Sunday, May 16, 2010


All I can say is 'wow' when it comes to the two series in the Prince of Wales. Just great stuff, very entertaining. I think the winner of this conference is going to get crushed in the final but in terms of storylines and sheer entertainment, if not good hockey, these guys have the western clubs beat right now.

The Habs' victory over the Pens was surprising but not as surprising as their upset of the Capitals. Once again the Habs were outplayed for the most part and once again Halak was excellent but unlike the Capitals I never felt as if the Pens were that much better, which sounds a little crazy I know. The Pens had a spotty season. The loss of Gill and Scuderi cost them and Malkin never looked like the Malkin from last season and Staal was hurt and the wingers who did the job last year did not do so well this spring. Really though it came down to goaltending. When the series was tied at two I remarked that in a best of three you had to like the Habs' chances because Halak v. Fleury was not much of a contest and game seven certainly proved that point. You don't need great goaltending to win the Cup anymore, it seems, another result of the parity brought about by the salary Cap, but you do need at least good goaltending. Fleury did not even provide that in the deciding game and so the Pens went home.

As for the Bruins and the Flyers well I picked the Bruins (just as I picked the Pens) and so overall these playoffs my record is seven and five. In the west I am five and one, in the east, well not so good. although three games into this one I looked golden.

And then a few things happened or at least the culmination of a few things. Prior to the series the Flyers looked doomed by injuries - Gagne, Carter and Lapierre were all out - while the Bruins were missing Seidenberg only. Even Savard had returned to the lineup.

But in game one Sturm went down and then a couple of games later Krejci was knocked out as well and so the Bruins, like their first round opponents the Sabres, were suddenly down two of their top forwards.

And like the Sabres their offence disappeared.

And Gagne, who really is a hell of a player, returned.

Now the game four overtime started with a Bruins' surge that almost did it for them but the Flyers pushed back and Gagne scored the winner. After that it was just the old cliche, one game at a time and the Flyers just won them, one by one.

I watched the seventh game and if the Bruins had scored that fourth goal they would have been through I think but they did not and by my eye they looked like a very tired team as the Flyers began their push back. Chara looked gassed and so did a lot of his teammates as the Flyers' suddenly superior depth did them in.

A tough loss to take for Boston but at least they get to console themselves with the fact that they had a decent year and will get one of the top two juniors in the draft. Not too bad.

As for the Habs and the Flyers well I've picked against both clubs so far. I never thought either would get this close to the Cup although I did have an inkling about Philly beating Jersey.

I think Philadelphia takes this, probably in seven. Montreal has the edge in net but I think Philly is a matchup problem for them. The Flyers are big and strong and aggressive and I think that the Habs might get pushed around a bit. The biggest issue for the Habs is that Flyer D. They haven't faced a club with a top four of that quality and I think that and the Flyers depth up front will be the difference.


Halfwise said...

Funny how teams with CFP on them just seem to do well in the post season over the past few years.

The story of how he influenced the conditioning of the Oilers during the only year that we loved him still resonates.

I know there are a lot of moving parts in building a competitive hockey team, and guys with a simple theory that explains everything are insufferable, but the combination of Pronger's on-ice contributions and off-ice influence improves the teams that he plays for.

Black Dog said...

Halfwise - I think it was after the Oilers' run that there was conversation as to whether it was forwards or D who really drove results. I can't remember this exactly to be honest but I recall that a lot of folks looked at Carolina and Buffalo, two clubs who had a lot of pretty good forwards but no real stud on the back end, as examples of this idea.

Now since 2006 we have the Ducks winning with Pronger and Niedermeyer and the Wings winning with Lidstrom. And then the Pens won and while Gonchar is quite good he's not at that level. So chalk that up for the forwards?

And now we have Chicago who have Keith and Seabrook and the Flyers who have Pronger and their opponents have some quality but nothing to match that.

One (or in Chicago's case two) defenceman who can play nearly thirty minutes at a high level can take you a long way. The last good Hawks teams, twenty years ago, had Chelios and Steve Smith. They would play half the game.

Easier said than done but if I were a GM I would look for that type of defenceman day and night.

R O said...

Well, that was boring.

Black Dog said...

R O - yeah I saw the third period this afternoon and then the first two periods tonight and I commented at LT's that it looked like two different sports and not in a good way for the latter game.

Biggest upsets according to conventional wisdom that I can remember are the Devils sweeping the Wings in '95 and then the Wings doing the same against the Flyers a couple of years later. I think in both cases the losing teams were the favourites going in, at least mildly.

An Eastern Conference Cup this year - not even sure if there's a comp in hockey history.

R O said...

What kind of consecutive-saves-in-games streak is Leighton on for Philly?

Seems ripe for a certain someone-someone to come by these parts and say that Philly should rest him for being tired. Game 3's not *that* important, right? Might boost their chances of winning the later, infinitely more important games.

Bruce said...

Except he's not tired. He's played four games in two months, hasn't exactly been peppered with pucks, and the other guy is injured. Under these circumstances that's either an asinine suggestion, or - gasp - R O is trolling again.

Funny thing is, I was half right the other time -- Halak did suck in the game I suggested he might be rested, but the missed opporuntity to rest didn't make any difference in the end and he bounced back brilliantly. So I was half wrong too. I'll happily admit to both.

Besides, that was three fucking weeks ago. Let it go already.

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