April 29, 2010

Stop Numero Dos of Playoff Debauchery

Well, this should be interesting. The faithful fans of the Black & Gold eagerly awaited the second round, expecting to see a matchup between the B's and Pittsburgh. Well, not so fast. Because Montreal pulled off a HUGE upset last night- stunning Team Ovechkin and knocking them into an early summer vacation. So now, the B's are set to take on the gritty, hardnosed (but mostly downright annoying) Flyers. Luckily, we have home advantage- so hopefully the B's can get a big win come Saturday's matinee at 12:30.

The Flyers are missing three important forwards- Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne and Ian Laperriere. The Bruins are welcoming back Savard. Don't get too excited yet folks because I have a feeling its going to take Savvy a bit of time to get back into the swing of things. He said so himself, that he doesn't expect himself to be an immediate hero. However, I think he's been itching to get back into the lineup and when he's motivated, he's successful.

That's all for now; I will add to this later after thoroughly analyzing the Flyers.

See Ya

Can't spell OVECHKIN without CHOKE. Choked by the Habs. Choked in the Olympics. Lucky for Ovie, he'll get another shot with team Russia in the World Championships. haha. Peace out, bro.

April 27, 2010

And after 22 years...

I watch Ray win the Cup at least once a week and get weepy every time, so it's no big shock that this commercial makes me bawl my eyes out.

April 23, 2010

2010 Playoffs: WTF?

Nevermind the Bizarro Bruins- we'll get to them in another post. What the hell is going on in the rest of the playoffs?

I'm not saying that I'm an all-knowing and infallible playoff picker, but in the past I've always been damn good at it. Usually I only get a few series wrong throughout the entire playoffs. Technically I've only gotten one wrong so far, but many series in this first round are on the verge of embarrassing me further.

Let's first look at the series I got dead wrong: Philly and New Jersey. I thought that it would be a close series that could potentially go either way, but in the end said Devils over Flyers in 7 games. This was because I value goaltending over scoring in the playoffs, at least when the matchup is close. Of course, in order for my prediction to be true, New Jersey would have to actually get good goaltending, and that didn't happen. Brodeur allowed 15 goals in 5 games and managed a measley .881 SV%, despite facing the fewest shots against per game in the playoffs. Philadelphia, on the other hand, held up their end of the bargain (despite, I suppose, getting the fewest shots FOR per game in the playoffs). Basically, Brodeur shit the bed. Worse than that, he made me look bad. Worse still than that, he was nominated for the Vezina over Tuukka.

Sidetrack: WTF NHL? I understand not giving Tuukka the Vezina. Ryan Miller should win it. But he had the best goaltending numbers in the league- how could you not nominate him? And how in god's name did you pass him over for the Calder? And why isn't Patrice up for the Selke? Even the Wreck doesn't agree with that last one.

I was confident that Chicago would completely whoop Nashville's ass, potentially even sweeping them. The series is now tied at 2, which isn't a total disaster, but it's not what it should be. Chicago played more like themselves in Game 4, but before that they were genuinely being dominated by the Preds. The only explanation I can offer is that they weren't playing very well, which isn't particularly enlightening. I also sold Nashville short. They defied predictions with relentless effort, likely throwing the Blackhawks off their game. I still believe Chicago will recover, and Nashville may have won its last game, but you have to commend them.

I suppose "WTF?" was an overreaction, as those are really the only two series that have gone strangely (besides the obvious). I'm looking forward to the conclusion of the first round, and the start of the second.

April 22, 2010

Miro the Hero; B's Lead Series 3-1

I am still in shock from the show the B's put on last night. In a good way. After a painful first half of the game, the B's rallied in the 3rd to tie it up to send the game into 2 OT. The Sabres came out hard from the start of the game, and scored a goal within the first 3 minutes. Woops. Then again in the 2nd period. It wasn't until the 3rd period that the Black & Gold started moving their legs. Better late than never, right?

During the overtime period(s), the Garden was ROCKING. At least I think it was. Everything felt like a dream to me. There was this looming cloud over my head the entire time that wouldn't evaporate until Satan scored the game winner. Every time the puck would cross the blue line into the B's zone, I would twist and mangle my rally towel because I was sure that the Sabres would get a lucky bounce, and break my heart. Throughout the game, we kept thinking...the B's can do this- IF this happens, or IF that happens; IF they do this; IF they can do that. They answered all our "ifs". And they answered them with confidence.

Tuukka was nothing short of brilliant. Which doesn't even come to a surprise to me at this point. So resilient; so calm. Although, he did made an epic, diving, mid air save- a la Timmy, to rob Grier. This whole series I have been torn between who has got the better goaltender. I've got to hand it to Miller- he makes it VERY difficult for anyone to score. He makes timely saves and makes it seem like the B's don't stand a chance. Even after being momentarily crippled by a Lucic shot, he continued to make save after save. The goaltending in these series is downright breathtaking- as I have been literally holding my breath. But...what Tuukka has that Miller doesn't, is his calm and cool demeanor. Tuukka is so poised and almost always in position; at least last night he was. He's always ready. He let in two goals; and then turns into the Great Wall..of..Finland. Miller on the other hand, although having his moments of resilience, does get rattled. He was out of position during that penalty, when the B's won the game; and Satan knew it.

Last night was amazing. It showed those who had lost hope that the B's CAN and WILL do what it takes to win. They haven't scored first in this entire series- but with a young, relaxed goaltender; worried, yet redeeming defenseman (And a 6'9 monster wearing a cage), mismatched lines of hungry forwards, and maybe a hint of luck; the B's are now one win away from receiving a ticket to round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

April 19, 2010

Game 3 Tonight

In a stunning game 2 in Buffalo, the B's managed to tie up the series. Tonight's game is at the Garden; and Me, Tizzle and Bear Hat are sure to be in attendance. Not much more I can say about Game 3- still think its going to be a tight game.

I can't wait to feel that playoff-hockey meets drunk-Bostonians-on-marathon-monday atmoshphere. And its Tizzle's 21st. And Savard is closer to returning as he feels "unbelievable" and has to pass a neuropsych test in order to be cleared to return as soon as later in these series! And, Vanek won't play tonight with a high ankle sprain. So, its fair to say the stars are aligned, my friends. LET'S GO BRUINS.

April 16, 2010

Sabres Lead Series 1-0

Buffalo ended up winning Game 1 with the final score being 2-1. But the B's can take a lot of positives out of the loss. They played a great 2nd period. They figured out that the way to get shots by Miller is to create traffic in front of the net and just (try to) overwhelm him with shots. Miller was on top of his game last night, as expected. He stopped 38 of the B's 39 shots on net. 23 of those saves came in the 2nd period. Not to overshadow Tuukka though- as he stopped 30 of the Sabres 32 shots.
Both goals for the Sabres (scored by Vanek and Rivet) as I saw them, were caused because of mistakes made by B's defensemen. Luckily, those can be corrected. I hope.

Anddddd..That's where my objectivity stops. Now, its time for the rant. Who were those refs last night? I'm not even going to take the time to look it up, because I don't even care. They were ridiculously inconsistent. Whatever. I'd like to personally thank the Sabres star divers- mainely Kaleta. Because you've successfully managed to piss Lucic off. And that only gives us the advantage. So keep on divin' and you'll be swimming in a pool. Of your own blood.


April 15, 2010

First Round Predictions

Here are my 2010 playoff predictions! As I said in my last post, I very rationally picked Buffalo over Boston in 7. Bear Hat, however, picked ACTIVATE. So it all cancels out.

Washington isn't as solid as they appear, as they're dangerously offense-heavy. Can they overcome Jaroslav Halak and his .924 save%? Yes. Montreal appears to be better defensively, but it's all smoke and goaltending. They let up more shots per game than Washington (and most other teams in the league). They can't score at even strength, and while the Caps don't have a very good PK, they're the one team that had a better powerplay than the Habs.
WASHINGTON in 5: The Habs have an advantage in nothing.

Philadelphia isn't all bad. They don't have goaltending (due to injuries and general lack of stopping the puck) and therefore allow more goals, but when it come to the Devils, who doesn't? The Flyers score more, have better special teams, and are much, much more physical (league leading 80 majors this year). New Jersey is a better team, but not insurmountably so, especially given the difference in style of play. Basically it's goaltending vs scoring and being a huge steaming pile of douche, as Briere, Hartnell, Carcillo and Pronger are wont to do.
NEW JERSEY in 7: Never underestimate the importance of goaltending (and classiness) in the playoffs.

After watching the Versus announcers, as Paula put it, "sucking off the Pens" for the whole game last night, I don't even want to preview this. Pittsburgh is not "a top team in the East" as they would have you think, and last night wasn't "a rough night for Fleury". The Pens were 27th in the league in SV% (Fleury had a .905) and 20th in GA. They have offense, but somehow no powerplay. They take more penalties but less majors than Ottawa, which basically means they're a bunch of Savvy-killing punks* that should be knocked out (of the playoffs, but also literally) as soon as possible.
PITTSBURGH in 7: God do I not want to see Pittsburgh win, and therefore the entire Versus studio simultaneously get off. But Ottawa is that bad.
*Jordan Staal is ok.

This is the only series in which one team has the edge in literally everything. San Jose has a better record, WRA, GF, GA, PP%, PK%, SV%, shots for, and shots against. Only one or two of these stats are even close. However, Colorado has something- something intangible, something that gives them the ability to fight and claw their way to victories. You could call it youth, excitement, the desire to forge an identity as post-Joe Sakic Avs, but I think it's best described as "not being San Jose". I mean, seriously, San Jose? You can't win game one at home? The Sharks got three shots in the 2nd period last night. Three.
COLORADO in 6: Let's not ruin Joe Thornton's playoff streak.

As I said in a previous post, Chicago has decent-ish goaltending at best, but they don't need any better than that, at least not against Nashville. The Hawks let up 25 shots/game, enabling a team that's 23rd in SV% to be 5th in GA. They also get an incredible 34 shots/game themselves. Nashville is mediocre to bad in everything. They have a slight edge in goaltending (16th), but that's all. The Preds also aren't feisty enough to overcome any of this.
CHICAGO in 4: If anyone's going to sweep, it's the Blackhawks.

Any team with Ryan Smyth is sure to have some spunk, at the very least when he's on the ice. However, Vancouver is good, and that isn't just the setup to a hilarious joke. They really are good. The Canucks can actually score this year. In fact, their offense has been better than their defense and goaltending, which leads me to believe that they'll be even better in the playoffs. Luongo will improve on his regular season .913 SV%, and if the Sedins keep it up, Vancouver could reasonably be a top contender for the Cup.
VANCOUVER in 6: LA will put up a good fight, but they're no match for Swedish twins and the Italian Stallion.

Phoenix is a bit like the Bruins, in that they can't score and rely very, very heavily on their goaltender. They're bad at everything offensive and good at everything defensive. Detroit, on the other hand, is respectable in every category. This probably gives the edge to the Red Wings, even though they've had the exact same team for 7-8 years now. Phoenix has a bit more spark to them, though not as much youth as one would expect. The only notable young gun I can pick out is Keith Yandle, who, despite being from Boston gave the most Canadian-sounding interview I've ever heard last night. Promising.
DETROIT in 7: I don't believe enough in Bryzgalov to bet the series on his goaltending, especially over that of Jimmy Howard.

Buffalo (3rd) vs. BOSTON (6th)

Buffalo: 45-27-10 (100 points)
Boston: 39-30-13 (91 points)

First thing's first: Will anyone score a powerplay goal in this series? Buffalo and Boston are 17th and 23rd in PP% respectively, while 2nd and 3rd in PK%. They're also tied for first in save percentage. After that stunning display against Carolina this past weekend, I'd almost feel more comfortable shorthanded than up a man.

Penalties themselves are interesting. Buffalo takes fewer overall, but takes more minor penalties than Boston and far fewer majors. The Sabres' relative lack of physicality could be an advantage for the Bruins, if they choose to play with fire. That's always a question mark. They need to attack fast, hard, and get as many shots as possible. Buffalo let up more goals than the Bruins this year because they let up more shots. If we keep pestering him, Ryan Miller will give one up.

Bruins fans or stats freaks out there might be saying, "The Bruins get a lot of shots each game already, and it doesn't help", to which I must reply: yes. This is true. They have the worst shooting percentage in the league. Many of their shots come from the point or out high, especially on the powerplay. They allow themselves to be intimidated by opposing players and doubt themselves, hesitating a second too long. They make one too many passes far too often. To win games in the playoffs, they have to solve this problem.

Players like Blake Wheeler, Milan Lucic, and Michael Ryder need to come up big. Rides and Milan are both at their best in the slot, sniping through the traffic in front. Square Wheels can create offense from the neutral zone, if he can just round out his wheels. The Bruins need him to create more chances, if not to score, than at least to wear down their defense. Krejci, Patrice, Sturm, and Recchi do more than their part driving to the net, crashing, and working it down low. It's these things that make the difference. Without constant pressure low in the zone, we can't possibly expect shooting lanes for our de. Zard, while leading the team in shots, has a 2.9 shooting%, good for 187th among defensemen. Many of his shots don't even make it to the net. If our forwards control the puck deep in the zone, it opens up space at the point.

Goaltending is the highlight of this series. Both Miller and Tuukka will make goals very hard to come by. This could be another advantage for the Bruins- they can't score anyway, so Buffalo might as well not. Low scoring games mean anything can happen. Everyone (read: Versus) will be talking about Tuukka's lack of experience, but Tuukka can handle himself. If we make it past this round, it will be because of him and his leg terror.

A major concern is injuries. Our de is severely crippled, while they have several forwards still listed as day-to-day. Injuries not reported are also interesting. Vanek was out very recently, and could still be hurting. We know Zard and Milan are, but it's hard not to wonder about a player like Mark Recchi. How are his old bones doing? He seemed to be hobbling more than usual in the last few games of the season. At this time of year, nearly everyone is hurt in one way or another, but it could really handicap whichever team is worse off. I believe that injuries are what undid the Bruins against Carolina last year. Maybe this year we'll get lucky.

Prediction: The Bruins can win "if this" or "if that". Yes, that means they can do it, but "ifs" are a red flag when making predictions. My head says Buffalo in 7. My heart says Boston in 7. Bear hat says ACTIVATE.

April 14, 2010

Post Game Reactions

Really, Penguins? (And Versus)

Dear Ottawa Senators,
I extend my deepest apology to you after I was quick to write you off in the previous post. While I still don't know how you managed to get into the 5th playoff spot with your mediocre statistics; but I am grateful that you could manage to (briefly) shut up the fans at the "igloo" as well as the Versus analysts.

Well my other predictions were also wrong- but I'm glad! Flyers upset the Devils. The Coyotes, although ranked higher than the Redwings, also won. I still consider this an 'upset', however, as the NHL and the Versus channel LOVES the Redwings. And last but certainly not least, the Avs beat the Sharks. All in all, it was a great night of hockey.

18 more hours until the B's and Sabres hit the ice.

Paula's Predictions for 4/14

The 2010 NHL post season kicks off this evening and here are my predictions for tonight's matchups.

Pittsburgh Penguins (4)/Ottawa Senators (5): Pens. Do I even need to explain myself? I'm still trying to figure out how the Sens even landed themself in the fifth playoff spot. Maybe I'll eat my words. We'll see.

New Jersey Devils (2)/Philadelphia Flyers (7): Devils. Don't get me wrong- because I think this series is going to be a tough one for the Devils due to the Flyer's physical style of play. I just think that with the opening game of the series being in Jersey, they will have the edge tonight.

Detroit Redwings (5)/Phoenix Coyotes (4): Redwings. The Coyotes have had a standout season and I'm still confused about it. Needless to say, they're somewhat of a Cinderella story. They even had some sell-outs. But I digress. The Redwings had somewhat of a disappointing season but they will start off with a clean slate and use their experience and talented squad of Swedes to steal one in Phoenix tonight.

And finally... the game I'm most excited about,

San Jose Sharks (1) / Colorado Avalanche (8): Well well well. Look what we have here. The Sharks have the number one seed. I say the Avs take this one. And if not this game, the series. I have zero faith in the Sharks. As Mike Millbury so eloquently said, "Hey Thornton, wipe that silly grin off your face. It's playoff time."

April 13, 2010

Look Who's Still Standin'

Wow. The regular season has ended and guess what? The Bruins have managed to finagle their way into the playoffs. I say "finagle" because it hasn't exactly been the season I had initially hoped for. Regardless, I'm happy now. For the most part. The B's will face the Buffalo Sabres in the first round; the day after tomorrow, to be exact. This matchup is sure to be a tightly played series with most of the attention being placed on the goaltenders. So let's take a look.

Tuukka Rask has had a standout rookie season and with 22 wins under his belt has managed to secure his role with the team. Five of those wins happened to be shutouts. His stunning Goals-against-average (1.97) combined with a .931 save percentage, Tuukka has stolen the hearts of Bruins fans, not to mention the No. 1 goaltending spot on the B's. Having the league-leading goaltender ain't bad; especially when you're backup goalie happens to be the reigning Vezina trophy winner.

And then there's Buffalo's Ryan Miller. In case you haven't heard of him, he went 41-18-8 in his 69 games played this season. Impressed yet? Oh and he was the backbone of Team USA at the Vancouver Olympics. Posting a 2.22 GAA and a .929 save%, it is clear how consistent Miller is. The dangerous aspect of Miller's game is his ability to steal games. When he's on, he's on.

Who has the edge? We'll have to see after Game 1. Miller has the experience and has undoubtedly shined time and time again under pressure. However, how much pressure can a goalie take before cracking? Tuukka has carried the (dead) weight of the injury-plagued, offensively-challenged Bruins for the better part of the season. Throughout the turmoil, he's remained calm and delivered win after win. The question is whether or not the intensity of the playoffs will get the best of him.

This one's gonna be good.

April 12, 2010

WRAP: Playoff Team Rankings

To recap: the end of the year statistic I do also incorporates conference rank. So the formula is:

1. San Jose (4.63)
2. Buffalo (6.13)
3. Chicago (7.63)
4. Vancouver (8.38)
5. New Jersey (9.00)
6. Detroit (9.25)
7. Washington (9.38)
8. Philadelphia (10.75)
9. Los Angeles (10.88)
10. Phoenix (11.88)
11. Boston (12.13)
12. Montreal (12.25)
13. Colorado (12.50)
14. Pittsburgh (13.13)
15. Ottawa (15.75)
16. Nashville (17.38)

Thank GOD the Bruins didn't get Washington, right? Yes, they have the best offense in the NHL. They scored 45 more goals than the next highest scoring team (Vancouver). However, they may have gotten some help from their division. The Southeast has such defensive gems as Florida (19th in GA), Atlanta (25th), Carolina (26th), and Tampa Bay (27th). Washington scored 4.17 goals a game against its division and 3.67 against everyone else. That being said, 3.67 goals a game would still lead the league.

There's only one lower seeded team that has a higher score on this than their opponent (Detroit over Phoenix) but that doesn't mean it's that simple. I'll do predictions whenever I finally get around to it!

April 10, 2010


Alright folks. Today could be the day the B's could secure a playoff berth. The B's square off against the Carolina Hurricanes at 1. I don't see it being an easy one either- because the Canes are ridin' high off of two big wins, and they have nothing to lose. I expect it to be a good game. The B's need to come out hungry and physical. We shall see what happens.

*In other news, the Rangers beat the Flyers last night in a great game. Boucher made an absolutely unreal save- but unfortunately (for the Bruins) the Rangers ended up getting the win in regulation so our boys couldn't clinch last night.

*The Habs face the Leafs tonight and with a win could clinch a playoff spot.

I love playoff hockey before the playoffs even begin.