April 15, 2002

The NHL Playoffs are upon us : starting Wednesday, and nobody could have predicted some of these matchups when the season began. New Jersey looking up at Carolina in the standings? An unlikely Original Six matchup? "Phoenix" and "playoffs" uttered in the same sentence? Who's gonna win? Who isn't?

posted by Succa to hockey at 08:12 PM - 39 comments

My expert opinion: Detroit in 5 Colorado in 6 San Jose in 5 St Louis in 6 Montreal in 7 Ottawa in 6 New Jersey in 4 Toronto in 5

posted by Succa at 08:19 PM on April 15

New Jersey looking up at Carolina in the standings? and by all accounts, they really shouldn't. The NHL really needs to get rid of automatic seeding for divisional leaders... the standings in the East are a joke. Toronto has one point fewer than first place Boston, yet is ranked 4th? Carolina deserves to be seeded 7th. Anyway, all whining about the standings aside, my picks: Detroit in 7 (Vancouver is rollin' now, and Detroit slumping - but they'll get their senses back) Colorado in 6 San Jose in 6 Chicago in 5 Jersey in 5 Philly in 6 Boston in 6 Toronto in 5 (gotta pick the home team.. go leafs!) [This should go to the locker-room.: Any SportsFilter pools or leagues or friendly bets for the playoffs? I'm game.]

posted by mkn at 08:38 PM on April 15

Ditch the automatic 1-2-3 seeding, but keep the divisional system. Just reserve a spot for all three division winners, even if one of them has to take the 8th spot (if that division is that bad). Picks? Vancouver in 6 Colorado in 7 --- Colorado in 5 --- Colorado in 6 San Jose in 7 --- Chicago in 7 Chicago in 7 Jersey in 4 Philly in 7 --- Philly in 7 Boston in 7 Toronto in 7 --- Toronto in 6 --- Toronto in 7 (yes, I predict a VERY exciting first round, but I'm not going to predict a Cup champ because I don't want to jinx myself) Oh, and go Leafs go! (but y'all figured out who I'm cheering for already, right?)

posted by grum@work at 11:05 PM on April 15

I haven't decided where I come down on the ranking system. I like the idea that there is something to be gained by winning your division, but Carolina shouldn't be anywhere near a 3 seed. I guess I say keep it the way it is, but I can go either way. Picks... (Those selected as winners are doomed to failure. I have that kind of power) Detroit in 5 - Detroit in 7 Colorado in 4 - Colorado in 6 - Colorado in 6 San Jose in 7 Chicago in 6 Boston in 5 Philly in 5 Jersey in 6 - Jersey in 6 Toronto in 5 - Toronto in 7 - Toronto in 6 And I like Colorado in 7, because Roy has made it his mission.

posted by 86 at 09:00 AM on April 16

I agree with MKN about the seeding. It should just be the top 8 in the East and the top 8 in the West. And lets stop all this talk about Theodore beating the Bruins. Don't kid yourself.

posted by Samsonov14 at 09:19 AM on April 16

C'mon, the Broons are a soft team with no playoff experience whatsoever. The reason they placed first is their nine overtime losses. It's well within Montreal's ability to knock them off in Round 1, and I'm even going to far as to bet on it.

posted by Succa at 12:46 PM on April 16

I hate the Bruins more than I hate the Canadiens, but calling them soft (at least relative to Montreal) is rather silly. First, as I recall it was the Canadiens who were injured all year and that, to me, is one indication of the toughness of a team. Second, matching up man-for-man the Bruins would/will clobber Montreal in physical play. Perreault, Dykhuis, Savage, Petrov, Juneau, Brisebois, Markov and Berezin??? Hell, I can't think of more than a couple token tough guys. Meanwhile, Thorton, Guerin, LaPointe, O'Donnell, Gil, & Brown all can throw their weight around. How is Montreal a tougher team? Second, the reason they placed first is because they were the best team in the Eastern Conference during the season. I hate it when people minimize something like that (and I HATE BOSTON so I should the one guy to appreciate the gesture). There are 82 games in the regular season, that should be more than enough to determine who is best and who is eighth. Third, Montreal hasn't had a lot of playoff experience either, though I think the point about Boston is more than valid once they are by the Canadiens.

posted by 86 at 01:18 PM on April 16

I like the 1-2-3 seeding. Without it, winning a division is completely meaningless.

posted by rcade at 04:54 PM on April 16

Detroit 7 Kings 6 San Jose 6 Chicago 5 Montreal 7 Ottawa 6 Carolina 7 Toronto 5 Detroit 5 San Jose 5 San Jose 7 Toronto 6 Toronto 6 Ottawa 6 San Jose brings it home in 6 over the Leafs. Evgeni Nabokov goes on to become the premier goalie in the league.

posted by gov at 06:12 PM on April 16

Calling Boston "the best team in the East" is misleading to me. The overtime-loss point throws a monkey wrench into the whole equation, because you can get a point for losing a game. They're the team with the most points, yes, but they still got there by nickel-and-diming on a silly league point system. Anyway, Boston's still had a great season, and it's maybe a little presumtuous of me to imply that they suck. You're right, they're tougher than Montreal, but I'd say only slightly. I still don't think they have the experience nor the talent necessary to go very far. I say this as a fan of a team (Ottawa) who has placed high in the conference only to get stunned by teams with more playoff experience and more desperate play. Alls I'm saying is that I've seen it happen twice to my own team, and Boston looks like a spitting image of the Sens of 1999 that went down hard to Buffalo.

posted by Succa at 11:10 PM on April 16

And I'm not sure why winning a division SHOULD mean something. In fact, I'm not even sure what the significance of the divisions are, except to allow geographic proximity to the most frequent opponents. If divisions are to mean something, they should guarantee a playoff spot, but not a 1-2-3 seeding.

posted by Succa at 11:12 PM on April 16

Succa, you're dead on about the divisional seeding thing. I couldn't agree more. As far as the Bruins of today/Sens of 1999 comparison goes, you're exceptionally wrong. Like making out with your sister kind of wrong. Where do you see the similarities? The Sens were not a tough team. Most of their goal-scorers were under 6'0" (Emerson, Donato, Dackell, McEachern, etc), and except for maybe Bonk and Prospal, none of the forwards weighed over 200 lbs. Alexei Yashin, at 6'3", 215 lbs., was your team giant and he, as a fellow Spofite claims, is "rather gay" on the ice. Not a single player on the team had more than 60 PIMS. Yashin had 44 goals, McEachern had 31, and then there was a big drop-off, with Arvedsson and Johansson at 21. They were a one line team. The Bruins, on the other hand, have giant forwards. With the exception of Samsonov, their top six forwards are all at least 6'2" and over 200 lbs. Thornton and Guerin, especially, can score goals, hit, and fight. Thornton has 127 PIMs, Guerin has 91. And these are the guys on their scoring lines! This is a big, tough team. With Guerin and Murray, the Bruins have a 40 goal scorer on each of their top two lines (for some reason ESPN hasn't updated Muzz's stats, but he has 41 on the season). Even if you somehow manage to shut the top two lines down, you've got Rolston with over 30 goals centering the third line. They have three lines that are legitimate scoring threats, and they're way deeper than the '99 Sens. You werew wrong about the Bruins being soft, and you're wrong with this comparison. So stop being wrong. You're killing me. I'm sorry, that last part was a bit harsh, but I get all worked up about this stuff. Man, I'm going to feel like a real dickhole if Boston loses.

posted by Samsonov14 at 09:46 AM on April 17

thats ok, dickhole, it'll be a natural feeling. kidding aside, smart money is on the b's, but smart hockey is on the habs. on paper, the b's should wipe their skateblades with the habs. but i pose this question, as it is from where my uncertainty stems; playoff hockey is usually decided on the few turnovers that occur during a game which exposes the weaknesses of any team, so where are the weaknesses of these two teams? the b's D is, as an unnamed NHL playoff coach has said recently, "panic waiting to happen." The habs on the other hand play well in all three zones of the ice. I think this is the key to this series. if the b's D can hold up and knock down the habs, hello second round. if montreal lays and waits for turnovers, caused by said D, hello golf course. (i hate that freaking saying. doesn't anyone do anything besides play golf?)

posted by garfield at 10:16 AM on April 17

oh yeah, GO LEAFS!!!

posted by garfield at 10:24 AM on April 17

Vancouver, schmancouver. Experience counts, Wings will take them, but it may take 5 or 6. The 'Nucks may be hot, but being hot going down the strech does not guarantee playoff success. It is a whole new ballgame, and Detroit has the experience, which leads to better decisions, which leads to wins. Besides, a run and gun offense with no defense does not win series, and that will be the downfall of Vancouver. No discipline. Watch for Cloutier or Jovocop to blow their tops once or twice, but Hasek may do the same, with Bertuzzi taking runs at him all day. What organ will L.A. take from Peter the Great this year, after losing his spleen last year? Look for two original six matchups, the Montreal Boston series (which should be GREAT), and Detroit and Chicago, two old time bitter rivals, going at it in the second round. That assumes that the 'Yotes and Kings will be discarded, and that may not be the case. LA drops to the Avs in no less than 6, with Deadmarsh looking for revenge against his old team (I hate him, but would love to have him on my team!) I don't pay attention to the East that much, but the Devils/Hurricanes series should be good, because of the bad blood from the regular season. Oh yeah, Philly ousted by the second round. No doubt. Seriously, I am so excited. I can hardly wait for 7:00 tonight.

posted by adampsyche at 12:57 PM on April 17

And I hope that the league wakes up and bans Roy for life for throwing his stick at the refs during that game against Phoenix, when he was scored on by a rookie on a breakaway! *ok, I am being selfish. so what!* Go chickenhead, go!

posted by adampsyche at 12:59 PM on April 17

I see the similarities between the '99 Sens and current Bruins as two teams who had little playoff experience, placing high in the regular season (the Sens sat atop the East all season until the very last game), faltering a bit before the season's end, and then going up against a hot goalie in Round 1 (then Hasek, now Theodore) and seeing their scoring lines do a vanishing act. I wasn't making a size comparison of the two teams, and the Bruins do have more size than the Sens did then, but, look, alls I'm saying is that this series is ripe for the upset! RIPE!

posted by Succa at 01:01 PM on April 17

I'm quite surprised at the number of people out there who think Vancouver can beat Detroit. The Nucks are playing good hockey, no question, but the Wings have had a few days to contemplate their foolish ways. I expect the series to be a rout, unfortunately.

posted by Succa at 01:02 PM on April 17

Oh yeah, Samsonov14, if Boston loses, I'll be EXTRA-sure to let you know.... :-)

posted by Succa at 01:03 PM on April 17

West Detroit in 5 - Detroit in 6 - Detroit in 5 Avs in 5 - Avs in 5 Phoenix in 7 Chicago in 4 East Boston in 5 Sens in 6 - Sens in 4 - Sens in 5 Carolina in 6 Leafs in 7 - Leafs in 5 Not that I am ever anywhere near right.

posted by mahogne at 01:18 PM on April 17

Succa, That newest Ottawa99/Bruins02 argument makes a lot more sense - it was the "spitting image" thing that I took issue with. As far as thinking that Montreal beats Boston in the first round, you've got a lot of company. The predictions I've seen have pretty much been split 50/50. These are professional sportswriters, too! It's like the world's gone mad or something. In the West, there's no bigger lock than Detroit absolutely beating the piss out of Vancouver. Sometimes I think people like to make these big upset predictions just so they can have bragging rights in the off-chance that they're actually right.

posted by Samsonov14 at 02:47 PM on April 17

Here's a decent article on the Habs chances to beat the Bruins and how they will have to do play to do it. The Canadiens begin the playoffs against the Eastern Conference's top team. The Habs are over-matched offensively, as well as physically. The mainstream media will tell you that the Habs have to play a sound defensive system, while relying on a phenomenal Jose Theodore to steal at least two games in order to win the series. These are indisputable facts, but what does this sound defensive system entail? And Succa, I will say that your second set of reasons for an upset (Faltering team versus a hot goalie) are much more valid than the first (physical play/misleading record). I still think Boston comes away with a relatively easy series win.

posted by 86 at 02:53 PM on April 17

Why will Vancouver beat Detroit? Two words: old age. Seriously, I can see where their age starts to catch up with them. With Bertuzzi taking runs at Federov, Hull and Yzerman, and Morrison and Naslund skating circles around circles around Chelios and Duchesne, this is a series that could get ugly, fast. Jovocop will be taking liberties with Detroit's forwards, and injuries will being to pile up. Unless Detroit gives them Geritol injections between periods, they'll be hurtin' for certain. I said at the start of the season that Detroit would win the President's Trophy handily, but would get beaten out before the third round of the playoffs. Experience is great for the long haul, but in the end the age/fatigue factor can't be avoided. That's why the scariest team for the playoffs was Edmonton (until they got knocked out). Youth, speed, size and playoff experience: they would have been my pick for the Stanley Cup...if they'd made it. If Detroit loses the first game tonight, Vancouver takes the series in 5 games. There is my prediction. BTW, these are the best playoff matchups I've seen in years. In the West, it's going to be a bloodbath, and in the East, each and every series could go either way. I can't WAIT to start watching...2.5hrs and counting!

posted by grum@work at 03:39 PM on April 17

I'm with you Grum, I'm dying here (evidenced by my repeated visits to SpoFi). I'm also with you on the Detroit age factor catching up with them, but I don't see it happening until later in the playoffs. My prediction (above) has them making the conference finals, but I could be easily swayed into saying they'll be knocked out in round 2. I think they make it by the 'Nucks based on experience and some recent rest. I love this crap. And I just keep telling myself that in one more year the Rangers will be playing in the postseason. Only one year left!

posted by 86 at 03:52 PM on April 17

Succa: The divisions matter for two reasons: They give fans and teams a chance to cultivate a healthy dislike for their division rivals, and they make the regular season slightly less insignificant than it otherwise would be. I still can't believe the Stars put so much money into a team that's on the golf course in April.

posted by rcade at 04:46 PM on April 17

*Eighth seed rulez j00!* So far the only "blowout" of the playoffs has been the Montreal game. Boston kept trying to squish them like bugs but they kept bouncing back up and scoring goals. Vancouver didn't have a great game, but they kept it close and got into overtime. I think their youth (or, more exactly, Detroit age) is going to be the difference in overtime games. Oh, yah. Almost forgot. Yay Leafs!

posted by grum@work at 09:35 PM on April 18

Six surprising wins away from looking like a complete dickhole.

posted by Samsonov14 at 09:54 PM on April 18

Yay Leafs! The LA/Colorado game was a damned good one... that's going to be a series worth watching. 6 of the first 8 games have been decided by one goal (7 if you disregard the empty net goal by the Leafs.) Gonna be one hell of a playoff.

posted by mkn at 12:00 AM on April 19

I love it! I absolutely love this time of year. One goal games, 0-0 periods, tight defense, solid checking, fluke goals, tide-turning penalty kills, overtime, Boston, New Jersey & Long Island all losing... just good hockey and good fun. So far all of my predictions look terrible, but I could care less... it's Friday and it's gonna be a helluva weekend.

posted by 86 at 07:38 AM on April 19

i ususally hate cable companies, despite the copious pleasure i receive each night from the nhl package, with all their crappy service, open ended appointment timeframes, and all the other generic, but true, faults i could dig up. but last night i forgot all about those petty shortcomings. praised be comcast, for televising the leafs/isles game despite blacking out every isles game all year.

posted by garfield at 09:08 AM on April 19

Another note about watching the hockey games on Thursday night. The Boston/Montreal tilt was broadcast on the French CBC station, but without commentary. None at all. It had all the French graphics (le but!) and French commercials, and French intermission stuff, but no commentary of ANY type during the game itself. All you could hear was the crowd (in the first period they were amazing), the sounds of the game and players yelling to each other. It was a very neat way to watch the game. I'm hoping they keep doing this for all the Montreal games.

posted by grum@work at 09:33 AM on April 19

grum... isn't it because Radio-Canada is in a lockout/strike situation? But yeah, I watched the Habs game on there too. Man, it's great... I got to watch every game yesterday (more or less, most of it was switching during intermissions and commercials) despite not having NHL Centre Ice.

posted by mkn at 11:39 AM on April 19

to those commenting on the wing's age: have you been watching them this season? Chelios is in his best shape since he came here. And aside from Yzerman. Vancouver scored some pretty wierd sharp angle goals on Hasek, and you can bet that he's fired up now. (God, I hope so-- he looked a little Osgoodian Wednesday night)

posted by tj at 12:18 PM on April 19

whoops, train of thought deriales --"Aside from Yzerman, the rest of the team is probably healthier than its been the last 3 years."

posted by tj at 12:19 PM on April 19

I understand that Detroit looked good in the regular season, but I think they are worn down now (healthy or not) and it's starting to show. They limped into the playoffs by winning only one game in their last 10, and they didn't look very good in the first game of the playoffs. I think exhaustion and age are the main cause, not injuries.

posted by grum@work at 02:40 PM on April 19

As a Sens fan, I'm seeing my entire hockey-watching life flashing before my eyes, but they took it to Philly hard and deserved to win Game 1. They'll bounce back. Whatcha gonna do, Philly, when Zdeno-Chara-Mania runs wild on you, brother!

posted by Succa at 05:18 PM on April 19

grum, I noticed the same thing on the French station here in NH, but what mkn said makes sense, as the between-period highlights were all shown without commentary as well. Given that we have to suffer through Dale Arnold on the Bruins games, I'm considering switching over to that.

posted by yerfatma at 06:49 AM on April 22

The worn down argument is the only thing that is worn down, really. They are in very decent shape right now, save for yzerman. And Yzerman has a tie for the most playoff goals and points, so who's complaining? I stand corrected about the rout...Detroit, for whatever reason, did not turn it on. the only consolation to any Wings fan is that they have not played to potential yet, and there were other factors. Such as playing dog sledder Uwe Krupp...what a load of crap! Seriously, Vancouver is doing a great job. This series could go either way, but I gotta say, the old age claim is old as dirt. Chelios is in better shape than most 20 year olds out there. The man is a maniac (I also met him this year). If anything, it will be that Detroit has notoriously had problems with speedy forechecking teams (Avs, Kings). We'll see which way this goes, it could go either way. If Detroit brings their game, Vancouver will not be able to take two more games. If Detroit rolls over and plays dead, the series will go no further than six.

posted by adampsyche at 02:47 PM on April 22

I'll admit when I'm wrong. Detroit came back from 2-0 to win the next 4 straight. An inexperienced team wouldn't have been able to do that. If Cloutier didn't let in that Lidstrom shot from centre ice in game 3, I think Vancouver would have won the series. Maybe they do have enough to make it to the Cup finals. If they face Colorado in the semis, they won't make it. Good luck to them. Let's go L.A./St.Louis!

posted by grum@work at 12:08 AM on April 28

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