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Here at the outset of the latest installment of “The Devils, Playoffs Version”, we’re beginning to understand why Red Wings bloggers are the way they are. When your team not only makes the playoffs every year (and since we became Devils fans at the start of the ’96-’97 season, we’ve never seen them miss), but also doesn’t even come close to not making it, there’s just not that much to say as a blogger. So you can be like the Wings writers, crowing about how great you are, how stupid everyone else is, and crafting outlandish conspiracy theories to explain away the times when your team doesn’t come through, or you can be like us and struggle to think of new ways to say, “Yeah, my team’s rolling along, as usual.” Consistent regular-season winning is a wonderful, comforting thing; as sure as there will be the seasons and the tides, so too will there be 40+ wins for our team. And just as we are grateful for the seasons and the tides, we’re also grateful for our annual 40+ wins. Really, we are. But honestly, who wants to write about the tides every day?

Anyway, we wanted to get that little bit of positivity (and apology for being lousy bloggers) out before moving on to the topic at hand: the playoffs.

Sigh.

Just as the Devils are consistently winners in the regular season, they have lately been consistently losers in the playoffs. They’ve been atrocious in each of the last three seasons, so we think we’re justified in being a bit reserved about the successes of this past regular season. Also, we think we’re justified in being extremely reserved in our enthusiasm for the Devils’ playoff chances this time around. Thrice bitten, many many times shy, as the old saying goes.

So, realistically, how do we think this Devils/Flyers series is going to shake out? Well, there is a variety of subplots that merit mention. There’s Jacques Lemaire, and the question of whether he’ll hoist the team on its own petard like he did last time he was coaching the Devils in the playoffs. There’s the Zach/Zubrus Showdown At The Triple-Z Ranch buzzsaw that we’d love to be the key to the series. There’s Kovalchuk trying to put an exclamation point on his contract year. There’s Paulie trying to cram an entire contract year into one playoff run. There’s Patrik Elias playing against a Boucher-backstopped Flyers. There’s Langer and his all-around captainy awesomeness (HAHAHAHAHAHA! Just checking to see if you were still reading). But ultimately, none of that matters. It doesn’t matter what the forwards do, doesn’t matter what the D does, doesn’t matter what the special teams or coaches do. No, the only thing that really matters is Marty. Is this going to be the year that competent, gives-his-team-a-chance-to-win-every-night Marty returns to the playoffs? Or is this going to be another year of Marty giving up bad goals at the worst possible times, and losing his focus, and throwing hissy-fits, and whining and pointing fingers and generally looking like he doesn’t belong at this level? Four years ago, against the Hurricanes, we blamed the d-men. Three years ago, against the Senators, we blamed the system. Two years ago, against the Rangers, we blamed the universe. Last year, against the Hurricanes, we blamed the forwards. If it happens again this year, we’re blaming Marty.

Our prediction for this series? Flyers take a 3-1 series lead, but the Devils win in 7. Just the way it should be.

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Gentle Reader, it’s been reported here that the one and only Victory Euro Mats is missing, most likely Matsnapped by evil forces hell-bent on making sure the 2009 NHL Playoffs are horrifically awful. (The fact that it’s another post-season with “Devils First Round Loss” written all over it isn’t enough, evidently.) Today, when we sat down to do our obligatory Playoff Predictions, we noticed that the Matsnappers sent us a replacement. Meet Joyless Depression Clemmer, stately IPB Manor’s new hockeymobil totem:

Joyless Depression Clemmer

Stabby, stabby, little fishies!

Seeing J.D. Clemmer’s scruffy, mean face, and his soulless, stinky killing-machine throwingfishies, we realized that the hockey gods are crueler than we ever could have imagined. Maybe the only way to get our precious V.E. Mats back is pull a Tinkerbell and believe in something good, something fun, something enjoyable about this first round of match-ups. While we’re at it, we’ll also pull a Nancy Drew and see if we can’t figure out who might be behind the vicious Matsnapping.

Eastern Conference

(1) Boston

The Tinkerbell Approach
One word: Milan. We don’t like fighting, we don’t like players who are constantly compared to old-timers we could care less about, and we don’t like Cam Neely. And yet… Milan is mesmerizing. That check through the glass? That felling of an opponent with just one punch? That sexy glower at said felled opponent? We can’t get enough of him!

The Ookie Approach
We’ve tried accepting the Tranny Gentleman Callers into our proverbial hockey-loving parlor, but there’s something not quite right about this team. We think it might be their cologne, Eau De Julien. Or their aftershave, Jack Edwards Spice.

Player Most Likely to be the Matsnapper
Zdeno Chara, alternately to use in weird witchcraft rituals or to take on a horizon-widening tour of Africa.

(2) Washington

The Tinkerbell Approach
If they win Round 1, it means they eliminate the Rangers.

The Ookie Approach
Our thoughts about the Washington Capitals have been made abundantly clear around these parts, but just in case you’re not fully on board with the Caps Hate, we direct you to this post wherein a Caps fan announces “the hockey gods are with us, now” and not a single commenter suggests keeping the hubris to a minimum. The hockey gods aren’t to be messed with.

Player Most Likely to be the Matsnapper
Ovechkin. V.E. Mats invented fun and Ovie’s nervous he’ll show the patent to someone, thereby proving there was joy on this Earth before GR8 bequeathed it to us.

(3) New Jersey

The Tinkerbell Approach
Um… Marty’s rested? Zach’s a superstar? Maybe Holik will get benched?

The Ookie Approach
We love the Devils as much as anyone but it’s gonna take a hell of a lot of clapping, sparkly pixies to get this team out of the first round.

Player Most Likely to be the Matsnapper
Clemmer, of course. Look at that fiendish look in J.D. Clemmer’s eyes! Can you honestly tell us that isn’t the look of a master minor-league criminal?

(4). Pittsburgh

The Tinkerbell Approach
Who doesn’t love a happy ending to a story in which Michel Therrien loses his job?

The Ookie Approach
Who does love a happy ending to a story in which Bill Guerin gets another job?

Player Most Likely to be the Matsnapper
Petr Sykora’s always been jealous of Mats’s cool pink shades; Sykkie planned to just steal the glasses and wasn’t counting on PJ eating the rest of V.E. Mats.

(5) Philadelphia

The Tinkerbell Approach
[Ookies blush]

The Ookie Approach
Look at that hobo!

Player Most Likely to be the Matsnapper
Just like in The Orient Express they — spoiler alert! — all did it!

(6) Carolina

The Tinkerbell Approach
Carolina is the rare team that we’ve enjoyed cheering for even after they’ve eliminated the Devils. There’s something spunky and lovable about any team lead by Hooters Staal and Ray “They Call Him The Kazoo Because He’s Like A Wizard Out There” Whitney. Sadly, they no longer have Mikey C to really steal our hearts, but that Cam Ward kid is growing up to be remarkably likable (the lack of a Nickeldebacle [TM Josh] on his helmet this season helps a great deal).

The Ookie Approach
Teams should not be rewarded in seasons in which they introduce new sweaters, especially ones that are primarily black. That’s just Lame City.

Player Most Likely to be the Matsnapper
Chad LaRose, that scamp! But because he’s Rosebud, Mikey C’s erstwhile partner-in-crime (as opposed to Hooters, his TV partner-in-crime on “Hooters and McCracken”, the first show in the hopper at Ookies Productions Inc.) we’d probably just laugh it off and say, “J.D. Clemmer’s not that bad a replacement. Look! He’s got a pelican! That’s pretty happening!”

(7) New York

The Tinkerbell Approach
If they win, they eliminate the Caps in the first round, thereby further cementing Ovie’s status as a playoff choker. That, dear Gentle Reader, is powerful, powerful shit.

The Ookie Approach
We repeat, if they win, they eliminate the Caps in the first round. This means… We are pulling for the Rangers to win. The Rangers are so evil, so despicable, so detestable, they’ve managed to find a way to make it so we actually want them to win a round. God, we hate them so much!

Ookies: Why, hockey gods, why?!? What did we ever do to deserve this?!
Hockey Gods: Tell us again, how many Flyers games did you TiVo this season?
Ookies: [Contrite] Nevermind! We’ll just cheer for the road team.
Hockey Gods: [Stern glare through pink shades] We’re on to you.

Player Most Likely to be the Matsnapper
Wade Redden. Maintaining that $30,000-a-day Faberge egg habit requires serious dough, and ransoming Playmobil blog totems is pretty lucrative business in the shady back alleys of the Upper West Side.

(8) Montreal

The Tinkerbell Approach
Yay, they’re 100 years old! Also, they have Youppi!

The Ookie Approach
God, there are eight teams we have to write about?!?

Player Most Likely to be the Matsnapper
Carey Price, who’s nervous V.E. Mats is a better goalie than him.

Western Conference

There’s a Western Conference?!? Listen, if memory serves us correctly, we didn’t write WC predictions last season, and if memory serves us correctly, the WC teams were still allowed to compete in the post-season, so… Yeah. Enjoy the playoffs. Or J.D. Clemmer will throw stinky fishies at your head.

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Yesterday we rolled out the Tale of the Tape for the West, and today we look closer to home. Everyone, break out your keystones! It’s the Battle of Pennsylvania! You’re got a friend in this series, because you’ve got a friend in Pennsylvania! (Yes, Gentle Reader, it’s true. Everything we know about the great state next door we learned from their license plates.)

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Pittsburgh (2) vs. Philadelphia (6)

Skaters:

Looking at the “forwards v. defense” breakdown for this series, we can’t help but notice the decisive mismatch of “Sid & Malkin v. Hatcher”. Which, of course, favors Philly hugely. Oh, wait — the point is to win the series? Huh. That changes everything. To be fair, we hardly look at Pittsburgh’s blue line and think, “How impenetrable!” either, so it’s probably not kind to poke too much fun at the Flyers just because they still have the misfortune of having to dress Derian Hatcher every night. The fact is that no one in the league has, on paper, the answer to the one-two punch of Sid and Malkin. Meanwhile, we don’t really have any idea yet who plays for the Flyers. We ignored them all year, but for the eight times the Devils played them (during which the Devils managed to score something like 20% of their total offense for the entire season, while still being shut out twice), and now that we’ve been enjoying them in the playoffs, it’s like a breath of fresh air — all these players we’ve never heard of before! Since this year’s Playoff Flyers are existing in a vacuum for us, how are we to know Umberger isn’t as awesome as Malkin? In reality, there is no question that the Pens are a better team, pound for pound, than the Flyers, but in our playoff vacuum, the Flyers were scoring at will against the Second Coming of Patrick Roy (what? He wasn’t the second coming of Roy? Get out!), and the Pens were outplayed at even strength by the Rangers. So as long as the Flyers don’t get into penalty trouble, they– wait, what? Huh. Okay, Advantage: Penguins

Goaltending:

Watching Fleury and Biron is like eating a store-bought cake at a employees-only birthday party. At first it seems like it’s the best cake you’ve ever had because it’s the middle of a long work-day and a sugar rush is just what the doctor ordered. Two or three bites later you start to have your doubts, but you’re like, “Hey, it’s still cake, right?” Then comes the fateful bite when you realize that underlying flavor of coconut oil can longer be denied, nor can you continue to ignore the fact that the amount of icing on the cake is obscene. The remaining half of the cake goes straight to the garbage can as you go on a desperate search for a can of soda to wash down the memory of that awful, awful birthday cake. Fleury and Biron are both riding that mid-day sugar rush as they both look more than serviceable, good even. Biron, in particular, has been making huge saves left and right. However, we have so little faith in both of them that we’re fairly confident that fateful bite of awfulness is just over the horizon. The only question is, will it be in this round or the next? Of course, this is Philly we’re talking about. It always comes down to goaltending for Philadelphia. Advantage: Penguins

Coaching:

For reasons we totally can’t verbalize, we have long labored under the perception that Michel Therrien is a hack. Maybe it’s because the guys on the national TV feeds (hint: his name rhymes with “Blierre Blcguire”) have been pulling “Look for Therrien to be fired by [X date]!” rumors out of their asses for the last two seasons. Of course, those same people were telling us John Stevens was going to lose his job this year, too. So if you believe everything you hear (which we certainly do), both of these guys are scrappy underdogs who also kind of suck as coaches. As Devils fans, we’re also more than willing to blame everything bad that happens with a team on the coach, so we’re doubly willing to think these guys are both coasting on the awesomeness of their players more than being brilliant bench bosses. Our assessment of them is going to have to come down to one thing: Therrien looks like a slightly less lumpen version of Brent Sutter, while Stevens looks like a guy who you’d have a huge office crush on if he worked in your cubicle sea. Advantage: Flyers

Uniforms:

While the Pittsburgh uniforms are hardly the Montreal “CH” or, even better, the Hartford Whalers “HW” (a vastly underappreciated logo) at least they don’t make the Penguins look like they’re wearing shrugs over their unis. That the Flyers look like they’re wearing shrugs in Flyers orange only makes our eyeballs projectile vomit that much more. Advantage: Penguins

Mascots:

Let’s see, Pittsburgh’s got Iceburgh the Penguin and the Flyers have Bobby Clarke. Iceburgh rocks the classic mascot tailoring (loose fitting fuzzy suit with eyeholes in the character’s mouth, or in this case, beak); Clarke is cut from the “classic” hockey player cloth (gap toothed smile and narrow-minded bombast). Iceburgh spends the duration of hockey games wandering the crowd, clapping his wings and googlying his googly eyes, and shaking his head sadly when fan after fan after fan can’t correctly identify a picture of Malkin covered in pizza slices on the Jumbotron (seriously, people, we saw this happen); Clarke passes hockey games sitting in a Barcalounger wondering why no one has hired him as GM and flinging darts at pictures of Eric Lindros and Roger Neilson. Iceburgh makes up for a rather uninspiring collection of mascot-tricks by adding an adorable “h” to the word “iceberg”; Clarke tries to fool people into thinking he wasn’t the crackpot “genius” responsible for the decline of the Flyers by dropping the potentially-soft-sounding “-by” from “Bobby”. When all is said and done, though, Clarke is the far more entertaining figure. Advantage: Flyers

Players We Love, In Spite Of Ourselves:

Every self-respecting contrarian Devils fan should hate all mega-super-duperstars, but we can’t deny it: we love Malkin and Sid. News flash: they’re just so awesome! There… aren’t a lot of other Pens we like. But Sid and Malkin! So awesome! On the other side of this matchup, there’s the Flyers. And the sad truth is that we know so little about them, and have been cheering for them anyway for the last two rounds, that we kinda, sorta, a little bit, just a skoch, like most of them. Even though we know we should hate them all. For starters, we decided to settle our random, Getzi-style playoff crush this year on Mike Richards, who looks so much like all the theater nerds we ran with in high school and college that it’s hard to believe he’s not a guy who makes Brecht jokes all the time. Pookie’s got a nascent playoff-goggle crush on Jeff Carter. We all love once and future Devil Jason Smith. Thanks to his curly hair and burly build, we’ve assigned an Intermission-inspired nickname on Scott Hartnell: “Hard As Nails Cunts”. How do you not love a guy called “Hard As Nails Cunts”? But still. Sid and Malkin! Advantage: Push. We’re going to have to wait and see how our hearts settle when this one starts.

Players Who Annoy The Living Crap Out Of Us:

This one pits Ryan Malone vs. Steve Downie. Every time Downie takes the ice Boomer hisses, “sociopath”. Every time Malone takes the ice, Schnookie shrieks like a banshee. Downie has a history of dirty, malicious, sickening play; the fact that he’s still in the league at all is a disgrace. Malone thinks he’s hotter than he actually is. That’s just wrong. Advantage: Flyers

Playoff History Against New Jersey:

Since we’ve been Devils fans, we’ve seen our fair share of memorable playoff series. One, in 1999, was a complete heartbreaker of a 7-game first-round choke job that ended in a Penguins win and the driving of the final nail into the coffin of our ability to stomach Jaromir Jagr. Another, in 2000, was the single most awesome 7-game ECF choke job that ended in the Devils going on to win the Cup and Schnookie experiencing the unbridled joy that is listening to a Flyers fan say, “Yeah, well, you guys might have won three in a row, but we had you up 3-1. We won three in a row, too.” Other series that don’t figure as prominently in the forefront of our hockey consciousness include a five-game ECF in 2001 that ended in the Devils going on to lose the SCF, and included the wheels falling off a young phenom of a Pens goalie and the infamous (and delicious) “Hey Ace” goal. Another was a five-game first-round mercy-killing that put an end to the Devils’ miserable 2004 while launching the Flyers run to… whatever it is they accomplished in 2004. So there’s good and there’s bad on both sides. We’ll toss in the 1995 ECF that predated our fandom, though, and say Advantage: Flyers

City Claims To Fame:

We’ll kick this off with a little free association.

Narrator: Philadelphia!
Schnookie: Independence Hall! It kicks ass!
Pookie: PSFS building, the first office building to have air conditioning!

Narrator: Pittsburgh!
Schnookie: [crickets chirp]
Pookie: [crickets chirp]

Okay, okay, that’s not really fair. Pittsburgh treated IPB very well on our visit there in October. We were pleasantly surprised by the stunning approach to the city skyline. We were also extremely pleasantly surprised to find ourselves smack dab in front of the Allegheny Courthouse Jail (designed by IPB favorite H. H. Richardson) while trying to drive out of the city. In short, Pittsburgh is the Arron Asham of cities. Philly, on the other hand, is the closest major city to stately IPB Manor. How many times have we ventured into the city proper in almost 20 years of living less than an hour from the City of Brotherly Love? Well, Pookie twice got lost in Center City driving to and from a job interview she didn’t get, and… that’s about it. This is a really tough one because we truly love both of their airports. But since Philadelphia is a day trip from here, we’ll say Advantage: Flyers

Conclusion:

The numbers don’t lie, Gentle Reader: 5-3 Philadelphia. We fully expect the Pens to be able to overcome this numerical disadvantage, though. Meanwhile, we’re going to let go and let Playoff Goggle. We simultaneously really loathe and really like both these teams. It should be fun.

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A few weeks ago we were exchanging emails with Heather B., Katebits and Patty, and got into a bit of a good-natured exchange about how we felt our teams most deserved to win the Cup this year. Of course, “good-natured” quickly escalated into a firestorm of bitterness and hurt feelings; we were surprised at how quickly we all felt seriously slighted and defensive about our deservedness. We’ve been thinking a lot about that conversation ever since, and what we’ve come to realize is that everyone has legitimate reasons why they “deserve” to win (with a few notable exceptions), and conversely, everyone has legitimate reasons why they don’t “deserve” to win. Since it’s way too easy to just go through the matchups and pick winners (we think we were 100% right last year…), for our playoff preview this year we’re going to take a look at all sixteen teams with the idea of deservedness in mind.

1. Montreal Canadiens

Why They Deserve To Win:

The Habs are a popular second team choice this year and we think this speaks to several things: generally likable players, a lack of recent playoff intensity that might get other fans’ dander up, good sweater design, and a long history of greatness. One more Cup win will tie them with the Yankees for the most championships by a major North American pro sports team, a claim that the NHL really should wrest back from the evil clutches of MLB.

Why They Don’t Deserve To Win:

If we thought the Canadian media was insufferable last year about Ottawa, just imagine what they’ll be like about Montreal. And if we thought Sens fans last year were insufferable in their self-congratulation, just imagine what Habs fans will be like. Also, they’ve won the Cup a ton of times already; maybe it’s time for some other fanbases to get a turn.

Why It Would Be Deliciously Funny If They Do Win:

After hearing the Canadian media spend the first half of the 07-08 season all but mailing the Cup to Ottawa, it would be deliciously funny to see Lord Stanley alight one province over.

Why It Would Be Deliciously Funny If They Don’t Win:

The Canadiens would once again be burned for deciding an unproven goalie was capable of being the next Patrick Roy.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins

Why They Deserve To Win:

Two Words: Crosby, Malkin. We don’t really have hearts, but we suppose it would be fair to say that it’s a feel-good story for a team that was on the brink of relocation last year finally finding its way and becoming a beloved champion. Also, we suppose it would be a marketing coup for the league to have Sid win the Cup, as much as those of us who already watch hockey would all want to kill ourselves from the overhype.

Why They Don’t Deserve To Win:

Two words: Crosby, Malkin. Do we really want to suffer the media overload if those guys win? Also, how much of a feel-good story is it to see a team rewarded for a seasons-long cycle of tanking? Shouldn’t willful mismanagement and tanking for draft picks be punished by the wrath of the Hockey Gods, in the form of lousy amateur scouting and colossal draft busts?

Why It Would Be Deliciously Funny If They Do Win:

After the way so many Ovechkin fans have decided that their guy’s ascension to regular-season MVP makes Sid irrelevant in the NHL superstar firmament, it would be fantastically delicious if Ovie’s Hart season was answered by a Crosby Stanley Cup.

Why It Would Be Deliciously Funny If They Don’t Win:

Ray Shero gave up quite a bit to get Hossa and in the process turned this season’s Penguins from a young team with a great future ahead of it to a “Win Now” team. If the team doesn’t bring home the Cup this season that deal will go down as solid argument against mortgaging a promising future for a known playoff bust. Also, we hated hearing about the Conklin revival this season, so we’d cackle with glee if he once again cost his team their most important game.

3. Washington Capitals

Why They Deserve To Win:

There’s no denying that there’s a bit of the “long-suffering” thing going on for fans in DC. So, um, there’s that. And we guess the marketing thing would be good for the league to have Ovechkin win the Cup…

Why They Don’t Deserve To Win:

… but that said, we don’t want to live in a world where the hockey media is in an orgasmic supernova of Ovechkin adulation. Psst, hockey media — when other guys do what Ovie does after scoring goals, they’re criticized for showboating. Oh, and there are other players who are enthusiastic and enjoy their jobs. He, um, didn’t invent that. And don’t even try it with the “Isn’t he cute? He ordered a cute girlfriend from the internet” thing. He, um, didn’t invent that, either.

Why It Would Be Deliciously Funny If They Do Win:

We’re under the impression there are some in the hockey world who would find some Schadenfreude from Ovechkin winning the Cup before Sid. (We think those people are pretty willfully ignoring the fact that Ovie is just as overhyped as Sid is, but we digress.) So we guess some people would find that deliciously funny. We don’t personally agree with that assessment, and the only thing we’d be able to cling to in the eventuality of a Caps Cup would be if Kolzig had nothing more to do with it than opening the bench door during games. Yeah, we still resent that Vezina.

Why It Would Be Deliciously Funny If They Don’t Win:

We’ve been hearing from Caps fans for three years that the greatest travesty in the world is having to suffer through the overhype of Crosby and the Penguins. On the eve of this playoffs, non-Caps fans are being drowned in an onslaught of Ovechkin and Capitals overhype. It would be delightful for Caps fans (no matter how long-suffering) to have burned through all their karmic fan-goodwill over a team that doesn’t win it all.

4. New Jersey Devils

Why They Deserve To Win:

Marty Brodeur is going to retire as the most underappreciated, best-at-his-position guy ever to play the game. He deserves to get that fourth ring to balance out the other hardware he’s deserved but won’t get (the Hart, previous Conn Smythes, et al). And, after winning three Cups and being mocked for not playing in a city proper, it would be awesome for the Devils to be able to win a championship in Newark. Also, we kinda like the Devils. We hear they’re pretty awesome.

Why They Don’t Deserve To Win:

There are no reasons why they don’t deserve to win. Please.

Why It Would Be Deliciously Funny If They Do Win:

Only one person thinks the Devils can win the Cup this year and that’s Mike “Crazy Old Man” Robitaille. And that includes Devils fans and members of the organization. It would be deliciously funny if the team proved everyone (but Robi) wrong. Also, two words: Scott Gomez.

Why It Would Be Deliciously Funny If They Don’t Win:

There will be no delicious humor in Mudville if the Devils don’t win. This kind of schadenfreude requires that people outside of NJ have paid any attention to specifics about the team. Since the general consensus seems to be that Marty’s stats are buoyed by a great defense and good goal support, we have to assume no one outside of NJ has watched a Devils game all season.

5. New York Rangers

Why They Deserve To Win:

You’ve got to be joking.

Why They Don’t Deserve To Win:

Where to begin? First of all, it just Rangers. Second of all, after years of building their team with patience and intelligence, they went out and bought the biggest names on the free agent market last summer, throwing franchise-player numbers at second- and third-line centers. Third of all, it just Jagr. Fourth of all, it just Sather. Fifth of all, it just Avery.

Why It Would Be Deliciously Funny If They Do Win:

The MSM would have to find some other thing to point to than just “They need a big-market team like the Rangers winning the Cup” when explaining how lame-assed the NHL is.

Why It Would Be Deliciously Funny If They Don’t Win:

Yet another season would come and go without the name Chris Drury getting engraved on Lord Stanley’s Cup. Look closely at that Cup. How many times does that name appear on it? Once? Just once? Really? How many more seasons coming and going without that number growing do we need before the title “Captain Clutch” gets transferred to someone who’s actually, well, been more clutch?

6. Philadelphia Flyers

Why They Deserve To Win:

The 06-07 Flyers were so awful and the fans handled it with such unexpected aplomb even we, Devils fans living in the heart of Flyer country, felt a little sorry for them. To follow the kind of season we evidently wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy (okay, second worst; we’d happily see the Rangers have that win-loss record) with a Cup, well, that’s a feel-good story. We suppose.

Why They Don’t Deserve To Win:

They tried to bring back the Broad Street Bullies. And they’ve mismanaged yet another star player’s concussion. The Flyers organization doesn’t deserve much more than a kick in the nuts. (Furthermore — it just Flyers.)

Why It Would Be Deliciously Funny If They Do Win:

There’s not a lot we can think of that would be funny about the Flyers winning, but we guess we could get behind the idea of them finally getting over the hump the year after they jettison Bobby Clarke.

Why It Would Be Deliciously Funny If They Don’t Win:

Daniel Briere? And that stupid contract? Really? Her?

7. Ottawa Senators

Why They Deserve To Win:

Because it would make Toronto’s head explode. Also, Jason Spezza is dreeeeeamy. And that’s all we’ve got. But, that was enough last year for us to be happy to see Ryan “Dreeeeamy” Getzlaf’s despicable team win.

Why They Don’t Deserve To Win:

We had some trouble concisely verbalizing our reasons why the Senators don’t deserve to win this year, and this is the exchange that best sums up our conversation:

Pookie: “Why they don’t deserve to win? They’re the Ottawa fucking Senat–” Schnookie cuts her off by saying, “Hubris.” Long pause. Pookie: “Oh. Hubris. That works too.”

Why It Would Be Deliciously Funny If They Do Win:

Well, everyone’s pretty well written them off, so we guess if you’re into that kind of thing, it would be funny to see them surprise some unsuspecting opponent. But it wouldn’t be funny at all if that win involved Emery. Or Neil. Or Alfredsson. Basically, it would have to be all Spezza and Commodore, because they’re dreeeeeamy.

Why It Would Be Deliciously Funny If They Don’t Win:

Not winning the Cup would be the deliciously funny cherry on the top of the deliciously funny sundae that has been the 2007-2008 Ottawa Senators.

8. Boston Bruins

Why They Deserve To Win:

Bruins fans are the one Boston fanbase that hasn’t become a big-B, big-F Boston Fanbase.

Why They Don’t Deserve To Win:

This is a franchise that passed up the opportunity to name their ursine mascot “Spokey The Bear”. This? Is a travesty. A travesty. Talk about not deserving anything better than a kick in the nuts. Also, Tim Thomas apparently has a bear on his mask because he likes to kill bears. Isn’t that a bad karma thing?

Why It Would Be Deliciously Funny If They Do Win:

A Bruins Cup would be deliciously funny to anyone who thought it was classless of Lou to fire Julien with three games to go last season.

Why It Would Be Deliciously Funny If They Don’t Win:

It would be delicious for anyone who’s ever had to listen to Jack Edwards calling a game on NESN.

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Gentle Listener, we present to you the 3rd episode of our podcast, The IPB Hour. In the past we’ve joked that the podcast should be subtitled, “Contents May Be Less Than An Hour”, but this week, not so much. Why? Because we took our act on the road, ambling over to Brooklyn to talk hockey with our old season-ticket buddy and IPB Irregular, Morgan! We arrived at his apartment at noon and talked hockey pretty much non-stop until 5:30 when we had to head back to the ‘burbs. We only recorded part of it, fortunately, so you’re spared all but an hour of our rambling conversation which covered The Curse Of Beating Brodeur, our can’t-miss predictions of who will win the Cup, some wacky theories about Andy Greene, and everything in between.

As usual, you can subscribe to the podcast here. If you have any questions, comments, or thoughts in general about the IPB Hour, please drop us a line at interchangeablepartsblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

UPDATE: This one’s a long one, and it’s come to our attention that WordPress’s audio player doesn’t allow for easy pausing and returning to later. You can download the podcast into the audio player of your choice here.

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Wow! We can’t believe the off-season is over already and it’s time for our ’07-’08 Season Preview! Oh, wait, that’s right. The off-season hasn’t even started yet; it was just the break between the Conference Finals and now was so interminable it only felt like the entire off-season. So finally, at long last, IPB brings you our exclusive take on a Stanley Cup Final matchup we actually called back at the start of these playoffs 65 years ago. (Sorry. It’s just been a really long time, hasn’t it?)

Anaheim Ducks vs. Ottawa Senators

Let’s start with a disclaimer: we are not unbiased observers of this series. We know — shocking, right? But here’s the thing…
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You’ve seen our brilliant (and scientific!) prediction for the East (if you haven’t, get thee to Part 1), now on to the West!

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL:
Red Wings (1) vs. Ducks (2)

Goaltending: Dominik Hasek should have retired years ago, taking his glass groin with him; sure he can still play, and can still win, but frankly we tire of him and his dorky old-style helmet. He set the bar high for himself our first season when he pulled himself from a big playoff start, spent the game standing next to the coaches on the bench in street clothes, attacked a reporter after the game, and then had his teammates literally stand behind him in a press conference the next day. Unless he’s going to offer antics like that (minus the attacking Jim Kelly; he may have made some crazy comments about Marty Brodeur this post-season, but we don’t wish him harm), he should take his bad stick-handling and insatiable hunger for diving into retirement. J.S Giguere stole Marty’s Conn Smythe in 2003, despite Marty setting a post-season record for shut-outs. He won, presumably, because is a god. Or at least, more than a mere mortal. Or so says Gary Thorne (he once called a big stop by shouting, “I defy you to tell me he’s human!” Dear Gary, He’s Human. Signed, Pookie and Schnookie.) Also, based on attending a Ducks practice several years ago (long story), we can confidently report that St. Jiggy can’t skate to save his life. Dude needed someone to push him around the rink during skating drills. Advantage: Ducks. But it’s a close call. Marty really deserved that Conn Smythe.
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