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Bombers Blog: Stanley Cup Finals

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Bill Lindsay
Former Panthers forward and current radio analyst Bill Lindsay will be blogging on on anything that crosses his mind.

Lindsay who spent seven seasons (1993-2002) with the Cats and played in 506 games and collected 165 points is now a radio analyst on 790 The Ticket.

Lindsay will always be remembered in Cats history for his series-clinching goal in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Boston Bruins in the '96 playoffs.

05/22/08 11:16 AM :::: The Stanley Cup Finals

The Stanley Cup is finally ready to begin as Pittsburgh and Detroit get set to faceoff in what could be one of the best finals we have seen in quite some time.

I am hoping it will be an epic final as the playoffs up to this point have been pretty predictable. I can not recall in recent memory two teams have a more dominating march to the finals. This is suppose to be one of the toughest test in sports, yet the Wings and Penguins have made it look more like a cake walk. These two teams have been on a collision course, and now hopefully we will get to see some exciting hockey. 
This should be a great showcase for the NHL, as the games best will be competing on the highest stage. You know Gary Bettman had all his fingers and toes crossed praying for Pittsburgh to get to the finals. Sid the kid, Malkin, Hossa; these are the players the NHL wants in the spotlight. Could you imagine if a team like New Jersey would have been in the Cup finals? The trapping defensive style will not be showcased in these finals as there should be plenty of offense from both sides.

This series has the possibilities to be some of the greatest hockey since the mid-eighties, when Gretzky was in his prime.
Pittsburgh has not had to handle any adversity so far through the playoffs and it is a bit concerning. Usually when teams reach this point they are battle tested and ready for war. The playoffs for the Penguins has been more like pre-season. This all could be a problem against the Wings as they will give Pittsburgh all kinds of problems. It will be interesting to see how the Penguins react when they are down in games, or even down in the series. They are a young team with not a lot of playoff experience. Their character is going to be tested. Detroit was the top defensive team all year, and Pittsburgh will need all their guns blazing to win the Cup.
Detroit on the other hand is a team with a lot of veteran leadership and has many guys with Stanley Cup Rings. The big question mark for me with the Wings is their goaltending, will Osgood be able to shut down the Penguins? His numbers are great, but that’s because he only has to stop 20 shots a game. The Penguins should be able to produce around 30 shots every game. I don’t believe Osgood is an elite goalie, and I look for him to be exposed at times during this series.
This should be a hard fought, long series with lots of goals, and plenty of excitement. I like the Penguins with their youthful exuberance and firepower, but I love the fact that Detroit has a lot of guys who have been down this road before. Remember Gretzky and the Oilers lost in their 1st try against the experienced Islanders. Gretzky said afterward that they never quite understood what it took until after that series was over. I think if the Penguins would have had some tougher tests in the earlier rounds, they would be better prepared for the finals. Also the West is a superior conference and Pittsburgh will be facing a team that mowed down much stiffer competition.

It will be a lot of fun, but the Wings will reign supreme in 7 games.

05/05/08 5:10 PM :::: The Final Four

The conference finals are all set, as the Dallas Stars eliminated the San Jose Sharks to become the fourth team to advance. It took four overtimes, but Dallas led by Brendan Morrow was able to get the job done.

Morrow scored the OT winner, his second of the series, and delivered one of the biggest body checks of the playoffs earlier in the game. Dallas use to be led by Mike Modano, but this is now Brendan Morrow’s team. Marty Turco, the Stars Goalie, is having the best playoffs of any of the four remaining goalies. He made a whopping 60 saves on 61 shots last night. The big question now for Dallas is can they take out the mighty Red Wings.
Detroit, coming off the most convincing second round performance of the playoffs, seems poised to make a run to the finals. Detroit might be the most complete team. They generate a lot of offense and allow very few shots. It’s no wonder Chris Chelios is able to keep playing at the age of 46. He hardly has to play in his own end, and when he does he just has to flip the puck out and let the speedy Detroit forwards chase it down. I think Chelios would be exposed on pretty much any other NHL team. He still is an amazing story.

Detroit will have their hands full with Dallas, but I don’t think Dallas has enough scoring to compete with the Wings.
Philadelphia is in the East finals after finishing last in the East in 2007. What a difference a year can make. It really has been an amazing turnaround for the Flyers.

How did the Flyers get so good so fast? The only way possible was through trades and free agency. I mentioned how Pittsburgh and Detroit built their teams through the draft well Philadelphia is pretty much the opposite. The Flyers added 11 new players to their roster over the past year. They were extremely aggressive in their trades and signings.
Philadelphia’s transactions the past year.
Daniel Briere - Free Agent Signing
Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timmonen, Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent - All were brought in by trades with Nashville
Joffrey Lupul, Jason Smith - Trade with Edmonton
Lasse Kukkonoen – Trade with Chicago
Jaroslav Modry - Trade with LA
Marty Biron - Trade with Buffalo
Patrick Thoresen – Waivers from Edmonton
Philadelphia took a gamble with a lot of movement on their roster and it paid off in spades. They are back on top and getting ready to face the mighty Penguins.
Pittsburgh looks pretty much unstoppable, as they are steam rolling through the playoffs. Sometimes too many superstars on one team is not a good thing, but not in Pittsburgh. They are by far the best team to watch, as they are truly dazzling. I am sure the NHL would love to have the Penguins represent the East in the Stanley Cup. The Flyers will give the Penguins their toughest series but it won’t be enough, the Penguins are just too good. It will be a lot of fun as the chase for the cup continues.
I am expecting a Detroit, Pittsburgh final which could provide one of the most exciting Stanley Cups we have seen in a while.

05/02/08 5:06 PM :::: Diamonds In The Rough

Detroit is the  first team through to the conference finals, and seems to be hitting their stride after a tough start to the playoffs. Detroit absolutely tore apart the Colorado Avalanche, who never had a shot. Johan Franzen scored a whopping nine goals in four games, to lead the charge. Those nine goals were the most in a series by a Red Wing, breaking Gordie Howes record.

If you’re asking your self who Franzen is, don’t worry so am I. Detroit is loaded with fire power, and now they have another emerging star in Franzen. It truly is incredible that they are able to find this talent and remain an elite team year in and year out.
The other day I wrote how Pittsburgh was able to build a contender by having the top picks in the draft.

Detroit is just the opposite. They have to find a way every year to be a contender despite picking at the bottom of the draft. You have heard about finding diamonds in the rough, well Detroit sets the gold standard in this category.

This is a look at some of their incredible finds.
Nicklas Lidstrom - 3rd round 57th overall - 6 time Norris Trophy winner.
Tomas Holmstrom - 10th round 257th overall - One of the best ever in front of the net, goal scorer and top pest.
Henrik Zetterberg - 9th round 210th overall - Became one of the best in the NHL.
Pavel Datsyuk - 8th round 171st overall - Premier play-maker.
Johan Franzen - 3rd round 54th overall - Having a breakout playoffs.
Can you believe there were 209 players selected before Zetterberg, it is hard to imagine. Detroit, because of their success has been forced to look far and wide for talent. I find it hard to believe even Detroit thought these players were going to turn into superstars. If they thought they were this good, they would not have waited to the late rounds to pick them.

What ever the case, Detroit and their scouts are counting their blessings. It is tough to get to the top and even tougher to stay there, but Detroit has found a way.
Detroit might be the favorite for the Stanley Cup, and they are led by players that were passed over and over again by every team in the NHL.

04/30/08 12:55 PM :::: Blueprint For A Champion

How do you build a Stanley Cup contender?

One way is just to have years of futility. Pittsburgh was one of the worst teams in the NHL from 2000 to 2005, but boy is it paying off big time now. Those years of futility yielded 5 years of picking at the top of the draft. From ‘02 to ’06, the Penguins picked no later than the 5th spot. Four of those years they either had the number 1 or 2 pick. I bet any NHL organization would take 5 years of futility to be in the position the Penguins now find themselves. 
The players the Penguins picked up in those drafts are as follows.

2002 - 5th pick - Ryan Whitney - He is one of their top d-man.
2003 - 1st pick - Marc Andre Fleury - Struggled at times but finally seems to becoming the goalie the Penguins thought he would be.
2004 - 2nd pick - Evgeni Malkin - One of the top young players in the game.
2005 - 1st pick - Sydney Crosby - The next great one.
2006 - 2nd pick - Jordan Staal - Over 20 goals as a rookie, just finished his second season and is still 19 years old.
It is an amazing list considering they have two of the three best players in the game. Any GM would love to have either Crosby or Malkin to build their team around. The Penguins have both of them.

During the early 2000's there was a lot of talk that the Penguins were going to be moved to another city. They were losing, the financial problems were mounting and there seemed to be no end in sight. It seemed only a matter of time before the Penguins left town. Mario Lemieux was even resigned to the fact the team could not be saved.
Now, the Penguins not only remain in Pittsburgh, but are building a brand spanking new arena downtown. I am pretty sure the Penguins did not plan it this way, but now things are looking rosy in the Steel City. The Penguins find themselves in position to win their first Cup this century, and it might be the first of many. It has been a long time since we have seen a dynasty in the NHL, but the Penguins just might have a shot at years of greatness. Free Agency and the salary cap will be major obstacles, but if the Penguins can keep all of this young talent together, the sky's the limit.
They Penguins are happy to find themselves where they’re at today, and all it took was years of suffering. Was it worth it? Ask any Penguin fan and they would probably tell you yes.

04/29/08 2:03 PM :::: Talent To Win

The Stanley Cup is the hardest trophy in sports to win. You take a look at the talent on the eight teams left in this years playoffs, and you begin to understand just what it takes to have a shot at the Cup.

Pittsburgh - Crosby, Malkin, Hossa, Gonchar, Sykora, Fleury
Detroit - Lidstrom, Rafalski, Zetterburg, Datsyuk, Osgood
Dallas - Richards, Modano, Morrow, Zubov, Ribero, Lehtinen, Turco
San Jose - Thornton, Campbell, Marleau, Cheechoo, Nabakov
Montreal - Koivu, Kovalev, Komisarek, Price
Colorado - Sakic, Forsberg, Hejduk, Foote, Theodore
Philadelphia - Richards, Briere, Carter, Timmonen, Knuble, Biron
NY Rangers - Jagr, Drury, Gomez, Shanahan, Lundqvist
That is a pretty impressive list of talent on every single team.

Montreal probably has the least big names but might have the best overall team. This is the kind of talent needed just to have a shot at the Cup. Now that a team has the talent, it has to find a way to come together as a cohesive group where everyone is on the same page.

The NY Rangers have maybe the biggest names on this list but have struggled all year to be in harmony. They got better towards the end of the year, but seem like they are going to fall short to the Penguins.

If you do have the talent and the team is gelling together there are still no guarantees. You have to keep everyone healthy through one of the most grueling two months of hockey and you have to catch some breaks along the way. The parity is so great that you can’t afford even a slight misstep…

All eight of the remaining teams would have been picked by at least some hockey insider to win the Cup. Tell me any other sport where you would see that.

Oh I forgot to mention you need a goalie that stands on his head almost every night. This is why there is nothing like the Stanley Cup Playoffs. To me it is the toughest test in sports, and who ever is left standing at the end is truly a champion.

04/14/08 5:31 PM :::: Playoff Hockey

The first round is under way and  the chase for the Stanley Cup is in full flight. The biggest surprises to me are in the West, Dallas winning two in Anaheim, and the Sharks trailing Calgary two games to one. Anaheim was my pick to win it all, but penalty problems and some lackluster play from Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer have the champs up against the ropes. Dallas has six powerplay goals in two games ouch! Dallas normally a first round flop is now in position to make some noise.
Calgary won last night at home in one of the best games of the playoffs. They were down 3-0 before rallying to beat San Jose 4-3. The comeback started with a gigantic hit by Cory Sarich on Patrick Marleau. San Jose upset by the hit took a penalty and Calgary scored on the power play and the rest is history. Calgary right now is playing tougher and stronger than San Jose. The best players for Calgary are  better than the best for San Jose. Iginla has outplayed Thornton, Phaneuf  has been much better than Campbell. If you want to win in the playoffs the stars have to shine. Can San Jose recover from such a crushing loss? I think not. They are not tough enough. Calgary wins it in six.
In the East it is wide open. I truly believe anyone can come out of the East, except Ottawa. Why is Ottawa in the playoffs? They are bogged down by inner turmoil and injuries and will be out in four straight. Ex-Panther coach-GM Bryan Murray will be unemployed in 2 weeks. Pittsburgh on the other hand seems to be the favorite. Depth is the key to Pittsburgh as they have two number 1 lines. It causes all kind of matchup problems for the opposition. Who do you key on Malkin's line or Crosby's? Crosby right now is the second line center, and that is scary.
Ovechkin and the Capitals have had a nice run but they will fall short against Philly. Philly can focus on shutting down Ovechkin and Washington doesnt have the depth to contend with Philly.
The Rangers have a chance, to get to the finals but it will be done by defense and goaltending, not scoring. Who would of thought that at the start of the season. Also Jagr has a big incentive. He missed out on getting his option year of his contract (9 Million) by not getting 85 points during the regular season. He only has one option left to get that contract picked up, and that is to be the playoff MVP. Jagr will do everything he can to put together two months of superb hockey.
Montreal is the number one seed and is the most over achieving team of the 07-08 season. Can they win it all? I just dont know. Does any one know somebody on the Canadiens? Alex Kovalev maybe. After that its a a bunch of hardworking no names. They are probably the best TEAM in the playoffs, not on paper but as group working towrard the ultimate prize. Reminds me of our 96 team. I'll take them to come out of the East.
Play-off hockey is the best. Its going to be a wild ride to the finals.
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