In this week’s issue, SI’s Brian Cazeneueve takes a look at the Boston Bruins’ unlikely road to the Stanley Cup Final after their near loss in the first round. After squandering a 3-1 series lead to the Maple Leafs, the Bruins found themselves trailing Toronto 4-1 with 14:31 left in the third period of game seven. But when Milan Lucic found an open Nathan Horton in front of the goal, the Bruins brought the score to 4-2 with 10:42 to play. A shift in momentum and confidence would inevitably allow the Bruins to become the first team in NHL history to rally from a three goal deficit in the third period to win a game seven.
“They’re a team that waits for your mistakes,” said the Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby after being swept in the Eastern Conference Finals by the surging Bruins. “There are times when they possess the puck. It doesn’t mean they’re carrying the play. They’re just patient. We were trying to get three goals back on one shift. You can’t do that against a team that thrives on your mistakes.” (PAGE 44)
Also in this week’s issue, Pierre McGuire breaks down the keys to a Stanley Cup victory for the Bruins and Blackhawks and Cazeneueve predicts the Bruins to take the cup in grueling seven game series.
All postseasons are great, but the traditions, desperation and facial hair of the NHL playoffs set it apart, says award winning writer Steve Rushin in this week’s SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, on newsstands now. The national cover story is accompanied by two SI covers that feature action shots from each conference final matchup, the Boston Bruins vs. Pittsburgh Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks vs. Los Angeles Kings. Adding to the allure of this year’s playoffs, the final four is made up of the last four Stanley Cup champs.
“And so it goes, on a nightly basis for eight consecutive weeks, the speeding and the bleeding, making the Stanley Cup playoffs the most intense short-term spectacle in all of sports, a symphony for foghorn, swallowed whistle and dentist drill,” says Rushin. (PAGE 34)
Rushin explores the traditions that set the NHL postseason apart, such as playoff beards, sudden death overtime games (22 so far in this year’s playoffs), gruesome injuries, fans throwing seafood on the ice and players refusing to buy into the hype of their success and injuries.
In addition, the stakes are so high and the play is so fast and physical that coaches and players often refer to the pace as “urgent.” This leads to a lot of violent hits that still surprise and entertain many. “The violence inherent in the playoffs, obscured by the pace and grace of the game, still comes as a surprise,” says Rushin. (PAGE 34)
Rushin believes that the best traditions are ones that put the spotlight on others, like the postgame stick salute to fans and the handshake line between teams at the end of a series. “As the rest of the world abandons it in favor of the knuckle-bump or the finger-shoot—as Purell-pumping stations appear anywhere that human contact cannot quite be avoided—a few men have drawn a line against our increasing alienation. And that line is the playoff hockey handshake line,” says Rushin. (PAGE 36)
NOTE: This NHL Players Poll appears on page 17 of the Jan. 23 issue, on newsstands now.
Who is hockey’s hardest hitter?
- Zdeno Chara, Bruins D….18%
- Jordin Tootoo, Predators RW….15%
- Cal Clutterbuck, Wild RW….11%
- Douglas Murray, Sharks D….10%
- Dion Phaneuf, Leafs D….8%
[Based on 193 NHL players who responded to SI’s survey]
FAST FACTS: Chara may be feared in the East, where he has played his entire career, but Western Conferencers voted Tootoo and Murray (15% each) as the heaviest hitters…. The top 10 vote-getters average 6′ 2″ in height; Chara, of course, is 6′ 9″…. Of the 15 players who received more than one vote, the Senators’ Chris Neil (2.1%) has the most penalty minutes (82, ninth in the NHL)…. In a similar poll on Facebook, SI readers also named Chara (38%) the hardest hitter, just ahead of Red Wings D Niklas Kronwall (31%).
For the First Time Ever YOU Pick the Cover of Sports Illustrated By Choosing The Best Sports Moment of 2011Posted: December 9, 2011
For nearly 60 years the cover of Sports Illustrated has defined the story of the day in sports. Upon its release, the iconic cover image stirs a spectrum of passionate dialog, debate, celebration, criticism and for those who believe in jinxes, fear. But there has always been one constant in that the cover choice has rested in the hands of the SI editorial team. Today, that all changes. Beginning at 3:00 p.m. EST, sports fans can visit SI’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/sportsillustrated) to rank the top five sports moments from 2011 drawn from a selection of 15 images which correspond to the editorial staff’s selections for the best sports moments of 2011. The moment that receives the most votes will be featured on the cover of SI’s year-end issue. Voting begins today and will end on Friday, December 16th, the magazine cover that YOU picked will hit newsstands on Wednesday, December 21st.
Why is picking the cover a big deal? Listen to what some of the great athletes who have graced the cover had to say:
“To be on the cover of Sports Illustrated it’s kind of a stamp of approval that you’ve made it,” said Sugar Ray Leonard who has appeared on the SI cover 12 times.
Sports Illustrated’s NHL Preview predicts Penguins over Blackhawks in Stanley Cup Finals; Tim Thomas appears on Northeast regional coverPosted: October 4, 2011
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas appears on a regional cover of this week’s Oct. 10, 2011, issue of Sports Illustrated — on newsstands tomorrow — that will be available in New England and Canada. It marks the Bruins’ 12th cover but their first since May 9, 1977 , when Gerry Cheevers and Brad Park appeared on it.
NHL PREVIEW: PENGUINS OVER BLACKHAWKS IN STANLEY CUP FINALS
The timetable of Sidney Crosby’s return is still up in the air, but Pittsburgh’s proven ability to win in a variety of ways — with either their offense or their defense — is a big reason why SI predicts the Penguins to defeat the Blackhawks in this year’s Stanley Cup finals. Predictions for the regular season are as follows (page 68).
|1. Pittsburgh Penguins*||9. Carolina Hurricanes||1. Chicago Blackhawks*||9. Columbus Blue Jackets|
|2. Philadelphia Flyers||10. New Jersey Devils||2. Vancouver Canucks*||10. Minnesota Wild|
|3. Washington Capitals*||11. Toronto Maple Leafs||3. San Jose Sharks*||11. Colorado Avalanche|
|4. Boston Bruins*||12. New York Islanders||4. Los Angeles Kings||12. Calgary Flames|
|5. Tampa Bay Lightning||13. Florida Panthers||5. Detroit Red Wings||13. Phoenix Coyotes|
|6. Montreal Canadiens||14. Ottawa Senators||6. Nashville Predators||14. Edmonton Oilers|
|7. Buffalo Sabres||15. Winnipeg Jets||7. St. Louis Blues||15. Dallas Stars|
|8. New York Rangers||8. Anaheim Ducks|
*Division winner; top eight teams in each conference make playoffs
On the Tablets: Fans can share their predictions for the 2011-12 NHL season on Twitter with the hashtag #SINHLPreview.