For some it seems like yesterday that Jeremy Roenick spilled his emotions while watching his former team lift the Stanley Cup, but for others the off-season has seemed like an eternity. Either way, fans of hockey are back in business as today marks the beginning of the 2010-2011 National League Hockey season.
In the Eastern Conference, although the NHL wouldn’t approve the 17-year deal New Jersey made with Ilya Kovalchuk, they did give the approval to a 15-year deal that will have expectations for the Devils. However, many eyes will be on the team that had the best record in the league last year, the Washington Capitals. The Capitals were the favorite by many to take the Stanley Cup last season, and their regular season efforts left them above and beyond all others. But, they did suffer one of the most disappointing losses in all of sports this year, falling in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens.
Look for Alex Ovechkin to lead the Capitals deep into the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year, and on his way taking on Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins in what has become one of the most popular events of the NHL season, the Winter Classic. This year’s Winter Classic will take place at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on New Year’s Day of 2011. The Winter Classic brings hockey to a larger audience than normal with its outdoor venue, and it also adds a level of real-life innocence to the game that is often lost amongst professional sports. For 2011, the Winter Classic will be a highlight due to the fact that the first Winter Classic in 2008 also featured the Pittsburgh Penguins, who ultimately won the inaugural event behind Sidney Crosby’s shootout goal.
In the Western Conference, of course, the Chicago Blackhawks will look to repeat last year’s Stanley Cup Title, but they will do so without their highly regarded goaltender, Antti Niemi. Niemi joined the San Jose Sharks in the off-season after the Blackhawks decided to let him become a free agent. Of course for the Sharks, they’ll remain one of the top teams in the Western Conference again this season, but as San Jose fans can attest, being the favorite hasn’t held much weight when it comes to bringing home the Stanley Cup.
Let us know who your team is and check out the NHL Collection available at Eastbay.
images via yahoo
Goal keeping has set both the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks apart from their opponents in this year’s Conference Finals of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In the Eastern Conference Finals the Philadelphia Flyers goal keeper, Michael Leighton, continued his streak of perfection by shutting out the Montreal Canadiens. Leighton came up with 30 saves as the Flyers won 3-0. Leighton has not allowed a goal in over eight periods now and the back-to-back shutouts are the first for a Philadelphia goalie in twenty-five years, which is also the last time they won the Stanley Cup.
The victory gives the Flyers six straight wins, but now they have to head to Montreal on Thursday and battle the Canadiens, away from the Philadelphia fanatics for the first time in the series.
In the Western Conference, the Chicago Blackhawks took a second game in a row from the Sharks in San Jose behind the goal keeping of Antti Niemi.
Niemi made 25 saves in Tuesday night’s game, including an onslaught of shots from San Jose in the first ten minutes of the game, to lift the Blackhawks to a 2-0 lead in the best of seven series. Niemi denied every player on the Sharks, with the exception of Patrick Marleau, who scored two goals in the loss.
Chicago’s 4-2 victory brings them to within two wins of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals, somewhere they haven’t been since 1992.
For the Sharks and their fans, it seems the curse has still got the best of them. If the past is anything to consider then it is not looking good for the San Jose Sharks, as they have lost every playoff series that they have been down two games to none.
The Blackhawks will look to continue the sweep in Chicago on Friday night.
Tomorrow will mark the start of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and this year’s NHL season has been one of the best in recent memory. With only four teams hitting the 50+ win mark, it has been a competitive year and the playoffs are looking like some of the best match-ups in recent years. For instance, it would seem the number one versus number eight seed games would be predictable, however both the Eastern Conference (Washington vs. Montreal) and the Western Conference (San Jose vs. Colorado) teams split their regular season games two games apiece. Not to mention, the New Jersey Devils versus the Philadelphia Flyers and the Vancouver Canucks versus the Los Angeles Kings match-ups, which are sure to be competitive.
If you’re looking for a way to support your team this post season, check out the NHL EDGE Premier Jerseys from Reebok. A number of teams are available, including the three teams with the most points in the regular season, the Washington Capitals, San Jose Sharks, and Chicago Blackhawks. You can even grab home and away colorways for a number of teams.
Available now: Reebok NHL EDGE Premier Jerseys