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Interesting Stories From Each Playoff Series Pt. 2

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New Puck Daddy: a look inside the pre-playoff series meetings teams have

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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.

Sabres were solid down the stretch, Flyers, nahsomuch.

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.

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(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.

Their talent isn't too old to win.... yet.

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?

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(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?

These teams? They no like each otha.

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.

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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!

Comments

13 Responses to “Interesting Stories From Each Playoff Series Pt. 2”
  1. KForbes says:

    “What the shit happened to the Flyers down the stretch?”

    Chris Pronger injured.
    It seems foolish to put so much value in one missing player, but I saw the same thing happen to Anaheim after he was traded. I mean, it’s redundant to say he’s good, but it’s not until he’s gone that you realize how good he is.
    I honestly think he’s the single-biggest reason Philly made it to the finals last year. He made Leighton the playoff hero and he turned Bobrovsky into a Calder candidate for the first half of the season.
    And he’s 36 years old. And his contract goes until he’s 42. I sometimes wonder if he’s going to play it out.

  2. jtbourne says:

    I actually agree on the Pronger thing, that’s a fair point. He’s like an octopus out there, dude can disrupt an offensive play from almost anywhere.

  3. KForbes says:

    Also, if Pronger returns, I think Philly’s got that series.

    And I think Pronger needs to be on your quote leaders board. If only for the fact that he says everything with a smirk.
    “I could play in Game 1, I could not. I don’t know. We’ll see.”
    http://mit.zenfs.com/206/2011/03/PRONGG.jpg

    cripes, I sound like a fanboy

  4. Nathan says:

    “I don’t want to get into a he said/she said. I’m the he.” – Pronger

  5. Jarick says:

    I have Buffalo winning the series because Pronger is out for at least a game or two, and Philly has been just awful in the last several weeks while Buffalo has been on the rise. I figured Buffalo could win the first game, possibly two, and by then it goes back to their own home ice. If they win three of the first four, it’s all but over. And even though Philly is the deeper team, if Miller goes into “hot goalie” mode (a la Olympics 2010 and don’t forget he’s had two deep playoff runs post lockout), watch out.

  6. Ruestow says:

    I’m pretty surprised that no one (at least who I read, Wys, DGB, ESPN, TSN) have mentioned the Ruff vs Laviolette story line going back to the 2006 ECF.

    That was a pretty intense series (and one hell of a tough memory as a Sabres fan), but I’m surprised that nobody has even mentioned it.

  7. Alanna says:

    Yeah, I’m gonna go there. April 14, 2010:

    Washington Capitals (1) vs. Montreal Canadiens (8)

    Not much to say here, except the obvious: Washington just has way too much firepower to lose. If the Canadiens give them so much as a scare, I fear for Washington when they play a better team. I rate Montreal’s chances, as a percentage, at beat-it-dont-even-try.4%

    PREDICTION: CAPITALS in THREE

  8. jtbourne says:

    Haha, so well played. Care to wager that I’m wrong this year? Doesn’t have to be cash, can be. Your call.

  9. mlem88 says:

    it’s Mario Kart…with a K…rookie move

    otherwise go Caps, Yotes, and Ducks

  10. Alanna says:

    Somebody up there likes me……..
    I am not confident enough in the Habs to say they’ll win the series, but they’ll definitely give the B’s a hassle. Their ability to show up for the playoffs, solid goaltending, and the motivation of not wanting to be literally burned alive by their fans seems to work for them. Combine that with the Bruins’ ability to inexplicably underachieve at times and let sure-fire wins escape them gives me some confidence that this series will go to at least 6 games.
    How’s that for a bet: Series goes at least 6 games and the Habs aren’t a push-over.
    You win and I comment on every PD post of yours for a week proclaiming that your player point-of-view articles are a valuable addition to the blog! Keep this man around Wysh! Excellent insight Bourne! All you haters need to step off!
    I win and you have to make a post here about how the impending Big Ten Hockey Conference may endanger college hockey as we know it (to get folks outside the college hockey world interested in the goings-on).
    Deal?

  11. jtbourne says:

    DONE. :)

  12. Alanna says:

    [insincere handshake]
    Olé Olé Olé Olé
    Olé
    Olé.

  13. Fish says:

    Edmonton with Pronger -> SCF
    Edmonton without Pronger -> DNQ
    Anaheim with Pronger -> SC
    Anaheim without Pronger -> DNQ
    Philadelphia with Pronger -> SCF
    Philadelphia without Pronger in playoffs -> I’m still thinking the Flyers will win in 6 but that’s because I’m one of those pessimistic type of Sabres fans.

    Bruins – Canadians: I think the Canadians have at least another CapitalPenguin in them.

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