Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Playoff Predictions

Something a little different today as I’m joined by a few other hockey fans to discuss the upcoming playoff match-ups and make predictions that I'm sure will be very very incorrect.

Taking part in the festivities are Dave, from the Ottawa Sun - a frustrated Bruins fan (is there any other type) who longs for the good old days of Cam Neely and Ray Bourque. Montreal-based Sens fan (we’ll forgive him) and PWI scribe Keith (aka Fatcitizen). Oilers fan and resident of the City of Champions Rick and all the way from Alabama, music lover and hockey fan Largeheartedboy.

Mike (aka BLF/MF37)

I'm glad we agreed to start with the West because, after the results of last night's games, I think that's where most of the really interesting match-ups reside.

First up: Detroit Red Wings (1) versus the Edmonton Oilers (8).

The Red Wings, winners of the President’s Trophy as the top team in the NHL, haven't missed the playoffs since 1990-91. The Oil return to the playoffs for just the second time since 2001-2002.

The Wings had 17 more wins and 29 more points than the Oil (although they do play in the Comedy Central Division); however, the season series between these two clubs was actually very close - both teams won 2 games, three of which went to overtime, including a Detroit shootout win in March.

So what do I make of the match-up? I have to admit I'm rather torn on this one. I'd love to see Yzerman win one last cup. Is there a classier guy in hockey? But, I also would love to see Edmonton actually make it out of the first round for a change...Detroit is no stranger to playoff upsets (cue the video montage with Borchevsky leaping in glee; goalies being booed out of town - Joseph, Osgood, Cheveldale; Maggie the Monkey from TSN; LA and Anaheim - California uber alles) but I don't think it's going to happen this year.

As far as I can tell, there's only three ways the Oilers are going to win this series:

  1. Rexall Centre lives up to its name and the pharmacy outlet puts Quietude in the Red Wings Water Bottles
  2. The statue of Wayne Gretzky in front of the rink actually comes to life, suits up for the Oilers, and plays like the Great One of 1988 (soon to be a major motion picture starring Emilio Estevez and Ian Ziering).
  3. Dwayne Roloson gets hotter than hot and somehow steals at least three, if not four games.

I really want the Oil to make a series of it, so I'll call it Wings in six.

Keith

Starting with the west also means I have time to sleep off the celebrating I got into over the fact that the Sens get the Lightning in round one (Sean Burke, meet Daniel Alfredsson. Vulcanized rubber disc, meet twine).

Detroit v. Edmonton

True Story: I met Wayne Gretzky in the summer of 1981. The city was still going bonkers over the fact that the 16th seed Oilers had beaten the President's Trophy winning Habs (did the President's Trophy exist in 1981?) in four games. My aunt, who did bookkeeping at the Northlands (now Rexall Place) for a time, took me to a little reception where dozens of kids pushed past Warren Moon and several members of the Edmonton Drillers to get things signed by the then pasty-faced kid from Brantford.

Unfortunately for the folks in the City of Champions (tm) we're not turning back the clock.

The Oilers aren't beating this year's President's Trophy winners. It's not happening.

I've always thought the Oilers are one of those teams that is everyone's second (or third) favourite. It's hard not to like fast, hard-working, lunchbucket franchises, that play on the best ice in the league and skate like demons, but their goaltending isn't good enough (having watched Mike Morrison wearing Sens red and black I can see why he wasn't taking them anywhere, but has Roloson been that much better?), Peca can only take defensively erase one guy at a time (and he can only do that when he's not being counted on to score) and the Detroit power play is just too strong.

That said, the Oilers are just dangerous enough to make a series of it. I can't imagine Roloson pulling a J.S. Gigere and stunning everyone with the upset but I can't imagine MacTavish letting them roll over either.

Detroit in six.

Bonus prediction: Chris Chelios runs someone, let's say Ales Hemsky, out of the rink and into the hospital in game five in Detroit.

Rick

Keith - nice segue about the Drillers and meeting Gretzky although I am shocked that you did not want to meet the Driller's pillar on Defense and NASL all time all-star - Peter Nogly.

I am proud to admit that I am a soccer fan - it was much easier to get Drillers tix than Oiler tix in the early 80's, which was fine with me. Sleep-over at my Oma's and then walk across the street to Commonwealth to catch the game with my Opa while he told me about some of the great games he went to in Europe. Good Times ... yeah Good Times!!

Dave

The poor Edmonton Oilers. The 1980s must seem further away than ever for fans of the Oil today. Edmonton gets 41 victories and racks up 95 points, totals that would win many divisions in years past, and what's the Oilers' reward? A match-up with the President's Trophy-winning Red Wings, who feasted on their inept divisional rivals en route to a spectacular 124-point season.

OK, so these Wings aren't exactly the '76 Montreal Canadiens. Their goaltending could be suspect with an untested Manny Legace expected to start. But they have a proven playoff winner in Chris Osgoode ready to step in, and with skaters like Datsyuk, Lidstrom, Shanahan, Lang, Zetterberg, and ... let's see, oh yeah, STEVE YZERMAN (14 points in his last 15 games), they have more than enough firepower to give Dwayne Roloson fits. Roloson hasn't lived up to his billing since coming over to Edmonton at the trade deadline (8-7, .905 save pct.), and things aren't going to get any easier against Detroit in the post-season.

Maybe watching NBC's coverage of this series might make it a little more fun. ("From the network that brought you Joey, here's Pierre McGuire with today's installment of Hockey for Americans. Pierre chats with Hank Whitfield, who has driven the Zamboni at Joe Louis Arena for 807 consecutive games. He's a MONSTER!...")

If Craig MacTavish can get his team into the second round, he deserves a lifetime contract. It ain't gonna happen.

Prediction: Wings in five.

Keith
Seriously, what does McGuire smoke between his (calm, well considered, genuinely interesting) radio spots and his TV commentaries? Half the time he sounds like Duff Man.

Mike
Did you know both Edmonton and Detroit claim to be the "City of Champions" - see here and here.

I think there's a great municipal wager waiting to happen here - I foresee a photo op with an out of town mayor taking a wrench/ratchet set to another city's welcome signage...of course, the sign in Detroit is most likely:
a) bullet riddled
b) in Jerome Bettis' basement
c) missing since the Pistons victory "celebration" of 1989

Rick
First of all this series requires a mandatory bet with my Dad who has been Wings fan since the Edmonton Oil Kings were their farm team in the 60's. Remember those days when the Teams practically owned the players like slaves. Ted Lindsay can fill you in more...but I digress.

The Oilers finished this year with the most wins and points since 1988 which is also the last time they met the Wings in the playoffs. Can this be a coincidence? Is this a harbinger for playoff success? As per usual this town is split on whether the Oilers can get out of the first round. Can Roloson get hot and steal a game (which he hasn't so far) and will their young forwards become playoff veterans in a hurry. Peca is playing better and the Oilers can roll 4 lines now with Pouliot playing well but does the 4th line ever play in the playoffs? We all know Laraque has been saving all of his goals for the playoffs.

Secretly we are all hoping that Petr Klima takes the Wings on a tour of the all the old nightclubs in Edmonton and they stop at the old Goose Loonies Bar so that they can get liquored up before Game 3 on Tuesday. Jacques Demers will be able to read about it in Wednesdays paper...

If the Wings are ever going to get knocked out of the playoffs, we all know it would be in the First Round. I still remember the Ducks killing my Draft in 1994 when they beat the Wings and it was only because Cloutier couldn't stop a 6 hopper from the Red Line that they beat the Canucks a few years ago.

The Wings can be beat but only if:
· the Oilers stay out of the penalty box
· Roloson outplays Legace
· the Oilers forcheck the crap out of the Wings Defense.

Are the Wings still hungry for the cup? Datsyuk and Zetterberg were invisible in the playoffs 2 years ago and I can't believe Shanahan is a 30+ goal scorer again this year. The playoffs are different beast. All the pressure is on the Wings, we will see if the Oilers can rise to the challenge. My head says differently but my heart says....

Oilers in Seven!!!

Keith
Rick - I'm sure you're going to fill us in, but why do you think the Oil have a better chance against Detroit than Dallas? They're toast either way, aren't they?

Rick

After all of these years, I think the team and the city are spooked and tired of Dallas. They have always played Detroit well over the past few years and the players believe they can beat them. I am not sure it is the same with Dallas. My wife is in Houston this week with her mom and told me it was 31C yesterday. I think if Edmonton had to playing on the crappy ice in Reunion Arena or whatever is called these days it would be deja-vous all over again (I love Yogi Berra !!).

Keith

Kinda like us and the Leafs, eh?

Mike


Ed’s note: Keith means the Sens - I’m glad to see that Leaf fans aren’t the only ones that use the “we” pronoun when talking hockey.


Largeheartedboy

Before I make my first prediction, I have to admit that the NHL playoffs are by far my favorite sporting event. I grew up in Philadelphia and am a lifelong Flyers fan, but live in the south now and have become a regular at Predators home games and a fan of the future dynasty that David Poile and Barry Trotz have built.

Biases out of the way, here are my thoughts on the Red Wings - Edmonton series:

The rules changes that opened up offense in the league placed an even greater premium of special teams this year, and Detroit was first in the league in power play percentage and third in penalty killing. Added to their depth up front and on the blueline, Detroit will be a tough first-round opponent for the Oilers. The Wings' goaltending is surely their weak link, but luckily for them, Edmonton's duo of Dwayne Roloson and Jussi Markanen is no more likely than Detroit's Manny Legace Chris Osgood to steal a game.I would love for Edmonton to represent for Canadian teams and knock off the NHL's best regular season team, but I just don't see it happening in this series.

Red Wings in 6.

Keith
Another Wings in Six prediction.

Anyone want to talk about whether we're giving them too much respect? (I'm not just needling Rick, honest). If the Wings are as great as we all think they are, are we giving the Oilers the two wins just because they're gamers (I think I am...)

Largeheartedboy
As hard working a team as the Oilers are, I think they will force the Wings to beat them, and keep every game close. Legace hasn't proven himself as a playoff goaltender (only four career starts), if he gets hot I can see a five game series, but not a sweep.

Dallas (2) v. Colorado (7)

Dallas won the Pacific division title (which seems a bit odd considering where Dallas is actually located) and finished third overall in the NHL standings. Colorado looked like they might slip right out of playoff contention, hovering just above .500 in their post-Olympic match-ups, going 11-9-2 down the stretch.

Dave
Once upon a time (way back in 1995), a proud, stubborn goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens -- franchise superstar, the undisputed prince of Habitant hockey -- was left hung out to dry by his equally stubborn head coach in a game against the Detroit Red Wings at the Forum. After surrendering nine goals in 31 minutes to the visitors from Motown, the peerless netminder skated as close as he could get to the patrician president of the storied NHL club and growled: "I've played my last game for Montreal."

A few tense days later, the perennial all-star was traded safely away from the Eastern conference to the newly relocated Colorado Avalanche. That spring, he led his new club to the franchise's first Stanley Cup. Some say his former team has never recovered from the revered one's departure.

It was the stuff of fairy tales, a Hollywood ending if ever there was one.

Fast forward a decade. A Hart-trophy-winning Montreal goaltender is again traded in the midst of a controversial season, again to Colorado. He leads his new team in the Rockies to the playoffs, and...

OK, maybe this particular script still needs a little work to be believable.

No, not even Peter Jackson's best special effects crew could turn Jose Theodore into the second coming of St. Patrick. Whether it's the thin mountain air, the sight of Patrice Brisebois "clearing away traffic" in front of him once again or the wrong hair care products, Theodore has looked nothing remotely like the guy who won the NHL's MVP award a few years back. And that's why the Dallas Stars will beat his Colorado Avalanche in Round 1.

To be honest, though, I'm not really sold on the Stars either. I know they've got some talent up front with Modano, Arnott, Morrow, Guerin and the like, and a fairly solid defence. But I don't think Marty Turco has yet proven he's the guy who will carry them on his back to a Cup title the way Roy did twice in Colorado. And the Avs, don't forget, still have several players from those teams who know what it's like to hoist Lord Stanley's mug and would love to do it again.

Though Dallas won the season series between these teams 3-1, all the games were close, with two being decided in shootouts.

Still, Turco will be good enough to backstop the Stars past Colorado. Sakic, Blake and the rest of the Avs will have to regroup and try for another ring again next year.

Prediction: Dallas in six.

Mike
This one seems to lack a bit of heat or interest for me.

Colorado may have some pretty hefty firepower up front with 6 guys scoring 20 or more, but it's the goaltending that's looking a little shaky. As a Leaf fan, I know about shaky goaltending and neither Peter Budaj nor Jose Theodore would make give me any reason to book my second round tickets at the Pepsi Centre. I can't see the Avalanche pulling this one off with either of those guys between the pipes.

I think Arnott's contract-year play will continue. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Stars do it in five, but I think Sakic will win one game on his own.

Call it Stars in 6.

Keith

Top Five Physicians Warnings on the side of Jose Theodore's prescription for Propecia:

5) Side effects include drowsiness, dry mouth and family involvement in loan sharking.
4) Propecia may cause patients to miraculously recover from so-called "season ending ankle injuries."
3) So might getting away from the Montreal media
2) Les fabricants de Propecia ne sont pas responsables d'aucun suckitude à long terme
1) Persons imbibing this steroid masking agent hair care product will be eliminated by the Dallas Stars in the playoffs in six games

Seriously though, Dallas has balanced scoring, a decent defense, good coaching and a goalie with a ton to prove. The Avs have one of the greatest players of all time (Sakic) and a whole pile of question marks. I'm with Mike in thinking it might be generous to give the Avs two wins...

Dallas in 6.

Rick

These 2 teams have had some classic battles in the past - the 1999 series was great. Unfortunately, this is ancient history (remember the old NHL?) and does not equate to a good series this year.

Colorado is on the decline and will be lucky to make the playoffs next year. Their veterans are old and tired - Brisebois and Turgeon have had decent years but they will fade when the real hockey starts. Sakic and Tanguay cannot win this series on their own. Theodore should call Barry Bonds and start double dosing the steriods (err I mean flax liniment cream) really fast to justify his use of Propecia so that he will be literally HUGE in net (my Pierre Maguire plug).

Quenneville is proving that he is not the genius coach everyone made him out to be meanwhile Tippet has quietly built a cup contender. I am glad the Oilers play Detroit instead Dallas. I think this will be the year that Turco becomes a true superstar.

Stars in Five

Calgary (3) v. Anaheim (6)

The Flames won the Northwest Division with 103 points. Anaheim finished 3rd in the Pacific, just one point back of the streaking San Jose Sharks.

The Flames didn't have a single player hit the 70 point mark this season (Montreal is the only other team to qualify for the post-season without having a player put at least 70 on the board). While Anaheim seemed to flip a switch at about the 20 game point and just kept plugging along, going roughly 11-4 though the next three 15 game segments.

Dave
With all due respect to Jaromir Jagr and Joe Thornton, the National Hockey League's real MVP is playing in this series.

Without Mikka Kiprisoff, the punchless Flames might not have given the Albany River Rats a run for their money this season. Calgary won its division despite scoring only 218 goals - just 18 more than it managed in the NHL's "dead puck era" in 2003-04. But thanks to Kipper's stellar netminding, the Flames also gave up fewer goals than any other team in the league.

Calgary has a battle-tested crew and a coach in Darryl Sutter who knows how to squeeze every ounce of effort out of his players. But will that be enough against an Anaheim team that features a Veniza-calibre goalie of its own in J.S. Giguere, not to mention perhaps the league's best defenceman in Scott Neidermayer and a rejuvenated Teemu Selanne, who's playing like it's 1993 all over again? (Maybe he went to Jose Theodore's hair specialist and said, "I'll have what he's having.")

I never thought losing Craig Conroy to free agency would make such a difference to the Flames' offence, but I really think it has. Jarome Iginla isn't the same player he was two years ago, and part of it could be a lack of chemistry with the centre who feeds him the puck. (Everybody loves Daymond? Maybe not in Cowtown.) Or maybe not.

All I know is the Calgary Flames are still scoring goals like it's 2004. They better hope they can duplicate some of the same magic that carried them to the finals that spring, or they could be making a quick exit from Lord Stanley's tournament.

As someone who'd love to see an all-Canadian Stanley Cup final between Ottawa and Calgary, I hate to say it but: Ducks in seven.

Keith
Wow!Davey, is this your "token upset pick" or do you know something we don't?

Dave
You know I can't reveal my sources, Keith.

Keith
I know the Flames haven't scored, and I know they've been boring but does the new NHL eliminate the old saw that defense and goaltending win championships?

I think we all watched Anaheim go on that tear a month ago and forgot that they were pretty average before that. They've also been pretty average (or below average) in the last month. I'll tell you one thing, though, it's not a series I'm looking forward to watching.

Edmonton Detroit will likely be interesting/Dallas v. Colorado could have some nice end to end action, not so (at least as far as I can see) with Anaheim - Calgary.

FWIW, I like your Conroy observation, Dave. He's certainly missed in Calgary and good things have definitely followed him down to Carolina.

Rick
The Flames might not have made the playoffs without Kipper. Since the Flames got him, every team in the League is trying to find magic in a bottle with an unknown Finnish goalie ... right Dave Nonis -- WRONG !!

Quite Frankly the Flames scare me. I suspect that the playoffs will see a return of pre-lockout hockey and as David said, the Flames are still scoring at that level so that should not be a problem. Iginla has to pick it up though if they are going to go far.I am still shocked that the Ducks even made it into the playoffs considering most people thought they were done at the Trading Deadline. Brian Burke's ego will be even bigger now but I don't think that the Ducks have enough to challenge Calgary.

Teemu has been great this year - he was a sleeper pick in my reg. season pool but who the hell in Andy MacDonald!?!

Giguere is playing better lately but the Flames will remember how Ryan Smyth rattled his cage a couple of months ago and run the crap out of him.Flames in Five. Then we can watch Glenn Healy and Burke go at it again on TSN with their playoff commentary!!!

FYI - As a proud Edmontonian there was no way I wanted Calgary to win the Cup two years ago. However I did have fun writing "Sucks" on all of the traitors who had Flames Car Flags on their Trucks and everybody loved the Flames Girls website. This year I better not see any Flames Flags around town and now I hear that the Calgary Cops are going to tone down the celebrations on the Red Mile. Maybe the Oilers Girls on Whyte Ave will pick up the slack ... stay tuned.

Mike

To paraphrase an old joke, this series is going to come down to three things - Kirprisoff, Kirprisoff, Kiprisoff. This is a hard one to call.

I know that stats and history clearly demonstrate there's no relationship between playoff experience and success (just look at the list of cup contenders over the past few years Calgary, Anaheim, Carolina) but all I can think about in this series is Calgary's run the last time we had hockey.

These teams seem very evenly matched. While Anaheim has great team speed, Selanne is playing unbelievable hockey and Giguere is no slouch between the pipes, the Flames can counter with Sutter, the stingiest defense in the league and a number of guys up front that can score.

Looking for other advantages, neither team has a great powerplay (Anaheim is 15th, Calgary is 12th). Calgary's PK is 7th, Anaheim's is just 0.8% worse, which puts them at 13th. In terms of goals scored five on five, Anaheim was 18th with 136 goals. The Flames were 29th with 108. The teams even managed to split their season series at 2-2.

If you're looking for an advantage, this is all I've got: Sutter, the persona, has to be good for one win. Kiprisoff has to be able to steal another. That means the Flames just have to win two more out of five. Factor in the Flames' best home record in the NHL, the Ducks playing .500 on the road and four games at the Saddledome and the scales tip towards the Flames.

I'm going to go with Calgary in 7, but it's more of a push than any strong conviction.

Keith
You know, part of the fun of these e-mail prognostication thingies is disagreeing with people you sometimes barely know.

Since I know Mike, this won't be as much fun. Then again, it's not much of a disagreement. I was all ready to talk about how this one is bound to be a tight series, about how (as a recovering Canucks fan) I'm really happy for Brian Burke and how every hockey fan has to be excited with the resurgence of Teemu Selanne.

Then I checked things out:

  • Calgary has won 7 of their last eleven (not dominant, but still pretty healthy
  • Calgary has the better defense Calgary has the better goaltender (if not the best one in the league right now)
  • Calgary has home ice (and one of the toughest rinks in the league to win in…only Nashville has more home wins, strangely enough)

Sure they don't score a tonne, but with Kipper in net, they won't need to, and when you add the fact that the Ducks are 4-7 in their last eleven (and 4-8 in their last 12) I just can't imagine this one is going to be as tight as Mike thinks.

Calgary in five.

Dave
BTW, I'm standing by my Anaheim prediction. I'd love to see the Flames make a repeat run to the finals, but something tells me the Ducks just might have their number. Then again, I've been wrong before. In fact, I'm probably wrong more often than not when it comes to sports prognosticating.

Still, Ducks in seven. You read it here first.

Nashville Predators (4) v. San Jose Sharks (5)

Dave
Perhaps Don Cherry said it best on a recent edition of Coach's Corner. When the San Jose Sharks traded for Joe Thornton early this season, they really got two players in the deal.

Obviously they added Thornton, this year's Art Ross Trophy winner with 125 points. But Thornton also managed to awaken Jonathan Cheechoo's inner scoring giant. Before the trade, Cheechoo had a pedestrian seven goals in 24 games. After Big Joe came west and joined his line, he potted a whopping 49 and took home the Rocket Richard trophy for good measure. No team in the West was hotter than the Sharks down the stretch (8-1-1 in their last 10) and the boys in San Jose have to be feeling confident. Vesa Toskala has little playoff experience in net, but he played very well in the regular season.

Nashville, meanwhile, has bigger goaltending issues with Tomas Vokoun out for the season after suffering blood clots. In fact, until yesterday, I can honest say I'd never heard of the man who's taking his place, Chris Mason. Thanks to NHL.com, I now know he's a native of Red Deer, Alta., who has played 44 games over six NHL seasons and happens to be celebrating his 30th birthday tomorrow.

Happy Birthday, Chris, and welcome to the Stanley Cup playoffs! Good luck. You might need it.

Actually, the Predators have barely missed a beat since Mason took over for Vokoun, with the new starter going 5-1 with a GAA of 1.44. Nashville's defence is pretty solid, and the Predators played well down the stretch, going 7-3. The Preds have a couple of top-notch skill players in Kariya and Sullivan, along with dependable journeymen Mike Sillinger and Yanic Perreault. The two teams split their season series 2-2, with two games going to overtime.

In the end, though, I have to give the edge to San Jose. The Sharks have a bunch of guys like Alyn McCauley, Scott Thornton and Scott Hannan with character and grit who aren't easy to play against, especially when spring rolls around. This one could be close, but I'll take San Jose in six.

Largeheartedboy

This is a totally different series if Nashville goaltender Tomas Vokoun was playing. With Chris Mason between the pipes, regardless of his success this season, this becomes an easy series for the hottest team in the west.

Nashville does have the toughest arena in the league this year, having the best home record. I'll take part of that credit, having seen many games in Nashville this year and rooting for my adopted home team. The crowd will be loud at their home games and the Predators' team defense and blue-collar teamwork will keep the team from being embarrassed, but Thornton, Cheechoo and company will come out ahead at the end of the series.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the Sharks ride their hot streak into the finals. Wait until next year, though, for the Preds...San Jose in six.

Rick
Boy this is a tough series to pick. The winner could go all the way to the Finals.

Nashville is a gritty playoff style team that does not seem to miss Vokoun .. so far. I kind of hope they advance and meet Calgary in round two. Those 2 teams hate each other...but I am getting ahead of myself.

Ultimately this series comes down to which Joe Thornton will show up - the Boston Beaner who has disappeared in playoffs past (no points in 7 games in 2003-04 and only 18 points in 35 career playoff games) or the West Coast Renaissance Man who is the Art Ross Trophy Winner this year. My ass is getting sore sitting on the fence on this one. I would be happy with players from either team in my Playoff pool. Joe Thornton aside ... when in doubt pick the team with the better goaltender and I would take Nabokov or Toskala over Mason any day.

Sharks in Seven...maybe ... ouch that damn fence hurts !!

Keith
Don't forget that, in that Montreal series, Joe was -- supposedly - playing with a rib injury that made it impossible for him to bend over to untie his skates.

Rick
Boo Hoo! Thornton should have sucked it up. The stars of this game have become Legendary by playing hurt in the playoffs and still contributing to their teams. A couple of broken ribs to Messier meant he only scored 2 points per game instead 3 or 4 and opponents only had to worry about getting an evil glare instead of a stick in the gut. And yes ... Messier is my favorite all time player.

Keith
Ahhhh...I was waiting for the first "back in my day" moment. Thank you Rick, for winning the prize ahead of me. (I likely would have wasted it on crying about Tony Tanti or pulling my hair out about Joel Otto being in the crease...)

FWIW, who did Mess have on his wings? It wasn't Mike Knuble, was it? Just checking...At any rate, yeah, Joe's a little laid back, but I think the proof will be in the pudding over the next few weeks...

Another side note, does anyone scratch their head over the fact that Cheechoo signed for five years at $3 Million per? How much of it did he give to Joe? Does the fact that the Sharks are essentially paying two salaries (Joe's and Cheechoos) for one guy (Thornton) affect San Jose's cap in some way?

Davey, you're a Bruins fan. What do you think of Joe?

Furthermore, does anyone disagree with my list of the worst front offices in hockey
4) Columbus
3) Toronto
2) Chicago
1) Boston - that Thornton trade is going to go down in the books as one of the worst ever...

Mike
Two words – Milbury’s Islanders.

Rick
You named the winner/loser there Mike.I actually like Columbus - Nash will be healthy next year and I think they can make the playoffs with a strong supporting cast of Zheredev on the wing and Leclaire in net.

Keith
Crap! Sorry I forgot the Isles.. (See that's why these things are usually top fives)
5) Columbus
4) Toronto
3) The Islanders
2) Chicago
1) Boston

Mike
Off the top of my head, my top 5 bad front offices/GMs:

  1. Islanders
  2. Chicago (I liked the Aucoin and Khababulin signings at the time...)
  3. Pittsburgh (why did anyone think Crosby, retreads and an AHL defensive corps would compete this year. Rechhi was a -35)
  4. Boston (they at least drafted Samsonov and Thornton and had a 100 point season before the stoppage)
  5. Leafs (not one of JFJ's off-season signings worked out)

Keith
Not that it's much of a stretch to call the 4-5 series the best or closest of the bunch, but I'm really looking forward to this one (and not just because Chris Mason and Vanilla Ice - scroll half way down for the picture - were separated at birth).

Mike
I think Chris Mason looks more like Luke Easter from that awful band Tourniquet (sp?).

Don't ask me how I know these things.

Keith
Mostly it's because I'm a BIG Joe Thornton fan (not just because he was the only bright light in an otherwise dim season for my fantasy team) and I love the Cheechoo story (he always was top ten in the league in shots on goal, it's a measure of how good Joe Thornton is that he turned from a shooter into a scorer).

Nashville's fun to watch (add Steve Sullivan to the list of players I really like in this series) but I think it'll be the Sharks at the end of the day.

San Jose in seven fun, exciting to watch, games.

Mike
I really wish Voukon hadn't been hurt as this would be a completely different series and further proof that the first round of the NHL playoffs is one of the best sporting moments of the year.

That said, Mason has put up surprisingly good numbers in his short stretch with the Preds and neither Toskala nor Nabokov have really seized the number one job in San Jose.

I think this series will turn on depth and with Sullivan hurt and Zidlicky questionable, I don't think the Preds have the manpower to match San Jose on a line by line basis (oh to have Marleau as a second line centre). I also think Ron Wilson's got the coaching chops to get this team past the first round.

Sharks in six*

*I should admit that I gave up on the sharks back in January and traded them for Canucks in my rotisserie pool, so you might want to discount this pick a little...


Link

3 comments:

  1. I disagree with the worst front offices, any list that does not include the Flyers and Bobby Clarke is just plain negligent.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Karina1:23 pm

    Conroy signed with LA, not Carolina, Keith, and there aren't such great things happening there for him.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Karina,

    You're absolutely right. This is further to my apathy for Carolina (see my post on the eastern conference that BLF will likely be putting up tonight or tomorrow) and my inability to tell Corey Stillman and Craig Conroy apart (in fact, I'm willing to bet - Like Mason and Vanilla Ice - they are the same guy).

    K

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