2012 NHL Playoff Picks, Round Three

Phoenix/Los Angeles
One can only write so much about any of the four remaining NHL teams, so what’s left? Mike Smith’s hometown (Kingston, ON, also hometown of the Tragically Hip, where rumor has it they shot a movie once)? The fact that Smith’s .948, 1.77 so far in the playoffs is actually worse than opposing goalie Jonathan Quick’s .949, 1.55 (vs. the top-seeded Canucks and second-seeded Blues, rather than Chicago and Nashville)? I’m 0-2 picking against the Kings so far, and the fact that I’m rooting for Phoenix here and never was much of a Kings fan (post-Bernie Nicholls, anyway) shouldn’t matter, but one of these rounds the Kings will run on empty. On the other hand, the only teams to outscore LA’s 3 goals per game this playoffs are the Flyers and Penguins, two teams to whom the difference between Smith and Quick wouldn’t really matter that much. The Kings have the 15th ranked power play in the playoffs out of 16 total teams at 8.5% and are 14th in faceoff percentage (ahead of only the Rangers and Devils, oddly enough) at 48%, trailing the Coyotes’ 51.3%, though. LA’s scoring has been a bit more top-heavy (Brown/Kopitar/Richards) than Phoenix’s, too. Phoenix in seven.

NY Rangers/New Jersey
The two worst faceoff teams in the playoffs (47.6% and 46.3%). A team whose goalie’s .937, 1.68 (with a shutout) has translated into back-to-back seven game series, thanks to 2.07 goals per game. (Braden Holtby’s 2012 playoffs, for what it’s worth: 7-7, .935, 1.95.) Meaning the Rangers; the Devils are tied with LA at 3 goals per game and are also the top 5-on-5 team with a 1.85 scoring edge. On the other hand, the Devils faced Jose Theodore, Scott Clemmensen, and Ilya Bryzgalov rather than Craig Anderson and the aforementioned Holtby. I wouldn’t expect as many fireworks here– unless of course Eric Boulton, Cam Janssen, and John Scott (total GP as a Ranger: 6; since March 9th: zero) are in the lineup. I’m actually rooting for the Rangers because they may be the most offensively exciting team to watch left in the playoffs. Which is fucking brutal. Rangers in seven and cover your eyes.

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