Malkin wins Conn Smythe, raises Cup

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With the game 7 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings the Pittsburgh Penguins lifted their first trophy in 17 years giving the city their second championship in a year. Prior to the presentation of the Cup, Evgeni Malkin was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy as the MVP of the playoffs notching 36 points to lead all scorers.

It will be interesting to see how this trophy plays out at the leagues award ceremony on June 18th with Malkin being up for the Hart.

Malkin is the first ever Russian born player to collect the honor and second Penguin after Mario Lemieux raised it twice in the last two cup wins. He along with fellow comrades Sergei Gonchar and Ruslan Fedentenko are the latest Russians/Ukrainians to get their names etched on the cup. For both Malkin and Gonchar this is their first cup in their careers with Gonchar having played since 1994.

Fedentenko’s name is already on hockey’s holy grail as he won it with Tampa Bay in 2004. It will be interesting to see where the players choose to bring the cup on their day with it during the summer.

With the next meaningful hockey game about 3.5 months away updates will be few and far but do stay tuned as July 1st marks another year of the free-agency frenzy which will be monitored closely by all of us here. We leave you now with CBC’s playoff montage found below.

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Stanley Cup Final Preview

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It seems like everything that happened this year was a waste of time as the same two teams from last year face off once again for the first rematch between the same teams in 25 years. In case you didn’t know this year will feature Detroit and Pittsburgh.

The new and improved Penguins take on the defending cup holders Red Wings who look to become the first team to win back-to-back cups since they themselves did in 1997 and 1998.

The Penguins come into the match-up with the most goals for and against with the Wings with second most. Marian Hossa will be under the microscope as he jumped ship from Pittsburgh to win a cup with Detroit. He will either look like a genius or a fool depending on the outcome.

Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby will be prominent players in the series as they are tied for most points in the playoffs. If the Penguins win the cup the Conn Smyth will go to the highest scorer overall as there is really nothing to set the two young guns apart.

Looking by position everything seems pretty even from the crease to the top lines. It is known that Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper will miss game 1(Tonight 8pm NBC) to injuries and their absence could prove dividend if they do not return soon.

I am alright at making predictions and as much as I like Malkin and young players I dont see them beating the Wings anytime soon. Wings in 6.

Russians in the mix-Malkin, Fedetenko, Gonchar, Datsyuk

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Round 2 Preview:Capitals vs Penguins

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After becoming the 21st team in NHL history to overcome a 3-1 series deficit, the Washington Capitals head back to the second round for the first time in 11 years. Alex Ovechkin and company meet a familiar foe in round two as they welcome the fourth seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. Led by Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby the Penguins Capitals match-up sees two of the league’s faces go head to head in a series which might go 7 games.

Crosby vs Ovechkin, Ovechkin vs Malkin, Semin vs Crosby, the Russian 5 vs the Russian duo, the headlines are endless with this series as not only do the NHL’s brigthest stars go head to head but Russia’s as well. It was not too long ago that Ovechkin and Malkin were feuding before Ilya Kovalchuk intervened at the all-star game in Montreal resulting in this kiss and make up moment.

Now the two players who are  nominated  for the league’s MVP and who will no doubt be featured in Russia’s roster come 2010 in Vancouver will go toe-to-toe on the biggest stage of their NHL careers thus far.  Not to mention Malkin’s teammate Crosby has been critical of Ovechkin’s cheap shots with the players having to be separated in a game back in February. Who can forget the now infamous “what’s so special about Crosby?” line by Alexander Semin.

The NHL’s dream match up has specfically been delayed to start tomorrow so it can be broadcasted on national televsion (NBC 1 pm).

Both teams have plenty of fire power with the usual suspects as well as Viktor Kozlov, Sergei Fedorov, Niklas Backstrom, Ruslan Fedetenko, Tyler Kennedy etc.  Both blue lines feature prominent players such as Mike”time to wake up” Green for the Caps and Sergei”hey remember me?”Gonchar who was tops in ice time last round.

The battle between the pipes will be interesting as rookie sensation Simeon Varlamov(who I hear might pay top ruble for this domain) will take on Marc-Andre Fleury who only had to stand on his head in round 1 against the Flyers. Fleury is the key to the Penguins success having led them to the Cup last year while Varlamov still has under 12 games in his pro career.

Caps in 7

Russians in the mix: Wash-Fedorov, Kozlov, Ovechkin, Semin, Varlamov Pitt:Gonchar, Fedetenko, Malkin

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Comrade of the Night Evgeni Malkin

Penguins Malkin Scoring Title Hockey courtesy of the AP

The first COTN honor of the second season goes to the league’s highest point getter in Evgeni Malkin. The Art Ross winner had a goal and assist in game 1 vs the Philadelphia Flyers. The goal(below) came in the third period with the Pens already up 2-0 in which Malkin intercepted a pass intended to bounce off the back wall and calmly backhanded it past Martin Biron.

the goal comes courtesy of NHL.com

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12.04.2009 A look at the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs (Western Conference)

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With the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs set to begin tonight here is a look at the Western Conference match-ups with predictions.

(1) San Jose Sharks vs (8) Anaheim Ducks

The President Trophy winning Sharks take on the Ducks in the battle of California. With a 4-2 head-to-head record in favor of San Jose the first step for the league’s top team will be a Ducks team with a new found confidence and a red-hot streak to enter the NHL’s second season. The Ducks enter the playoffs with a 7-2-1 streak but will have to battle against the team with too much depth for them to handle. Sharks in 5

(2) Detroit Red Wings vs (7) Columbus Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets first playoff appearance may be short lived as they face the Wings who haven’t missed the playoffs in almost 20 years. You can’t bet against the team which hails from hockey town as the experience out ways the Jackets’ in almost every category. Steve Mason could be the difference maker for the Jackets but dont expect them to overtake the defending cup holders. Wings in 5

(3)Vancouver Canucks vs (6) St. Louis Blues

The Blues make a return to the playoffs after a four year absence while the Canucks resurrected their season to over take the Calgary Flames for the Northwest title. The battle between the pipes should be key as Chris Mason battles Roberto Loungo who has been stellar in the second half of the season. While the Blues have experience in Keith Tkachuk and Mason the all around package is in favor of Vancouver. Canucks in 6

(4) Calgary Flames vs (5) Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have been riding the back of Nikolai Khabibulin who has had a comeback season of such. Being the uncle for the team of boys look for the young guns to back up the experience in the front. The Flames who let the division fall from their grasp will have something to prove with the likes of Iginla. This series is a toss up lets just say Blackhawks in 7

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A look at the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs (Eastern Conference)

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The NHL playoffs are all set and ready with mouth-watering match up’s for hockey fans to enjoy. Here is a look at the first round match-ups

Eastern Conference

(1) Boston Bruins vs (8) Montreal Canadiens

A rematch from last year with the teams in opposite seeds the Habs enter this series, losers of four of their last five and have been lucky to survive the titanic that was their season. Sub par goal tending and a long list of players on the injured list were keys to their demise. What’s worse is that the season series was all Bruins who went 5-1 winning the last 5 games outscoring the Habs 20-9. This series does not look good for Les Canadiens who will be lucky to win one game. Let’s hope for the sake of the city of Montreal that it’s in Boston so the series sees no riots this time. Boston in 5.

(2) Washington Capitals vs (7) New York Rangers

The second best power play meets the best penalty kill as the Capitals led by the Art Ross Trophy holder Alexander Ovechkin take on a recently confident Rangers team. The season series doesn’t favor the Rangers who went 1-3 versus the Caps. However they are coming off back to back wins over the rival Philadelphia Flyers led by goal keeper Henrik Lundqvist. The Swede could be the difference in the series as Jose Theodore doesn’t have a winning record in the NHL’s second season. However he does have a Vezina and Hart trophy to his credit which can not be said for Lundqvist. The Capitals have too much offense for the Rangers and enough depth for the long haul. Capitals in 6.

(3) New Jersey Devils vs (6) Carolina Hurricanes

Most of the hockey world did not expect the Devils to compete without Martin Brodeur sidelined for 3 months. Now the Devils head into the playoffs after capturing their 8th division title in 12 years. They face a red hot Carolina team who had won 9 straight before two straight losses to round out the season. The latest coming to the Devils 3-2 at New Jersey. Carolina won the series however 3-1.

This will be the fourth postseason series between the teams. Carolina defeated the Devils in five games in their most-recent meeting in the 2006 Eastern Conference Semifinals. The team that won each of the three previous series between the teams went on to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals. Devils in 6.

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs (5) Philadelphia Flyers

The battle of Pennsylvania continues into the playoffs. A rematch of last years conference finals this could be one of the better match ups in the first round. Evgeni Malkin can be the difference maker against a rather untested keeper in Martin Biron. However the Flyers have plenty of fire in Jeff Carter who finished second in the league in goals. The Penguins won the series 4-2 but this one could go either way. Pittsburgh in 7.

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