Archive for the ‘Playoffs’ Category

Reacting To 0-5-1

Posted: October 19, 2011 by cujorulesdtown9 in Columbus Blue Jackets, NHL, Offseason, Playoffs
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Small note before reading: I wrote this for fun, don’t take it too seriously.

Well here we are, 6 games into this season, and The Columbus Blue Jackets are 0-5-1, officially the worst team in The NHL, the only team to have not won a game thus far. From what I’ve seen online through twitter, facebook, and multiple hockey forums and websites, there seem to be a common 5 reactions to this start among fans:

1. Shock/Confusion:

“Speechless” “What is going on with this team!?” Seem to be the top comments in this area. It is hard to fathom this start, even without James Wisniewski. Surely all of our players would be scoring, and our defense would be good at…well..defense! It is quite a shock to see such a slow start, but when you look at the past three season, it shouldn’t be, in October over the past three years we went 7-3-1, 4-6-0, and 6-5-1.

2. Lets Riot: Yes, ala Vancouver after The Stanley Cup Finals last year, blow stuff up, break things, just all out anarchy in the streets of Ohio. Well with the weakened economy rioting is a bad idea, not to mention you could get arrested (unless you don’t care about that, go for it.) And in the current times, I’d worry more about the loose bears,lions, wolves, and monkeys roaming around doing all the damage for you.

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With Boston’s 4-1 loss to Carolina last night, the four conference finalists from last season (Boston, San Jose, Tampa Bay and Vancouver) are a combined 6-13-3 in this young season.  All four are in the bottom third in the leagues in standings, although it is still early and there is plenty of time to turn it around.

Let’s take a look at what ails each team.

The Boston Bruins have only allowed 2.17 goals per game (10th) but can’t score.  They are dead last in goals per game (1.67).  They’ve only scored more than two goals in a game once, a 4-1 win over Tampa on October 8th.    Obviously, with the team’s offense struggling, one would assume that their powerplay would suffer.  That would be correct, as the Bruins are near the bottom at 8.3%.  Rich Peverley is the team’s leading goal scorer (3) and only he and Marchand have multiple goals.  This is a far cry from last season when they finished fifth in the league in goals for.

Roberto Luongo allows a goal in a loss to the Flyers.

Vancouver has scored more than Boston (2.33) but it’s not enough to get the job done, not with the lineup they have.  But their biggest problem is that they can’t stop anyone.  They’re tied for fifth worst in goals allowed per game (3.17).  Their penalty killing is near the bottom of the league at 79.3%, and they’ve been shorthanded 29 times so far, which is near the league high.  Looking deeper into the numbers show that starting goalie Roberto Luongo has continued his struggles from June.  After four games, he has a 3.70 GAA and a .856 save percentage.  Backup Cory Schneider (2.03, .953) has been considerably better, but he won’t wrestle the starting job from Luongo any time soon.

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CSH 2011-2012 Predictions

Posted: September 10, 2011 by Crimespree Hockey in Playoffs, Season Preview, Stanley Cup
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Here are our picks for the division winners, conference finalists, Stanley Cup finalists and winner.

Most divisions had a healthy majority, except in the Pacific, where we were split between San Jose & Los Angeles. Vancouver was an almost unanimous selection in the Northwest. The competitive Central had four teams represented.

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CSH 2011 Playoff Pool Final Standings

Posted: June 16, 2011 by Crimespree Hockey in Fantasy Hockey, Playoffs
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Throughout the playoffs we’ve done a playoff pool, round by round. The point system was 1 point for a correct team pick and 1 bonus point for a team in the correct amount of games. Here are the final standings.

Congratulations to Stinger, our 2011 champion!

Many young hockey players across the globe have dreams of scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal in game 7.  Game 7s are nerve-racking for both players and fans.  One win away from ultimate glory, but one goal away from bitter defeat.

Mark Messier. Jari Kurri. Henri Richard. Jean Beliveau. Andy Bathgate.  Gordie Howe. Hall of Famers; also players scoring the game winning goal in a Stanley Cup game 7.  But, the list isn’t limited to stars.  Max Talbot, Frantisek Kaberle, Ruslan Fedotenko and Mike Rupp are also on that list.  But Hall of Famer or not, the player who scores the Cup clinching goal is etched into the minds of their fans forever.  He’s a hero, regardless if he is a first liner or fourth liner.

Some kids carried their dream further and dreamed about scoring a game 7 winner in overtime, but that does not happen in the NHL too often.  The last time the Stanley Cup was won in overtime in a game 7 was 1954 by Detroit’s Tony Leswick.  Leswick dumped the puck into the Canadiens’ zone, where it deflected off a defenseman and into the net.  He did not even realize he had scored until he saw his teammates celebrating.

So who scores the Cup clincher tonight?  Twitterers threw in their opinions.

The popular choice was Ryan Kesler, who @Mfreys, @DurtyPuckhead, @lyssaaaah and @TheNatch_ picked despite not having a goal in this series. @MattyTets picked Alex Burrows based on the fact that he’s been “clutch all postseason.”  Burrows has 9 playoff goals, 2 of them winners, including Vancouver’s game 2 win.   @Shmermel and @AngrytownsMayor chose unsung heroes, going with Jannik Hansen and Tanner Glass respectively.  @Pucktacular went with the man who eliminated the Sharks, Kevin Bieska.  @Mtrible and @JoeyHurricane chose game 1’s hero, Raffi Torres.

The Bruins got some love, though.  @PhillyReign_MD said Johnny Boychuk “burns one in the twine” in the second overtime.  @ActiveStick_44 picked Mark Recchi because “experience is nothing to undervalue. Recchi has it and he has all the determination in the world to come out and play like it’s his last shot at ever hoisting the Stanley Cup again. He has been in a game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final before [2006 with Carolina]. In games like these it’s not the star players that create a great story. Recchi is not one of the superstars in this series, but you can expect him to come up huge tonight.” @RobDickinsonAB went along with the non-star theory and chose Brad Marchand.  @Puremetal33 picked playoff scoring leader, David Krejci (12 goals, 23 points).

Who do I pick?  Torn between my head (Daniel Sedin) and my heart (Manny Malhotra).  I think it would be a great story if Malhotra ended up scoring the Cup clincher after the rocky season he’s had.  But I’m going with my head and picking Daniel Sedin.

Vancouver took a huge step towards its’ first Stanley Cup victory on Friday, beating Boston 1-0 on the strength of a Maxim Lapierre goal.  However, for the fourth time in the series, the Sedin twins were held off the scoresheet.

Daniel totaled 41 goals and 104 points in the regular season, and carried that over to the playoffs where he’s tallied 9 goals and 18 points.  In the regular season, Henrik posted 19 goals and 94 points, and coming into the Stanley Cup Final, led in playoff points with 21 points.

In the Stanley Cup Final, the two have combined for two points (1 goal, 1 assist) through the first five games, and both were in game 2 by Daniel.  Daniel’s taken 20 shots in the series, but Henrik has only four, and didn’t register a shot until game 4.

In the Western Conference Finals against the Sharks, the duo combined for a mind boggling 18 points (3 goals, 15 assists) in the five game series.  In game 4 alone, they racked up 7 points in the Canucks 4-3 win.  They tallied 12 points in the first round series against the Blackhawks.  Their second round opponent, Nashville, “slowed” them down for 7 points in 6 games.

The twins haven’t had to carry the load in the Final, which is a good thing for Vancouver.  Guys like Raffi Torres, Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen and Maxim Lapierre (regular season total of 55 goals between the four players) have all scored in the series and the team is leading in the series.  But it’s also a bad thing, as the Canucks’ top scorers are not producing.  The biggest problem seems to be on the power play, where the Canucks have gone 1 for 26 in the series, after leading the league with a 24.3% power play.

Have the Bruins shutdown the twins? The Bruins seem to match Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg against the Canucks’ top line every time they touch the ice, neutralizing them.  Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault has given Boston a lot of credit, saying “We’re playing against a real strong opponent right now and we’ve got a lot of respect for how the Bruins play.”  Teammate Kevin Bieksa agreed, “They’re [the Sedins] great players. We rely on them a lot. But they are playing against two pretty good defensemen (Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg).”

If the Sedins can get on the scoreboard in tomorrow night’s game 6, it will increase Vancouver’s chances of winning their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

After last night’s game four, I’m convinced that anyone outside of Boston and Vancouver can’t stand both teams.

In game three, Aaron Rome knocked out Nathan Horton. Rome was ejected and suspended and you thought it would just end there. That was far from the truth. With the Bruins leading, the game degenerated into scrumfest. Daniel Sedin, Andrew Ference (twice), Shawn Thornton, Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler, Milan Lucic, Kevin Bieska and Dennis Seidenberg were all given ten minute major misconducts in the third period. Kesler and Seidenberg even dropped the gloves.

Throughout the series the two teams have traded alleged bites, taunts, slashes, elbows, sucker punches, anything you can think of. Point is both teams have made this a dirty, dirty series. Some have defended it, calling it “Old Time Hockey.” No, no, incorrect. Old timers would be embarrassed that this is the Stanley Cup Final.  Think Bobby Orr would approve of finger taunting? No way.

Last night the bad blood kept going late in the third period.

It all started (restarted?) when Brad Marchand and Christian Ehrhoff were racing for a puck in the Canucks’ zone. Marchand tried to go around Ehrhoff and with his free hand, semi-clotheslined the defenseman.  Daniel Sedin skated in and Marchand ducked under him and dumped him.  The only positive thing Keith Ballard did all night was grab Marchand.  (Sidenote: Wow, was Ballard brutal last night.)  That put the Nucks on the powerplay.  Of course, it didn’t last long, as Alex Burrows slashed Tim Thomas’ stick out of his hands, resulting in a Thomas chop across Burrows’ calves.  Burrows had enough and round two began.  Kesler and Zdeno Chara picked up misconducts, and their nights were done.

Rooting for a team in this series is almost like picking the lesser of two evils.  One can root for a team because they hate one team more, but feel dirty for doing so.

Last year’s Cup Finalists, the Blackhawks and Flyers, are pretty well unliked throughout the league, and they didn’t even garner this much negative attention.

My plea for both teams for the remaining games is play for the Stanley Cup.  The trophy that’s awarded to the best team in hockey.  Not the team who can dive or scrum best.  Play hockey, guys.

Alex Burrows might have been the star of game 2, with his two goals and an assist, including the overtime winner, but for Canucks center Manny Malhotra just playing in the game is a victory.

Malhotra was enjoying a fine 2010-11 season; playing for the league’s best team, scored his 100th career goal, and posted his third straight 30-point season.  But on March 16, his world was flipped upside down.  In a game against the Colorado Avalanche, Malhotra took a puck to the eye.  He underwent surgery the next day, and was ruled out of the rest of the regular season and playoffs.  A second surgery, a week later, was performed to save his eye and vision, according to his brother-in-law, NBA star Steve Nash.  At the time, it was speculated that he might have to retire because of the injury.  It looked like a giant blow to the Canucks’ penalty kill, which was ranked first in the league after being 18th the year before signing Malhotra.

However, as the Canucks kept advancing in the playoffs, the chances Malhotra would rejoin the team increased.  In May, he started practicing, and by the end of the month, he was cleared to play in the Stanley Cup Final.  He sat out game one, but Alain Vigneault inserted him into the lineup for tonight’s game two.

The crowd chanted “Manny, Manny” pregame and gave him a standing ovation when he stepped onto the ice for his first shift, about two minutes into the game.  After the game, he admitted the ovation made him the most nervous he has ever been in his career. He played with a full face shield, despite not using one in the regular season prior to the injury.

In the regular season, Malhotra was second in the league, winning 61.7% of his faceoffs.  The team missed him in game one, where they only won 44% of draws.  Tonight, Malhotra went 6-for-7, and the Canucks as a team improved to 47 %.  He only played 7:26, mainly on the fourth line with Victor Oreskovich and Jeff Tambellini, but contributed on the penalty kill as the Canucks held the Bruins to 1 for 7 on the man advantage.

Malhotra has drawn comparisons to Ian Laperriere, who last year returned for the Stanley Cup Final after taking a puck to the face in the first round, resulting in a concussion.   Fortunately for Malhotra, he isn’t suffering from a brain injury.

With two more Canucks wins, Malhotra will get his name etched on the Stanley Cup, something well worth everything he’s been through this year.

(note: Andy chooses not to pick series his team is involved in.)

In year’s past we have seen goaltenders steal the show in games of the Stanley Cup Finals, from names like Antti Niemi and Cam Ward, to Marc-Andre Fleury, and the many who have come before them, goaltending plays an important role when it comes to winning the Stanley Cup. This year, goaltending will be the key to winning the series, and that pressure lies on the backs of two men, Boston’s Tim Thomas, and Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo.

This could be the closest cup finals we have seen in years (PHOTO: Nhl.com)

This year is a story of two similar teams, The Vancouver Canucks, and The Boston Bruins. Both teams put up similar point totals throughout the playoffs (Boston has 159, Vancouver has 140)  Both have similar goal totals (Boston with 58, Vancouver with 50) and both are close in total shots on goal (Boston with 573, Vancouver with 562) And they share the same number of blocked shots(262). The only real difference being the powerplay percentage (Vancouver at 16.7% and Boston at 11.4%). This shows just how important goaltending is going to be for both teams in this what should be a very close series.

Tim Thomas (PHOTO:AP)

For Tim Thomas, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing to get to the finals. He has let in multiple goals in 12 of 18 games this postseason, but has managed to make a playoff leading 560 saves along the way, as well as maintain a .930 save percentage and 2.29 goals against average. So this is by no stretch a bad playoff for Thomas, but there have been some goals, some by fault of defense, some by his own doing, that he would have liked to have had back. Thomas has stolen multiple games this playoff season (Game 5 Vs. Montreal, Game 2 Vs. Philadelphia, Game 2 Vs. Tampa Bay)

Against Vancouver, he will need to be on the top of his game, as he is looking at one of the most dangerous duos in hockey (Daniel and Henrik Sedin), as well as one of the hottest scoring centers and shotblockers in the playoffs (Ryan Kesler). He needs to not be as aggressive as he was last round against Tampa Bay, they lit him up when they got him moving out of the crease. And when Vancouver gets on the powerplay, Thomas will have to be their best penalty killer, bar none. If all of this comes together for Thomas, the biggest prize in hockey could be his.

Roberto Luongo looks to give the Canucks their first cup win. (PHOTO:AP)

For Roberto Luongo, the name of the game this playoff season has been consistency. Luongo has maintained a 2.99 goals against average and a .922 save percentage making 487 saves along the way. He, like Thomas, has had games he would like to forget, including the series vs. Chicago in which he was pulled 2 times after rough starts. But after that first round, he has caught fire making at least 20 saves in each game since, including brilliant performances in game 2 against Nashville (46 saves), and games 4 and 5 against San Jose ( 35, 56 saves).

Against Boston, Luongo will face shots from all angles, especially from snipers Nathan Horton and David Kreijci. Not to mention he will have to face Zdeno Chara’s bombs from the point, this is where one of his best assets, his shot blockers, will come in handy. Luongo needs to stay calm under pressure as Boston has a habit of bringing offense in waves, if he can ride out their offensive storms, he will give his team the best chances to win. He also needs to work on rebound control, multiple times he has lost the puck on simple shots he should have covered, and those have turned into scoring chances, and goals. If Luongo can do these two things, the Canucks will have the best chance to end their 41 year cupless drought.

(PHOTO: NHL.com)

We see in the ads “History will be made”. Every year, that sentiment rings true, but this season, the men in the pipes will be the ones who will hold the key to changing that history. Will the Bruins win their first cup in 39 years? Will the Vancouver Canucks win their first cup since coming into the league 41 years ago? The answer lies between the pipes.