Prediction time again! After a not so impressive 2-2 in the second round I’m sitting at 9-3 in this years post season picks. We have a couple really intriguing match-ups in the Conference Finals lets get picking!
Vancouver Canucks (1) vs San Jose Sharks (2)
I don’t know if it could have worked out much better for the Canucks in this match-up. San Jose got taken to the limit and were quite fortunate to get a win over the Wings in 7 games, but it came at a cost as Ryan Clowe is clearly hurting and won’t have a ton of time to recover. Vancouver has been home and cooled for a few days now and is getting healthier with the exception of Manny Malholtra who the Canucks are going to dearly miss.
This series is one where you almost have to give the check mark to the Canucks in all three of goaltending, defense, and offense. I suspect the Sedin twins will finally break out this series as San Jose doesn’t really have the nasty shutdown defense that causes them trouble. Both teams will also be grateful that they don’t have to leave their time zone in this series which should help their travel schedules and make things easier for whoever comes out of this series.
I have a sneaking suspicion this one won’t be that close.
Vancouver in 5
Boston Bruins (3) vs Tampa Bay Lightning (5)
This one could be a lot of fun or it could be a tough series to watch loaded with defensive play. I choose to pick the first option for this one! Both teams have been resting up so neither side has an advantage in that regard. Boston killed a lot of Demons in their sweep of the Flyers, while the Lightning are proving how good they are in their total destruction of the Capitals in the second round. Both sides have to be feeling good going into the series.
I’m actually having a tough time handicapping the series but I will give Boston a slight edge in net, and a big edge on the defensive side as Chara will be a huge factor for the Bruins chances. Up front Tampa Bay clearly has more firepower than Boston, it will just come down to how well they can fight through the Bruins much stronger team defense.
It’s going to be a tough and long series!
Boston in 7
I wondered out loud last night about this and I will share it with you all to get your opinions.. Is the reason that most of the hockey teams in ‘non traditional hockey markets’ having financial trouble because they are competing with the NBA teams in the same market? If you looks at the teams that are doing better in the southern markets such as Anaheim, San Jose, Nashville, and Tampa Bay as opposed to Dallas, Phoenix, Atlanta, and Florida (Miami) you can see the cities I mention that are doing alright don’t have the direct competition from the NBA.
I tried putting it into perspective for myself. Take the City of Calgary. Well over a million people and the Flames and Stampeders do very well here, but do I think the NBA would survive here? No chance. It would likely do alright for the first few seasons as a novelty. And if the team had any success the fans would flock to the building. But if they ended up having struggles like the Toronto Raptors face I don’t believe the fans would pack the building.
The main reason is we don’t grow up with Basketball being a primary sport here. Sure some of us played in school and at the playgrounds but it doesn’t even come close to measuring up with hockey in our eyes. Do most of us know the rules? Yup. But do we know the fine details of the game? Not really. Is there a small following of hardcore basketball fans here? Of course there are. Is it enough to support a NBA franchise that is struggling? Probably not.
If the NBA were the only game in Calgary would fans go and support a team even in lean years? Absolutely! Fans would probably sell out the Saddledome because it’s the only game in town. Does this sound like some of the cities i previously mentioned that are having troubles with their NHL franchises?
The answer is becoming increasingly obvious when it comes to the location of NHL franchises in the USA. If it’s a non traditional market it can’t survive with direct competition from the NBA (or some college sports). I think this really needs to be a blue print for the NHL moving forward. A sun belt team can work but it can’t have direct competition for the entertainment dollar of local fans. Also as I’ve said before winning is not a business plan!
What are your thoughts?
Have a good one!
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About the Author
Written by Shane Hoopfer
Die hard Flames fan since 1980, and a closet baseball junkie. Also a big Dolphins, and Stampeders fan!