It’s time for the final four teams to show everybody why they’re in the playoffs. It’s time for the four remaining teams to step up to make it to the Stanley Cup Final. Only two of the four teams will make it, and only one of those two teams will go home happy. We’ve had really great games, and the teams left could provide us with more of the same.

– Round 3 Matchups and Predictions:

– Eastern Conference:

– Pittsburgh(2) v. Philadelphia(6)

* Pittsburgh in seven games.

– Western Conference:

– Detroit(1) v. Dallas(5)

* Dallas in six games.

– My Predicted Stanley Cup Final:

* Pittsburgh (Eastern Conference champions) v. Dallas (Western Conference champions)

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Manchester United and Chelsea advanced from their respective semifinals to set up the very first all-England final in Moscow. Manchester United defeated Barcelona 1-nil on aggregate, and Chelsea defeated Liverpool 4-3 on aggregate. One team was clearly better, but both teams have an equal chance of winning.

Manchester United were the best team in either of the semifinals. They shut down some of the best players, including Lionel Messi, Deco, Thierry Henry, and Xavi. Their defense was outstanding, even without Nemanja Vidic, one of their top defenders. Also, United have not had team captain Gary Neville for many of their recent games in any kind of competition. Patrice Evra has been the best of them all, while Wes Brown, Rio Ferdinand and the rest have done very well to give Vidic and Neville plenty of time to get back in the lineup. There are only two games left in the Premier League season, and the Champions League final later this month left on the schedule. Neville should be back for the final at least. Paul Scholes, my favorite United player, made the difference with the only goal of their semifinal with Barca. If you missed it, that’s a shame. It was a real cracker!

Chelsea have finally made it to a final in this competition. They had a pretty good performance against Liverpool, and managed to make it through. The Liverpool matchup brought exciting drama we don’t usually see from these two sides. Both sides had several great chances for even more goals to be scored. Frank Lampard’s penalty, and the second extra-time goal were crucial, since they won the semifinal by one goal. Liverpool made a good comeback to get a goal of their own in extra time to make Chelsea sweat it out and not relax. Chelsea, for the most part, played good defense. They do have to step it up to beat United in Moscow.

3-0 Leads Everywhere You Look

Wednesday, 30 April, 2008

Wow. I wasn’t expecting these series to be so lopsided in terms of wins. Pittsburgh, Dallas, and Detroit have 3-nil leads in their series. There haven’t been many games that were blowouts or anything, it’s just that the same team keeps coming out on top.

Detroit and Colorado have had a couple of one-goal games, and one game that was 5-1 Detroit. The series could easily be 2-1 Colorado, or anything other than 3-0 Detroit. The Red Wings have been the better team, for sure. Johan Franzen is on fire for them. They’ve played some great defense at the most crucial of times. Last night, Colorado had a horrible time getting their goalkeeper to the bench for the extra attacker because of Detroit’s pressure. Detroit is so experienced in playoff play.

San Jose and Dallas have played two overtime games, Dallas obviously winning both of them. Dallas continues to roll over teams, and prove doubters about their playoff possibilities wrong. This has been the closest of the lopsided series. Both teams have had a chance to win each game. The Stars’ leaders and best players are really stepping up to put their team ahead.

Pittsburgh and New York have not had as close of a series as the Stars-Sharks series has been. The Rangers just can’t seem to show up, while the Penguins do everything they can to get wins. They’ve blocked a lot of shots. They score timely goals. They kill penalties like their season is on the line every second. They want to win the series, while the Rangers have only had a few players show up and play hard.

I don’t know what to expect from the remaining games. I know that the three series that are 3-0 are toast. They’re done. Let’s hope the Flyers-Habs series goes seven games so we have something to watch.

Round 1 was pretty gosh darn good. Besides the Pittsburgh-Ottawa series, there was nothing but great matchups, and the play was great for an overwhelming majority of the games. There were three series that went the distance of seven games, and a majority of the rest went six. The competition was just fun to see. I think the series will continue to be long, like six or seven games for all of them. I can’t wait to see the next round.

– Really quick Round 1 recap:

– Best player (points): Daniel Briere (Philadelphia)
– Best goalkeeper: Chris Osgood (Detroit)
– Best team: Pittsburgh
– Best series: Calgary v. San Jose (Sharks won series 4-3)

– Round 2 Matchups and Predictions:

– Eastern Conference:

– Montreal(1) v. Philadelphia(6)

* Philadelphia in six games.

– Pittsburgh(2) v. New York Rangers(5)

* Pittsburgh in seven games.

– Western Conference:

– Detroit(1) v. Colorado(6)

* Detroit in seven games.

– San Jose(2) v. Dallas(5)

* Dallas in six games.

+ Let’s hope for great games again!!!

The Masters, the world’s greatest golf tournament on the world’s greatest golf course, starts today. YAY!!! The biggest news about the tournament this year is not or should not be about Tiger Woods.

“What you talkin’ ’bout, (my name here)?”

“It’s true, trust me. I’ve got nothing new or interesting to say about Tiger anyway. I hear enough from everyone else about him, I’d just be repeating them.”

The biggest story this year is that Gary Player is competing for the 51st. time in The Masters, breaking Arnold Palmer’s(aka The King) record of fifty. Gary Player is a very classy person, and just a great ambassador for golf. He’s won this tournament three times(1961, 1974, 1978), holds the career grand slam(9 titles altogether), and has been the captain multiple times for the International Team in the President’s Cup. He’s one of the best players and people the game has ever known.

Now, on to this year. We’ve got a great field, with a bunch of first-time players in the tournament. Among them are Liang Wen-Chong of China, Prayad Marksaeng of Thailand, and Jeev Milkha Singh of India. These three all received special invites to play in the tournament this year. Drew Weaver is also a first-time participant. He is eligible by being the current British Amateur champion. Weaver was a member of the Virginia Tech golf team.

Here are my five players to watch at the tournament this year:

Drew Weaver (as you know now, it’s his first trip. it won’t be his last.)

Adam Scott (just waiting to break through at a major.)

Tiger Woods (how’s he not one of them? how hot has he been?)

Phil Mickelson (former champion always a threat to win it again.)

Sean O’Hair (very talented, may compete for the title)

Bonus player to watch!

* Gary Player (he won’t play on the weekend, but it’s always great to see a legend in action.)

As everyone knows, the quarterfinals are over, and the semifinals will be upon us in two weeks. There were some great games in this most current round. Two that come to mind are the Fenerbahce win(2-1) in the first leg over Chelsea, and the Barcelona win(1-0) in the first leg over Schalke. Those games were good because both teams were even throughout except for a few short moments where the winner took the initiative. Instead of rambling on, here’s the draw for the semifinals:

– Chelsea v. Liverpool:

* This is another all-England tie. It is the second English team in a row for Liverpool to deal with. This is a rematch of last year’s semifinal, with Liverpool getting the better of Chelsea last year. Liverpool lost in the final to AC Milan after that, with very pathetic and boring/predictable play throughout most of the game. They’ll need to do MUCH better in order to get to the final, and win if they make it to the final. Chelsea are saying how this isn’t a revenge matchup, that they’re just focused on beating whoever they’re against. Ha! They’d love to get revenge on a team from their own league. Games in the Premier League between the top teams always turn out as expected. If they pretend it’s a Premier League game, I expect this one to be rough and both teams to show up with their best form. They ARE vying for a spot in Europe’s premier club competition, you know.

– Barcelona v. MANCHESTER UNITED:

* This could be a pretty good defensive battle. Neither team lit up the scoreboard last round, but didn’t let their opponents score at all. I see both teams scoring, but not very much. Manchester United have everyone who was injured back and healthy. The problem is that Nemanja Vidic, one of their best defenders, went down with an injury, and he’ll miss the semifinal games. Carlos Tevez has been one of United’s unsung heroes this whole competition. He’s gotten goals in half of their contests. Barca may or may not have Messi, so Thierry Henry’s improving form needs to keep improving to try and score more than once in each of these games. Both teams just need to keep defending as they have been, and sprinkle just a bit more offense on top of that to really make a great two games out of this.

I’m so friggin’ pumped up for the playoffs to start this week, even though my Sabres won’t be participants this year. A couple players on the team had great years though. I like some of the matchups, including an Original Six matchup of Montreal and Boston. All of the matchups are decent. It’s gonna be friggin’ sweet watching games from all of the series!

– Matchups and Predictions:

– Eastern Conference:

– Montreal (One) v. Boston (Eight)

* Montreal in five games.

– Pittsburgh (Two) v. Ottawa (Seven)

* Pittsburgh in four games.

– Washington (Three) v. Philadelphia (Six)

* Philadelphia in five games.

– New Jersey (Four) v. New York Rangers (Five)

* New Jersey in six games.

– Western Conference:

– Detroit (One) v. Nashville (Eight)

* Detroit in seven games.

– San Jose (Two) v. Calgary (Seven)

* Calgary in six games.

– Minnesota (Three) v. Colorado (Six)

* Minnesota in five games.

– Anaheim (Four) v. Dallas (Five)

* Anaheim in seven games.

+ Let the games BEGIN!!!