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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Round 1 Done, Round 2 Starts Tonight

The day after one of the most shocking upsets ever seen in the playoffs, people are still asking the same question. What in the world happened?

The Washington Capitals were the favorites of many to win the cup this season, unless your name is RJ Umberger. Something happened though that shocked everyone, including Alexander Ovechkin. The Caps ran into a wall named Jaroslav Halak. Let us not forget that the Washington Capitals had a 3-1 series lead before Montreal won three in a row to take the series. So, the Caps will have questions to answer in the off-season, and the Habs will live to fight another day.

On to my predictions for round 1. I have to admit it was a bit bold for me to say that Nashville would win their series against Chicago, but sure enough I paid for my boldness by getting that series wrong.

Eastern Conference

#1 Washington Capitals vs #8 Montreal Canadiens

SSH: "Capitals take series 4-0."

Reality: Montreal Wins Series 4-3.

Cut me some slack on this one. I am willing to bet that all of you said something similar, unless your a Habs fan.

#2 New Jersey Devils vs #7 Philadelphia Flyers

SSH: "Devils take series 4-0."

Reality: Philadelphia Wins Series 4-1.

This was another shocker in the first round. Hats off to Brian Boucher for coming out of no where and playing better then the quickly aging Martin Brodeur.

#3 Buffalo Sabres vs # 6 Boston Bruins

SSH: "Sabres take series 4-3."

Reality: Boston Wins Series 4-2.

Ryan Miller was not a happy camper after this one. I have a feeling he was banking on a long playoff run to erase the haunting memory of the Olympic finale. Sorry Ryan, now you have two bad experiences to dwell on in the summer.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Ottawa Senators

SSH: "Penguins take series 4-2."

Reality: Pittsburgh Wins Series 4-2.

I got one right! The Senators tried their best, and Pascal Leclaire came off the bench and played well, but the Pens were just too strong for the surprise team in the East.

Western Conference

#1 San Jose Sharks vs #8 Colorado Avalanche

SSH: "Sharks take series 4-2."

Reality: San Jose Wins Series 4-2.

Another correct answer for SSH, but it will be the last complete correct answer (team and # games) of the first round. This series was a crazy one that included a goal scored on San Jose by the Sharks own Dan Boyle. The Sharks prevailed but the Avalanche proved that they will be a dangerous team in the West for years to come.

#3 Vancouver Canucks vs #6 Los Angeles Kings

SSH: "Canucks take series 4-1."

Reality "Vancouver Wins Series 4-2."

The Sedin's, and former Panther Mikael Sammualson, handled the young and promising LA Kings with ease. Luongo played well, but never had to be spectacular in this series. The Kings go home with good feelings for the future.

#4 Phoenix Coyotes vs #5 Detroit Red Wings

SSH: "Red Wings take series 4-2."

Reality: Detroit Wins Series 4-3.

Phoenix tried with all their might, but come on, its the Red Wings. The end of game seven proved that hockey is just fine in Arizona as long as the Yotes keep winning. Hats off to the classy fans that stayed and saluted their team with a "Lets go Yotes!" chant.

So counting just the correct teams SSH went 4-4, .500 is not too shabby and I will take it.

Now let us wrap this up with predictions for round 2, which starts tonight at 9:00 PM eastern when the San Jose Sharks host the Detroit Red Wings in game 1.

Round 2 Predictions:

Western Conference

#5 Detroit Red Wings vs #1 San Jose Sharks

The Sharks make it out of round 1, only to run into the Red Wings. The Sharks will try their best, just as the Coyotes did before them, but come on, its the Red Wings.

Red Wings take series 4-2.

#3 Vancouver Canucks vs #2 Chicago Blackhawks

So maybe I shouldn't have went against the Blackhawks in round 1, but I am going to do it again in round 2. Roberto Luongo will have to be spectacular in this series, and I have a feeling he will be up to the challenge. The Hawks goaltending will fall apart in this series, leading to the end of the line for Chicago.

Canucks take series 4-1.

Eastern Conference

#8 Montreal Canadiens vs # 4 Pittsburgh Penguins

Halak will have to stand on his head again to give Montreal a chance in this series. You have to think though that Pittsburgh is ready for the Habs, and that Montreal may be just a little tired after the Washington series. Mix that together with the fact that Crosby is on fire and you will have the Penguins moving on to the Eastern Conference finals for the third straight year.

Penguins take series 4-3.

#7 Philadelphia Flyers vs #6 Boston Bruins

Out of all the match ups in round two this one is going to prove the hardest to predict. In the end though the more offensive team will win this series, making way for a pretty good Eastern finals match up between the Penguins and the Flyers.

Flyers take series 4-3.

If you have any comments or questions please post them on SSH's facebook page or send them to

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Panthers Pick 3rd

The Panthers are no better, or worse, one day after the NHL 2010 draft lottery. The Cats held their spot at 3rd, as did all other fourteen teams in the lottery. The top five shapes up like so:

5. New York Islanders
4. Columbus Blue Jackets
3. Florida Panthers
2. Boston Bruins
1. Edmonton Oilers

Brian Burke may not want to admit it, but you know he is kicking himself for that trade with the Bruins.

One other side note before we get started with the Western predictions. The Atlanta Thrashers have overhauled their front office and coaching staff. The reason I bring this up is because the Thrashers decided to hire former Cats GM Rick Dudley to fill the General Manager role. This is the biggest mistake the Thrashers could make. As all of us Panthers fans know, this guy is a poison to any organization he joins. I guess ATL will find out just how bad Dudley is soon enough.

Alright, now on to more important matters. Here are SSH's predictions for the 2010 Western Conference playoffs.

#1 San Jose Sharks vs #8 Colorado Avalanche

Former Panthers goalie Craig Anderson will get his first taste of the post season, and will have to be spectacular to get Colorado past a very powerful San Jose team. The Sharks will look for Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau to carry over their exceptional play into to post season. Colorado will try their best, but the overall team inexperience will catch up to them.

Sharks take series 4-2.

#2 Chicago Blackhawks vs #7 Nashville Predators

The Blackhawks are going to win the Stanley Cup, at least that's what EA Sports said after their NHL 10 simulation. We here at SSH's are going out on a limb and saying that goaltending will be the downfall of the Hawks, and that their downfall will come quickly.

Predators take series 4-3.

#3 Vancouver Canucks vs #6 Los Angeles Kings

The Kings have finally made it back to the post season, but sadly in the first round they run into a brick wall named Roberto Luongo. I expect Lu will be in full form as the Canucks handle the Kings with some ease, only dropping one game.

Canucks take series 4-1.

#4 Phoenix Coyotes vs #5 Detroit Red Wings

How can you not love the Phoenix Coyotes? A team that was almost moved before the start of this season not only stays in the desert after many months of court battles, but also becomes one of the dominant western conference teams. Sadly for the Coyotes, they get to go up against those pesky Red Wings that just seem to never go away. Phoenix will surprise the Wings and win both games in Phoenix, but the veterans will calm down and pick apart the Coyotes the next four.

Red Wings take series 4-2.

If you have any comments or questions, or want to share your predictions, please feel free to post them on SSH's facebook page or send them to

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Stanley Cup Playoffs - 2010

It is that time of year again, the Stanley Cup playoffs are here. What will this years playoffs bring compared to last years exciting showcase? Will we see a team come out of no where and go deep like the Carolina Hurricanes of last year? Will we see a rematch of Crosby vs Ovechkin, playoff style? Heck, will we see a third rematch for the Stanley Cup?

These questions, and more, will start to get some answers Wednesday when the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, face off against one of the surprise teams in the East, the Ottawa Senators. Puck drop is 7:00 PM East on CBC for Canadian viewers and Versus for us Americans.

Since the Florida Panthers are off playing golf we here at SSH will be following the playoffs in detail, so check back everyday for updates.

Starting off our playoff coverage will be my personal predictions for the first round. Feel free to voice your predictions as well on SSH's facebook page.

Eastern Conference

#1 Washington Capitals vs #8 Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens have to be a little angry since the Flyers knocked them out of 7th place, forcing them to play the high powered Washington offense. The strong goaltending tandem of Price and Halak will try their best, but they will be no match for Ovechkin and the Caps.

Capitals take series 4-0.

#2 New Jersey Devils vs #7 Philadelphia Flyers

Philly won an exciting game against the New York Rangers to make it to the post season, but with the lack of goaltending and Marty Brodeur on the other side, the Flyers will not last long in the post season.

Devils take series 4-0.

#3 Buffalo Sabres vs # 6 Boston Bruins

Ryan Miller was spectacular in the Olympics, so it is a no brainer to expect him to be spectacular in the playoffs. The Bruins will put up a solid fight, but it will be the Sabres who come out on top, because of the play of Ryan Miller and the inexperience of Tukka Rask.

Sabres take series 4-3.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Ottawa Senators

Crosby added a new aspect to his game this season, becoming a 50 goal scorer and winning the Richard with co-winner Steven Stamkos. The Senators are the surprise team in the East this year, so look for them to put up a fight. But, with the loss of Alex Kovalev and the inexperience of Brian Elliott the Senators playoff hopes will fade out in the first round.

Penguins take series 4-2.

Look for SSH's Western Conference playoff Predictions tomorrow. If you have any comments or questions please post them on SSH's facebook page or E-mail me at

Saturday, April 10, 2010

1st Annual SSH Awards

I will be the first to admit that the 2009-2010 season was one full of hope at the start, a little frustration in the middle, and a lot of disappointment at the end. There were so many dark spots this year that it is very hard to pick out the bright spots, but that is where I come in. For the sake of fun and entertainment I came up with a little award show for Sunshine State Hockey that honors just the Florida Panthers.

Lets begin.

The Scott Mellanby award (Team MVP) - Tomas Vokoun

What is there to say about Vokoun that hasn't been said already? The guy gave the Panthers a chance to win every night he played. T-Vo had some tough games this season, none tougher than the Phoenix game just a couple weeks ago, but most of the losses in his L column can hardly be blamed on him.

Sadly I have a feeling that the 2009-2010 season will be the last we see Tomas in a Panthers jersey. I think with all of the goaltending prospects being signed, and the strong play of Clemmensen at the end of the season, Vokoun will be shipped out for some much needed offensive help. Either way, I couldn't think of a player more deserving of the MVP award than Tomas.

The Branislav Mezei Award (Team LVP) - Kamil Kreps

What does LVP stand for you might ask? It's pretty simple actually. The Branislav Mezei award is awarded to the Panthers LEAST valuable player. I could not think of a more deserving candidate than Mr. Invisible himself, Kamil Kreps. The "Kreper" was hands down the worse player on the Florida Panthers roster this year. Heck, the guy hasn't been relevant since the 2007-2008 season.

It boggles the mind as to why Kreps is still on the Panthers and not in the KHL with the rest of the NHLs rejects.

The Pavel Bure Award (Best Forward) - Stephen Weiss

Weisser said that he was disappointed in his 14 goal season during the 2008-2009 campaign, and he said he was going to do something about it. Well, he sure did do something about it. Stephen has posted a career high 28 goals and is only two points away from tying his career high in points that he set a year ago. Weiss has been solid for the Panthers this year and provided much needed scoring with the absence of David Booth. With Booth hopefully healthy next year and Weiss putting up these kinds of numbers, the Panthers offense might just be okay.

The Robert Svehla Award (Best Defenseman) - Bryan McCabe

Caber did not put up a lot of goals this season, but he made up for that with solid D and a solid amount of assists. Bryan has also been a solid captain for the Cats this season, both on and off the ice. McCabe is a solid competitor and seems to be getting better with age.

The Kristian Huselius Award (Rookie of the Year) - Dmitry Kulikov

Kulikov came out of the gate weak in his first game against the Hurricanes, but after that the Russian born defenseman never looked back. Dmitry hardly made any mistakes after that game, but when he did they were not rookie mistakes, but rather the same that any veteran D-man would make. Not to mention he was pretty solid at recovering when these mistakes did happen. Kulikov put up fifteen points in a season where he missed a number of games due to injury. It will be interesting to see what he can do next year if he stays healthy.

The VanMurph Award (Fan of the Year) - Carl Kanas

Those around message boards involving the Panthers know him as CatFan927, but those closer to him, and who have the honor to call him a friend, know him as Carl. Mr. Kanas is at every Florida Panthers home game with his flags flying in the parking lot before every puck drop. Carl is as hardcore of a fan as they come, and has been following the Cats since 1993, and has managed to keep his spirits up even in the worst of times.

So Carl, here's to you buddy. As I said before, it is an honor to be your friend. You make going to the games that much more fun. Without you and the rest of the tailgate crew I am not sure if I would have survived this season.

That will be all for tonight. If you have any comments or questions you can send them to or post them on our facebook page.