Thursday, April 26, 2012

President's Trophy Flop

Well, they're done. Now I can watch the Stanley Cup playoffs stress-free. The Vancouver Canucks have been eliminated, and I couldn't be happier. Being an unapologetic Canuck hater (before it was fashionable to be), I was shocked as much as anyone that they were ousted by Los Angeles in round one.
After losing Game seven of the Cup finals at home, I didn't think they could embarrass themselves any further. They may very well have this year.

Vancouver has just completed the fastest playoff exit for any President's Trophy winning team. Sure, it has happened six times since 1967, including five times in the last dozen seasons. But all of those first place overall teams won at least two games before being upset.

The list of the President's Trophy Flops:
  • Los Angeles over Vancouver, 4 games to 1 in 2012
  • Montreal over Washington, 4 games to 3 in 2010
  • Anaheim over San Jose, 4 games to 2 in 2009
  • Edmonton over Detroit, 4 games to 2 in 2006
  • San Jose over St.Louis 4 games to 3 in 2000
  • Minnesota over Chicago, 4 games to 3 in 1991
  • Montreal over Boston, 4 games to 3 in 1971
In fact there has been one other first place team that was eliminated in five games but that was well before the President's Trophy. In 1957, the Detroit Red Wings finished first with 88 points in 70 games before losing 4 games to 1 to the Boston Bruins.

Perhaps some solace for the Canucks is that last year's fellow finalist Boston was also upset in the first round this year. How often have both Cup finalists failed to get out of the first round the next year? Perhaps unsurprising considering the parity of the current NHL it is actually more the norm than not. Since 2003, SIX times the previous year's Cup finalists failed to win a round the next, it happened only twice in the 35 years before then.

Cup Finalists one year, out in First Round the next:
  • Vancouver, Boston 2012
  • Anaheim, Ottawa 2008
  • Edmonton, Carolina 2007
  • Calgary, Tampa Bay 2006
  • New Jersey, Anaheim 2004
  • Detroit, Carolina 2003
  • Montreal, Los Angeles 1994
  • Boston, St.Louis 1971

Friday, April 20, 2012

Martin Brodeur has more points than...

With two assists in four games in this year's playoffs he has more points than:
  • Radim Vrbata
  • Patrick Sharp
  • Mason Raymond
  • Sergei Kostitsyn
  • Erik Karlsson
  • Jiri Hudler
  • Patric Horqvist
  • Mike Green
  • Johan Franzen
  • Valtteri Filppula
  • Drew Doughty
  • Alex Burrows
  • Patrice Bergeron
  • David Backes
  • Tyler Seguin
  • Joe Pavelski
  • Patrick Marleau
  • Brad Marchand
  • Milan Lucic
  • Niklas Lidstrom
  • David Krejci
Plus 181 other NHL skaters.

With 1 Goal and 10 Assists in his Playoff career, Brodeur has more points than these Forwards who played at least 50 playoff games:
  • Jarko Ruutu
  • Todd Harvey
  • Shaun Van Allen
  • PJ Axelsson
  • Bill Berg
  • Kent Manderville
  • Glen Sather
  • Shawn Thornton
And two defensmen that played over 100 playoff games:
  • Rhett Warrener
  • Todd Gill
Oh yeah, and with a record 24 playoff shutouts now, he has more than Terry Sawchuk and Ken Dryden COMBINED.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Flyers & Penguins; Firewagon Hockey

The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins have scored 45 goals over the first four games of their first round series. The record for most goals in one NHL playoff series is 69 by Edmonton and Chicago in the 1985 Campbell Conference Semi-finals. Through four games of that series the Oilers and Hawks combined for only 44 goals.

Amazingly, goalies in the Pens/Flyers series have a WORSE Save Percentage than the barn burner of 27 years ago. Bryzgalov, Bobrovsky, Fleury and Johnson have bumbled their way to a Roller Hockey-like Save Pct. of .818. Back in 1985 Grant Fuhr, Andy Moog, Murray Bannerman and Warren Skorodenski combined for a far more impressive .825 Save Pct. Yikes. In fact after only the first four matches of the 1985 series the teams had a Pct. of .835, the last two games were even worse for poor Murray Bannerman. In Game 5 he allowed 10 goals on 51 shots and in Game 6, 8 of only 27 shots got past him. He would finish the six game series with a .812 Save Pct. Marc-Andre Fleury's is currently at .817.

On the individual scoring front, Flyers Claude Giroux's 10 points is only 1 behind Wayne Gretzky's first four games of the '85 Semis. Sidney Crosby has 8 points so far, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal have 7 each and four others have 6 points which is comparable to the leaders through four games of that '85 series. Glenn Anderson had 8, Denis Savard 7, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri and Darryl Sutter all had 6 points each.

Who's going to bet against the Flyers and Pens not putting 15 goals on the board in Game 5 as happened on May 14, 1985 when Edmonton beat Chicago 10-5.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

NHL Playoffs; The First Week

With the first week of the Stanley Cup playoffs spiralling into suspension filled delirium, let's have a look at some of the numbers and stats and not the 'torpedo head shots' and 'turnbuckling'.

  • With 5 points in his first 3 games so far, Danny Briere is now the top playoff point getter since the lock-out. The list is: Briere 98, Zetterberg 96, Crosby 87, Datsyuk 82, Malkin 77.

  • Over their last 8 playoff games going back to Game 3 of last year's Final, the Vancouver Canucks have a 1 and 7 record. They've scored 8 goals in those 8 games. Roberto Luongo in that stretch has a 4.31 GAA and .862 Save Pct.

  • Tim Thomas on the other hand, has a 1.20 GAA and .963 Save Pct. since the very same Game 3 of the Finals.

  • Speaking of goaltenders, Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury has given up 6 goals in a game and 7 goals in another against Philadelphia. The last time he surrendered 6 was on Feb. 14, 2009 when Vesa Toskala and the Leafs beat him 6-2. The last time Fleury gave up 7 goals was over 6 years ago on Jan 28, 2006.

  • Philadelphia Flyers rookies Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn and Matt Read have a collective 6 goals and 12 points in 3 games.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Playoff Time!

I've been busy. The last two nights I ran playoff hockey drafts, one with my hockey team the other at my work. I thought I'd analyze the draft results in order to get a general consensus of which teams people are picking in the playoffs this year.

I counted the number of players chosen from each NHL team out of the top 50 selections in each pool. I figure, if I compare the number of players from each team in each series I can get a nice sample of how 18 different knowledgeable hockey fans are predicting the playoffs. Remember, this was done in Vancouver so there may be a bit of bias...although, out of the 19 different pool teams chosen, 8 of them selected NO Canucks (of course 2 of those were my squads). The results are as follows (numbers are then translated to represent a seven game series)

New York 7 picks,  Ottawa 2 picks  
Pittsburgh 15 picks,  Philadelphia 3 picks

Boston 11 picks,  Washington 4 picks 

New Jersey 6 picks,  Florida 1 pick  

Vancouver 17 picks,  Los Angeles 7 picks 

Chicago 4 picks,  Phoenix  0 picks 

Detroit 8 picks,  Nashville 5 picks  

San Jose 5 picks, St. Louis 5  
4-3 one way or the other...let`s say Game 7 Overtime in this one.

Not surprisingly, of the 100 draft selections I looked at, the most with 17 were Canucks and the next highest was Pittsburgh. This seems to be a popular choice throughout the hockey world as the most likely Cup Final. Also, the West looks to be the tougher conference to predict with perhaps two series going the distance. I am surprised that the Flyers got such little respect, although I do agree with it. I do also agree with Vancouver and Los Angeles going at least six games with a possible upset for the Kings.

Bring on the playoffs.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Old Man Whitney, Stamkos and a 54 save Shutout

-Ray Whitney has reached the 1000 point plateau which is quite an amazing accomplishment when you realize he had only 416 points before the age of 30.  Since then, Whitney has played 675 games and tallied 585 points. In fact Whitney sits 12th all-time for points scored after the age of 34.

-Steven Stamkos sits at 58 goals on the season and has a shot at becoming only the 20th guy to score 60. If he can do it, he'll be the third youngest (by a few months) after Wayne Gretzky and Pavel Bure. Stamkos' current goal scoring translates to a 69 adjusted goal season when league Goals per Game is equalized. This would make it one of the greatest goal scoring seasons ever. Brett Hull's 86 goals in 1990/91 translates 78 Adjusted Goals and the best ever. Alex Ovechkin's 65 in 07/08 works out to 72, Mario Lemieux's 85 in 88/89 adjust to 71, Cooney Weiland's 43 goals in 29/30 become 70, Phil Esposito's 76 in 70/71 translate to 70 and Gretzky's 87 in 83/84 are adjusted to 69. Quite the company that Stamkos is keeping.

-Phoenix goalie Mike Smith recorded a 54 save shutout this week setting the record for highest shot total faced in a shutout. Four years ago Florida's Craig Anderson had a 53 save shutout and in 1996 Curtis Joseph posted a 52 save shutout for the Oilers. Dominik Hasek holds the overall record with 70 saves in a quadruple Overtime win over New Jersey on April 27, 1994 and Patrick Roy made 63 saves in the triple Overtime Cup clinching game over Florida on June 10, 1996.

-Combining the last two seasons, Vancouver's Cory Schneider has a record of 36-11-3 with a 2.06 GAA and .934 Save Pct. This works out to a Points Percentage of .750. Partner Roberto Luongo, over the same two seasons has a Point Pct of .674. Personally I don't see a goaltender controvery at all.

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