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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Talking Trash

The blog has had some of its best times at the MetroCentre and following the Rockford IceHogs. The only thing better than a series championship series with the Hogs versus the Wolves would be a conference championship. And that could have happened this year.

For the Wolves, this is really a blessing. No disrespect to the players, but the Wolves were cruising from about March 1st to the end of the season. A series against the Milwaukee Admirals and a series against the Rockford IceHogs is just what this team needs to get ready for a final showdown for the Calder Cup.

Not that I wouldn’t love to see the IceHogs go on to the Calder too.

There are people out there, and I’m thinking of you Bob Howard, who don’t seem to be giving the West Division a chance in the Calder Cup race. Syracuse, Portland and Providence is the mantra. No one said it was going to be easy to win the Calder. But for every great goalie and team in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Division, there has been one in the West.

I truly thought the promising career of Pekka Rinne was finished when he was mugged while home over the summer in Oulu, Finland. He looked so shaky on his return last season. Nashville seemed to give up on him, relegating him to the AHL for the rest of his career.

I don’t think that is true any longer. I’ve seen the Nashville goalies up close, and Rinne should be able to take their spot next season, if there is fairness in the heavens. Though John Anderson will tell you that there is no fairness, especially in the heaven dominated by hockey.

Rinne kept the MAds in the series against Chicago far longer than the rest of the team deserved. His play was top form.

Now, in round two, the Wolves face Corey Crawford. As I mentioned in the blog before, I was blessed to have tickets the night Corey played at the United Center against the Anaheim Ducks. He shut them down. In the three games so far, no one can doubt his ability to stop pucks.

This is a tougher series than against the MAds too, because the IceHogs are simply a better team then the MAds. They have been all season. Either the Hogs or the Wolves should be able to handle the Crunch or the Marlies and move on to the finals.

Will the next series be easy for either team? Of course not. Even 4-1 series wins, at this level, are hard-played white knuckle contests. The small-ice Hogs are a physical team and would match up well against the Crunch, while pitting Toronto against Chicago would be an exciting big city battle of two places with original six teams that have disappointed their fans recently.

Zenon Konopka’s reputation is preceding him to the Midwest. We could start the trash talk now, but let’s see if the Crunch has more staying power than Al, the ice monkey, and his political run for mayor. Let’s see them defeat the Marlies first.

By the way, Al is the best thing about Syracuse. It is one of the few places in the AHL I’ve visited where none of the home fans approached us, where I felt the stadium deserved a bull dozer and the city to be forcibly repatriated to either the Iroquois or, if they wouldn’t take them, Great Britain.

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