Friday Flashback: 1970 Stanley Cup Final

stanleyIt has taken 49 years for this Stanley Cup rematch between the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues.  While Boston has had more recent success, winning the title in 2011 and losing in the final in 2013, the Blues have not returned until this season.

In the 1970 final, the Bruins swept the Blues in four games.

Boston, coached by Harry Sinden, finished the regular season in second place in the Eastern Division behind the Chicago Blackhawks but defeated the New York Rangers in six games and swept the Blackhawks in four games to get to the final.  The Blues, led by Scotty Bowman, finished first in the Western Division then dispatched the Minnesota Northstars and Pittsburgh Penguins in six games to make it to their third straight Stanley Cup final.  They had been swept by the Montreal Canadiens in the two previous finals.

The Bruins breezed through the first three games winning 6-1, 6-2 and 4-1.  The most competitive game of the series was the fourth game.  Larry Keenan scored 19 seconds into the third period on a power play goal to give the Blues a 3-2 lead.  The Bruins tied up the game with 7:32 left in regulation on a goal from Johnny Bucyk.   The game went into overtime but not very deep as Bobby Orr scored the game winner – and series winner – just 40 seconds in to complete the sweep.  It was his only goal in the cup final.  Orr was named the Most Valuable Player.

The image of Orr flying through the air, his arms raised in victory — who was tripped by Blues’ defenseman Noel Picard immediately after scoring the goal — is one of the most famous and recognized hockey images of all time.

Click here to watch Orr’s game winning goal.

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Since 1970, the Bruins have been in the Stanley Cup final nine times (1972, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1988, 1990, 2011, 2013, 2019).  The Blues have not been back until this season.

 

 

Nashville Nightwatch, Luggage Shopping And Pizza

052918You won’t see it on the local sports news or the Tennessean but the Nashville Nightwatch (3-3)  stunned the Austin Sol (4-4) on Saturday 27-21 for their third straight win.  If I’m not mistaken this is the first time the team has won three straight games in their four-year history.  The Nightwatch have climbed out of the South Division cellar in the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL).   The Nightwatch had an amazing 95% completion rate in the game and took advantage of 21 turnovers by the Sol.  The next home game is this Saturday at 7 p.m. when the Nightwatch host division-leading Dallas (5-1).  If you haven’t seen this sport of ultimate Frisbee, you really need to try it.

I never thought it would be such a task to purchase luggage for an upcoming trip.  My wife and I know a lot more about luggage now than we did before.  Part of the task was finding the appropriate luggage that meets carry-on requirements so that we won’t have to check a bag.  The magic number this weekend was 45″ linear inches which is the carry-on limitations for Delta.  Now I know the terms such as “spinner” and “retractable handles”.  Just because they say the luggage is carry-on doesn’t exactly mean it meets requirements.   I’m learning a lot on how to be a minimal packer.  I don’t like it.  I tend to carry lots of stuff with me.  This will be an adventure for sure.

My wife and I love pizza.  We will often try different pizza places.  This weekend we tried a new Five Points Pizza which opened in West Nashville.  I took one bite and waited for my wife to take hers and we both agreed that we loved it.  It was the perfect blend of sauce and cheese.  Too many places just blob the cheese on top.  Not a fan of that.  Five Points was a hit with us.  We usually base our pizza on a place we loved when we lived in Tampa, Florida.  There was a place we loved called “Flippers” in St. Petersburg.  When we tasted the one this weekend, we both said it reminded us of Flippers.  I still haven’t found a pizza that compares to Ingleside Pizza in Macon, Georgia.  That one is my favorite so far.

President Trump is in Nashville today for a rally to support a local politician running for office.  If you have ever had a President visit your city, you can’t fully understand what a pain in the arse it can be.  It doesn’t matter if you like the President or not.  When he visits, it disrupts traffic and the entire infrastructure around where he’s visiting.  Several streets are already closed and many others will be closed temporarily around the time he rolls into downtown.  Probably right around the time for the evening rush hour.  We also have some storms headed our way about the same time.  The commute home may take a while.

We visited a couple of new places over the Memorial Day weekend which popped up on Facebook lately as places to visit.  The first one was Dunbar Cave State Park near Clarkesville, Tennessee.  Dunbar Cave is the 280th largest cave complex in the world.  During the Big Band era they used to have dances, concerts and festivals that cave’s entrance where they constructed a bandstand and dance floor.  They say it stays a constant 58 degrees year-round.  The park offers tours in the cave but we didn’t join in because we aren’t big fans of tight places.  The other place we visited was Marrowbone Lake near Joelton, Tennessee which had a large lake and featured a dam with some falls.  If you like fishing, it might be the place for you but not exactly a place to relax and enjoy the lake.  I’m not so sure I didn’t hear banjos playing in the distance.  We drove down a road and saw a Pirate’s Ship and some sort of resort complex which was gated.  Over the gate it advised that they do not call 911 they shoot.  We immediately turned around and got out of there.

For the fourth straight year, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will meet in the NBA Finals.  I read an article that says this is the first championship series in North America to repeat four straight years.  Other than Cleveland and San Francisco Bay area, will anyone be watching? Will viewers be burnt out on this matchup?  Most people give Golden State the overwhelming nod to win the title but Cleveland has Lebron James.  Anything is possible.  I think people will watch because this is going to be a classic rivalry that people will look back on.

In the Stanley Cup final, it’s hard to watch without the Nashville Predators being there.  I find myself pulling for Vegas.  After watching Game 1 last night, it looks like it’s going to be an exciting series.

 

 

Friday Flashback: 1967-1968 St. Louis Blues

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This season the Vegas Golden Knights have reached the Stanley Cup Final in their first season.  Although there has been a lot made about their accomplishments as the National Hockey League’s latest expansion team, the 1967-1968 St. Louis Blues also made it to the Stanley Cup final in their first season.

The only caveat to this accomplishment was that the Blues were one of six expansion teams to added in the 1967-1968 season.  The Blues joined the Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and California Seals as the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams.  All of the six expansion teams were placed in the same division so any of the teams was guaranteed to make it to the final.

In their first NHL game, the Blues and Minnesota North Stars played to a 2-2 tie in St. Louis.  Larry Keenan scored the Blues’ first goal.  The Blues were originally coached by Lynn Patrick but Patrick resigned in November and was replaced by Scotty Bowman.

The Blues finished their first season with a record or 27-31-16 for third place in the West Division.  They finished the season 3-1-1 to get into the playoffs.  Gordon “Red” Berenson was the team’s leading scored with 22 goals in 55 games.

In the playoffs, the Blues knocked off the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games.  The Blues had a 3-1 lead in the series but the Flyers routed the Blues 6-1 in Game 5 then won Game 6 in double-overtime to force a seventh game.  In the seventh game, the Blues scored on Power Play goals from Frank St. Marseille and Keenan.  Berenson put the game away with a goal in the third for a 3-1 win.

In the semifinals,  the Blues defeated the Minnesota North Stars in seven games to advance to the Stanley Cup finals.  Ron Schock had the game winner 2:50 into overtime for the Blues.

Although the Blues were swept by the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup finals, all four games were decided by one goal while two of those games went into overtime.

  • May 5, 1968 – Montreal 3, St. Louis 2 (ot)
  • May 7, 1968 – Montreal 1, St. Louis 0
  • May 9, 1968 – Montreal 4, St.  Louis 3 (ot)
  • May 11, 1968 – Montreal 3, St. Louis 2

Nashville Predators’ television host, Terry Crisp (a.k.a. “Crispy”) was selected in the Blues’ expansion draft.

The Blues also made it to the Stanley Cup Finals the next two seasons but were swept by the Canadiens and Boston Bruins.  They have not been to the Stanley Cup finals since then.

 

 

 

Hockey Tonk Hangover

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This is not the post I wanted to make this morning.   This is the morning after the Nashville Predators lost Game Six of the Stanley Cup final, giving the Penguins another title.  It was a heartbreaking defeat as the game was scoreless until the final few minutes of regulation.   As we were assuming overtime might decide it, Patric Hornqvist slipped the puck in off of Predators’ goalie Pekka Rhinne for the game winner.  Carl Hagelin ended all hope of a comeback with an empty net goal with 14 seconds left.

I won’t lie.  It hurts.

Yes, I know the Predators had an amazing run and played in their first Stanley Cup final but at the moment it means nothing.

The Stanley Cup playoffs are grueling.   Two months of playoff hockey.  It takes its toll on players, coaches and fans.  I’m tired and emotionally spent.  I’ve always said that the playoffs should all be best-of-five series instead of seven game marathons.

preds fansYes, the Predators did the unthinkable.  They swept the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, eliminated the St. Louis Blues in six games and out-hustled the Anaheim Ducks in six to advance to the Stanley Cup final.   Music City was absolutely crazy and a town painted in gold.  Fans packed viewing locations on Broadway, Hall of Fame Park and other designated viewing areas to support the team.   It was an amazing experience.

As far as the final thoughts about the Stanley Cup final, I think the Predators missed Ryan Johansen and Kevin Fiala.  It might have been a different series had they remained healthy.  I read some comments on social media where Predator fans are posted memes about the refs but as Predators’ captain Mike Fisher said, “It’s just sports”.   Yes, the refs were horrible in this series.  The NHL needs to do something about that but the fact remains that the Predators still had power play opportunities and were still shutout – even with a 5-on-3 advantage – so you can’t pin that one on the refs.  Another thing I have noticed is the poor sportsmanship from Penguin fans.  One went back and commented on my post on a Predators’ site that was unnecessary.  I’m just surprised on their reactions.  I even saw a Penguins fan and I wished them good luck before the game.  He did the same.  There was no “Penguins suck” or any other trash talk.

I also wish Predator fans would get rid of the ridiculous chant after our team scores.  So the sportsmanship works both ways.

P.K. Subban already predicts that the Predators will be back.  I guess he means the Stanley Cup final.  Honestly, I wish he would stop talking.  I’m really not sure he’s that good on the ice.  I have not been a fan.

In every postseason there is always a goaltender that gets hot and leads his team.   Pekka Rinne did that but he really had problems on the road in the final.  He was as bad as he could have been.  He wasn’t particularly great during the regular season.  I’m just wondering if the Predators might need to get another goalie ready.  I don’t think Saros is the answer.

Another area the Predators need to get better is on the power play.  The team has not been much of a threat on power play opportunities.  When the Predators start on a power play I have not gotten my hopes up because it hasn’t been an advantage.

The most frustrating part of the play of the Predators is shot selection.  When the puck is in the offensive zone the team passes too many times in an attempt to get a perfect shot.  It seems very indecisive and then when they take a shot it is a poor choice.   With the goal scorers the team has on offense, this shouldn’t be happening.

Yes, I’m a little bitter right now.  If you get this far you should win it because you never know if you will ever get back here or not.  It’s a long season.   In fact, training camp starts again in September.

With that said, it was a season that no one expected.  Not even myself.  If you look back at my past blog posts you will see that I did not pick the Predators to win any of their playoff series so they surprised me and exceeded any expectations anyone had.  For the first time, I watched more hockey this season than any other.  My wife and I were doubtful how good the Predators would be after the regular season.

Losing always hurts but I’m sure it will hurt less in the days and weeks ahead.  It has been a fun season.

Friday Flashback: 2012 Los Angeles Kings

NHL-STANLEY/

In this season’s Stanley Cup finals, the Nashville Predators are the lowest seed to make it to the final since the Los Angeles Kings won it in 2012.   Like the Predators, the Kings entered the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs as the number eight seed in the Western Conference.  The Los Angeles Kings historically had not fared well in the postseason, having only advanced beyond second round of the playoffs once in franchise history.  They were the first eighth seed in North American professional sports history to win a championship. They are also one of the few teams to win a championship after never benefitting from home-venue advantage in the post-season. Los Angeles would start every series by winning the first three games, only sweeping the St. Louis Blues.

The Kings finished 40-27-15 during the regular season for third place in the Pacific Division.

In 2012, the Kings took a 3-0 lead in the finals against the New Jersey Devils then won in six games for their first Stanley Cup.  The Kings upset the #1 seed Vancouver Canucks in the first round with a 4-1 win, swept the Blues in four straight then easily eliminated the Phoenix Coyotes in five games.

The Kings’ road dominance in the playoffs was probably the most impressive part of their championship run. Their Game 5 loss in the finals was the only road defeat in the postseason, the Kings were a stunning 10-1 away from Staples Center.

There are several different reasons for the Kings’ success on the road.

Most obvious is the play of goaltender Jonathan Quick.   Quick, who was voted the Most Valuable Player, was 16-4 in the playoffs with a 1.41 Goals Against Average and recorded three shutouts.  Another reason for their road success was their phenomenal penalty kill. The Kings finished the playoffs with the second-best penalty-killing percentage in the playoffs, and also scored five short-handed goals.

Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter led the Kings with eight goals during their playoff run.

Darryl Sutter was the head coach for the Kings.   Sutter led the Kings to another Stanley Cup in 2014.  On April 10, 2017, the Kings relieved Sutter of his coaching duties after the team missed the playoffs for the second season in three years.