Monday, April 09, 2012

The East

I had a nice record last season when it came to playoff predictions and, most importantly, won my pool!

I really have an all or nothing approach when it comes to hockey pools. I pick two teams, load up, and hope things fall right for me. I have a decent winning percentage when it comes to these, maybe I have won two out of maybe a dozen and lost on a tiebreaker a third time but of course its all luck. I went Vancouver/Boston last year and if Luongo doesn't slide over in time and the Habs get a bounce then I would have been dead last.

Claude Julien would have been fired and who knows what else would have happened in Vancouver and Boston. Instead Boston broke a near forty year drought (crazy!) and Vancouver nearly burned to the ground. If Dan Hamhuis is healthy ....

What have I learned after nearly forty years of watching playoff hockey. Not much except:

- the more depth the further the team is likely to go. And I'm not talking injuries here. I'm just talking about depth up and down the lineup. For example when the Oilers went to the final they had Moreau and Dvorak on the fourth line quite a bit. That's depth. Chicago and Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Detroit, Anaheim, Ottawa, Boston, Vancouver ... for the most part these clubs all had quality everywhere in their lineup. No Darcy Hordichuks on their fourth lines. Guys who could play a regular shift and not get killed or at the very least kill penalties and contribute that way. So yeah I always go with the clubs that have a lot of depth.

- injuries will kill you (duh!) - you might get through a series early on but all it takes is one or two guys to go down and other guys to get bumped up the depth chart to knock you out. Toews being a possible no show could kill Chicago and while a lot of folks like Philadelphia their injury list going into the playoffs probably means an early exit for them.

- anything can happen. I know! I know! Fantastic analysis! Groundbreaking! Nearly every year regardless of where the stats and trends and common sense point us there is at least one major upset. Injuries, a hot goaltender, a team going cold at the wrong time, just plain luck and no way of knowing where it might happen.

- I've learned to not try and be too smart, to ignore my hunches. They always get me nowhere. When I try and get cute then usually I lose. I think it was last year I figured the Rangers to knock off the Caps. My reasoning was basically 'I've got a feeling about the Rangers'. Nice.

So here we go. This year I think there is one team out west that is, if healthy, head and shoulders above everyone. And then its a free for all. Out east I think its a three team race. So first the Prince of Wales:

1)NYR v 8)Ottawa

The Rangers are one of the three teams I really like. Great goaltending obviously. I like Tortorella a lot. I like his team. They're deep everywhere. Scariest thing to me is while they have a lot of guys who can score they can't score as easily as the other big boys in the conference - Pittsburgh and Boston. (I'm discounting Philly because of their injuries). However they definitely have the easiest route I think. Ottawa can score and Anderson is a guy who can steal a series but I think the Rangers just grind their D down on the cycle. Get by that first round hump and then they probably get Jersey while the other big boys smash each other. I don't necessarily think they are better than the Bruins or Pens but I think they have the easiest road to the conference finals and that counts for a lot. Rangers in 6.

2)Boston v 7)Washington

The Bruins are being discounted by nearly everyone but I can't see it. Start with six twenty goal scorers, so much depth up front and on the blue and Tim Thomas in net and I think they're poised for a good run. Ideally for them the Panthers win their first round series, that would mean the Rangers get Pittsburgh or Philly and an easier road for them, but more likely they get the heavy duty second round matchup. I see no reason why they won't get by the Caps. Backstrom's return helps but the Bruins GD is +67 and the Caps is -8. Bruins in 5.

3)Florida v 6)New Jersey

Florida is one of the worst teams to win a division ever, never mind make the playoffs. Some people see Jersey as a darkhorse, I don't. Brodeur is not that good anymore. Certainly not to get them through more than a round. But they are definitely good enough to get by the Panthers, who just have such am 'Isle of Misfit Toys' vibe about them, I keep expecting Yukon Cornelius to show up behind their bench. Devils in 6.

4)Pittsburgh v 5)Philadelphia

Everyone expects this to be really tight and if the Flyers were healthy I would expect the same if Bryzgalov (who also happens to be injured) was fantastic but the Flyers are not healthy at all and I expect Bryzgalov to not be good enough, lets just put it that way. Two things that do not matter - end of season records and head to head regular season records, imo. I think Pittsburgh is the better team top to bottom and while this series will be superb and vicious I expect the Pens to win it and to do so a lot easier than a lot of folks think unless they lose some guys to injury, which of course is possible. But the Pens GD is +61 and that is without Crosby mostly and without Letang quite a bit and with those guys back I think they are the class of the conference, if they can survive. Pens in 6.


dawgbone said...

I do the exact same things in playoff pools. Load up and hope for the best.

I've won a TV one year and $1000 another year which basically breaks me even in my hockey pool career.

Black Dog said...

Wow, not bad at all. A grand. Can't remember what I won first time, it was so long ago. Won over 200.00 last year.

Have had long gaps in between pools except for the under 50 I have been in for a few years now.

Woodguy said...

For the online 20/30 player pools I try to pick the Conference finalists and take 5-7 players from each team.

This year I have permutations of 3 teams from each conf.

East - NYR, PIT, NJD

I think PIT bulldozes everyone so I didn't include BOS players as too many weird things have to happen for PIT-BOS not to meeting in the 2nd round.

West - VAN, STL, NSH

I fucking hate picking the West this year. LAK can win, so can DET AND SJS.

I've really discounted CHI since Toews is a question mark, I don't like Oduya and Leddy as a 2nd pairing, and I don't like their goalies.

Anyhow, I take my 6 teams and run them in sets of 4 to come out with 9 combos for the conference finalists for the online pools.

If I have to pick once this year its:


Boring eh?

I'd pick VAN-NSH, but if there are no upsets in the 1st round of the West, then VAN meets NSH in round 2.

If PHX had more scoring they'd have a real chance, love their D and G this year. They don't ice a line than can't play, but they only have 1 line that can score with any regularity.

With STL being fully healthy (Perron, MacDonald, Steen) I think they'll have more scoring that what we saw all year.

There you go.

I'll be out of all my pools when LAK upsets VAN and I won't care a bit because watching the Dys get bounced in round 1 >>>>>>>>> any money wagered. Fuck the Dys.

LAK is worst match up possible for VAN in the 1st round. They are deep up front with 2 very good D pairs and a very good goalie too.

Penner and Stoll on your 3rd line equals nice depth up front.

Voynov playing 2nd pairing and doing very well.

Fucking Tambellini should have got Voynov for Penner like many of us cried for. Fuck the draft pick.

Klefbom *might* turn into a player, but Voynov IS a player. Big difference today, maybe not in 3 years.

Black Dog said...

lol good stuff Woodguy, I read a great article yesterday I will tweet looking at scoring, its why I doubt the Blues and Rangers chances.

Anything is possible but I think very few upsets this year.

Pens are my favourite but man they have a hard slog.

shepso said...

Sorry Pat, we'll have to disagree on this one. The Flyers are my team coming out of the east, though it's only because CFP isn't playing that I can even stomach supporting them. I like the make-up of that team too much, and the Oilers need a Hartnell clone on each line. Other than that, I agree completely with all your picks, for both conferences, though I really hope the Dys get slaughtered somehow...

Katie O'D said...

Everybody talks about Bryzgalov, but the Pens goaltending was equally bad this year (both teams were 23rd in SV%). I think the real difference in that series is that the Pens de are much better, and the Flyers rely too much on the powerplay to score. I don't think it'll be an easy series, but I'll be surprised if the Pens lose.

Black Dog said...

Stephen - Well score one for the Flyers. I've gone heavy Pens in both pools and after the first period I was all smiles. Oh well. Early days.

Katie - interesting stuff, eh? The narrative is Fleury is an elite goalie, chatter amongst msm up here is he should be starter in 2014, is an elite guy etc etc.

Damn narrative.

shepso said...

Never trust someone else's narrative, especially if they're telling you that the narrative is only one side or the other... (sorry, that's straight outta my research but it applies here too)

Yeah, Philly and LAK both winners tonight and looked ok too. Loved seeing DP get the winner, and Hartnell's set-up on Schenn's game tying goal was perfect. Long series, but I liked the results so far.