27 April 2012

Round 2 - NHL Playoff Previews in five lines or less.

In my first round predictions I correctly picked 5 of the 8 winners.  Better than even.  However if you peek at the end toward predicting all rounds.  I'd like to point out that both of my finalists are still in (unlike everyone that picked Pittsburgh and Vancouver), and three of my final four are still in. (Bruins let me down.)  So I'm excited that I didn't buy into the Pittsburgh healthy and Vancouver has an awesome record hype.

So short and to the point, here are my Round 2 predictions.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

(#2) St. Louis v (#8) Los Angeles

I'll admit, I got a little nervous about picking the Blues to go all the way to the final after dropping game 1.  But in the next four games, they shown they are as complete a team as there is in the West.  I am thrilled for the Kings beating Vancouver.  It may not have shown on the scoreboard, but the Kings showed a lot of hustle and outplayed the often lackadaisical Canucks. I don't imagine the Blues will be asleep at the switch the same way, but if the Kings put forth the effort and Quick is superhuman again, this could be very interesting.

St. Louis in 6

(#3) Phoenix v. (#4) Nashville

Phoenix definitely one their first round series mostly because of the massive mismatch between the pipes.  As good as Mike Smith is, the Preds boast Veznia finalist Pekka Rinne on the other end and they are a deeper team in front.  Despite not having "home-ice" I think the Preds will do just fine in this matchup.

Nashville in 6

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(#1) New York Rangers v (#7) Washington Capitals

The Rangers were my pick before the playoffs started, but I have to be honest, they got outworked by Ottawa in a few games.  This makes me rather nervous because they face a Washington team that seems to have found its stride at the end of the regular season, and squeaked out a series victory over Boston in gritty fashion.  I'd really like to see if the Rangers can kick it into a better gear this serious, but I'm a little nervous for them, and I think they get pushed to the brink again.

New York in 7

(#5) Philadelphia v (#6) New Jersey

This is going to be another great series to watch.  Should be hard hitting.  But also, this could be a tough one on the goaltenders.  For the Flyers, Bryzgolov and Bobrovsky were only marginally better than Penguins counterpart Marc-Andre Fleury.  For the Devils of course Brodeur is a legend, but this is the Devils first appearance in round 2 since 2007, and therefore the longest his season has been since then.  If he struggles this could get ugly for the Devils.  On the other hand, if Philly's netminders underperform, we could see (yes I'm going to type this) a pretty high scoring Devils team.

New Jersey in 7.



The rest of the way...

New York over New Jersey (I hope TBS airs "The Face Painter" episode of Seinfeld all week if this happens)
St. Louis over Nashville

New York over St. Louis (sticking with it, despite my reservations about New York).

Enjoy the playoffs, and I tend to tweet while watching games @SOTSOHockey if you care to chat.


11 April 2012

NHL Playoff Previews in five lines or less.

One of these days, the Minnesota Wild will get into playoff preview posts.  Unfortunately, this is not that season. But I never let that stop me from enjoying the NHL playoffs, and a lot of my t

Still a lot of my Twitter followers had lots of thoughts regarding for whom they are going to root.  I retweeted most of them so check out my timeline if you're curious.

As I have done for the last several seasons, I'll be doing previews of each round.  But because there are a million blogs doing the same thing, I am going to try and keep mine short and to the point, five lines or less.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

(#1) Vancouver v (#8) Los Angeles


I am not too high on the President's Trophy winners.  I think their total is inflated because they share a division with four of the five worst teams in the Western Conference.  The disaster scenario for Vancouver is that pressure on their goaltenders turns out to actually cure Los Angeles' scoring woes.  Even though the Kings lost their last two to the Sharks, this is a better matchup than the Blues would've been.  A lot going for the Kings here if they can figure a way to score goals, but that's been their season long problem.

Vancouver in 7.

(#2) St Louis v (#7) San Jose


St Louis is probably the most complete team in the West from back to front.  Their goaltending is dominant (even if Elliot isn't able to go).  They score goals and play tough.  All things the Sharks were built to do, but have had nothing but disappointment.

St Louis in 5.

(#3) Phoenix v (#6) Chicago


Yes, this is one of those situations everyone freaks out about because Phoenix was a division winner they get seeded higher than other teams with more points.  I still think Chicago's goaltending is awful and certainly not playoff ready.  If it gets to average, the Hawks might hang around.

Phoenix in 6

(#4) Nashville v (#5) Detroit


Nashville it a team built very much like St. Louis.  They play stifling defense and Pekka Rinne is among the best goaltenders in the game.  A lot of Original Six Snobs (I should really get that term trademarked) are hoping the Wings have just underachieved this year and were saving their effort for the playoffs.  I'm not buying it.  The Preds are for real, and are going to out muscle, and wear down the aging Wings.

Nashville in 6.


EASTERN CONFERENCE


(#1) New York Rangers v (#8) Ottawa


It's hard to believe the Rangers lost the season series 3-1 to the Sens.  However, there's still a lot to like about the Rangers.  They have the better goaltending and most scoring punch.  It will be very difficult for the Sens to ever have the upper hand in this series.

New York in 5


(#2) Boston v (#7) Washington


There's a lot to like about the big bad Bruins in this one.  They are tough on the blue line, and they boast six 20-goal scorers, which should give a team with defensive issues like Washington some trouble.  However, the Caps played hard enough down the stretch to avoid the wrong side of the bubble, and if they can improve on that effort, they could make this interesting.

Boston in 6


(#3) Florida v (#6) New Jersey


The big question from the last New Jersey exit was did the Devils ride Brodeur too much.  This year he played in 59 games and has a save percentage of .908.  Decent numbers considering he often looked out of place this season.  The Panthers won the Southeast Division, but did not look good down the stretch.  I think the Devils find their way into Round 2 this time.

New Jersey in 6


(#4) Pittsburgh v (#5) Philadelphia


From a personal standpoint, it's hard to name two teams I like less in the East.  The last two games between these teams were great to watch, and I would like this to drag into a seven-gamer.  But Pittsburgh's just got more weapons offensively.  If Philadelphia doesn't contain them, this could actually be over pretty quickly.

Pittsburgh in 6.

THE REST OF THE WAY
Nashville over Vancouver
St. Louis over Phoenix
NY Rangers over New Jersey
Boston over Pittsburgh

St. Louis over Nashville
NY Rangers over Boston

NY Rangers over St. Louis


My picks are available on cuppick.com, a very easy site to use.  You can register with e-mail or facebook and join as many groups as you want.  I started a group "SOTSOHockey" for my readers, if you want to compete with me directly.

Enjoy the playoffs!

07 April 2012

Final Day Playoff Scenarios...

Well I hope someday the Minnesota Wild will be part of this post, but unfortunatley, this is not the season.

Still all 30 teams today play in 15 games today, these 9 games have impact on playoff seeding:

Home - Away, Time (CT), TV

Detroit (2:3 SO) Chicago, 12:00 (NBC)
New Jersey (4:2) Ottawa, 2:30
NY Rangers (1:4) Washington, 5:30 (NBCSN)
Florida (4:1) Carolina, 6:30
St. Louis (3:2) Dallas, 7:00
Phoenix (4:1) Minnesota, 7:00 (FS North)
Nashville (6:1) Colorado, 9:00
Edmonton (0:3) Vancouver, 9:30
San Jose (3:2 OT) Los Angeles, 9:30 (NBCSN)

The 16 playoff teams are known, but the order of finish leaves much to be determined.  Before we spell out the scenarios, here are the the current standings among the playoff teams.

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Team - Pts (ROW) > Possible Finish
1 **NY Rangers - 109 (47) >  1
2 **Boston - 102 (40) > 2
3 **Florida -  94 (32) > 3
4 **Pittsburgh    - 108 (42) > 4
5 **Philadelphia  - 103 (43) >  5
6 **New Jersey - 102 (36) > 6
7 **Washington -  92 (38) > 7
8 **Ottawa -  92 (35) >  8

WESTERN CONFERENCE
Team - Pts (ROW) Possible Finish
1 **Vancouver  - 111 (43) > 1
2 **St Louis   - 109 (45) > 2
3 **Phoenix   -  97 (36)  > 3
4 **Nashville - 104 (43) > 4
5 **Detroit - 102 (39) > 5
6 **Chicago -  101 (38) > 6
7 **San Jose -  96 (34) >  7
8 **Los Angeles -  95 (34) >  8

Legend
Pts: Points, ROW: Regulation or Overtime Wins, Possible Finish: Possible conference seeds.
*Game Currently in OT, guaranteed one point included
**All 82 Games Played

Tiebreakers
1) Regulation or Overtime Wins (ROW)
2) Points in Head to Head Games

Today's playoff Scenarios in order of today's schedule...

(I will attempt to update throughout today with underlines, when scenarios match final results, and strikeouts, for scenarios that do not match final results)

Detroit clinches 4th seed in West with
Win with Nashville Regulation Loss

Detroit clinches 5th seed in West with
- Win (with Nashville finishing 4th)
- OT Loss 

Chicago clinches 5th seed in West with
- Regulation Win

Ottawa clinches 7th seed in East with 
- Win
- OT Loss
- Washington Reg/OT Loss
- Florida Reg Loss

NY Rangers win President's Trophy with
- Win
- OT Loss with Vancouver Reg/OT Loss
- Vancouver Reg Loss

Washington wins Southeast Division (3rd seed in East) with
- Win with Florida Reg Loss

Washington clinches 7th seed in East with
- Win with Ottawa Reg Loss (With Florida winning Southeast)

Florida wins Southeast Division (3rd seed in East) with
- Win
- OT Loss
- Washington Reg Loss/OT Loss

Phoenix wins Pacific Division (3rd seed in West) with
- Win
- OT Loss with Los Angeles Reg Loss/OT Loss/SO Win

St Louis wins Western Conference and 1st seed with
- Win with Vancouver Regulation Loss

Nashville clinches 4th seed in West with
- Win
- OT Loss
- Detroit OT Loss/Reg Loss

Vancouver wins Western Conference and 1st seed with
- Win
- OT Loss
- St. Louis Reg/OT Loss

Vancouver Clinches Presdient's Trophy with
- Win with NY Rangers Reg Loss/OT Loss
- OT Loss with NY Rangers Reg Loss

Los Angeles clinches Pacific Division (3rd Seed in West) with
- Win with Phoenix Reg Loss
- Reg/OT Win** with Phoenix OT Loss

San Jose Clinches Pacific (3rd seed in West) with
- Win with Phoenix Regulation Loss

Los Angeles clinches #7 Seed with
- Win (with Phoenix winning Pacific Division)

San Jose Clinches #7 Seed with
- Win (with Phoenix winning Pacific Division)

Note: 
"Win" means Regulation, Overtime, or Shootout Win except where otherwise specified 

(**Los Angeles must defeat San Jose tonight in Regulation or Overtime to win the tiebreaker with Phoenix in the event of a tie at 96 points.  This scenario would give both teams 35 Regulation/Overtime victories, with Los Angeles winning the head-to-head series tiebreaker, 8-7. A Shootout win for Los Angeles in a tie at 96 points, would leave Los Angeles with only 34 Regulation/Overtime victories and Phoenix would win the tiebreaker at 35.)

"OT Loss" means Overtime or Shootout loss.

Phoenix can finish no worse than 7th in the West because they will finish ahead of the loser of tonight's Los Angeles-San Jose game, regardless of tonight's results.