Monday, April 10, 2017
'oo is it ......?
Every few months I write a post and think to myself 'that was great, I have to do that more often' and then nothing happens. Anyhow here we are! Playoffs! And the Edmonton Oilers are in the playoffs! (Although I expect we are all in a large van, sleeping, while the little guy from Third Rock, he's all grown up now, bounces and sways beside us. It's all a fevered dream!)
I will write something in depth on the Oilers probably tomorrow, definitely before the series starts, hey they make it once a decade so I can probably put in the time.
But first, the rest! I have been doing this since the blog started, so spring of 2006, the last time the Oilers made it. Me do alright in predictions, after last year in the first round I am a tidy 63 and 25, so just over 70%. Pretty good but honestly a lot of luck. Here is what I look at when I make my picks, this is a few years old but nothing has changed so here you go, if you give a damn:
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.
**** Addendum 2017 - and another thing! ;) when in doubt, all things considered, if it's a coin flip, go with the team with the offensive star power. The playoffs often come down to a bounce and the team with the guys who can create something out of nothing - Chicago, Pittsburgh and such - because often there is nothing, well those teams are a better bet than the team of good solid 20 goal scorers, no matter how deep they run ****
So there you go, maybe next year I will rewrite it, some of these references are getting dated! (this note is also regurgitated so let's just nod and smile and move on, shall we? ;) )
HERE WE GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!
Prince Of Hartford Wales Conference
Caps v Leafs
It's all gravy for the Leafs now, it really is, I know a few people don't feel that way and I can see why but this was a terrible team last year and now they are in the playoffs and if they play their cards right they will be real live contenders the next two years before they have to pay these kids. Their management group makes mistakes just like everybody else but they are onto something and I would trust them over most of what you would find out there. Up front they are just stacked, it's that blue that is an issue but add a couple of good pieces and man oh man ...
Not this year though, not even before Zaitsev and Andersen got dinged and Polak came up lame(r). I was at the game last week and the Leafs barely got a sniff. The Caps are that good and this has to be their year, right? Every year we say it but it rally has to be. They're loaded up and down the lineup, they are pretty healthy, they have probably the easiest possible opponent first round, their arch nemesis is already banged up and about to go to war with a heavy duty club that is going to pound them some more, the other side of the East and the entire West isn't really scaring anybody ...
This is it, barring injury they should finally do it. A plus 81 GD? Jesus.
Caps in 5 because sweeps don't happen anymore and the Leafs have enough juice up front that one game at least they will break through. But yeah, this could be it for Washington, finally.
Pens v BJs (lol)
BJs lol. I would never bet on them to win anything, same as Minnesota or Nashville but at some point one of them has to win something you would think. Anyhow this series really intrigues me a lot. That big win streak really skews Ohio's record, I mean it is part of their season so obviously it is part of the record (I sound like people who say the Oilers would be nothing without McDavid. But um ... he is on the team) but you know what I mean? They are not going to rattle off 15 games in a row, they ahd a hot streak and they rode it but without it they are fighting for a wild card.
That said ... they are going to give the Pens a hard time here I think and Bobrovsky gives them a chance at an upset. Werenski being out hurts them a lot but the Pens are without Letang, which will probably cost them the Cup, as well as Hagelin and Kunitz. Plus Malkin isn't 100% The problem for Columbus is they have a bunch of really good players, they really do, but so do the Pens and the latter have Crosby and Malkin and Kessel. Pens in 6, maybe 7, and they're going to be a mess once they meet the Caps.
Habs v Rags
Could there be a more boring series? Maybe if Boucher was involved. I love Vigneault and I love Julien and you think an original 6 matchup would be sexier but man this one leaves me cold. It's a coin flip though pretty well despite the people who will point at the Patrick Division and say that the Rangers deserve SO MUCH MORE respect for coming out of there. The Rags had a slightly higher GD and one more win but the Habs had to drag Mike Therrien around with them for most of these season. Now that they have an actual professional NHL coach I think they have the edge. Plus their higher end guys are better than the higher end Rangers. Plus Carey Price.
Habs in 7 in a barnburner and by that I mean you will be so bored that you will fall asleep in the barn, knocking over the oil lamp, burning you and all of the family livestock to death in a horrible inferno. I can still hear the cattle screaming, they sounded human I kid you not they haunt my dreams. You got what you deserved though for watching this series.
Bruins v Sens
OK this series might be worse than the Habs Rangers. I expect 6 2-1 games, if shit gets crazy. The Sens have a pretty nice top line but after that, yeesh. And what happened to Bobby Ryan? On the other hand, the Bruins aren't much better. And you wonder why I'm bullish on the Leafs for next season?
All joking aside the Sens actually had a negative GD and yet somehow made the playoffs, nobidy knows how, well they were in a pretty bad division and the teams that should have finished ahead of them, the ones from Florida, were derailed by injuries, bad luck and incompetence. I think Guy Boucher is quality but he channels Wild on Jack Lemaire too much for my taste, plus the Sens are awful.
Bruins in 6 deathly boring games.
Posted by Black Dog at 4:49 PM