I'm bringing back the blog! I took a hiatus and focused my energy on the search for a full-time job. Now that I've found a full-time position, it's time to start posting again.

Some days I wish I could read the minds of Gary Bettman and other NHL executives. And since the NHL announced it’s new conference realignment on March 14, I’ve wondered that a lot.

It makes absolutely zero sense to me to have a division format when there are not equal teams in each division and playoff positions depend on division rankings.

There is one good thing about this realignment: every team will visit each NHL city once a year. In my opinion, this should’ve happened sooner in a league that has an 82-game schedule and 30 teams.

Instead of bashing the current route the NHL has decided to take, I have created my own (very simple) realignment proposal:

 
 
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Yes, the main propose of my blog is to focus on ice hockey. In case you don’t know me too well, I’m a sports nerd and it just happens that hockey is my favorite sport. But since it’s the offseason, I thought I’ll delve into some other topics. Today: the new college football playoff format.

When I first heard about this new 4-team playoff structure I was excited that FINALLY the players would get to decide it on the field instead of a computer deciding a team’s fate. Like many college football fans I hated the BCS structure that we’re still going to be stuck with until 2014. I love rooting for the underdogs and would have loved to see some of the past top non-BCS conference teams (TCU for example) play it out against college football’s big guns.

However, I think with only 4 teams making it that the small schools will still be left out. Yes there will always be someone looking on the outside looking in no matter how many teams are included in the playoff. Especially since a committee will be determining the teams. 


 
 
Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final begins tomorrow night with the Los Angeles Kings taking on the New Jersey Devils. Here’s a quick rundown of things to know going into the series.
  • The Kings are only the second 8-seed to reach the Stanley Cup final; the other team was the Edmonton Oilers in 2006. 
  • L.A. is the first team to eliminate the #1, #2, and #3 seeds in order.
  • N.J. is the first 6-seed to reach the finals since the Calgary Flames in 2004 (ironically that Flames team was coached by current L.A. head coach Darryl Sutter)
  • The Devils and goalie Martin Brodeur are looking for their fourth Stanley Cup victory
  • This is the Kings second time in the Stanley Cup final; their first appearance was against the Montreal Canadiens in 1993 where the Canadiens won in 5 games
  • L.A. has a 8-0 record on the road this playoffs. For this reason, New Jersey’s home-ice advantage may turn into a disadvantage.
  • The Kings and Devils met twice  during the regular season and the Devils won both meetings and back-up goalie Johan Hedburg picked up both victories for New Jersey. The first was a 2-1 overtime win on Oct. 13 in N.J. and the second a 3-0 win on Oct. 25 in L.A.



 
 
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If you didn’t already know, last night the 8-seed L.A. Kings eliminated the 3-seed Phoenix Coyotes in just 5 games with a 4-3 overtime win. If you haven’t been following the playoffs that closely the Kings knocked off the 1-seed and President Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks in the first round in 5 games and then swept the 2-seed St. Louis Blues in the second round. To recap, in 14 playoff games the Kings have lost only 2 games.

Now the Kings get a nice break to rest before they face the winner of the New Jersey Devils-New York Rangers series for the Stanley Cup.


 
 
I'm going to keep this short. The Devils and Rangers are facing off to play in the Stanley Cup final and I'm picking the blueshirts to win in 6 games.

Here's why: The Rangers are simply the better all-around team and have better depth. I know the Devils have played better this postseason but they've haven,d had a serious test yet. On the other hand, both the Rangers playofff series went 7 games. I think this experience and comfort in close games (and a close series) will pay off for the Rangers.


Sorry this is so short, but I don't have accesss to my laptop so it was a challenge to even get a post up.
 
 
The Western Conference final match-up is set. The #3 Phoenix Coyotes will faceoff against the #8 Los Angeles Kings. The Coyotes knocked off the #4 Nashville Predators in 5 games and the Kings swept the #2 St. Louis Blues.

It was surprising that both series finished so quickly. While the Predators were able to win one game in their series, it was clear that Phoenix outplayed them and was the consistently the better team throughout the series. Nashville Predators right wing Alexander Radulov had 5 points in the first round series against Detroit but only one assist against the Coyotes. Radulov and Predators left wing Andrei Kostitsyn missed two games in the Phoenix series after they were suspended for a violation of team rules.  The Blues never had any momentum in the series and Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick shut down the St. Louis offense. Blues left wing Andy McDonald had 8 points in the first round series against San Jose but had only one goal and one assist in four games against the Kings.


 
 
#1 New York Rangers vs. #7 Washington Capitals

It was a major surprise that the Caps were able to knock off the defending Stanley Cup champions in the first round, especially with a 22-year-old rookie goaltender between the pipes. Braden Holtby spent most of the 2011-12 season with the Capital’s AHL affiliate Hershey Bears but he came up big in his first NHL playoff series. Even though he played in only 21 NHL games prior to the first round, Holtby had a 2.00 goals against average and .940 save percentage in seven games against the Bruins.

 
 
#2 St. Louis Blues vs. #8 Los Angeles Kings

This looks to be a battle of great goaltenders regardless of who’s in net for St. Louis. Brian Elliott, Jonathan Quick and Jaroslav Halak rank two through fourth in best goals against average. Quick ranks second and Elliott isn’t far behind him in fourth.

Obviously whichever team will be able to crack the other team’s goalie will be the one to win this series. Neither team put up huge offensive numbers in the first round. The Kings scored 12 goals in 5 games and the Blues had 14 in their 5 first round games. Dustin Brown was the Kings biggest offensive threat in the first round with 5 points in 5 games. For the Blues it was Andy McDonald who had 4 goals and 4 assists in 5 games in the first round against San Jose. 

 
 
Even though there are five playoff games scheduled today, the biggest NHL news of the day is Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres’ 25-game suspension for his hit on Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa. Brendan Shanahan finally stepped up and sent a message to players that this behavior in the postseason will not be tolerated. You can see his full explanation in the video below.


 
 
For anyone who’s missed it last night, there’s another suspension in the NHL playoffs. The NHL announced today on its website that Phoenix forward Raffi Torres is suspended indefinitely for his shoulder check to the head of Chicago forward Marian Hossa. Torres will have an in-person hearing on Friday with the league’s Department of Player Safety. In case you haven’t already seen it here you go: