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BSH Audition #2: NHL Playoffs Round 2 - Who's for real and who's not

on Thursday, April 28, 2011

ROUND 1 RECORD 7-1
The only series I got wrong was the Penguins. Way to go jerks, I pick you and you can't get it done. Figures. Now there was a difference in the amount of games for some of the series, but that's hard to project. Cut me a little slack.

Anyway...

Round 2 is where we're going to learn which teams are the real deal and which ones are a mirage. So let's take a look...

ROUND 2 PICKS

WESTERN CONFERENCE

#2 SAN JOSE SHARKS vs #3 DETROIT RED WINGS

Regular Season Series: Sharks Win 3-1

Scoring Advantage: Even

Defensive Advantage: Sharks

Power Play Advantage: Even

Penalty Kill Advantage: Red Wings

Goalie Advantage: Even (surprisingly)

X-Factor: Niemi

Top Playoff Scorers:

Detroit:

Datsyuk - 2G/4A 6pts/4gm +6

Filppula - 1G/4A - 5pts/4gm +5

Holmstrom 2G/2A - 4pts/4gm +4

San Jose:

Clowe - 4G/3A 7pts/6gm +2

Marleau - 2G/3A 5pts/6gm +2

Thornton - 2G/3A 5pts/6gm +1

Goalies:

Detroit: Howard 2.50 GAA 91.5 SV%

San Jose: Niemi 3.99 GAA 86.3 SV%

Well 1st off let me say this... the Sharks are NOT the Coyotes. Detroit will have a much, much harder time with San Jose than they had in Round 1 with Phoenix. The Coyotes were apparently too busy thinking how sharp they'll look wearing Winnipeg Jets uniforms next year and didn't bother to show up. San Jose will not make a similar mistake. This is a team that has great expectations this year after falling short the last couple in the playoffs.

The problem with that? They seem to always find a way to fail. This year? They got by with pretty bad goaltending from Niemi and still managed to advance. Niemi went from having a 2.38 GAA during the regular season to a 3.99 in Round 1. That's ugly. You can't get far in the postseason averaging practically 4 goals against. Even as a team the Sharks were averaging 3.33 goals against. Meanwhile Detroit averaged 4.5 goals for in Round 1 and Howard averaged 2.50 against. See where I'm going with this?

I want to take the Sharks, I really do, as I still have bitter memories of the Red Wings sweeping my Flyers in the Finals years ago. But, I've also learned to never discount Detroit either. I think they find ways to score on Niemi and Howard does just enough to help out with strong team D in front of him.

PICK: RED WINGS in 7

#1 VANCOUVER CANUCKS vs #5 NASHVILLE PREDATORS

Regular Season Series: Split 2-2

Scoring Advantage: Vancouver

Defensive Advantage: Even

Power Play Advantage: Vancouver

Penalty Kill Advantage: Even

Goalie Advantage: Nashville (you can argue with me about Luongo - I don't care)

X-Factor: Nashville's Top Defensive Pairing of Weber & Suter

Top Playoff Scorers:

Vancouver:

D.Sedin 5G/2A 7pts/7gm -2

Burrows 3G/3A 6pts/7gm +2

H. Sedin 0G/5A 5pts/7gm -4

Nashville:

Fisher 3G/3A 6pts/6gm +2

Tootoo 1G/4A 5pts/6gm +3

Weber 3G/2A 5pts/6gm +4

Goalies:

Vancouver: Luongo 2.97 GAA 90.3 SV%

Nashville: Rinne 3.29 GAA 87.6%

Yeah, yeah... I know... Vancouver is awesome. They led the league in goals per game, goals allowed and power play percentage. They even had those strange fans in green body suits. How can you top that right? 3 Names - Rinne, Weber and Suter. Bam. There you go.

I know the hot pick is to take Vancouver because of their impressive stats and the Sedin line. But look at those top performers. See a difference? Plus/minus. The Preds are so good defensively and in net. Yeah, Rinne had a pair of bad games in Round 1, but so did Luongo. And his were worse and he got benched for a game. If the Preds top defensive pairing can shut down the Sedin line, and I think they can, then it becomes about grit, depth and determination. Which is why...

PICK: PREDATORS in 7

EASTERN CONFERENCE

#1 WASHINGTON CAPITALS vs #6 TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Regular Season Series: Capitals win 4-2

Scoring Advantage: Lightning

Defensive Advantage: Capitals

Power Play Advantage: Lightning

Penalty Kill Advantage: Capitals

Goalie Advantage: Even

X-Factor: Neuvirth (is he for real?)

Top Playoff Scorers:

Washington:

Ovechkin 3G/3A 6pts/5gm -1

Green 1G/4A 5pts/5gms +3

Laich 0G/4A 5pts/5gms +2

Tampa:

St. Louis 4G/4A 8pts/7gm -3

Gagne 2G/5A 7pts/tgm +2

Downie 1G/6A 7pts/7gms +5

Goalies:

Washington: Neuvirth 1.38 GAA 94.6 SV%

Tampa: Roloson 1.77 GAA 94.9 SV%

Okay, I'm not breaking this one down. Just not. I feel that both these teams were EXTREMELY lucky to draw who they did in Round 1. That's not a slap in the face to the Pens and Rangers. I think they're both rugged, great defensive teams. But both because of injuries were crippled offensively. The Caps shut down what little offense the Rangers had and the Lightning eventually figured out how to shut down the "Other Guys" in Pittsburgh.

This could go either way with the biggest question mark being Neuvirth. Is he for real? I don't know yet after Round 1, but I think the Caps are just as good as Pittsburgh defensively and have more scoring punch. That's the only reason I say...

PICK: CAPS in 7

#2 PHILADELPHIA FLYERS vs #3 BOSTON BRUINS

Regular Season Series: Bruins Win 3-1

Scoring Advantage: Flyers

Defensive Advantage: Even

Power Play Advantage: Flyers

Penalty Kill Advantage: Even

Goalie Advantage: Bruins

X-Factor: Pronger

Top Playoff Scorers:

Philly:

Giroux 1G/8A 9pts/7gm +5

Briere 6G/1A 7pts/7gm -1

Richards 0G/5A 5pts/7gm +5

Boston:

Bergeron 2G/5A 7pts/7gm +5

Kelly 3G/3A 6pts/7gm +2

Peverley 1G/4A 5pts/7gms +2

Goalies:

Boucher 2.10 GAA 93.4 SV%

Thomas 2.25 GAA 92.6 SV%

These teams are a lot alike. Both are coming off Game 7s, both got taken the distance by lower seeded teams, both have good depth, both are very solid defensively. The 1st difference however, is where the Flyers boast 2 - 30+ goal scorers and 5 - 20+ goal scorers compared to 1 and 3 for Boston. Translation - the Flyers are much deeper on offense. Just ask the Sabres and Ryan "my vagina hurts" Miller. The Flyers just kept coming in waves as the series wore on with Buffalo and that's what eventually turned the tide and ultimately won them the series.

The 2nd and biggest difference is in net with Tim Thomas of the Bruins facing opposite Brian Boucher. Now the Buffalo press labeled the Flyers goalies the 3 Stooges with Boucher adding after Game 6 that he'd like to be Curly. So Curly can't stand with Thomas right? Well hold on. I'm not saying Boucher is as good as Thomas or even in the same zip code of goaltending prowess. But aside from Game 5 when he gave up 2 quick soft goals Boosh has been quietly good. Not great, but good and steady. If you asked anybody, would they say Boucher had a 2.10 GAA and 93.4 SV%? Somehow I doubt it. When I saw the stat I was even a little surprised.

So to put it simply Philly will wear on the Bruins over the course of the series like they did the Sabres. Nobody can match Philly's depth on offense with the playoff leading scorer (Giroux) and goal scorer (Briere) not to mention Richards, Hartnell, Leino, van Reimsdyk, Versteeg and Carter when he returns. If Boucher can stay calm, cool and consistent and Pronger can keep adding minutes after getting healthy from a hand injury the Flyers will have depth to burn, good defense with a dose of nastiness from Pronger, Mezaros and Coburn and solid goaltending.

Boston is still angry about losing to the Flyers last year after going up 3-0 in the series, blowing that 3 game lead, then going up 3-0 in Game 7 and blowing that to lose both the game and the series. Wow. I'd be pissed too. But I think the Montreal series with the Chara side story took a lot out of this team. They picked up some steam as the series went along, but they still looked spent at the end. Chara even fighting dehydration. Meanwhile the Flyers looked like the dominant team we saw for 95% of the year and still looked very fresh in Game 7 dominating Buffalo.

I think it will be a good, physical series, but I just don't see Boston outlasting Philly's depth. Thomas will help to extend the series, but I see it like this....

PICK: FLYERS in 6

So that's that. Let's see if I can improve on my 7-1 Round 1 record.

On to Round 2. May your playoff beards grow thick and scratchy. Well most of you are probably Pens fans*, so um, well... you had to shave anyway. That’s too bad.

*(This was true because of where I live)




This item was written by a member of this community and is not necessarily endorsed by <em>Broad Street Hockey</em>.

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