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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