks. Because of that, his dream of becoming an NHL owner is probably the last thing on his mind at the moment!

What a disaster for the city of Glendale and the NHL – when a league takes over a team, it isn’t supposed to last for two-going-on-three years! It also isn’t supposed to be a situation where three different potential owners all end up pulling out after months of negotiating, and it certainly isn’t supposed to end up costing a municipality big money to keep the team afloat.

If the NHL still owns the Coyotes by this time next year, the city of Glendale will have dished out $50-million (which doesn’t even cover all of the team’s losses) to keep the club in business, and the NHL will have been hit with tens of millions of dollars in losses. That just doesn’t seem right!

What do you think: Is it finally time to admit that hockey isn’t going to work in the current setup they’ve got going over in Arizona?

Monday, June 27, 2011

15 Minutes of Fame

Happy Monday!

Once again, Kerrzy & Geoff are here to sort through what was another exciting stretch in the world of sports – this week: Did the Oilers make the right call on Draft Day? We also take a look at the Ryan Smyth deal and some of the other trades that happened around the NHL, including the one that led to a huge contract for Ilya Bryzgalov. As well, we discuss Jose Canseco’s visits Edmonton and we look ahead at the upcoming CFL season.

In the GABBYs: Big week for Big Papi, huge bar tabs, Gold Cup meltdowns, name changes & more!


See something you think should be a GABBY? You can get a hold of us on Twitter @15MinutesYEG, “Like” us on Facebook or shoot us an email at 15MinutesYEG@gmail.com!

For last week's episode, click here. Thanks for watching!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Random Friday Thoughts: Grunts, Football Cops, Goalie Goals



Wimbledon Drama





There’s a lot of drama on the women’s side of this year’s Wimbledon tournament at the All England Club.





Let’s start with the noise issues – no the athletes aren’t up late partying or anything. Once again, it’s an issue of grunting! The chief executive of the AEC says they’re “uneasy” about how loudly the tournament’s female players are grunting during matches!





Ian Ritchie told the Daily Telegraph that even the fans are becoming frustrated with the loud players, who they say are spoiling the game. It’s actually quite funny when you hear an example of what they’re talking about – Victoria Azarenka was clocked at 95 decibels with a grunt during the first round, with each one lasting over 1.5 seconds.





Who holds the record for the loudest known grunt? Maria Sharapova hit 105 decibels in 2009!





Meanwhile, Serena Williams is wondering why she and her sister are being “relegated” to Court Two, while all of the other big names are getting to play on the big courts.





It might sound like sour grapes, except that Serena and Venus Williams have won nine of the last 11 Wimbledon tournaments! In response, the All England Club says “scheduling is a complex business and cannot be looked at in the light of just one or two matches.”





I think the Williams sisters just feel like they’re being treated like a couple of grunts out there!





Football Cops?





How do you know when locked out NFL players officially have too much time on their hands?





I think a good sign is when they start filming spoof cop dramas! Enter: Peyton and Eli Manning, who star as mustachioed “Football Cops” Mike Tahoe and CJ Hunter!
















Hey, at least they’re not out there getting arrested in real life!





Goalie Goal





Canadian goalie Quillan Roberts made history for his country this week at the FIFA under-17 World Cup.





An 87th minute goal by the 16-year-old tied things up against England and handed Canada its first points in fourteen games at the tournament. Also, Roberts is a GOALIE, and the first one in any FIFA soccer tournie to score a goal!
















Brilliant!





Other stuff…





It only happens every few years, but David Ortiz stole a base this week!





The Texas Rangers set a Guinness World Record this week that only Corey Hart could really be proud of…





The prospect of an NBA lockout seems to have driven the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard right to the brink of insanity!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Canseco Talks Steroids

Remember back when the Edmonton Trappers were an MLB affiliate, and players like Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi and Johan Santana rolled through town on occasion?

Well, another big name from that era is at Telus Field all weekend!

Jose Canseco, a man once destined for Cooperstown, is now almost 47 years old and playing for and managing the North American Baseball League’s Yuma Scorpions alongside his brother Ozzie. He certainly had the numbers to back up a Hall of Fame claim, but his literary work, namely “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big,” derailed any hope of that ever becoming a reality. Back in 2005, no one believed him. Nowadays though, no one looks at players from that era the same way.

On Thursday night at Telus Field, Canseco says blacklisted or not, he feels like he made a difference to the game he loves.

"It was definitely not a PR stunt,” Canseco says. “I hope and I know that it's helped Major League Baseball. I know it's helped make it a complete, even playing field now, and hopefully it saved some kid's life down the line.”

The man who became the poster boy for steroid use in pro ball says though that people give too much credit to the chemicals.

“I have an identical twin brother...he used the same steroids I did, he did the same workouts I did, ate the same foods, nutrition that I used - he never made it to the big leagues. That just goes to show you, don't give too much credit to steroids, that 'oh it made the player a superstar' - steroids don't make you a superstar, you make yourself a superstar."

Canseco says that he held out hope for a while that other players would back up the things he said in “Juiced,” but he understands that Major League Baseball is a very powerful organization and anyone hoping for a future with the league couldn’t speak up. Despite that, he says the game has turned right around when it comes to performance enhancing drugs.

"I think it's 100 percent clean, I really do,” Canseco says. “I think the testing now is adequate and the whole process of, if you're caught, you're not going to be spanked on the hand now - your salary is going to be taken away, you're [going to be suspended] and in some instances, your career could be taken away."

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Despite battling through injuries to start the NABL season, Canseco has featured at a few positions, including pitcher, for the Scorpions. After a rough outing last week though, he says you shouldn’t expect to see him on the mound anytime soon! Canseco was toasted for six runs in just over two innings of work on a day where he says he just couldn’t find the strike zone.

“I wear many hats as a player, the way I performed out there when I was playing, as a character in baseball, as an entertainer,” says Canseco, talking about how he sees himself. “[I’m a] knowledgeable manager now who knows how to play the game and experienced a lot of things on and off the field.”

“Hopefully that can translate to teaching these young kids how to play the game properly – what to do and what not to do, on and off the field. Hopefully with that experience, it’s going to help them out a lot.”

Since his MLB days, Canseco has dabbled in everything from celebrity boxing, to MMA, to reality TV, but he says he hopes that when people look back on his actions, they’ll remember him as the guy who “saved the game of baseball” and helped kids avoid steroids.

“Is the game of baseball now clean, is it an even playing field? Are kids not looking at steroids to become bigger, faster, stronger? Definitely."

What do you think: Did Jose Canseco “save” the game of baseball?

Around the Rinks: The Winnipeg _____ & Boozin’ Bruins

Name That Team!

If you’re hoping that the seventh pick at Friday’s NHL Entry Draft will provide a hint as to what “that Winnipeg team” is going to be called, you are probably going to be disappointed…but I’m here to tell you that the end is near, folks!

While it looks like True North is going to bypass that opportunity to unveil a new team name and logo, reports say the news could come as soon as this weekend. The debate has been raging “officially” for a few weeks and “unofficially” for months, but there is no question about what name Winnipeg fans want to see on the front of that jersey now that they’ve finally got their team back.

But what if it’s not the Jets?

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, the ownership group decides to go in a different direction with this new franchise – what else could the team be called?

I’ve thought up a few alternate names that I think would be acceptable if the “Jets” isn’t an option for whatever reason:

First up – The Traders

The Winnipeg area has been associated with trade routes for hundreds of years, if not longer. The first European trading post in the region, Fort Rouge, was built in the 1730’s and part of modern-day Winnipeg still bears that name. For a logo, they could use a variation of the old Fort Saskatchewan Traders of the AJHL.

Another option could be The Battalion, or a similar type of name.

Winnipeg is a big military town, with 1 Canadian Air Division and the Canadian wing of NORAD based at CFB Winnipeg. That’s probably got something to do with the “Jets” name, but if they can’t have that, this one might be a decent runner-up option. The OHL’s Brampton Battalion have a pretty nice looking logo, and I’m sure it would be easy enough to put your own spin on it.

Another idea for a potential name would be The Shield, based on the city’s close proximity to parts of the Canadian Shield. It’s a mass of igneous rock, which is formed by the cooling of lava, and it covers a huge portion of Canada, and even dips into the northern parts of the US. The logo could be some type of shield, which would also give a nod to old school military combat. Two birds, one stone!

I think that any of these options would be okay for the new Winnipeg club, but I’m with the majority here in hoping that the team ends up with a more familiar name!

Boozin’ Bruins

The Boston Bruins apparently throw one heck of a party – they racked up a bar tab of almost $157,000 last week!

If you’re like me, you have a bit of a tough time picturing how one team could drink such an impressive amount of alcohol, but a website called Sixteen Wins has us covered with this infographic that breaks it all down:

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The Bruins party looked like it was all kinds of awesome, but I’ve got to say that I’m disappointed to find out that Zdeno Chara wears Ed Hardy!

Other stuff…

Thanks to Nick, Tim, Corey and Jeff, the boys from 15 Minutes of Fame went four-for-six on their NHL Awards predictions...

Is the NHL thinking of doing a massive overhaul of its division system?

Check out HBO’s latest venture into hockey - Jay Mohr: 24/6!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Battle of Vancouver

It’s the one week anniversary of the “Battle of Vancouver” on Wednesday, and police in that city are getting high-tech in their attempts to track down and charge as many of the culprits as they can.

The fallout from the Canucks riots has been interesting, from the public shaming websites started up by Vancouver citizens, to the Facebook/Twitter witch-hunts that outed people who thought they had gotten away with the damage they caused. Personally, I thought the social media side of things would be the most intriguing part of the aftermath of the chaos – I couldn’t wait to see what happens when thousands of people take pictures of thousands of people breaking stuff and setting things on fire.

It looks like I underestimated how far that storyline would go though. If there are pictures floating around the internet of you doing something stupid and you have a driver’s license, you might be hearing from the Vancouver Police Department very soon!

The VPD says it’ll be running pictures from the mayhem through some facial recognition software.

That’s right – the Insurance Corporation of BC is getting involved and lending a hand. How good is this software, you ask? According to the CBC, it analyzes the specific facial characteristics of anyone with a license or ID card issued by the province, and it’s “extremely rare” for two people’s measurements to match up.

Are you scared yet?

Officers will still need a court order if they want to use the technology, but there are enough pictures of people doing incredibly illegal stuff out on the internet to keep officers busy!

The BC Civil Liberties Association says it’s concerned about the use of the ICBC software, but here’s what they have to remember: a picture of a person standing next to a burning cop car isn’t enough to warrant charges. A picture or video of a person smashing the front window of a store and grabbing some merchandise is probably more along the lines of what they are looking for here.

Speaking of the large amounts of looting that took place during the riots, if you were involved in that, you should be worried. The Vancouver Province reports that some of the businesses that were ransacked plan to go hard after looters in court!

What do you think: Is it wrong for police to use this “facial recognition” stuff for this purpose, or does anyone who gets caught have it coming?

Bringin’ Smytty Back?

After back-to-back last place finishes, the Edmonton Oilers will (barring any earth-shattering wheeling & dealing) once again be stepping to the podium before anyone else at the NHL Entry Draft on Friday.

Last year, they nabbed sniper Taylor Hall with the first overall pick. This year, it looks like it’ll be Red Deer Rebels playmaker Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. That leaves the Oilers stacked to the brim with young talent, especially up front, but maybe lacking the guidance of a few veteran players to help steer the ship.

Enter: Ryan Smyth?

Seemingly out of nowhere on Monday night, rumors started to circulate that Smyth had spoken to the LA Kings about a trade back to the team that drafted him in 1994. TSN’s Bob McKenzie was the first to report the story, saying a deal “certainly isn’t imminent,” but that “both organizations are well aware of the existing situation.”

When contacted by theJournal's Jim Matheson, Smyth denied asking for a trade, saying, “I have no idea where that’s coming from.” Case closed, right? Far from it!

The LA Times' Helene Elliott spoke to her sources and found out that Smyth apparently had his agent talk to the Kings about a trade, with Edmonton being his preference for family reasons. Here’s the kicker: Kings GM Dean Lombardi confirmed to Elliott that discussions have taken place with Smyth, but he won’t say anything more than that.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about why this would be a great move for the Edmonton Oilers:

Every young, talented group of players needs a strong veteran presence around the rink. At 35, Smyth is playing that very role with the Kings and is actually still an important part of the team’s offence too, putting up 23 goals and 47 points in 82 games last season, while averaging just over 18 minutes per game (third among LA forwards).

The Oil have some veteran players on the roster at the moment, like Shawn Horcoff and Jason Strudwick, but neither player is in the same class of veteran as Ryan Smyth.

Further to that, when you think about players who have made a lasting mark on the city in the past decade, there is probably no one more prominent than “Captain Canada” himself. The guy had four 30+ goal seasons as a member of the Oilers, and there may not have been a pretty one in the bunch…but he always managed to (and still manages to) put the puck in the net.

That perform-at-all-costs attitude could be invaluable to a team with an average age sitting in the mid-twenties, looking to forge an identity after two 30th place seasons.

Smyth is in the final year of a contract that has a cap hit of $6.5-million, but if a deal were to happen, that wouldn’t be an issue as the Oilers have plenty of cap space coming into this season. They might have to give up a few pieces to get Smyth, but don’t expect them to trade away any key players to make it happen. Reports say the Kings will be one of the teams looking to make a run at Brad Richards when July 1st hits, so they might just be happy to get rid of Smyth’s contract when it comes down to it.

Here’s the deal: if the Edmonton Oilers are going to turn things around, they’re going to need some vets around the rink to help the younger players reach their potential. At the end of the day, there is probably no one better suited to do that on this team than Ryan Smyth.

If he’s available, the Oilers have to go for it.

What do you think: Would you like to see Smyth pulling on an Oilers sweater once again?

Monday, June 20, 2011

15 Minutes of Fame

Happy Monday!

The guys from “15 Minutes of Fame” are back at it for another week, breaking down the top stories from across the world of sports. This week, we’re discussing the Boston Bruins winning the Stanley Cup (and the city of Vancouver’s reaction), we make some NHL Awards & Entry Draft predictions, and the Edmonton Eskimos kick off the preseason!

In the GABBYs: The Capitals run up the score, Boston continues to win, Terry keeps his tattoo and lots more!


See something you think should be a GABBY? You can get a hold of us on Twitter @15MinutesYEG, "Like" us on Facebook or shoot us an email at 15MinutesYEG@gmail.com!

For last week's episode, click here. Thanks for watching!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Random Friday Thoughts: Canucks Riot, Strange Goals, Jet Set?

Best & Worst

We saw the best and the worst of things on Wednesday night in Vancouver as the Stanley Cup Final came to an end – on one hand, a phenomenal series threw us another curve ball with the Boston Bruins finally beating the Canucks at Rogers Arena…but then, of course, all hell broke loose afterwards.

Seeing the pictures and video of the destruction in downtown Vancouver after that loss sends chills down my spine – it’s scary to watch a city turn into a madhouse like that, where regular people are flipping (and torching) cars or smashing windows and robbing stores. Let’s get a couple of things straight though – first of all, it was probably going to happen whether or not the Canucks won that game. Secondly, this isn’t just a Vancouver thing - it can (and does) happen in any big city!

What’s most interesting about this situation though is the role that social media played and will play in busting the criminals. The quality of picture and video from most cell phones is outstanding compared to what it was even five years ago (when people tore up Whyte Avenue during the Oilers playoff run) and people are so connected now with things like Facebook and Twitter. Between people admitting to crimes on their profiles and other people turning the dummies in, this is really showing off what a useful tool social media can be in these situations.

I still can’t believe they looted a London Drugs though…I know they have some electronics and other things of value, but really? London Drugs?!

While we’re talking hockey, I put out my list of the Top 10 Goals of the Playoffs on Thursday, but don’t think I forgot about the obscure! Just as Bobby Ryan was the obvious pick for goal of the postseason, Kevin Bieksa is the hands-down winner when it comes to the strange goals:


That wasn’t the only strange goal of the playoffs though – there was a weird one from Niclas Wallin, that odd OT goal by Jason Chimera, and a bizarre game winner from Brandon Dubinsky, to name a few!

Jet Set?

The suspense is building in Winnipeg and across the country while we all wait to hear what that new NHL team is going to be called…

There are rumors that an announcement could come as soon as this week, with the NHL board of governors set to approve the whole True North transaction on Tuesday. It’s said that the group is waiting until that is all official before taking the next step, but the big question is: Will they be the Jets?

A couple of weeks ago on 15 Minutes of Fame, we came to the conclusion that if the Coyotes organization owns the rights to the “Jets” name and the NHL owns that team, they could just give them the name. That still makes sense to me, but plenty of rumors remain about other names we could see when an announcement is finally made.

Another reason it’s in the news this week is because a British designer was out with a pitch for what the new logo could be. True North told the Winnipeg Free Press that they had received as many as 300 logo ideas since buying the team.

What do you think they’ll end up being called?

Strike Force

If you’re like me, you see no problem in watching literally hours of highlight reel sports moments in one sitting…which makes the internet a very dangerous thing to have access to.

If you missed it last weekend, here’s a goal from Major League Soccer that has made Vancouver Whitecaps forward Eric Hassli a bit of a YouTube sensation:


If that one leaves you looking for more – how about a video that has all 53 of Leo Messi’s goals from this season?


Other stuff…

Every year, once a team is eliminated from the playoffs, we hear about all of the injuries that guys played through…here’s how hockey differs from a sport like baseball!

In honor of what happened this week in Vancouver – here’s the Bleacher Report’s look at the worst sports riots of all time

Compton has a cricket team? Yes, that Compton!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Around the Rinks: NHL Playoffs – Top 10 Goals of 2011

It was quite an end to the NHL season on Wednesday night in Vancouver, riots aside, with the Boston Bruins providing a huge upset at Rogers Arena to capture the 2011 Stanley Cup.

Now, when I say “upset,” it’s not so much that the Bruins beat the Canucks, it’s how they did it. Did anyone honestly predict that Boston, who had scored three times in Vancouver over the first three games there, would come out and put up a four-spot in game seven? I certainly didn’t!

One thing that wasn’t a surprise at all was the awarding of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP to Bruins goalie Tim Thomas – he earned his second shutout of the final in the deciding game and ends up with a 1.14 goals against average against Vancouver. He was absolutely ridiculous during the playoffs and many people were convinced that he would win MVP honors regardless of the outcome on Wednesday.

Here’s the bad news though: that’s it for the season! We’ve got the NHL awards coming up, the draft a few days later, free agency kicks off a week after that and then we’re into the dog days!

Before we completely close the book on the season that was though, I feel it’s only fitting that we look back at the top 10 goals (as chosen by me) of the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs:

10. Michael Frolik

Coming in at number ten is a goal by Chicago’s Michael Frolik in game four of the first round against the Canucks. Frolik is sent in on a breakaway, he kicks the puck up from his skate to his stick and dangles Roberto Luongo while being hooked from behind. Not bad.


9. Villie Leino

At number nine we’ve got a game seven snipe from Philadelphia’s Villie Leino. The Flyers forward walks down the left wing and picks the top corner on the far side with a bullet of a slap shot. Sick! Gotta love the fist pump celebration afterwards too.


8. Bryan Bickell

In the eight spot: Chicago’s Bryan Bickell, who makes Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa look like a pylon before cutting across the face of goal and coolly slotting it home in game four of the first round.


7. Alex Burrows

Alex Burrows takes seventh place on my list with that huge overtime winner in game seven against the Hawks. It’s not quite as intense as the Leino slap shot, but the Burrows clapper meant a lot more. I bet Chris Campoli is still having nightmares about that clearing attempt.


6. Todd Bertuzzi

With the Detroit Red Wings facing the prospect of a sweep at the hands of the San Jose Sharks, Todd Bertuzzi weaved a bit of magic in game four to keep the series alive. Big Bert earns number six on my list for his spin-o-rama top-shelf backhander, which helped kick off a huge Detroit comeback.


5. Ryan Kesler

Canucks forward Ryan Kesler really played his way into the Conn Smythe Trophy discussion in the first couple of rounds, before slowing down a bit as the playoffs went on. A good example of that play is the number five goal on this list, which came in game four of Vancouver’s second round series against the Predators.


4. Pavel Datsyuk

Players like Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk only come around every now and then, and his disgusting skill set was on display in these playoffs right to the bitter end against San Jose. Datsyuk earns the number four spot for this backhand snipe late in a game seven loss to the Sharks.


3. Thomas Vanek

At first glance, you might disagree with my selection here of a Thomas Vanek goal as the third best tally of the 2011 playoffs, but don’t judge it until you see the replays. The Sabres forward takes a pass at the side of the net, pulls the puck between his legs and then slides it between the pads of Michael Leighton.


2. Tyler Seguin

Bruins rookie Tyler Seguin took everyone by storm when he was finally given a chance to play in the Eastern Final against Tampa Bay. He scored right away and then put up four points the next game, including this beautiful breakaway goal on Dwayne Roloson.


1. Bobby Ryan

Was there ever any doubt that this would be number one on the list? Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan made David Legwand and Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators look downright silly in game five of the first round with this ridiculous goal to break a 1-1 tie in the third period. The Ducks went on to lose, but what a goal this was!


Honorable mention: Darren Helm (via Pavel Datsyuk), Mason Raymond and Nick Lidstrom.

Do you agree with my top 10? Was there a beauty goal that I missed? Let me know!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Hoop & The Harm: Rings & Things

I’m not entirely sure how they did it, but the Dallas Mavericks are on top of the basketball world at the moment after stunning the mighty Miami Heat in six games this week.

It was sweet redemption for Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, who were both there when the Heat came from behind to beat the Mavs in 2006, and it was a long time coming for Jason Kidd who finally got his hands on the trophy after 17 seasons in the league. So, now they all have more rings than LeBron James right?

Well…they now have one more championship than he does, but not necessarily more rings. That is, if Mavs owner Mark Cuban gets his way!

Cuban said after the win on the weekend that he might not get rings for his players because they are so old school, and that he felt like it was time to take things to another level, whatever that means. That’s not sitting well with the players though, and ESPN says they’ve all had a chance to try and talk Cuban out of whatever crazy thing he’s thinking of doing!

Here’s what Nowitzki had to say:

“We got to talk to him about that. I don’t think the last word has been spoken yet. You know he always wants to do something different, wants to do something bigger, but I mean, the ring is just so classic. I think I would vote for a ring. I mean, I’m a man. I don’t know how I’d feel about a bracelet.”

Say Mark Cuban doesn’t get his players championship rings – what kind of “next level” thing could he get them instead? Tauntr has a few ideas, including the always-classy Championship Belt!

It’s kind of funny – in 2006, a leaked Dallas parade route seemed to turn the tide in a series that the Heat eventually won. Fast forward to this year and a team of superstars, who held a championship style parade before the season even started, fell apart when it mattered most.

Speaking of that collapse, the one guy who is hearing about it more than anyone this week is LeBron James – have you heard some of the jokes that are floating around about the way he played in the big series? Here’s one:

If you ask LeBron for a dollar, why does he only give you 75 cents? Because he has no fourth quarter!

This story right here takes the cake though:

The Peoria Chiefs of the Midwest League say they’ll be handing out replicas of James’ championship ring to all of their fans on Thursday night! The Class A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs will be handing out these replica “rings” on the same night they plan to honor the six NBA titles of the Chicago Bulls.

The team says its also seeking approval from the league to skip the fourth inning, because if LeBron didn’t have to show up, why should they?

What’s the best LeBron James joke you’ve heard this week?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

15 Minutes of Fame

Happy Monday!

Another week has come and gone in the wide world of sports – this week, the boys from “15 Minutes of Fame” are talking about the most memorable moments from the Stanley Cup Final, the latest on the situations in Winnipeg and Glendale, and some other notes from around the NHL. In the GABBYs: MMA debuts, the MLB draft, Tiger Woods, NCAA controversy and more!


See something you think should be a GABBY? You can get a hold of us on Twitter @15MinutesYEG, find us on Facebook or shoot us an email at 15MinutesYEG@gmail.com!

For last week's episode, click here. Thanks for watching!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Random Friday Thoughts: Arenas Tweets, Barkley Burns, Soccer Fail

Recipe for Tweet-saster

Gilbert Arenas is the latest professional athlete to be reprimanded for something he posted on his personal Twitter account.

The NBA fined the Orlando Magic point guard for a tweet this past week, though they weren’t specific about what it was that the controversial baller said or how much the fine was for. The Orlando Sentinel has a screen shot of Arenas’ page that shows one comment where he jokes about “direct sexting,” but the paper says the player has posted a “handful of politically incorrect and profane” tweets.

In response to the fine, Arenas was back on Twitter, saying if there’s a lockout the NBA might just forget about it and that “it all evens itself out” because he’s stealing cable from his neighbor!

After checking out some of his other tweets, I’ve got to say – this is an account worth following. Not only does he give a pair of shoes away each day, he is absolutely hilarious. On Thursday he was tweeting about a blind date he was on and even sent his followers a picture of the woman’s ugly shirt (“imma call PETA to come get you”)!

While the fine from the NBA stings, Arenas seems to be hurt more though by the fact that his account hasn’t been “verified” yet by Twitter:

Photobucket

Something tells me this won’t be Arenas’ first and only fine for social media slip-ups!

Can’t Stand the Heat

Former NBA player Charles Barkley is known for stirring the pot as a TV analyst, but it seems like he’s working overtime on that front these days…

Barkley has been all over the Miami Heat, who are now down 3-2 to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals after another fourth quarter collapse on Thursday night. Earlier this week, the TNT announcer said the Heat annoy him, after calling them a “whiny bunch” earlier in the playoffs. On Wednesday, he took aim at the fans, saying Miami has “the worst fans, no question.” He says it’s “not even loud” at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, which seemed to strike a chord with Heat fans – TNT had to move their pregame show from outside the arena to inside!

Speaking of Charles Barkley, he told reporters on Thursday that he’s thinking about playing left-handed at the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe in mid-July. The notoriously horrid golfer says “it can’t be worse” than his current set up…and if you think that’s an exaggeration, check out his swing:


If you’re wondering how he usually does at Lake Tahoe – he’s a perennial last-place finisher.

Friday Fail

There’s no better way to wrap up the week than to watch a whole bunch of people mess up a sure thing – so here is a video of some of the worst soccer misses of the 2010-11 season!


Wow.

Other stuff…

Allen Iverson says he wants another shot at the NBA…but is it too late?

Finally a Gretzky is drafted…

Could troubled former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor end up in the CFL?

Balsillie Back in Business?

Is Jim Balsillie’s dream of owning an NHL team back on track?

With reports of several teams staring down mounting piles of debt and at least one troubled club already heading back to a hockey-mad Canadian market, you have to think his number will come up eventually. Well, a Forbes magazine blog is dropping some hints that make it sound like it may come sooner rather than later!

Sports Money’s Mike Ozanian reported this week that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has told the Research In Motion co-CEO that if he “behaves himself and doesn’t create any more spectacles or bad publicity for the league, he will eventually get a team.” The NHL has denied that such a conversation took place, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t happen, of course.

Balsillie has tried three times to become the owner of an NHL team, but on each occasion he did something to make the league brass angry. The most high profile of those “spectacles” saw Balsillie try to circumvent league rules and buy the Phoenix Coyotes through a bankruptcy court, which of course ended in the NHL buying the team themselves. It’s now almost two years later and they still haven’t managed to sell the Coyotes.

The obvious first thought is that perhaps the NHL will consider selling the team to Balsillie, since they’ve been trying unsuccessfully since 2009 to find an owner. There have been three or four groups that looked poised to buy the club during that time, but none have managed to close the deal. Maybe it’s time to look Balsillie’s way on this one. How can you really stay mad at a guy that spends millions of dollars advertising with you each year?

The Coyotes aren’t the only option for Balsillie though, if he is still, in fact, interested in buying a team – the Columbus Blue Jackets are losing a lot of money, reports say the Florida Panthers are in financial trouble and the NY Islanders could even be in play at some point too. Islanders owner Charles Wang has been threatening to move the team for a while unless they get a new building and there’s a vote on a proposed rink and casino project on August 1st. If that deal falls through, the team will almost certainly pack up and move.

The big question when it comes to Balsillie though is this: Is relocation to Hamilton still the number one priority?

If the answer is yes, there will be some headaches along the way, not the least of which will be the opposition from the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres. On a positive note, having seen what happened in Winnipeg with season tickets a week ago (13,000 sold in next to no time), the NHL can probably assume that the same will happen in Hamilton.

Then again, if Balsille wants a team and isn’t too picky about where he moves it, there is a major thirst for NHL hockey in Quebec City, as well as a few US markets like Seattle or Portland.

What if he were to buy the Coyotes and give them five more years in Glendale before moving them to a brand new (paid for) rink in Quebec City?

What do you think: Will Jim Balsillie ever own an NHL team?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

NHL/MMA, NASCAR Scuffles, Pacquiao Rhode

Still Got It!

Former NHL enforcer Donald Brashear needed just 21 seconds to put his stamp on Canadian mixed martial arts this past weekend.

The 39-year-old made his debut for Ringside MMA in Quebec City and put an absolute hurting on his opponent, Mathieu Bergeron, who was also apparently a rookie. From the start of the fight, Brashear is on the attack, knocking Bergeron down almost instantly before pounding away from above until the ref decides to intervene.

The fight didn’t last long, but I think it cleared a few things up for those of us wondering what Brashear had to offer – it looks like the guy can still move, and it looks like he can still throw a mean punch. If a guy like Brashear is able to get a good position on you and has a chance to thump you with a couple of good shots while your guard is down, you might not pull through!


See what I mean?

Now that he has fought another newbie, I’m kind of interested to see how he might do against someone a little better! He says he doesn’t see himself getting into something like jiu-jitsu though, so I don’t see him going too far into this line of work. Still, it’s fun to see more and more athletes giving MMA a shot!

Busch League

Things got heated at the Kansas Speedway last weekend and tempers eventually boiled over into a good old fashioned donnybrook…but it’s probably not what you’re expecting!

During the cool-down lap following the trucks race, Kyle Busch gave Joey Coulter’s vehicle a little bump to let him know that he didn’t like something he did during the race. Well, Coulter drives for Richard Childress Racing and his boss was having none of that!

Reports say the 65-year-old Childress found Busch after the race, threw him in a headlock and started lowering the boom!

According to ESPN, post-race love taps aren’t out of the ordinary, but you’d have to think raging grandparents are! NASCAR announced a fine of $150,000 for Childress on Monday and they’ve said he has to stay far away from Busch for the rest of the year.

Is anyone else hoping for a Donald Brashear vs. Richard Childress match at the next Ringside MMA promotion?

Rhode to a big Pay Day

Since we’re on the topic of fighting, did you hear that Manny Pacquiao has been offered almost $65-million for a fight in Mexico next spring?

Carlos Slim, a Mexican telecommunications mogul, is putting up the money for the world’s top pound-for-pound fighter to take on rising star Saul Alvarez. Slim has dreams of watching a Pacquiao/Alvarez fight at Mexico City’s Aztec Stadium, which seats 95,000 people.

Well, the Daily Mail would like you to meet the man who stands in between Pacquiao and that major payday – 34-year-old Ryan Rhodes! The paper reports that Rhodes fancies his chances against Alvarez, who he will be fighting in his home city of Guadalajara a week from Saturday.

There’s not much going on in the world of boxing that the casual fan can get excited about, but maybe this is worth keeping an eye on!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Around the Rinks: Beantown Beat down – Big Hits & Finger Food

It was another day, another serving of controversy in the NHL on Monday night as the Stanley Cup Final between the Vancouver Canucks and the Boston Bruins took another interesting turn.

Game one gave us “The Bite,” in game two it was the guy who probably should have been suspended who scored the overtime winner and game three didn’t disappoint either! The 8-1 Bruins win seemed to have it all – great goaltending (at one end), big hits (including one that should merit a suspension), lots of goals (at the other end) and lots of bad blood.

Let’s start out with the hit that has everyone talking: Vancouver’s Aaron Rome will be speaking with the league on Tuesday after a dirty hit on Boston’s Nathan Horton at the five minute mark of the first period on Monday. Horton took an outlet pass from Zdeno Chara and skated through the neutral zone, dishing the puck to Milan Lucic down the left wing, before being absolutely demolished by Rome in the middle of the ice.

The Canucks defenseman is skating backwards until Horton passes the puck, which is when he decides to step up and put his shoulder right into the head of his opponent. Horton doesn’t have the puck, he doesn’t see him coming and it’s a completely predatory hit in my view.


After being stretchered off the ice, Horton was taken to a local hospital for observation, while Rome was given a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct. If the NHL is as serious about headshots as they still claim to be, they’ll take it a step further and give Rome some time off to think about what he did.

Let’s face it – Alex Burrows should have missed a game for that bite on Patrice Bergeron, so the league better do something this time around.

[UPDATE: The NHL has suspended Rome for four games for the hit, saying it was late, and it caused significant injury. Rome becomes the fifth player in NHL history to be suspended during the Stanley Cup Final. Good call by the league here - there's no way that Rome should play another minute this year. I would have liked to hear them mention that it was a headshot, and the type of hit they're trying to get out of the game, but four games pretty much says that I suppose.]

Speaking of the bite, did you see the Bruins players taking a page out of Maxim Lapierre's book and taunting the Canucks?

Mark Recchi was the first one to do it, targeting Lapierre himself with a couple of gloved fingers to the mouth. Later on the in the game, Milan Lucic got into it with Burrows and basically dared him to have a taste:


Never mind that stuff though – did you see the hit by Bruins goalie Tim Thomas on Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin in the third period? After a Boston giveaway the puck pops up in the air, Sedin goes to corral it and Thomas just steps right into him at the top of his crease. Amazingly, Sedin still manages to find a way to embellish his fall by throwing his legs up in the air like he’s trying to breakdance:


What a hit! As much as I like that hit though, I hate that goalies are allowed to get rough like that but players aren’t allowed to lay a finger on them at any time. Can you imagine the conversation we would be having if Henrik Sedin skated to the top of the crease and decked Tim Thomas?

What do you think: Should the NHL suspend Aaron Rome, and if so, for how long?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Kerrzy’s Notebook: 15 Minutes of Fame

Happy Monday!

The boys from “15 Minutes of Fame” are back at it this week with another great sports-filled episode – this week we’re talking about Brendan Shanahan’s new job, the latest on “That Winnipeg NHL Team,” possible landing spots for upcoming free agent Brad Richards, a big rookie mistake at the Indy500 and FIFA corruption!

In the GABBYs: U2 shout outs, first time faceoffs, Jose Bautista, baseball death threats, a bargaining chip for players unions & more!


See something you think should be a GABBY? You can get a hold of us on Twitter @15MinutesYEG, find us on Facebook or shoot us an email at 15MinutesYEG@gmail.com!

For last week's episode, click here. For the PODCAST version (which is our newest feature), click here.

Thanks for watching!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Random Friday Thoughts: NBA Lockout, Riders to Celtics, Real Life Hot Wheels

CBA for the NBA?

The NBA’s championship series is all tied up after a couple of games in Miami…and if you’re a basketball fan, you should be glad!

That’s because the NBA and the players union appear to be a trophy presentation away from a lockout that could end up eating up part, or all of the 2011-12 season. By the time the Heat/Mavericks series is all over, we’ll be just a week or two away from an expired collective bargaining agreement and what could be a long summer for sports fans.

League commissioner David Stern said this week that it’s going to be “a challenge” to get a new deal signed in time to avoid a lockout.

The situation is pretty similar to the one that the NHL had back in 2004-05 and the one that the NFL is experiencing right now: basically, the owners say they’re losing money and they want the players to take a big pay cut and the players are saying no!

Back when the NHL locked out its players, the union eventually took the big pay cut and they all moved on, but they did lose an entire season in the process. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the NFL lockout drag on for a while and maybe cost the league some games, and I can’t help but look at the NBA situation with the same type of pessimism.

Another interesting tidbit from this week was the commissioner saying that the Heat’s Big Three might only ever win one title together!

Stern says if a hard salary cap is brought in, the Heat might end up being forced to offload one of their prized possessions in order to get their finances in line. Sure, it all depends on what the cap is set at, but here’s an idea of how tough it’ll be: the combined salary of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh will be over $47.5-million next season, $52.1-million in 2012-13 and $56.67-million the year after!

Wouldn’t that be something if the Heat won the Larry O’Brien Trophy this year and then had to disband before next season?

Green & White

Whatever happens this summer, Matt O’Donnell will be pulling on a green and white jersey come the fall…

The Saskatchewan Roughriders selected the 6-foot-11, 340-pound offensive lineman from Queen’s University with the 15th pick at last month’s CFL Draft, but little did they know, they weren’t the only team with an eye on him.

O’Donnell also piqued the interest of the Boston Celtics!

That’s right, the basketball team was so impressed by his testing numbers at the CFL’s evaluation camp that they decided they wanted to give him a tryout, and he took it! O’Donnell apparently hasn’t played organized basketball since high school, but I’m sure he hoops in his spare time.

After a pre-draft workout on Wednesday, Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, called O’Donnell the “surprise of the workout.”

That’s pretty random, but I hope he makes the team!

Hot Wheels!

Back in April I presented you with this riddle: What weighs 3,500 pounds, happens 57 days before the Edmonton Indy and will probably be the coolest thing you’ve ever seen?

The answer involved a NASCAR-sized truck, a real-life Hot Wheels track and a potential world record, and it all finally came together last weekend at the Indy 500! Here it is, in all its glory:


Isn’t that awesome?

You know what isn’t awesome? Winning the Indy 500 and not having a job for the rest of the IndyCar season - just ask Dan Wheldon!

Shaq Retires

If you didn’t hear the news this week – Shaquille O’Neal is retiring from pro basketball after 19 seasons. Here’s a look at some of his best moments!


Other stuff…

A Louisiana man who’s “not really into sports games” wins a million dollars for pitching a perfect game in MLB 2K11…

Canadian singer Avril Lavigne performed at a Tampa Bay Rays game last weekend…and probably won’t be asked for an encore!

An LA Dodgers fan becomes the early front-runner for Father of the Year for a moment that was caught on camera this week…

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Around the Rinks: Canucks & Bruins – Biting and Diving

What a start to the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night in Vancouver!

The Canucks opening game win over the visiting Boston Bruins had a little bit of everything – enormous saves at both ends, some big hits, a few nice offensive displays and a lot of nastiness between two clubs that seemed to develop a hate for each other in a hurry. It wasn’t all good though – there was also a bit of controversy that is sure to spill over into today.

The big discussion in hockey circles at the moment revolves around an incident that happened at the end of the first period of game one involving Canucks forward Alex Burrows. He was mixing it up with Boston’s Patrice Bergeron along the boards, with a linesman trying to pry them apart, when Burrows appears to chomp down on the gloved finger of his opponent.

It’s at this point that Bergeron gets heated and even skates over to try and show the referee the bite mark. After the game, Burrows was asked about the incident and said “I think he had his finger in my mouth, but I don’t think I bit him.”

He’s not sure, but he doesn’t think he bit him. Well, I think a lot of us do think that’s what happened! You be the judge:


If the league feels like there is enough evidence there to determine that Burrows bit Bergeron, should there be some measure of supplementary discipline?

The last time it happened in the NHL we saw a two-game suspension for Jarkko Ruutu. I think Alex Burrows deserves a one-game ban in this case. There is absolutely no place for this type of stuff in the game of hockey, especially not at this level!

What do you think: Should Alex Burrows be suspended?

That’s not all folks – on Wednesday night we also saw the return of another pathetic trend that seems to be showing up far too often in the NHL these days, especially in this year’s playoffs.

Yes, I’m talking about the dive.

Now, I’m not trying to pick on the Canucks here, but Henrik Sedin was once again guilty of some serious embellishment in the second period of this game. In fact, his team has become known for it in the past few months.

In this incident, Andrew Ference gives Sedin a shot (after his brother Daniel hacks him in the back of the legs) and the Canucks captain goes down in a heap!


Sadly, that’s not the only example from these playoffs.

There was a brutal one from Patrick Kane in the first round, some serious embellishment on the part of PK Subban that had the Bruins riled up, Jerred Smithson was accused of pretending to be hit with a high stick, and who can forget Joe Thornton’s performance:


Why is this happening so often (and so blatantly) in the NHL these days? The league promised to take action against diving in early May, but that doesn’t seem to have stopped anyone from having a go!

To be fair, I have seen refs call a guy for diving. The problem is, more often than not they also call a penalty the other way to even it up! I’m sick of seeing refs call tripping and diving on the same play. It’s either one or the other!

What do you think: Is diving getting out of hand in the NHL?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Around the Rinks: Canucks vs. Bruins

The 2011 Stanley Cup Final begins tonight at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, signaling the beginning of the end of a long championship drought for one of the two participants.

The Presidents’ Trophy winning Canucks joined the NHL in 1970 and have never won a Cup, despite two other trips to the final. The Boston Bruins have been around much longer and have won five Stanley Cups, but the last one came in 1972 and they’ve come out on the losing end in their last five appearances in the final.

While you’d be silly to think that any of those stats will have any influence on this series, they do highlight the fact that a Stanley Cup will be a long time coming for whichever team ends up victorious.

So, who will it be?

As much as I hate to say it, the Vancouver Canucks are a dangerously good team at the moment – they’ve got a couple of really good scoring lines and a solid checking unit, their top defensive pairings have had a great postseason and Roberto Luongo has been stellar between the pipes. Their special teams are clicking, the bounces have started to go their way (see: Bieksa) and it almost seems like they are destined to win it all this year.

Then again, the Boston Bruins might have a thing or two to say about that.

The Bruins are a team that has relied on a deep and a balanced attack up front and relentless defense to get to where they are – David Krejci and Nathan Horton aren’t exactly the Sedin twins, but they’ve managed to get the job done so far. Tim Thomas has been just as dominant as Vancouver’s Luongo in these playoffs (they boast practically identical stats to this point), another big reason for Boston’s success. Zdeno Chara has been his usual steady self on the blue line for Boston, but one pleasant surprise for Bruins fans has been the play of Dennis Seidenberg, who has really stepped up his game. One thing that has hurt Boston is the team’s horrid power play since the regular season ended. The Bruins have gone a woeful 5-for-61 with the man advantage (8.2% compared to Vancouver’s 28.3%) through 18 games. If there is one thing that is going to kill them in this series, it is that stat right there.

My Prediction: While my gut instinct is to cave and pick the Canucks to win it all, I’m going to say the Bruins will come out on top in six games. It should be a very hard fought series, but I think if the Bruins come out and set the tone physically and are able to keep their foot on the gas, they’ll be able to overpower Vancouver. The key for Boston will be getting the power play working and, all the while, staying out of the box themselves. If they can get the Sedins off their game and get a player like Alex Burrows taking dumb penalties, the Bruins will be well on their way.