The WAIT, Is OVER!!!!

To the streets Washington, it’s time to celebrate!!

The Washington Capitals and their fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief — and rejoice.

After 43 looong years of pain, anguish, heartache, blood, sweat, and tears (oh the tears), the Washington Capitals are Stanley Cup champions (4-3). Capitals’ fans could be heard, seemingly everywhere, chanting, “We got the cup!” and “Ovi! Ovi!”.

Although the Capitals won four consecutive games to close out the Stanley Cup Finals, this series was a battle of attrition. After eleven lead changes, and two one-goal victories, the Capitals proved too much for the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Capitals’ goaltender, Braden Holtby, outplayed his counterpart Marc-Andre Fleury. While Fleury was the primary reason for the Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup Finals appearance in their inaugural season, he would let up the final, decisive goal with 7:37 left to play. A goal that squeaked through Fleury’s legs, only to be slammed home by Lars Eller.

And then, there’s “Ovi”….

2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five

Alexander Ovechkin’s impressive career is now a complete career. In his 13th season, and 10th playoff appearance, Alexander Ovechkin can now add Stanley Cup champion to his surname. Ovechkin’s 668th career goal would be a 2nd period, power-play goal. It was his 15th goal and 27th point of the playoffs, earning him the Conn Smythe Award (Playoff MVP).

I think it’s safe to say there’s plenty of vodka being passed around Ovechkin’s home-town; Moscow, Russia.

vodka

Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and Capitals’ fans everywhere, it’s time to celebrate (when the hangover subsides). While there is no official date for the Capitals’ parade, owner Ted Leonsis, is already expecting “a parade bigger than people expect”.

Oh boy!

Well, I guess there are worse things roaming the streets of Washington D.C. than hundreds of thousands of drunk, hockey fans….

 

Are you happy the Washington Capitals broke their 43 year championship drought?? Express your feelings in the comment section below.

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NHL Playoff 1st Round Predictions (better late than never)

I think I’m coming down with a fever, and no I’m not sick. I have that playoff hockey fever thats going around. After a lockout shortened season, the playoffs have finally arrived, and I for one am excited. If you want to gear up for the NHL playoffs too, you are going to need to know when the games are. Here is a quick look at the schedule:

First Round

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1 Chicago BLACKHAWKS
8 Minnesota WILD

Game 1: at CHI, Tue., April 30, 8 p.m., NBCSN, CBC
Game 2: at CHI, Fri., May 3, 9:30 p.m., NBCSN, CBC
Game 3: at MIN, Sun., May 5, 3 p.m., NBC, CBC
Game 4: at MIN, Tue., May 7, 9:30 p.m., NBCSN, CBC
Game 5: at CHI, Thu., May 9, TBD, CBC*
Game 6: at MIN, Sat., May 11, TBD, CBC*
Game 7: at CHI, Sun., May 12, TBD, CBC*

2 Anaheim DUCKS
7 Detroit RED WINGS

Game 1: at ANA, Tue., April 30, 10:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 2: at ANA, Thu., May 2, 10 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 3: at DET, Sat., May 4, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 4: at DET, Mon., May 6, 8 p.m., CNBC, TSN
Game 5: at ANA, Wed., May 8, 10 p.m., TSN*
Game 6: at DET, Fri., May 10 TBD, TSN*
Game 7: at ANA, Sun., May 12, TBD, TSN*

3 Vancouver CANUCKS
6 San Jose SHARKS

Game 1: at VAN, Wed., May 1, 10:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 2: at VAN, Fri., May 3, 10 p.m., CNBC, TSN
Game 3: at SJ, Sun., May 5, 10 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 4: at SJ, Tue., May 7, 10 p.m., CNBC, TSN
Game 5: at VAN, Thu., May 9, 10 p.m., TSN*
Game 6: at SJ, Sat., May 11, TBD, TSN*
Game 7: at VAN, Mon., May 13, TBD, TSN*

4 Saint Louis BLUES
5 Los Angeles KINGS

Game 1: at STL, Tue., April 30, 8 p.m., CNBC, CBC
Game 2: at STL, Thu., May 2, 9:30 p.m., CNBC, CBC
Game 3: at LA, Sat., May 4, 10 p.m., NBCSN, CBC
Game 4: at LA, Mon., May 6, 10 p.m., NBCSN, CBC
Game 5: at STL, Wed., May 8, TBD, CBC*
Game 6: at LA, Fri., May 10, TBD, CBC*
Game 7: at STL, Mon., May 13, TBD, CBC*

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1 Pittsburgh PENGUINS
8 New York ISLANDERS

Game 1: at PIT, Wed., May 1, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 2: at PIT, Fri., May 3, 7 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 3: at NY, Sun., May 5, 12 p.m., NBC, TSN
Game 4: at NY, Tue., May 7, 7 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 5: at PIT, Thu., May 9, 7 p.m., TSN*
Game 6: at NY, Sat., May 11, TBD, TSN*
Game 7: at PIT, Sun., May 12, TBD, TSN*

2 Montreal CANADIENS
7 Ottawa SENATORS

Game 1: at MON, Thu., May 2, 7 p.m., CNBC, CBC, RDS
Game 2: at MON, Fri., May 3, 7 p.m., CNBC. CBC, RDS
Game 3: at OTT, Sun., May 5, 7 p.m., NBCSN, CBC, RDS
Game 4: at OTT, Tue., May 7, 7 p.m., CNBC, CBC, RDS
Game 5: at MON, Thu., May 9, 7 p.m., CBC, RDS*
Game 6: at OTT, Sat., May 11, TBD, CBC, RDS*
Game 7: at MON, Sun., May 12, TBD, CBC, RDS*

3 Washington CAPITALS
6 New York RANGERS

Game 1: at WAS, Thu., May 2, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 2: at WAS, Sat., May 4, 12:30 p.m., NBC, TSN
Game 3: at NY, Mon., May 6, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 4: at NY, Wed., May 8, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, TSN
Game 5: at WAS, Fri., May 10, 7:30 p.m., TSN*
Game 6: at NY, Sun., May 12, TBD, TSN*
Game 7: at WAS, Mon., May 13, TBD, TSN*

4 Boston BRUINS
5 Toronto MAPLE LEAFS

Game 1: at BOS, Wed., May 1, 7 p.m., CNBC, CBC, RDS
Game 2: at BOS, Sat., May 4, 7 p.m., CNBC, CBC, RDS
Game 3: at TOR, Mon., May 6, 7 p.m., NHLN, CBC, RDS
Game 4: at TOR, Wed., May 8, 7 p.m., NHLN, CBC, RDS
Game 5: at BOS, Fri., May 10, 7 p.m. CBC, RDS*
Game 6: at TOR, Sun., May 12, CBC, RDS*
Game 7: at BOS, Mon., May 13, CBC, RDS*

*If Necessary

Now that you know the schedule and the matchups, let’s breakdown each series and predict the winners. I’m going to start in the Western Conference. Why the Chicago Blackhawks are in the Western Conference I’ll never know, but they are, and they are clearly the best team in the NHL. You might remember them from their record breaking “winning” streak earlier in the season. They will handle the Minnesota Wild without a hiccup in the first round (4-0). As for the Anaheim Ducks vs. the Detroit Red Wings, I think we are going to hop in my time machine and go back about 10 years (ya know when the Red Wings were the best hockey team in the world). I see the Red Wings defense stifling the Ducks and winning a highly competitive series in 7 games. On we move to the Vancouver Canucks vs. the San Jose Sharks. This series is going to be a low scoring defensive affair. San Jose has the better defense, and they won the regular season series with the Canucks 3 games to none. Look for San Jose to continue their success and win this series in 6 games. Ah yes, the oh so difficult to predict 4 vs. 5 matchup. This year in the West we have the St. Louis Blues taking on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. The kings swept the regular season series against the Blues(3-0). I think that the Kings will carry the momentum of their solid play late in the season to advance to the 2nd round. It should take 6 games for the Kings to oust the Blues.

Let’s take a road trip back to the East coast and take a look at the Eastern Conference matchups. The first look we will take is at the top seeded Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the 8th seeded New York Islanders. Now I am an Islander fan, but even I can be objective; sometimes. The only way the Islanders remotely have a chance to win this series is if Sidney Crosby doesn’t play, and they beat up half of the Penguins starting line. Otherwise, they have little to no chance of advancing. I do believe that Sid the Kid is going to sit this round out, however it won’t be enough for the Islanders to move on. While the world will learn just how talented John Taveres is this week, he won’t be able to take the Penguinos down singlehandedly. Look for my Islanders to hang tough and lose this series in 6 HARD FOUGHT games. Lets Go Islanders!! (objectivity shmobjectivity). The second seeded Montrael Canadiens should handle the anemic offense of the Ottawa Senators in 5 games. Don’t look for any miracles in that series. I know I know, you want to see some upsets in the East too. Don’t worry they’re coming up right now. Let me preface this next series preview by saying that I strongly dislike the New York Rangers. However, they will take down the Washington Capitals in 6 games. You heard it here first. Lastly, the 4 vs. 5 matchup in the East should be equally as exciting as the 4/5 matchup in the West. All I have to say is, “Boston Strong Baby!” The Boston Bruins will do away with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 7 tough games.

Check back for 2nd round previews and predictions. Enjoy the NHL playoffs everyone!!

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

You gotta fight..for your right..to fiiiiggghht!!(Thanks Beastie Boys)

Hey hockey fans don’t worry, I didn’t forget about you. Everyone I talk to is excited to have hockey back, and I don’t blame them. The Chicago Blackhawks have started out on fire winning 10 out of their first 13 games, as they are still the only undefeated team in regulation left in the NHL. The New Jersey Devils have also gotten off to a nice start this season as they head up the Eastern Conference. And as usual, My Islanders are hanging out in the bottom of the barrel(there’s always next year). On a serious note, Islanders fans may have something to get excited about. They will be moving to Brooklyn after the 2014-2015 season. This move should give the New York franchise a badly needed fresh start. The Nets of the NBA can tell them how nice it is to call Brooklyn home. Personally, I haven’t been to The Barclays Center, but everyone can’t get over the awesome atmosphere inside the arena. This move should also help attract talented free agents. Another headline early on in the season is the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings getting off to an extremely slow start. They have played 8 of their first 11 games on the road, so they shouldn’t be as worried as their fans are.

The story grabbing all the headlines so far in the NHL is the same issue plaguing the NFL. Of course I am talking about player safety. Hockey like football is a very physical sport, however hockey is not a violent sport by nature. Some of you, if you could see me, would probably be looking at me like I have 4 heads. Hear me out now. Fighting in hockey is a tradition. It is as much a part of the game as line changes or shoot outs. Let me be the first to say that I would stop watching hockey entirely if they banned fighting. Fighting in hockey serves a purpose. It’s not just there for the sheer entertainment of the fans(even though it is a huge part of the attraction for casual hockey fans). See, it’s kind of like a retaliation pitch in baseball. When a baseball player shows up an opposing team or player, they get thrown at in their next at bat. When done respectfully and not done out of anger, it accomplishes something important. It’s the same in hockey. This tactic is used when an opposing player does something uncalled for or out of line(in layman’s terms: when you do something dumb you get punched). This solves problems quickly, and it can be part of a teams strategy. Fighters and instigators also have their own place on NHL rosters. A fighting ban would certainly put some NHL players out of work. These guys simply make a living playing that role. It is the same as a defender or rebounder in the NBA who lacks offensive skills. A prime example is Dennis Rodman. He played to his strengths and filled an important role for his team. There are guys just like that in the NHL. Their only role is to rough people up, retaliate, or instigate. To take fighting out of hockey would be like taking charges out of basketball, it would change the culture of the sport.

When NHL players were asked about this issue, 97% of them said they’re against banning fighting. That is an astonishingly high number! I also guarantee you that if you polled hockey fans, at least 95% of them would want to keep fighting in hockey as well. I understand that player safety is a real issue that every sport should take seriously, but this is not the right issue to take a stand.

I am also a contributing author @ intheneutralzone.com. If you enjoy my writing, please check out more of my work there.