Archive for the Flyers-related Category

NHL Playoff Picks 2016: Round One

Posted in 2016 Other, Flyers-related with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 12, 2016 by wechslerh66

Hedberg

Two of the five teams for which Johan Hedberg played are 2016 playoff teams (sorry, Canucks, Devils, and “Winnipeg Jets” fans).

As always, it’s mostly goaltending (with the Detroit exception, then the Chicago exception, only both Detroit and Chicago now have good goaltenders), but also possession, along with puck luck (again, flip a caribou).  As always, an American team will win (sorry).

Eastern Conference

Tampa Bay/Detroit: The Red Wings are one of two playoff teams in 2016 that was outscored (hello Flyers, only Detroit was 9 goals worse than Philadelphia).  Normally this series wouldn’t be close—the Lightning are better at scoring and better at preventing the other team from scoring—but Stamkos and Stralman are out and Hedman, Kucherov, Callahan, and Tyler Johnson are day-to-day.  On the other hand, Jonathan Drouin is healthy.  Lightning in five.

Florida/New York Islanders: The Panthers have Jagr and Luongo, and Barkov and Huberdeau and Ekblad and other non-names who should be.  The Islanders have better special teams and John Tavares.  I think the key to this series will be Thomas Greiss, and I expect he will be very good.  @68Jagr and @strombone1 rock, but Islanders in six.

Washington/Philadelphia: On paper this is a total mismatch of two teams further apart in the standings than any other matchup (24 points, two more than Dallas-Minnesota), the difference between the second best offense and third best defense on one hand, and the 24th best offense and too much Radko Gudas facepunching on the other.  I can imagine a series where Claude Giroux is the best forward on the ice and Shayne Gostisbehere is the best defenseman and Mason (I guess it’s Mason, unless it’s Neuvirth) is just good enough and the Flyers win.  But I don’t think it’s this one, though I’ll give them two home games for Mr. SniderCaps in six.

Pittsburgh/New York Rangers: The Penguins could be missing Malkin and Fleury (and Maatta and Bennett), or not, but this is still a huge possession mismatch for the Rangers, whose CorsiFor of 47.4% ranked 26th (the Penguins ranked 4th at 52.3% and were even better at 5v5).  On the other hand, the Rangers have Lundqvist and an even crazier PDO than the Pens (101.3, 3rd in the league); the two are related. They shouldn’t, but Rangers in six.

Western Conference

Dallas/Minnesota: This is the other huge mismatch—22 points’ difference and the league’s best offense vs. the 16th best—only I don’t think it is a mismatch, since the Stars’ goaltending has been terrible.  They’re the only playoff team worse than league average in goals allowed and the worst of four playoff teams below league average in save percentage at an abysmal .904, tied with the Maple Leafs and Coyotes.  Devan Dubnyk (.918, 2.33) wasn’t quite as good as he was last year but with Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi on the other end of the ice, I think he will be good enough to make up for the possession and special teams mismatches.  Call me crazy, but Wild in six.

St. Louis/Chicago: Every year I pick the Blues to win the Cup or make the finals and every year they lose to the Blackhawks in the first round, unless they’re losing to the Kings or the Wild in the first round.  I picked the Caps to beat the Blues in the finals this year.  So of course, St. Louis is playing Chicago in the first round.  The Blues have home ice, Brian Elliott (league-leading .930) will be in goal, Duncan Keith is suspended for Game One, Crawford may not be 100%, and despite Panarin-Anisimov-Kane the Blackhawks overall were outscored at 5v5.  And yet.  I want to say I’m wrong about this, but Blackhawks in six.

Anaheim/Nashville: a.k.a. the Series No One Is Watching.  This year, I don’t think they will miss much, unless they are Ducks fans.  Pekka Rinne hasn’t been very good (.908) and the Ducks led the league in goals-against (who knew?).  The Predators scored more goals (again, who knew?), but the Ducks had the league’s best power play and penalty kill.  I’ll give the fans in Nashville one, but otherwise, bring on the Battle of California, round two.  Anaheim in five.

Los Angeles/San Jose: Speaking of the Battle of California, the numbers, recent history, and two Stanley Cups (plus Vinny LeCavalier’s je ne sais quoi) suggest the Kings will win the rematch.  The Kings are still the best possession team in the league (54.9 CorsiFor)—but the Sharks are top ten.  The Kings allowed fewer goals and have the better penalty kill—but the Sharks scored more goals and have the better power play (and yes, the Kings D includes Luke Schenn and 37 year old Rob Scuderi).  The Kings have home ice—but the Sharks were an NHL-best 28-10-3 on the road.  The Sharks have to win one of these, right?  Expect the unexpected.  Sharks in four.

Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right

Posted in Flyers-related on March 12, 2016 by wechslerh66

March 27, 2011:
[W]hy dump Anderson with only Elliott as return? Why make an unwinnable trade that Avs bloggers are writing off as “the best possible return for a player that was going to be moved regardless” for a player considered a Peter Budaj clone?

Brian Elliott, 2007-2011 (Ottawa/Colorado): 61-53-16, .901 SV%, 2.90 GAA, 9 SO
Brian Elliott, 2011- present (St. Louis): 98-45-16, .924 SV%, 2.02 GAA, 22 SO

April 2, 2013:
The Blue Jackets’ best single-season goaltending performance in their brief history was Steve Mason’s Calder-worthy rookie season, 2008-9, in which he went 33-20-7, .916, 2.29 with 10 shutouts– thanks mostly to a .919, 2.09 November and a ridiculous .950, 1.41 December during which he recorded half of his shutouts before eventually coming down with mono and falling apart to end the season (.883, 3.08 in April). Mason’s 2013 numbers are somewhat better than the past few seasons but actually below his career numbers as a result of that rookie season: he’s .899, 2.95 this season vs. .903, 2.90 career. And he’s been their number one, when healthy, for four years. And you thought two years in a row of Bryzgalov was bad.

Steve Mason, 2008-2013 (Columbus): 96-99-27, .903 SV%, 2.90, 19 SO
Steve Mason, 2013- present (Flyers): 71-53-25, .922, 2.41, 11 SO

Kyle Palmieri will win the Hart Trophy next year.

Kyle Palmieri is not a cornerstone

Posted in Flyers-related on January 2, 2016 by wechslerh66

Devils

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman doesn’t understand the concept of small sample size.  Six weeks ago it was Mike Condon.  This week it’s Devils winger and “15-goal man Kyle Palmieri, a restricted free agent who looks like a cornerstone.”  Palmieri may be having a breakout season, but it’s not without major qualifiers.

1. His shooting percentage as a Devil is 16.8% (16 goals on 95 shots). His shooting percentage across five seasons as a Duck was 10.9% (43 goals on 395 shots). True, he’s shooting a lot more with increased playing time, but among active NHL players, only two have career shooting percentages higher than Palmieri’s 16.8%, and odds are he’s not the next Stamkos. In other words, this number will drop.

2. 13 of Palmieri’s 29 points have come on the power play–which is ironic, given that Friedman in the same column repeats the critique of Claude Giroux’s “dependency on power play points”:

Scoring with the extra man is critical considering how hard it is to do so five-on-five, but compare Giroux to some of his compatriots. He leads the NHL with 50 such points the past two seasons, and has 101 overall. That’s 49.5 per cent of his total coming with the man-advantage. Of the other nine players in the top 10 of power play totals, Joe Pavelski’s 43.4 is next highest (46 of 106).

Palmieri is at 44.8%.

Overall, Palmieri’s season is encouraging. He frequently plays against the opponent’s top lines and the Devils are a better possession team with him on the ice than off. He finishes more shifts in the offensive zone than he starts and he draws more than twice as many penalties as he takes (the Devils as a team tend to be good at this).

The problem is that he’s good but not quite this good, and the Devils as a whole are good but not quite this good. They’re dead last in 5v5 shots for/60 and only Anaheim is worse in 5v5 goals for/60 (yes, even the Flyers are better). Cory Schneider, a top ten shooting percentage, and the power play (not to mention the Penguins and Tampa Bay underperforming expectations) have kept the Devils in the playoff race. Maybe Palmieri is a cornerstone of this Devils team, but that says more about the Devils than it does about Palmieri.

Advanced stats courtesy of Behind the Net.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Flyers 2, Canucks 0

Posted in Canucks-related, Flyers-related on December 18, 2015 by wechslerh66

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Recap

Box score

More photos

I ordered tickets in advance this time.

Obscure-ish Flyers jersey in the stands: SNOW 30

Fans cheered Sheena Parveen on the Jumbotron for the weather forecast between periods.

Also, this:
Guy next to me: “Hey, I hope you don’t mind the smell of my hoagie, since I really want to finish it.”
Me: “Go right ahead, I can’t smell anything anyway.”
Him: “You can’t smell anything? Wha, you do coke?”
Me: “You got any?”
Ah, South Fluffya.

NHL 2015-2016 Season Preview

Posted in Canucks-related, Flyers-related on October 8, 2015 by wechslerh66

Stanley Kup Inn

Totally ripping off Scott Cullen, my 2015-2016 picks, with the two minutes of thought this requires, working from West to East because West Coast bias.

* = playoff teams

Pacific Division
Anaheim*
Los Angeles*
Calgary*
Edmonton
Vancouver
San Jose
Arizona

Obvious picks: Anaheim
Formerly obvious picks: Los Angeles, who could miss the playoffs if the rest of the division were better; Vancouver, a 101-point team last season who will miss the playoffs; San Jose, who will miss Raffi Torres, and that’s sad
Non-obvious picks: Calgary, who will regress, but they have two Hamiltons!
Close: Edmonton, who will miss, but not by much
Where’s Sam Hinkie: Arizona

Central Division
St. Louis*
Dallas*
Chicago*
Minnesota*
Nashville*
Winnipeg
Colorado

Obvious picks: St. Louis; Chicago (obvious until/unless proven otherwise); Dallas v. 2015-2016; Winnipeg if they had a goalie
Never an obvious pick: Nashville, whom I’m not picking, nor did I last year (fuck). UPDATE: I realized if I didn’t pick Nashville, I would need to pick Winnipeg or a Pacific Division team, so I’m picking Nashville. Narrowly ahead of the Oilers?
Who the fuck knows: Colorado: Patrick Roy could win the Jack Adams again, or the Vezina, or could be arrested for aggravated assault.
Also: Will the Blackhawks replace “Chelsea Dagger” already? May we suggest:

Atlantic Division
Tampa Bay*
Montreal*
Ottawa*
Boston
Detroit
Florida
Buffalo
Toronto

Obvious picks: Tampa Bay, Montreal
Formerly obvious picks: Boston, who have Krejci, Rask, Pastrnak, Chara, Bergeron, and…Zac Rinaldo? Jonas Gustavsson?
Non-obvious picks: Ottawa, only because a full season of the Hamburglar may be a Craig Anderson injury away from becoming the disaster that the Anderson/Lehner/Hammond trio wasn’t last season
Non-obvious non-pick: Detroit, about whom I wrote last year: 23 years in the playoffs have to end at some point, and I think the odds are even it’s this year. And it was only a 100-point year.
The rest: Buffalo may be closer to a playoff spot than any of the other non-playoff teams here, but not this season (see also Oilers).

Metropolitan
Washington*
Pittsburgh*
New York Rangers*
New York Islanders*
Columbus*
Philadelphia
New Jersey
Carolina

Obvious picks: The top four
Non-obvious pick: Probably Columbus, because Brandon Saad is still only one roster spot, and Jack Johnson is still one roster spot.

Western Conference Finals
St. Louis over Anaheim

Eastern Conference Finals
Washington over Tampa Bay

Stanley Cup Finals
Washington over St. Louis

Art Ross Trophy
Sidney Crosby

Rocket Richard Trophy
Vladimir Tarasenko

Hart Trophy
Vladimir Tarasenko

Vezina Trophy
Tuukka Rask

Norris Trophy
Mark Giordano

Calder Trophy
Connor McDavid

Adams Trophy
Barry Trotz

McDavid point total: 76
Eichel point total: 55

Sabré Bleu!: NHL 2014 Season Preview

Posted in Canucks-related, Flyers-related on October 4, 2014 by wechslerh66

Aud

I normally make my playoff picks based on goaltending (the Dave Hannah method or the Gene Ubriaco method, with the Detroit exception), so I figured why not make my regular season picks based on goaltending as well so I can be wrong twice. Also, the Detroit goaltending exception is now the Chicago goaltending exception (see Corey Crawford, who is better than prime Chris Osgood, I think).

METROPOLITAN DIVISION

Pittsburgh: Other than dumping Fleury, who managed to be adequate last season, and replacing him with Tuukka Rask, what the Penguins needed was a bottom of the roster that wasn’t a total black hole. In other words, Goc, Comeau, Downie, Spaling. Greiss as a backup option to Fleury could be some teams’ number one (meaning Winnipeg, but not only Winnipeg). Arguably the best team in the NHL, although I hate them.

Columbus: Hartnell should help, Bobrovsky is arguably the best goalie in the division (if Lundqvist plays more like first-half Lundqvist from last year, and because Khudobin isn’t really a .928 goalie), and I think they have enough depth up front and on defense to make up for the fact that Jack Johnson sucks.

New York Islanders: I want to rank them lower–Halak may be an upgrade on Nabokov, but is .916, 2.23 in 159 games as a Blue really that impressive when Brian Elliott has gone .927, 1.86 in 93 games as a Blue?– but if Kulemin-Grabovski-Brock Nelson is your third line, there’s too much forward depth to drop too far. Also, Eric Boulton is apparently still in the NHL, nominally anyway.

New York Rangers: The Rangers are worse but they’re not bad enough to drop out of the top four in this Division unless Lundqvist is only average. Otherwise, I think they replaced Brad Richards with Tanner Glass. Blah.

New Jersey: Because Cory Schneider isn’t Martin Brodeur, which given Martin Brodeur 2013-14 (.901, 2.51) is a good thing for the Devils. Mike Cammalleri is only 32, though the Montreal Expos still existed when he broke in with the Kings.

Washington: I like the Barry Trotz hire and I think Holtby will rebound. The Orpik signing was bad but I wouldn’t bury this team for doing stupid things, especially when I picked the team that traded Jeff Carter for Jack Johnson to finish second. A playoff bubble team at best, though.

Philadelphia: We have 171 games of evidence that Steve Mason is one of the worst goalies in the NHL (I’m removing his rookie season, both before and after the mono) and 68 games of evidence that he’s capable of ranking at minimum among the top 20 if not higher. I won’t believe it yet, especially with that defense and with the potential for a Stortini-Rinaldo-Rosehill fourth line on any given night. This team is a few years away from being the team they looked like last year. UPDATE: Minus the Rosehill part, I guess, if not the Stortini part too. Bellemare anyone?

Carolina: Anton Khudobin probably isn’t a .928 goalie (Dominik Hasek was “only” a .922 goalie), but he’s good and possibly the only thing keeping the Hurricanes from being the worst team in the league and not the worst in the division. Well, him and the fact that the Flames and Sabres exist. Obligatory Canuck content: I wonder whether Jim Sandlak’s son was named after Anson Carter.

ATLANTIC DIVISION

Montreal: I love the Briere for Parenteau move for the Habs and I think with Chara now 37, Subban is the best defenseman in the division. Price isn’t the best goaltender (see below) but if he’s healthy he’s as good as he needs to be. Plus, Dale Weise!

Boston: A seemingly old team (though only the 10th oldest, behind the Panthers and Flyers, among others you wouldn’t automatically guess) will miss the 37 year old Iginla but likely has the best goalie in the NHL in Tuukka Rask (.928, 2.11 with 22 shutouts in 196 career games). Krejci is only 28, Eriksson only 29. If the stars play like stars, the Bruins could be as good as anyone in the East.

Tampa Bay: Ben Bishop was terrific last season, but his Tampa career is only 72 games of .923, 2.32. Compare Steve Mason’s Flyers career of 68 games of .920, 2.44 (with a worse defense behind him). True, Bishop didn’t have five seasons of suck behind him, but his brilliance is nonetheless a small sample size, and if he declines or is injured again, his backup is now 39-year old Evgeni Nabokov. The Stralman and Boyle moves were smart and Garrison will help (as should Jonathan Drouin) but Brenden Morrow hasn’t been a good possession player in years, even with 58.3% offensive zone starts last season. I wouldn’t hand this team the Atlantic yet.

Toronto: I’m probably overrating a team that still has Tyler Bozak as its top center and downgraded from Carl Gunnarsson to Roman Polak on purpose, but Bernier may be the next best goalie left in this division other than Luongo who’s a Panther (sorry), Kessel is still dominant, and Phaneuf and Reimer are still Leafs or will presumably be traded for something useful and better than Roman Polak. This team was somehow 38-32-8 last season before dropping its last four games and finishing 9 points out of a playoff spot and still wasn’t especially good. That’s either a good omen or a bad omen for this season, but who knows which one.

Detroit: 23 years in the playoffs have to end at some point, and I think the odds are even it’s this year. Nyquist looked good last season but the Red Wings are the fourth oldest team in the league behind the Devils, Rangers, and Canadiens and don’t have a Schneider, a Lundqvist, a Price, or a Subban. I’m not sold on the defense and Detroit goaltending exception doesn’t exist these days; the team isn’t the powerhouse it used to be to overcome Jimmy Howard’s mediocrity. They’ll win enough games that they won’t be bad but I see them finishing fifth.

Florida: Luongo-Montoya alone has me ranking this team above the Sabres and Senators, and the young guys (Ekblad, Barkov, Huberdeau) should be good, if not all this season, but Willie Mitchell? Shawn Thornton? Dave Bolland (who is 28 going on 40)? This is the eighth oldest team in the league, older than the Canucks, Bruins, and Penguins. At least they’re only 20th in payroll, though that may still be five or six teams too high.

Ottawa: If I’m overrating the Leafs, I’m probably underrating the Senators. Lehner could be good, and Anderson shouldn’t be as bad. Karlsson played all 82 games and managed to score 20 goals for the first time last season. There are no stars up front without Spezza but there’s depth. I just don’t love the sum of the parts and if Lehner isn’t a dependable option, this team will finish seventh ahead of only the Sabres in the Atlantic.

Buffalo: The Sabres are deeper up front (Gionta, Torrey Mitchell, the return of Matt Moulson) than the team that scored a league-worst 157 goals (1.9 per game) last year but lost Christian Ehrhoff and have replaced Ryan Miller with Michal Neuvirth. It will be close, but my money is on the Sabres having the 20% odds of winning the lottery and the Flames having the 13.5% odds rather than the reverse.

CENTRAL DIVISION

Chicago: The top three teams in this division could all conceivably finish with the best record in the NHL (though since they play each other more and the East less, I would give Pittsburgh the edge). I think the team that was a game away from the Stanley Cup finals, brought everyone back, and signed Brad Richards for one year/$2M will win the Central.

Dallas: Ask any Flyers fan about the Benn-Seguin-Nichushkin line and then add Spezza and Hemsky. A dark horse to win the West if everything breaks and Kari Lehtonen doesn’t.

St. Louis: The team I picked to win the Cup the past two years, the Blues could still win the West this year, with Brian Elliott the number one and Jake Allen (.928, 2.03 with AHL Chicago last year) replacing Ryan Miller (.924, 2.72 with AHL Buffalo last year before being traded to St. Louis) as backup. A healthy Carl Gunnarsson will help. Peter Mueller (a would-be Flyer, but I guess they preferred Stortini, because fists) could be a nice pickup as well.

Minnesota: The Vanek signing wasn’t bad as Wild do need goals (23rd in GF last season, 7th in GA despite using five goalies, including the Cosmonaut), but even assuming at least one of Harding and Backstrom is healthy enough to be a decent number one or one-A for the majority of the season, a team of Vaneks and Pominvilles and Koivus and Parises with one stud D, solid if unspectacular goaltending, and a bunch of complementary forwards gives you at best the 2005-6 Sabres. Who actually were a win away from the Stanley Cup Finals, come to think of it, but I don’t think it happens here.

Colorado: An overachieving team last season determined to make itself worse (Parenteau for Briere, Reto Berra as backup goalie, signing Iginla rather than a defenseman, though I guess they could have signed Orpik to a ridiculous contract). I think Varlamov will drop off and I don’t think this team has enough defense or enough back end of a roster to come close to last year’s run.

Nashville: I was tempted to pick the Predators ahead of the Avalanche because of Weber, the coaching change (although Barry Trotz wasn’t the problem and will help the Caps significantly, I think) and the fact that Rinne should be at full strength again, but there isn’t enough up front (Colorado outscored them by 34 goals last season and gave up 22 fewer) without major breakout seasons from the Forsbergs and Jarnkroks and other prospects I’ve never heard of.

Winnipeg: If Michael Hutchinson (.923, 2.30 AHL and .921, 2.08 ECHL last season) takes over from Ondrej Pavelec (.901, 3.01 last season, .906, 2.96 career) and doesn’t suck, the Jets (227 GF, 237 GA last season) could make it out of the basement. Otherwise, moé j’suis sans soucis, j’suis sans finesse.

PACIFIC DIVISION

Los Angeles: Someone I don’t remember recently wrote that it would be less surprising if the Kings win their third Cup in four years than if they manage to win the Pacific division (the last time they won a division, it was called the Smythe and Tom Webster was the coach). I wouldn’t be surprised, and if it may be boring to predict either Chicago or LA will win the Cup every year, it underscores that there may be a Los Angeles goaltending exception as well as a Chicago goaltending exception (despite the Conn Smythe and two rings, Quick is only .915, 2.28 career; compare Crawford’s .914, 2.36 career).

Anaheim: The Ducks overachieved last year (a franchise record 116 points despite being a below average possession team at 48% 5v5 Corsi For) but I don’t expect them to drop off that much with John Gibson (.954, 1.33 in the regular season and .919, 2.70 in the playoffs in an extremely small sample size) replacing Jonas Hiller (.911, 2.48 and .906, 2.19, respectively) in goal. Even ex-Flyer Patrick Maroon manages to be useful on this team.

San Jose: The Sharks’ playoff collapses are overrated–they’ve made the playoffs the past ten years and gone to the conference finals three times and the semifinals four times, only losing in the first round to last year’s Stanley Cup champion Kings, the 2009 Jonas Hillers of Anaheim (10 GA in six games vs. the Sharks and .943, 2.23 during the Ducks’ overall playoff run), and a 109-point Blues team in 2011. Not breaking up last season’s 111 point team (other than the fact that last season’s team had a captain) was therefore likely a wise move. On the other hand, the Sharks are a top-heavy team, with the potential for a Flyers-esque fourth line of John Scott-Mike Brown-Adam Burish, a young bottom of the roster otherwise up front as well as on D, and a Canucks-esque goalie controversy, with Stalock outplaying Niemi (who is only four years older) last season. It’s a numbers game; only one of 30 teams wins the Cup every year so the odds are it’s never San Jose’s year.

Vancouver: I think the Canucks will make the playoffs this season, provided that the Sedins and Burrows are better, that Willie Desjardins is not an abusive fuck who does really weird dumb destructive things, and that we don’t have to experience Top Sixtito again (a fourth line of Dorsett-Richardson-Sestito actually works as a fourth line). I also think Vancouver will have a goaltending controversy at some point this season (my money’s on Lack, though the Miller signing doesn’t bother me), and that Canucks-Flames games will continue to be eventful.

Arizona: I’m picking them to miss the playoffs, but barely, which means that Dave Tippett is still a genius, given that the only stars on this team are arguably Hanzal, Ekman-Larsson, and Mike Smith about 40% of the time (now .914, 2.58 career but .921, 2.45 under Tippett). Love the Dubnyk signing as well. Ironically, the two best goalie signings of the offseason are now backups (Greiss in Pittsburgh is the other and I guess Fleury is still the starter for the moment).

Edmonton: I’m pretty sure the Oilers won’t make the playoffs, but the range of outcomes from “just missing by a point” to “zero wins for three months” seems pretty variable, depending on the usual injury plus learning curve questions. I liked the Scrivens and Fasth moves last season (though Fasth may turn out to be a downgrade on Dubnyk; we don’t know yet–although Fasth at 32 is actually four years older) and the Draisatl pick and Pouliot and Fayne (and Dellow) signings in the offseason. But then see Aulie, Acton, Gazdic and the X factors of Arcobello and Yakupov (who appears to have cloned himself and also goes by the name of Yakimov now). Lots of upside, but who knows.

Calgary: Jonas Hiller was 26-9-4, .917, 2.27 for Anaheim at the end of February. He then went 3-4-3, .881, 3.35 to finish the year, only played in six of the Ducks’ 13 playoff games, and is now a Calgary Flame, where his final save percentage last season ties him with that of Karri Ramo (.911). Despite Mark Giordano and some decent low-cost moves like Mason Raymond (offset by some horrible ones like Deryk Engelland), the Flames won’t only finish last in the Pacific but could be the worst team in the NHL. At least it’s a good year to suck.

Eastern Conference playoff teams: Pittsburgh, Montreal, Boston, Tampa Bay, Columbus, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Toronto

Western Conference playoff teams: Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, St. Louis, Anaheim, San Jose, Vancouver, Minnesota

Stanley Cup Finals: Chicago over Montreal

NHL 2014 Playoff Picks: Round Three

Posted in Canucks-related, Flyers-related on May 17, 2014 by wechslerh66

NYC 008

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Chicago/Los Angeles: The two best regular season possession teams meet again in the conference finals, with the Kings the only team remaining in the playoffs with a Fenwick close better than 50%. The top two scorers in the playoffs thus far are both Kings (Kopitar and Gaborik) as well. Small sample sizes (see also: Corey Crawford’s.952 4v5 SV% in the playoffs) aside, although adding Gaborik makes the Kings more of an offensive threat than they were in last year’s playoff loss to Chicago (11 goals scored in 5 games), the Blackhawks still have the better defense and are deeper up front. Canuck rooting interest: Willie Mitchell, who missed the Ducks series with a lower body injury. Also: farewell, Teemu. Blackhawks in six.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

New York Rangers/Montreal: Both of my Flyer fan coworkers are rooting for the Rangers. It’s mostly because of Lundqvist, respect (they beat the Flyers), and there’s really no one to hate on the Rangers (other than Carcillo), plus the perception of Montreal as dirtier. The Rangers were the much better regular season possession team; the two teams are more evenly matched (both slightly below 50% Fenwick close) thus far in the playoffs. Both goalies have been outstanding, with 5v5 SV% of .944 (Lundqvist) and .936 (Price). Montreal has the best skater (Subban) and arguably the best forward (Pacioretty, though you could argue Richards, Vanek, or St. Louis, I guess), but I think the Rangers are deeper, better defensively up front, and somewhat better behind the bench. Canuck rooting interests: Alain Vigneault and Dale Weise, of course, but also Raphael Diaz and Mike Weaver (or as I referred to him for no reason when he was with Vancouver in 2007-2008, Mike Weasel). Nonetheless, this is awesome. Rangers in six.