Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Predicting the Hockey World...

April is the month, it seems, where the various hockey season kick it into high gear. The Frozen Four starts Thursday (Perfect! Something other than golf on the ESPN's!), Stanley Cup Playoffs start in a week, the World Championships start this month with Mitch and Luka in the Division I playoffs before the Championship Division starts on May 7th. There are others as well, the Calder Cup (AHL) playoffs, some playoff thingie the Aces are playing in Wasilla, the Memorial Cup and the different CHL playoffs leading to that, the U18 Worlds etc. So I now offer my predictions for the various tournaments and playoffs...
  • Wisconsin vs R.I.T.
The Badgers are the lone WCHA team remaining in the tournament, beating Vermont and St. Bob in the SOHTHNWASC (State of Hockey That Has Never Won A Stanley Cup), while RIT is the prototypical Cinderella story of this years tournament beating Denver and New Hampshire in Albany.

Prediction: We've seen this before with Bemidji State last year and, as much I'd love the Badgers to bounce out to RIT, it never has a happy ending. RIT's clock hits midnight. Wisconsin 4, RIT 1.
  • Miami vs Boston College
First note, I'm not putting that dumb (Ohio) thing next to Miami. If you think the Hurricanes are challenging for the title, get help. Anyway, Miami is back in the Frozen Four, beating Alabama - Huntsville and Michigan (in OT) in Fort Wayne, after losing to BU in overtime 4-3 after coughing up a 3-1 lead in the final minute last year. BC beat TAFKAF before downing Yale in the craziest game of the tournament in Woostah.

Prediction: Miami has been on a mission to get back win the title all year. It'll be tough but they move on. Miami 3, BC 2.
  • Championship Game: Wisconsin vs Miami
Prediction: Miami wins it all in OT. Miami 4, Wisconsin 3 (OT).

The Western Conference teams were set tonight as Colorado beat Vancouver and Calgary lost to San Jose, putting the Avs in and Glencross and the Flames out. The East has bit of work with 4 teams (Montreal, Philly, Boston, and the Rangers) duking it out for 3 spots. I say the Rangers miss out as they're almost out already.
  • Key Thing to Watch: The Curse of Marty McSorley
In the 1993 Finals, in Game 2, Wayne Gretzky and the Kings had a 2-1 3rd period lead. Montreal got a cheap power penalty by having McSorley's illegal stick measured. The Habs scored on the PP to tie it, won in OT, and won the next 3 games to clinch the Cup. Since then, no Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup. And in that timespan Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton have all lost in Game 7s plus Ottawa losing to Anaheim and Colorado winning the year after moving from Quebec. Vancouver, Ottawa, and (presumably) Montreal will be in the Playoffs this year, so look out for what interesting way the Canadian teams will flop out this time.
  • Eastern Conference
  1. Washington
  2. New Jersey
  3. Buffalo
  4. Pittsburgh
  5. Ottawa
  6. Montreal
  7. Philadelphia
  8. Boston
Prediction: Washington will be the favorite, Cindy and the Pens will be right there, Ryan Miller can take Buffalo far, but the New Jersey Devils will roll on to the Stanley Cup Finals.
  • Western Conference
  1. San Jose
  2. Chicago
  3. Vancouver
  4. Phoenix
  5. Nashville
  6. Los Angeles
  7. Detroit
  8. Colorado
Prediction: This one is almost too close to call with so many good teams but, the Chicago Blackhawks move on after at least 18 games played.
  • Stanley Cup Finals
New Jersey Devils vs Chicago Blackhawks

Prediction: Chicago celebrates it's first Stanley Cup in a long time beating the Devils in 6.

The group with Mitch Bruijsten and The Netherlands plus Austria, Japan, Lithuania, Serbia, and Ukraine. Now, to correct what Donald had stated earlier, the format will be that the 6 teams will play a round robin, 5 games each, using the IIHF format (3 points for a regulation win, 2 for a win in OT or shootout, 1 for a SO/OT loss, 0 for a regulation loss). The team with the most points wins the group and is promoted to the Championship division for the 2011 IIHF World Championships. This Group is being played in Tillburg, The Netherlands. The Netherlands, Lithuania, Japan, and Ukraine were all in this group lasy year, Austria was relegated from the 2009 World Championships, while Serbia was promoted from Division II.

Prediction: Austria normally wouldn't have been relegated if the Germans weren't hosting the main championships this year (they beat and finished ahead of the Germans in the 2009 Relegation Round) and I don't see anybody that can beat them. Mitch Bruijsten and The Netherlands I do see finishing 2nd though.

Luka Vidmar and Slovenia host Group B and will be lloking to return to the Championships for the first time since 2005. The Lisi, Great Britain, Poland, and Croatia return to Group B, Hungary joins after being relegated from the 2009 World Championships, while South Korea joins from Division II.

Prediction: Luka Vidmar and Slovenia roll to the top and head to the Championships next year.

Russia enters as the two-time defending champions, Canada enters as the Olympic Champions after losing the last two Worlds to Russia. This tournament always plays second fiddle to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and thus this tournament is missing a lot of top players. NHL players will take part but only from teams that don't make the playoffs or get eliminated from the playoffs early, and only if they want to play. Despite that, the Big 6 of international hockey (Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland, USA, and Czech Republic) will be the favorites with Canada, Russia, and Sweden the favorites to win. The tournament kicks off with an attempt to break Michigan - Michigan State's World Attendance record with Germany and the US playing at Veltins Arena (Formally the Arena aufSchalke. Soccer fans might know the place as where the Czech Republic beat the US 3-0 in the 2006 FIFA World Cup). The 16 teams are divided into 4 groups of 4 where they play a round robin, the top 3 teams in each group move onto the Qualifying Round (Groups E and F. Group A and D to E, Groups B and C to F) with games from the previous round carrying over. Each team plays 3 more games against the 3 teams from the other group and the top 4 teams in each group move onto the Playoff Round. There it's single elimination (with a Bronze Medal Game) to the Championship. The Bottom 4 teams from the First Round play a round robin with bottom two teams relegated to Division I. Here are the Groups:

Group A
  • Russia
  • Belarus
  • Slovakia
  • Kazakhstan
Group B
  • Canada
  • Switzerland
  • Latvia
  • Italy
Group C
  • Sweden
  • Norway
  • Czech Republic
  • France
Group D
  • Germany
  • USA
  • Finland
  • Denmark
Prediction: This one's a bit early to tell as the rosters won't be finalized for a couple of weeks. Canada and Russia have to be the favorites, the other 4 of the big 6 can be outside favorites and I'd give Switzerland, Latvia, and Slovakia a good shot as well. I'll make a predicted finish:
  1. Sweden
  2. Russia
  3. Canada
  4. USA
  5. Finland
  6. Switzerland
  7. Czech Republic
  8. Slovakia
  9. Belarus
  10. Lavia
  11. Norway
  12. Germany
  13. Denmark
  14. France
  15. Kazakhstan
  16. Italy
Again, a lot of this will depend on who will be on the rosters. Some of the players from the US Olympic team could return but not that many, including all 3 goalies. Rick Nash, Marty Turco, Steve Stamkos will most likely be there for Canada. Beyond that, it's a toss-up.

So that's what I see happening in the next couple of months. Should be fun to watch!


444 said...

If by chance the Hawks won the Stanley Cup it wouldn't be the first time they won it.

Jimjamesak said...

Yeah forgot a bit there. Thanks. It's been so long it would seem like their first...

Anonymous said...

Hey, is Dave Shyiak's 'evaluation' coming soon? I don't mean to nag but I'm really looking forward to that assessment be it positive, neutral or even negative.

Anonymous said...

How could Shiaks evaluation it be positive? I think Donald was nice and gave him a D

Anonymous said...

Wisconsin 2. RIT 0
End of first

Suze said...

Wow, 7-1 Wisconsin and the game isn't even over yet. Too bad UAA had to get the best team in the WCHA for the playoffs!

Anonymous said...

Jimjamesak said...

Miami = Playoff chokers. Wow, never picking them again.

Interesting to see that on the Sioux nickname. It was coming though, that's for sure. I do think it's kind of dumb that the NCAA is the one forcing it, it's a Pandoras Box to me.

Anonymous said...

If Uaa had not been in 9th place, they would have advanced further in to the playoffs. Injuries and losing some key games hurt the team.
Wish all the success to the seniors who left our program.
Clarky is doing well in the Ahl with the moose, playing on there top line.
Playoffs start next week.

Anonymous said...

UAA wasn't in 9th place, they were a ninth seed. But I totally agree they would have better success against any team other than the Badgers, who probably should have won the McNaugton this season.

Alaskana said...

The designer of the current UND logo (who is Native American) had this to say about the decision to retire the logo and nickname:

“Well, political correctness has reared its ugly head,” he said about the board decision. “I knew it was going to happen. Now they will put some stupid-ass animal on the logo.”

Donald Dunlop said...

I will not be writing the promised coaching evaluation. I reconsidered the matter and I'm once again of the opinion that it is unfair to formally evaluated a D1 hockey coach until after the 6th year.

The recruiting cycle is the reason. I gave the coaching staff a C- this season (would have been a D+ if not for recruiting). That is directly reflective of Dave Shyiak's performance this past season.

I think he had his least successful effort getting the team to it's full potential. I think that was primarily due to the inconsistent defensive play. And preparing a team to make a solid defensive effort is his job.

That's pretty much it. My preliminary looks at "metrics" told me that Shyiak's performance has essentially been on par with all previous UAA coaches. I did not (but perhaps will in the future) do any comparisons with other D1 coaches. I'm not fully sure that such a reference is valid.

Shyiak and the program have my full support. If Dave can get next year's squad to live up to it's potential then he'll get a higher grade from me. If not then it may be time for the A.D. to begin to think about ways to improve the situation.

I'm not comfortable making such an assessment at this point.

Anonymous said...

I am fine with Donald not evaluating Shyiak this year because the way it is going to play out in 2010 - 2011 it will be a worse year than this year and then the Fire the head coach banner will be flying.

Anonymous said...

Donald, thanks for explaining your decision regarding his extended coaching evaluation.

I definitely agree that (as far as this year goes) there really isn't much more to be said regarding Shy's performance that hasn't already been said. And yeah, making any 'judgmental' assertions would probably only serve to stir the proverbial pot and nothing more.

In any case, let's hope that the 6 year eval will be a positive one (thanks to next year's kick-ass season). :)

Donald Dunlop said...

I should have said something about it before now.

Anonymous said...

The Alaskan Legislature is about to pass a 2 Billion dollar Capital Budget, Where is the UAA Sports Center on the list? No Where. All that money to be spent and I wonder if Cobb even made any calls or spent some time lobbying anybody in Juneau. I doubt it. He was probably in line for seconds at Golden Coral.

Anonymous said...

There is no question the program at UAA is in tatters and Anchorage has turned its back on it. Attendance is down almost 350 a game and the athletic department lost almost another 100,000 by my count on the demise in attendance. Confidence in the head Coach is almost nill in the community. The right guy will pay immediated dividends. Ask fairbanks. They hired a good guy and a good person. Cobb had no business extending Shiaks contract. Shiak recruited players that dont fit the college game as Size and aggressiveness cant be utilized in College Hockey and exspecially olympic ice like the Sullivan. So your overall strategy for type of players is completly wrong from the get go. Another example of well incompetence. ok
UAA already has less fire power than the other teams so The head Coach doesnt enforce disapline for bad penalties within the team and then wonders why you cant win. when you have less talent and you spend more time giving the other team powerplays trying to be overaggressive it is another major flaw that directlly ties back to the man in charge. It doesnt work because the referees call everthing in the WCHA. So you have less talent going in and you give the teams with more talent an serious advantage every game.In fact the most penalized team in College hockey. What gives anyone confidence that UAA is going in the right direction. Im not sure what type of juggling act is going on to pay the Athletic Departments bills but when your flagship program is in the tank you really got to wonder for how much longer we can keep the program afloat and stay in the WCHA. Just imagine what they could do with the money from a succesfull program. How about use it for lobbying to get an on campus rink that cant seem to get done

Anonymous said...

thank you

Anonymous said...

Kevin Clark and the manitoba moose off to the first round of the playoffs. Manitoba Moose vs Hamilton Bulldogs, 1st game april 15/2010.
All the best to clarky in the playoffs.

Anonymous said...

"It includes $80 million for a new UAA sports arena".

Sounds like this still needs to be approved by voters. If you aren't registered to vote (shame on you) get ur done!

My question is, does this arena include hockey? Talked to Cobb during the season and he said hockey was in the plans. Was he just blowing smoke? Anyone know?

UAAalumni09 said...

One thing that could help UAA hockey out, as well as all athletics, if our money was line itemed in the state budget every year like UA_

Alaskana said...

Anon @ 12:36:

Sweet! Good on you for catching that in the adn. Gives us something to be hopeful for.

Now what I'm really interested to know is if that arena plan still leaves out hockey. The last I heard, it was only going to be for all the other sports (Bball, volleyball, etc) and that for hockey UAA was going to share a new facility with the city.

I wish someone 'in the know' would set the record straight so we can all know what is going on.

Anonymous said...

There has got to be a copy of the bill
somewhere. Call your representative or
call Dr Cobb and ask him to clarify all
the issues. Come on KTUU, let's get
on this and do some digging!!!!
Good Luck and let's get er done.
Go Seawolves!!!!!!

Ted said...

The plans I have seen do not include hockey in the on campus arena. They had the architects and models at one of the basketball games I went to.

However, Hockey would get more space in the WF sports complex if all the other sports move out to the new facility.

Anonymous said...

Ted - And just hope would that help UAA Hockey?

To me they just got thrown under the bus. If Cobb couldn't secure the Hockey teams inclusion in this planned building than he needs to go back to whatever little piddly ass college he came from.

Anonymous said...

Did any one notice how the 5'8 guys for B.U. tore up Wisconsin.?? Its all about speed and skill there is no question.

Donald Dunlop said...

My source at the University informs me that there is no ice included in the plans for the 80 million (+15 they already have) for a new campus arena.

A new hockey arena solution is actively being pursued but it is not a part of this plan.

This plan is funding for the already approved (all sports but hockey) Arena which made all us hockey fans feel slighted a couple of years ago.

Anonymous said...

Also, 2 of our 6 incoming recruits who are skaters in October are 5'8ish.

In 2011 we've got 4 of 6 skaters who are under 6' foot. I'm assuming Friese is under 6' but I'm not positive.

So seems the coaching staff is changing their mentality for incoming recruits, and I hope this pans out.

Recruit update on a possible D/F incoming this or next year.

Trace Strahle:

'92 recruit which is a very deep recruit year, he has been talking to the Seawolves coaching staff about joining the 'Wolves. Played for the U.S.A. National U17 Select Team.

Hometown boy who wants to play at home, he's mature for his age and he's a smaller recruit so that might be why he's kinda slipped through the cracks.

Another Service Cougar on the Seawolves sounds good, hope this pans out.

Donald Dunlop said...

I would suspect that the best thing Trace can do to up his stock would be to go play next season in the USHL. He turns 18 this June and while his NAHL season looks pretty nice, it doesn't inspire me to believe he is ready for college hockey yet. That said, he's definitely a prospect.

As for local kids. I'm hoping they're talking to the Coopers as well. We'll see.

Suze said...

According to the roster I picked up at the Avs/Ice Dogs playoff game, Friese is 5' 10" and 170 pounds.

Alaskana said...

Thanks to Donald and to all others who helped clear up confusion regarding the new arena.

Let's hope that whatever is eventually negotiated for the Seawolves will be a satisfactory solution.

Anonymous said...

Recruit can't teach it.

Anonymous said...

You can't teach hockey smarts either. At the college level, you either have it or you don't. You can be 5'8 or 6'1 but if you're stupid with the puck, speed is not going to help you. Good hockey sense makes a player. I'd rather see bigger stronger players on the ice than smaller.

Anonymous said...

And, ever since Shyiak's been here he's helped recruit big strong players with less talent than our team comeptition. And, he have not lived up to expectations since Dave's been here.

With a new strategy hopefully Shyiak will stay here for the rest of his contract.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully Dave will be here for a long, long time!

Anonymous said...

Our big strong players are no less talented than other teams players. And if you think smaller is better, we only had Clark, and he did not have a great year, only a good 2nd half. Leinweber is perhaps the only other smaller player who had some good moments this year. Bigger players can be just as fast as the smaller ones. With longer strides, their speed is deceiving. The Seawolves did have some players (both tall and short) that struggled with foot speed, but not all. No different than any other team. Shyiak does have to remember to promote all players this coming season, not just a couple. That would be a good strategy for him.

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