Friday, April 20, 2012

NHL Update - Elimination Weekend and Award Finalists!

It's crunch time in the first round of the 2012 NHL Playoffs.  5 of the 8 series are now within 1 potential game of ending over the weekend including all 4 Western Conference series.  Meanwhile, in the East, three of the series have become a mini best of 3 series while my Pens are staying alive...barely.

Quick note:  Just realized back on March 4th, I made my NHL playoff predictions.  Got 6 of the 8 right in the East (easy) but totally failed on the 2 spots up for grabs.  I had Buffalo and Tampa but Florida and Washington really stepped up.  Stupid Ovechkin.  In the West I'm very pleased to announce that I nailed the final 3 spots with San Jose, LA, and Phoenix.  However, I picked San Jose to finish 3rd, I was wrong and now they are paying for it!


Philadelphia @ Pittsburgh 7:30pm on NBC Sports Network
- The Pens fought off a sweep to take this to a game 5 as every game is pure desperation.  C'MON, FORCE A GAME 6! #pensin7
Detroit @ Nashville 8pm on CNBC
- Nashville won both games in Detroit and can win this series on home ice tonight. Nashville is secretly an awesome place to be a hockey fan. The crowd will be going nuts.

San Jose @ St. Louis 7:30pm on CNBC
- Blues goalie Halak gets hurt but luckily they have Brian Elliot to come in and dominate. Sharks are done.
Chicago @ Phoenix 10pm on NBC Sports Network
- The first four games have gone to OT thanks to late heroics by Chicago because this should have been a sweep for the Yotes.  Potentially the game of the weekend!

Los Angeles @ Vancouver TBD
- Kings missed a chance to sweep at home.  Daniel Sedin is back for the Nucks.  There's life in Vancouver.  LA needs to seal the deal ASAP or this one gets scary.


Again, referencing my predictions here for the some of these awards I thought the Pens might get nominated.  Yes they have funny names but I think it's cool.  Each award has 3 finalists and the winner gets announced Wednesday, June 20, from Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas.  It will be televised on NBC Sports Network.  It's actually pretty funny to see who the celebrity presenters and performers are as well as hearing foreign players trying to speak English.  Headlining band this year you ask?  Nickelback! HEY-OO!

Calder Trophy Nominations:
C - Adam Henrique - New Jersey Devils
LW - Gabriel Landeskog - Colorado Avalanche
C - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Edmonton Oilers

Nugent- Hopkins and Landeskog both had 52 points to lead all rookies.  Henrique had 51.  But RNH played in 10-20 fewer games due to injuries so you'd like to think he would have scored nearly 70 points and if that was a case, this would be a no-brainer.  Unfortunately for RNH he did not and his Oilers finished 2nd to last in the West which will ultimately cost him the trophy.

Landeskog led his team in goals, game winning goals, +/-, and total shots. On top of that, his +/- was top 25 in the entire NHL and his goal scoring (22) was second among rookies.  He also helped a really bad Avalanche team from last season compete this season for a playoff spot up until the final week of the season.  This is his award to lose and I'd be shocked to see him not get it.

Henrique is a good option too as top center Travis Zajac went down early with an injury and the young kid stepped up centering studs Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuck.  The Devils after an embarrassing season last year bounced back this year to a #6 seed thanks in large part by Henrique's efforts.  He could easily finish 2nd in this race.

3rd - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
2nd - Adam Henrique
1st - Gabriel Landeskog