NHL 2013 Playoff Picks: Round Three

Tiger Williams

West

Chicago/Los Angeles: Did you know Ray Emery went 17-1, .922, 1.94 with 3 shutouts and a cap hit of only $1.15M in 2013– and is a UFA (hello again, Flyers)? Whatever it’s worth, he’s two years younger and only $250K more expensive than Michael Leighton– or WAS only $250K more expensive than Michael Leighton. On the other hand, whoever signs him won’t also get Seabrook and Keith. Emery’s not a factor in this series regardless; Corey Crawford’s playoff numbers (.938, 1.70 this season; .924, 2.08 career in 1,586 TOI) are outstanding. His opponent is even better; Jonathan Quick is again the top playoff goalie at .948, 1.50 (now .932, 1.94 career in 2,778 TOI with one Conn Smythe Trophy). Los Angeles also has the better possession numbers (a league-leading 57.1% Fenwick Tied vs. Chicago’s 53.9%); both teams are sub-50% at faceoffs plus the Kings may or may not be without Jarret Stoll (who himself was only at 46.7%). And Robyn Regehr continues to suck. The 9:00 ET start time for Kings home games plus LA’s team defense means I will probably be asleep for much of this series. I’m rooting for the Blackhawks (yeah, “Chelsea Dagger,” but COSTELLO MUSIC was a good album), but I’ll take Los Angeles in six.

East

Pittsburgh/Boston: The wild card here (assuming no one buys the “Bruins are a team of destiny” meme) is any potential Penguins injuries from the usual suspects; Crosby, Malkin, and Letang missed a combined 42 regular season games to injury in 2013, which seems shockingly low until you remember the denominator was only 134. (James Neal also missed 8 games and Paul Martin 14.) Pens fans waiting for Vokoun to implode in order to resurrect Marc-Andre Fleury are amusing; Vokoun’s career playoff numbers are now .930, 2.22 (1,134 TOI) vs. Fleury’s .904, 2.72 (4,773 TOI). If sample size is relevant: Vokoun may not be a .930 playoff goalie (despite 50% more regular season experience than Fleury, playing for the Predators and Panthers translates to a lot less playoff experience), but we KNOW Fleury is a .904 playoff goalie. The evil we know… As far as Boston, the Bruins are a safer pick, without the potential explosiveness (pro or con) of the Penguins. Rask (.920, 2.42 career playoffs in 1,585 TOI) is about even with Vokoun in goal, no key players missed more than a few games (even Jagr at 41 only missed three games the whole season), and the team’s possession numbers this season were better than Pittsburgh’s. Boston also has the top playoff faceoff percentage at 57.5%, led as usual by Bergeron (63.5%); the Pens are 8th and barely breaking even. As a non-Pens fan, I’m rooting for Boston, but assuming none of Crosby, Malkin, or Vokoun is injured, I’ll take Pittsburgh in seven.

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