There's a lot going on right now in the hockey world, but on the other hand, we're heading into the final laps of the race for glory that signifies the end to another season. 2460 regular season games have been played. 83 playoffs games are in the books.
Photo courtesy: Associated Press
The Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks just wrapped up a high-scoring Game 1 last night, with Chicago prevailing, 6-5. Game 2 gets underway Monday night at 8pm Eastern. There's a bunch of Game 1 coverage, including video clips of interviews, on the NHL's website: www.nhl.com.
Calder Cup Underdogs: Texas Stars (photo: Texas Stars Hockey)
The Calder Cup race is also down to the final two teams: the reigning champion Hershey Bears and the Texas Stars, who join the 2002 Chicago Wolves and Bridgeport Sound Tigers in reaching the Calder Cup finals in their first season. According to the AHL's website: "Texas won a pair of Game 7’s on the road – just the fifth time in AHL history that feat has been accomplished. The Stars, who initially fell into a 2-0 series hole, also became the 21st AHL team to win a best-of-7 series after dropping the first two games." Not even the return of leading scorer P.K. Subban, who had a tremendous showing for the Canadiens in the playoffs before Montreal folded to Philadelphia, could help Hamilton overcome the upstart Stars. You can read more about Texas' amazing comeback by clicking here.
Defending Calder Cup champs: Hershey Bears (Photo: Hershey Bears)
The Hershey Bears were their dominating selves, knocking off the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 5 games, sweeping the Albany River Rats in the second round, then dispatching the Manchester Monarchs in 6 hard-fought games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals gets underway on Thursday, June 3. According to the AHL's website, you can listen to all the games live on XM Radio. For more information, check out www.theahl.com. I'm cheering for the upstart Texas Stars. They've shown grit all season long. I hope they have what it takes to pull off a Calder Cup victory.
Neuvirth & Bernier: Two stellar goaltenders (Photo: Hershey Bears)
Now, to the prospects. The NHL invited 100 18-year-olds to take part in a pre-draft combine, undergoing a battery of physical and psychological tests, as well as one on one interviews with NHL GM's and other team officials. All eyes are, of course, on Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall. Hall drew attention by not taking part in the physical tests. He's apparently healing from a number of injuries suffered in post-season play culminating in helping his Windsor Spitfires win the Memorial Cup in Brandon last weekend. Seguin took part in all aspects of the Combine and was reportedly impressive on all counts. I'm still looking for updates on T-Birds goalie Calvin Pickard and Silvertips goalie Kent Simpson. The best Combine coverage I could find was up at TSN's website. Here's the link: http://www.tsn.ca/draftcentre/
That's it for now. I'm off to prepare for today's radio show. But that's another story.