My Finals Picks – Best Goalie, D-Man, Forward and TeamShareThis
Let’s get to it – here are my answers from yesterday’s poll questions:
Which goalie would you most like to have on your team in the Finals?
I’m 100% sold on Antti Niemi.
His situation in Chicago this year felt like one of those “let’s try and keep this kid down and give our other goalie every chance to be the starter so people don’t realize we’re paying the wrong guy” deals. Just like Carey Price over Jaro Halak, and for awhile, Tim Thomas over Tukka Rask. In the end, you want the best goalie in the net, and teams relent.
I thought he was absolutely dynamite in the early games of the San Jose series, and he played great against Vancouver. He’s not that awkward “how is he doing it?” style that I hate so much (*coughNabokovcough*). He does it the right way.
In the game Philly lost to Montreal, Leighton let in a couple of those “oh god, is he gonna crumble?” goals, before regrouping nicely. He’s had an exceptional year (for a guy who’s played around 30 games), and is certainly capable of succeeding. For now though, he’s played in seven total playoff games, facing a Krejci/Sturm-less Bruins team and a fizzling, content-with-where-they-got Montreal offense.
Which Defenseman would you most like to have on your team in the Finals?
I hate this question because of the “in the Finals” part.
I’d take Duncan Keith during the year, and probably even most of playoffs. I’m completely torn on this one, but if I’m being honest, I think I’d prefer to have Chris Pronger.
My heart wouldn’t let me vote for him in the poll. I picked Duncan Keith, thinking that Duncan creates offense from defense (uses quickness to intercept pucks, move them the other way) and creates defense from offense (makes such solid decisions his team often plays entire shifts in the offensive zone).
But I couldn’t lie to myself a second day in a row. Pronger is impossible to play against. He’s one of those guys that when you play him, your line is on the bench frustrated going “man, we just can’t seem to get anything going today. Not getting the bounces”.
He uses his long stick like a scalpel to just hinder every f**king play you’re trying to make. He gets his big body in the right spots, has a bomb from the point and moves the puck like guys a foot smaller than him.
I hate him, but he’s one of the best. I’d have to take Chris stupid Pronger.
Which forward would you most like to have on your team in the Finals?
This one inevitably boils down to the two leaders, Richards and Toews.
My general thinking is this: Toews is going to have a better career than Richards. He’s 22 and already more of an offensive threat. He steps up in big games, is crazy responsible for his talent-level (doesn’t have to be, but is), and is just an all-around star.
But Mike Richards wants this. I’m sure Toews does too, but sometimes Richards’ passion scares the shit out of me. He plays with a fire I never had. I think he knows this may be one his last chances to compete for a Stanley Cup in a conference likely to be dominated by Washington and Pittsburgh for awhile. After all, how often are both those teams going to get eliminated before Philly has to deal with one of them?
He has all the tools to succeed, and he’s in his prime. Plus, I can’t help but remember that I’ve played Toews in college, and occasionally he gets his three points in such a quiet way that he’s rarely on your radar. I felt comfortable enough to play my heart out, since I wasn’t looking over my shoulder for him. I look over my shoulder for Mike Richards before typing (hey, that guy could be coming from any angle).
At the same time, if you read my column yesterday, Philly has that (negative) something that makes them just be so bad once in awhile, and a part of me can’t help but wonder if he’s the common thread. Toews just smells like winning, so it’s a tough call.
I’ll stick with Richards for now, but ask me Sunday and I’ll probably change my mind.
What’s your Finals prediction?
Picking Chicago in six gets you no love. It’s the safest thing on the planet, and a lose-lose. The number of games, six, shows no balls, because you’re always “close”. The team shows no balls because they’re the (significantly) higher seed. And that’s why you see pundits go out on a limb, because they have the small chance to be “right” and the guy who “really saw things the right way”.
But at what point is picking like an idiot beneficial to your career?
Chicago is a little better at every position, which means they’re A LOT better team.
I can see Philly winning a game or two. I mean, it’s the NHL, Edmonton can beat Washington and it’s not exactly the Detroit Lions beating the New Orleans Saints. So I can’t pick that short of a series.
So I’ll give the Flyers their due (and play it safe) and go with Chicago in six. Hey, it’s what I think is gonna happen, I can’t be blamed for that, can I?
Happy Thursday folks. See ya back here tomorrow!