Thursday, April 28, 2011

Taking a Mulligan - Round Two Predictions

As a lovely friend so elegantly wrote to me:
ur blog predictions were wrong
Thanks, Emily.

But actually, I didn't do that badly.

Let's take a quick look:

In the East:

(1) Washington v. (8) New York
Prediction = Caps in 5
Actual = Boom, right on the money.

(2) Philadelphia v. (7) Buffalo
Prediction = Sabres in 6
Actual = Was an OT goal away from being spot on. Instead, the Flyers made me look stupid, as usual.

(3) Buffalo v. (6) Montreal
Prediction = Bruins in an "epic" 7
Actual = Bruins in 7 - and yes, it was epic

(4) Pittsburgh v. (5) Tampa Bay
Prediction = Pens in 6
Actual = Again, Pens had a chance to close it out in 6. Instead, Dwayne Roloson stole the show for Tampa in 7.

And in the West:

(1) Vancouver v. (8) Chicago
Prediction = Nucks in 5
Actual = I think we know what happened here. Nucks had their shot to make me look good. They decided to make it more interesting.

(2) San Jose v. (7) Los Angeles
Prediction = Sharks in 7
Actual = Sharks in 6

(3) Detroit v. (6) Phoenix
Prediction = Wings in 6
Actual = Wings in a sweep - oh well.

(4) Anaheim v. (5) Nashville
Prediction = Ducks in 6
Actual = Preds in 6 - and I had the Ducks winning the Cup, so I guess I saved the worst for last. Thanks Anaheim!

Overall, not too shabby. 5/8 on straight winners, two series called exactly with three more (Pens, Sabres, and Nucks) that could have ended exactly as I predicted.

With that in mind, my new second round predictions:


(1) Washington v. (5) Tampa Bay

The series hinges on the Lightning's top players actually producing (Sean Bergenheim won't be enough this time around) and Dwayne Roloson continuing to stand on his head. The Caps were extremely impressive in the first round.
Caps in 5.

(2) Philadelphia v. (3) Boston

My Philly-bias is obvious. This is a tough series to predict. I think the Flyers are superior as an overall team, but I'm not sure if their goaltending holds up against the Bruins. To all my Flyers friends, don't take this personally. I'm pretty sure the Flyers only lose in the playoffs when I pick them to win, anyway.
Bruins in 6 (h/t to Burker for easing my indecisiveness)


(1) Vancouver v. (5) Nashville

Nashville is in uncharted territory. Congratulations to them and their fans for finally breaking through to the second round. Vancouver has more talent, and despite thinking that they've already won the Cup, should be able to push through the Preds.
Sedins in 7

(2) San Jose v. (3) Detroit

Total guess. I like resiliency. I also think Detroit had too easy of a time in the first round.
Sharks in 6
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Round 2 begins tonight with Vancouver and Nashville at 9PM ET.

Emily, I expect you to be watching!

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Playoff Predictions [Logic, Wit, Conspiracy] 2011

Not my actual picture

Any fool can make predictions. Just as the biggest hockey expert in the world can say "Vancouver in 5" or "Philly in 6," a man who has never watched a game in his life can say "Boston in 7" and potentially be correct.*

*Note that this man would never predict Nashville or Phoenix due to the fact he is unlikely to realize that those teams exist.

So when I make these following predictions, I do so while keeping in mind that I may not get a single one correct. In fact, I might - one day - even make such an idiotic prediction (the Wings missing the playoffs) that I will never, ever, link to this post again. (Totally hypothetical.)

I'm not going to provide cutting-edge analysis ("the Rangers are going to really miss Ryan Callahan" or "goaltending will be key if Philly wants to make a run") or provide any breaking news ("Sidney Crosby skated on one leg yesterday. Check back later for more"). These are predictions based on performance, logic, and conspiracies, nothing more.

To get my biases out of the way:

I dislike the Flyers with a passion.
Buffalo is the one team I'd like to see get a Cup.
I hope the Red Wings get swept.
I'm strongly opposed to a Vancouver run.
Oh, and I called a Pittsburgh-LA final back in October with the Pens coming out on top.

Not too many, eh?

Without further ado:

Eastern Conference

(1) Washington versus (8) New York

Ratings bonanza! Two big markets, two great fan bases, one guy named Alex Ovechkin. In an age when hockey is constantly taking a back seat, it's good to see a matchup that couldn't possibly be given the shaft by something as meaningless as a regular season basketball game.
Woops.
The Rangers gave the Caps trouble two years ago, but Washington has (or should have) learned their lessons by now. That terrible losing streak during 24/7 may end up being that "defining moment" that leads to a Cup.
Caps in 5.

(2) Philadelphia versus (7) Buffalo

As long as the Flyers are in the playoffs, Philadelphia will care only slightly more about the Phillies. But on game nights, Philadelphians may DVR the baseball game in order to see which sub-par Flyers goaltender is starting that night. Both these teams are going in opposite directions; however, we've seen in previous years that hot streaks don't necessarily carry over. Pronger is a key, mostly because we're running out of pucks to use. Philly is due for a playoff letdown.
Sabres in 6.

(3) Boston versus (6) Montreal

How lucky did the NHL get with this? Boston really does have the talent to go all the way, but this will be a tricky step for them. Conspiracy says that the NHL wants American teams to advance.
Bruins in an epic 7

(4) Pittsburgh versus (5) Tampa Bay

This would have been a superbly exciting series if Crosby and Malkin were in for the Pens. Then again, Pittsburgh probably could have challenged for the conference had the two of them been healthy. The Pensblog is hilarious, and they were my Cup pick, so the choice is clear.
Pens in 6

The Rest of the Way:

(1) Washington versus (7) Buffalo
Miller Time. Sabres in 7

(3) Boston versus (4) Pittsburgh
I hope going back on my pick doesn't bite me later, but the Pens will run out of steam Bruins in 5.

Conference Finals:

(3) Boston versus (7) Buffalo
Buffalo sports tradition is too much to overcome. Boston redeems itself for 2010. B's in 6.

Western Conference

(1) Vancouver versus (8) Chicago

Vancouver remembers Chicago very, very well. After getting knocked out by the defending Cup champs in the last two postseasons, the Canucks will have to keep the thoughts of failure out of their minds. Really, though, Chicago wasn't very good this year.
Nucks in 5.

(2) San Jose versus (7) Los Angeles

The Kings have done better than expected after the losses of leading scorers Kopitar and Williams. The idea that they have 98 points and are the SEVEN seed is outrageous. The number is getting higher and higher every year. San Jose hasn't yet faded away (I'm sure the time is coming) and should be able to withstand the challenge.
Sharks in 7.

(3) Detroit versus (6) Phoenix

Everyone's upset special. Whenever I pick the Wings, they lose. Whenever I don't, they win. Without Henrik Zetterberg, the task does become tougher. Goaltending is a question, for sure, but Howard is capable of stealing games (if needed). By the logic that I want them to lose...
Wings in 6

(4) Anaheim versus (5) Nashville

Unfortunately, this series won't be televised in the US, so unless you have Center Ice, you'll be following the box scores. This is is pitiful, for a major sports league like the NHL to not be able to show its fans every playoff game. It makes a mockery of the sport when College Basektball receives more exposure than the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Anyway, Anaheim's top line is scary good, and of all the teams the Avs played, I enjoyed watching the Ducks and the combination of Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, and Corey Perry the most. (Except for that Selanne hat trick and the otherwise humiliating final scores.) It's hard to imagine a team shutting them down over the course of a seven-game series. Notice I haven't talked about Nashville, yet. Exactly.
Ducks in 6

The Rest of the Way:

(1) Vancouver versus (4) Anaheim
Screw you, Vancouver. Ducks in 6.

(2) San Jose versus (3) Detroit
Very intriguing series, here. Goaltending questions abound. San Jose does it again. Sharks in 5.

Conference Finals:

(2) San Jose versus (4) Anaheim

Thornton still won't get to the Cup. The Ducks make an improbable run. Ducks in 6 (again).

Stanley Cup Finals

Boston Bruins versus Anaheim Ducks

Interestingly, and not necessarily accidentally, this is a rematch of my predicted 2010 Cup Final.

In picking this one, let's examine who we'd like to see get his first ring.

Oh, Saku Koivu? You win.

Ducks in 7.

No thanks to that Cake Eater, Banks.

With that, I again reiterate that I will likely be completely wrong. Perhaps we'll see a March Madness-like postseason, with Chicago meeting New York in the season finale.

Perhaps not.

To everyone: Enjoy the postseason.
178 days, Avalanche fans. 178 days.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Season Finale


And just like that, it's over.

Adam Foote's career. The Avalanche season. The four-game losing streak.

One way or another, it's coming to an end today.

3:00 PM ET. Edmonton.

The end of the NHL season is always surreal. It sucks when the time comes in early April. Not only does it make the offseason longer, but we watch the playoffs with the thought of "what if?" in the back of our minds.

What if Chris Stewart hadn't broken his hand in that fight?

What if Tomas Fleischmann and Peter Mueller hadn't suffered devastating injuries?

What if the defense wasn't made of glass?

What if Colby Cohen was given more of a chance?

What if Craig Anderson had signed that deal in the offseason?

The list of "what if?" questions goes on and on with this club this season, but luckily for management, a lot of this team's flaws are pretty clear.

Adding size to the wings, securing another top-4 defender, and finally bringing in a true #1 goalie will be the main priorities in the offseason. But there are a host of other questions:

Will Joe Sacco be back next year? Probably.

Will Matt Hunwick? Probably not.

Who will be the captain? Perhaps Liles or Hejduk or Stastny.

Can Tyson Barrie, Cameron Gaunce, or Stefan Elliott step up and join the big club? Hopefully.

Again, the list goes on and on.

For now, we celebrate Adam Foote's career in one final game in what has turned out to be a season from hell.

Cheers.

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Foote to Retire

What a nose
We all knew it was coming.

It'll be official on Sunday. (According to DP's Adrian Dater)

Another great Avalanche and NHL career coming to an end.

It's going to be one hell of a tribute video.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lake Erie to the Playoffs

Ben Walter

In what has been a terrific season for Colorado's affiliate club, the Lake Erie Monsters clinched their first ever playoff berth last night thanks to Hamilton's 2-1 victory over Abbotsford.

Even though the Avs will see their season end after a few more games, the Monsters may very well make some noise in the AHL Playoffs.

If you're planning to follow their progress, you'll want to bookmark Jori's Colorado Avalanche Prospects Blog. It's a must-read if you're interested in the next generation of Avalanche stars, and it's a site I check out every day.

Good luck to the Lake Erie!

Go Monsters

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