ESPN's Bottom Line Widget

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Breaking Down the Western Semis


I'm back, and with back-to-back posts! Yes, it's hockey again. It's the NHL Playoffs and Round 1 is just about in the books. In the Western Conference, the four remaining teams are seeded and ready to roll. Tonight, the Capitals and Canadiens play to see who advances in Game 7. For today, we look at the Western Conference Semi Finals.



FIRST MATCH UP:
#1 San Jose Sharks

vs.

#5 Detroit Red Wings


#1 San Jose Sharks



Regular Season Record: 51-20-11 113 points
Regular Season Scoring Leader: Joe Thornton- 20g, 69a, 89pts
Goaltender of Record: Evgeni Nabokov- 44-16-10 2.43 GAA .922 Save Percentage 3 Shut Outs

Strengths
Scoring Depth: During the regular season the San Jose Sharks were a high powered offensive machine, scoring the 4th most goals in the entire league at 264 (3.22 goals per game) with 9 players netting 30 points or more.
Goaltending: All alround solid netminder Evgeni Nabokov won over 40 games this year. At 44 he sat one behind Martin Brodeur for the league lead. In the playoffs he has more sparkling numbers with a 1.76 GAA, .926 Save %, and a shut out.

Weaknesses
Where'd You Go Jumbo Joe: A regular season wonder, big Joe Thorning is notorious for not showing up for the Playoffs. So far this year is not an exception. Only 3 assists and a -4 rating (you get a minus every time a goal is scored while you're on the ice) through 6 games is not going to cut it.
Post Season Problems: Unfortunately for the Sharks Joe has traditionally been the heart and it's not meant good things for the Fins. Will this tradition continue? With Joe Pavelski gaining steam and Dany Heatley doing his best to perform, it's not likely but no one knows for sure.

#5 Detroit Red Wings



Regular Season Record: 44-24-14 102 points
Regular Season Scoring Leader: Pavel Datsyuk- 27g, 43a, 70pts
Goaltender of Record: Jimmy Howard- 37-15-10 2.26 GAA .924 Save Percentage 3 Shut Outs

Strengths
Experience: The vast majority of this team has been around the block more than once. The past two years they have been in the Stanley Cup Finals, including winning it two years ago. They know how to survive the Playoffs.
King Hank: Henrik Zetterberg has been a man on fire so far in these playoffs. In seven games against the Phoenix Coyotoes he put up 11 points (6g, 5a). He's been the majority of the offense for the Red Wings.

Weaknesses
Goaltending: While Jimmy Howard put up some good numbers in the regular season, he is a rookie. This is his first go of the Playoffs and at times during the Coyotes series he looked shakey. This should be a concern for Red Wings fans heading forward. Are you that confident in Chris Osgood (7-9-4 3.02 .888%)?
Fatigue: Their experience in this case is both a blessing and a curse. They've been around the block quite a bit and have gone deep into the Playoffs two years in a row. They're not the youngest team. They looked slow at times during the Coyotes series. That series went seven games.

PREDICTION:
Sharks take the Red Wings in 7 games

SECOND MATCH UP:
#2 Chicago Blackhawks

vs.

#3 Vancouver Canucks


#2 Chicago Blackhawks




Regular Season Record: 52-22-8 112 points
Regular Season Scoring Leader: Patrick Kane- 30g, 58a, 88pts
Goaltender of Record: Antti Niemi 26-7-4 2.25 GAA .912 Save Percentage 7 Shut Outs

Strengths
Scoring Depth: Another team with a great amount of scoring depth with 11 players in the regular season hitting the 30 point mark. Among those Wunderkids Patrick Kane and Jonathan Towes who scored 88 and 68 respectively.
Youth: One of the youngest rosters in the NHL and one of the youngest rosters in the Playoffs means fresh legs. Combine that with their experience from last year, going to the Western Conference Finals, and they're set.

Weaknesses
Goaltending: The biggest question mark on this team entering the season continued to be so, with two goaltenders seeing more than 30 games of action. Niemi enters the Playoffs as the goaltender of record and has played reasonably well but waiting in the wings is Cristobal Huet (26-14-4 2.50GAA .895%) should he falter.
Power Play: While not the weakest link in the armor and by no means bad, a team with such offensive talent is expected to convert on more than 17% of tries offered to them during the post season. Is that a tribute to Nashville's PK or the inability of Chicago's Power Play?

#3 Vancouver Canucks



Regular Season Record: 49-28-5 103 points
Regular Season Scoring Leader: Henrik Sedin- 28g, 83a, 112pts
Goaltender of Record: Roberto Luongo- 40-22-4 2.57 GAA .913 Save Percentage 4 Shut Outs

Strengths
Roberto Luongo: 40 game winner, and Olympic Gold Medalist Roberto Luongo had another solid regular season. He is a prevailing positive for the Canucks in the regular season. He needs to correct his play for this series but gives the Canucks a decided edge.
Sedin Twins: They always know where each other is on the ice, it's insane. This post season hasn't been any different. Daniel has 10 points (4+6) in 6 games and Henrik at 8 points (1+7), they're a scoring threat any time they're on the ice.

Weaknesses
Scoring Depth: Problem is that outside the Sedin Twins and Mikael Samuelsson (7+4=11), the Canucks haven't had that many people put the puck in the net. This needs to be corrected very quickly against a high scoring Blackhawks team.
Penalty Kill: Running at a putrid 61.5%, they allowed the Kings to click at a 38.5% in the first round. A battle of two suffering Special Teams units, which one will prevail in this series?

PREDICTION:
Blackhawks down the Canucks in 6 games

Tomorrow on Case and Point: The Eastern Conference Semi Finals. Until then, enjoy!



The Working Title- The Mary Getaway (I Lost Everything)

No comments:

Post a Comment