Archive for the ‘Dance Partners’ Category

Dance Partners: San Jose

February 24, 2009

ChrisKontos here with your Western Conference edition of Dance Partners. The first blockbuster (?) trade has gone down in the NHL (who knew that Dean McAmmond was still even playing!) and that means the playoffs are rapidly approaching.


As goes Dean McAmmond… so goes Ottawa’s playoff hopes.

The race for 8th place has created an incredible logjam in the Western Conference as even the last place Colorado Avalanche (wow, that feels weird to write) are only a few points away from that 8th seed. There are more pretenders than contenders out of the 10 teams that are battling for that spot, so let’s breakdown the 3 teams that would make the most entertaining matchups for the Western Conference leading San Jose Sharks and for the NHL. But please remember… San Jose is no Boston… so the NHL is going to have a hard time marketing this series no matter who is playing.

1. Columbus Blue Jackets – (currently in 6th place, but only 2 points away from being 8th)


What the ef is a Blue Jacket?!?

Never bet against Ken Hitchcock. The man has not been anywhere close to the playoffs in 3 seasons but the Blue Jackets have finally figured out how to work in his defensive system. It helps that super mono-fighting rookie Steve Mason has given the BJ’s the goaltender they needed. I expect the BJ’s to make the biggest move at the deadline and get some help at forward. They’ve beaten the Sharks twice this season, both in overtime. Watching the high octane speed and offense of the Sharks clash with the defense first mentality of a Hitchcock team could make this a very good series.

NHL Marketability: Um… It’s Columbus and San Jose. Not so much.

2. Dallas Stars – (currently in 7th place and cursing the loss of Brad Richards)


James Woods… the Star of Shark.

This is the scenario that the NHL would love the most. Dallas, the team that struggled out of the gate because of its bonehead move to give Sean Avery a bunch of money, would bounce back and sneak into the playoffs to face its division rival, the Sharks. Just think of how much all the TV analysts get to fawn over what cutting their loses with Sean Avery has done for this Stars team. Plus now that Marty Turco has ironed out his kinks, a Nabokov-Turco first round matchup would be fantastic. You know, kind of like the amazing 1-0 Sharks victory from last night. Oh and there was the whole Dallas beating San Jose in the 2nd round last year thing too. I know Ron Wilson remembers that series.


Is there such a thing as an old school Sharks-Stars fight?

NHL Marketability: Have you heard anyone talk about what happened to this Sean Avery character and the Dallas Stars? Wild, huh? I can only imagine they’d bring it up in the playoffs.

3. Anaheim Ducks (currently in 10th, but with the most games played)


Maybe the National Geographic channel will air this series?
(insert Versus joke here)

Wow, this could be a killer series. If the Ducks are able to get their act together in the final months of the season… and JS Giguere remembers how to play goal… this would be a fantastic series for hockey fans. But that’s a big IF. The Ducks have plodded along all season and have the least games in hand out of any of the teams battling for 8th. But if they are able to sneak into the playoffs with Niedermayer, Pronger, Getzlaf, Perry and Selanne all still on their roster… watch out. This would be the matchup the Sharks would least want.

NHL Marketability: This could quickly become a classic first round series. Plus I think Battle of California’s head would explode blogging about this playoff matchup.

WILDCARD!

How could you expect me to break down the 8th seed matchup for the Western Conference and not give the Los Angeles Kings a fighting chance? I mean, I’ve even created a marketing slogan for the Kings push for the 8th seed. Unfortunately, if the Kings continue to shit the playoff race bed like they did this weekend against the Phoenix Coyotes, this matchup is not probable at all. BUT if the Kings did sneak in… well, they would rather play the Detroit Red Wings as at least they’ve been close in games with that team this year. Damn you Denis Gauthier!


Play-offs? Hmm, never heard of them.

NHL Marketability: Well, having a Los Angeles based team (sorry Anaheim) in the playoffs would make any TV executive happy. And can you imagine the coverage of this series by the various NHL California blogs? Blogging gold. Commenters… it’s up to you. What do you think?

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Dance partners: Boston (plus a quick note)

February 18, 2009

Before delving into this fun little diversion, a quick announcement: the individual posts for the All-Decade team will sprout up starting tomorrow. So far, there are three contributors, plus myself and two possible late additions. Send me an e-mail if you’re a blogger and want to send your picks (OK … OK … if you only comment but happen to harness a hidden mine of snark gold, then maybe we’ll make an exception). Please do not get huffy if your e-mail doesn’t make it.

(E-mail: jamestobrien@hotmail.com)

***

The playoffs are reaching the “can almost smell it” level of close-ness now. Here’s a fun new running feature, then: Best Dance Partners. It’s better than it sounds (so stash that White Man’s Underbite in your closet of shame along with your Snuggie, Creed CDs and mistress). Basically, the feature boils down to the three teams that would make the most entertaining matchups for the NHL team in question.

This week’s installment is the Boston Bruins:

1. Montreal Canadiens (the fifth seed with 66 points, but tied with four other Eastern teams so this isn’t as improbable as it sounds)

Last year’s Montreal – Boston seven-game series brought enough intensity to start a Montreal riot (as Rocket Richard shook his head in shame from Hockey Mount Olympus).
Interestingly enough, this hypothetical series would be quite the role reversal (Boston and Montreal switching no. 1 and no. 8 seeds along with traditional favorite-underdog positions). Plus, the Bruins’ breakout season would crash head-on with what currently is a free-falling centennial edition of the Habs.

Oh yeah, also, both teams can bring plenty of speed, depth and a traditional hatred marinated in decades of bad blood to yet another playoff series. Surely, the journey to shake that Montreal monkey off the Bruins’ back would cause blood pressures to rise in both Original Six markets.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins (currently in 10th place, would need considerable good fortune to make it to the playoffs)
NBC would rank this potential series WAY ahead of a series with Montreal. But a Pens-B’s match brings a lot to the table for more than just casual hockey fans.

It would really allow the Boston Bruins “brand” to grow as bigger audiences would finally get to see the best team in the Eastern Conference take on Pittsburgh, the team with the highest hype-per-win-capita in the NHL. Either that, or the Bruins would be upset by the Penguins leading Gary Bettman, Versus and NBC to jump for joy (while wishing the Penguins knocked off a Canadian team instead of the big market Bruins).

The more likely Bruins-crush-Pens scenario is oddly similar to that time Andre the Giant “put over” Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania III. If, you know, Andre the Giant really sucked that year.

3. Buffalo (currently the seventh seed with 66 points)

Buffalo vs. Boston would be a battle between a small market obsessed enough with hockey to produce huge local ratings and a huge market with other sports on the brain. Even though the Bruins aren’t a perpetual Goliath like Detroit, Buffalo’s underdog factor would be pretty appealing in this one.
Plus, the hockey would probably be very good and Buffalo brings some similar strengths (deep scoring, good goaltending) so the series could even generate a few nail biters.

One bland pairing that would make fans yawn and TV execs drool

Boston vs. New York Rangers

Are we the only people with a slight urge to see the Rangers miss the playoffs? They’re such a mess of a roster, with four HORRIBLE contracts (Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Wade Redden and Michal Rosival) and a limp lifelessness to their recent play.

Sure, they are two big markets. Sure, the networks would probably show Boston Red Sox/Yankees montages. And, sure, Sean Avery would bring lowbrow attention to the series (predicted Avery quip, spoken in typical monotone: “Zdeno Chara is a tall glass of ugly.”)

But what’s in it for, you know … hockey fans? Not as much as those three other matches, to be sure.