Archive for the ‘2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs’ Category

(Dave Sandford, Getty Images)

(Dave Sandford, Getty Images)

Hockey glorifies size. It’s understandable, considering how physicality is an undeniably important aspect of the game. You need big defencemen to clear out the front of the net and big forwards who can prevent themselves from being cleared. You want players with enough size to deliver punishing body checks to create turnovers and make opponents panic with the puck. You need players who can use their body effectively to protect the puck.

Size is frequently overemphasized, however. Reading draft previews, a prospect’s bio will quote scouts going on and on about his big frame, then add in at the end ”And he can skate!” as if that’s a bonus rather than a requirement. Undersized forwards and defencemen struggle to get noticed in the minors, as less talented, but bigger-bodied teammates get called up long before they do.

That’s one of the reasons why this Stanley Cup Final match-up is so interesting to me. Despite one team’s reputation, these are actually two of the smallest teams in the NHL, showing that size doesn’t matter nearly as much as some would suggest.

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Los Angeles Kings v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Five

On Saturday night the Blackhawks did away with the Los Angeles Kings, setting up a Stanley Cup Final match-up between the 2011 Cup-winning Bruins and Chicago, who won the big prize in 2010.

With information from the NHL’s morning press release, here’s a glance at the match-up “tale of the tape” style.

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129304407 - Bill Smith

The series definitely will not be decided by who can make the goofiest face. (Bill Smith, Getty Images)

The Stanley Cup Final kicks off on Wednesday, because what better time to start the biggest playoff series of the year? At this point, you’ve been practically buried in series previews, many of which will try to boil the matchup down to a few key elements. This series will come down to goaltending, one will claim, while another will trumpet secondary scoring as what will determine the end result.

Really, it’s essentially impossible to predict. I can, however, tell you some things that won’t matter. So here are three things that, despite claims to the contrary, this series definitely won’t boil down to:

Who wants it more

Here is a cliché that needs to die a painful death, preferably scripted by George R.R. Martin.

It usually gets brought out at the conclusion of a game or series, sometimes even by the players themselves. Asked to explain how they won, they might respond, We just wanted it more, as if the player just finished reading The SecretThe power of positive thinking propelled the puck into the net, you see. Read the rest of this entry »

Valtteri Filppula enjoys his last few moments with an intact ankle as Andrew Shaw plots his devious slewfoot.

Valtteri Filppula enjoys his last few moments with an intact ankle as Andrew Shaw plots his devious slewfoot.

For a move that’s worth a match penalty and so inherently dangerous, it’s amazing how often a slewfoot happens. What’s more amazing is how often players get away with it. Somehow the slewfoot is also one of the most-defended moves, with someone always willing to loudly claim it was just a hockey play, no matter how blatant. This year’s playoffs have already had their share of slewfoots (slewfeet?), all of which have somehow avoided anything more than a minor penalty.

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(Jared Wickerham, Getty Images)

(Jared Wickerham, Getty Images)

During the playoffs, you tend to hear a lot about fourth-liners and their importance. Whether it’s a gamewinning goal from an unexpected source or a big hit that supposedly shifts the momentum of a game, fans and media members alike love their unlikely heroes.

But it’s certainly true that a good fourth line can make a major difference in the playoffs. The ability to roll all four lines keeps players fresh throughout the post-season and makes it difficult for opposing teams to effectively match-up lines.

At least, that’s a common assertion this time of year. Let’s take a look at how true it actually is.

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Los Angeles Kings v Chicago Blackhawks

With the playoffs on the horizon, I wanted to put together previews of each series, but more specifically, I wanted to put together the type of previews I’d want to read. Bite-sized, few stats, and little splash of opinion for seasoning. This is my attempt at providing that.

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1) Chicago Blackhawks vs 5) Los Angles Kings

Head-to-Head in 2013: Blackhawks won two of the three contests.

A stat: These teams haven’t met in playoffs since 1974. Okay, that was more of a fact. Read the rest of this entry »

Shown: skillz skillz skillz. How's your edgework.

Shown: skillz skillz skillz. How’s your edgework.

With the playoffs on the horizon, I wanted to put together previews of each series, but more specifically, I wanted to put together the type of previews I’d want to read. Bite-sized, few stats, and little splash of opinion for seasoning. This is my attempt at providing that.

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1) Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 4) Boston Bruins

Head-to-Head in 2013: Penguins beat the Bruins by a single goal all three games.

A stat: The Penguins scored 22 times over five second round games. That works out to A-point-Lot per game. Read the rest of this entry »