Thursday, April 28, 2011

2011 NHL Playoffs: Second Round Breakdown

nathan horton overtime goal habs bruins
Full Disclosure (for those mistrustful of predictions): 6 – 2 in the first round; 17 – 6 including last season’s playoffs

I’m not sure how the NHL will follow-up their amazing first round of action. We experienced four game 7s – two that went to overtime, and one of which was one of the most exciting hockey games of the past decade. We saw crazy comebacks, penalty shots, goalies stealing games, a wardrobe malfunction, and a few head shots for good measure. The first round only missed a few upsets.

What does the second round have in store? Hell if I know.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Are You Cheering for the Comeback or Collapse?

ryan kesler canucks fight
What is it about seeing someone else’s failure that delights us? Heading into tonight’s game seven between the Blackhawks and the Canucks there is a large contingent excited to see the Canucks blow their 3-0 series lead. There are those who hope the Canucks get throttled in the first few minutes and have the game essentially over by the end of the first. I’m not sure I’m one of them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Playoffs is Love

mario lemieux stanley cup
The first round of the 2011 NHL Playoffs is underway and I couldn’t be happier. This is the best time of the year.

Hockey: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2011 NHL Playoffs: First Round Breakdown

roberto luongo canucks
Generic sentence about how everyone is making predictions about the playoffs. Snarky remark about how predictions only make you look stupid. Holier than thou statement about picking the Flyers and Blackhawks to make last year’s final. Strut around while casually mentioning picking the Blackhawks to win the Stanley Cup.

Onto the picks!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

2011 Fantasy Playoff Sleepers

brad marchand bruins rat
The playoffs start on Wednesday and everyone’s looking for the next Fernando Pisani that is going to come out of nowhere and win them their fantasy pool. The playoffs are much different from regular season pools. No one on this list will necessarily go near the bottom of your draft; it all depends on which teams your pool as a collective are favouring. In a regular season pool you wouldn’t see Alex Burrows go even near the second round, but he’s likely to go that early in a playoff pool because the Canucks are heavy favourites.

With that disclaimer out-of-the-way I’m going to list a player from each team that could count as a sleeper. Of course, players from heavy favourites will go earlier and some of the best players from underdogs might hang around forever, so the definition of sleeper differs for each team.

Monday, April 11, 2011

2011 Torontonian Guide to the Playoffs

toews kane stanley cup
I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write this post. Instead of writing a (hopefully not) Annual Torontonian Guide to the Playoffs I would rather write a quick tweet: Cheer for Toronto. But the Leafs would actually have to make the playoffs for that to work. So, once again, Leafs Nation will have to temporarily lend their support to another team. Or you can disregard the playoffs entirely and throw your full support into baseball – but that’s not ideal.

If you’re a little confused about who to cheer for, read ahead. You’ll at least know who you shouldn’t cheer for.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

2011 Alternative NHL Awards

bobby orr awards bruins
The NHL regular season concludes on Monday and the playoff races in both the East and West won’t be determined until the final weekend of play. Only the final two playoff spots are open in the East, whereas the West has spots 5 to 8 available (although at this point only one new team in each conference can actually make it in). Madness. Last year’s Stanley Cup Champions are holding on desperately to the final playoff spot. Their reward: playing the President’s Trophy winners and their yearly opponent – the Canucks. Interesting indeed.

There is also a heated race for the major trophies, specifically the Hart Trophy awarded to the league’s most valuable player. Corey Perry is making a late charge by essentially scoring on a nightly basis. Earlier this week he scored a hat-trick to become the first (and likely only) player to hit 50 goals this season. He’s now only five points behind Daniel Sedin for the league lead in points, while scoring nine more goals, more short-handed goals and more overtime goals. Perry plays more minutes each night and carried the team during Ryan Getzlaf’s absence. Of course, Sedin is the best player on the best team in the league. It's being debated.

There’s enough talk about the real NHL Awards that you can find detailed arguments anywhere on the net. But what I really want to do is introduce the First Annual Alternative NHL Awards. I know the season isn't over yet, but these races are.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Question Period

brian burke no tie
Unfortunately, the Leafs were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs Tuesday night thanks to a Buffalo Sabres victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was miraculous that the Leafs were even in the playoff hunt this late in the season considering how poorly they played before the All-Star break.

The Leafs are one of the youngest teams in the league and playing down the stretch in a legitimate playoff race – one where they were essentially required to win every night – is a great experience moving forward. Of course actually playing in the playoffs would be a better experience, but we’re taking baby steps here, so I’m pleased with the late season run.

This season the Leafs answered a lot of questions.

At the beginning of the season everyone asked if anyone besides Phil Kessel would score. Everyone assumed Phil Kessel would hit 30, but not many predicted the same for Nikolai Kulemin and (possibly) Mikhail Grabovski. If Grabbo adds to the 29 goals he already has it will be the first time since Gilmour, Sundin, and Gartner all scored 30+ in 1995-1996 that a Leafs trio has accomplished this feat. They would also be the only team in the league with three 30-goal scorers (Anaheim, Chicago, and, amazingly, the New York Islanders are close as well). Not too shabby.

Everyone also questioned whether the Leafs would actually receive stable goaltending after years of historically bad netminding. It seemed like the Monster and J.S. Giguere answered that ‘yes’ the horribleness would continue, but that answer changed once James Reimer rode in on a white horse and saved the Leafs’ season, Ron Wilson’s job, and our collective sanity.

The most pressing issue (at least for fans) was whether the Leafs would transfer the Bruins another lottery pick. I would cry if that happened, but, thankfully, the Leafs’ play over the last few months ensured that the pick would be around 10. I can live with that.

However, this season created many more questions heading into next season.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Yearly Question: Are These Leafs For Real?

james reimer praise god
The post-lockout Leafs have developed a bad habit of burying themselves during the first part of the season, necessitating a late season surge to compensate for their early futility. In the first two seasons after the lockout this meant that the Leafs missed the playoffs by three points and one point respectively.

This season the Leafs continually staved off elimination. Every time they lost a game that seemingly ended their chances they rallied off multiple wins to keep hope alive. That’s all that remains that this point: hope. I can live with that. The Leafs have to win every game from here on out. They face Ottawa, Washington, New Jersey, and Montreal. Of course the Leafs went through multiple death spirals this season, so they not only have to win their remaining games, but they need two of New York, Buffalo, and Carolina to go into a death spiral of their own.

Regardless of whether or not the Leafs make the playoffs I am hopeful for next season. Unfortunately, I have felt this way every single year except for 2007-2008 (surprisingly the season they finished on the best run besides this season) because they were clearly blowing up the team at that point. And every single year the Leafs made no real improvements and in some cases actually finished worse the next season.

However, this year is different. I can feel it. Here is why you should believe.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...