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NEW YORK… I have been to New York many times. I prefer the peace and quiet of western New York to the hustle and bustle and cram packed atmosphere of NY City, but what the heck, there is some beauty to both settings. This morning, while driving from Brooklyn to Staten Island I happened to look to my right and through an open space between a couple of buildings, maybe a mile from me was the Statue of Liberty! This was the first time I had seen the worldwide iconic symbol of our country and I have to say I was immediately choked up. I myself was surprised at the depth of emotion that hit me when I got my first sight of this magnificent statue.
My thoughts turned to the literally millions of people from across the world who had seen a photo of the landmark and dreamed of the day they might see it or even become a citizen of the land of liberty. I wondered if they might have experienced the same feelings I did this morning. I certainly harbor some indifferent feelings about my country right now and where we are and may be headed but I wasn’t entertaining them today. Rather, I thought back to the days when we were regarded as “the” place to be in the world by the oppressed and impoverished of the planet, and that this epic statue was a symbol of that….
THE STANLEY CUP TOURNEY rages forth and at this juncture of the Conference Finals I have picked 9 of 12 series thus far. I failed on Florida and Detroit in the opening round and as a result would automatically lose one series in round two. I am thinking Florida’s youngsters may not have had the experience to oust the NY Islanders at this point but it should be noted that the Panthers, in a six game series took 3 games to OT and two of those to double OT. Considering OT can be a roll of the dice, that’s respectable for the young Cats squad. I had based my Detroit pick on the fact that they took the Tampa Bay club to seven games last year and actually should have won the series, being the superior team for the better part of the series. I let emotion guide my pick, not considering how poorly the Red Wings played in the last part of the regular season. They fared no better in the tourney.
In a couple of bold picks I did have Nashville ousting the Anaheim Duck, and I also had the San Jose Shark eliminating the favored Los Angeles Kings. The Kings played slightly over .500 hockey in March and April and that featured a 5-2 beat down at the hands of the Sharks in late March. I simply had a feeling that the Sharks had no fear of the Kings and that the Kings were not the team that had won 2 of the last 4 Cups prior to this tourney. The Kings won the middle tilt of 5 and had to go to OT to do it, otherwise the Sharks had little trouble with the former Champs. The Ducks started their season very poorly but then went into a defensive mode and went on a very hot streak. I felt that their final month of the regular season was indifferent and was not propelling them into the tourney on any kind of hot streak, while Nashville was solid in the stretch.
For the Hawks-Blues series, I looked at the Hawks from the All Star Game break forward and wasn’t that impressed with them. Neither did I feel that their trade deadline deals were going to do anything major to advance their chances at repeating as Cup Champion. The Blues, I felt, were prepared to jump on a Hawks club that was ready to be beat, and that’s what they did, a Game six scare notwithstanding. The Dallas-Minnesota series went as expected, but the Wild surprised by taking two games and pushed to the very last second in a G6 Dallas victory and series winner.
The Pens sent the NY Rangers home in 5 games to no ones surprise. The Rangers looked like a tired team the last few weeks of the season. The Flyers stretched the Washington Capitals to a 6 game series that they lost but that began the Caps question marks that preceded the Pens series. In Round 2 the NY Isles won G1 versus the Lightning, but then the Bolts dispatched the Isles by winning the next 4. Two of the tilts went to OT. Also in Round 2 the Pens ousted the Caps in 6 games highlighted by a G6 OT winner for the Pens that sent the Presidents Cup winners home for the season. The Caps two Russian stars Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetzov were mostly held in check by the Pens and outside of a G1 hat trick by TJ Oshie the Cap offense could not best what the Pens had to offer.
The STL Blues overcame their second round demons by beating Dallas in 7 games, however, considering the Blues won G3 and G7 with 6-1 performances, a lot of fans were left to wonder how they allowed the Northstars to take it to 7 games. The Sharks had to go to a “seven heaven” with Nashville as well, but absolutely blew them out in G7, winning a decisive 5-0 tilt to add an exclamation mark to their post season.
In the Conference Finals I have the Blues beating the Sharks and I have the Pengwah eliminating Tampa Bay. I have the Pens besting the Blues in the SC Final. The Blues edge, and it is a fine line, is between the pipes with the experienced Brian Elliott going up against the Sharks Martin Jones. Elliott wins that battle. For the Pens-Bolts series, I like the overall talent that the Pens offense can throw at a team. Before the series I would have given Tampa the edge in goal with Ben Bishop going up against a rookie injury fill-in, but Bishop got hurt in G1 and his return is uncertain. I liked the Pens either way. How would the Pens beat the Blues? Lets try that out next week! PEACE