Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 2 Preview

Stanley Cup Round 2 Preview

The opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs are in the books. Holy cow, what a round… No series got to the seven game plateau we all love as fans of this great sport, however we were blessed with 18 heart trembling games that were decided in extra time. The storylines as a whole, made this one of the memorable first rounds in recent memory.  The Caps continued their role as favorite stumbling a bit out of the gates. Smashville turning heads with a sweep of Hawks. Bruce “The King of the Reggy Season” Boudreau lived up to his name getting that tee time in early April that he has been accustomed to. Calgary losing to the Ducks by one goal in every game (excluding game 4 empty net) off bounces that could have gone either way.

Now let’s move on. The compact TV schedule and late ridiculous start times hopefully are gone. We are able to focus on fewer games, players have more fulfilled facial hair and are playing through injury. The Dad’s fired up the grill in the culdesac, discussed their thoughts and predictions over a few cocktails, bringing in Schuby, B-Man and Dad Powers in scribe.

Western Conference

St.Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators

Powers:  What a first round performance from both of theses teams, Smashville just bitched slap Chicago out of the gates and the Hawks couldn’t recover. No one told the Wild, that Jake Allen of the Blues was going to see beach balls…Geographically around four hours apart, this matchup is intriguing on so many levels. Both were on the books as underdogs in the first round and took the series with a sweep and the other in five. Pekka and Allen could continue to be a dominate factor in this series, but if we were to call that matchup up even… it comes down to a team like NSH, with speed and playmakers versus a team of nasty big D and Forwards that can wear you down on the forecheck in STL. I like the depth of The Lou with Statsny back in the fold, Tarasenko having a bigger series and Pietrangelo to continue to be the best Defenseman. Regardless this matchup, at both sites will be rocking, I’ll be in Smashville this weekend cheering on The Note, wearing my fresh new Blues hat.

Blues win the series 4-3.

Schuby:  This is a series that I did not see coming.  I had Minny and Chicago advancing, which is why I’m having a tough time predicting this one.  Is Nashville this good, or was Chicago ready to hit the links?  Is St. Louis this good, or is Boudreau simply a cursed man.  Goaltending play was big for both teams in the opening round wins, and I expect that trend to continue.  After the up and down play all season, nobody could have seen what Allen and Rinne did coming.  Both were unbelievable and probably each respective team’s MVP for that opening round.  Both teams were phenomenal on the road, which is why I place very little stock in the Blues having home ice advantage.  Nashville had some role players step up and play big minutes against the Hawks.  It will be interesting to see if they can do it again.  Both teams like to roll 4 lines so I don’t see depth as much of an advantage to either side.  St. Louis will need to stay out of the box.  The Pred’s power play is clicking and could be a deciding factor in this series. As much as I would love to pick my hometown Blues, Nashville has too much mojo right now.  It should be a great series and I can’t wait for it to get started!

-Predators in 7

B-Man: Predators Blues, this is not the matchup I was expecting in the second round but it should be a good one. Although most are expecting this one to be a low scoring battle between the goaltenders I am predicting that we see a decent number of goals in this one. To me this series will come down to which teams superstars can produce. The top line of the Preds had a huge series against the Hawks and I am looking for them to keep it rolling.
-Preds in 6

 

Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

Powers:  Well, I didn’t get my battle of Alberta like I have was hoping for. Oh jeeze, we have the next decade to see that. Edmonton looks fast, Anaheim looks seasoned. I think the notion of experience wins in this NHL, is as relevant as Dad saying, sitting too close to the TV causes you to go blind. The Young kids don’t give a shit…. Duh, they’re millennials. Edmonton won without McJesus as their best player. Look for him to step up and be that X-factor. I don’t know but does Anaheim flying back n forth to Alberta at the elevation make a difference, especially in a hostile environment? Contradicting my prediction, the Ducks haven’t lost since April 1st in the Regular season, Contradicting the Contradiction of that last HOT TAKE.. that lost was against Edmonton… Anaheim has won 8 of 9 including playoffs but don’t forget, six of those wins came against Calgary including the regular season, so a 4-0 sweep against a team they were clearly better than. I believe the Oilers were 4-2 against the Ducks this season. So i’ll take them 4-2

-Oilers win 4-2.

Schuby:  I picked the Sharks to advance to the second round, with experience being one of my main reasons.  The Oilers clearly used my prediction as bulletin board material because they looked scary good.  Take away that 7-0 trouncing in game 4, Edmonton was a step above the Sharks in just about every facet.  If experience isn’t going to be a difference maker for the Ducks, I think home ice will be.  These playoffs have proven that home ice might not be that big of an advantage, but as these playoffs continue on and bodies continue to get sore, nothing beats a good night sleep in your own bed.  The travel distance in this series is an interesting aspect to keep in consideration.  Edmonton proved in this last series that they can win in California, but Anaheim also proved they can win in Alberta.  The Oilers are going to be good for many years to come, but I don’t think this is their year.

  • Anaheim in 7

B-Man: I was really hoping this would be an all California battle but the Oilers were too much forthe Sharks to handle. With both Marleau and Thornton set for free agency it is likely that we will never see this Sharks squad again. Shout out to Big Joe for playing with a ripped up knee, guy is a beast. Although I expect the Oilers to be a contender for years to come I am taking Anaheim in this one. The veterans on Anaheim look poised for another cup run and they are well rested after sweeping in round one. Oilers are gaining some much needed experience, seeyou back here next year McDavid but this year you will be paying your dues.
– Anaheim in 6

Eastern Conference

Ottawa Senators vs. New York Rangers

Powers:  Probably the least attractive matchup for the casual fan, but Dad isn’t a casual fan… he’s an elite hockey mind. I had Ottawa in the Eastern conference finals to start with, so I cannot go back (you know ego stuff) because that’s not what a Dad does. With that said, The Blue Shirts looked sharp. King Henrik continues to show the world that his stellar play matches with his stellar looks. This might be a series with 3-4 #Bucciovertimechallenge at least. I look for the difference of Erik Karlsson, even with a broken foot and Robert Stevenson aka Bobby Ryan to be enough. Ottawa is 2-1 head-2-head this season. Best of luck to Minnesota born Brady Skjei, Derek Stepan, and Captain Ryan McDonagh, pulling for ya. I will not go back on my prediction…. Nope.

-Sens 4-2.

Schuby:  I pegged Ottawa all wrong.  My perception of the Sens was that they were a boring team built on structure.  But after watching all of those stretch passes and the way they forechecked in the offensive zone in their series against Boston, I am convinced that this is a sneaky, very exciting team.  The Rangers also proved that they are highly skilled team with their first round win over the Habs.  I think this could be a very exciting series to watch.  Goalie is a question mark for me with the Sens.  Anderson held up against Boston, but the Bruins didn’t generate as many chances as I see the Rangers doing.  And after the performance the King put on against the Habs, how could you bet against him?  

  • Rangers in 6.

B-Man: I guess the Senators are the real deal eh? But I have to pick the Minnesota riddled roster of the NYR to win this one. With the most important player on the Senators, Erik Karlsson playing injured, I just don’t see them generating enough offense to beat the Rangers. The Rangers have been here before and with the leadership of McDonagh, The King, and Ricks Nash look for them to again advance to the Conference Fianals.
-Rangers in 6

Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Powers:  WE GOT IT!!! The matchup we’ve all been waiting for… Pitt looked good and Washington looked shaky at times. I think debate on Crosby vs. Ovy is caput. Crosby two Stanley Cups and a couple of Golds… it’s over fans. I am now pulling for Ovy to finally get a Cup, he deserves it, playing both sides of the puck, smashing bodies. But… Pitt looked good against a better team and goalie. I love the storyline of Hill Murray’s Jake Guentzel having success with Crosby. Malkin being Gino, Fleury back in net. Kessel mixing in a few diet soda’s.. the list goes on for the Pens. I’m not rooting for any team here, I just hope it goes seven games. Best of Luck to Oshie and Carter Rowney Sioux Alum. I just think Pitt has a slight edge.

-Pens 4-3.

Schuby:  Like you said Powers, the Pens looked better against a better team and goaltender.  The Leafs are no slouches, and I think they are destined for a cup appearance in the near future (against the also young and talented Oilers), but they had no business giving the Capitals as many fits as they did.  This series is going to get all of the hype because of its history and it’s superstar players, but I see this one coming down to the 3rd and 4th lines.  Each team is going to scheme to shut down the offensive weapons from both sides.  Whichever team can get that depth scoring is going to be the difference.  It would be nice to see the Capitals break through one of these years, but Barry Trotz seems to have a bit of Bruce Boudreau syndrome dating back to his time in Nashville.  I think this year is the best chance the Caps have ever had at hoisting the cup. The only problem is that the Penguins stand in their way…

Pittsburgh in 6

B-Man: Tough to expand upon what the other two dads wrote about this one but i’ll do my best. In my eyes we saw a team in the Maple Leafs who will be in the playoffs for many years to come. I predict a Maple Leafs vs Oilers final in 2019, you heard it hear first. As for the Penguins Capitals matchup I agree with the dads, I am ready to see Ovi have success and finally make a cup run, but it won’t be easy. The Penguins looked great in the first round and the Caps were given a real scare by the young Leafs. If this one doesn’t go seven games we will all have been robbed. Flip a coin, heads the Caps win, tails the Pens win.
-Capitals in 7

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Why Bobrovsky should have your Hart

Why Bobrovsky has should have your Heart

By Dad Powers

Sergei Bobrovsky is my Hart Memorial Award Winner for the 2016-17 NHL season.

Not many tenders have taken home the Hart Trophy for the League’s MVP. As a matter of fact, Scary Carey Price (’15) Jose Theodore (’02) and the “Dominator” Domik Hasek, a two-time winner in back to back seasons (’97-’98) have won the leagues Most Valuable player since Jacques Plante took home the hardware in 1962.

They should just change the award to the Wayne Gretzky. Lets be honest, who the hell really knows who Dr. David Hart was. Gretzky has won the award nine times including eight consecutive years, but that’s a discussion for a different day.

The NHL has changed in recent years, goalies are bigger, faster and more athletic than its equally whack-job brotherhood. Instead of comparing Bobs season from the helmetless nut-job tenders of the early 60’s, Lets compare his stellar season to Scary Carey.

In 2015, Price had a remarkable year, and deserving of the Hart Trophy. Insane Save Percentage (.933) Goals Against (1.96) and a pleather of Wins (44). As Remarkable as a season it was, there’s other factors. Historically a player’s award, Price had to have such a crazy year just to be considered. Typically a 50-goal scorer or 100 point season from a Forward would have locked the award up. However, in the 2014-2015 season, the leading scorer had 87 points from Jamie Benn.. who finished with a four-point 82nd game, and 10 points in his last three games. That passed John Tavares and Sidney Crosby who entered game 82 tied for 83 points. Just to point out, Jamie Benn the league leader in points and his Dallas Stars did not make the playoffs that year. Lets be honest, how the hell can you be an MVP and not get into the post-season.

This year, like the 2014-15 season, it appears we will not be having a player hit the century mark in points or the coveted 50-goal plateau. It appears, Connor McDavid the current league leader in points, Sidney Crosby league leader in goals will be the biggest competition for Bob and his chances for the award. It’s possible Brad Marchand would get consideration from the voters, but that debate on what the MVP actually means… is another blog in itself. Maybe I will be pissed off enough to write about that when Bobs doesn’t win…

Below is a comparison from Carey Price’s Hart Winning season and Bobs current 2016-17 season at 75 games through the current campaign, with seven games remaining.

 

Carey Price 2014-15

GP: 66

44-16-6 .933% 1.96 GAA 9 SO

Sergei Bobrovsky 2016-17 (through 75 games)

GP:59

41-13-5 .935% 1.97 GAA 7 SO

Last year, Patrick Kane the leagues first ever U.S born Hart winner was as easy as it comes hitting 106 points, 17 points better than Jamie Benn, who oddly enough had two more points than his previous season, in which he was the aforementioned winner.

Bob is the league leader in Wins, with 41, and it’s not even close in GAA, SV%.

He has taken this team from allowing 248 goals a season ago, that was second worst in the league.. all the way to 170 goals against, which is second best in the league.

Columbus a season ago finished the season as the fourth worst team. NOW tied for second best in the NHL with Chicago. 78 pts to 105 pts with seven games left. That’s plus 27 thus far.

The Blue Jackets have only scored ten more goals than the previous campaign. Their goal differential has gone from -35 to a +63. Doing my University of North Dakota math, that’s winter versus that one day in summer.

Enough Said…

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Golfer’s Guide to Sandbagging

Golfer’s Guide to Sandbagging

-Dad Schuby

One of the great luxuries of being a teacher is that you get to enjoy your summer without the daily stress of students.  One of the pitfalls is that your cabbage crop is never very plentiful.  Teachers are constantly looking for ways to increase revenue.  The easiest solution is to pick up a second job for those student free months.  The line of work I decided to pursue was one in the golf industry as a lovely front desk worker.  Little did I know that this job would require me to become a meteorologist, equipment specialist and mind reader.  No, I do not know when the rain is going to stop.  Nobody has turned in your sand wedge.  And it is much easier for me to schedule a tee time when you tell me when you want to golf.  

Besides the occasional annoying customer, the job does come with some pretty sweet benefits.  Discounts on golf, gear and booze.  Unlimited range balls and first pick through the recycled balls found by our grounds crew.  My bag is stacked with Pro V1’s and Z-Stars as a result.  It hasn’t helped my game much, but golf is more about having sweet gear than it is shooting low. The biggest benefit though is all of the tips I have received from the regulars.  It is amazing just how many great, world class golfers there are at the club where I work.  Even as they are walking two fairways over to find their drive, they are gracious enough to give you some pointers.  Talk about class.  Perhaps the biggest lesson I have learned through my years at the front desk is the art of sandbagging.  Make no mistake: sandbagging IS an art.  I am here to share the wisdom I have picked up to help you become a world-class sandbagger at your club.

Step One – Become a decent golfer

In order to be a successful sandbagger, you need to be a decent golfer.  If you are not, you either need to begin practicing or look for a different career.

Step Two – Become a member at a golf course.

Most courses offer season passes and memberships.  One, if not both, of these are required in order to participate in that course’s Men’s Day (or Women’s Day. Ladies you can sandbag too!).  Make sure the course has a weekly league before signing up.  Otherwise, you are just wasting your time.  

Step Three – Get rid of your conscious

Great handicappers lost theirs a long time ago.  You need to follow suit.  What is more important anyways?  Playing with honor and dignity, or earning $10 in pro shop credit each week?  For a great sandbagger, it is always about that pro shop credit.   

Step Four – Establish your Handicap

Once you are a member, you will need to get a GHIN number and card.  This is where you post your scores to establish your handicap.  If you already have a handicap established, your path to becoming a sandbagger is a little tougher, but still possible.  It takes 10 posts to establish your first handicap.  This is where you need to be smart.  You do not want to post scores that are too low, but you also do not want to post scores that are too high.  If you are a 20+ handicap and start posting birdies on Men’s Day, that’s going to throw up some red flags.  Post the scores that are above your average, but not horrendous.  Avoid too many triple digits.  Also use the weather to your advantage.  Golf when the wind is howling.  There is nothing that helps a sandbagger more than a good excuse.  Once your handicap is established, you are ready to take Men’s Day by storm.

Step Five – Golf with other sandbaggers.

If you have buddies who sandbag, this step is easy.  If you don’t, finding a sandbagger or two at your club shouldn’t be difficult.  This is a key step though.  If you golf with someone who has a conscious, changing that 5 to a 4 becomes really challenging.  You need to make sure you golf with people who won’t question your score.  And remember, anything within 10 feet is a gimme.  

Step Six – Choose your words wisely.

When posting your scores on the Skins or Deuce pot sheet, make sure to tell the front desk person just how great your round was.  Use phrases like “That had to be the best round of my life” or “I couldn’t believe how hot my putter was today.”  You need to have a laundry list of comments on file because if you make the same ones every week, eventually people will catch on.  Make sure to tell as many people as you can about your great round, but don’t forget to talk about your bad rounds too.  You need to make it known that you are not a good golfer.  It is also important to talk in detail.  Make sure people know exactly how every shot went.  This increases the chances of them checking out on the conversation and makes them less likely to question you.  

A couple of other pieces of advice before you begin your journey:

  • Avoid tournaments.  Scores in tournaments are multiplied by 10, and thus all that hard work you put in to establish your above average handicap is wasted.
  • Mix in a few bad rounds.  Some weeks you might have to bite the bullet and not post any skins or deuces.  Better yet, avoid signing up occasionally.  Say you forgot your wallet or something.   
  • Establish a rotation with your fellow sandbaggers.  Nothing is sketchier than when groups of hacks all post great scores.

Hopefully you find these tips useful and you can have your greatest summer of sandbagging yet.  Remember, success is 90% preparation, 10% perspiration.  Happy Golf season!

 

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Expanding the NCAA Hockey Tourney

Expanding the NCAA Hockey Tournament

Culde Contributor Schuby

As I sat down this weekend to watch the only college basketball games I have watched all year, I caught myself wondering about how a larger men’s hockey tournament would work. In case you missed it, the selection show for men’s hockey was this weekend. Sixteen teams qualified for the tournament that begins this weekend. Besides the text conversation I had with my fellow Dad’s, there was very little coverage about this monumental event. You could argue that the lack of coverage was because college hockey is a niche sport that the common person cares very little about, but you would be wrong. Nobody cares about college basketball until those three weeks in March where everybody gets to give in to their gambling addiction. And most people stop caring after the first week once their bracket has been completely blown to hell. The reason we watch the basketball tournament is not so that we can see blue blood programs going head to head. We watch so we can see David take down goliath. Is a 16-team tournament, there is no David. Hockey is missing an opportunity to enhance its brand, which is solved by expanding its post-season tournament.

When I initially had this thought, I was picturing a 64-team bracket just as basketball has. The first issue with this is that hockey only has 60 teams, so in order to have a bracket of that size everybody would qualify for the post season. The 1 seeds would all get an automatic bye, and the rest of the tournament would play out just as the basketball tournament. The big issue with this format is that the competition would be very watered down, making the first round a waste of time. Nobody needs to watch 5-31-3 Niagara taking on Mass-Lowell. The next available option is to have a 32-team tournament. This allows half the field to qualify for the postseason and adds an additional round to the current format. The problem with this set up is organizing a tournament where it takes five games to win the Natty. Do spread it out over 3 weeks with the championship game standing by itself in the final week? Or do you keep the two week format and have teams play three games that first weekend? One game does not seem like enough, and three seems like too many. 32 teams also allows a team like 9-20-7 Miami to make the field. I’m sorry, but if you can’t scratch up 10 wins on the season you don’t deserve to play in the postseason. That is why the best solution is to increase the field to 24.

Under a 24-team tournament, the top 8 seeds get a bye. This rewards schools for having a solid regular season, keeping the regular season relevant. The other 16 qualifying schools face-off in a single elimination game at the higher seeds rink. Again, this places importance on the regular season and increases revenue as people are more likely to attend a game when it is being played in their own barn. Single elimination makes every game matter and gives Cinderella a fighting chance. Conference tournament champions still receive automatic bids.

Below is an image of what the tournament would look like. Reminder, the opening round is a 3-game series played at the higher seeds rink. The sweet 16 would be played at neutral sights, similar to how the tourney is currently operated. Teams are placed in the bracket according to their current Pairwise ranking. Conference champs are denoted with a star. Some changes were made in order to prevent schools from the same conference matching up in the first round and to get all conference champions into the field.

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In looking at my freshly made bracket, some matchups are really intriguing in the first round series. Michigan Tech vs Penn State in a matchup of conference champions (WCHA/Big Ten) could be one that definitely goes three games. St. Lawrence of the ECAC gets in the tourney and gets to show what they are made of against blue blood North Dakota. Two additional NCHC squads qualify in St. Cloud and Nebraska-Omaha, which gives that conference a chance to prove they are superior to any other. BC vs Wisconsin is also a great matchup of two teams that were left out of the tournament this year. Increasing the field creates the possibility of more chaos, which is what March is all about.

The beauty of the basketball tournament is that it gives those Cinderella schools a chance at the spotlight. Most of their stories end after the first weekend, but for that one week those kids and schools capture America’s attention. We need more madness in college hockey so people will finally appreciate it’s beauty. It is time to invite Cinderella to the hockey tournament to see how well that glass skate fits.

 

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The Road to the State Tourney 2017 Section 7AA Style

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The Road to the State Tourney 2017 Section 7AA Style

Dad Powers

Heading in to the Section 7AA finals at the Amsoil Arena in Duluth MN, after a whisky or three from the local Irish watering hole. I found myself back in time, reminiscing the glory days of high school puck, the smell of hotdogs, the beat of the band and the screams from student section. Walking into a sold out arena of students, peasants and press make this road to the state tourney all the more special.

Grand Rapids and Duluth East, a classic matchup in 7AA was all but guaranteed going into February. Grand Rapids upset the 4th ranked team in State, Elk River. As a 4 seed in the section, down one with little under 11 minuets left in the game, Rapids scored two goals in less than 15 seconds to tie it. Elk River then goes up 3-2 with less than four minuets in the game, normally deflating a team. “The Line” of senior captain Micah Miller, Gavin Hain (Jr.) and Blake McLaughlin (Jr.) took over once again, scoring two goals in less than a minute of being down, to take a 4-3 lead. “The line” had five of Rapids goals in the 3rd to upset Elk River 5-3.

Grand Rapids vs. Duluth East in the Section 7AA final went into double overtime. Both goalies stood on their heads, facing 95 shots combined. I cannot wait for those two tenders to cross paths in 10 years. I imagine the conversation starting off like “hey bud, remember when we stopped everything that night.” 

GR and East exchanged goals all night long, every goal Rapids buried, East had the answer. East had to minimized the aforementioned “The Line”.  These kids had to have played over 65-70% of the minutes against East. The biggest advantage Rapids had, besides the best overall line… TV timeouts. “The Line” could literally double shift because of the gap in play. All tied up 2-2 after regulation, the fans went to a whole different level. The Crowd buckled in, we all knew this might not end for awhile. The play began to get sloppy, passes and dump ins were soft. I was just waiting for some left wing parent to come down and demand to stop the game for some variation of Child Abuse. The second overtime coming to a close, Senior Captain Micah Miller had a one on one, along the left dot of East Tender, Kirk Meierhoff. Miller took his right handed white taped to the toe twiggy and fired across Meierhoff’s glove and went top cheds, back bar down. Straight to the Caution Orange Student Section jumping into the glass getting mobbed by teammates. It was all over…. Grand Rapids were section 7AA champs, heading down I-35 to St.Paul for a chance of immortality.

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