Welcome everyone to another blog, here on DOINOW.com. For the first time, Joe DiLeo & myself present to you “Point/Counterpoint”, where we discuss Rangers vs Penguins and the entire NHL playoffs.
For the younger generation, this is basically what people in my day called an “AOL IM chat.” This is basically a podcast in text form! On Monday evening, Joe & I discussed our teams in the Penguins & Rangers, respectively, our prediction for every series, the teams that didn’t make the playoffs & much more. I hope you enjoy this new idea to DOINOW.com! You can also leave your comments below.
On an aside, would anyone be interested in a Stanley Cup Bracket Contest? I’m sure I can get some good prizes to give away! Sound off below!
Enjoy our conversation.
Sean McCaffrey: When trying to come up with an idea for a DOINOW.com blog for the NHL playoffs, Joe came up with an idea that we preview the Rangers/Penguins series. As you know, I’m a diehard Rangers fan, where Joe is a diehard Penguins fan. When discussing sports and our teams with Joe, the one thing I like is that we are both realistic about our teams. For example, I don’t see the Yankees winning the World Series this year, just like how he doesn’t see his Jets winning the Super Bowl anytime soon. The purpose of this blog, is to go back and forth talking Rangers/Penguins and perhaps get into the other series. Who knows how long this Rangers/Penguins discussion will go, as I feel that Joe and I are in agreement that the Rangers are the favorite here.
Joe DiLeo: Yep. I already concede.
SM: Joe, how do the Penguins even have a chance of winning this series? Sell Penguin fans on how they even have a chance.
JD: The biggest thing the Pens have going for them is that St. Louis’ mom can’t die again. So there’s that.
SM: That joke, real classy, just like a Mets fan throwing beer at a Phillie!
JD: Outside of that, the Pens’ best player this year, start-to-finish, has been Marc-Andre Fluery. Despite his, shall we say struggles, in the postseason, he had the best season of his career and could maybe, possibly steal a game. Don’t get me started on the Mets crowd today. Heard all sorts of horror stories.
SM: And those stories weren’t even about the product on the field for once! We all know I’m a Cam Talbot guy, but I will take Hank on his worst day over Fluery on his best day, in the playoffs.
JD: That’s funny, because Fleury has a crown and “The King” is but a serf.
SM: You’re preaching to the choir on that one, although Fleury had better teams in front of him for most of his career, as compared to Lundqvist. Lundqvist, these last two years, hasn’t needed to be the guy to win the team a Cup. However, he needs to be that Hank of old to make sure it gets done this year.
JD: I’m not going to shit on Lundqvist, but he very obviously benefited from Tortarella’s scheme of having everybody including hot dog vendors sacrifice their bodies by knocking down pucks.
SM: And that strategy would backfire, as deeper the team got, as they were beat up or would get injured, like Ryan Callahan or Dan Girardi. AV has been a fresh shot in the arm for this team, and should win the Jack Adams award.
JD: Yeah, I’ve got no qualm with that. He’s deserving. Our coach, Mike Johnston, already deserves to be fired.
SM: For the first time in ever, I have never felt more confident about the Rangers beating the Penguins in a big game. And you could say the Penguins have two of the top 5 players in the whole league too, and I still think the Rangers sweep this series.
JD: You could say that, but it wouldn’t be true. Don’t get me wrong, the Pens needed a major retooling and they didn’t get it done. But when Letang went out with the concussion, we stopped even having a chance. We were only able to dress 5 defensemen the last week because we were hamstrung by the salary cap.
SM: Ugh, that dreaded salary cap! It’s amazing what teams are making but yet still have this firm cap that encourages free agency and for players to switch jerseys.
JD: Malkin has been hurt basically all season. And he continues to get hurt because he’s got to rush back. This team isn’t talented enough or deep enough to allow him proper time to heal. Supposedly, after the deadline, the Pens were within $2,000 of the cap infraction. Could you fucking imagine? And the league wouldn’t let us demote a guy who was injured so we could bring up a healthy d-man.
SM: As opposed to Lundqvist, who missed nearly 30 games, yet the Rangers became the hottest team in the NHL.I see another lockout/work stoppage after this contract is up. It’s truly inevitable.
JD: I’d be shocked if it doesn’t happen. The league is bragging left and right about all the money they’re making in TV deals and such.
And then they fuck with the integrity of the game by now allowing a team to have a full roster of healthy players.
SM: Remember being kids and just watching the games and enjoying our favorite team? The NHL, like all sports, has been negatively affected by money. I mean look at sites like Capgeek. We spend more time analyzing contracts and financials than actual play on the ice. All this Talbot/Lundqvist arguments I’ve previously had are all about Hank’s deal more than anything else too
JD: But it’s an argument worth having. I deal with it everyday from Mets fans. They want to see moves for the sake of moves and equate spending to wanting to win. But if there’s no money, you have to be smarter about how you spend and maybe play guys that you wouldn’t under normal circumstances.
SM: I wish they would get rid of the damn cap altogether, but that would probably mean league contraction, which is something the NHL doesn’t want either.
JD: The Pens are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They have some incredible players who are getting paid so they can keep their homegrown guys, but then can’t afford to supplement them with solid, depth players.
SM: How could Edmonton or Florida even exist if there wasn’t a cap? As a Giants fan, it’s tough to hear about the league making so much money, but having a firm cap that encourages league-wide parity, rich teams keeping the shitty teams afloat and teams being penalized for drafting smart.
JD: Oh it’s the worst. How bad is this? I’m almost hoping Kris Letang has to retire. Granted, he’s been absolutely brutalized by the stroke and concussions and I don’t want him to have to sacrifice his long-term well-being, but as a Penguins fan, him retiring clears us of that big contract.
SM: And that sums up the NHL in 2015. So oh yea, back to the topic at hand and the headline for this article. Rangers vs Penguins, what’s your prediction and what are you expecting/hope out of this?
JD: It’s been a horrible season for the Pens. I’ve been saying since Thanksgiving that between injuries, poor coaching and lack of talent that they’re a middling squad at best. Their one, real chance is Fleury. We’ve seen you can ride a hot goalie and maybe he’ll have his moment. Realistically, however, I can’t see the team even grabbing one game.
SM: That means a lot, coming from a diehard like you.
JD: They were just so, so bad the way they backed into the playoffs that I’ll be shocked if they make a series of it. Like, legitimately shit-my-pants type shocked.
SM: I hate to talk shit and be over-confident, but anything but the Cup this year for the Rangers would be a disappointment. I think a real key to this series is that the Rangers stay healthy as they advance.
JD: It fucking kills me because there’s no team I hate more than the Rangers. That’s because I grew up in Queens during the height of the Rangers-mania in the mid-90s. Yeah, Philly’s our chief rival, but I fucking disdain the Rangers. All my friends are Ranger fans. You’re gonna let me hear it when the series is over. I can’t just hide from you.
SM: The Rangers are 7-0-1 in last 8 vs Pittsburgh, the one shootout loss occurring after a Dan Boyle goal was overturned. What we’ve seen recently is Girardi & McDonagh locking Crosby & Malkin down and some great goaltending for the Rangers. The Rangers are the deeper team, even with the fourth line not being the same as last year. This year I will give you a pass, you have accepted your fate already. I remember watching last year with you and how after watching games 4,5,6 with me, you wouldn’t come over for game 7. I can remember that fury and rage you had leaving my house after game 6!
JD: Because, by that point, it was over. You can’t give away that lead and expect nothing but talent to get you through. This team doesn’t deal well with adversity. They got accustomed to the entitlement. And it’s bullshit.
SM: For the Rangers, the Pens aren’t on the top of the list, rival wise, but have become a fierce one in recent years due to Crosby and the Pens having the Rangers number. I guess that settles this, final prediction for the series?
JD: Final prediction: Pens get whitewashed and I ignore your calls for the summer.
SM: I’ll go Rangers in 4 and you talking non-stop Mets come next Wednesday.With both of us picking the Rangers to win this series, in east, let’s take a look around the rest of the league and the first round match-ups.Isles vs Caps?
JD: To me this is a tough series. I think the length of the season bogged down the Isles, but they’ll get a boost from being in the real show. But losing Hamonic hurts them. He’s a good player.
SM: I’m going with the Caps in 7. Caps have the better goaltending and I’ll take Ovi over Tavares any day of the week. Caps got hot at the right time where the Islanders are limping into the playoffs. When it’s all said and done, I wouldn’t bet my money on Halak having big time pressure cooker games.
JD: I’m going with the Isles. Sometimes, that lack of experience is a good thing and I think Tavares is unbelievable. So yeah, I’ll go with them.
SM: Rangers vs Isles in the second round, talk about an expensive ticket. Moving on, how about the Canadian battle of Montreal vs Ottawa? For me, that’s another series I can see going 7. Ottawa is hot as fuck right now, but I don’t see Montreal choking. Montreal will be eating burgers in 7.
JD: I like Montreal to win the East. Price is probably the MVP and I don’t see any reason for him to slow down. Habs in 5.
SM: Spoken, like a true Ranger hater! We’ll get to the Finals predictions soon! How about Detroit vs Tampa? Is there anyway Detroit can steal this series with their goaltending issues? I wouldn’t count Mike Babcock out, he’s a strong coach.
JD: Doesn’t it sound like Babcock has already accepted three other jobs? That’s gotta weigh on his team a little bit. Even if you don’t go out of your way to read stuff, you still hear it.
SM: That Buffalo job looks appealing…Imagine Buffalo next year with Kane healthy, McDavid and a ton of money for free agents?
JD: Unless they bring back Dominik Hasek and invent that Captain America Super Soldier syrum, it still won’t mean shit for another 2 years, though.
SM: Who knows, there’s always new teams making the playoffs every year. Safe to say you’re going with TB?
JD: But I never count out the Wings…because they’re the Wings. It’s like the Yankees. I look at their roster on paper and think they’re awful, but they’ll be somewhat relevant near the end. With that said, I’m taking my new hometown Lightning to advance in 7.
SM: I’ll go TB in 6. I will say, TB is the only team in these playoffs that scare me, Ranger-wise. They absolutely raped Lundqvist in three straight games. They have the ex-Rangers that know this team very well. They are more physical too. I think the Rangers get past the Pens in ease, maybe drop one or two to WSH or NYI, but if TBL is there for the ECF, the Rangers may hit a wall, if Hank plays the way he did against them in the regular season. Callahan looked like Federov against Lundqvist, it was scary.
JD: The thing is, you’re pot-committed on Hank. He’s not coming out unless he gets hurt again. You’re not in a situation like we were with Fleury the past two years where we had a shaky goalie who had a won a Cup, but hadn’t done much else. Hank hasn’t been that. If he turns into a pumpkin at midnight, you’re effed up the A without the KY.
SM: Maybe Tonya Harding helps Cam’s cause! (I expect a million hate tweets for that!)
JD: It’s not the best situation for anybody. If you ride the hot hand and Cam flops then you’re an idiot. If you roll Hank and he flops, you’re an idiot. No win situation unless you win it all.
SM: It’s time for Hank to shake off the Ewing reputation and be remembered as fondly as a 1994 Ranger this year, that’s for sure.
JD: Plus, we talked about this last night, the expectations are basically “Cup or Bust”. There’s no just “happy to be there” this season for you guys.
SM: 100% agree. How about the “Wild” West, pun intended. St Louis vs Minnesota?
JD: Oooooh! I see what you did there!
SM: This is why I get paid the big (none) bucks.
JD: That’s why more people need to share this blog so we can get sponsors.
SM: Maybe Talbot will break me a piece of his next contract, that should be for big money next year!
JD: I don’t see why not. Outside of his mom, who’s done more for him?
SM: Maybe his wife, I don’t know anymore, ever since the restraining order and all! (That’s a joke you twitter people that take everything seriously.) So yea, Blues vs Wild?
JD: Taking the Blues in 6. Like their overall makeup better. Simple.
SM: I think the Blues can sweep this, but maybe Dubnyk steals one. Blues in 5. Moving along, Nashville vs Chicago is the one series in the West that I will really have my eye on. Many people, myself included, are picking Chicago to win the West. If Chicago doesn’t handle Nashville, I think it’s Duck City. Patrick Kane will be back too, says the reports on the wire today.
JD: Yeah, it’s hard to pick against the Hawks. Nashville had a great year. I’d like to see them win just because I like seeing new teams, but how do you go against Toews in the playoffs?
SM: Chicago should’ve been in the Cup last year too. Talk about a franchise doing everything right these last several years. Nashville has been great all year, but just like if LA or Boston made it, Nashville had bad luck in drawing Chicago early. I think the Hawks win in 5, they are too disciplined and have been here before.
JD: Yeah. Just one of those things. Sucks for them. But should be fun to watch.
SM: I think this whole series determines who comes out of the West. How many games do you see it going?
JD: It’s funny. I can see both ends of it. Chicago goes in there and just blows the doors off or Nashville brings it and runs it to 7. Hoping for the latter, so let’s say 7.
SM: Ducks vs the Jets. Just like the NFL, do the Jets even have a chance?
SM: Ducks in 4?
JD: Ducks have already won.
SM: I wonder if we just Francesa “mushed” them here.
JD: Ha! I just think the Ducks realize it’s now or never. They’re a veteran team who’s supposed to have had another Cup or two by now.
Pens are largely in the same situation. At what point do you close the window and retool when it’s not working?
SM: That’s why I think if Chicago does lose to Nashville, the Ducks go to the Cup. The path seems easy without that roadblock for them.
Vancouver & Calgary rounds out the west. I could see this going either way really, but with the Sedins, a team that has had some playoff success, I think Vancouver beats a team that is just happy to have made the playoffs
JD: I actually like the Flames here. Youthful exuberance. They don’t know any better and it may be able to carry them through the first round. Flames in 6!
SM: A ballsy prediction! I’ll take the Canucks in 6. So, you said Montreal wins the East or are you just looking to break balls?
JD: Anybody but the fucking Rangers. For a while this season, I genuinely thought the Isles could do it. When they’re on, they just skate so well. They’ve lost a step, obviously, but I’m hoping to see them pick it back up. Price is the best goalie in the league and I don’t think the Rangers are infallible so I’m going with the best goalie. Montreal in the East.
SM: Well we know where I’m going, Rangers take the Prince of Wales again. By the time the Rangers face what looks like either TBL or Montreal, Hank should hopefully get into old form. I also see Montreal or TB’s path being tougher than the Rangers. Rangers should hopefully come in fresher than whoever they are playing. This Rangers team knows what’s on the line. So yea, Rangers win the east. Who do you like out of the west? To me it’s Chicago or Anaheim. Gotta go with Chicago, especially after their exit last year.
JD: Yeah, I’m in the same boat. Like I said, I want to see someone different, but with the Hawks getting the boost of Kane coming back, it’s hard to think they won’t be there at the end.
SM: So we both like an original 6 Stanley Cup Finals this year. We know I’m going with the Rangers to win it all, what’s your take?
JD: I’m going with the upset. Habs to win it all. I’ve been on a Montreal kick lately because I’ve been reading about them and they Expos, but like I said before: ride the best goalie.
SM: If Montreal did win it all, would it really be an upset? After all, like you said, they have the best goalie in the NHL.
You’re basically picking the two teams that could’ve been there last year.
JD: I think so. Everybody looks at the Hawks and Ducks like powerhouses. The Habs are lighter on star power in the lineup, but have a real team feel to the way they play.
SM: I think Habs fans would disagree with you, I was there this season for a Rangers/MTL game. They love that team and Max is a French-Canadian hero.
JD: Good…they can let me know on twitter @MaximusSexPower
SM: But we’re on record, you’re taking Montreal over Chicago, I’m taking Rangers over Chicago. Of course this means another mush and Chicago beats the Islanders, ugh!
JD: Yes. Now that we’re on file, the Lightning lose in 6 to the Predators.
SM: Before wrapping up this textual literature that should’ve been a podcast, let’s go around the league for a few words. We talked Buffalo briefly. How about a team that was actually trying to compete this year, the Toronto Maple Leafs? Can they make the playoffs this year and what do you think of the moves they made the day after the season ended?
JD: Man, it must suck to be a Leafs fan, eh? Jeez. Can they? I guess so. It doesn’t take much to just make the playoffs, but being an actual contender takes a lot more.
SM: Tell that to LA & Boston, it does take something to make the playoffs in their eyes. How about the Kings? Did you hear about the Kings players locking Sutter out of the locker room?
JD: I actually did not! I’m in the middle of what will turn out to be an 81 hour work week so my attention has kind of been streamlined to Pens and Mets, but that’s hilarious.
SM: I mean, how do you do that? Reports are that Sutter is a hardass, but are these player memories short? Is it the concussions? He got you 2 Cups, so whatever he’s doing is working. It’s like Scotty Bowman. Everyone hated him all year until the last day of the NHL season when his players are raising a Cup.
JD: Yeah, I know. And it’s not even like that was years ago. They just won LAST year. Insanity.
SM: I’m sure I speak for every non-LA fan right now – I’m so glad they aren’t in the tournament.
A team that may be on the rise next year could be the Florida Panthers. We’re both Jagr fans. He just re-signed there. He believes. You think Florida can make the playoffs next year? Do you even think there will be a team in Florida next year?
JD: I do. I don’t know how big of a role Jagr would have in it, but he’s amazing. What he does at his age keeping control in the corners and beating guys 20 years younger to loose pucks is ridiculous.As for the team, they’re going to have to move. I don’t see how they stay there much longer. No atmosphere, no fans. It’s just not going to work. Tampa works because it’s become an almost party atmosphere outside the Forum before and after games. It’s fun in Tampa.
SM: We’ve had these conversations before and I did a blog about it. If Jagr doesn’t miss those five years, we’re talking about the best player, statistically, ever, in the NHL. I was just hoping he would switch teams again, so those Jagr fans would have to add a new member to their tribe. Yea, they had the lowest attendance in the league. I think WNBA games outdrew the Panthers this year.
JD: I’d also like to state that despite how much I love Jagr, he’s still a money-grubbing fuck for signing with the Flyers when he came back from Russia.
SM: At least he never said, “I want to win a Cup at all costs.” Another team we should discuss are the Bruins. Is this just a bad year, riddled by old age and injury? Can the Bruins compete next year, or is it time to overhaul that roster a bit?
JD: Probably a little of both. What kills them is having given up on Tyler Seguin. But it’s not like that makes them exclusive. That would hurt anybody. But I think a good offseason can have them right back in the mix. It’s not like they’re SO old or SO past their prime. They just need some tinkering.
SM: I know I’m happy to see them out this year! Well this has gone on for an hour and a half real time, I think we hit it all. Any closing thoughts?
JD: Anybody reading this is a Ranger fan and wants me to be unhappy. So just read my Mets blogs please.