Thursday, April 20, 2006

I'm the king of the world!

With all the excitement over the playoffs, we Canadians tend to forget about the IIHF World Hockey Championships, which take place in May. Now, everyone was jumping all over themselves to pick our Olympic team, but few will wander into this territory, as it involves a lot more guesswork over who will or won't be in the playoffs come round two.

Briefly, I present to you my dream team for our beloved homeland in the 2006 World Championships (players on non-playoff teams in bold).

Simon Gagne Sidney Crosby Jarome Iginla
Martin St. Louis Vincent Lecavalier Brad Richards
Paul Kariya Mike Ribeiro Rick Nash
Shane Doan Kris Draper Michael Ryder

EX: Patrice Bergeron, Brendan Shanahan

Dion Phaneuf Ed Jovanovski
Brad Stuart Robyn Regher
Jay Bouwmeester Brian McCabe

EX: Dan Boyle

Manny Fernandez
Manny Legace
Marc Denis

Here's why:

Ottawa vs Tampa Bay: As much as the Sens choke, they are a ridiculously good team, with or without Hasek. People also tend to forget that a decent part of Tampa's run last year was because Khabibulin remembered how to play goal for a while--they didn't have the same calibre of goaltending this year, and it shows in the standings.

Carolina vs Montréal:
Bob McKenize, who knows these things, thinks Montréal will go with Aebischer, which is beyond ridiculous. Even with Huet in net, though, Carolina is too good and too playoff-prepared (read: gritty two-way players who like it physical and have soft hands) to be stopped. It's worth noting that the best Hurricane against the Habs, Erik Cole (5G, 3A in 3 games) is out for the series, but they have enough other weapons to make up for it.
BONUS PREDICTION: 'CANES COME OUT OF THE EAST--They played in the weakest division, but they've got the best record against the other divisions in the east (27-9-4, just edging Ottawa's 27-11-2), and pretty much owned Tampa during the regular season. Best record in the league at home, too.

New Jersey vs New York:
New York is a fine team, but I think you can only really count New Jersey with Patrick Elias, where they've been unreal (even if their win streak ends). This will be a tight one, though. DEVILS IN 7

Buffalo vs Philadelphia:
Forsberg's got magic come this time of year (which probably means Gagne will, too), but Philly's defence is weaker than Buffalo's by a bit, and their goaltending is significantly so. Plus, Buffalo only had Briere for about half the year, and he scored better than a point a game. With him, they have scoring from about three lines, and a really, really good powerplay.

Detroit vs Edmonton:
Jarred Stoll, Raffi Torres, Ethan Moreau, Fernando Pisani, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Mike Peca all suddenly return to their mid-December form (remember the team that scored almost at will?). A freak disease that only affects Swedes sweeps through Detroit on Friday, felling their second line and half their defence, but meaning Igor Ulanov dresses in place of Dick Tarnstrom for us. Steve Yzerman announces his retirement to focus on his golf game, and Dwayne Roloson pulls off his mask to reveal that he is really a cloned version of late-'90s Dominik Hasek. The New York Times discovers this blog during this miraculous playoff series and offers me a job as a feature writer. On a trip to New York to meet the publisher, I save Scarlett Johansson's dog from being hit by a car, and she offers to buy me dinner as a thank you.

Dallas vs Colorado:
The Avs and Stars' planes collide in mid-air on the way back to Denver after splitting the first two games. While everyone miraculously survives, they all suffer career-ending knee injuries, leaving the teams unable to compete. Colorado and Dallas both announce that, in light of the tragedy, they are disbanding their franchises. Dallas also announces that anyone who cheers for the Cowboys probably has significant brain damage, and razes the stadium with the entire team still inside.

Calgary vs Anaheim:
In a freak coincidence, the Avs/Stars plane crash happens near Anaheim, directly over the spot where Mikka Kiprusoff is walking towards the team bus. Kiprusoff almost stops the planes from crashing, but his attempt at a kick save leaves him with a career-ending knee injury. Anaheim spends the rest of the series showing Calgary fans just how terrible the Flames are without Kipper, sweeping the next three games by a combined score of 16-1. DUCKS IN 5

Nashville vs San Jose: Thornton/Cheechoo have been great, obviously, but the rest of the team has also started playing like people predicted they would at the start of the year. I don't think goaltending is that big a difference (Mason certainly isn't as good as Vokoun, but Nabokov/Toskala are as inconsistent a duo as there is in the league, now that we have a more reliable goalie), but Nashville benefitted from being in the Central (23-8-1 vs 24-14-4 against the rest of the west), and that was with Vokoun for most of the year.

Bonus note: props to DrZ for mentioning us in his biweekly column, posted
here. If you don't ever read his writing, you really should.

EDIT: Also, I won our hockey pool. Making me the most qualified person to talk hockey on this blog, obviously.


Arcanas said...

Turbulence in 3. Line. Of. The Year. :P

Anonymous said...

Great post, Dave... and thanks for the link. I have to admit, though, that my mention of you fellas started out accidental... I was looking for three *really* bland Edmonton-guy names to replace Tom, Dick and Harry... and suddenly there you all were. Like magic.

Adamn! said...

I don't know, Dave, your Edmonton-Detroit prediction seems a bit unrealistic. I mean, doesn't Scarlett Johansson strike you as more of a cat person?

Anonymous said...

You want Mike Ribeiro on a team that represents the country that nourishes me. No Sir!! That insult cannot stand. When said Ribeiro APOLOGIZES for FAKING injury and then TAUNTING opponents over the successful misreprenstation; maybe, maybe he should be allowed to wipe the spit off of the floor of the players bench, he shouldn't get any closer to a national team than that.

Paul O-the O stands for Sports said...

{Insert inappropriate pussy joke here}

the Prez said...

I must say, I'm a fan of this disease-that-only-affects-Swedes. But Ulanov is the eighth defenceman...what will happen to Greene?

Pleasure Motors said...

I was being optimistic, for your sake.

the Prez said...

'Tis much appreciated.