Sunday, April 28, 2013
The first thing is that, as anybody who knows me will attest, I tend to repeat myself. In real life I tend to start stories with 'tell me if you've heard this before' because I love to tell stories and I constantly forget who I've told them to. On this blog it looks like I basically say the same thing every year when it comes to playoff picks, starting with 'its a crapshoot'.
Which of course is true, especially in the first round.
Also it seems that every year I complain about sleep deprivation usually a combination of staying up late to watch playoff hockey and the fact that we quite often had a baby in the house because we like to have the sex and have babies.
Now with all that said my record for the first round over the past seven years?
40 and 16.
So on average I go about six and two.
I was pretty shocked by that. Seriously. I figured it would be almost even.
So now that I feel pretty good about myself I'm sure I will go 0 and 8 this year. :) Actually looking at the west I am only really confident in one pick and I think I will feel as leery when the eastern matchups are decided.
I usually look at four things when I am picking, none of these are earth shattering. I look at total wins, schedule, goal differential and a club's depth.
Anyhow for starters, the west.
The past number of years out west the number of contenders in the playoffs has often run eight deep. Its a brutal conference. In 2006 the bottom four seeds all won the first round matchups, the Ducks and Sharks had both gotten rolling near the end of 2005 and were two of the best clubs in the league in the second half and the Oilers were sabotaged by poor goaltending all season. With Roloson on board they were probably the best eighth seed until Chicago in 2011 and then of course we had the Kings last year. Even those years where you had, as an example, a team like Calgary in the eighth spot you often had a solid veteran club which could pull an upset.
This season though things don't run so deep. I'm not sold on Anaheim really and neither of the bottom two clubs strikes me as being anything dangerous to the real contenders at all. As usual anything can happen but I picture a bloodbath in two first round series which will probably make Chicago's life a little easier and if Anaheim flops then the Hawks will have a pretty decent road right to the conference final.
Chicago v Minnesota
The Hawks had a magnificent season and their reward is a pretty good matchup in the first round. Chicago only lost seven games in regulation (!) and nobody comes close to their goal differential except for the Penguins. The Wild actually allowed more goals than they scored and this is with having bonus games with Calgary, Colorado and the Oilers. So basically they're pretty shit, definitely the worst team in the playoffs.
Minnesota does have some nice pieces but they're not that deep up front or on the back end and on top of everything Pominville is questionable for game one. Meanwhile the Hawks can send out a line with Toews and Hossa and rookie Brandon Saad and then another line with Kane and Sharp and then follow that with a wave of useful forwards who can check and chip in offence - Shaw, Bickell, Stallberg, Frolik and Kruger amongst them. Throw in the fact that Duncan Keith's minutes were reasonable this year meaning he's not worn down and that behind him Chicago has a deep blueline that features a THIRD pairing of Michal Rozsival and Nick Leddy and good goaltending and its not really a fair fight. Hawks in five, maybe six if the Wild get all of the breaks and standout goaltending.
Anaheim v Detroit
I'm not a big fancy stat guy but a lot of people I know and respect suggest that the Ducks have been doing it with mirrors this season. Even if you don't take Corwick and Fensi into account the Wings and Ducks are a lot closer than one would think when one sees a 2 v 7 matchup. Anaheim has a GD of +22, the Wings are +9. The Ducks had two more ROWs than Detroit and while I may be wrong I sense that the Wings have been a club that has been hit pretty hard by injuries besides.
I look at both rosters and I'm not really that impressed with either to be honest, not up front and not on the back end. There just doesn't seem to be a lot of depth in both cases. On paper I guess the Ducks would be considered the better club but I just have a gut feeling (these usually betray me by the way) that its Detroit that will come out on top in seven. I have no good reason for this pick and I know this. It may just be that I don't like betting against Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Babcock.
Vancouver v San Jose
Pick em pick em pick em pick em.
Canucks finished with two more points than the Sharks, Sharks GD was two better. Canucks were in a weak division, had more injuries to key players. Sharks did have four less ROW wins as well. If either club went all the way I honestly would not be surprised but for both clubs this may be it as their windows close with no Cups and aging cores.
Usually when a team starts to slide its noticeable in its depth and so you can see it with Vancouver's top six D. I like their top four a lot but Tanev is out and so its a bit if a mess in them thar parts. With that said the top four is very good imo and up front they have some really nice depth, they go nine deep even without David Booth in the lineup. One wildcard is Schneider possibly being out. While the drop off to Luongo is not as massive as it would be for many teams going to their backups there still is a drop off.
I look at San Jose and the problem there is they are a bit top heavy. Great top six, probably slightly better than Vancouver but I would love their third line if it were their fourth line. Similarily their blue doesn't impress me much, now in truth that is more my problem than theirs, I just don't know a lot of these guys. Where the Sharks look very good is in net, with Niemi having a great season.
So ... oh man. While the goaltending matchup favours San Jose I think the Canucks are the better team. Of course then again San Jose has only lost two games in regulation at home and swept the season series against Vancouver.
Flip a coin. San Jose in six.
St Louis v Los Angeles
Now you want a pick em? This one is ridiculous. One point between them in the standings. LA had one more ROW and were one better in GD. And both clubs are big and strong and tough. Its going to be a war and while LA is (reasonably) picked by many to be a serious contender I wonder how beaten up they might be after this series.
Both teams scored more than they did last year (LA is 3rd in WC in GF, the Blues 5th) although of course LA's GF was a bit of a mirage last year imo. In any case I didn't think the Blues scored enough last year to go very far but this year they look better and I would consider both teams true contenders.
With that said ... I look at both teams' rosters and its a wash. Love the Blues' D but while they have a deep forwards corps its more of a bunch of 15 to 20 goal scorers. Meanwhile LA's D looks a bit weaker but up front they have the depth (again) but also have the gamebreakers that the Blues lack.
It will probably come down to goaltending and in both cases last year's heroes have struggled for most of the year, though apparently Elliott and Quick have turned the corner recently.
Seeing as I can't tell if either of those guys will fall off a cliff (they both may) I will go with the Kings based on their elite offensive talent. They will take it in seven.
Man I'm going one and three aren't I?
Posted by Black Dog at 8:54 PM