We Want the Cup! 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs Preview

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are here, which means it’s time for unfettered intensity. The hits are harder, the goaltending is stoic, and the defense is unforgiving. It also is a time for heroes to emerge, whether it be the usual stars of the game, a forgotten 40 year old, or a 4th liner, to score that game winning goal, to make that game saving shot block, or a goalie making an incredible save. And don’t forget the possibilities of a multiple overtimes.

It’s that time of the year. Drama reigns supreme. Jubilation and anguish hang in the balance. Who will it be this year?

The first games in all the series have been played. Here is what we know:

Roberto Luongo is still good… And that is a gross understatement. He may have made only 25 stops, but the quality of St. Louis’ shots were quite high. They made Luongo move and make important saves. His positioning and rebound control are eerily solid. Blues’ shooters could be having nightmares by the end of the series.

But so is Chris Mason. He was key to St. Louis’ playoff run in the second half of the season, and he kept them in the game on Wednesday. He must play flawlessly and the St. Louis offense must score- someway and somehow.

Torts on Broadway. Before former Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning head coach John Tortorella was hired, the Rangers were fading. After? Well, they played well enough to get the 6 seed. Tortorella brings grit and discipline. And let’s not forget the ever-menacing Sean Avery, as well as the potentially explosive forwards Scott Gomez, Markus Naslund, and Chris Drury, who is out with an injury. Despite all of this, NYR’s success depends on Hendrik Lundqvist.

Ovie likes to shoot. 13 shots on goal? 0 goals? Really? Well at least he had 2 assists. I guess I’d want Ovechkin shooting that much too.

Brodeur is the best goalie in the history of the game. A Stanley Cup run will only solidify this. Much credit goes to the NJ defense, and that damn trap. Yuck.

The playoffs are MOST appreciated in Chicago. It’s been a long wait for ‘Hawks fans. There’s been a World Series, the success of the Baby Bulls, an NFC championship- heck, even the Fire have done well and made playoff appearences. A gutsy OT win over Calgary could ignite the team and the city, but beware of Kiprusoff.

Welcome to the “Dance.” Columbus has finally made the playoffs, becoming the last current NHL franchise to make postseason play. Just ask the organization, “What can Ken Hitchcock do for you?” That, and some planning for the future, which has quickly become the present. Solid goaltending from Steve Mason doesn’t hurt either.

Detroit is still the team to beat. As much as I hate to admit this, we all know it’s the case. Sure, the Sharks won the President’s trophy, but the mystique of playoff hockey in Hockeytown will live on. If Detroit were to choke this season, I don’t think it will be against the Jackets.

The Heap’s teams to root for: Columbus, Chicago, St. Louis, Pittsburgh

The Heap’s wish for Stanley Cup Champion: Chicago Blackhawks

The Heap’s Realistic SC Champ: Detroit Red Wings

There is one constant in all of this unpredictable mess. OT games are decided in either the first 5 or last 5 minutes of the specific OT period.

It’s a scientific fact. I promise.

smallheap.jpg image by jmooser

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