Stanley Cup and Cheesecake 2012 - Eastern Conference Semis

Man, this 15 minutes between rounds business is for the birds! Short on time, so...the picks!

(1) New York Rangers vs. (7) Washington Capitals

The Caps have had their way with the Rangers in the playoffs recently, but after a slow start against Ottawa, it looks like it's finally all coming together for New York. Rangers in six.

(5) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (6) New Jersey Devils  

The Flyers can feel all big about beating a Pittsburgh team that put up a bafflingly horrendous performance in every facet of the game, but Philly must still face the fact that their backstoppers were a sieve in round one. It doesn't figure to get any easier, with my favorite springtime comedy, The Bryz and Bob Show, about to take on the gold standard of goaltenders, the ageless Martin Brodeur. 1975.
Devils in seven.

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 2012 - Western Conference Semis

Wow, what a first round, eh? If there's any comfort for me in the Pens tanking it and bowing out waaaaay too early (and there isn't), it's the fact that so many other perennial powers got bounced as well. A Western Conference semifinals without Detroit, San Jose or Vancouver? I can't even remember the last time that happened!

The evidence is in the Atom-Bomb Bikini Playoff Challenge picks: I haven't gone over 'em with a fine-toothed comb yet, but out of some 80+ entries, only 3 picked a final four that can still happen.

The picks!

(2) St Louis Blues vs. (8) Los Angeles Kings

These are two teams coming off very impressive and convincing performances in the first round. The Kings had the Canucks down 3-0 before you could blink, finally cashing in on some of that offensive promise that came with all of their splashy signings last offseason. And goalie Jonathan Quick was terrific in shutting down Vancouver.

My fear for the Blues coming into their first-round series was that their young players might wilt a bit and be taken advantage of by all the Sharks cagey veterans, but it was St. Louis who dominated, making San Jose look old and slow in beating them 4-1.

The Blues and Kings are really similar...good defense and penalty killers, backed up by great goaltending. I'd give the Blues the offensive edge, and figure it to make the difference in a close series. Blues in seven.

(3) Phoenix Coyotes vs. (4) Nashville Predators  

Much like the Blues/Kings series, these are two very similar teams... and not just because they both exist in places where there probably shouldn't be hockey teams. 

The Coyotes are opportunistic, relying on goalie Mike Smith to keep them in games and taking advantage of anything their opponent gives them. Mikkel Boedker had two OT game-winners against Chicago, and you always know older-than-dirt Ray Whitney is a threat to score a big one as well.

In Nashville, D is the name of the game...they don't give you much, and if you do manage a scoring chance, Pekka Rinne is there to close the door. They can score as well...most of their goals in the first round vs. Detroit came at even strength, so if the Preds can get the power play going...look out!

For some reason, I really like what the Predators have done the last few seasons, both from a hockey standpoint and as a fan. Not sure it's ever happened in my entire life, but I'm picking the cats over the dogs. 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.


Stick Around

I just had these little stickers made up to give out as promos at TCAF next week...and between now and whenever I run out of them, you can get one free when you order the Old-Timey Hockey Tales comic book!


Coming Soon!


Strange(r) Work

A few recent pieces for everyone's favorite Seattle Weekly. Man I use a lot of blue.


Stanley Cup and Cheesecake 2012 – Part 2


(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (8) Los Angeles Kings

What happened to the mighty Kings? Poised to become a Western Conference power at the beginning of the season, they've struggled to score goals and have become more and more unlikable with every former Flyer they acquire. The bright spot has been LA goalie Jonathan Quick, whose amazing number of shutouts are probably sole reason the Kings are in the postseason.

On the other side you have the boring old Vancouver Canucks. Another President's Trophy, another playoff run. More "Luongo-or-Schneider" drama. You have to wonder what coming so close last June will mean to Vancouver. Will they be able to make it back or will they hit a wall and bow out quick? Either way, this series should feature a ton of chances if not necessarily a ton of goals. I'll still watch. Canucks in seven.

(2) St. Louis Blues vs. (7) San Jose Sharks

Frustrated with a mediocre start, he Blues actually fired coach Davis Payne early in November, replacing him with Ken Hitchcock. It was a bold move, and it paid off, as Hitchcock got everything he could out of the young Blues and more, having them atop the NHL for much of the year. I'm curious to see how this largely-untested bunch handles its first foray into the playoffs.

The Sharks, perennially atop the Western standings, have had a disappointing, injury-plagued campaign, and looked to be out of the picture just a few weeks ago. They're still the Sharks, though, and now that they're relatively healthy can their grizzled vets take advantage of the Blues inexperience and make some noise in this series with the pressure of a high seed removed from the narrative? I'm betting they can't. Blues in five.

(3) Phoenix Coyotes vs. (6) Chicago Blackhawks

Much like the Panthers in the east, it's hard for me to have a feel for the Coyotes, as I don't really know anyone who calls themselves a fan. It's much easier with the Blackhawks, as I know many folks who Commit to the Indian (though I suspect, with the up and down season Chicago has had, most of those fans would tell you the Hawks don't have a chance).

Having literally no idea how this will go, the temptation is to give the edge to Chicago's experience...and if Jonathan Toews returns from his concussion, it could be over quick for Phoenix. Still, the Coyotes have their own vets and have been to the playoffs the last two years as well. Goalie Mike Smith could easily turn in a Halak-ian effort to steal the series. This one should be entertaining and well worth staying up late for. Coyotes in seven.

(4) Nashville Predators vs. (5) Detroit Red Wings

Faced with the reality that two of its best players, defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, may soon be moving on to sign with other teams, Nashville has gone all in this spring, acquiring several veterans in an effort to finally put together a long playoff run. Standing in their way in their way is their old nemesis, the division rival Red Wings, who've ended their season in the playoffs twice before.

Much like the Flyers/Penguins matchup in the East, it's a tragedy that one of these two impressive teams is gonna be shown the door so early. Detroit is always good in the playoffs, consummate professionals, and are always a threat to win it all. While I see many of the Preds' late-season moves paying off, I think that goalie Pekka Rinne will have an amazing series, and be the main reason Nashville finally moves past Detroit and into the second round and beyond. Predators in six.

Make sure to check the previous post, containing the Eastern Conference picks, for details on how to enter the Atom-Bomb Bikini Playoff Challenge!

Stanley Cup and Cheesecake 2012

First off, welcome to the 2012 Stanley Cup playoff picks! Enjoy the art and the hockey talk, and don't forget to enter the Atom-Bomb Bikini Playoff Challenge at the bottom of this post to win some art, books, stickers and other great stuff!

Here we go!


(1) New York Rangers vs. (8) Ottawa Senators

The Rangers come into the playoffs as the East's top team, a perch they've been on since early January. They narrowly missed out on winning the President's Trophy for most points, and at times have been an absolute juggernaut, posting several long win streaks but few losing skids of more than two or three games. It'll be interesting to see what they do now that the pressure's on, and how far Coach Torts will be able to berate them.

The Senators are a curious case. Seemingly locked into seventh place for weeks they seemed destined for a matchup with division rival Boston, until went on a little bit of a cold streak late in the season and slipped to the conference's final spot. They'd seem like easy pickin's for New York, except that they took 3 out of 4 games from the Blueshirts this season...and with their speed, they can put up points on anybody. In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, Ottawa is playing with house money... and if the Rangers tighten up, the Sens will be there to knock them off. Senators in seven.

(2) Boston Bruins vs. (7) Washington Capitals

The Bruins opened their defense of last spring's Stanley Cup win by trotting the Cup out once again, to skate around the ice before the home crowd in Boston. A nice gesture, sure, but one that seemed to imply that they didn't think they'd be getting another shot at it anytime soon. Their start bore that out with a miserable October. Then they suddenly caught fire, and seemed like world-beaters in December before settling into a decent, if occasionally inconsistent finish.

It's been a disastrous season for the Capitals, one that began with great promise but quickly crashed to earth. Wildly inconsistent all year, it seemed at times like the team had given up and would be content...happy, even...to miss the postseason entirely. Yet here they are with, suddenly, no expectations.

For all of Washington's still-indecendiary offensive talent, a series against the Bruins is going to come down to toughness, which is something the Caps sorely lack. It's hard to imagine the Caps being able to withstand being knocked around by the big bad Bruins.

If I'm the Capitals, I do everything in my power to get President Obama to each game and drop the ceremonial first puck in hopes of psyching out Tim Thomas. Even that probably wouldn't work. Bruins in six.

(3) Florida Panthers vs. (6) New Jersey Devils

By the end of the regular season it seemed like the Panthers were actively trying to lose the Southeast Division lead they held all year, losing six in a row before finally beating Carolina to clinch the third seed. They seem just happy to be here, an impression I'd run by the fans of the team if I'd ever met one.

The Devils are maybe the smartest team in the NHL, doing (or not doing) just enough to sit in that sixth spot, knowing they'd get to play the Southleast Division winner for an easy trip to the second round. You can never tell with the Devils in the playoffs, though...if anyone could blow this, it's them.  Devils in five.

(4) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. (5) Philadelphia Flyers

What really deserves to be the Eastern Conference Finals is somehow an opening round matchup – Flyers versus Penguins, the Battle of Pennsylvania.

Trying to be objective, I look to the goaltending. The Flyers, seemingly bent on proving to the world that Ilya Bryzgalov was worth the dump truck full of money they gave him this past summer, plan to start him in goal for the series opener, over the undefeated-in-Pittsburgh Sergei Bobrovsky. As a Penguins fan, one of the things I look forward to most every spring is seeing how the Flyers botch their goaltending situation, and this has all the potential to mark the season premiere of my favorite April sitcom.

The Penguins...finally... have everything, and more importantly, everybody, going for them. Everyone's healthy, everyone's contributing. Power play producing, penalty kill killing. Geno Malkin is otherworldly, and those guys named Crosby and Staal aren't too bad either. If the blue line can tighten up and make life just a tiny bit easier for Marc-Andre Fleury...and if the Pens can resist getting instigated into scrapes with all the rats in the Flyers lineup...they should have what it takes to win this war of attrition.

The thought that Philly and elderly, pathetic drama queen Jaromir Jagr could skate away with this series just fills me with too much angst to even consider, so I'll take the Penguins in six... though even two losses might cost the TV.

Now on to the contest...


Simple rules...pick the final four teams you think will be left standing, the conference champions, and the eventual Stanley Cup winner. One point will be awarded for each correct final four pick, two for each final two pick, and three for picking the champion. Whoever has the most points come the second week of June will be the big winner!

Here's what you're playing for: The big winner will receive a custom piece of original artwork of a pinup girl wearing the jersey of his or her favorite team, along with a copy of the Atom-Bomb Bikini hardcover book, a copy of Old-Timey Hockey Tales, and a pack of Atom-Bomb stickers, a signed "Hockey Socks & Skates" print by Katie Sekelsky and a free t-shirt of your choice from the wonderful folks at Original Retro Brand! Two runners-up will receive just the books and stickers. In case of a tie, I'll put all the names in a hat and select a winner at random.

Here's how you enter: Write your picks in the comments section of this here blog post. Not on Facebook, not on Twitter, not in an email, but in the comments section of this post. Please remember to check back as the playoffs progress...I'll post the winner's names here, and at that time I'll look to get in contact with you. Got it? Got it! Good luck!


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.


The End of Santorum

Nothing left to do but mop up. Still, I wish he'd stayed in the race long enough to get his ass handed to him in his home state of Pennsylvania!

Sketch Bookin'

Lots happening today, including the announcement of my Stanley Cup Playoffs contest! Details a little later on today!


Coffee Shop Girl

Drawn and inked all quick-like while waiting for lunch the other day.


Who Ya Got?

 Personally, I was pulling for Ohio State, but that's the way the ball bounces...