March 30, 2010

March 29, 2010

WRA 3/29 and playoff picture thoughts


1. San Jose (4.71): 1st +49
2. Buffalo (6.86): 3rd +25
3. Vancouver (7.86): 3rd +49
4. Chicago (9.14): 2nd +50
5. Detroit (9.71): 6th +10
6. Washington (10.86): 1st +78
7. Colorado (11.14): 8th +18
7. New Jersey (11.14): 4th +20
9. BOSTON (11.86):8th +2
9. Los Angeles (11.86): 7th +17
11. Philadelphia (12.00): 6th +11
12. Phoenix (12.57): 4th +23
13. Montreal (13.00): 7th -4
14. St. Louis (14.14): 10th -2
15. Pittsburgh (14.29): 2nd +20
16. NY Rangers (14.71): 10th -6
17. Calgary (16.00): 9th +1
18. Anaheim (16.43): 12th -18
19. Minnesota (17.00): 13th -19
20. Atlanta (17.14): 9th -13
21. Nashville (17.57):5th +1
21. Dallas (17.57): 11th -20
23. Ottawa (17.71): 5th -11
24. Tampa Bay (20.43): 12th -40
25. Columbus (20.57): 14th -39
26. Carolina (20.71): 14th -29
27. Florida (21.29): 13th -24
28. NY Islanders (25.14): 11th -36
29. Toronto (27.00): 15th -48
30. Edmonton (27.57): 15th -65

With a few good games under their belt the Bruins have moved up in these stats and solidified their hold on a playoff spot. They have two games in hand on Montreal and Philadelphia, who are both 2 points ahead. If I were them, I'd aim for the 7th seed. In between the somewhat lopsided but still terrifying Washington and the underrated balance of Buffalo is Pittsburgh- glorious, overhyped Pittsburgh. Yes, they're plus-20 and currently hold the second seed in the East, but their numbers don't scare me. They're 5th in goals for and PK, but 20th in goals against, 23rd in SV%, and only 22nd in PP. Sure, Fleury can make a huge difference if he picks up his game in the postseason, but I don't see him saving this team. Despite what NBC might tell you, Pittsburgh won't go very far this year.

Detroit has made a startling turnaround in nearly every category. Their special teams have improved steadily for months, while their offensive production caught on fire in the past few weeks. Additionally, their 26 year old rookie goaltender Jimmy Howard has a .926 SV% (it's been above .920 since January). Suddenly this mediocre team has turned into a well-oiled, well-balanced machine again. As it stands right now they'd face Vancouver, and I'm looking forward to that. I'd love to see a Canucks/Red Wings playoff game that ends after only one or two overtimes.

A few more thoughts and interesting stats:
  • Look out for San Jose! It's their year!!!1!
  • I see a Buffalo/Washington Eastern Conference Final. Buffalo intimidates me with their skill and hippy goaltender, but they're not a very physical team and I'm not sure how their game will translate into the playoffs. Washington is kamikaze. It'll either work or not work, but no matter what it'll be entertaining.
  • How in god's name is Ottawa doing as well as they are?! Only their PK is above average (5th). They're mediocre to bad in literally everything else. Basically, they've won games without the ability to score more goals than their opponent. I don't understand. Whoever gets them in the first round is basically getting a bye. Nashville is similar, though not quite as bad.
  • Chicago is 27th in SV%. Huet has been terrible and Niemi decent-ish. The Blackhawks do a good job of shielding this weakness (fewest shots against/game in the league), and Detroit won the Cup without standout goaltending, but this isn't Chris Osgood-level mediocre goaltending. This is bad goaltending, and I think it could hurt them a lot in the postseason.
  • Colorado and Montreal are the opposite of Chicago- they let up too many shots and rely too heavily on their goalies. However, Colorado can actually score goals, while Montreal can't.
  • Phoenix has 17 OT wins, 12 in the shootout. I'll figure out a way to relate this to my conspiracy theory about the Coyotes. I'm suspicious about a team owned by the NHL doing as well as Phoenix is doing, especially since they haven't had a history of doing particularly well. Sure, it may just be a coincidence, but between my obsession with numbers and my proneness to paranoia, I'm basically the John Nash of Bruins fans. I'll stick with the conspiracy explanation.
  • My god, are Edmonton and Toronto bad.
Let's hope the Bruins put on a good show against Buffalo tonight. They need to.

March 19, 2010

WRA 3/18

The Bruins can't play consistently enough for me to have an opinion about them anymore. It doesn't even seem worth it to hate them right now. Here are some numbers.

1. San Jose (4.43)
2. Chicago (7.29)
3. Vancouver (7.57)
4. Colorado (7.86)
5. Buffalo (9.29)
6. Washington (10.14)
7. Philadelphia (10.57)
8. Detroit (10.86)
9. Los Angeles (11.43)
10. Montreal (11.57)
11. New Jersey (11.71)
12. Phoenix (13.29)
13. BOSTON (13.43)
14. St. Louis (14.14)
15. Pittsburgh (14.86)
16. Calgary (15.14)
17. NY Rangers (16.00)
18. Anaheim (16.71)
19. Nashville (17.14)
20. Minnesota (17.29)
21. Atlanta (19.00)
22. Dallas (19.29)
23. Carolina (19.86)
23. Ottawa (19.86)
25. Tampta Bay (20.29)
26. Florida (21.14)
27. Columbus (21.43)
28. NY Islanders (24.00)
29. Toronto (26.57)
30. Edmonton (27.29)

Despite the large time gap between stats (sorry), there are surprisingly few big changes in the stats. Carolina has continued their ascent from the land of the terrible to the land of the mediocre non-threats. Detroit has shot up 7 slots, due in large part to offense. They went from 24th in goals for to 16th in goals for in about a month. Their special teams play also improved.

None of the Bruins' stats changed dramatically. Their powerplay went from 15th to 20th, which is something, but nothing else changed much for them. The penalty kill is first in the league. Whoop-de-freakin'-doo. They'd better win this weekend.


March 12, 2010

That's More Like It

Last night the Black & Gold took down the Flyers with an end result of 5-1. Not only did this win reward the Bruins with 2 (much needed) points, but the Bruins can rebuild (hopefully) and find themselves within this victory. Here are a few things I took from last night's contest.

1. Mark Stuart impressed me. (For once.) But seriously, Stuart definitely showed what it means to be a Bruin. He was gritty, he was tough, and he stood up for himself as well as his team. He made minimal mistakes and played his game well. (However, I must add one mistake he made was the turnover off his attempt to clear the puck during a penalty kill. This lead to red-hot Jeff Carter's second period goal) Oh well, it happens. All in all, Stuart provided the strength and courage the B's have been lacking since the Winter Classic.

2. Tuukka was incredible. His saves last night were nothing short of magnificent. Having not played since March 2nd, Tuukka shined last night. Before the Olympic break, this 23 year old Finnish wonder showed Bruins fans that they had reason to believe in the team. Last night, Tuukka made 31 saves; some being slightly 'unorthadox' which leads me to believe he's been watching Timmy.

3. Offense. 5 goals. Finally, some pucks made their way into the net. With goals from Wheeler, Krejci, Bergeron, Recchi and Sturm it made me realize that the pieces are all there. I was so angered by Chiarelli's decision to stand pat and not acquire much needed forward. But I'm beginning to realize that we have the talent, we just need the results. And hopefully they come. Not to mention, without Savard, Bergeron is going to have to carry the offense into a playoff berth.

4. Seidenberg. The newest addition to the squad definitely proved his worth last night. He seemed to find some chemistry with his new team, which is definitely a good sign. The defense, with the exception of a certain someone *cough*Wideman*cough*, has looked good all season. Hunwick also made some great plays last night. And as usual, Boychuk continued to prove why he's made the big team.

Tomorrow night the Bruins face their arch nemesis. Behind enemy lines, in Montreal. The Bruins NEED to steal these points from the Habs. Right now, the Canadiens have 74points, so with a win the 8th place Bruins would leapfrog into 6th; having played less games than both the Habs, and also 7th place Flyers. Should be a good weekend of hockey!

March 11, 2010

Tonight's Importance and the Unsolved Mystery of the Third Period

First off, tonight our Black and Gold failures are matched up against the Broadstreet Bullies. In the past 10 games, the Philadelphia Flyers are a strong 7-2-1. The B's, on the otherhand, are 6-2-2. Mediocrity at best. Not to be dramatic, but this is crunch time. This is it. If the Bruins want to continue playing 40 minute games, and slowly getting by on the single point of an OT loss, then they will be hitting the links in April. This is NOT what we want. I repeat, this is NOT what we want.

Secondly, the Bruins need to be informed of the 20 minute phenomenon known as..The Third Period. Yes, its true folks. The Third Period really IS part of a hockey game and it is pretty damn important. I'm not sure if the B's invitation to the Third Period have been continuously lost in the mail, or what. All I know, is that in tonight's game, the Third Period is crucial. The Bruins better show up. They desperately need these 2 points; and shouldn't even be allowing other Eastern Conference teams to get a single point. This means, the Bruins need a strong SIXTY minutes of hockey and to win in...*gasp*...REGULATION.

Or else, like I have said time and time again, if the Bruins fail to make the playoffs this year, I will be trading in my season tickets and using that money to purchase a plot of land on which I will be raising goats. Why? Because goats don't get my hopes up and goats don't tease me with the dream of someday winning a 34.5lb chalice of silver by the name of Stanley.

Eastern Conference as of 3/11/10


1 Washington Capitals SE 67 45 13 9 99 264 189 +75
2 Pittsburgh Penguins ATL 66 40 22 4 84 211 189 +22
3 Buffalo Sabres NE 65 36 20 9 81 179 164 +15
4 New Jersey Devils ATL 65 39 23 3 81 175 157 +18
5 Ottawa Senators NE 67 37 25 5 79 185 190 -5
6 Philadelphia Flyers ATL 65 35 26 4 74 198 175 +23
7 Montréal Canadiens NE 68 33 29 6 72 183 188 -5
8 Boston Bruins NE 65 29 24 12 70 160 168 -8
9 New York Rangers ATL 67 29 29 9 67 173 185 -12
10 Atlanta Thrashers SE 65 28 27 10 66 195 211 -16
11 Tampa Bay Lightning SE 65 27 27 11 65 175 201 -26
12 Florida Panthers SE 65 27 28 10 64 171 188 -17
13 Carolina Hurricanes SE 66 27 31 8 62 185 204 -19
14 New York Islanders ATL 66 26 32 8 60 171 209 -38
15 Toronto Maple Leafs NE 66 21 33 12 54 172 223 -51

Is Dennis Wideman actually Hal Gil?

Barstool Sports thinks Dennis Wideman is the new Hal Gill.
Let's look at the evidence.

Here we see Hal Gill in his natural state: stupefied.

And Dennis Wideman in his: terrified.

Here are their statistics with Boston.
Gill (8 seasons): 20-77-97 with 588 PIM in 626 GP (+41)
Wideman (almost 4 seasons): 30-80-120 with 157 PIM in 239 GP (+23)

Wideman has much better offensive numbers, but that's not particularly impressive. The only Boston players who get more time on the powerplay each game are Marc Savard and Zdeno Chara. He has 2 goals and 9 assists in that time, which accounts for more than half his total points. Hal Gill, on the other hand, has actually never scored a power play goal . They're both middle of the line on the penalty kill, and both play a lot of time for their teams (Gill leads Montreal in PK time; Wides is 2nd for the Bruins).

The main thing these players have in common is their commitment to going past simple medioctriy on defense. They are often a genuine liability to their team. For example, in game 5 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals, Hal Gill hit fellow Penguin Ryan Malone in the face with a slapshot when Malone had already broken his nose in game 1. Malone returned, but looked like a character from Lord of the Rings.
On the topic of directly causing their teammates bodily harm, Wides broke Patrice Bergeron's thumb with a shot in MSG earlier this season. Since Paula and I had made the trip all the way down to New York to see the Bruins play, we were pretty angry about Patrice's game being cut in half. And also about the two weeks that he would spend out of the lineup, all because of Wideman.

The mistakes they both make are noticeable and therefore memorable, and over time Bruins fans learned to spot their failures a mile away. While this isn't an easy position to be in, Gill was never smart enough, and Wides may never be level-headed enough, to play their way out of that doghouse. They both seemed destined to fill the same role.

However, I don't think Wideman is the new Hal Gill.

If there's one major difference between the two, it's that Wideman can be better. Last year he was confident with the puck, jumped up effectively into the play, and rarely made horrendous defensive zone mistakes. As his year goes downhill, however, that season seems like more and more of an anomaly, rather than his "true potential". He's had only short stretches of mild confidence, and right now he's awful. Wides is running out of chances to show he can be the kind of steady defenseman that doesn't frighten our goaltenders. If he can pull it off, he has a chance at redemption. If he doesn't, which is the far more likely option, then he won't become Hal Gill. He'll be worse than Gill, because he could have been better.

March 1, 2010

Of course it was Crosby.

Well, the USA gave it a hell of a run. It was suprising to many how well this "underdog" team did in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Was I suprised? No. From the first game against the Swiss, I noticed how much spunk and energy the team had, and how explosive they were. Fueled by youth and the desire to win, this team flat out dominated throughout the tournament.
It was amazing to see the USA fight their way into overtime after being down by two. But in the end, it was the fairytale ending that the entire country of Canada had hoped for. The hero that is Sidney Crosby, won it in overtime. Of course he did. As far as Crosby goes, I always say I hate him. But to be brutally honest, how can I? It's bitterness, not hate. Bitter of the fact that the Bruins will probably never, ever have someone like this on their team. Mostly because of that fact that the Sidney Crosbys, Wayne Gretzkys, of the world, are extremely rare. I can complain about Crosby complaining, I can whine about him whining. But when the puck is on his stick, I have to admire him. How can I not respect him? At the same age as me, 22, he has already won a World Junior Championship, a Stanley Cup, and now, an Olympic Gold Medal. The Kid must be doing something right.
I'm shocked I just admitted that I truly don't despise Sidney Crosby. Thankfully, the Bruins hit the ice tomorrow night against their arch nemesis. Hopefully the recent-Olympians can play for the Bruins as they played for their country- with some heart.