Just a week ago I bemoaned the fact that the first round looked like a dud. No big rivalries, nothing to see here.
And yet, and yet, *adjusts monocle*, this has been a great first week, perhaps the best I remember in many moons. And believe me I have seen many many moons.
Of course if you are a fan of Chicago, Minnesota (is there such a thing) , the BJs (lol) or the Falmes, you might disagree with the comment on how great it has been. The boy asked me to PVR the second Chicago game, when he got up I told him not to bother, he is young but he still should not be wasting any precious hours. And this morning when I told him that Chicago had lost in overtime his face fell and he muttered something angrily. Balancing out his disappointment is the fact that Steve Simmons pronounced that THERE IS NO WAY THE HAWKS CAN LOSE and man oh man seeing that blowhard on a losing streak like no other ... ahhhh, let me just crack open another beer.
Now I do have a rant about narratives, you know, same as every year, but I will hold off until next post. You guys are like my kids, sure the boy gets to stay up late and watch playoff hockey and kid around with his old man, who is a totally great guy, but it means fetching me a beer now and then and listening to me drone on about when I was 12 and out with my buddies Steve and Pete and Doug and Gord and Dwayne and Norm and Dennis and Pete and Steve and Jeff and we were trying to find the ravine porn that Pete stole from Steve's Dad's huge collection and then it was given to me for safekeeping because a) when they did find my porn my parents didn't really care and b) I was excellent at the storage and the hiding (only got caught once!) and c) I liked looking at naked women with huge 70s bushes more than any of them and so DEMANDED the responsibility.
So yeah old man yells at clouds next post. You've been warned.
There's a guy named Tyler, he goes by Rosscreeknation online, he has been around forever, anyhow he's a great guy for a Falmes' fan and pretty astute when it comes to the hockey and a few days ago he was lamenting his pool and how he had gone heavily with, I think it was the Wild, and why did he do that in a pick em series and, well, I did the same in one pool (them and the Caps) and in the other I went Hawks and Caps and I am pooched unless the Caps come back. Funnily enough though I looked at the first pool and everyone is in the same boat. Basically we are all going to lose half our rosters.
Why? Well because it seems that in the end we have eight pick em series, yes even with the four that may end as sweeps (and this after years where every single series went at least six and it was proclaimed that NOBODY GETS SWEPT ANYMORE).
24 games, 11 OT, 17 decided by one goal, another 5 by two goals. We are talking bounces folks. The Wild score 3 more and allow 3 less and they are up 3 to 0. Chicago could be up 2-1, the Leafs and Caps could be up 3 or down 3.
You get the picture.
Anyhow first round thoughts so far .... (please note that most of these hot taeks will be obsolete by Thurday morning)
Trotz and Boudreau
What is the story here anyhow? Is there even a story? A week ago I said that Boudreau was awfully unlucky. Is his system something that is easy to take apart? Can he not adjust on the fly, which is needed in the playoffs? Is it a 'shot quality' thing? I know that for a lot of smart people shot quality is to be sneered at. I believe in it although I sure don't know how to measure it. Dennis King did scoring chances for a couple of years and while subjective I saw a lot of value in it. And we know that teams work to keep shots to the outside, they have done so for years and I suspect some would be better at it than others. But it is as simple as Boudreau and Trotz's teams shoot from the outside? I haven't seen any of the Wild/Blues but I know the Caps have had some terrific looks and just haven't buried them. Is it personnel? The problem seems to be transferrable from team to team. Or in the end is it just bad luck? (And it being the playoffs in a few days Trotz may have advanced. Boudreau though ... done again).
I figured the Pens to beat the BJs (lol) but not like this. Losing Werenski hurt of course but this one is barely even close. And Kessel hasn't even done anything yet. And without Letang.
What the hell.
Anyone betting against the Pens to repeat now? Especially if the Caps fall short. Amazing.
And I am a McDavid man through and through but nobody is better than Crosby. I don't know if he has ever been better. The King.
They look good and could be up by 3. I love Vigneault but Julien is one of the best. I think they win this division fairly easily, not sure if they can handle the Pens. So same as everyone else. Price though. (As an aside I play hockey with a French Canadian guy, terrific guy. He missed our pool so had to pick from the dregs, it is a small pool so eighty players were gone. He went all Habs. Every single last one. ;) )
I haven't seen any of this series. I know a few data guys liked Nashville and while I leaned to the Hawks I figured the Preds for a tough out. Not like this though. Chicago has fallen apart (as much as losing two games by a goal could be considered a collapse) and this would have to be considered a huge disappointment for them. They had a great season though so maybe it is just a case of Nashville having a great week and the Hawks a poor one and it's nothing more than a blip but it has to be worrisome to Bowman to see that it's the core that is failing here. Well, everyone is but one goal from all of those stars ...
2011 and 2012 and 2016 were about rising from the wreckage of post Stanley purges and 2014 was a bounce away from being the second of a threepeat but this year, well, are they about to join the Kings on the slide downhill? It will be interesting to see how Bowman reacts. (I would guess that based on the fact that they have invested in these guys heavily that he chalks it up to a bad week, they did win the conference after all.)
We may see Ducks/Preds in the conference final, no? Anyhow looking forward to breaking out Cryan Kesler, it never gets old and it will happen, he's a perennial bridesmaid, that dickhead.
I cannot remember a more fun series to watch in a long time. I have been saying this for a while, barring catastrophic injury the Leafs will be legitimate contenders next season and the one following before they need to find a way to pay all these kids. They are just loaded up front and of course Babcock is being Babcock, he is such a tremendous coach.
I figured they would maybe maybe take the Caps to six but that this would be pushing it. Shows what I know. The keys - Gardiner and Reilly. They have been absolutely fabulous. I think the Caps will come back and win this but the Leafs belong, they are certainly not ahead on a wing and prayer. Of course this fast turnaround (spring of 2015 was when they started jettisoning guys for a true tank job) only makes me that much more bitter about Kevin Lowe and the rest of his crew. Fucccccccccckkkkkk.
YER EDMONTON OILERS!!!!!!!
Much like the Leafs it's all kind of gravy right now and even if the Oilers get swept the next three games while disappointing the season would be a relative success. That said they are in good shape right now and if they can do what they did on Sunday night tonight (ie survive the first ten minutes) then I think they may go back to Edmonton up 3 to 1.
Talbot has been excellent but really the team as a whole has been very very good in front of him for the most part. Klefbom has been outstanding, the other three veterans have been very good (Russell's speed has really had an impact I think, he gets to loose pucks and closes to his man so quickly), and the two kids have had their moments but compared to the Matt Greene Experience of 2006 it's been smooth sailing. (I remember that run, every time Greene was on the ice it was either a penalty, an icing, Roli making a 5 bell save or our starting goalie getting murdered because Greene couldn't FUCKING STAY WITH HIS MAN!!!!!!)
Seriously though the two kids are doing pretty well. It's a great sign. As someone noted to me the other day (Matt Watt?) Nurse is letting the game come to him now. I think he's going to be a player. And Benning seems to be recovered from the concussion and he has a nice edge to his game as well.
With these two, Caggiula and Slepyshev all contributing, well this is what the Oilers are going to need, especially when they start having to cut salary. Cheap quality kids help win you Cups.
It's been a real grind of a series and the only guy who looked out of his depth, Desharnais, finally seemed to realize last game that his career may be on the line and he had a pretty nice game.
To me though the revelations to me have been Ted and to a lesser extent Eberle. Eberle because he has this reputation and yet this series he has been grinding it out and doing the little things and backchecking his ass off. He is paid to score goals but right now only three forwards have goals so him not scoring isn't a big deal. I mean we want some ;) but he is helping the team.
And he was out there at the end of game three. I never thought I would see that.
But Ted? Little Ted. Money in the bank. I don't know that he has ever played better. He may be gone because he makes a lot of money but he is a hell of a player and this has been his coming out party, outplaying the big guns on the Sharks, penalty killing, just doing everything. So great.
It is exciting. Here's hoping they come out of this round because really it is looking so wide open right now. Unreal.
Oh and that Karlsson/Hoffman play? I have been watching hockey for over 40 years, that ranks top ten for me, amazing, just unreal.