OK, so my hockey predictions (8-4 after 2 rounds) are slightly better than my lacrosse predictions (1-3 after one round). As I said as I updated the previous post, I nailed the Buffalo game completely, and was totally wrong on the other three. Since there are only three games left, the best I can do is 4-3, so let’s try for that:
- Buffalo over New York — The one word that best describes Darris Kilgour is intensity. If there’s anyone who can get his team fired up, it’s Darris, whether that’s through an inspiring speech or just being afraid that if you don’t step up your game he’ll beat the snot out of you. Bob McMahon just doesn’t have that kind of presence. Anyway, they’ve been getting great goaltending from both Thompson and Montour, and if Steenhuis can learn that passing the ball is a good thing, I don’t see New York, or anyone from the west, stopping the Bandits.
- Calgary over Portland — Dan Dawson has the ability to carry a team for one game, and since this is single-game elimination, that’s a big deal. But he did that in the win over San Jose — can he do it two games in a row? Calgary played well enough to make it to the playoffs without Tracey Kelusky for most of the season. But he’s back now, and if there’s one goalie whose name isn’t Bob Watson that I want between the pipes in a critical game, it’s Chugger.
One more thing I need to say: I’ve never been a big fan of Billy Dee Smith. He generally takes too many dumb penalties and I haven’t yet forgiven him for the nasty cross-check to Colin Doyle’s head about five years ago. But he played a great game in Buffalo on Friday. The Bandits in general played smart, stayed out of the box (an old nemesis of theirs — stupid penalties have cost the Bandits a number of games over the last few years), and Smith played a hard but smart game and even scored a couple. A few people on the lacrosse message boards have talked about Smith in the past as a good solid player with a bad reputation, but I never saw it. On Friday I did.
I’m also wondering if John Tavares will retire after this season if Buffalo wins it all. He’s still playing at a high enough level that he doesn’t have to, but he may want to retire before he gets to be one of those players who still hangs on and doesn’t want to admit that their playing days are over even though they are a shadow of their former selves. Jim Veltman could probably have played another year, but he wanted to retire before he became that guy that should have retired, and Tom Marechek and Gary and Paul Gait all did the same thing. It would be kind of too bad if Tavares does retire after this year, since Veltman, Gary Gait, and Marechek all had the whole “final season” celebration thing, and Tavares deserves that as well. It would be too bad for the fans if he finished the season and then just didn’t come back.