***** Illegal Curve is no longer posting at this address. Visit us at our new location http://www.illegalcurve.com

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Eastern Conference Final Preview

Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh.

The battle of Pennsylvania takes centre stage starting Friday night, with the Flyers and Pens meeting in the friendly confines of the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh. Due to the fact the Pens were accused of tanking their last regular season game to avoid playing Philly in a first round match-up, this series has the makings of quite the barn burner.

With the emergence of R.J. Umberger as a scoring threat, Philly’s forwards do in fact give the Pens’ forwards a run for their money. Umberger, Danny Briere, and Jeff Carter are three solid centres, and with help from Knuble, Prospal, and Lupul, the Flyers boast quite the offensive bunch that can also play the body. Unfortunately for Philly, the Pens’ forwards that consist of Crosby, Malkin, Hossa, Sykora, Staal, and Ryan “Ho”Malone (shout out to Ezzy Ginsburg), are arguably the best top six in the NHL. Although the Flyers' depth upfront may be stronger with role players such as Upshall, Hartnell and Downie, they can’t match-up with the Pens' skilled forwards.
Edge: Penguins

Both teams are not the greatest defensively, and have quite a similar makeup overall. Gonchar gets the nod over Timonen due to his powerplay quarterbacking capabilities, and both Hatcher and Hal Gill are slow, terrible, and were washed up back when I upgraded to a Pentium 66 to play NHL 96 on my computer. Orpik and Jason Smith are solid stay at home d-men, with “Gator” getting the edge for his astute defensive play and toothless grin. Coburn beats out the Pens’ Ryan Whitney, and has become a great source of secondary scoring from the back end. Whitney has not lived up to his new contract and high expectations from last year, and has been relegated to the second powerplay group in favour of Malkin manning the point.
Edge: Toss-up; Penguins slightly better offensively, Flyers better defensively

This category is also quite close between the two keepers. Fleury has not been tested too extensively thus far in the playoffs, and will likely have to steal a game for the Pens in this round. Biron on the other hand has had two tremendous series thus far, and would be considered an early Conn Smythe candidate, if not for Umberger stepping it up (and the fact that he is a terrible goalie).
Edge: Flyers

City Atmosphere:
I've never been to Pittsburgh before, but I once took a bus down Broad Street for 20 minutes at 11:30pm after a Phillies game and was pleasantly surprised by the friendly nature of all the homeless individuals.
Edge: Philly

Famous Movies Filmed in each City:
Although “Sudden Death” was terrific and featured a cameo by Luc Robitaille, the “Rocky” collection wins hands down, with an honourable mention to “Invincible”. Note: "Groundhog Day" starring Bill Murray doesn’t count since it took place on the outskirts of Pittsburgh.
Edge: Philly

Signature Food Item:
Obviously Philadelphia wins for the Philly Cheese Steak and because I can’t name any signature food for Pittsburgh other than Heinz ketchup.
Edge: Philly

Prediction: Pens in six with Mario ordering two Philly Cheese Steaks during the second intermission of game 3.

Follow-up item:

Thanks to everyone for the feedback on this review. Although my main goal was intended to provide a little Wednesday morning amusement, my omission of Mike Richards from the Flyers’ forward lineup was inexcusable. I guess that’s what happens when you write a preview column at 12:30 am while watching an episode of “E-True Hollywood Story” about the cast of “Growing Pains”. Gotta love Dr. Jason Seaver. That was a major oversight on my behalf, but regardless, I still believe that Pittsburgh’s offensive prowess will be difficult to contain.

I maintain my stance on Hatcher being washed up. Sure, maybe he was solid for the Motor City Mechanics of the UHL during the lockout, but at this point of his career Teri Hatcher can do a better job skating backwards.

Further and more importantly, I stand by my position of the Philly Cheese Steak being the best the food item. I don’t need to visit Pittsburgh to tell you that I’d rather have an Eskimo Pie over a Klondike Bar any day of the week.

Ballhype: hype it up!


Dave said...

Honestly, this is one of the worst previews I have ever read, and I don't mean the jokes about food and movies.

First Umberger does not play Center he plays wing for the Flyers. He plays wing on a line centered by MIKE RICHARDS who you managed not to mention. He's only the Flyers best all around player.

Second Hatcher has been spectacular in these playoffs playuing hurt and being a plus 6 through the first 2 series. Jason Smith on the other hand is also hurt but is regulated to 3rd pairing. They attempt to play him only 12 mins or so a game. Through the first 6 games or so against Washington he was on the ice for something like 14 of the caps 16 goals. I'm not going to do the research since of course you didn't bother to.

Great job being informed. Better yet, great job being informed and shouting it out from the internet rooftops!

kanadienkyle said...


Please resume your meds at the earliest possible time.

While Umberger does line up on the wing, he is a natural center and is listed as such in most every publication, including Wikipedia.

I thought the preview was witty and informative, instead of the cookie cutter stuff you get everywhere else.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how you can give a ranking in the "City Atmosphere" and "Signature Food Item" sections because by your own admission you've never been to Pittsburgh!!

P.S...ever heard of a Klondike bar? Or a Primanti's Brothers' sandwich?

ron said...

witty and informative doesn't always mean correct..

dave is right about smith, he's the washed up one not hatcher.. hatcher, while slow, is one of the smartest stay-at-home defensemen and is a key penalty killer..

and when comparing talent, not including the Flyers' top point-getter in the regular season (Mike Richards) is a pretty big oversight.. Richards is the catalyst for much of what the flyers do night-in night-out.. though in the post-season Carter has raised his game to another level..

the review was certainly amusing though.. I don't take reviews so seriously, whether they come from mullet-haired "gurus" or anonymous internet blogs..

Dave said...

I am aware that Umberger is listed as a center. it doesn't change the fact that he doesn't play center for the Flyers.

I understand that a lot of this was messing around and having fun, but the parts that actually were about hockey left a lot to be desired.

I'm not sure what portion you found to be informative. Please enlighten me.

Dave M said...

There is a reason Hatcher is a stay at home defenceman...he can't skate.......

ron said...

hatcher doesn't have the wheels that some players do, but he has enough ability to skate to a +6 in the playoffs..

that's better than any defenseman on the penguins except scuderi.. and that's getting 21 mins a game.

so while it's all well and good to sit back and say "he's slow.. he's old.. he's terrible.. he's washed up..", when you look at the results on the ice, you see a player who is consistently helping his team on the ice defensively.


Tapper said...

what exactly is the signifigance of +6? +/- is one of the most deceiving stats in hockey.

ron said...

AND without being able to skate, he's still found the legs to score respectable 3 points in the playoffs..

and before someone points out that pit has played 1 less game than Hatch (Hatch only has 10 games played in the post-season), the next best D-man behind Scuderi has a +4..

and the "old, slow, and washed up" hal gill is a +3..

so these "old, slow" (but physical) defensemen still seem to be able to get the job done.. eh? especially against players like, say, Jagr.

ron said...

+/- is significant in that it shows, in general, whether players are making a positive or negative impact on the ice.. you can have great offensive stats, but if you give up as much as you're giving, are you really a net-positive for your team?

it certainly can't be taken at face value, but in the context of who you're on the ice with and your own individual play.. so it CAN be deceiving, but it also shouldn't be dismissed just because it ruins your argument..

Hatcher has been solid defensively, and a physical force on the ice.. he has changed how the opposition plays at time with big hits and his presence in front of the net.. he was one of the reasons Montreal was never able to set up in front of the net and cause havoc, and the ability of the Flyers to keep the area in front of Biron clear has been one of the keys to his success in the post season..

Steve Werier said...

Hatcher was recently voted the WORST SKATER IN THE NHL in a SI Players'Poll found in this week's magazine.

In other words, NHL players, who presumably are good arbitrers of NHL playing ability, agree with Rocky.

ron said...

I never claimed he was a "good" skater.. he's not.. he's slow, and not particularly nimble..

but if it was THAT much of a liability to his game, you think you'd see more goals scored when he's on the ice..

that's all I'm saying.

ron said...

:lol: at the follow-up.. as I said, I didn't take it too seriously and was amused by the entertainment sections..

we'll just have to agree to disagree on Hatcher; just watch the series and give the man some respect.. he'd knock Teri unconscious.

as far as Growing Pains goes, Kirk Cameron's subsequent roles supporting his born-again christian status had to rank up there on the unintentional comedy scale.. dr seaver did late-night infomercials, no?

Keith said...

What about Kirk's sister Candace Cameron Bure?

Dave M said...

I believe that Dr. Seaver was prostituting himself for Tahiti Village in Vegas........"What goes on in Vegas, should be happening to you!"