Monday, April 18, 2011

Thanks A Million Boston, You Chokers


Early days, early days but fuck you Boston you jerks.


There go both of my pools. I figured the Bruins to at least go to the conference finals and here we are two games in and other than Chicago nobody is in worse shape. Skunked at home and Zdeno Chara suffering from karma if you believe in that sort of thing. I don't but the Bruins are in a daze and their margin for error is gone.


I always find the opening round of the playoffs to be the most interesting. This is where the upsets happen, where supposed heavyweights are often exposed or, quite simply, beaten by a lot of bad luck or a hot goalie. And the hysteria that accompanies the first few games, especially that first game, when a result is held up as an example of a trend. A heavy favourite loses and they are done for. A club wins one game and they are on their way. Narratives spring up, storylines that will be turned on their head two nights later.


What do they say in baseball? Its not momentum that matters but rather starting pitching? Something like that. Win that big extra inning game but face Cliff Lee next game and all of that rah rah stuff and emotion isn't going to help you hit him if he's got his stuff. Now I do think that you can talk about momentum in hockey to a certain extent. Call it momentum or confidence or whatever you want. If a club runs into a hot goalie and they struggle to beat him for a couple of games or as a club they have a tough time over a couple of games then I think that their confidence will waver. Not sure if you call that momentum. With all of that said every year its proven to us that a two game lead does not a series make so while we can look at what has happened so far and guess as to what come next you really can't write anyone off. Except for Chicago.


Here are my deep thoughts so far.


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I picked the Canucks in six but this one is over, maybe is a sweep. The Hawks deserve better but not much really. Its similar to the Wings/Sharks and Hawks/Sharks series from last season. A break or two here or there and Chicago could be up but the reality is they deserve to be down. Last season's club had a great top nine and Madden, Brouwer and Eager as their fourth line. On this year's club the third and fourth lines are interchangeable and the majority of their forwards would fit in with the Oilers. They're running out a bunch of kids = Ben Smith, Bickell, Dowell, Kruger - and while some of these guys may be part of the next wave of Hawks' kids who will supplement their stars they are ntot there yet. They certainly can't beat this veteran Canucks' team running out these guys, Fernando Pisani and John Scott. The Hawks came out of the gate slowly and have been fighting for a playoff spot pretty well all year. With Kopecky and Bolland out the holdovers from last season, Hossa, Toews, Kane and Sharp, look gassed. And Keith and Seabrook look exhausted as well.


This sounds like I am taking away from the Canucks. I am not. When the playoffs began I thought they were the team to beat and I still do. Knocking the Hawks off quickly will give them some rest and their next opponent will either be LA or Anaheim or Nashville. Can you see any of these clubs giving Vancouver a run? Not me. They are deep at every position and unless they have a serious run of injuries I think they are good to go all the way. First serious challenge looks to be in round three by my eye


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San Jose sure looked like San Jose on Saturday night huh? One wonders if last year may have been their best chance before their window closes. Seriously though, they could be down two to nothing to a club whose number one centre is, who? Handzus? Lewis? And they can't fall back on the fact that they are dominating their opponent. This isn't Craig Anderson and a ton of luck. This is a big club loaded with a lot of veterans guys who know how to play. Drew Doughty looked like Drew Doughty on Saturday night while Heatley, Thornton and Marleau looked like, well themselves but not in a good way. Now the Sharks could come back and win the next three but these guys never make it easy on themselves and the Kings' special teams are very good and they have enough guys who can play at evens as well. Its early to call an upset here but LA certainly looks up to the task.


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The Wings are cheering for the Kings, you can bet on that. If LA wins then like the Canucks their second round matchup will be a relatively easy one. The Yotes aren't dead yet but they're pretty damn close to it. Detroit just needs a split in Phoenix really and I would not be surprised if they swept this thing. Phoenix is a good club but they are not good enough. And this is a Wings' club without Henrik Z. They're a machine. And Pavel Datsyuk may very well be the best player in the league.


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I called Nashville to beat the Ducks and I still think its going to happen. These clubs are pretty evenly matched. The Ducks have the high end talent up front, the Preds have it on the back end but the difference, as I said, is goaltending. Rinne is going to outplay whomever the Ducks throw in there now and that will be the difference. The Preds remind me so much of the Oilers' little teams that could and its easy to cheer for these guys. They're going to be fodder in the second round most likely but it looks like finally they are going to see some playoff success. Good on them.


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The Rangers could be in better shape (it would help if Gaborik did something) and the reality is that Washington is probably going to move along but they are not out of the woods yet, the Caps that is. They have looked pretty good though and if they get the goaltending its easy to see them going to the final. Philadelphia has issues and Boston is dead in the water and I can't really see anybody else staying with the Caps. Early days though. A win in game four and they can probably move on quickly which will be a big help.


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The Flyers are dangerous because of all of that depth up front and on the blue but with Pronger out they're vulnerable. At best this series is going to go a long way and at worst they could be gone in the first round, which I called. Even if they do get out of round one does anybody really take them seriously with that goaltending? Of course they almost went all the way last season with similar tending so we'll see.


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Oh Boston you stupid fuckers. If Chara is out then they could very well be done already and even if he returns its hard to like their chances. Montreal, well I never would have figured it with the injuries but fair play to them. And this isn't like last year, they're sticking with Boston, its not all Price. Funny thing I read though - folks falling over themselves giving credit to Jack Martin, the same guy who coached all of those Ottawa clubs who failed so miserably. Goaltending can make a coach look damn good or damn bad eh?


Its not over for Boston but Claude Julien is a dead man walking and you have to figure this club gets dismantled if this does not end well for them.


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Finally I watched some of the Penguins and Tampa the other night and I forgot half of Tampa's roster. They have a long list of veteran guys who have been through the wars, haven't they? A lot of solid players up and down the roster, in a lot of ways they mirror Pittsburgh. The problem for the Pens is that with Crosby and Malkin out they are short on the high end guys to play with Kunitz and Dupuis and Kennedy and Talbot. Meanwhile while Stamkos struggles the Bolts can always turn to St. Louis. I see no reason to think that Tampa won't win this unless Fleury wins it on his own. He may but I doubt it.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fuck me.

Imo, habs are playing similar style they played vs Caps last year. Plug up the slot and counter punch. Major difference is that Boston has none of the jump Washington brougt into the playoffs last year for Montreal to even snuff out. There's less drop passes, flip passes out of the zone and loafing in my Wed night shinny hockey. Fucking terrible. Can I have the Kessel deal back now? Maybe this actually is a Chiarelli or Chara thing.

Trying to take some solace in getting to watch some good hockey in the other match-ups. See ya this weekend.

Joey

Ribs said...

Philly is absolutely killing me in the pool. I took Spongebob as my goalie and I knew that was a risk going in but I didn't think taking Richards and Carter would be a problem. I can only hope now that they get by the Sabres and erupt offensively in the next round.

I hate to say it, but they need Pronger back.

I could'nt get St.Louis but I figured Stamkos was the next best thing. Wrong.

I thought Marleau was over the whole invisible cloak deal but I guess not. Frak.

I was hoping Backstrom would one of my top guys but so far...Ugh..

Chara...Jeebus. Glad I didn't take any more Bruins.

So far Datsyuk is the only thing from calling the whole thing a disaster. Good thing the other guys in the pool somehow decided he was injured and would not play in the playoffs even though he led his team in shots the night before the draft.

Black Dog said...

Yeah Joe its been pretty poor. I think the pieces are there, lets face it if they had been healthy last year they would have beaten Philly but this year they just look lost. I think Julien is a bit tight and the team is getting the yips as a result, partially anyhow. Not dead yet but they can't even fall back on the fact that they deserve better, At least Chicago could have won last night if they had cashed early.

Ribs - lol, I feel better now. Its so early though, guys snap out of it pretty quick and if you have Philly well you might be ok as long as Pronger gets back and their goaltending is reasonable.

For me I picked Bruins heavy so I am done pretty well.

spOILer said...

I run our playoff pool. Usually I pick my team names when entering them onto the website. After the two Bruin losses, I had to name one "Hopeless" and the other one "Hopelesser".

Ribs said...

Fingers crossed!

Black Dog said...

Its not just me, right? I mean the Bruins are a good team, they just are. Or am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

I think you were missing something on Boston. Their leading scorer was Milan Lucic who had 30 goals on 17% shooting. If he had a league average 9% shooting percentage, he would have had 15 goals and Boston would have been 13th to 14th in league scoring.

They were the second worst team in the league at giving up shots, and were only saved by Tim Thomas's .938 save percentage. If they had league average goaltending (.910 obviously) they would have given up about 2.94 goals against per game, good for 23rd or 24th in the league.

Boston was an average team with two lucky players - sorry.

-Tach

Ribs said...

I didn't take any Boston guys because I didn't know where their goals would come from.

But by the looks of things I'm off kilter on that kind of thinking for just about every team so far. Hah.

...And Boucher gets the start. Dammit. Just win.

hunter1909 said...

Black Dog: Don't feel too bad. Last year I doubt if I picked half the winners - hockey is like that.

Other than taking the obvious choices: Habs - wtf have the Bruins proven other than being royal chokers?

They're even managing to ruin Seguin in a hurry. Dude hasn't learned much this season(he HATES getting hit)+many rumours of high school mentality behaviour on the road to alienate the vets. Should have left him in junior, like I hope they do with R N-H if they pick him.

Black Dog said...

hunter - yeah its a crapshoot although usually I do a lot better than this, every team in the east I picked is trailing - better in the west though

I still think Seguin will be fine although it certainly looks like the Oilers went the right way there. I liked Seguin for that pick, glad I'm not doing the picking ;)


Tach - true enough but Boston's GD was out of this world which tells me they're pretty solid, I think they were second in the league.

And Thomas is a good goalie, not withstanding his stuggles last year. I wonder if anybody did scoring chances for them. They just strike me as the type of tema that scores one and then plays to the score, might account for a lot of shots against.

Just spitballing though, I could be off the mark.

Anonymous said...

BD,

I think that Goal Differential number is deceiving too. They were 0.68 goals per game on the good side in goal differential, but only 0.2 shots per game on the good side in shot differential. The team PDO was 102, not outrageous, but certainly due for a correction.

JLikens at Objective NHL has Montreal as the better team at outshooting at EV with the score tied and his February numbers show Boston as decidedly mediocre with a 50.2% corsi percentage at EV with the score tied.

I am only fascinated by this because I saw the same thing in my pool with lots of people loading up on Boston which I had pegged as a team with only a punchers chance to win.

A win in Montreal last night though so you may still get there.

Good Luck

-Tach

Black Dog said...

Well damnit Tach where were you with all of these numbers ten days ago?

You owe me 30 bucks. The negligence is almost criminal.

;)