Stanley Cup Final Preview With Zachary DeVine

In this episode of the Podcast, Zachary Devine, Hockey Department Lead for  LastWordonSports jumps in the box to break down the Final matchup between the Sharks and Penguins. In this episode we explore

  • How the Sharks beat the Blues and the Penguins moved past the Loghtning
  • The outstanding play of two goalies making their first runs through the playoffs
  • The Sharks unstoppable power play
  • Forward depth of both squads as a key to the series
  •  How Peter DeBoer and Mike Sullivan turned their teams seasons around
  • Zachary’s insight into the one key to the series you overlooked

A great episode to get you fired up for what is sure to be a classic Stanley Cup Final, don’t miss it!!!

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Western Conference Finals Preview

Hello hockey fans, welcome to the blog! In this issue of the Vegas Hockey Podcast Blog, Tom and I look at the  Western Conference Finals, break them down, and pick the winners. After Mark went 10-2 through the first two rounds and Tom is sitting nicely at 7-5, you might want to listen to the show on iTunes before heading to the window to place your series wagers, that is, if you live in Nevada.

First up, we look at the Western Conference where the Anaheim Ducks take on the Chicago Blackhawks. This series looks to be a long, physical battle of attrition, especially if the Ducks are to prevail. We agree that if the Blackhawks are to advance to their third final in five years they will need to control tempo and keep the puck moving North and South, especially through the neutral zone.  If the ducks strong young defenseman can hold the blue line and make the Hawks dump and chase, that bodes well for the south landers. With home ice, they should be able to match up early in the series, and put heavy bodies on the Chicago forwards from the opening face off. Anaheim’s defense also chips in on the score sheet, tallying up 29 points in only 9 games played in this years playoffs. They sport solid +/- numbers, allowing only 2.00 goals against in the playoffs. Continuing with the stingy defensive scheme, the Ducks are killing penalties at an 87 percent clip.

The Blackhawks defense starts with Duncan Keith. Playing over thirty minutes a game, scoring at a point a game clip, both his post season goals were game winners. The first one coming in Game one against the Predators, the other in the series clincher. Also leading the team with a +10. He is having a Conn Smythe type playoff run. The rest of their D corps needs to step up now that Michael Rozsival is done for the season. Coach Q will have his hands full slotting defenseman in to replace his 17:26 of ice time after Keith. He might have to give Kimmo Timonen more ice time, something he has been very hesitant to do. Their 2.80 goals against In the playoffs is the worst of the remaining teams, and their penalty kill is an atrocious 72 percent. That alone could be their undoing against the Ducks if it isn’t fixed fast. Their overall +/- isn’t near what the Ducks are, with Oduya bottoming out at -5 and 6 other players under water. By contrast the Ducks only have 2 players under the even mark, with Matt Beleskey at -2 the low man. None of their defenseman are carrying a minus rating into this series. The Ducks defense carries a clear advantage.

Looking to the forwards, first glance would favor the Blackhawks. Elite level skill in Jonathon Toews, Patrick Kane, and Marian Hossa have carried this team to the Conference Finals for the third year in a row. Kane is leading the way with seven goals and thirteen points and Toews is right behind him with eleven points and seven assists. Patrick Sharp is also having a nice playoffs with four goals and five assists. Their power play is hitting at a nice 20 percent clip. They will have to shoulder the burden because after them and Duncan Keith’s points they drop off pretty quick. The Hawks only have seven  players with 5 or more points, while the Ducks have twelve. In fact of all the other forwards, only Brandon Saad has more than one goal, including Hossa, Brad Richards, and Kris Versteeg. More will be needed if they hope to match the Ducks.

On the Ducks side, the scoring comes from everywhere, averaging 3.89 goals a game, the highest left in the playoffs.   Their power play is hitting at a thirty one percent rate. Thirty one. Starting with Corey Perry, his fifteen points,(7G 8A), leads the playoffs. Getzlaf has twelve points, Jakob Silfverberg has eleven points, Ryan Kesler has nine, all at a point a game or higher. Their third and fourth line guys like Tim Jackman and Richard Rakell continue the hit parade that is started right at the top. Right now, the Ducks forward group is playing with chemistry that will be very hard to stop.

The goaltending in this series is difficult to judge. On the Blackhawks Corey Crawford is a Stanley Cup Champion goaltender. Hoever, he has only started six games in the playoffs while the “backup” Scott Darling has started four. Both goalies have been pulled during the playoffs. While Coach Q has settled on Crawford for right now, Darling has better numbers than him, sporting a 2.21 GAA to Crawfords 2.6 and a save percentage of .936 to Crawfords .916. The Conference Finals are not the time or place to be unsettled in goal. The other teams that were shuffling goalies like Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, are all off for the summer.

Frederick Andersen has played all nine games for the Ducks, and has looked very sharp. He is 8-1 with a stellar 1.96 GAA and a save percentage of .925. He has answered the question of wether he was ready for playoff hockey with flying colors.  I give the checkmark to the Ducks.

The coaching edge has to go to the Blackhawks. Coach Quenneville is a Champion twice over and has proven himself in the regular season and the playoffs time and time again. Coach Boudreau has proven his merit in the regular season with a Jack Adams and three Presidents Cups, but this will be his first trip out of the second round. This is the time to shed the regular season system tag. Show me don’t tell me Coach B.

When you look at this year only, the Ducks have been on a mission. They are playing a tighter defensive style than ever before, but have not struggled to find scoring all through the lineup, like their neighbors to the north,the Kings have. This year they make it back to the Finals, in six games.

Thanks for stopping by to share a few minutes with us. You can reach us at VegasHockeyPodcast@Yahoo.com with all your questions, complaints, and comments, we read them all so thanks for doing it !!!

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Second Round Playoff Preview

Hello hockey fans and welcome to the blog! This posting will serve as our usual “show “summary” post for our fourth episode of the podcast. After a very successful first round pair of previews and picks that saw Mark hit on six out of 8 and The Buffalo Kid nail it at a five and three pace, we look ahead to the second round with the hope our luck holds up.

Just to do a quick recap, The Kid had winners with the Rangers, Caps, Bolts, Wild and Flames and Marked flipped on the Senators at the last minute adding Les Habitants to the winner list on his side of the ledger.

We started the podcast looking at the Rangers and Capitals series. Buffalo had the hardest time with this one out of the four remaining series. Tom ultimately decided that Coach Trotz has the Caps finally playing playoff hockey. He noted that they only allowed the Isles 11 shots on goal in a dominating, shut down performance in their Game 7 victory. Mark goes the other way here, calling the goalie match up for he Rangers, and home ice carries New York into their second straight conference finals.

Next bouncing to the West we looked at the Anaheim Vs. Calgary series. Mark thinks that the Ducks are just too deep for the Flames to get past, despite their great young talent and speed. The Ducks defense corps is their deepest in years with Vatanen and Lindholm maturing into good solid two way defensemen. Tom agrees, and cites the depth and experience of the Ducks. Both take the Ducks.

Moving back to the East, Montreal Vs. Tampa both Tom and Mark end up Riding the Lightning. The season series was so lopsided, going 5-0-0 to Tampa Bay. Mark thinks Tampa Bay has been waiting for this matchup since being swept by the Canadiens last year, and will be playing angry. Tom calls the depth of Tampa Bay’s scoring to the fore, citing Tyler Johnson’s three two goal games against Detroit. If Montreal pays too much attention to Stamkos, there are others that can hurt them. Bishop being healthy, while not Carey Price, should be good enough.

Lastly, we head West for what might be the most fun series to watch, Minnesota and Chicago. Tom straight up calls out former Sabre Thomas Vanek to stand up and be counted. If he can regain his scoring touch, maybe the Wild can pull the upset. Mark loves the way the Wild have been playing for two straight months.,but also thinks the Hawks might have the pedigree to get past the Wild into another Conference Finals.

Who did we pick? You gotta go listen to the show to find out!

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Episode 3 Eastern Conference Preview

Hello hockey fans and welcome to the blog!  In this post, we will summarize our third episode where we break down the first round in the Eastern Conference. This is the second part of a two-part first round breakdown so let’s get to it !

We started this episode looking at the Rangers Vs. The Penguins.

In the first round Tom and I both think the Rangers will finish the Pens early. With the Pens defense decimated with injuries, the Rangers should have plenty of opportunities at the offensive end, and they can finish! In net… no real contest. Rangers sweep.

Next up was the Lightning and the Red Wings. Tom thinks the Tesla Coil at the arena in Tampa is the deciding factor here, as well as the unsettled state in the pipes for the Wings. Mark believes that hockey does work in Florida, and the Lightning will be wearing a chip on their shoulders in this years playoffs. Both pick Tampa.

Third in the East we looked at the Washington and New York Hockey Islanders. The second series we disagree on. Mark loves the defensive  corps on the Islanders with their experience and the mix of mobility and stay at home styles. Tom thinks Holtby and Ovechkin will carry the Caps.

Finally. What may be the most anticipated series in the first round, Montreal and Ottawa. Wow. The second of the all Canada playoff series here in the first round, the story lines are plentiful. The Canadiens sport the Vezina Trophy favorite Carey Price in net, while “The Hamburglar” holds down the crease for the Sens. Andrew Hammond was the hottest goalie down the stretch, going 20-1-2 since being called up. With Max Pacioretty and his 37 goals questionable for the series, Tom wonders where the scoring comes from for Le Habs. Mark thinks the youth of the Senators and the experience of the Habs should be a factor. Who did we pick? You’ll have to listen here www.Soundcloud.com/VegasHockeyPodcast to find out!!!

As always we love the feedback, so keep tweeting at us over @VegasHockeyPod and E-Mailing us at VegasHockeyPodcast@Yahoo.com We will answer all of your questions or comments ourselves so let them rip!!!