Penguins, Canucks on brink of elimination

After losing each of their first two games at home, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Vancouver Canucks headed into their respective Game 3’s on Sunday looking to get a huge road win. Unfortunately for them, neither Pittsburgh or Vancouver were able to get a win on Sunday, and they now find themselves down 3-0 in their series’.

Many people were predicting that the Canucks and Penguins would meet in the Stanley Cup Finals this year heading into the playoffs. The Canucks had just locked up their second straight President’s Trophy, and the Penguins were finally a healthy team with Sidney Crosby back. Each team looked destined for a deep playoff run. However, both sides are now facing elimination in Game 4 of their respective series. You can blame the Canucks and Penguins for “choking,” but give credit where credit is due. The Kings and Flyers have been playing excellent hockey through their first 3 games of the playoffs, and they have earned their 3-0 series leads.

Let’s start with the Flyers. As great of a season that the Flyers had, finishing 5th in the East with 103 points, they were looked at as the underdogs heading into their first round matchup with Pittsburgh, and rightfully so. As I mentioned before, Pittsburgh was on a roll heading into the playoffs having become a fully healthy team for the first time in a long time. This did not intimidate the Flyers one bit. They came into this series with the mindset that they are the better team, and they will do everything to prove that. So far through the first 3 games of this series, the Flyers have out-hustled and out-played the Penguins in just about every aspect of the game. In the 3 games that have been played, the Flyers have 20 goals. That is pretty much unheard of. The Penguins defense has had no answer for the offense of the Flyers. Because of the high number of goals that the Flyers have scored, Marc-Andre Fleury’s confidence has been shot. This is one of the best goalies in the world, who has already won a Stanley Cup. Assuming that the Flyers go on to win this series, they instantly become a top contender for the Stanley Cup.

Moving out West now, the Canucks find themselves down 3-0 in their series with the Kings. Vancouver came into the playoffs as the defending Western Conference champions, and fresh off of their second straight President’s Trophy-winning season. The L.A. Kings, on the other hand, barely made it into the playoffs as the 8 seed following what can only be described as a disappointing regular season. People expected them to contend for one of the top spots in the West this year, but they just never seemed to be able to play consistently good hockey. Well, they are now. They have outscored the Canucks in this series 9-4, with Jonathan Quick registering a shutout in last night’s game. The Kings’ defense has proven to be too much for the Canucks so far in this series, and their offense has essentially booted Roberto Luongo from his starting job in goal. For the first time all season, the Kings seem to be putting together an all-around, consistent style of winning hockey. They definitely have the potential and the right set of players to make a deep playoff run, but it remains to be seen if they will fall back into their regular season form and abandon their current style of play. Jonathan Quick has been great all season long, but only now are his teammates playing up to their potential.

These are two shocking deficits that the Penguins and Canucks find themselves in, but don’t get too surprised by them. The Flyers and Kings are two very talented hockey teams that are playing phenomenal hockey right now, and they deserve a ton of credit for putting the Penguins and Canucks on the brink of elimination.

NFL Stadiums I Would Most Like To Visit

These are the top 10 NFL stadiums that I most want to visit. I going based off of the atmosphere at each stadium, and the history behind each stadium.

10. Gillette Stadium – Patriots

It would be really fun to see a game here during a snow storm like they’ve had in the past.

9. Metlife Stadium – Giants/Jets

It’s the newest, and arguably the nicest stadium in the league.

8. Louisiana Superdome – Saints

Without a doubt one of the loudest stadiums in the league.

7. M&T Bank Stadium – Ravens

This place is frequently described as being one of the best home-field advantages in the NFL.

6. Qwest Field – Seahawks

The fans here are known as the “12th Man” because of the noise that they produce when the Seahawks’ defense takes the field.

5. Arrowhead Stadium – Chiefs

Again, this place is a strong candidate for being the loudest stadium in the NFL. Also, the name “Arrowhead” just sounds intimidating.

4. Invesco Field – Broncos

This stadium has been known to shake when the fans start “stomping” their feet to mimic a stampede. With the Rocky Mountains just off in the distance, the atmosphere and setting of Invesco Field are tough to beat.

3. Heinz Field – Steelers

Just about every game here seems like a playoff game. When the Terrible Towel gets going, look out.

2. Cowboy Stadium – Cowboys

It’s the largest and most high-tech stadium in the league. Who wouldn’t want to see a game here?

1. Lambeau Field – Packers

No other stadium in the NFL speaks history like Lambeau Field. The “Frozen Tundra” is the cathedral of all NFL stadiums, and has to be the best home-field advantage in the league.

Pirates Make Surprising Move

As I was watching SportsCenter last night, it was announced that the Pittsburgh Pirates had resigned their all-star center fielder, Andrew McCutchen, to a 6-year deal worth $51.5 million. I couldn’t believe it.

Last year, McCutchen hit .259, with 23 home runs and 89 RBI’s. While those may not seem like great statistics, McCutchen’s potential is extremely high. He is only going to get better moving forward.

For the first time in a long time (I really couldn’t tell you how long), the Pirates have resigned one of their best players. Not only did they just resign him, they were able to sign him to a long-term deal worth over $50 million dollars. This has become somewhat of an unheard of move when talking about the Pirates over the last 15 years. The Pirates have acted as a type of “farm system” in recent years in which they would develop highly talented players, bring them to the big leagues (where they would succeed), and then be unable to resign them. This would result in the Pirates either trading these guys, or losing them during free agency. Some good examples of this in the past few years have been Jason Bay (traded to Boston), Nate McLouth (traded to Atlanta), and Nyjer Morgan (traded to Washington). They just haven’t been able to hang on to their best players for more than a couple of years at a time.

Signing Andrew McCutchen to a multi-year deal is a good sign for the Pirates. This is a team that has not had a winning record in 19 straight seasons, and they, plus their fans, are desperate for success. I’d say that keeping Andrew McCutchen on the roster is a decent start.