Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Tim Hortons Sucks, and You Know It!

The internet tubes are abuzz with news that Tim Hortons and Burger King are merging.

Americans are angry that another large multi-national is not paying their fair share of taxes, while Canadians are flipping out that their precious national coffee slinger is going to be taken over by Americans.

People easily forget that Timmy's was taken over by Wendy's back in 1995, and it didn't cause the brand to disappear.

If you really think that buying Tim Hortons or Molson Canadian beer makes you a good Canadian, then you are a marketer's wet dream. Supporting Timmy's is no more or less Canadian than buying coffee from a local cafe, or a gas station.

To quote BD Gallof:
Acting like it is some sort of national pride to eat processed fried dough and badly roasted, but drinkable, coffee beans is just plain silly.

I really don't understand why people feel the need to tie their nationality to a large corporation, especially one that has been acting more and more American the past decade.

While Timmy's used to be cool, and a box of fresh donuts would make the whole office happy, the franchise is no longer worth supporting. Those people mad about this deal have their priorities in the wrong place, and need to wake up to some basic truths.

Timmy's hires boatloads of Temporary Foreign Workers. 

Once upon a time, Tim Hortons used to air ads proclaiming that working at Timmy's was a great way to get started on a solid career, and even promoted their Scholarship Program. Timmy's was a place you could get a half-decent job, while working towards something better.

Realizing that paying workers decent wages stops the executives from buying a new Mercedes Benz each Thursday, Timmy's took to, instead, hiring piles of Temporary Foreign Workers.

Despite the fact that there are thousands of Canadians who could use a decent job, Timmy's would rather hire indentured servants from other countries, and pay them cheaper wages than actual Canadian citizens would be entitled to receive.

Timmy's claims to be a Canadian company, yet hires non-Canadians to fill jobs that Canadians could easily do. Yup. 

Tim Hortons donuts are not at all FRESH

Once upon a time, Tim Hortons actually baked the donuts, from scratch, in the individual stores.
Realizing that they could make more money by just having the stores warm up frozen dough, and thus requiring even less-skilled staff on hand, Tims forced franchises to switch, with some of them filing, and then losing a lawsuit.

At the heart of the case, which began in 2008, is what the judge describes as the “Always Fresh Conversion,” a shift from fresh baking in each store to a system of industrial par baking and flash freezing at a centralized plant in Brantford, Ont., followed by reheating in specially designed ovens.

Hmm, reheating dough? This sounds an awful lot like Pillsbury products.

The last few times I've seen Timmy's in the office, there was more of a collective 'meh'. Donuts used to be OMGZ EXCITMENT!!!!11111, but it has been replaced by, "Ok, cool, a free snack... I guess".

Their Timbits are laced with Crack Cocaine

OK, maybe not, but they are far too addicting. Any time somebody brings a box of them to the office, or some other party, I end up eating far more of them than I should. I don't find them particular awesome, and they seem far too bland for the calories they contain, but I seem to end up scarfing down a half-dozen before I realize what I've done with my life.


So, what is Canadian about heavily-processed, reheated food and hiring Temporary Foreign Workers? Tim Hortons has been acting more and more American each year, and is about as Canadian as Basketball now is.

If you want to be a good Canadian, and support Canadian businessess, go to your local coffee cafe. Not only do you support the hiring of Canadian workers, but you'll actually keep the money in your community, and probably get better food out of the deal.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Vancouver's Food Truck Follies

One of the recent trends in Vancouver has been the explosion of Food Trucks on the streets.

While other major cities in North America have an abundance of these mobile kitchens, it wasn't until 2010 that Vancouver had its first. Now, we have over 100.

To understand why it is such a big deal, you have to know that Vancouver has always been behind the times and quite strict about food safety for mobile food sellers.

I remember how big of a deal it was when the first street hot dog vendors (Mr. Tube Steak!!!!!) were allowed to start operating about 20-odd years ago. While other big cities had plenty of these street meat hawkers, Vancouver didn't start catching up until my early teens. It's no surprise that we didn't get food trucks until just a few years ago.

Unfortunately, the food truck industry in Vancouver has been, to my experience, one GIANT disappointment.

Here is what I expect from a mobile food seller: Fast and cheap

Here is what Vancouver Food Trucks (VFTs) are generally not: Fast and cheap

One reason I'd want to go to a VFT is to get a quick meal to go. If I had the time, I'd go to a cafe or restaurant, so going to a street vendor is for time-saving purposes.

VFTs fail largely in this regard, with 7-15 minute waits not uncommon. Fresh food does take time to prepare, but many VFTs don't seem to have certain staples prepared beforehand, and efficiency is lacking.

VFTs have nowhere to sit, and you are often left there standing in the baking hot sun with nothing to do.

Prices at the typical VFT also mirror that of most small cafes and some restaurants, which is to say it is not cheap. $10-15 for a small meal is the norm with many VFTs, and the quantity of food doesn't make up for it. (Although that isn't as much of a concern to me these days). 

I'm not sure the quality of food makes up for the prices, either. I've had one fish & chips that was so oily that I had to throw it up an hour later, I've tried the famous "Japadog" (overrated, but still tasty), and found most dishes to be pretty much of average quick-food quality.

I understand every business has costs to cover, and Vancouver's licenses aren't cheap, but the food trucks don't have the brick-and-mortar costs that a typical restaurant has, nor do they need to hire serving staff. VFTs should be able to offer lower prices due to lower overhead, but it doesn't happen.

(c) The Vancouver Sun

From anecdotal internet talk and other things I've read, it seems that other cities with food trucks have it better, and have it right.

Honestly, downtown consumers are better off going to any of the numerous food courts at the malls here. You get air conditioning and protection from the elements, you don't have to wait as long for the food, and the prices are a bit lower. The quality is about the same, too.

Mobile food trucks are a great concept, and seem to be popular, for the time being, but I still fail to understand how they will continue to be successful if they cannot offer any time or money savings from the thousands of other options we have in this city.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

MTG: 11 Intriguing Cards from M15

M15, the new core set for Magic: The Gathering, is being released this Friday to lots of anticipation.

With the major reboot of M10 in 2009, core sets are far better than they used to be. That said, these summer releases have been getting stale the past couple of years, and Wizards of the Coast needed to add some more spice to the pot. M13 and M14 were complete snoozefests, really.

Well, by asking famous names in the gaming community (Video games, board games, etc) to design some cards, tweaking the card frame, and getting away from some of the stale reprints, M15 is looking to be the best core set since M10.

After reviewing the set, and playing in this past weekend's prerelease, I've got a list of 11 cards that I will be looking forward to building and playing with in the future.


In alphabetical order, because Stone Cold said so!

1. Avacyn, Guardian Angel

My Angel EDH/Commander deck is currently lead by Avacyn, Angel of Hope. While the original is far more powerful, the 8 mana cost makes her an expensive date.

This version doesn't need a fancy steak dinner every night, and she can still protect your army. I'm not sure if I'll replace the original, or just take another card out. A flying 5/4 vigilance angel is good in any white deck.

2. Brood Keeper

I had two Brood Keepers in my prerelease pool, but not enough auras to make it worthwhile to play them :(

Slapping auras on a non-hexproof creature always make me nervous, but Brood Keeper will definitely reward the risk. A 2/2 dragon whelp for every Aura attached to her? This is a pretty good build-around-me card. I will certainly brood over the possibilities.

3. Chasm Stalker

This might be my favourite new card from the set. Who doesn't love SQUID tokens? *Squish*

Blue decks always draw plenty of cards, so, when this fellow dies, you ought to be left with quite a  calamari army.

Brainstorm or Ancestral Vision will get you 3 additional 1/1s for cheap, and those are cards I use in many blue decks. Better get some tzatziki ready.

4. Ensoul Artifact

Your mother told you not to run with scissors, but you should probably run FROM them! 

In terms of raw power, this card ranks highly. Turning a Darksteel Ingot or Darksteel Citadel (the artifact land) into indestructible 5/5s, for just two frickin' mana, ought to make the cut.

The artwork alone, is full of win.

5. Generator Servant

This little bugger was surprisingly powerful at the prerelease, allowing players to cast out huge hasty creatures a lot earlier than they should be able to. It's not often we get served with any type of Sol Ring effects.

Red often gets some form of temporary mana generation, but giving one or two creatures haste? That is what pushes this card over the edge. 

Don't forget that the mana generated can be used for anything, even instants.

6. Hushwing Gryff

More and more creatures are being printed with 'enter the battlefield' triggers. Killing those creatures doesn't stop their controller from getting the benefit, dammit!

With that in mind, Hushwing Gryff is another 'hate bear' created to help in competitive formats. Decks that rely upon Birthing Pod will definitely not be happy to see this flashed on to the table.

For us casuals? This is a very flexible answer, and can save you from the devastating effects of an Inferno Titan or Acidic Slime.

7. Necromancer's Stockpile

Cheap discard outlets are always useful, especially if you get some real return on your investment.

I already have a middling Zombie deck, so this ought to slide right in their perfectly. If you have recursion creatures like Gravecrawler or Bloodghast, discarding that card isn't a real cost at all.


8. Nightfire Giant

Talk about a bomb in sealed and draft! A 5/4 that can machine gun opposing creatures and players? Ick. My poor wife was on the wrong side of the table from this creature at the prerelease, and her army of little dudes didn't last too long.

Yes, the activation cost isn't cheap, but you get a fairly costed creature that makes a great mana sink. I could see myself finding a home for him in one of my numerous red/black decks.

9. Ob Nixilis, Unshackled

Those who have played against my Demons deck know how ObNoxious the original Ob Nixilis can be.

Creatures die often in multiplayer Magic, so Obby here will get bigger with little effort. Being able to punish somebody for shuffling their library will be almost orgasmic, I'm sure. It's too bad he doesn't have flash, so you could really "GOTCHA!" some unsuspecting shmuck. 

10. Scuttling Doom Engine

I'm torn ... (but not Rip Torn) is this a really good card name, or a terrible one?

This card hasn't been getting as much hype of some of the others, but I love being able to punish somebody else for killing my creatures. Six damage is significant, and will definitely scare people into poking it with a stick.

"Scuttles" also makes it so that opponents can't easily chump-block it with some dumb token. One way or another, you are DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMED!!!!

11.Waste Not

I finish with the card designed by 'the Magic community', including another name that strikes me as both clever and/or lame.

For sure, this is a powerful 'build around' card that will put further pain on those opponents who have to discard precious resources.

Seeing as I already have such an annoying discard deck, I look forward to the scowls of my playgroup when I whip this out for the first time.

I know karma will come back to bite me, but I don't want your cards to go to ... waste ...

*mic drop*


So, what cards from M15 interest you?

Friday, 11 July 2014

World Cup Schadenfreude - Brazil Edition

(Give the post a minute to load, will ya?)

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup nearing the final weekend, and the Dutch out of contention for the title, I can relax and enjoy the fact that Brazil won't be winning the whole thing.

It is no secret I am not fond of Brazil's soccer team. The people, country, and food? Fine by me, but their soccer team can KISS ... MY ... GRITS!

During their beating at the hands of the Germans (7-1 is like 24-3 in hockey terms), I experienced a grand dose of Schadenfreude. I was actually cackling as I watched the Brazilians collapse in front of their home fans, and was enjoying watching the many replays on my screen.

"Jes, why do you not like Brazil?"

Let me count the ways...

The Diving - Italy and Hondruas might be the worst, but Brazil is up there in terms of countries that flop more than a fish out of water, or Arjen Robben. As soon as a Brazilian is within 5 feet of an opposing player, they suddenly have balance issues.

Here is 'Fred' getting a penalty call, thanks to a typical flop:

The Acting - Any time a Brazilian player is even breathed on, or a foul is called on them, they roll around like they've been shot with a rubber bullet. It makes it hard to tell when they are actually hurt, like when Neymar got kneed in the spine.

The Bandwagoners - Strangely, Vancouver seems to suddenly have about 100,000 Brazilians every four years. Brazil is a trendy 'easy' team to cheer for, especially for people with absolutely no connection to the country.

Typical bandwagon douchebag.

Their fans also seem to think that their team and game are 'beautiful', and other football is 'ugly'. Basically, Brazil is the self-absorbed high-maintenance type that is too in love with themselves to ever love you. 

The Names - Yes, you are so awesome and god-like that you go by single names. Fred, Hulk, Kaka, Ronaldo, Neymar, etc ... I don't care of Portguese naming conventions give you 34 different middle and last names. Pick two or three and use them. What conceited poppycock!

To quote the awesome George Carlin:
These singers who think they're so special they only need one name. Bono, Sting, Jewel, Tiffany, Prince. What a crock of shit! Get a fucking last name, would you please? ... It's not bad enough the music sucks, but with no last name, you can't find out where these people live so you can throw a fuckin' bomb through their window! It's frustrating.

The Overt Religiousness - Even after they got curbstomped, the Brazilian players were bowing down to their deity and praying for ... not to get killed by the fans?

 "Please, Hammer, don't hurt me!"

Many of the Brazilian players are in-your-face about their religion as much as a Southern "Born Again" Baptist. Even the strongly Catholic Italians are rather quiet about their religion, and Italians are rarely quiet about anything!

Look, your god does not care about sporting events. You didn't lose because of anything other than your own terrible play and Germany's good tactics.

That penalty call above? Here is Fred thanking God for apparently helping the ref make a terrible call. *sigh* Yes, Brazil are somehow the "Chosen Ones", asshole.

Now, I expect Brazil is going to slaughter the Netherlands in the "3rd Place game that should not even be played", as Brazil has something to prove to their home fans.

Still, I will take great satisfaction in knowing Brazil won't win the World Cup in their own country, and that they wasted billions of dollars building gaudy sports stadiums instead of addressing actual problems, like poverty.


 "I can't believe it's not butter!"
 This is how FIFA developed the 2014 World Cup Logo

 Yes, even their statues were facepalming after that game.

 Aww, I kinda feel a bit sorry for this old guy.

 Burning the flag. How original, you terrorists.

Ummm... wow... 


 Brazil's new flag

 Now that the Germans have conquered Brazil...


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Canada Day Thoughts: USA v. Canada

For Canada Day, why don't I write about something about ... Americans! (?)
My wife and I took a nice little mini-vacation to Canada's Vancouver, aka Seattle, and I got to observe Americans in their natural habitat.

While I talk to many Americans online every day, they are usually like-minded people, or those I deal with in my line of work. I don't often interact with the 'average' American, so these trips are always a little experience.

While Canada and the USA are similar in many ways, there is always a difference once you cross the border, and it's not just the air quality.

(many sweeping Generalizations, based on purely personal experience, abound!)


This does not make me feel safe...

The American border guards are always surly and look at me as if I'm a terrorist, but that's their job. Ordinary Americans seem much more anal about perceived threats than they should be.

One recent example is us going into Safeco Field (a beautiful place) for a Mariners game. Not only did we have to empty our pockets, but we had to go through some kind of scanner. I'm used to a minor security checkpoint at Rogers Arena (mainly for alcohol), but this was a bit of overkill for a frickin' baseball game.

Airport security, security guards, police presence... you see a lot more of this south of the border than you do up here.

The funny thing is that this heightened security makes me feel more unsafe, more than anything else. The most law enforcement officers, security guards, and security checks I see, the more I'm subconsciously thinking "Is this place dangerous"?



I know Americans love their big, crappy chains, but Seattle seems to be a great place for restaurants.

Vancouver is often pointed-to, or wants to be, as a world-class city for food, but it lacks one major thing: VARIETY.

Vancouver has plenty of great restaurants, but if you want Central European, Eastern European, African, Southern, Cajun, Central American, South American, or Mexican cuisine, you are out of luck.

Almost every month, you can see a few new Japanese or Chinese restaurants open up in the Greater Vancouver region. While I enjoy both of these cuisines, the market must be saturated like 1-ply toilet paper after a single wipe. Vancouver also has enough "West Coast" restaurants to service the entire population of Canada.

Portion Sizes:

Somehow, we forgot that American restaurants serve about 3,500 calories worth of food on the average plate. I am a BIG eater, and thrice could not finish a good chunk of the food I ordered.

This might seem like a generalization, but it's happened on every trip to the US that I've been on. Hawaii was the one place that didn't seem hellbent on stuffing my stomach to the hilt, although just about every meal we had there was still very filling. 

Note to self: Order appetizers, or split a dish with the wife. I feel bad wasting so much food, and I can't understand how people can eat so damn much! Even the small restaurants give you massive portions.


On an individual level, most Americans are quite friendly and easy to talk to. Even in more conservative areas (Phoenix/Scottsdale, San Leandro, Castro Valley), I've rarely had unpleasant interactions with the average person. In fact, I've tended to have more random conversations with American strangers than I have with Canadian strangers.

That said, Americans are hyper-competitive people, and seem to react quite strongly when competing for a resource(s), driving, involved in sporting events, or are discussing politics and/or religion.

American drivers are especially aggressive, and tailed my ass more than I'd ever allow my wife to. I even missed an exit because other drivers would speed up and cut me off. I guess that's the 'reward' for using my turn signal, something American drivers rarely seem to do. Ugh.

(Maui, being an obvious exception, is so laid back and slow...)

It's a weird Jekyll-Hyde thing, as I do find Americans can either be really nice, or really angry, yet not as much in the middle as the average Canadian I interact with.


So, while I certainly enjoy my experiences in the USA with American people, I am certainly glad to be home in Canada Day to celebrate the better of the two countries ;)

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

NHL: Stanley Cup Finals Thoughts

At long last, the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals are set, and Count Gary Bettman is creaming his pants at having biglargehuge TV markets Los Angeles and New York as the final two teams.

Seeing the Kings in the finals is no real surprise, but the Rangers? I bet you would have cashed in big if you bet on them to make the finals back in September.

First, a look back at the semi-finals. I got both predictions wrong, so now I'm 9 for 14 in the playoffs. Like the Canucks, I choke in the later rounds :(

Rangers v. Canadiens

I flipped a coin, and ended up picking the Canadiens in 7. It's the coin's fault, obviously.

A few things did the Habs in, and led to the Rangers taking the series in 6 games.

  1. Goaltending: Carey Price went down in the first game to an injury that ended his playoffs. Dustin Tokarski, the third-string goaltender, was given the reins after that. While Tokarski did well for himself, he didn't steal games like Carey Price was able to. Lundqvist has been, by far, the best goalie in these playoffs. 

  2. Coaching: I think that Michel Therrien is not a very good coach, and the advanced stats back that up. In game six, the Canadiens were constantly on the defensive, and the Rangers looked like the desperate team. Alain Vigneault knows how to better use his players, and his team looked fresh and confident.

  3. Thomas Vanek: What a disappointment as Vanek completely disappeared in this series, with just 2 assists and a -4 in 6 games. Instead of owning up to his indifferent play, Vanek blamed his new linemates for a 'lack of chemistry', and his coach for his own lack of production. Vanek was good the first two rounds, but then decided, for whatever reason, that he was done playing hard. Not the kind of guy I want on my team, when the chips are down.
Image borrowed from dennis-kane.com, a fine Habs blog.

Kings v. Blackhawks

While I picked the Hawks to win this series in 7 games, it was pretty much another coin-flip scenario. I figured the Hawks would be a bit fresher and a bit deeper.

In the end, it came down to a bad bounce in Game 7's overtime to give the Kings their ticket to the Cup Finals. It was a great series, and, apologies to the Rangers, truly showcased the two best teams in the league.

1. Justin Williams is clutch. Just look at his production in playoff Game 7s. He is the best Game 7 playoff scorer, ever! Yes, even better than Gretzky and Glenn Anderson. If this was Final Fantasy 7, Williams would be doing 7,777 damage each hit!

  • 7 games
  • 7 goals
  • 7 assists
  • 7 wins

2. Jonathan Quick is actually the weak link in the Kings armour. With a 90.6 SV% in these playoffs, Quick ranks well below average. Luckily for him, Corey Crawford was not that great for the Hawks, either.

3. Duncan Keith does not get enough press for being one of the dirtiest players in the league. He got away with concussing Daniel Sedin a few years ago,  got caught slashing Jeff Carter on the head, and even got called out by Don Cherry for his slashiness. If Keith weren't a 'star' player, you can bet he'd be punished a lot more severely. I suppose this makes Keith a modern-day Chris Pronger.


The Los Angeles Kings have to be the "Team of Destiny". Not only did they overcome a 3-0 series deficit versus the Sharks in the first round, but they've now won three straight Game 7s to get to the finals. Things just seem to be going their way.

Most pundits expect the Kings to walk away with the Stanley Cup, and I am not going to disagree. The Kings have been one of the strongest teams for the past few years, better overall depth, and I think their larger forwards will give the Rangers problems. The Canadiens are a small team, and the Rangers had a fairly easy time containing the Montreal attack.

That said, the Rangers have a decent shot at pulling the upset, for a few reasons.

  • Goaltending: Henrik Lundqvist has been stealing games left and right, and compare his 92.8 SV% to Quick's 90.6%. Quick has been overrated for awhile now, while King Henrik was been, somewhat quietly, one of the elite goaltenders for some time.
Lundqvist is also so damn handsome. It's not fair!

  • Fatigue: Western Conference teams have far more travel, and the New York teams have always had some of the easiest travel schedules in the league. While the Kings have had the nice luxury of playing two California teams during these playoffs, the season-long travel schedule can really be a factor for LA.

  • Fatigue, again: The LA Kings have had three straight brutal 7-game series, and have made things tough on themselves. The Rangers, on the other hand, came through the Canadiens series relatively unscathed, apart from Derek Stepan's jaw. The Rangers will be better rested before the series starts, and this might come into play down the road. Remember, Western Conference hockey has tended to be faster-paced and more physical than Eastern Conference hockey. Just watch a regular season game and notice the difference. 

Prediction: LA Kings in six.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

NHL Playoffs: Round 3 Predictions and Musings

While the first round of the 2014 NHL Playoffs went about as much as expected (I got 7 of 8 predictions correct), the second round produced a lot of shocking results.


Hawks in 6 Hawks in 6 Y*
Kings in 6 Kings in 7 Y
Bruins in 4 Habs in 7 N
Penguins in 6 Rangers in 7 N

Thanks to the more predictable Western Conference, I was able to go 2 for 4 with one perfect pick. That leaves me 9 for 12 for the playoffs, thus far.

Hawks v. Wild - As usual, the Wild were almost-unbeatable at home, but were outclassed by the much stronger team. Kudos to the Wild for playing their hearts out.

Kings v. Ducks - The Kings certainly don't make it easy for themselves, but they managed to edge out another California powerhouse. I wonder how much they'll have left in the tank. Admittedly, this is the series I watched the least.

Bruins v. Canadiens - I picked the Bruins to sweep, and they really are the team with more talent and size ... but, the Canadiens were not intimated, and took the play right to the Bruins.

Yes, Carey Price pretty much carried the Habs for most of the series, but just look at how Tomas Plekanec reacts (or doesn't) to this Brad Marchand cheapshot to the face.

"I ain't even mad!"

The Canadiens were not at all scared of the big bad Bruins, instead playing an aggressive speedy style that put the Bruins back on their heels. It was astonishing, and also great to see. I'm not fond of Therrien's coaching, but he's certainly pushing the right buttons right now.

*** Now, allow me to go on a bit of a tangent.

Milan Lucic is one of my favourite all-time players, especially since I got to see him grow up as a member of the Vancouver Giants. He led our WHL club to a Memorial Cup, and his story is one of perseverance.

That said, I've lost a lot of respect for him the past few weeks.

First, he seems to have taken up the hobby of spearing other players in the junk. A player of Lucic's size does not need to resort to such stickwork, and he's always been able to stick up for himself fairly in the past. 

Second, the whole 'handshake line' nonsense. Yes, I think the forced handshake line tradition is overrated, but glaring at Dale Weise and threatening him with violence is just lame. Suck it up, shake hands, and move on. Lucic just comes off whiny, and seems to have picked up bad habits from douchebag Marchand.

So, for now, Brendan Gallagher has surpassed Lucic on my list of favourite Vancouver Giants. ***

Rangers v. Penguins - This was the series that my gut told me would be an upset, but I went against my gut and picked the Penguins. Lesson learned.

The Penguins, like the Bruins, ran into a really hot goaltender. The lack of depth on the Penguins did not help matters, and Crosby/Malkin can't do EVERYTHING. Already, GM Ray Shero has been canned, and head coach Dan Bylsma might be soon behind.

It's not like the Penguins played poorly...really, they had the majority of chances and puck possession...but they just seem to flame out in the playoffs like the San Jose Sharks. To his credit, Marc-Andre Fleury played fairly well in this series.



These are the two teams I consider the cream of the crop, despite the Kings not-as-dominating regular season record. The addition of Marian Gaborik has given the Kings much-needed offense, and Jonathan Quick has decided to stop being a merely average goaltender.

I think the Hawks edge will be the fact that the Kings will eventually run out of steam. The Kings have to travel a LOT more than the Hawks have, and the Kings have played two brutal seven-game series.

The Hawks have had some physically challenging series, too, but should be a bit more fresh. Otherwise, this is a battle of two great clubs.

Predictions: Hawks in 7


(It's 2-0 New York in Game 1, as I type this...)

Honestly, I have no idea how to predict this series. I did not expect both teams to make it this far, and both teams have ridden red-hot goaltenders. One upset team in the conference finals makes sense, but two???

I do like the depth of the Canadiens more, especially up front. The Habs also have superstar d-man PK Subban, and should be able to generate more offense, overall.

Still, it's pretty much a toss-up, so let me flip this coin...

Prediction: Canadiens in 7