Boston and Pittsburgh both showed why they are the favourites in their respective matchups. Boston controlled the play against the Leafs, while Pittsburgh outclassed the Isles in every area of the game.
Can anyone tell me why Orr and McLaren drew in to the Leafs lineup over Matt Frattin and... anybody? Boston isn't a team you are going to intimidate.
And no Jake Gardiner... who can pass and skate the puck better than any Leafs defenseman not named Dion... some puzzling coaching decisions last night (and most of this season, for that matter).
Kessel was awful - completely invisible, turnovers, and generated nothing. JVR had a great game and should have had another goal or two. He is a big game player and seems to thrive in the postseason when the checking gets more intense.
Raise your hand if you predicted Wade Redden to have two points in Game 1.
The Pens won't need to rush Crosby back any time soon. Their deadline pickups up front all looked good - Iginla, Morrow, and Jokinen. They overwhelmed the Islanders physically.
Iginla and Jokinen each had a pair of helpers.
Lots of hits last night - any playoff pools go that deep? Matt Martin had 10, Casey Cizikas had six, and for Pittsburgh, Douglas Murray had five hits and 12 PIM.
Marty Havlat left the SJS/Van game with an injury. Surprise of surprises, I know. He's been really good lately on a line with Couture and Marleau.
The game (I caught periods two and three) was fast-paced and very physical, but it was very tight, too. SJS capitalized on a few Vancouver mistakes.
Brent Burns wasn't as noticable as I was expecting, but both Pavelski and Couture were phenomenal.
Canuck rookie d-man Frank Corrado had a very good game. Didn't show any nerves - made smart passes, pinched in a few times, and this bodes really well for his chances at earning a spot on the team next season.
From before the game...
A mostly Canuck-focused preview, but also some thoughts on why I like Montreal as the Canadian team to advance the furthest.
Up front, this Montreal group is big, gritty, and chalk-full of players who will be willing to score “playoff goals.” What I mean by that – rebounds, deflections, and scrums in front of the net. Brendan Gallagher, in particular, has already established himself as one of the most fearless players in hockey. He’s only 5-8, but he plays as if he is magnetized to the opposing goal crease.
Marian Gaborik is out for 3-4 weeks as he needs minor abdominal surgery. He will be fully recovered well before camp and should get a full summer of training in.
Top 10 saves from the regular season...
Helping promote a free-to-enter NHL postseason pick ‘em contest. Part of the proceeds go to charity, and there are some awesome prizes (including a trip to Oktoberfest… need I say more?).
Pick a team to win in a series of games.
Build a streak by making correct picks in a row.
Make a wrong pick, and your current streak ends. Start again!
Prizes awarded to players with the biggest streaks.
I have done a few NFL pools like this before (called survivor pools). Really fun, lots of strategy involved (especially when choosing to skip or pass on matchups).
Now that it is the postseason, the type of analysis shifts a bit (as most playoff pools are very different than regular season pools). Instead of focusing most of the attention on the “now” (from a fantasy perspective at least), I think it is useful to focus on the “tomorrow.”
How is “what is happening today/right now” going to impact fantasy hockey for next year?
Also, now is a great time to start looking at names to sell high on. We see it each year. Last spring with Chris Kreider, for example. He had a blazing playoff start fresh out of college, but struggled in his first year as a pro. You probably could have fetched quite the return for him last spring.
I’ll do my best to keep tabs on players worth selling high on compared to players who are breaking out. The worst thing you can do is sell high on a player who is actually just on an upward developmental trend (hello Steven Stamkos…).
Speaking of Canucks, I took a creative approach to previewing their round one matchup: I compared them to making a pot of chili. For other chili aficionados, I hope you enjoy (the recipe, too).
Congrats to BizSmack (Jake) for winning the DobberHockey Experts Fantasy Pool for 2013! He ended up with 2.5 more points than Lord of the Rinks. Ryan Ma rounded out the top three, while Mac Vincent held down fourth place.
I am in a keeper league with Jake, and he knows his stuff. A well-earned victory. He had a balanced squad, and his charge to the top late in the season was led by a certain Mr. Ovechkin. I believe the league is public – here is a link to check out the details (correct me if I am wrong).
I will have more information on all of the other Dobber league winners in the coming days.
The Stanley Cup Final will be Chicago and Pittsburgh, if you listen to the DobberHockey Experts Panel. I guess the NHL did – the Hawks and Pens will meet at Soldier Field in March of 2014.
Jamie Benn was playing through severe wrist pain for most of the season – he was getting daily injections by the end of it. Explains why he wasn’t himself offensively.
Danny Briere wants to stay in Philly… but he is very likely headed for a buy out. Where do you see him ending up? Quebec City?
Some quick thoughts from night one of the postseason (Monday):
The Blues are the only team in hockey than can bully LA around. Will the Kings push back, or opt for a more skill game?
Brian Elliott was good, but I was surprised at how little he was tested. Goes to show the Hitch system working perfectly.
And a big reason why – the mobility and puck moving in the top four. Bouwmeester, Leopold, Shattenkirk, and Pietrangelo are all fantastic skaters and outlet passers. And that allows the Blues to get the puck up the ice quickly and it gives their big/strong forwards a chance to chip and chase (and hit… a lot).
Andrew Cogliano doesn’t even resemble the soft, inconsistent, and speedy center that was in Edmonton a few years ago. He’s healthy, bigger, more confident, and so much better on the wing. He was the most noticeable forward in a game that featured Perry, Getzlaf, Datsyuk, and Zetterberg.
Brendan Smith looked great for the Wings. Confident with the puck, was robbed of a goal by Hiller, and good in his own end, too. This could be the breakout he needs for a monster season on Detroit’s back end.
Don’t forget to check out DobberBaseball – a great crew of writers providing daily ramblings, articles, and a forum that is building (much like this one a few years ago).
And on that note, DobberFootball, too. I’m moving to the States for school next year… so I have to start brushing up on my NFL knowledge (which is better than it used to be… but still a lot of room for improvement).
Fitness/exercise post of the day – learning the trap bar deadlift, a great way to build muscle, improve posture, and get in shape. And it is a safe/easy to learn variation of the regular deadlift.