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Canucks .vs. Blues
This has the makings of a very good matchup or a very quick blowout victory. It’s a battle of two hot goaltenders, which should result in multiple low scoring games. I’d put a buyer-beware tag on all players in this series.
Roberto Luongo has a 2-1-0 record with a 2.67 GAA and .911 save percentage against the Blues this season. 22-7-3 in 32 Post-All-Star game appearances. Key-stat, 19-5-4 at home this season, with a 1.99 GAA and .929 save percentage. Luongo also has a 1.77 GAA and .941 save percentage in 12 playoff appearances.
Chris Mason 1-2-0 record with a 3.44 GAA and .863 save percentage against the Canucks this season. 21-8-6 in 35 Post-All-Star game appearances. Key-stat, 1-4 in the playoffs, with 3.45 gaa and .901 save percentage.
This is a matchup of two of the hottest goaltenders in the second half of this season. Both have similar numbers since the All-Star break which has led their teams to post-season berths. Luongo has the numbers in the playoffs to prove that he’s game breaker and will show that to the young inexperienced Blues this series. Edge to Canucks
Kevin Bieska, finished with a career-high of 43 points this regular season. He leads the Canucks’ blue-line corps in power-play ice-time, which should give him plenty of opportunities to pick up points this post-season. His zero points in nine playoff appearances unfortunately won’t exude confidence in many minds of playoff poolies.
Alex Edler, is second behind only Bieska in terms of power-play time on ice per contest. He also averaged 1.68 SOG per contest since the All-Star break, which is a good sign that he’ll get some pucks towards the net for the Canuck forwards to poach on in front of Mason. If you are looking the secondary option on the blue-line in Vancouver, Edler is the man.
Mattias Ohlund, really has dropped off his offensive production in the last two years, thanks to the addition of Bieksa and Edler into the Canucks lineup. He finished with six points in his final 21 contests, despite averaging over 20 minutes of ice-time per contest. His power-play ice-time has been relegated to behind Bieksa, Edler and Sami Salo as he averages just over two minutes on the power-play per contests. There are probably better options to own than Ohlund for playoff pools this season.
Sami Salo, is in the same boat as Ohlund. The pairing used to be lethal a few years back, but has dropped off considerably since Bieksa and Edler joined the Canucks lineup in a full-time basis. Salo averages 20 minutes overall, and three minutes on the power-play each contest, but with Edler and Bieksa there, won’t get optimal playing opportunity in the playoffs. There are better options than Salo in playoff pools.
Carlo Colaiacovo, really has blossomed since being traded from the Leafs to the Blues earlier this season. Colo finished with 29 points in 63 contests, while leading the Blues’ defenders in power-play ice-time. The Blues finished ranking eighth overall in terms of power-play efficiency and a lot of that could be attributed to the play of Colo. If you are going to own one Blues’ defenders make sure it’s Carlo.
Barret Jackman, won’t light up the score sheet as his 21 points this season the second-highest of his career for the hard-checking defenseman. He’ll certainly be heavily leaned upon in defensive situations to try to shut down the Sedins in their opening round matchup against Vancouver. He won’t produce enough offensive to warrant pickup in playoff pools.
Jeff Woywitka, finished third in Blues’ defensive scoring, which isn’t necessarily a great feat considering he only tallied 18 points this season. The only bright spot is that he’s second behind only Colaiacovo for power-play ice-time, which will certainly need to be firing on all cylinders if the Blues are to upset the Canucks this series.
It’s not really a matchup when one team has 150 games of playoff experience compared to just 59 for the young inexperienced Blues. Experience will win out between the matchup of these two defenses. Big edge to Canucks.
Daniel Sedin, finished the regular season on a high while scoring 23 points in the final 21 contests for the Canucks. His point-per-game pace will certainly be depended upon heavily as the Canucks face a red-hot Mason in the opening round of the playoffs. Sedin is a must-own if you are going after Canuck players in your playoff pool.
Henrik Sedin, similarly to his twin brother, Henrik also finished the season on a high while tallying 25 points in his final 21 contests. If you own Daniel you might want to combine him with Henrik as the duo will certainly need to pick up the scoring slack for the Canucks in the post-season. Both Henrik and Daniel are up for unrestricted free agency at the end of the season and a huge playoffs might lead towards a huge pay day in the off-season. That should be enough motivation for the twins to produce come playoff time.
Mats Sundin, really slowed down at the end of the regular season as he only picked up eight points in the final 13 contests for Vancouver. Mats Sundin is a playoff performer as he has 74 career playoff points in 83 contests playing previously for the Nordiques and Maple Leafs. If there is ever going to be a time for Sundin to win himself a Stanley Cup, now might be the only time as age is catching up to the 38-year old.
Ryan Kesler, is finally fulfilling the potential that many Canuck fans have been awaiting on for years and years as he finished his career-year with 59 points in 82 games, and really does deserve to be named the MVP of the Canucks this season. He finished third in team scoring while ranking second in overall ice-time per contest for Vancouver. His point-per-game average in the second half of this season should prove that he will be a serious dark horse candidate in playoff pools this year.
Pavol Demitra, had a great second half of the season after being re-united with Sundin and Kesler on the Canuck’s second unit. He picked up 28 points in 32 contests and will need to carry his 0.65 point-per-game playoff average into this year’s playoffs if they are to defeat the Blues in the first round this season.
Alex Burrows, finished the season with 19 points in his final 21 games, and has proved to have developed plenty of chemistry playing alongside the Sedin twins. If the Canucks can get to the Western Conference finals, he could produce along the same pace if not more than a Patrick Marleau or Tomas Holmstrom. Consider Burrows another dark horse candidate for the playoffs this season.
Keith Tkachuk, finished the season with his lowest point-per-game total in his career, which shows that age is finally catching up with the 37-year old. He still has a bit of gas left in the tank as he finished by scoring seven points in the final four games to get the Blue into the post-season this year.
T.J. Oshie, had a bit of a slow start to the season with five points in the first three months of the season, but managed to finish strong tallying 27 points in the final 35 games for the Blues. He tallied five points in four contests against the Canucks this season, and could be a big role player in the Blues lineup during the playoffs.
Brad Boyes, led the Blues in goals scored this season with 33 and will need to continue to be the sniper that he is if the Blues are to upset the Canucks in the first round of the playoffs. The big line of Tkachuk, Boyes and Andy McDonald will need to re-kindle some of that chemistry they had early in the season.
Andy McDonald, finished the season with 44 points despite missing 36 games this season due to an ankle injury. The Blues’ power-play is ranked in the top-eight in efficiency, which can be mostly attributed to McDonald’s playmaking ability. Look for Andy Mc to lead the Blues in assists this post-season.
David Backes, is the dark horse candidate for the Blues this season. He finished second in team scoring with 54 points along with 165 PIMs. The main questions is with Boyes, McDonald, Tkachuk, Oshie, Patrik Berglund and David Perron occupying the top-six where does Backes fit in the situation? However, a return of Paul Kariya, might provide Backes with a dangerous line mate.
The forward lines of each team are very similar in a way that both teams have talented scorers that play a dynamic free-flowing offensive game. The main difference will be the scoring potential of the Canucks. Vancouver has the veteran presence of the Sedin’s, Sundin, and Demitra compared to just the Blues who only have 127 playoff man-games between their top-ten forwards. Edge to Canucks.
Flames .vs. Blackhawks
This has the makings of a very good four versus five matchup. The Blackhawks have owned Calgary this season, but will it be a different story in the post-season?
Mikka Kiprusoff has a terrible 0-3-1 record with an atrocious 4.66 GAA and .856 save percentage against the Blackhawks this season. His 17-12-2 record in 33 Post-All-Star game appearances probably doesn’t exude confidence either. Key-stat, his .903 save percentage is the lowest average since his dreadful 2002-03 season with the Sharks.
On the other hand, Nikolai Khabibulin has a sparkling 3-0-0 record with a 2.00 GAA and .941 save percentage against the Flames this season. His 12-4-2 record since the All-Star break certainly provides a stronger case than Kipper does. Key-stat, his 2.33 GAA and .919 very closely mirror the numbers he had when he won the Stanley Cup in the 2003-04 season with the Lightning.
This is the exact same goalie matchup as the 2003-04 Stanley Cup finals, where Khabibulin stood on his head to steal the Stanley Cup away from the Flames. It just looks like the Hawks have owned Kipper this year, and could do the same against the Flames in the post-season, while the Bulin wall has stood tall against the Flames. You have to give the edge to the Blackhawks in this one.
Dion Phaneuf, had a bit of a down season in fantasy terms, but was still very productive in real-life for the Flames. He finished sixth in Flames’ overall scoring while ranking fourth overall in time-on-ice per game average in the NHL. Phaneuf only has two points, and a minus seven rating in four contests against the Blackhawks this season, which probably isn’t something to look forward to during their first round matchup against Chicago.
Adrian Aucoin, managed to finish the season with 34 points in 81 contests. The Flames will need him to provide some secondary scoring if they are to beat the Blackhawks in the opening round of the playoffs. Aucoin finished the season with only one point in the final nine games of the season. I personally wouldn’t pick Aucoin unless you’re devoting your pool to the Flames this season.
Jordan Leopold, certainly didn’t provide the umph that the Flames were looking for when they acquired his services from the Avalanche at the trade deadline. He tallied only four points in 19 contests despite averaging 18:48 per contest for the Flames. They’ll certainly need him to be a difference maker if the Flames are to defeat the Blackhawks this opening series.
Brian Campbell, led the Blackhawks in scoring from the blue-line with 52 points in 82 games. He finished the second half of the season with zero goals, which is a worrying sign for the offensive defenseman. Either way, Campbell usually steps up his SOG average in the playoffs, which makes him a must own in playoff pools.
Duncan Keith, led the league in plus/minus this season and is the second consecutive year that he topped the plus 30 mark. The Hawks will rely heavily on his defensive skills to shut down the Flames top-line of Jarome Iginla, Mike Cammalleri and Olli Jokinen. Don’t look for Keith to light up the score sheet in the playoffs though.
Cam Barker, ranks second behind only Campbell for power-play ice-time in Chicago. 29 of this 40 points this season have come from the power-play, which will be a similar scenario in the playoffs this season. If you have to choose a second defender behind Campbell, make sure you choose Barker.
Brent Seabrook, actually averaged more ice-time per contest than Brian Campbell did, which begins to show the development in the young Hawks’ defender. The top-pairing of Keith and Seabrook has shut down many offenses as well as provided enough offense to help the Blackhawks win plenty of games. Similarly to Keith, he’ll do well as a shut down defenseman, but don’t hold your breath for a massive amount of points.
The Flames defensive corps pretty much composes of one person, Phaneuf. The Blackhawks have four d-men that could really step up their play and provide a spark or their team. That in addition to the best shut down pairing mixed with offensive ability, in my opinion, of Keith and Seabrook in the NHL certainly gives a big edge to Blackhawks.
Jarome Iginla, finished the regular season with 89 points which is just slightly below the numbers that he put up in his last two seasons. His power-play points really dropped off in the second half of the year which doesn’t bode well for the Flames’ captain. Either way if you are going to own a Flame you can’t go wrong with Iggy.
Mike Cammalleri, finished the season strong with 22 points in his final 21 contests of the season and certainly was a pillar in the success of the Flames this season. The only down-side to Cammy is that he was point-less along with a minus nine rating in four contests against Chicago. He’ll be seeing a lot of Keith and Seabrook, so I think you should taper your expectations for Cammy this post-season.
Olli Jokinen, picked up 15 points in 19 contests since joining the Flames at the trade-deadline from Phoenix. The thing with Jokinen is that he’s inconsistent. He had 11 point-less games, along with four multi-point efforts while tallying only three points in the final 11 games of the regular season. This is Jokinen’s first taste of the post-season, will he make the most of it, or will he crumble? I wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot pole in playoff pools to be honest.
Todd Bertuzzi, would be my dark horse candidate for the Flames this playoffs. Despite the rest of the Flames having terrible numbers against the Hawks, Bertuzzi actually has been very productive against Chicago. He tallied three points in four contests while picking up eight PIMs and 11 SOG. If the numbers hold true, it looks like it’ll only be Bert that will be producing for the Flames this post-season.
Patrick Kane, followed up his decent rookie year with a decent sophomore season but an ankle sprain in late-December probably still has lingering effects, as he finished the second half of the season with only 28 points in 37 games. He found his groove in April as he picked up six points in the final seven contests for the Hawks to secure fifth place in the West. Look for Kane to have point-per-game numbers in this season’s playoffs.
Jonathan Toews, really took the next step forward in his development, as is improve upon last season’s point total by 15 points. That plus the fact that he’s playing great two-way hockey should bode well for the youngster in the opening round. Toews should also be owned in playoff pools.
Martin Havlat, somebody must have made one hellvua band-aid, as oft-injured Havlat managed to play in 81 of the 82 contests this season. Not only that but he was very productive throughout the season as well, as his 77 points was a career-high, while his plus 29 rating ranks in the top-ten in the league. Havlat is pretty much the only forward with playoff experience, so he’ll need pass on the knowledge towards some of the young kids.
Patrick Sharp, injured his knee in early April, but should return to the ice once the playoffs start later this week. Prior to his injury, Sharp averaged just eight seconds less than Toews on the top Blackhawks’ power-play unit, which is a tell-tale sign that he should have a very productive playoffs as Chicago ranks just outside of the top-ten in PP efficiency. Sharp is my dark horse candidate from the Blackhawks.
Both teams are very evenly matched up front. The series breaker will be the performances of Jokinen versus Havlat. If Jokinen has a more productive playoffs, Flames will win, if Havlat outguns Jokinen, it’s good-bye Calgary. I’ll have to give a slight edge to Calgary because Iggy and Bertuzzi have been there before, where as Toews and Kane haven’t. It definitely should make an interesting series. Slight edge to Flames.
Well there ya go, hopefully that’s enough information for you to make an informed choice as to who are the smart candidates to pick and who isn’t going to be reliable in the post-season. Good luck in your playoff pools.