Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Oh Boy!

Well that was a crazy first round. I went a mediocre 4 and 4 and based on my pools I am not the only one who got bamboozled. The admin of our one said that in 23 years he has never seen so many people go into the ditch after one round and in my other pool I lost four of ten players, which was about par for the course.

 While nobody I know went so hilariously out there as professional blowhard troll Steve Simmons who said THERE WAS NO WAY CHICAGO COULD BE STOPPED nearly everyone felt that while Nashville might have a shot there was no way anyone predicted a sweep. Boston was a darling and most folks picked the Habs and the Wild even though both were definitely flawed. Anyhow here we are.

  So first round 'all time' (12 years) I am 67 and 29 even with this junk performance. The second round is always the one I struggle in the most, 25 and 19. The first round survivors include the real deal and the second tier contenders and those that rode hot goaltending or luck past their first round opponent. In some cases the ride ends abruptly, in others Cinderella may go another round. I have never had a lot of success and I wish I knew the answer as to why this is the case.

 So here goes nothing, I think there are two tossups and two clearer picks. Much like last year we are down to one survivor from the short list of recent Cup winners.  A new champion? I am beginning to think that we may have a repeat Cup winner for the first time in twenty years.

Rags v Sens

I picked both of these teams to lose their first round matchups. The Rangers are one of those teams – they are good but never good enough – and I certainly don’t think this year is any different. They handled the Habs relatively easily though but then again Daneault somehow ended up first on the Hab’s depth chart up the middle and no team has ever won a Cup with such weakness up the middle.

 The Sens have a lot of guys that are easy to cheer for – Karlsson and Anderson and Clark MacArthur most of all - they also have Alex Burrows and a gross owner who is, well, he is like pretty well every other NHL owner, hell my team is owned by a grifter with a Napoleon complex as big as the chip on Theo Fleury’s shoulder. The Rags have Lundqvist who one suspects will join Price and Luongo as great goaltenders who will always be compared unfavourably to the slightly above average who had the good fortune to land on powerhouses. The last run of Cup winners – Khabibulin, Cam Ward (*spits*), Giguere, Osnotthatgood, Fleury, Niemi (!!!), Thomas, Quick, Crawford and Matt Murray – includes a handful of pretty good goalies and some very average names and yet there are those who will tell you that Carey Price is not a winner based on his resume playing on a decidedly average club. Put him on Chicago and he has four Cups.
 (Reminds me of the guy who told me that Toews was a better player than Stan Mikita because, you guessed it, Cupzzzz. Never mind that Mikita was the premier centre in the NHL for close to a decade and that he, like Toews, was an excellent defensive player. The difference with Stan is that he could actually score a bit too, four scoring titles worth, and was one of the actual best players of all time. Again, put him in his prime on Chicago now and they have four Cups and it’s not even close.  Oh well.)


 Anderson is a good goalie but Lundqvist is better and while the Rags’ D is iffy, the Sens after Karlsson are iffier. The winner of this series is going to be mulch for the winner out of the Patrick. Looks like Lundqvist will be falling short again. Rags in 6.

 Pens v Caps

Man oh man I want to pick the Caps. This is their year, it has to be it, right? There is nothing out there that frightening and then Chicago crashed and on top of that the Pens are without Letang and have that bucktoothed grinning little bastard between the pipes. All those years I picked the Pens in my pool and Fleury folded, Marc Andre if you are reading this you owe me at least 80 bucks!!!! 
 And I want to pick them, I do, so bad. But then I watched the Leafs, with a blueline that consisted of Gardiner and Reilly, both terrific, and then flotsam after that, push the Caps to the brink. Five overtimes in six games and a bounce here or there and Washington was done. They looked slow and here’s the thing, the Pens are fast. And while the Leafs are deep up front the Pens are deeper. Malkin is killing it and Crosby is playing the best hockey of his career I think, which is really saying something, and Kessel is going to go off at some point and win a game or two on his own, you just know it. Columbus was not as great as their record said but they were a good team and the Pens ran roughshod over them and made Bobrovsky look average.

 They can get Niskanen out against someone and he may do the job but who does Orpik get? Oh man.

 And while I don’t believe in a lot of the mumbo jumbo intangibles’ crap that goes on out there I do think that the Pens are in Washington’s collective head. Pens in 6.

 Blues v Preds

The Blues beat the Wild the old fashioned Steve Penney way. Got outplayed bigtime and survived due to a hot goalie and there goes Bruce Boudreau shaking his head, again. The Preds, on the other hand, laid a beatdown on the best team in the Conference. I picked the Hawks but could see the Preds pushing them and maybe, maybe, upsetting them if everything fell their way. Instead they wiped the floor with the best team of this generation. The Hawks looked old and slow and were left muttering about tactics. (Well that was noted man of character Patrick Kane. Jonathan Toews was gracious and accurate with his assessment, they just got beaten badly by a team firing on all cylinders.)

 Do the Blues have a shot? Sure they do, everyone left does I think. We are talking about 1993 or close to it unless the Pens or Caps prevail. (Still what I feel will come to pass). But at some point if you are getting pounded the wall starts to crack and then things tend to fall apart pretty quickly. I STILL don’t trust Rinne but the Preds have a beautiful blueline and depth up front and Laviolette who is a terrific coach and the class of the remaining field out west.
 Preds in 6, maybe 5.

Ducks v Oilers

 This one is the real tossup. The Ducks are on one of those streaks, like Columbus and Minnesota and the Falmes had. Getzlaf has the eye of the tiger about him, he probably looks at what's left and figures this is his last best shot. And he has a good team around him too. Perry is not what he once was but the Ducks still run three lines deep, have a good deep D and a good tandem in net. I don't think a lot of Carlyle, it's a lot harder to win a Cup when you don't just have to rotate three Dman out there shift in shift out and so I think McLellan. who did nice work in round one, gives the Oilers the edge behind the bench.

 As for YERRRRRR EDMONTON OILERS well that was a fun round eh? Other than game four, the last period of game six and after period one in game one they were the better team and by quite a bit in my opinion. (So basically in four of six games derrrrrrrr) And this is with the flu running rampant, Draisatl and Klefbom were victims and based on their play I would say Lucic and McDavid were hurting later in the series too. (Of course the Sharks had their share of injury woes, not to diminish them or their effort)

 Discipline was a problem although they seemed to get a handle on it as the series wore on and while Nurse and Benning had their moments where they wobbled they never went full Matt Greene on us (I love Matt Greene but not playing Tarnstrom over him in 06, unless the latter was hurt, man that was a dumb move).

 And scoring through the lineup except for the Nuge line which didn't score but did saw off with the Sharks' big boys. Good yeoman work although there will be some goals needed this round from that group.

 Talbot ... the man.

 This is a tough one to call. My heart says Oilers and if the Ducks' D are as hobbled as they may be then the good guys have a shot. Hell even if they are healthy the Oilers have a shot. 97 ran rampant over Kesler and Getzlaf this season so I am not too worried about that matchup.

 And the Ducks are unlikeable. Kesler is the worst and Perry is garbage and I am sure we will see Bieksa pick Desharnais off in a scrum and start throwing the, especially since Magnus Paajarvi is not available. Just the worst.

 All that said my head says Ducks. I know, I know. I hope I am wrong and it's a coin flip but they are deeper everywhere I think. Ducks in 7. :(

 Over a decade between playoff series and the day after game one I am off to Rome for a week lol. Figures. Here's hoping that I am wrong about my prediction and that I make it back to see the Oilers clinch!


rubbertrout said...


Gold. Pure gold.

Gord said...

I stuck by your playoff advice a few years back; looked at only teams with a regular season high +/-... Toronto players were cheap so I ended up with Matthews & Kadri who justified my investment.

Sitting on a 50% point lead over my nearest challenger; with 4 Pittsburgh players including Malkin. Plus some adequate Rangers & Klefbom. Only need Pittsburgh to survive this round and I win my 3rd playoff pool in a row.

If we ever meet Pat - I'm buying the beer... ;-)

Black Dog said...

You're on Gord ;)

M said...

Lol. I turn on the game and oilers score to take a 4-3 lead. Ive watched hockey for 25+ years. I'll take flak for this, but I cant remember seeing a more garbage defence than the Oilers have. Klefbom and Larsson are top 3&4 at best. The rest is expansion. But yet they seem to win. Ha. Empty netter. Congrats I guess 😀


Gord said...

Forgot to mention Pat; if I win this year - this will be my
3rd playoff pool win in a row... LOL