Monday, April 29, 2013

2013 Stanley Cup Finals Prediction: SPOILER ALERT

The Best Trophy in Sports: The Stanley Cup

It's the best trophy in sports.  It's the only trophy with a 24-hour escort staff.  It is a spectacle even when the sport it represents often is not.  Anyway, below is my prediction for the Stanley Cup Final.  Here are my predictions for the Prince of Wales (eastern) and Clarence Campbell (western) Conferences.


Stanley Cup Prediction

#1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #3 Vancouver Canucks

Penguins def. Canucks in 5

Party on Sid...Party on.  BTW, that's a month of Beard Growth.
Other Predictions:

Conn Smythe: Sidney Crosby
Leading Goal Scorer: Jarome Iginla
Best Series to Watch: Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens
Worst Series to Watch: Vancouver Canucks vs. San Jose Sharks

2013 Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions: Clarence Campbell Conference

Stanley Cup Playoffs Time: Here's Who's In It
It's that time of year for Canada: The Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Maybe they'll get some A-block time on Sportscenter (the American one).  Probably not, but here's hoping, right?  Anyway, My predictions here can't be worse than my March Madness fiasco where one of my cats did better than me.  I'm not joking.  Anyway, enjoy!  For those who can't figure it out, Clarence Campbell = Western Conference.  My Prince of Wales (Eastern) Conference Predictions are here.

Clarence Campbell Conference Quarterfinal Predictions:

#1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #8 Minnesota Wild
#1 Blackhawks def. #8 Wild in 4 games: No team looked more impressive than the Blackhawks in the lockout-shortened season.  No team was more impressive in the offseason than the Wild.  I'll take what works on the ice than what works on paper every day of the week.  Won't be close.

#2 Anaheim (mighty) Ducks vs. #7 Detroit Red Wings
#7 Red Wings def. #2 Ducks in 6 games: Call it reverse psychology as this passionate Avalanche fan is trying to put the bad juju on the Red Wings, but I also am just not a believer in the Ducks.  Hope I'm wrong!

#3 Vancouver Canucks vs. #6 San Jose Sharks
#3 Canucks def. #6 Sharks in 6 games: The battle of the Northwest.  Which means no one will watch it.  If a tree fell on this series, no one would hear it.  When in doubt, I go Canadian teams.

#4 St. Louis Blues vs. #5 L.A. Kings
#5 Kings def. #4 Blues in 7 games: For no other reason than they are the defending Stanley Cup Champions.  Love what the Blues have done, but may have a 'happy to be here' attitude.  Can go either way.

Clarence Campbell Conference Semi-Final Predictions:

#1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #7 Detroit Red Wings
#1 Blackhawks def. #7 Red Wings in 5 games: The NHL wins when these two Original Six teams play against each other, but this will not be a competitive series.  The Blackhawks will not underestimate their rivals.

#3 Vancouver Canucks vs. #5 L.A. Kings
#3 Canucks def. #5 Kings in 7 games: This west coast battle will go the distance in a series of lopsided games.  Will be one of the odder series in recent memory, but the Canucks will find a way to win.

Clarence Campbell Trophy Prediction:

#1 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #3 Vancouver Canucks
#3 Canucks def. #1 Blackhawks in 7 games: This pick is not based on any kind of empirical evidence other than if I truly believe one team is going to win, they probably aren't.  I've been so wrong so often recently that I'm just going with the opposite of my original thought here.

Stanley Cup Playoff Predictions: Prince of Wales Conference

NHL Playoffs Time.  Here's who's in it.
It's that time of year for Canada: The Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Maybe they'll get some A-block time on Sportscenter (the American one).  Probably not, but here's hoping, right?  Anyway, My predictions here can't be worse than my March Madness fiasco where one of my cats did better than me.  I'm not joking.  Anyway, enjoy!  For those who can't figure it out, Prince of Wales = Eastern Conference.  My predictions for the Clarence Campbell (western) conference are here

Prince of Wales Conference Quarterfinal Predictions
#1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #8 New York Islanders
#1 Pittsburgh def. #8 Islanders in 4 games: Congrats to the Islanders for making the playoffs, now get out.  Penguins too big, fast, strong, better, etc.  Won't even be close.

#2 Montreal Canadiens vs. #7 Ottawa Senators
#2 Canadiens def. #7 Senators in 5 games: This will be one of the more competitive five-game series in a long time due to the passion that will be exuded in both arenas.  This all-Canada battle will be fierce, but Montreal simply has more talent.

#3 Washington Capitals vs. #6 New York Rangers
#6 Rangers def. #3 Capitals in 6 games: An upset in seeding only.  The Rangers had only one fewer point while having nearly identical goal differentials.  Plus, the Rangers have Henrik Lundqvist.  He's pretty good come playoff time (.917 sv%, 2.31 GAA, 6 SO).

#4 Boston Bruins vs. #5 Toronto Maple Leafs
#4 Bruins def. #5 Maple Leafs in 7 games: This series pitting two Original Six teams will be extremely hard fought.  In the end, though, home ice and being #BostonStrong will propel the Bruins.

Prince of Wales Conference Semi-Final Predictions

#1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #6 New York Rangers
#1 Penguins def. #6 Rangers in 5 games: Pittsburgh's new offensive weapons in Brendan Morrow and Jarome Iginla will be too much for what will be a stout Rangers defense.

#2 Montreal Canadiens vs. #4 Boston Bruins
#4 Bruins def. #2 Canadiens in 7 games: These two teams hate each other.  It will be great theater for all seven games.  This would be the feature matchup of the entire playoffs.  Lots of goals, hitting, fighting, and everything else that is great about the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Prince Of Wales ConferenceTrophy Prediction

#1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #4 Boston Bruins
#1 Penguins def. #4 Bruins in 6 games: Pittsburgh will finally receive its first challenge of the playoffs in Boston, but the Penguins are simply too good.

Friday, April 26, 2013

2013 NFL First Round Reactions

Round one has come and gone and to say it was an unusual first round would be an understatement.  Zero running backs taken (first time since '63), 18 of the 32 picks were either offensive or defensive lineman (including first seven picks), 3 offensive guards drafted in the first round.  Lots of guys who wore T-shirts in the pool became studs with fancy duds.

1st Round Reaction

It wouldn't be an NFL Draft without booing Jets fans
Calm Down, Jets Fans: I was among the many who ridiculed the Jets second selection of the first round in Sheldon Richardson.  But then I took a minute and composed myself and then realized that they did what I wanted my Chargers to do: select the best player on their board regardless of position.  The Jets need good players.  And if that means they have a dominant defensive line, so be it.

How Awkward Was This? Leave it to Bill Belichek to rain on a media-friendly parade.  The NFL had a plan for a tribute to Boston.  Had a special jersey made for the draft pick to receive, and everything.  Then, Belichek trades the pick.  A Boston tribute with no Boston team present.  Classic Belichek

So True, Bills fans
Condolences to Bills Fans: They're saying they like the pick and I'm glad that they can rationalize things so easily, but let's be serious.  This pick was a disaster.  "Worst non-Oakland pick in years" -Todd McShay.  That says it better than I ever could.  Simply terrible.

Chance Warmack Belly
The Titans Landed a Marketing Goldmine: If I was in the Tennessee Titans marketing department, I would be organizing a "Who can wear it better" contest with their first round Pick Chance Warmack.  His belly shirts were legendary at Alabama, and both male and female fans alike should partake in a contest to imitate/dominate the belly shirt contest.  Would be a heated contest of hotness and hilarity.  But alliteration aside, he might be the safest draft pick in years.  Will dominate day 1.

Contest Participant..I'm onto something, right?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Draft Day Mock Draft: The Craziest Thing You'll Ever See

Today is like Christmas for NFL teams.  Some teams will have their stockings stuffed with gifts, and some with coal.  Until today, I have undertook the impossible practice of predicting the picks without trades.  Today, I make an even more ridiculous prediction by trying to predict the trades that will happen in tonight's first round of the NFL Draft.  Enjoy the craziness that follows.  It'll make tonight seem rather tame.  The Green means a team traded up to that spot, the pale red means the team traded down.  All in all there were five trades predicted.

Monday, April 22, 2013

2013 NFL Mock Draft: If QBs Went Early

It's the Monday before the NFL Draft, which starts on Thursday.  Every team has hope that they will "win" the draft.  Even Oakland has a first round pick.  Anyway, today's "what if" scenario I will be representing is if no one trades, and that teams in the top-10 panic and take QBs.  This is not my official prediction for the first round.  That will come later.  This is just a depiction of how much the draft can change if one or two teams take someone out of the ordinary, shifting the draft boards of the other teams close to them.  In this version, the Jets will go from gangrenous to tickled pink.  This is why the draft is great.  It's all drama.  It's all ad-hoc.  It's great.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Top-10 Sports Bucket List

After seeing the horrific bombings at the Boston Marathon and in West, Texas, I've started to reflect on how short life can be.  After that, I came up with a top-10 list of sporting events that I would like to see before I die.  Will I ever be able to accomplish this?  Only time will tell.  But I'm setting my goals very high.  Caveats: I've already seen Yankees vs. Red Sox at both parks, Dodgers vs. Giants in L.A., USA vs. Canada hockey, Bruins vs. Canadiens in Boston, Celtics vs. Lakers in Boston, Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs, and a slew of other American rivalries.  From what I'm told, the crowds in North America pale in comparison to the rest of the world.  Only one way to find out.

#10: Geelong Cats vs. Hawthorn Hawks @ Kardinia Park
One of the most competitive recent rivalries in any sport.  The fans are electric, and the sport is a perfect mixture of barbarism and athleticism.  If I had more time, "Footy" would be the sport I pick up.  Plus, these cats are much better than Peter Criss.

#9: India vs. Pakistan Cricket @ Eden Park
First, I'll need the sport explained to me, but from what I've heard, this is an absolute must see even if you don't know the sport.  Numerous accounts report that the two countries shut down for the match.  And, unlike other sports, these matches can last an entire work week!  That's a lot of sports passion in one place.  Don't know if it can be beat, honestly.

#8: Celtic vs. Rangers or Celtic Champions League @ Celtic Park
A recent addition to my sports life is soccer, and I am head over heels with The Beautiful Game.  Watching past "Old Firm" games pitting Celtic vs. Rangers in Scotland and watching Celtic play anyone in the Champions League at Celtic Park was, in a word: Mesmerizing.  The "Green Brigade" is always out in full force, but it was a true sight to behold when Celtic took on Barcelona and Juventus.  Must witness first hand.  The noise in the stadium means that there can't be a bad seat in the house.

#7: Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke 04 @ Westfalenstadion 
The Revierderby of Dortmund vs. Schalke is a true rivalry in the sense that both clubs have had times of glory and of despair.  Often at the others' expense.  The tension is thick and has bubbled over on a few occasions, but I will find a seat that is not near where the two sets of supporters meet.  Safety be damned!  Unfortunately, that is a theme for many of the events on my bucket list.  The "Die Gelbe Wand"(Yellow Wall) is worth it.

#6: Boca Juniors vs. River Plate @ La Bombonera
Spain has "El Clasico" (see below), but Argentina has "Superclasico."  You would never know that La Bombonera, the Boca Juniors home, only houses a shade under 50,000 people by the noise that comes through the television.  One of South America's fiercest rivalries.

#5: New Zealand All Blacks vs. South Africa Springboks @ Ellis Park
This is a Hollywood pick, but "Invictus" made me want to see this.  If it was on the same site as the 1995 Rugby World Cup final, that would be all the better, but just to see two of the best Rugby nations go head-to-head would be good enough for me.  This is also one that WifeOfGotti would certainly enjoy.

#4: Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals @ Wrigley Field
I've never been to Chicago, let alone a Cubs game.  WifeOfGotti is also a Cardinals fan who has been booed and ridiculed at the likes of Shea Stadium.  I would love to see the environment if she wore her David Eckstein Cardinals jersey into Wrigley.  So much history has not been made here (bazinga).  It's like going on one of those ghost tours.

#3: Mexico vs. USA @ Estadio Azteca
The altitude.  The fans.  The rivalry.  The lack of American success.  So much to be excited for in the Mexico City landmark.  Watching the Yanks take on El Tri would be a dream come true anywhere, but in the would be out of this world.

#2: FC Barcelona Vs. Real Madrid @ Camp Nou
El Clasico.  Need I say more?  These two teams hate each other.  These fans hate each other.  The ownership of both clubs hate each other.  Yet, they all must tolerate each other when representing Spain in international competitions.  It's a fascinating dichotomy and I'd love to try to get my finger on the pulse of it.

#1: Follow US Soccer in World Cup 2014 @ Brazil
There is no more popular sporting event in the world.  There is no more popular soccer team than Brazil.  SO when the most popular competition comes to the most popular team's country, how can it not be on the top of anyone's list.  Even if the US fails to get past the group stage, it would be the time of my life being in the heart of the best competition on the planet.  Plus, it's a trip to Brazil.  All I have to say is...WHO'S COMIN WITH ME?

Friday, April 12, 2013

2013 NFL Mock Draft: Only Two Weeks to Go!

Only Two weeks until the real NFL Draft takes place, and I look like an absolute fool for even trying to predict what actually happens.  I am operating under the assumption that there will not be any trades.  With that being said, I fully expect there to be a significant amount of movement, starting with the Cleveland Browns at pick #6.  This draft isn't loaded with elite talent, but it is a very deep draft and there is a ton of quality that can be found in later rounds.  This is another draft where a QB did not make it into the first round because I am basing a lot of this off of team need/talent available.  I'm sure that there will be QBs taken in the first round in the real draft, but I think it will be at the end of the first round with teams that have an early second round pick trading back into the first round to ensure they get their guy.  With all that being said, here's my latest mock draft.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

2013 NFL Mock Draft: Significant Version #1

It's one of my favorite times of the year: The lead up to the NFL draft.  Fans of every team all feel a sense hope (unless you're a Raiders fan, then you're just hopeless).  But, as in all sports, it is often hope that ultimately kills you.  As an unapologetic Chargers fan, I have absolutely no hope that they will make the correct pick if given the opportunity to draft Chance Warmack from Alabama, but I'd love to hope that they will (see below).  As I looked back at this draft, I could not believe my eyes when I saw that there are more Syracuse University players (2) drafted than the total number of QBs and TEs combined (0).  As I move forward and as more players start to get signed in free agency closer to the draft date, I'm sure both numbers will change.  But until then, enjoy a quarterback-free mock draft!

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Most Unbiased MLB Predictions Ever

It's Opening Day!  If you don't count last night...
Does anyone else think it's weird that MLB's opening day is today, but the season officially started last night?  Maybe it's just me, I'm just weird like that.  Anyway, I'm taking a break from my EPL/UCL/FA Cup/NFL Draft analysis to provide some unbiased, uninformed MLB predictions.  I rattled some cages with my AL East preview, but now it's time to rattle everyone else's cage.

Let me know how you feel on or on Twitter @SportsByGotti!