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24 posts from May 2007

May 08, 2007

Wild Wild West

Detroit_2 Well, the Western Conference finals are now set, the Detroit Bertuzzis against Anaheim's still-pretty-mighty Ducks. Should be one heck of a series. Both teams are led by playoff battle-tested goalies, from 2003 playoff MVP Jean-Sebastien Giguere to All-World Cup champ Dominik Hasek.

Ducks_2 I think I'm picking Anaheim in this one, and that's good news for the Wings. I'm 0-2 picking against them this postseason. Guess the Wings are making up for all the times I picked them to win and they tanked in the first round. Payback, well, you know what that is.

Anyway, I'm picking against the Wings the rest of the way. If they win their fourth Cup since 1997, hope I have a spot reserved for me along the parade route.

-- Don't forget, your Florida Everblades kick off their conference finals tonight in Estero. Will be there on Thursday and give an update from across the River of Grass.

May 07, 2007

Game On

Wings_2 Ottawa The Eastern Conference finals have been set, and so to has the schedule. According to our friends at the NHL, Ottawa visits Buffalo on Thursday for Game 1. Awwwwww, riiiiiiight.

In the west, things still need to be decided. If Detroit wins tonight, the WCF open in Motown on Friday night with the Ducks migrating east. If San Jose forces a Game 7 tonight and then wins tomorrow, the Sharks visit Anaheim.

May 05, 2007

Party On, Excellent

WaynegarthThe good folks from the Estero/Naples/Fort Myers/Cape Coral area are going a little crazy these days, and can you blame them?

Yes, hockey is big on the west coast. And I ain't talking about Anaheim.

Friday night, the Pride of the West (AKA the Florida Everblades) got an overtime win against Texas and moved into the second round of the ECHL playoffs. The win was in Game 6, so the Blades (that's my own original nickname for them) get a little break before opening up against Dayton on Tuesday in Estero.

If the Blades win this series, they move on to the Kelly Cup Finals. Alaska and Idaho are playing for the National Conference championship. Blades

The Blades are an affiliate of the Panthers as well as Carolina, and last played in the Kelly Cup Finals in 2005. I was actually in the area at that time and people were genuinely fired up about the proceedings. And why not? Playoff hockey is playoff hockey. I may try and get over there for Game 2 Thursday night. Heck, the drive from Sunrise to Estero is just over an hour. Not too bad. Plus, they have a Nike store at the adjacent outlet mall. So they have that going for them, which is nice. (Yes, I know they have a Nike store at Sawgrass too. But it's nice to have some variety every once in a while.)

-- In case you missed it, the Blades are the only Florida professional winter team still playing in the postseason. The others -- Heat, Magic, Lightning -- have all been bounced.

Killercarlson -- The Blades are being led in net by Craig "Killer" Kowalski who has played in eight of Florida's nine postseason games. Panthers prospect David Shantz has played in one game. Kowalski has been killer in this postseason, with a save percentage of almost 94 percent. Kowalski, 26, is a Carolina prospect who has much more experience than Shantz. Kowalski, a graduate of Northern Michigan, is in his fourth pro season.

Panthers prospect Dustin Johner is second on the Blades in scoring this postseason, netting three goals with six assists.

-- To keep up with your Everblades, visit the official website here: DA BLADEZ


Don't Call it a Comeback

BritUnlike Ms. Spears to my left, I am not trying to make any sort of comeback. Sure, there hasn't been a blog posting in almost a week, and hasn't truly been a good one since the Rochester/JM watching Family Guy blog from way back on April 25.

Some of my most loyal readers have complained via e-mail, and some even found out my cellphone number and decided to voice their complaints. Which is fine. I have a lot of rollover minutes.

So, pray tell, what has your friendly neighborhood sports writer been up to these days? Asides from playing more than a few rounds of golf, I've been out covering things like UM baseball, a Heat playoff game, the Marlins (ran into old pals Jay Bouwmeester, Chris Gratton and Austin Guhl at Friday's game at Joe Robbie Stadium. Mike Russo was hanging out in the press box as well. It was like hockey season never ended.)

Have also spent plenty of time watching these hockey playoffs. While I enjoyed the action in the opening round a little more, this semifinal round has been pretty good as well. Got to like the way Anaheim played in their semifinal meeting with the Luongos, once more proving that Vancouver was a Luongo injury away from a long offseason. They need to get some offense help, soon.

How bad was Vancouver's performance in an eventual Game 5 loss? "There wouldn't have been a game tonight if it wasn't for Roberto," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault told The Vancouver Province. Read the rest of Ed Willes' story here: ROBERTO HOME ALONE 

Also liking Ottawa right now. Officially picked Jersey in the paper, but had plans to change it to Ottawa and simply forgot. That's what I get for filing stuff early instead of waiting until the last minute. Like usual.

Davejoseph_2 -- Speaking of Russo, glad to hear the Panthers have officially hired local journalist and general cool guy Dave Joseph to run their online interests and also write for their various magazines. Finally, some horse racing news in Unrestricted! Good luck to Dave not only on the new gig but hoping he and Mike Phillips cash some serious tickets at the Kentucky Derby today.

-- Plantation Scott sent out his take on a previous note. If you recall, I counted 11 members of the Panthers (now 12, read below) from the past two seasons who made it to the postseason this year. Well Scottie took the time to look up ALL the former Panthers who made it to the playoffs this year.

PS: Good job as always Scott. And I didn't count Eric Cairns because he only played in one game for the Pens this season. But since he was technically a scratch, I should have. So that's 12.

The additional Panthers are: Andreas "Peter Worrell" Lilja (Det); Jaroslav Spacek (Buf); Matt Cullen (NYR); Martin Straka (NYR); Kevin Weekes (NYR); Rob Niedermayer (Ana); Viktor Kozlov (NYI); Mike Sillinger (NYI); Scott Mellanby (Atl); Dan Boyle (TBay); Vinny Prospal (TBay); Filip Kuba (TBay); Darcy Hordichuk (Nash); Marcus Nilson (Cal); Byron Ritchie (Cal); Rhett Warrener (Cal); Mark Parrish (Dal); Stu Barnes (Dal).