NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs; The Final 4

stanley cup play-offs While the world teeters on the brink of collapse over whatever new plague, terrorist activity or whatever this is that the media is trying to get us all paranoid about, in North America it is time once again to focus on that all important playoff series that will eventually crown a new champion in the insanely popular US urban sport of pro basketball. But while that holds most of America's attention, in 4 select cities another sport is wrapping up it's truncated 96th season, the National Hockey League, the ultimate top level of competitiveness and paychecks for all men of generally either Canadian, Russian or Scandinavian descent. This season had its ups and downs. From the yet-again lock-out of players by owners that wiped out the first four months of hockey, taking with it the Heritage Classic, the NHL All-Star game and the opportunity for Don Cherry to wear 48 new eye-burning suits on Saturday night to the amazing winning streaks of the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penquins and the Anaheim Ducks, it was a season that actually is ending the way one expects most seasons to end; the last of the 30 teams left skating are all Stanley Cup winners from the last 4 years. And as the season was truncated, so too is this review of the Final 4;

In the Western Conference;

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Los Angeles Kings In this match-up you have last year's surprise champions, the LA Kings going up against the top team in the league this year, the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks are a fearsome winning machine, accumulating points in 24 straight games to start the year, not actually losing a game until Game 25. Their back up goalie won 16 games and lost only 1. They won the Cup in 2010 and by all accounts, this writer's favourite pick to win the Cup as I have mentioned a couple of times here. Yet, anything can happen in these playoffs and LA is one to pull off such an upset as was proven again and again and again last year. While LA is a predominantly one-horse team, it is quite a horse and it goes by the name of goalie Jonathon Quick. He was last year's playoff MVP and has a good chance to win it once again this year. As long as he saves every shot sent his way, while waiting for a teammate to score, LA always has a chance to win. He lets in goals about as often as one sees an eclipse or a good Lindsay Lohan movie. He is averaging a ridiculous 1.5 goals against average and stopping .948 % of the shots directed at him. Luckily, Chicago's goalie Corey Crawford is also posting similar numbers with 1.7 goals a game and .938 save %. It comes down to how long Los Angeles (Quick) will be able to withstand the assault of Chicago's scoring machine, who finished 2nd in the league in goals scored per game against an LA team that finished 10th in the league. The added bonus is that with games in LA and Chicago, celebrity cameos will be aplenty; David Beckham, Tom Cruise and Mathew Perry have already been seen in Los Angeles while Vince Vaughn represents Chicago. Star-sightings; Advantage, LA Winning; Advantage, Chicago
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Been there, done that but not too well. Continually financially restrained. Now (and still) lives in Western Canada and talks some hockey and parenting on and watching trailers on