Browsing all articles from April, 2011
Apr
29

2011 NHL Playoffs: Second Round Picks

Bryan here with my second round picks.

Eastern Conference:

No. 1 Washington Capitals vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay Lightning

The Capitals seem to draw the “worst” match-ups for them. The Rangers were the team fans didn’t want to see in the first round and the Lightning wasn’t fans first choice for most favorable match-up in the second round. The Caps did go four and two against the Lightning during the regular season but both of the Caps losses were shutouts.

Tampa Bay showed a lot of heart coming back and beating Pittsburgh after being down 3-1 in the series. Center Steven Stamkos seems to have found his shot again and right winger Martin St. Louis continues to come up with big goals. In Game 5 The Lightning went four of seven on the power play against the Penguins. That lead to an 8-2 route that changed the series.

The Washington Capitals were able to close out their series in five games. The Rangers played them hard. But the Caps were able to find ways to win. Left winger Jason Chimera’s double overtime game winning goal in game four brought excitement to DC. The Capitals showed their killer instinct in game five and sent the Rangers packing. But The Caps have some big issues. Penalties cost the team game three and nearly cost them game four. The Caps were in the penalty box seven times in both games three and four. Compare that to a combined six times in the box for games one, two, and five. But despite the penalties in games three and four the Rangers only went two for fourteen on the power play and that’s a credit to how good the Capitals penalty kill has been all year.

The key for this series is whose stars show up bigger. The Caps should get defenseman Dennis Wideman back this series and there seems to be nothing wrong with fellow defenseman Mike Green, both of whom will be key on the power play. The Caps need better defensive play from the John Carlson and Karl Alzner pairing. The Caps also need center Nicklas Backstrom to be more involved offensively.

Prediction: Even though Stamkos and St. Louis are playing great and the Lightning are riding high after a great comeback against the Penguins, the Capitals will be well rested and healthy. Alex Semin and Mike Green had a great series against the Rangers and left winger Alex Ovechkin has yet to play his best hockey of the playoffs. Talent will win out.

Washington Capitals in Six.

No. 2 Philadelphia Flyers vs. No 3 Boston Bruins

The Flyers have a huge problem. Their goaltending has disappeared. All three netminders, Sergei Bobrovsky, Michael Leighton, and Brian Boucher, were pulled at some point during their seven game series against the Sabres.  While the Flyers were impressive in their game seven victory they were shutout twice by Buffalo.  Their inconsistency in the series was on par with their play for the last month.

After dropping the first two games at home Boston managed to find their footing and take of Montreal in seven. Goalie Tom Thomas was stellar at times in net and right wingers Michael Ryder and Brad Marchand really picked up their play. But, the top line of left winger Milan Lucic, center David Krejci, and right winger Nathan Horton struggled all series. Horton’s series winning overtime goal aside the top line needs to be better if the Bruins are going to take down the Flyers

The key in this series is who will be better in goal. Boston’s Tim Thomas is clearly better then any of the Flyers three goaltending options and if the Bruins can score early and play shutdown defense, they’ll have a chance. The Flyers have a huge advantage offensively. If center Jeff Carter is healthy and left winger Scott Hartnell can find his shot, the Flyers will be tough to stop.

Prediction: The Flyers have been too hit or miss lately and with the situation in net being so unsettled I’m not willing to give them the nod. Tim Thomas is going to be key for a Bruins win in this series.

Boston Bruins in Seven
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Apr
27

Mark’s MMA Corner Episode 1

The experiment continues! This is the second of the test podcasts I’ll be doing in the next few weeks. Reminder that you can download the first one the Tennis Tangent here. This is Mark’s MMA Corner and it concentrates on MMA. My main topics are going to be the UFC,Strikeforce, and Bellator. I got a little behind on this test schedule because I got sick. We’ll be recording two podcasts soon as well so it may be a while for the last batch. Podcasts on the United and Sports Videogaming are coming. As always let me know what you think and what podcast you’d like to see become a mainstay.

Episode 1 Topics

UFC 129 Preview

Strikeforce Diaz vs. Daley Recap

Bellator Tournament recap and finals preview

Update 5/6/11: Check out Mark’s MMA Corner on iTunes!

Apr
27

UFC #1 Contender Rankings – April 2011

christopherharte wikimedia commons

Welcome to Washington Sportsjam’s first #1 Contender Rankings! There is no official UFC Contender Rankings so I thought that this would be an interesting list to make. This list is in no way official and in no way affiliated with the UFC. This list is how I think the fighters should be ranked, not how I think the UFC ranked the fighters.

A few other notes on rankings. If a fighter has a championship bout lined up, he’s automatically the #1 Contender because if he wins he becomes the champ. Notable victories include other fighters on this list in any weight class, former UFC champions, UFC Hall of Famers, and former featherweight and bantamweight WEC champions. Notable defeats only count if they were in the in the UFC or in the lower weight classes of the WEC.

Heavyweight

1. Junior Dos Santos

Last Fight:  Defeated Roy Nelson by Decision 8/7/10

Last Win: Defeated Roy Nelson by Decision 8/7/10

Wins in the UFC:  6

Streak: 6

Notable Fighters Defeated: Nelson, Filipovic, Struve, Werdum
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Apr
12

2011 NHL Playoff Preview – Western Conference

Here are our Western Conference predictions.

No. 1 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks

Bryan

Vancouver stormed out of the gate and never looked back.  This years President’s Trophy winners have drawn comparisons to last year’s Capitals team but that’s not any reason to look for an early exit for the Canucks. The Blackhawks might come into the playoffs as defending Stanley Cup Champions but they won’t repeat. Even though the Blackhawks core from last year is intact they weren’t able to replace the role players they lost in the offseason. A lack of consistency in net will hurt the Hawks and Vancouver’s offensive talent will overpower Chicago.

Prediction: Vancouver Canucks in four.

Jake

Headline Matchup: Vancouver’s Sheer Awesomeness vs. Chicago’s History against Vancouver

If I were a Canucks fan I would be of two minds right now. I would be dreading this series because the Blackhawks have bounced the Canucks from the postseason the last two years. However, I would be excited to finally take it to a team that had terrorized Vancouver for what seems like an eternity. I know President Cup winners have not fared well in the postseason recently (see Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks), but it is hard not to see the Canucks coming out on top. They lead the league in pretty much every offensive category and have two players in the top five for points, left winger Daniel Sedin and his brother center Henrik. They also have goalie Roberto Luongo, who has only been outdone this year by the probable Vezina trophy winner Tim Thomas.

Chicago is good but they are missing two key parts from their championship run last year. Those parts are defenseman Dustin Byfuglien who was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers and goalie Antti Niemi who is now a part of the San Jose Sharks. Without those two pieces it is hard to see a world where the Blackhawks succeed.

Ready for a bold pick?

Prediction: Vancouver Canucks in a sweep 4-0.

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Apr
12

2011 NHL Playoff Preview – Eastern Conference

The 2010-2011 NHL regular season has come to a close and its playoff time. Time for razors to be put away and beards to be grown. It’s the time of year that ESPN actually covers hockey. This year we’re doing a playoff breakdown for the 2010-2011 playoffs. Jake and I will be giving our assessment of each series and pick the winners. Here is our Eastern Conference Preview and Predictions.

No. 1 Washington Capitals vs. No. 8 New York Rangers

Bryan

This is the series no Caps fan wanted to see happen. The Rangers took three out of the four games played, including a 7-0 and 6-0 victory. But since that 6-0 loss the Capitals are 16-3-1 and a different team then the one the Rangers last saw. The big questions are how good will defenseman Mike Green be in his return to line-up and how will the Caps young goaltenders handle the pressure? Despite the Capitals lack of success against the Rangers this season I’m still willing to give the Caps an edge in this series. After last year’s embarrassment this team is more focused and won’t let off the throttle if they’re up in the series.

Prediction: Washington Capitals in five.

Jake

Headline Matchup: Henrik Lundqvist vs. the Capitals offense

As a Caps fan, it’s hard not be a little upset that the Rangers are the Caps first round matchup. On their way to winning the season series, the New York Rangers gave the Washington Capitals a 7-0 beating and a 6-0 drubbing. During that series Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist held an amazing .955 save percentage and almost singlehandedly defeated the Caps. King Henrik, the Rangers, and the butt-whippings they put on the Capitals are the reason head coach Bruce Boudreau changed the system his boys in red deploy.

And on that note I say thank you! By switching to a more defensive-minded approach the Caps are more playoff ready than they ever have been under Boudreau. Caps players have shown themselves up to the task of playing tight, one-goal games that the playoffs offer time and time again. Plus the Caps have two wildcards that give them the real advantage. First is the underrated goaltending. Both goalies Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov have been stellar when healthy. The second wildcard is the health of the Washington Caps. The Capitals are getting healthier at the right time. Defenseman Mike Green is expected back for Game 1 as is 2nd line Center Jason Arnott. If they come back at 100% the Capital offensive depth becomes scarier by the day. Adding them to the firepower of left wingers Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, and center Nicholas Backstrom it will be hard for the Blue Bombers to match the Boys in Red.

Prediction: Washington Capitals in six.
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