Sunday, May 29, 2016

2016 Fin.

 Here we are!!!

 10 and 4 after three rounds and it's the Pens and Sharks in a final that I like very much, yes I do. I would prefer a Sharks' victory, with Thornton and Marleau and Burns and James Reimer and Joel Ward who played hockey at UPEI and who I have never heard a bad word about from any Islander. That said a Cup for Phil Kessel just to shove it up that idiot at the Toronto Sun's ass ... oh that would be sweet. And maybe that would shut up the dummies who question Sidney Crosby's character every time he goes a game without scoring.

 Your regular reminder - the use of 'character and leadership' as reasons for a sports' team's success or failure is what lazy writers or broadcasters who cannot actually provide useful analysis fall back on because they are bad at what they do for a living.

 A hockey game is not a morality play. It is a game between two teams. Over seven games the better team usually wins but the outcome is determined not only by talent but by luck, injuries and often, a hot goaltender. It is not determined by who has the better character. Full stop.

 Joe Thornton has not suddenly learned how to win because he made the finals. He is by almost any measure, a winner. He is one of the best hockey players who has ever lived, a surefire Hall of Famer. He has won individual awards. He has won gold medals at the World Juniors, World Cup and Olympic Games. He has made literal boatloads of money playing hockey. So remember all of that when, if the Sharks lose, some fat hack journalist or idiot coworker says that Joe Thornton lacks character or is not a winner.

 So ... what do I think happens in the next two weeks? Well ... the Pens are fast but the Sharks aren't plodders at all so I am pretty sure they can stick with them. The big advantage for the Pens is they have three lines that can score and at some point they should be able to make hay from that. That said the Sharks are almost as deep up front. The Crosbies have Crosby, Malkin and Kessel with Hornqvist, Rust, Bonino, Hagelin and a rejuvenated Chris Kunitz but the Sharks counter with Thornton, Pavelski and Couture and a supporting cast of Marleau, Hertl, Donskoi, Ward and Tierney. Slight advantage to the Pens, sure, but their problem is that blueline. The Sharks have two excellent pairs but for the Pens after Letang there is a real dropoff and I think that is where the series is lost for them. I can't see Lovejoy, Maatta, Cole and Norris Schultz handling the Sharks' game down low and while Matt Murray has had a nice run he has tailed off - I can't see him being the difference maker he needs to be.

 Everyone is calling this to be too close to call and I could see it going seven but really unless Martin Jones completely melts down I could see it going six or even less. Seriously. The Sharks have handled a murderers' row of opponents pretty handily and each of those clubs were deep up front and had bluelines way deeper than the Pens. We'll split the difference and say Sharks in six.


Olivier said...

I called the #Shorks in 7 because, well, Malkin has finally found his stride between Kunitz and Rust. And that, my friend, is a bit of a problem when you already have Sid The Kid and that marmot-faced creep to watch upon. But, yeah, 6 might do it.

But, as you said, the SJ D is flat out better. Maatta is much slower than I recalledand so is Lovejoy. And that's their second pairing! Schultz is, well he's amazing.

I mean, he's *really* bad. Know what his power move is? I mean aside from giving the blue (his duo's carry-in rate is awe inspiring) an allowing the opponents to recover a tonne of loose pucks? I tell you what it is:

The Pens, like the #Shorks, have this little option when they are stuck in the corner of the defensive zone, under heavy pressure: one of the players sets himself straight up in front of the net, with the expected role of cutting the pass or shot, but really, that guy's job is to be an outlet option.

So, you have the puck along in the corner and Hertl is dry humping you and that hobo-looking giant is coming down on you and the dude with the weird white stick is cutting in from the other side of the net. What do you do? You send the puck to the guy in front of the net who, pronto, takes a few stride, find a winger to pass to, and away they go! I mean, if you're lucky, the marmot-faced creep is loitering somewhere up in the zone, and then that's a scoring chance for your team in the next 3 seconds, tops.

So Jultz's power move? Sets himself up in front of the net and, once his player has seen him there, *waltz away behind said net*. It's a general affliction, actually. Gives himself as an option, then shuffle away and watch the puck go where he was.

That puck sailing trough makes me laugh every time.

Trevor Daley is that little edge they couldn't afford to lose.

Gord said...

With the playing style of both teams, this should be fun to watch...

Anonymous said...

I think Penguins will win. They have the best player on the planet who is playing very well. I think SJ got a little lucky this year LA was not much of a team , STL looked great beating the Hawks and then turned into a medocore inconsistent team they should have beaten Dallas with ease. STL did not play well against SJ. I know you can say SJ is that good so that is why they won. I don't think so. Martin Jones has looked good in most games however I'm not sold on him. Penguins defense is suspect but somehow they have actually played well.

We wait and see who is right.