Friday, April 10, 2015

This Bad Boy

 One of my favourite things about the past year is the fact that our youngest has become an avid reader. When she started grade one in September she would read a bit but not much. She had no interest in it unlike her brother and sister and me. Well she loves it now. She often proclaims 'I LOVE READING' in the middle of what is really an endless soliloquy she carries on and it's true, she does. She reads chapter books now and it is pretty common for Jenn to come home and find the four of us, faces buried in books. We're a family of readers except for Jenn who sadly cannot read. It is a dirty family secret yet somehow she has overcome this deficiency to become pretty successful, I can smell an after school special coming. We'll call it Jenn Can't Read.

Anyhow so the other day we were heading out the door to go to the big tournament semifinal where I scored a sniper's goal for the first time in my life (more on this another time) and after proclaiming HOW MUCH SHE LOVES READING she then explained to her brother why she was bringing her book on dolphins and sharks, called Dolphins and Sharks, for the ride to the arena:

 My favourite books are non fiction books because that is how I learn and I love to learn about new things and so I like to read non fiction because that is how I learn. I like to read non fiction books like this bad boy right here (raises book about dolphins and sharks called Dolphins and Sharks) because then I learn about things.

 This bad boy right here.



Here is what I wrote before the playoffs last year:

I don't think I've ever had less of a handle on the playoffs than I do this year. Mostly this is because of the way the west finished. If you want to talk about true contenders I have five - San Jose, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis and Boston.

Now we are a year later and I have no clue for the first time in forever. I mean none. We have come to a year where the traditional powers have suddenly taken a huge step back - LA and San Jose are out before the tournament even begins, Boston may be and Chicago don't look great at all - and the possible up and comers - Minnesota, Winnipeg, the Islanders - aren't powerhouses yet (although Minnesota may be, I guess we will see). So we have a bunch of very good teams but are any really head and shoulders above the rest of the field? I don't see it which means we are looking at 1993 again.

 Much like Jaromir Jagr and his teenage linemates I watched Marty McSorely end up in the box with an illegal stick while most of you were still eating your own poop or at least smearing it all over the walls because you're animals. Me I was long past that stage and was living cheque to cheque, working for peanuts, running on empty, busting a move, wandering the streets of Toronto all dusty and plaid and underfed like a modern day I don't know what. Anyhow I was there when the Leafs had their high water mark of the last half century by making the conference finals and yeah that is exactly as pathetic as it sounds. The Jays were champs though. And dinosaurs roamed the earth. So those of you who believe in creationism there you go I was there and it was mental.

 But I digress as I am wont to do. First round predictions right? I'm 53 and 19 in the first round in the nine years I have written these bad boys down so that's pretty good right? RIGHT!??!!??!!

 Here is what I look at when I'm making my picks. This is also from last year, I am too lazy to rewrite it and nothing has changed really in how I go about things:

 First of all I do not look at how a team finished the season or at the head to head matchups. To me they don't mean a thing. Sometimes a team will finish strongly and go all the way and sometimes they will not and they will win the Cup. Every year people say 'oh they finished such and such a way' and it really doesn't matter. Same for head to head, a game in November or January doesn't tell me anything now.

 The huge thing for me is depth. Obviously injuries play a huge part in the playoffs but also year after year we see that clubs with deep rosters go farther. If you can roll four lines, as Chicago and Boston did last year for example, then you're going to go a long way. For example if Toronto had dressed an actual hockey player rather than Colton Orr last spring I believe they may have survived game seven. Certainly having someone you could throw out there who could play a reliable shift would have helped. In a similar vein as the Bruins began to get banged up their depth suffered and as the series wore on against Chicago the Hawks were able to use their superior depth to push the pace. As a result they had the puck more, Chara especially was forced to defend more and by the end of the series the Bruins were done. To me I always look for teams that run four lines deep and six defencemen as well.

 When I look at records the big thing for me is goal differential. A team that is even or maybe even in the red is a team that I always avoid. The real heavyweights are the clubs that have a big goal differential. This may seem like common sense but I look at that even more than I look at a club's win loss record.

 I don't put a lot of stock in your usual narratives, teams that 'know how to win' and all of that. Nearly every year since the end of that stretch where the Cup was always won by the Wings, Avs, Stars or Devils has had a different starting goalie lead his team to the Cup (except for when the Wings won in '08 I think) as an example. So I don't look at the Blues and think that they can't win because Miller has never won the Cup for example or at San Jose and think that they are going to fail because they're San Jose. Intangibles like this are just a lot of noise imo.

 Of course as an out I always say that anything can happen (because it can) - injuries, hot goalie, bad luck. Its hockey so sometimes that's the way it goes but generally I feel pretty good about how I make my picks.

 So there you go, if you care. Still waiting on the final day to suss out what is going to happen in terms of matchups and as I said I have no idea for the most part. Out east I think you can say Rangers and Lightning with the Caps rising. Out west ... well I think it's the Blues and the Wild in the top tier with the Hawks a possibility if they can ever get their shit together. I think if they end up with the Preds in the first round and can get some traction they might come on but right now I'm saying the Cup is coming out of one of those four - Rags, Tampa, Blues or Wild but the gap between them and everyone else is a very small one. Almost anything can happen. It's going  to be mental.


LittleFury said...

I thought I saw you and the brood hustling down the hallway at the Summit this year, but you were all moving with purpose and I was off to do the scorekeeping at another game. Should get a beer at next year's eh?

Black Dog said...

Are you sure it was me? Moving with purpose?!?!? ;)

For sure we will have to try and remember to touch base, I was there both days from about noon on. Always a good time!

Gord S. said...

Nice to read your posts once again. And eagerly await your tips for my playoff pool... ;-)

mujidog said...

This year's playoffs are going to be bonkers.

Not just because it's going to be a total crapshoot, but also because there are so many likeable teams.

Seriously, the only teams that I don't want to see win: Canucks (tho I love me some Sedins). That's it. I have no problems with any of the other teams winning. Flames? Jets? Sens? Sure! These are likeable underdog teams. Preds? Blackhawks? Ducks? Rangers? Habs? Bolts? Islanders? Wild? Blues? Sure! These are solid teams that were put together nicely. Caps? YES PLEASE! Love Ovi!

It's gonna be fun.

Anonymous said...

Have your kids read the 'that Scatterbrain Booky' series? Maybe a couple years off for your youngest. I hope to re read them and consider buying for my kids one day if they are as endearing as I remember them. Stories about depression era life in Toronto as told by the main character, a little girl named Booky.

Your rendition of the six year old's running soliloquy was great.

Black Dog said...

Haha Gord I don't know if you want to go with me there, I have no idea myself. It's so wide open.

Mujidog - I'd prefer to see some win it over others, I'm not a big Ducks or Preds guy for example and yes the Canucks *spits*

But unless Chicago turns it around it will likely be a team that has not win it in over a decade or maybe never. Should be very cool, lots of great stories.

Black Dog said...

Anon - thanks for the tip, I'll check it out.

Oh man, that's just a taste. She never stops talking and it's just unreal stuff.