Archive for the ‘Previews’ Category

carey price

As the NHL schedule winds to a close, there’s still a number of playoff matchups to be determined. In the West, however, it’s almost certain the Chicago Blackhawks will be going head-to-head with the Colorado Avalanche thanks to the NHL’s new format that sees the two and three seeds from every division face each other in round one. In the East, that format makes it clear that Tampa Bay and Montreal will be paired up to duke it out.

standings 2

And damn, is that going to be one close playoff series.

The Lightning are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games, while the Canadiens are 8-2-0 over that same span. Both teams are playing well during a time on the NHL schedule when teams begin scrapping for every last point they can muster, which is a real testament to the make-up of both groups. Tampa scores a bit more (barely), while Montreal gives up fewer goals (barely). They both rely on undersized forwards who contribute. The both have great goaltending. They are, if you haven’t picked up on the direction I’m headed here, very similar teams.

So then, the differences that will decide their inevitable series:

Goaltending

Carey Price and Ben Bishop have been two of the NHL’s best goaltenders this year, both potential Vezina candidates in a year filled with many. Their comparables (Bishop on top, Price on bottom): Read the rest of this entry »

mcdavid

You’re a hockey fan. You enjoy the World Juniors every year, and hey why not, it’s a great event. But quite frankly, World Juniors and presumptuous World Junior media, you don’t have a sniff who 15% of these kids are because it’s junior hockey and you follow the NHL and you’ve got a job and a life outside being a hockey fan, goshdarnit. Am I close?

Well, don’t you fear. We’re just a couple days into the event and you haven’t missed much (anything) yet. To really enjoy the tournament it helps to know the basic details, so let me fill you in on those. We’ll call this “World Juniors for Dummies,” and yes, I include myself in that label. Here’s what it helps to know:

The what: The World Junior Championship! It matters to nations like Canada!

And…sort of Russia.

Maybe Sweden a bit?

Yeah.

…Canada, though. F’real.

The who: If you’re under 20 years old and one of the 22 best hockey players in your country, you can play. Assuming your country is into the whole thing, of course.

The where: Malmo, Sweden. More on that below.

The when: December 26th til January 5th. But not much all that cool happens til the second of January, when the not-really-contenders are officially wiped out.

The how: Ten teams, separated into two groups of five. The teams in each group play each other once. Top four from each group advance and are seeded how you’d expect. Bottom two teams play a best-of-three to avoid relegation.

Okay, the last part wasn’t true, just seeing if you’re paying attention.

The why: What, we’re getting existential about the whole thing? I don’t know.

Read the rest of this entry »

Stanley Cup

Welcome! Below is a bit of an overview previewing the upcoming NHL season. We’ll tell you about the new divisions, the new playoff format, the new rule changes, who’s got new jerseys, which players are worth watching, which teams are in outdoor games and more. Let’s dive in.

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The clock has finally flipped to the set time your parents said was an acceptable hour to wake them up for Christmas morning, and Santa has made a visit. It is finally time, and you’ve waited so long. Hockey is here.

OR, maybe you hate Christmas or belong to a different religion and today is just a really great day. Maybe the metaphor is completely unnecessary.

Analysis

Today: good.

That’s better.

This is a bit of a different year in the NHL. We’re coming out of a lockout-shortened season that saw the Chicago Blackhawks claim their second Cup in the past four years, which requires absolutely no asterisk – the playoffs weren’t shortened, that’s for damn sure – but it didn’t tell us everything we needed to know about all the teams, what with the small sample size and all. Would Columbus have snuck into playoffs with more time? Could the Flyers have climbed up and in by game 82? Would the Capitals have caught Montreal for the two seed? Would Anaheim have slid down the standings? You get the idea.

To go with the heightened uncertainty, this season is an Olympic year, which means there’s no All-Star Game, but actual All-Stars will be increasingly taxed by additional high-tempo games. That means Columbus, denied an All-Star Game in 2013 by the lockout, is again denied it by the Olympics. They’ll get theirs in 2015, barring a meteor or whatever.

As you get set to watch tonight’s action – Toronto at Montreal, Washtington at Chicago, and Winnipeg at Edmonton – you might as well get to know some important things about the upcoming season.

The Divisions have been realigned

Yup – Detroit and Columbus have moved to the Eastern Conference for their (and their fans’) convenience, while the Winnipeg Jets have gone to the West. That means the Conferences are uneven (16 in the East, 14 in the West), which is completely weird, and raises questions about expansion (hello Seattle?).

Read the rest of this entry »

cupsilo

A new season is quickly advancing on us. There are new divisions. There is a new format for deciding playoff teams. There is a new team in Seattle renewed sense of hope in Phoenix.

With a new season comes new predictions, a new chance for people like myself to make wild prognostications that will be somewhere between 3 and 5 percent correct (at best) at season’s end. Yes, it’s a gigantic waste of time. But it’s *fun* and pointless, like a book club or voting in America.

What follows is a hybrid preview/predictions for the upcoming season. The teams are ranked from 30 to 1, with the idea that this is how they will set up for the 2014 NHL Draft (traded and forfeited picks aside) before the lottery. So the teams that are ranked 1-2 here are the Stanley Cup champion and runner-up. Teams 3-4 are your conference final losers. Teams 5-16 are reverse order of the final standings based on overall points. Teams 17-30…you guessed it…failed to make the postseason.

So kick back, put your feet up on the coffee table, get angry or happy and enjoy one man’s opinion on what’s going to happen in the NHL this season along with some useful information about players who have changed teams this offseason. Read the rest of this entry »

New York Rangers v Boston Bruins

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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4) Boston Bruins vs. 6) New York Rangers

Head-to-Head in 2013: One win for the Bruins, two for the Rangers, haven’t played since Feb. 12th

A stat: Two squads haven’t met in playoffs since 1973! Read the rest of this entry »

Detroit Red Wings 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. 7) Detroit Red Wings

Head-to-Head in 2013: Chicago 4-0-0 Read the rest of this entry »

San Jose Sharks v Los Angeles Kings

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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5) Los Angles Kings vs. 6) San Jose Sharks

Head-to-Head in 2013: Split, with both teams winning their two home games.

A stat: This is the first time the Kings have had home ice advantage since 1992, according to NHL.com.

Read the rest of this entry »