April 29, 2010

Playoff Slap Shots: Another Disappointment For Ovechkin

Time to put the puck on the 'Net:
  • World Junior Championships. Olympics. Stanley Cup playoffs, again. It seems Alexander Ovechkin's reputation in big games continues to take a beating. Greatness is defined by these big games, and Ovechkin continues to come up short time and time again. But hey, he did put on the funny glasses and hat at the All Star game.
  • On top of the continued disappointment, I believe this season Ovechkin lost his billing as the world's top player, as arch rival Sidney Crosby surpassed him in my books. I'd also agree that Henrik Sedin emerged as a superior player this season. 
  • Maybe it is unfair to criticize Ovechkin. After all, he is not the only Capital now facing big game questions. Alexander Semin only had 2 assists in the playoffs. Mike Green showed why Team Canada passed on him for the Olympics. There will even be quiet questions as to whether or not good time guy Bruce Boudreau is the right coach to take this team to the promise land.
  • Jaroslav Halak has to be considered the MVP of the first round of the playoffs. In the final three games he stopped 131 of 134 shots, for a save percentage of .978. Unbelievable! Even more amazing, Washington attempted 256 shots on net in those three games. (thanks to @JKFischer)
  • Of those 256 attempted shots, 84 were blocked, 31 by Hal Gill.
  • Everyone picked Washington to beat Montreal, except maybe R. J. Umberger. David Shoalts of the Globe & Mail wonders if this was even the greatest upset in hockey history.
  • I called for a Vancouver-Washington final, thinking the odds are highly against Pittsburgh making the Stanley Cup finals 3 years in a row. Right now it would appear Pittsburgh has a clear path through the Eastern Conference. 
Here are some interesting numbers from round one of the Stanley Cup playoffs:
  • Road teams won 27 games (27-22), the most ever in the first round. Three series tied the NHL playoff record for most road wins (five, Montreal vs. Washington; Pittsburgh vs. Ottawa and Detroit vs. Phoenix). The Boston Bruins were the only of the eight advancing clubs to clinch the series on home ice. 
  • The winning team in 24 of the 49 games trailed at some point in the contest. Five teams won after trailing by two or more goals. A club trailing in the third period came back to win nine times.
  • Teams combined to score an average of 5.90 goals per game, the highest for an opening round since 1996 and a 36% increase over 2004 (4.34), the last playoff year before the adoption of several rule changes designed to limit obstruction. The first-round scoring average also topped that of the 2009-10 regular season (5.53), marking the first time that's happened since 1994-95.
  • Twelve of the 49 games were decided in overtime, the most in opening-round play since 2001 (14). Seven of the eight series had at least one game extend to overtime.
  • Scoring the game's first goal wasn't as much an advantage as advertised. The teams scoring first lost five of the six games in the Vancouver Canucks-Los Angeles Kings series (VAN 1-2, LA 0-3). The Buffalo Sabres opened the scoring five times against the Boston Bruins, but went 2-3 in those games.
Prediction Time

By the way, I was 4 for 4 on my predictions in the Western Conference. But I was just 1 for 4 on my predictions for the Eastern Conference. 5 for 8 for the first round - I've done worse!

Here's my predictions for round #2
  • Detroit Red Wings over San Jose Sharks
  • Vancouver Canucks over Chicago Blackhawks
  • Pittsburgh Penguins over Montreal Canadiens
  • Philadelphia Flyers over Boston Bruins


      Aleks with a K said...

      Detroit over San Jose in 7
      Vancouver over Chicago in 6
      Pittsburgh over Montreal in 6
      Boston over Philadelphia in 7

      Game counts aside, I was 7 for 8 first round. Friendly wager on the Boston / Philly match up, good sir?

      Joe Pelletier said...

      No wagering!

      Aleks with a K said...

      Hahaha, don't worry, I'm not looking to ruin our great game by putting money down. I was thinking something silly like having to wear an old, sweaty, blood-stained, Stan Jonathan Bruins jersey for a week straight if they win.