Saturday, April 28, 2007

2007 NHL Playoffs Recap and Predictions - Apr 28th

1-2 again last night. Despite missing both Sami Salo and Kevin Bieksa from the lineup last night the Canucks pulled out a win and the Sabres showed up in the third period to win their game.

Tonights Games:

San Jose Sharks (1) at Detroit Red Wings (0) : Hopefully the Detroit Red Wings were woken up by their loss in game 1 of this series and come out swinging tonight. They will again be without Tomas Holmstrom who is out with blood in his eye and will continue to struggle on the power play without him. If this wasn't a home game for Detroit I would be picking the Sharks to win, but with the crowd involved (assuming one shows up!) I think the Wings even up the series tonight.

Ottawa Senators (1) at New Jersey Devils (0) : While the first period of game 1 was pretty scary if you are a Devils fan you had to like what happened in the remaining two periods. Tonight the Devils get captain Patrick Elias back and they will certainly be a little peeved at their performance in game 1. Expect the Devils to come out hard and take it to Ottawa with the series knotted up at 1-1.

Last Nights Recaps:

New York Rangers 2 (0) at Buffalo Sabres 3 (2) : The Buffalo Sabres showed off their character and their depth last night as they came from behind in the 3rd period to take game 2 of the series. Thomas Vanek again scored a game winner late in the third period and the Sabres weathered a two man advantage for the final two minutes of the game as the Rangers pulled Lundqvist while Daniel Briere was in the penalty box on a questionable call. Briere got the penalty shortly after the linesman studiously ignored New York having 7 men on the ice with about 4 minutes to go. There was some horrible officiating in this game, but give credit to the Sabres as they clawed back to take a 2-0 series lead.

Vancouver Canucks 2 (1) at Anaheim Ducks 1 (1) : The Canucks pulled another over time win out of their bag of tricks to even up the series before they head home for game 3. Markus Naslund actually found the back of the net and Roberto Luongo simply decided that he wanted to win this game. Travis Moen scored the only goal for Anaheim as he picked up a loose rebound after Teemu Selanne's breakaway chance. The defensive effort in front of Luongo was solid considering they are still missing two of their top defensemen. Great job by Vancouver last night.

Friday, April 27, 2007

NHL Playoffs Video Highlights - April 26th

From the NHL Highlight Machine

Ottawa Sentors 5 (1) at New Jersey Devils 4 (0) :

San Jose Sharks 2 (1) at Detroit Red Wings 0 (0) :

2007 NHL Playoffs Recap and Predictions - Apr 27th

1-2 last night as both home teams lost the opening game of round 2. Detroit couldn't muster any offence and Martin Brodeur played like Andrew Raycroft. Ah well.

Tonights Games:

New York Rangers (0) at Buffalo Sabres (1) : The Rangers were simply outclassed by the speed and depth of the Sabres in game 1. I expect that to continue tonight. New York managed to limit the top two lines from Buffalo but couldn't handle the 3rd line and Thomas Vanek made them pay with two goals. The Rangers will likely be without defenseman Michal Rozsival who left game 1 with a leg injury. Expect Vanek to produce again and the Sabres to win this one tonight.

Vancouver Canucks (0) at Anaheim Ducks (1) : The size and strength of the Ducks was too much for a weary Canucks team in game 1. It didn't help that Vancouver was missing Sami Salo and Kevin Bieksa, two of their more dependable defensemen, in game 1. Salo should be back tonight but Bieksa is day to day. Andy McDonald got his first career hat trick and will make his presence felt again tonight. The Ducks take a 2-0 series lead tonight.

Last Nights Recaps:

Ottawa Sentors 5 (1) at New Jersey Devils 4 (0) : The game certainly didn't start well as it looked like Brodeur simply misplayed a Tom Preissing shot 1:30 into the first period, replays later showed that Jason Spezza tipped the shot past Brodeur. The Devils were down 4-0 before they got on the board with a goal from Travis Zajac late in the first period and they made a game of it by clawing back to a 1 goal deficit. Wow, tough game, tougher call tonight. The Devils were blown out early but managed to gut it out and make a game of it. If Brodeur improves even slightly on Saturday, and I expect he will, the Devils will even up the series. The good news for the Senators is that they know they can get past Brodeur, the good news for the Devils is that they proved they can make a game of it even when Brodeur isn't sharp. Going forward this series is tough to call, the Senators could upset my predictions in round 2.

San Jose Sharks 2 (1) at Detroit Red Wings 0 (0) : The first shutout of round 2 should be awarded to the Sharks defensive core, San Jose blocked 18 shots in game 1 to help Evgeni Nabokov along in the 2-0 win in game 1. Detroit seemed at a loss without Tomas Holmstrom in front of the net and they simply were unable to compete with the size and strength of San Jose's forwards. This series could be over quickly.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

NHL Playoffs Video Highlights - April 25th

From the NHL Highlight Machine

New York Rangers 2 (0) at Buffalo Sabres 5 (1) :

Vancouver Canucks 1 (0) at Anaheim Ducks 5 (1) :

2007 NHL Playoffs Recap and Predictions - Apr 26th

As expected last night the Buffalo Sabres and Anaheim Ducks rolled over top of the two weaker teams left in the 2007 NHL Playoffs. Tonight the two tougher round 2 playoff series get underway, the difference maker in this years playoffs could be how long this second round lasts for the Sharks vs Wings and Senators vs Devils. Two long series could end up costing these teams a chance at the cup this year as they end up facing fresher teams in round three.

Tonights Games:

Ottawa Senators at New Jersey Devils: Which Martin Brodeur will show up tonight? Goaltending is the question in this series, Senators goalie Ray Emery left practice earlier this week with a bruised catching hand but has practiced for two straight days and intends to play tonight. We will see. Without any further information I have to go with the home team and Martin Brodeur tonight.

San Jose Sharks at Detroit Red Wings: Tough call here but the Wings will be without Tomas Holmstrom due to an eye injury he received in game 6 against Calgary. Detroit will sorely miss Holmstrom's presence in front of the net on the power play. In my opinion they lose game 1 at home.

Last Nights Recaps:

New York Rangers 2 (0) at Buffalo Sabres 5 (1) : The first period was a little shaky as the Sabres didn't manage a goal in 5 power play attempts, but the speed and skill of the Sabres 4 lines wore on the Rangers defensive efforts and they continued to give Buffalo chances on the man advantage. 8 times in the game. The 5th goal was perhaps the most entertaining empty net goal I have ever seen as Drew Stafford fights the length of the ice with Jaromir Jagr in what would have been a penalty shot had the puck not ended up in the net on the play. Good news for New York, Jagr intends to play in this series. Bad news is so do the entire Buffalo team.

Vancouver Canucks 1 (0) at Anaheim Ducks 5 (1) : The Ducks pummeled the Canucks despite giving up the first goal by scoring 3 goals on the first 9 shots they put on Roberto Luongo. The Canucks only chance at getting to round three in this years playoffs is for Luongo to drag them there kicking and screaming. He certainly didn't do it last night as he was pulled in favour of backup Dany Sabourin in the 3rd period. Andy McDonald got a hat trick as the forward lines of the Ducks overpowered Vancouver, this may end up as a sweep by Anaheim.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

NHL Playoffs - Round 2 Players to Watch

All right, on April 11th I wrote a post about which players to watch in round 1 of the playoffs and my prognostications were pretty good.

I told you that Pavol Demitra and Alexei Yashin would disappear, that Pavel Datsyuk would figure out how to score in the playoffs and that Dominik Hasek would stay healthy through round 1. I also told you to stay away from Jaromir Jagr and that Scott Niedermayer would be at the top of the score sheet for defenseman. Hey, I can't always be perfect and I used up a lifetimes worth of luck by marrying my beautiful wife.

Here is my snapshot of players to watch at each position in Round 2.

My top 5 Center Picks:
Daniel Briere
Chris Drury
Scott Gomez
Joe Thornton
Pavel Datsyuk

Disappointments: The Sedin twins are pretty much the only scoring option that the Canucks have right now but don't expect much from them against Detroit.

Surprises: Jason Spezza was outscored by teammate Chris Kelly during round 1. This isn't really a surprise but expect him to rebound in round 2.

Stay away from: I am unsure just how well the EGG line of New Jersey will do against Ottawa's top defensive pairing of Anton Volchenkov and Chris Phillips. Not quite worried about the EGG line getting shutout, but I would expect a serious drop-off in point production. If it wasn't for the power play I would be wary of using any of these guys in my pool (in fact I didn't use any of them).

My top 5 Winger Picks:

Daniel Alfredsson
Thomas Vanek
Zach Parise
Milan Mihalek
Dany Heatley

Disappointments: Again I am suggesting that you stay away from New Jersey's top line of Elias, Gionta and Gomez. Ottawa will surely key in on these three in round 2.

Surprises: Zach Parise and Brendan Shanahan will provide some 2nd line scoring punch for the Devils and the Rangers respectively.

Stay away from: The Detroit vs San Jose series could be a wide open high scoring affair, or it could be tighter than a newly minted choir boys bottom. I would lean towards the top players in the other 3 series and stay away from this one if possible.

My top 5 Defenseman Picks:

Niklas Lidstrom
Chris Pronger
Brian Campbell
Brian Rafalski
Joe Corvo

Disappointments: Wade Redden again, I can also see Mattias Ohlund disappearing in round 2, not because of lack of talent, but simply because the Canucks are going to have difficulty scoring at all against Anaheim.

Surprises: Brian Campbell has already surprised with 2 goals and 2 assists, Joe Corvo and Anton Volchenkov stepped up for Ottawa in place of Redden. Look for Francois Beauchemin to pick it up for Anaheim and both Craig Rivet and Fedor Tyutin to continue to produce in round 2.

Stay away from: The entire Vancouver Canucks defense core. If the front lines aren't scoring the back end won't get any points either.

My top 2 Goaltender Picks: (because who needs 5?)

J.S. Giguere
Ryan Miller

Disappointments: Henrik Lundqvist will come crashing back to earth against the high powered Buffalo Sabres offense.

Surprises: Domink Hasek will stay healthy, again, but lose anyway.

Stay away from: Martin Brodeur and Ray Emery. What? Yeah I know, that's Martin Brodeur we are talking about here. But he didn't play true to form in round 1 and if Ray Emery forgets himself and plays out of his head you could see a round 2 upset. And don't forget that Ottawa has more than just 1 scoring line to throw at the Devils.

NHL Playoffs Video Highlights - April 23rd

From the NHL Highlight Machine

1 (3) at 4 (4) :

NHL Playoffs - Round 2 Previews and Predictions

1-1 last night, thanks to Vancouver's 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars my first round predictions were respectable at 7 for 8. The lone miscall was in the Nashville vs San Jose series. Several times I mentioned that whichever team wins that series will win the West division. Looks like it will be San Jose instead of Nashville. Ah well, 7 of 8 is pretty good.


Eastern Conference Matchups:

(1) vs (6) : The Buffalo Sabres can play 4 scoring lines against the Rangers 1 and a half. The Rangers top line of Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka and Michael Nylander can cause some problems but other than Brendan Shanahan they don't have much depth up front. Their defense can be quite good and will give the Sabres fits, but the depth of Buffalo up front will win this series in the end. Assuming of course that Ryan Miller and Henrik Lundqvist continue to play as well as they have so far this postseason. If either goalie falls off the face of the earth it changes the outcome in this series. On April 10th I said Sabres in 5 games, I will have to change that prediction to Sabres in 6, Lundqvist has been more solid than I expected.

(2) vs (4) : The New Jersey Devils have Martin Brodeur. Enough said? The Senators have some decent depth at forward and an okay defensive core, but this entire series rests on the shoulders of Ray Emery. If Emery can be a steady presence in between the pipes then the Senators have a chance to steal this series. On the other hand, if Martin Brodeur plays like... well like Martin Brodeur the Devils win this one hands down. Back on April 10th I said Devils in 6 games over the Sens, I stick by that prediction, unless Brodeur proves human in round 2.

Western Conference Matchups:

(1) vs (5) : The San Jose Sharks were my one miscall in round 1, they destroyed the Nashville Predators in 5 games and look to be one fearsome playoff team. The good news is that I also stated that the winner of the Preds vs Sharks series would also win the Western Conference. I'll stick by that prediction even though the Red Wings made a strong statement in round 1 against Calgary. The Sharks are big, strong and can roll two top scoring lines and the play of Evgeni Nabokov in round 1 makes them the team to beat in this series. Dominik Hasek was strong against Calgary but he is always a tweaked groin away from being a non-factor. On April 10th I predicted that the Predators would beat the Red Wings in 7 games. I'll stick with that prediction but substitute the Sharks. San Jose in 7 over Detroit.

(2) vs (3) : As expected the Ducks beat Minnesota. What was not expected was how quickly they would do it. The Wild tried to intimidate the Ducks and it simply did not work. Vancouver went to 7 games with Dallas and looked lucky at times to win the series. I don't expect them to hang around very long against Anaheim. On April 10th I predicted the Ducks in 7 games, I'll have to update that to the Ducks in 6. Vancouver's scoring issues are worse than I thought they would be.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Hit me with your stick? Fine, I boot you from the Playoffs

Calgary Flames backup goaltender is probably crying in his beer at the first tee this morning as gets the ultimate revenge.

The Hockey Herold posted the video of backup Jamie McLennan swatting forward Johan Franzen repeatedly in Saturday nights game 5 matchup between the two teams. He also put up a nice summary of the NHL's response to the shenanigans.

I have placed the video below for your viewing pleasure.

Now why am I rehashing this issue?

Simple, forget the fines and the suspension, what hurts the most is that it was Franzen who scored the OT winner last night to send the Flames packing from the 2007 NHL Playoffs. Apparently the two handed slash to Franzen's midsection didn't faze him a bit.

Hey Jamie, doesn't it?

NHL Playoffs Video Highlights - April 22nd

From the NHL Highlight Machine

3 (4) at 2 (2) :

2 (4) at 1 (2) :

2007 NHL Playoffs Recap and Predictions - Apr 23rd

0/2 last night, my first o'fer of the playoffs (so far). New Jersey and Detroit eliminated the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Calgary Flames in their respective game 6 matchups. I may have gone 0-2 for the day but I am 2/2 on the series outcomes. Always look on the bright side of life... (sorry, I don't know how to write whistling?)

Tonights game:

(3) at (3) : Game 7 for the Stars and Canucks, has managed to drag his team back from a 3-1 series deficit by shutting out the high-powered (note the sarcasm) offence of Vancouver 3 times. I'm not quite sure which way to go on this game. Dallas completely outplayed Vancouver in game 6 at home and play game 7 on the road tonight. I've got to go with my 1st round prediction of Vancouver to win the series, if the Canucks can manage to score a few goals will get them the win.

Last night recaps:

3 (4) at 2 (2) :
won his 93rd post-season game to move into sole possession of 2nd place on the all time list just a little way behind Patrick Roy's 151. The All-star netminder rebounded from some sub-par performances in the first three games of the series to pull the Devils past a tough first round opponent in the Lightning. For Tampa Bay, the lack of balanced scoring across their roster hurt them despite above average performances from rookie goaltender through most of the series. Tampa just didn't have the depth to beat Brodeur and the Devils.

2 (4) at 1 (2) : The Red Wings finally won a game on the road in their first round playoff series against the Calgary Flames and it was the one that mattered most. The Red Wings won 4:23 into the second overtime period on a goal by . Fitting since Franzen was the recipient of the slash by Calgary backup goalie in game 5 of the series. Forget the suspension and the fines, what has to hurt most is that Franzen was the one to end Calgary's stay in the 2007 NHL Playoffs. Detroit awaits the outcome of the Dallas Stars vs Vancouver Canucks series to find out who their round 2 series will be with. If Dallas wins the Wings will play them, if the Canucks pull it out Detroit will play San Jose.

Round 1 Predictions:
Round 1 Playoff Predictions and Hot Players
Complete Playoff Predictions

Sunday, April 22, 2007

2007 NHL Playoffs Recap and Predictions - Apr 22nd

1/2 last night. Dallas managed to snap their losing streak at home in the playoffs partially because Vancouver forgot that they had to try to win. Dominik Hasek lost his shutout bid in the middle of the 3rd period on a disputed goal. The fact that I have him in my playoff pool has nothing to do with the fact that I thought it was a high stick. Really.

Tonights Games:

New Jersey Devils (3) at Tampa Bay Lightning (2) : With Martin Brodeur threatening to return to dominance as a goaltender the playoff lives of the Tampa Bay Lightning look a little less secure. Despite that I expect the Lightning to push hard tonight and get some production out of someone not named Vincent Lecavalier or Martin St. Louis. This series is going to 7 games back in New Jersey.

Detroit Red Wings (3) at Calgary Flames (2) : The Red Wings won an emphatic game 5 at home yesterday and have a chance to eliminate the Flames at the Saddledome tonight. The home team has won each game in this series and it is quite likely that this will continue. The Flames have to be embarrassed over their loss in Detroit yesterday and will come up all fired to win tonight.

Recaps Day11:

Calgary Flames 1 (2) at Detroit Red Wings 5 (3) : Dominik Hasek lost his shutout bid with 10 minutes left in the 3rd as the Red Wings completely dominated the Flames at home. Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Lidstrom combined for 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) to lead the Red Wings to a 3-2 series lead. Good news for the Wings as these are Zetterberg's first points since returning from injury just before the playoffs began.

Vancouver Canucks 0 (3) at Dallas Stars 2 (3) : The Dallas Stars returned from a 3-1 series deficit to win the last 2 meetings, in overtime and at home, to force game 7. Last night they won at home for the first time in 7 playoff games at home and Mike Modano got his first goal of the series to give the Stars a 1-0 lead just 3:05 into the game on a 5-3 advantage. Marty Turco made the goal stand up and recorded his 3rd shutout of this playoff series, a feat that only 12 other goaltenders have accomplished. Game 7 goes tomorrow night.