Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011
This year’s version of the Stanley Cup Playoffs has been the most exciting in years. The first round has not yet been completed. Many of our favourite teams are still hanging in there, some by mighty fine threads.
Latest results show that television ratings are through the roof, particularly because the two Canadian teams still in the hunt are in real dog fights.
The Habs are involved with their friends from Boston. The Big Bad Bruins of old are starting to bare their gums, and the Canadiens are ready for them. It has been a most entertaining series, back and forth.
Those of us in the Quinte area have a special interest in Montreal, because of a certain P. K. Subban. Subban spent his entire Ontario Hockey League career with the Belleville Bulls, and made believers out of many Bulls’ fans along the way. There are others who still have not been convinced about P. K.’s style of play. He has driven coaches mad with his free-wheeling ways. For the most part, however, he has learned enough about the game to qualify as a fine blue-liner for the Habs.
Prior to Game Six, he spoke with Sun Media about their prospects, and about the play of Habs’ goalie Carey Price: “He’s played so well for us. He’s been our best player every night.” Price, however, has lost seven straight playoff games at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Subban added, in reference to Tuesday’s game in Montreal; “We will get that win”. Perhaps a little more fuel for the Bruins!
But that is Pernell Karl’s style, and he isn’t about to change. “When my team has put me in that situation so many times, I know they need me to play that way. I know I have to bring it every night.”
Another local player has already wrapped up the first round of the playoffs. A very special win, at that. The Nashville Predators have won a playoff round for the first time in their history. Shane O’Brien has been a rock on defence for the Predators all year long. He toiled for the Canucks last season. He began his career with the Ducks, moved to Tampa Bay, then Vancouver.
A most affable guy off the ice, O’Brien spends his summers in the area, often working out with Brad Richardson, now with the Los Angeles Kings. O’Brien is a tough customer on the ice, and often comes under the scrutiny of Colin Campbell and the other league officials who determine right from wrong in the NHL. O’Brien has been asked to sit for a game or two during his career. He plays, as they say, “with an edge”. He is almost six feet, three inches tall, and tips the scales at more than 220 pounds, and has never shied away from the rough stuff.
In the current set of O Pee Chee hockey cards, there are fifteen cards of interest to local collectors. Dwayne Roloson, a former Belleville Bobcat, is pictured on card # 415. He is doing his best to keep Penguin pucks out of his Lightning net, with game seven slated for Wednesday night. If the Penguins advance, Matt Cooke, the Wellington Duke graduate on card # 227, will dress for the Pens, following his suspension.
Daniel Cleary is pictured on card # 471. He and his Wings have been resting following their first round success. It says here the Wings will be a force in the playoffs this year. Matt Beleskey, another former Bull on card # 451, has been getting plenty of ice time this year with the Ducks. He and his team mates are now on holidays, following their loss to the Predators.
The other game that will garner most of the nation’s attention will be the battle between the Chicago Black Hawks and the Vancouver Canucks. It has been a mystery, to be sure. Just when the Canucks had pretty well aced the Hawks with three straight wins, the Windy City boys have clawed their way back into the fray. The pundits have questioned the goaltending of Roberto Luongo. He has even been benched this series. Nerves are seriously frayed on the West Coast.
By the time you read this, the die will be cast. The winners will be moving on, the losers will be polishing their golf clubs.
This will all be settled some time in June.
April 26, 2011