Stanley Cup and Cheesecake 2011 - Eastern Conference Semis Edition

(1) Washington Capitals vs. (5) Tampa Bay Lightning

Capitals in seven.

(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (3) Boston Bruins

Bruins in six.


Stanley Cup and Cheesecake 2011 - Western Conference Semis Edition

Boy, really not into this today. Whatever.

(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (5) Nashville Predators

Boy, what a scary first series that turned out to be for the Canucks, eh? With a 3-0 stranglehold on the series, Vancouver almost choked away the whole magilla, needing overtime in game seven to finally eliminate the resilient Blackhawks in one of the most exciting hockey games I've ever seen.

The question now is, how will that long, emotional series affect the Canucks in round two vs. a Nashville team that bested Anaheim in a six game series that, despite some tight moments, had nothing in comparison to Chicago/Vancouver. It was Nashville's first ever series victory, and they're sure to be bouyed the belief that, finally, they CAN win. (I might have more insightful analyisis if I'd been able to watch even one goddamn minute of it on TV.

While my heart wants to pick the Preds, my head says go with the 'Nucks. Whatever, as long as one of them beats the Red Wings. Canucks in six.

(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (3) Detroit Red Wings

I hate the Red Wings. I was really hoping for Chicago to win, so that Wings would have to face Nashville, who I still believe are due for a franchise-defining victory over Detroit. Ah well, maybe in the next round, 'cause the Sharks are sure to lay an egg. Bah. Wings in six.


D is for Dik-Dik

"A dik-dik, pronounced "dĭk’ dĭk", is a small antelope that lives in the bushes of East Africa, Angola and Namibia. Dik-diks stand 30–40 cm (approx. 12–16 inches) at the shoulder, are 50–70 cm (approx. 20-28 inches) long, weigh 3–6 kg (approx. 7-16 pounds) and can live for up to 10 years. Dik-diks are named for the alarm calls of the females, which make a dik-dik, or zik-zik sound."
Seriously, these things look like they were designed by a manga artist to be adorable. It's ridiculous.

EDIT: And speaking of adorable...I've been printing out all my Animal Alphabet drawings for my daughter Evie to color...here's what she came up with for this one!


C is for Cheetah

"The cheetah achieves by far the fastest land speed of any living animal — between 112 and 120 km/h (70 and 75 mph) in short bursts covering distances up to 500 m (1,600 ft), and has the ability to accelerate from 0 to over 100 km/h (62 mph) in three seconds."


Stanley Cup and Cheesecake 2011 - Eastern Conference Quarters Edition

(1) Washington Capitals vs. (8) New York Rangers

It's time for the Capitals to put up or shut up. Nice as that Winter Classic Champions 2011 is gonna look hanging from the Verizon Center rafters, if it's not joined by a Stanley Cup Champs banner, and soon, heads are gonna roll. As it is, anything less than the Prince of Wales Trophy may see Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau on a street corner somewhere holding a hand-scrawled sign that say "Will coach for Haagen-Dazs."

They'll look to take the first step against the Rangers, who had to depend on Carolina to lose their last game to even get into the playoffs. But if New York was going to face anyone as an eighth seed, Washington is they team they'd pick, having won the season series 3-1 and having blanked the high-octane Caps offense twice by scores of 7-0 and 6-0. I came very close to picking the Rangers to get the upset in this series...I even did a drawing for them...but in the end, I think the loss of Ryan Callahan will prove too much for New York to overcome, and Washington will prevail in a series that goes the distance. Capitals in seven.

(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (7) Buffalo Sabres

Philly started the season where they left off the last one, hot and on a roll. They led the East much of the way all year, but lately, that mojo has been waning. The goaltending is questionable, and they went 3-7 in their last ten games, coming very close to losing the Atlantic division title.

The Sabres, on the other hand, are one of the best teams in the league since their sale to Sabres-superfan Terry Pegula in February solidified their place in Buffalo and put to rest their long-standing ownership issues. They've basically been playing playoff hockey with little margin for error since the All-Star break. Provided they aren't completely exhausted from the journey, they should be able to continue their winning ways and upset the Flyers. Sabres in six.

(3) Boston Bruins vs. (6) Montreal Canadiens

These two teams have had numerous memorable matchups over their decades-long rivalry, and this season has been no exception. Will we see the spirited Habs team that put 1000 penalty minutes on the board in February, or the team that rolled over and got destroyed by the Bruins in March? As last year proved, you can never, ever count out the Canadiens, but I think it'll be the Bruins in five.

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Tampa Bay Lightning

It's impossible to be objective about a Penguins playoff series, but I'll give it a try.

Steve Downie aside, the Lightning are a pretty likable team...young stars alongside some grizzled veterans. Major upgrade in management this past offseason, with the hiring of Steve Yzerman. You knew he was gonna turn it around, it was just a question of how long it'd take. Well, the turnaround has arrived, and you'd better get used to seeing Tampa in the playoffs, because it's gonna be an annual thing for the next decade.

The Penguins have been plugging along at an unthinkable clip, considering they've been without their two biggest superstars for most of the year. Strange as it may seem, this season has been incredibly fun for me...with player after player being knocked out of the lineup for one reason or another, only to see the players who are in the lineup somehow scrape together win after win in games they had no business even being competitive in. As a Penguins fan, I'm just really friggin' proud of how the team has responded in the face of almost comical adversity.

Strong as Tampa's offensive weapons are, I think this is a good matchup for the offense-depleted Pens. Their penalty kill has been good...historically good...all season long, and if they can simply limit the Lightning's chances on the man advantage, they should be able to score enough goals to win four 3-2 games. Penguins in six.

CRASS COMMERCIALISM DEPT: All of the original, hand-drawn art for the Stanley Cup pinup girls is available at my Etsy store...and if you'd like to go the extra mile and get a personalized, one-of-a-kind uni-girl illustration of your very own to your exact specifications, that information can be found here.


Stanley Cup and Cheesecake 2011 - Western Conference Quarters Edition

Man, is there anything better than playoff hockey? The pucks finally drop tomorrow night! I for one have been going crazy since mid-February, thinking about matchups, seedings, who can beat who and who I'm excited about drawing! Without further ado, here's this year's edition of my guarantee-free playoff picks!

(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (8) Chicago Blackhawks

Vancouver has been cruising all season, and has been in first place since about Christmas. They're loaded, they're rested, and they're ready to finally make that long Cup-winning run.

Standing in their way is their old nemesis, the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks. Gutted by salary cap constrictions which saw them jettison almost a dozen players from last year's championship team, the Hawks have struggled all season, needing a choke job by the Dallas Stars to even reach the postseason. They seem ripe for the picking...a speedbump on the way out of the parking lot for the juggernaut Canucks. But you cannot discount Chicago so easily. They score a TON of goals, and they'll play without fear, having knocked Vancouver out of the playoff the last two seasons. In the end, though, I think the third matchup will finally go the Canucks way, and the Blackhawks championship reign will end on home ice. Canucks in six.

(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (7) Los Angeles Kings

Pity the poor Kings...they really seemed to be on the precipice of great things early this season. Hell, I was buying them as a contender in the West. But they've been bitten and bitten bad by the injury bug the last few weeks...you can't help but think they'll struggle to score with Anze Kopitar out of the lineup. Take it from this Pens fan...if you're pinning your hopes on Alexei Ponikarovsky to turn it up in the playoffs, you're going to end up disappointed.

The Sharks...what can you say about the Sharks? They're there every year, close but not quite. They took a big step in 2010, though...They actually kinda met expectations, despite being swept in the Western Conference final. Dumping veteran choker goalie Evgenii Nabokov in favor of Antti Niemi may be the move that ultimately makes the difference and takes the Sharks to the next level. He'll definitely be enough to win this round, as No Cal beats So Cal. Sharks in five.

(3) Detroit Red Wings vs. (6) Phoenix Coyotes

The Red Wings did themselves a HUGE favor on the season's final day, beating Chicago to avoid a first round matchup with Nashville, who I think were due for an upset against their Central Division rival. Instead, it'll be Phoenix with revenge on their minds, having lost a hard-fought series to Detroit last spring. As was the case last year, I'd LOVE to pick the Coyotes, just to thumb my nose at the entitled, easily offended Red Wing fanbase and the massive persecution complex they share that bombed-out Detroit rowhouse with, but I just can't bring myself to do it. Let's never speak of this again. Wings in seven.

(4) Anaheim Ducks vs. (5) Nashville Predators

You heard it here first (okay, fiftieth): This is the year the Preds finally get off the schnied and win a playoff series. Yes, the Ducks are hot, scoring goals at a torrid pace, but the Predators have been strong and steady all year. This'll be a fun one to watch, with Nashville coming out on top and advancing to round two. I'd bet my buddy Davis' beloved mustard sweater on it. Predators in six.

CRASS COMMERCIALISM DEPT: All of the original, hand-drawn art for the Stanley Cup pinup girls is available at my Etsy store...and if you'd like to go the extra mile and get a personalized, one-of-a-kind uni-girl illustration of your very own to your exact specifications, that information can be found here.


B is for Boa Constrictor

It's Animal Alphabet time! I managed to squeeze some extra details in this week (see what I did there?).

"Boa constrictors are ambush predators and as such will often lie in wait for an appropriate prey to come along at which point they will attack. However, they have also been known to actively hunt, particularly in regions with a low concentration of suitable prey, and this behaviour generally occurs at night. The boa will first strike at the prey, grabbing it with its teeth, it then proceeds to constrict the prey until death before consuming it whole."



'Cause who doesn't love a green chick?

But seriously, weird story, I've been sitting on this drawing forever...Long ago, I roughed the pencils in, then dropped it in the portfolio I carry around in my messenger bag, where and its been sitting half-finished for probably five years. I finished it up while sitting in the coffee shop the other day waiting on approval for another sketch. Whether or not it was worth the wait is up to you.


Dress Shirt


A is for Aardvark

I'm working on a new weekly project, suggested by my pal Ben Towle...The Animal Alphabet! We'll post each Monday on our respective blogs and on the Twitters as well (#AnimalAlphabet)...hopefully some other folks will choose to play along as well! As far as I know, the deal is that we won't announce what we've chosen to draw ahead of time...I'm looking forward to seeing if we have some weeks where we both pick the same animal (it almost happened this week in fact...Alpaca was my second choice!)

Anyway, I'm doing this for two reasons...one, I'm historically pretty lousy at drawing animals...this'll be good practice, and I might actually learn something! And two...boy, it's nice to draw something I can share with my daughter. I showed her this drawing this morning, and she got very excited..."He looks like a piggy!" I said, "Yeah, he digs in the ground with his nose and eats ants!", which elicited a big "ANTS? EWWWW!" It was pretty great.



Hey, Hey, Hey, Buccos Go All the Way

Well, sadly, probably not...and it often seems like not ever. But today is the Pirates opening day, and while we Buccos fans likely can't hope for anything more optimistic than finishing only a handful of games below .500, we can celebrate the glory days by picking up Wilfred Santiago's beautiful new graphic novel "21: The Story of Roberto Clemente". I just bought it myself this morning, and am looking forward to digging into it...I'll share some thoughts about it later on!