Monday, May 29, 2017

For Many, If Not All, Of The Marbles

Well here we are and it has been a mediocre year for me picking, 8 and 6 right now, if I fail this round then I will be at my lowest ever,, I haven't checked back but suspect I may have had a 9 and 6 or two back there. And in the Cup Finals I am a pretty sad 6 and 5, without going back I can tell you that five of those on the plus side were Chicago and LA so if you take them out of the equation I am awful. (My other hit was Detroit in 2008 although to be fair they would have won in 2009 if they had not been devastated by injuries, oh well, c'est la vie.) The real problem is I tend to go with my heart so for example I picked San Jose last year and believe it or not the Sens back in 07. I can't help myself and I think I am going to make the same mistake right now. I know better but talk myself into the team that I want to win and then blow it.

 What is funny about this season is that I would have a much better record except I underestimated Nashville and Ottawa, in the series that they won I only picked Nashville over the Blues. So there is an 0 for 4 right there. Nice job.

So here we are and this to me is as close to a pick em as you will ever see. And my record in these close series - 2006, 2009, 2011, 2016 - is the shits. Oh well, here goes.

 I literally am going back and forth on this. I think they both have great coaches. I like Pittsburgh's goaltending but of course Nashville's D is miles beyond anything the Pens have faced yet. Up front the Pens have the edge, especially up the middle. Huge advantage with Crosby and Malkin there.

 I like the Nashville bottom six more than Pittsburgh's, I guess you can't really question Sullivan, they have gotten this far, but the fact that they had three lines going last year made them so hard to beat. It's easier to stop two lines than to stop three.

 And the Preds have the wherewithal to stop two lines with those top four D. And while the whole 'they have four Erik Karlssons' is of course silly, there is only one Erik Karlsson and he is sublime, I do get what they are saying, they have four D who can skate and move the puck and counterattack and the Pens have not faced that yet.

Oh boy, lol.

 I think the Preds have the speed to disrupt the Pens and to get at that D and tear it apart and I think Laviolette is a very good coach and that he is going to come up with a gameplan to make things miserable for Pittsburgh. Nashville can trap and counter and we saw how Pittsburgh struggled with that at times against Ottawa (Ottawa!) and they can also attack and run a team ragged, we saw that against Anaheim, who had a far better D than the Pens do.

 I think the problem for the Preds is they may not score much.

 Can I pass on this? Lol.

 My heart says Nashville because of PK.

 My head says it's a coin flip and that I should really defer to Crosby and Malkin in that case.

 But because I am a dummy, I am going Nashville in 7. I think that D shuts the Pens down enough and their speed plays enough havoc with the Pens D that they can score just enough to come out on top. They beat three teams with better D than Pittsburgh and all three of those teams had quality up front too. Not Crosby and Malkin no but still they all had quality. Getzlaf was having a Conn Smythe campaign and then he was gone. I think they do just enough to take it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Dog's Breakfast

A little late here but you can check the tweeter for what I said before this round started, I am sticking with it, more in a moment.

 3 and 1 in round two, so 7 and 5 now and a chance for redemption on my picks. The conference finals is where I do good work, 16 and 6 overall since I started doing this.

 Gary Bettman has his NHL now and it's ugly as sin. Any team can win it when you get down to it, Ottawa scored less goals than they allowed this season and here they are in the conference finals and it's not like they have been riding a hot goalie, although Anderson has been good, they have been actually better than their opponents. It's parity. Parity and the league throwing away the rulebook in the playoffs to further even things out. Faceoff battles like Malkin and Turris had at the end of last night's game? I don't really have any issues with dick measuring contests like that. But the Ducks were allowed to turn their second round series into a rodeo at times and they are doing the same against the Preds.

 Johansson is letting Kesler get to him but the fact that Kesler and Perry and Getzlaf are allowed too basically do what they want because ... they're vets? Carlyle is a good guy? you have to 'play through it'? ... well this is just reason number 3,784,637 why the NHL has always been and always will be a junior circuit compared to other pro sports' leagues. It's a league run by amateurs who are enabled by a primary rights' holder that employs a bunch of ex scrubs who, surprise surprise, tear down the stars at every turn, all the while pushing the narrative that guys like Tanner Glass and Chris Neil are the reason that their clubs win.

 Would you rather see Crosby and Malkin and Kessel in full flight or Kesler wrestling a top player to the ice after every draw? The latter is not hockey, except in the NHL.

 Joke league.

 Anyhow on to the predictions:

Pens v Sens

The Caps are the new Sharks/Sens/Wings (that's going way back, 25 years, before they broke through). They always always always find a way to lose. And yes they outshot and outplayed the Pens just as they always seem to outshoot and outplay whomever they lose to but like Boudreau's Caps/Ducks/Wild one has to start to wonder what gives? Fleury was very good, sure, and yes if that Ovechkin shot doesn't hit the shaft of Fleury's stick (!!!!) then we may not be having this conversation but .....

 You can say what you will about the Oilers (I thought they were outplayed but if they had not collapsed in G5 they probably win that series) but at least in game seven in the third period they came on and had their chances. The Caps never even got a sniff. Trotz? Personnel? Tactics? Sullivan's tactics?

 (A quick digression. You know what I would like too know? What is Sullivan's system? How do the Pens play that won them a Cup last year with a D that was Kris Letang and five guys named Moe and how are they three wins from another final with six guys named Moe back there. Maybe HNIC could stop talking about how Tanner Glass and Chris Neil are the most important guys on their teams and how Russians are terrible people and actual FUCKING ANALYZE SOME FUCKING HOCKEY!)

 So here we are Pens against the Sens and I got the impression that the Ottawas barely broke a sweat against the Rangers. And when did the latter become such a nondescript generic team of nobodies anyhow? A good team, sure never good enough of course, but they are basically Columbus in New York at this point.

 They don't have Erik frigging Karlsson that's for sure. What a player. What a player. Amazing.

 The problem for Ottawa is the Pens have Crosby and Malkin and Kessel. Three game breakers to the Sens' one. And the Sens' gameplan, trap trap trap, isn't going to exploit the Pens' weakness, that D.

 Pens in 6.

Ducks v Preds

 I despised the Ducks before they beat the Oilers - Kesler, Bieksa, Perry, Carlyle - and I would hate to see Kesler win the Cup (which means he is probably going to win the Cup) but I think they beat the Preds for two reasons.

 The Preds are a bit top heavy up front and the Ducks can run two lines out there that can shut their top line down.

 And Pekke Rinne is, at some point, going to be Pekke Rinne.

 Gord, this is actually going to happen isn't it?

 Ducks in 7.

 It's funny, the NHL, in the last ten years six teams have won the Cup, three have won seven of those and Detroit was coming off a run where they had been the top team in the league for nearly twenty years. The only 'random' winners were Anaheim and Boston and here we are, a decade after the Ducks won and they might win another.

 At some point some new blood will come in and we might get like we see in the NFL or ball, where except for the Patriots, Red Sox and Giants you basically get a new champion every year. I don't know how much I like that personally, I grew up with the dynasties and now that every team is jst another team, well, it's dull.

 Oh well. Go Preds!