Thursday, April 22, 2010

Playoffs Notebook – 4/22/10

31a5779ddc4c30aa5cc759425e5673ad-getty-98075457rw007_capi_cana(Photo from Yahoo)

Series Standings…

Eastern Conference
Washington Capitals (#1) vs. Montreal Canadiens (#8) Capitals lead 3-1
New Jersey Devils (#2) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (#7) Flyers lead 3-1
Buffalo Sabres (#3) vs. Boston Bruins (#6) Bruins lead 3-1
Pittsburgh Penguins (#4) vs. Ottawa Senators (#5) Penguins lead 3-1
Western Conference
San Jose Sharks (#1) vs. Colorado Avalanche (#8) Tied 2-2
Chicago Blackhawks (#2) vs. Nashville Predators (#7) Nashville leads 2-1
Vancouver Canucks (#3) vs. Los Angeles Kings (#6) Tied 2-2
Phoenix Coyotes (#4) vs. Detroit Red Wings (#5) Tied 2-2

The Musings of a Caps Fan 1st round playoff predictions….

Eastern Conference
Washington Capitals in 5 Probable
New Jersey Devils in 7 Maybe, but Unlikely
Boston Bruins in 6 Possible
Pittsburgh Penguins in 7 Maybe, but Unlikely
Western Conference
San Jose Sharks in 5 Nope! Cannot Happen.
Chicago Blackhawks in 6 Unlikely, but Possible
Los Angeles Kings in 7 Possible
Detroit Red Wings in 6 Unlikely, but Possible

Doing pretty well, if I do say so myself. However, I might have guessed for some series to be longer than they actually will end up being; i.e. Pens in 7 and Devils in 7. The Pens can end the Senators’ playoffs tonight, and the Flyers can do the same for the Devils.

Looking at the series standings for the East, the next round will likely consist of Washington (#1) vs. Philadelphia (#7) and Pittsburgh (#4) vs. Boston (#6). Washington has gone 3-0-1 against Philadelphia this year, scoring 22 goals and giving up 13. Pittsburgh has gone 3-1-0 against Boston this year, scoring 11 goals and giving up 10. And that means….. Washington vs. Pittsburgh would then be the Eastern Conference Finals, should the Pens and Caps win their series. Wow. Does somebody plan this? Or is it destiny?

Series Notes (Other than Caps – Habs)

  • New Jersey Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers
    • This is predictable, but sad. The Flyers, somehow, have had the Devils’ number all year, with a 5-1 record against them. And this domination continues in the playoffs.
    • Backup-to-the-backup goalie Brian Boucher’s 1.98 GAA and .925 save percentage has stopped the Devils. Nobody expected that.
    • The Devils really should be doing better, but it doesn’t look like this is their year…. neither was last year.
    • Also, I don’t expect Ilya Kovalchuk to be a Devil next season; he doesn’t fit the system.
    • The only hope the Devils have now is the fact that Jeff Carter will be out for the rest of the series with a foot injury.
    • The Flyers look for the win, both in the game and the series, tonight.
  • Buffalo Sabres vs. Boston Bruins
    • The Sabres – Bruins series was supposed to be a low-scoring, goaltender-centric series, and it has not disappointed.
    • The Bruins, however, have come out on top, and are 1 win away from the next round, after last night’s double overtime 2-1 victory with the winner by Miroslav Satan.
    • Tuukka Rask as well as Ryan Miller have both been great.
  • Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators
    • I felt, going into this series, that Ottawa’s relatively potent offense would at least give the Penguins a challenge; hence, I predicted the Pens victory would take 7 games.
    • Marc-Andre Fleury, regardless of what anyone says, has not been fantastic so far in the playoffs, with a sub-.900 save percentage.
    • However, Brian Elliott and Pascal Leclaire have been worse, and the Pens have the series lead.
    • Also, this has just been a case of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin just pulling the team all by themselves; they’ve, combined, have had 8 goals, 8 assists, and 16 points through 4 games.
    • Those 8 goals are 47% of the Penguins’ postseason scoring.
  • San Jose Sharks vs. Colorado Avalanche
    • A stat; the Sharks have outshot the Avalanche 174 to 103 through 4 games. Wow.
    • The only reason the Sharks have not already advanced is Colorado goalie Craig Anderson, who has a .948 save percentage.
    • Anderson, in my opinion, is the only reason San Jose might not win this series; that, or they are just plain cursed.
    • Oh, Joe Thornton still can’t produce in the playoffs.
    • Make that the top line cannot produce; 0 goals and 4 assists in 4 games.
  • Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators
    • There are 2 options to why the ‘Hawks aren’t doing well: a) Nashville Goalie Pekka Rinne, & b) The Marian Hossa Curse.
    • Rinne has been stunning so far, with a .953 save percentage and a 1.35 GAA so far in the playoffs, both #1 in the NHL (by a decent margin; .005 on the SV% and .45 on the GAA).
    • For those who don’t know, the Marian Hossa Curse comes from the following information:
      • Marian Hossa was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2008 at the trade deadline.
      • He reached the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals with the Pens, only to see them lose to the Detroit Red Wings.
      • The following off season, he signed a 1-year deal with the Red Wings.
      • That season, the Red Wings reached the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals.
      • Only to lose to Hossa’s former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
      • (Additional Info, Unrelated) Marian Hossa then signed a 12-year deal with Chicago in the 2009 off season.
    • Is this 1-round choke by Chicago a product of the Hossa Curse?
  • Phoenix Coyotes vs. Detroit Red Wings
    • I honestly can’t say who will win this series. Detroit has had 2 great games and 2 less-than-great games. Phoenix is just cruising along.
    • I guess it will just come down to how many great games Detroit plays.

Capitals Update…

Here are the scores, by period, of the Capitals – Canadiens series;

Date Period Caps’ Goals Habs’ Goals Caps’ Shots Habs’ Shots
4-15 1st 1 1 (1 PP) 19 7
2nd 0 0 8 13
3rd 1 1 14 8
OT 0 1 6 10
4-17 1st 1 2 13 8
2nd 1 2 (1 PP) 10 10
3rd 3 1 13 6
OT 1 0 1 0
4-19 1st 0 0 7 10
2nd 4 (1 SH) 0 14 8
3rd 1 1 (1 PP) 15 9
4-21 1st 1 (1 PP) 1 9 12
2nd 1 (1 SH) 1 (1 PP) 9 21
3rd 4  (2 EN) 1 20 6
TOTALS 19 12 158 128
SV% Washington: .906 Montreal: .879
What can you say about this series? Not much. The Washington Capitals were pressured by Montreal in the first 6 periods of this series…. and responded quite nicely. After losing Game 1 3-2 in OT and being down 4-1 toward the end of the 2nd period of Game 2, the Caps have scored 16 goals, starting with Backstrom’s 1st goal in Game 2. Meanwhile, they’ve allowed a total of 5 goals since then. Of those 16 goals the Caps have scored, 1 has been a powerplay goal, 2 have been shorthanded goals (thanks to the Boyd Gordon – Mike Knuble PK duo), and 2 have been empty-netters. Very nice, and very balanced.
Some more thoughts…
  • Jaroslav Halak, after starting the series well, was ousted from the net in Game 3, and I feel as if he won’t be returning for Game 5.
  • The other Montreal goalie, Carey Price, was passable in relief of Halak in Game 3, but crumbled at the end of Game 4.
  • The Caps definitely got into Price’s head, evidenced by both unsportsmanlike conduct penalties Price took in the 3rd period of Game 4; the 1st was for shooting the puck toward a group of Capitals players celebrating Jason Chimera’s goal, and the 2nd was for whacking Nicklas Backstrom’s legs with his goalie stick following Backie’s empty net goal with 11 seconds left in Game 4.
  • Ovechkin is definitely in full force now after not having a single point or shot in Game 1. Since then, he has 4 goals and 4 assists.
  • I still marvel at how brilliant it was to sign Mike Knuble in the off season. Fantastic.
  • Finally, I want Knuble and Boyd Gordon to be on the ice for every shorthanded situation the Caps face in the playoffs. 2 shorthanded goals in 2 games!

That is all for now.

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