Interesting Stories From Each Playoff Series Pt. 2ShareThis
New Puck Daddy: a look inside the pre-playoff series meetings teams have
If you missed it, yesterday I wrote about the interesting stories I’ll be keeping an eye on from the five playoff series that started yesterday. Today, I’ll be doing the same for the other three. Without further ado….. MORE PLAYOFFS!
(2) Philadelphia Flyers vs. (7) Buffalo Sabres
Two things immediately spring to mind: the phrase “upset watch” and the Philadelphia Flyers goaltending. If you’re as sick of hearing about it as I am mentioning it, blame Philly’s GM, not me. It’s quite possible that the two things I just mentioned go hand-in-hand.
Let me be clear: I don’t think the Sabres will beat the Flyers. Philly’s forwards are as deep – okay, deeper – than any other team in the NHL (Boston is in the conversation), and their defense is just too good, even with Pronger out. Yes, they will have a tough time getting pucks behind Ryan Miller, but you may have noticed Buffalo is a seven-seed — as in, he’s been scored on before.
I’ll be watching to see if Bobrovsky can keep enough pucks out of the Flyers net to help the team avoid getting that upset seed planted in their head. If he let’s a few shaky ones in during the series’ first contest or Buffalo wins game one…. things will be a lot more interesting.
Underlying story: What the shit happened to the Flyers down the stretch? You want to peak at the right time, and they seemed like they were dragging their asses through a rut down the homestretch. I’m curious to see if it was the fact that they didn’t have a meaningful game for like, two months, or if something has seriously gone awry with that team. More reason to keep this series on upset alert.
(2) San Jose Sharks vs. (7) Los Angeles Kings
You know what I’m curious about? If there’s any plausible reason we can dig up to say LA could win more than one game. The statement Dean Lombardi has made over the past couple years – trying to bring in a big name like Kovalchuk, Iginla, just anyone who could provide some offensive help – leads me to believe he has a pretty good idea of where they need help to win.
Then Kopitar gets hurt, and they’re left with…. Dustin Penner.
This, for the Sharks, could be like going through one of those arrow things in Mario Cart that gives you a burst of speed heading into playoffs. As Dave Lozo told us, you either win early in round one or you don’t win the Stanley Cup (“The last 32 teams to win their first-round series in seven games have failed to win the Stanley Cup.“). They could polish off LA early, rest up, and make a push.
Will the Kings give their fans some breath of hope, somehow, some way?
Underlying story: For me, two little stories: one, the Sharks killed it in the second half of the NHL season, so my question is, could this team be way better than most people think? They’re still pretty stacked.
And two, Antti Niemi. He’s taken slow but steady steps towards being one of the NHL’s elite goaltenders. Another solid playoff run would have him cemented there for years to come. Without being flashy, might we be watching one of the NHL’s best emerge?
(3) Boston Bruins vs. (6) Montreal Canadiens
I’m excited to see if the Canadiens have any push-back in them. I know I’ve been very outspoken about this series, but it’s for a reason – I just can’t find a reason to believe the Habs could beat the Bruins, for one simple fucking reason: the Bruins have better players. Phew – how’s that for in-depth analysis?
It’s not even close. And the Bruins have the most intimidating team in the league to top it off, because their tough guys can play. They don’t have to send a brainless thug out there to get justice, they inflict pain just with the natural way their players play, and that’s no fun in a seven game series.
Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton combined for 206 PIMS (for context, Clark Gillies never got 100 PIMS in a season), and these two combined for 56 goals on top of that. Cammalleri and Plecanec scored a combined 41(in 15 less games) and are more one-dimensional players.
The Habs have a couple more players with Cup experience, so basically, the story I’m most interested in (much like the San Jose/LA series) is if there’s any reason to believe the Habs have a shot. Maybe it’s that experience (I think they have four guys with Cups versus the B’s two), but thus far, I can’t convince myself that they won’t be overwhelmed in four or five games.
Underlying story: The interesting names in this series. Can Tim Thomas play like he did during the regular season in playoffs, or will it be Tuuka Time before it’s all said and done? Will Tomas Kaberle have a shot at his first Cup? How will he hold up under the pressure? Can Carey Price stay in the good graces of Habs fans?
There’s just a lot of fun NHL stars to track in this one. Can’t wait to see what unfolds.
Night one of the NHL playoffs was as fun as to be expected. Four of my five series winner picks won (save for Tampa), so we’re off to a good start. I’ll check in on my gambling status early next week. Enjoy tonight!