Sunday, April 27, 2008

Round 2 Prediction Chart

Don't be surprised if the following week is rather silent here at EFotG, as I'll be preoccupied with the regular end of semester hodge podge of presentations, exams, papers and the like. However before I concede my week to scholarly pursuits it's my duty to get the 2nd round prediction chart up. It's been a bit problematic putting it together because it seems as if some of the "NHL experts" have elected not to post 2nd round predictions. As for the bloggers, those guys actually have their stuff together. Once again we've got the prognostications of Sean Leahy from Going Five Hole and the Yahoo! NHL experts blog, Kevin from Barry Melrose Rocks and NHL Fanhouse, Jes Golbez from Hockey Rants and, also, NHL Fanhouse, as well as Dr. Hockey himself, Mr. James Mirtle of his self-entitled blog and the Globe and Mail.

Now as for those other guys, I've looked high and low and it appears as if neither Barry Melrsoe, nor Pierre McGuire, nor Mike Milbury have made 2nd round predictions. How this is possible, I have no idea. Perhaps they are out there and I just couldn't find them. If not, though, this is definitely not acceptable behavior from those who are supposed to be the ambassadors of our sport. For shame.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Round 2 Predictions: San Jose Sharks (2) vs. Dallas Stars (6)

In the opening round the Stars coasted through a easy series against the defending champions, the Anaheim Ducks. The Sharks found themselves in a tough battle with the Calgary Flames that went 7 games. When they meet in the second round it'll be interesting to see how the teams show up. While the Sharks have already been through a war, the Stars barely broke a sweat. Back in my season preview I called for the Sharks to emerge from the West, and I'm sticking with them. San Jose in 7.

Round 2 Predictions: Pittsburgh Penguins (2) vs. New York Rangers (5)

Now comes the pick for the series I have so much of a self interest in I can't possibly be expected to make an accurate prediction. Right now I'm thinking the Penguins are playing as well as they have all season. I called for the sweep of the Senators, and it's taking everything in me to not predict another. Home ice is big, and I don't see them losing in either game one or two. They haven't lost at the Mellon Arena since February 24th. But I think the Rangers could steal a game or two in this series, merely because they are the kind of team that can put up 5 or 6 goals. But I don't see the Penguins losing this series. Maybe it's just the complete homer in me, but I'm calling this for the Penguins in 5. Fleury will be key, I think the long break is probably hard on the goalies, we'll see how they settle in. One thing that will happen without a doubt, former Pittsburgh Penguin Jarmoir Jagr will hear the boos tonight.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Round 2 Predictions: Detroit Red Wings (1) vs. Colorado Avalanche (6)

For the past ten years the Detroit Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche have had one of the most heated rivalries in hockey. And although in recent years they have taken back seat to the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia battles, this playoff match-up may just be the spark to reignite the ill will. Colorado advanced after getting past the Minnesota Wild in just six games. The Red Wings looked to be in trouble when Nashville came back from being down 2 games, winning games 3 and 4. However with the switch in net, Hasek out, Osgood in, the wheels are once again moving in the playoff machine. The Wings finished with a league best record, but after some disappointing playoff showings over the past few years, there is definitely a cautious approach to this post-season.

Colorado became real contenders in the West when they scored Peter Forsberg in February. They are sending a better team to the ice than their record may suggest. However I think they Red Wings will be able to ride Osgood and their solid defense through another round. Though they aren't clicking like clockwork right now, and in less they get things together I have a hard time seeing them in the Stanley Cup series. But that's later. Now the Wings will take the Avalanche in 5.

Round 2 Predictions: Montreal Canadiens (1) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (6)

With both the Flyers and Canadiens advancing to the second round on the back of game 7 victories, neither team has had much of a break, nor have they had a very impressive showing. Montreal might have celebrated like they won the cup after squeaking through the first round, but they still have a long road ahead of them if they really want to hoist the cup. The games are only going to get harder, and they are playing in front of goaltender that was manning the crease for the WHL Tri-City Americans last season. Carey Price is talented and is the goaltender of the future, but his lack of experience is worrisome.

The Philadelphia Flyers overcame a rough stretch in February, dropping ten straight games, to lock up the 6th seed int East. Against Alexander Ovechkin's Washington Capitals in the first round the Flyers were enigmatic. They lost game 1 after leading by 2 goals in the 3rd period. They recovered to take games 2, 3, and 4. But with the Capitals on the verge of elimination the Flyers allowed them to creep back into the series in games 5 and 6. In the pivotal game 7 Joffrey Lupul won the game and the series for the Flyers in overtime.

Neither series was that pretty, but both teams are still alive. It remains to be seen who will take the opening round as a wake up call. I haven't bought completely in on Carey Price yet, but I don't think the Flyers will be able to overcome their inconsistency. This season wasn't their year anyways, they were aiming to return to respectability. Next year the Flyers will be a bigger factor. Right now, though, I've got the Canadiens in 6.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Machine One, Man Nothing

With the first round of the playoffs wrapping up with last night’s game sevens one thing has become apparent, the computer invasion is upon us. With as many hours as I’ve invested in playing NHL 08, with all the times I’ve cursed it and it’s rewarding of “non hockey plays”, with all those face-offs I lost, certain the opposing player was using classic controls, I never thought it had it in it to go a perfect 8-0 in the first round. Clearly we have underrated the seriousness of just about every science fiction movie that has come out over the past 45 years. The robot invasion is upon us. Who would have thought they would start with our playoff pools. If that isn’t sacred to those ones and zeros, then what is?

My own playoff picks didn’t fare half bad either. The picks I’m most proud of are, of course, the Penguins sweep of the Senators and the Stars eliminating the Ducks. While everyone had the Penguins moving on, I went a little out on a limb and successfully called the sweep. And besides the omnipotent circuit board, I was the only one to pick the Stars. Calling it in 6 games was just gravy.

But enough of that, it’s time to see what I screwed up. Devils in 7 games? How about the Rangers taking them to town without even breaking a sweat. The Wild let me down as well. Marion Gaborik only has two settings, and he was just gliding around this series. Avalanche move on.

There is only a half second before the second round kicks off, so I once again have to sit down and put all my hockey knowledge to use, maybe flip a couple coins and play inny-minny-miny-moe and make second round selections. Look for those tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Classy Caps Fans Aren't That Big on Jeff Carter

I'm sure not all of the Washington Capitals fans are classless idiots. But each and every team has their fair share. A handful of Canadien fans last night showed that even our friendly neighbors from the north have a few that get out of hand after they themselves have had a few. And in DC tonight following Joffrey Lupul's series winning overtime goal the hometown fans were somewhat discontent. Looking to channel this discontent into something positive, they littered their home ice with trash and beer bottles. Apparently they aren't big Earth Day fans.

During a post-game interview Philadelphia Flyer Jeff Carter became the target of one of these upright citizens. I'm sure someone else will get a decent copy of the video up, but for now all I've got for you is this. A masterpiece shot from my Treo camcorder and uploaded to the very sketchy Blogger video. [alright, YouTube should be a little better.] [Someone got up a better version, not only with audio, but with a nice zoom on the classy gentleman]

Often I say no one hates the Flyers more than myself. I've personally sat in the Wachovia Center and received the verbal barbs of the Philadelphia faithful. But it guess it's apparent that while no one wants to see the Flyers lose as much as myself, there are plenty of idiots out there that harbor ill will that I simply can't match.

Everything being said, and assuming that this guy was at least somewhat sauced, you have to admit it's a pretty impressive shot. If the Wizards could shoot like that they probably wouldn't be down two games to nil in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Story of the Sweep

When the games start getting important, without a doubt at some point the "momentum versus rest" debate will take place. The guy on the right side of your screen will argue that the season is long and tiring, and the players could use the rest. Of course the guy on the left of your screen will disagree and argue that the extended break will halt the teams momentum. More than anything this disagreement takes place because ESPN, along with CNN and about a hundred other media outlets, are obsessed with a good ol' polarized spitting contest. God forbid two human beings agree with each other because that isn't "good television".

So what does this all mean to me? Absolutely frigging nothing. Well, that is until my Pittsburgh Penguins swept the Ottawa Senators in the opening round of the NHL playoffs and faced at least a week long break. Personally agreeing more with the guy on the right side of the TV screen, I welcomed the break. The players could use it. Gary Roberts missed games 3 and 4 with a tweaked groin injury. Sidney Crosby missed an extended period of time in the later part of the season with a high ankle sprain, and secretly we all know he isn't 100%. And the everyone else could use the break, right? Surely some time off wouldn't hurt us in round 2.

Looking for some numbers to back me up I turned to recent NHL playoff past. And, well, it wasn't exactly reassuring.

In the last 10 NHL post seasons there have been 17 sweeps. And throwing out the Red Wings sweep of the Capitals in the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals, the sweeping teams have had a woeful 6-10 record. In fact since the lockout 3 years ago all 3 teams who have swept a series fell in the following round.

Maybe that guy on the left side of the screen had some valid points.

It's not all gloom and doom though. Of the 6 teams that won the round after their sweep, all of them made it to the Stanley Cup finals, and 4 of them took home the Cup.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Full and Heartfelt Sympathy of the Y Chromosome Population

We’re only a handful of days into the 2008 Stanley Cup playoffs, but the drama is flowing early. Flyer’s defenseman Patrick Thorensen took a shot to the, ah, lower abdominal region and was hospitalized. Early fears were that he would have to have a testical removed, but it looks like he’s going to make it through this intact. Listen, I’m a Penguins fan, and as one there is no one I loathe more than just about anyone wearing a Flyers jersey. But even I felt for the guy on this one. A shot to the groin is hilarious when Bob Saget is narrating it on America’s Funniest Home Videos. But when actually damage is done down there, I think you get the full and heartfelt sympathy of the half of the population with a Y chromosome.

And as a Penguins fan, obviously I’ve been relishing the playoffs thus far. Doing well in the playoffs is great; shutting down the team that eliminated you last postseason is Barney Stinson legendary. But the Senators aren’t the only team that hasn’t showed up in the first round. Someone might want to send a Ducks a text or something just to make sure they know what’s going on. They have the same look I’ve got when I’m wandering down the grocery store isle. I know they have pudding somewhere in there, I just can’t ever remember where.

As he tends to do, Sean Avery sent the hockey world abuzz with his screening/taunting of Martin Brodeur Sunday night. I don’t know, it’s one part, just another classless act of Avery, but also another part, pure genius. Everyone agrees it’s completely tasteless and over the line, but no one’s really been able to point to text in the rulebook that prohibits it. I’ve got money saying that some big guys in the league office are going to make this a top priority, and if Avery reenacts it Wednesday night he’ll be called for something. If not, you have to imagine Marty shows up at the door of league office with the fury of Martin Luther at the door of Wittenberg Castle Church. Brodeur threw a tantrum when Ovechkin first began sporting the mirror visor in the NHL. He went to the director of hockey affairs complaining about shooters coming into contact with goalies during shootouts. For Avery’s shenanigans he will know no boundaries/shame.

Our handy-dandy first round predictions chart is due for a bit of an update, as I’ve gather a few more picks, including those from Hockey Rants and AOL Fanhouse’s Jes Golbez. Also it has received the approval of Kevin from Melrose Rocks. Which, you know, is rad. But for now I have to head off to my Human Communications class in which I will sit for 90 minutes starring directly ahead and dream of a 4 game sweep of the Senators

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Man vs, Machine: 1st Round Playoff Picks

I've kept to my word a put together a nice little graphic to compare the playoff picks from a handful of places. The other blogs are, of course, Barry Melrose Rocks and Going Five Hole. Then I threw up the picks of the almighty James Mirtle, ESPN's mullet wearing Barry Melrose, and John Buccigross. I think I'll probably add a few more in the future. I wanted to get The Pens Blog picks up here, but all their contributors made different picks and I don't think they picked the amount of games. Either way, I figure I'll get around to tracking down some more commentators picks*, suggestions are welcome.

Matched up against the commentators and bloggers, in a real battle of man versus machine, is the official EA Sports NHL '08 simulations. This is the real test, the day a robot predicts the playoffs more accurately than our favorite hockey media figures is the day the robot invasion officially begins. That's reserved for cute fuzzy monkeys.

And just so I'm not stealing all these peoples picks without giving proper linkage:

Barry Melrose Rocks
Going Five Hole
NHL 08
James Mirtle
Barry Melrose and John Buccigross

* Because were all dying to know who a bunch of guys who have been fired from their NHL jobs think about the first round match-ups.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

April 9th

It snuck up on me. I have been so busy with those meaningless things I do in between hockey games I completely forgot that tonight is it. Wednesday. Wednesday the 9th. The first night of the NHL Playoffs. It's tonight. Enough to make any fan excited. But more than excited, nervous. Nervous as hell. Where's the Pepto-Bismol?

Whether your showing off that Bruins jacket autographed by the entire 71-72 Stanley Cup winning roster* or contemplating just how to inconspicuously get an 8 pound octopus into your local arena, it means one glorious thing. Playoffs hockey. To hell with shootouts. Everyone bid adieu to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the other dozen teams that will get getting an early start on their golf game.

Every hockey fans first stop on the interwebs,, even unleashed a new site design for the playoffs. According to an email I received from them it's both bold and fresh. Just like a newly opened bottle of BBQ sauce. However our crack team couldn't help but notice the similiarity to TSN's American affiliate, Though to be fair the video player doesn't autostart when you visit the page, and it's almost guaranteed to never assault you with videos of either Woody Paige or Skip Bayless. Gotta love that.

And with the new TSN design is a whole section devote to, of course, the playoff prognostication. If you even utter a sentence about hockey all season long, making playoff picks is a must. I mean, come on, everyone's doing it. Melrose is doing, and so is Melrose Rocks. John Buccigross might even mention something about his picks if he's got any free time with his full time job impersonating an indie music hipster**.

Here at EFotG it's no different. Well, it's very different, but at least in this fashion its not. I haven't updated in a couple months, but I believe I'm legally obligated to post playoff predictions. It was in the small print of the NHL Center Ice TV package contract I think. I'm also gonna try to keep a close eye on the picks of everyone else. Mostly because my March Madness bracket was torn to hell by the Sweet 16 and Kevin over at Melrose Rocks eliminated me from our fantasy hockey leagues Semi-Finals thanks to me not meeting the minimum requirement for goaltender starts [FRICK!]. As soon as I compile everyone's picks I throw together some sort of chart or something.

Tonight I'll be weighing the odds, closely dissecting each playoff team's strengthens and weaknesses, and flipping some coins. All in all the predictions will be forthcoming. Four series are kicking off tonight. The Penguins v. Sabres and Rangers v. Devils at 7. The Avalanche v. Wild at 9. Flames v. Sharks at 10. Sit back, enjoy, and if you have a team in the running, have some tums within reach.

*Amazingly YouTube let me down here, I just couldn't find it, but you know what I'm talking about.

**Seriously, I finish his column and I can't even remember what it had to do with the Shark post-season chances, I just know that he really wants me to listen to The Editors.