I've been slacking on my sports posts, but I'm a big NHL guy. Have loved hockey since I was a young kid checking my brother in to the glass sliding door of our basement, and will be doing a daily blog about each night's game throughout the playoffs. Will try to do the same for basketball too, but not tonight cus it's the Flyers game, whoops.
Anyway, here are tonight's games and predictions:
Game 1 (and only): Rangers vs. Flyers - Line (Flyers -105)
I won't even try to claim an unbiased look at this game, so Rangers fans can go fuck off. But as a Philly fan, I have to say, I'm nervous. I'm nervous about this game a little, and I'm nervous about this series a lot. I do think we'll pull through tonight, I think it will be a surprisingly easy win because that's what this team has seemingly done all year, just when they look straight up out of it they somehow rattle off big W's. Having said that, I'm not going to try and argue that we haven't been outplayed. We have. Outplayed and out-coached. Craig Berube needs to figure out a way to get Claude Giroux loose to close out this series if the Flyers have any chance of winning the next two games. The Rangers have been absolutely smothering him, checking him on every offensive possession whether he's on the puck or not, somebody constantly harassing him through mid ice, it's been a nightmare for Giroux and the numbers show it.
The rest of the team has stepped up here and there, but there clearly isn't enough firepower on this team to win if G stays in containment. New York clearly has a talented squad with Richards and Nash playing solid hockey to lead the squad, not to mention St. Louis seems to live for the playoffs. As I said, the defense, anchored by Girardi and McDonagh, has been on point, and the scrappy play of Zuccarello and Moore has produced a scoring presence for them even when the top line isn't on the ice. I'd say the goaltending has been about even, with Hank having a few letdown games so far and the Mason/Ward combo actually coming up with a couple surprising shutdowns, so no advantage there for either side, but on paper you always have to give Lundqvist the nod.
If guys like Hartnell, Simmonds, and Lecavelier can step up and start scoring like they did during the regular season when called upon, then the Flyers can steal a game tonight. But the series really does hinge on Claude Giroux's ability to find away to evade the pressure he's under and start producing. Plain and simple. This series has to go back to New York for game 7 to give the Fly Guys a shot, which is harrowing given our recent history in MSG, and even more harrowing if the captain can't find his way on the score sheet.
But tonight, it's Flyers all the way. Home game, elimination game, I mean if a team can't win under these conditions then they don't deserve to go on.
Pick: Flyers -105
P.S. We need this tonight. This is what I'm talking about from G, show this to the Rangers. Fuck Crosby.