Posted tagged ‘stanley cup playoffs’

Is Parity Sustainable in a 30 Team NHL? and The NHL NEEDS to Fix the Point System

April 19, 2010

The NHL playoffs are underway and there have been multiple ‘upsets’ and some tight and exciting games in this year’s opening round.   I think it shows just how much parity there is in the league.  Yes, the Eastern Conference had a 33 point spread between the first and last placed playoff teams (an 18 point spread in the West) but the playoffs are showing that when the Cup is on the line, a 33 point spread might not mean all that much.   

In some ways, we should expect this.  With salary caps and a league that holds 30 teams, it makes sense that concentrated talent on a team, like that which was on the Edmonton Oilers of old,  is something that will be hard to build.  Add to that the AHL, from which NHL quality players (NHL quality for a 30 team league) are shuffled back and forth at will and the talent pool that the NHL utilizes is deep and broad.

This means that teams, even if they are injury riddled, can stay competitive and pickup points, until playoff time.  Then if they can stay healthy through the playoffs, expect them to make some noise, even if they don’t have the horses to make it to the Cup finals.

Is this good or bad?  In some ways it’s great for hockey but it also means that the NHL/AHL network, broad as it is, probably isn’t as Elite as we’d like to think it is.  Sure, great athletes are in the mix, but in general, it’s the teamwork that makes the teams, and teamwork doesn’t sign contracts for millions of dollars -dollars that have to be made somewhere, usually in rising ticket prices.

So, in a weird twist, even with salary caps, this huge league network may have the seeds of  becoming unsustainable because the distinguishing element of the league is not tied directly to team income.

Bizarre, isn’t it?

Speaking of bizarre (more…)

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8 to Go

May 11, 2009

Wow…

I was wrong.  Hawks won.  They keep finding ways of pulling it out.  They keep making sloppy plays in their own end, they keep falling behind, yet they come from behind, score goals in frenzied bunches and win.

Vancouver lost today because the Hawks had them where they wanted them.  After the first two games, Vancouver tried different game plans and never found their groove.

After the game 5 win, Vancouver panicked and totally left their game plan.  The result was a disastrous 7-5 loss.

So what does it mean for the Hawks?

Vancouver was tougher than Calgary and the next round tougher still, but the teams that the Hawks will face prior to the finals have not played the greatest against the Hawks in regular season.

Does this mean I’m predicting the Hawks to win it all now?

The stars are aligning, some big teams have gotten bumped already and it’s beginning to look alot like Christmas for this year’s Hawks.

So…will they win it all?

I’ll wait to see who they play next round before predicitng, but as I said at the start of this entry, I don’t think you can come from behind forever, and make bad defensive plays forever and win the Cup.

I’d love to see it and as these playoffs are going, they now have a shot.  But I think it’ll go wide.

I’m hoping for a tip-in in overtime.

Let’s go Hawks!!

Bring on Vancouver!

April 28, 2009

hawks1

Well, the Hawks made it past Calgary in my predicted 6 games by capitalizing on Calgary mistakes and not making too many of their own.

Now, it’s Vancouver.  A team that the Hawks had trouble with all year; a team I was hoping they wouldn’t play first round because they’d get bumped before they could get experience.

As I’ve said before, the second round will be the Hawks’ end of the line.  I’d love it if it wouldn’t be, but I don’t think the Hawks have the ability to beat the Canucks.

Now, it IS playoffs, and anything can happen, but Calgary was tougher than alot of people imagined; Vancouver will be tougher.

The Hawks will get some great experience in this round, but veteran leadership and a better team will prevail. Vancouver in 5.  (It is possible the series could go 6, but I’ll stick with 5.) A great assessment of the series here.

Nevertheless…

GO HAWKS!!!!

 

 

Is the Series Really up to the Goalies?

April 25, 2009
Nikolai Khabibulin and Mikka Kiprusoff have seen their share of rubber, but are they the reason the series is tied?

Nikolai Khabibulin and Mikka Kiprusoff have seen their share of rubber, but are they the reason the series is tied?

There’s been alot of talk around the quality of goaltending in this series. Here are my observations:

This Calgary post seems to say that the series thus far, and the future of it, has been and will be decided by Calgary goaltending.  While I agree that goaltending looms huge in the playoffs, I wouldn’t say that either goalie has been overly lax in their duties thus far.  Yes, both have let in less than stellar goals, but the Calgary writer points the finger at Kiprusoff for not holding a three goal lead. 

I can’t do the same.  Calgary’s work ethic is at fault, not the goaltending.  I watched the game and saw a change in the Calgary toughness and execution right after they took the 4-1 lead.  I was travelling and watching the game on the East Coast so I had hoped I could get to sleep early when Calgary took the aforementioned lead.  But, after Calgary made it 4-1, I sensed a shift in work ethic and I thought, “I think the Hawks will make a game of this.”  They did.

On the Chicago side we have this and this that talk about Khabby’s greatness and professionalism, etc.  Again, I think it’s wrong to hang everything on the goalie here as well.  However, ever since I saw the Bulin Wall get dismantled by the Chicago Wolves in the IHL playoffs (1998) when he was playing for the Long Beach Ice Dogs, one thing is clear: As the team goes, so goes Khabibulin. 

Yes, he’s got the ability to singlehandedly save a game but is he a goalie that will do that all the time even when the team around him is rattled and crumbling?

No.  Just because Khabibulin is signed for an outrageous sum of money does not make him equal to, or better than, Martin Brodeur.  Sorry.

However, Khabibulin is smart enough to know the score and what it will take to win.  He didn’t say, “If I step up my game we’ll win this.”  That may have been an accurate statement but he’d have to become supergoalie and that’s not a realistic recipe for wining the series.  Instead he simply said: “We execute, we win.”

BINGO!

Execution.  That’s what the series comes down to. 

On the one hand you’ve got the Calgary Flames, a team that will win this series if it throws its weight around, plays with focus and passion, and keeps the young Hawk team on its heels.

On the other you’ve got a passionate,  inexperienced, young team (“Young Sticks”-like “Young Guns” as my cousin calls them) that more often than not though, looks like they’re in over their heads when Calgary takes the game to them. 

I think you can see where this is leading.  The common denominator in both scenarios is Calgary, not the goalies.  Thus far both netminders have played well enough for wins; not phenomenal but good enough. What will determine this series is Calgary’s ability to play 60 minutes of solid, body crunching hockey. 

If there are times Calgary doesn’t, it’s up to Marty Havlat and the rest of the Hawks to blow through the breach and make Calgary pay.

As Khabibulin said, “We execute, we win.”