Sunday, May 29, 2011

Canucks vs Bruins Preview

Sorry Bruins fans, I think Vancouver is going to steamroll your team. Boston lacks a huge advantage in net against exactly two teams, and they're playing the one of those two that made the playoffs (the other I think is Anaheim, with Swiss Jonas Hiller). Meanwhile, Alain Vigneault's skaters have a ginormous advantage over Claude Julien's skaters. Boston will be icing the best defenseman in Chara and maybe the best forward in Bergeron, but Vancouver is icing the next best three or four at each position after that. The Sedins are clicking, Kesler has been great, and the Canucks third line is forechecking extremely well. The Sharks had the depth to get good players out against both the Sedins and Kesler, but Boston only has enough personnel to shut down one of the two. The other should be rolling. And we haven't even considered Malhotra yet, who, with what's looking like a return for the Finals, will take the defensive burden off off Kesler and Laperierre. Blind Corsi says Canucks in 5, and I say Canucks in 5, too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Caps Zone Starts in the Playoffs

From a purely numbers standpoint, the attribute of playoff hockey that stands out to me the most, as compared to regular season hockey, is plain aggressiveness by coaches. Coaches match lines and pairings more aggressively. Guys who before got a little ice time each game start getting none at all, while guys who were playing 22 minutes a night play over 25 and maybe close to 30 (for the 1Ds). A leading team will go into a tougher defensive shell when ahead, and probably earlier in games, too (though the Tampa Bay Lightning are an exception to this rule). Team Corsi differences get amplified for those that are capable of "elevating their game" (like the Pittsburgh Penguins this year). Starting goalies start getting every game instead of getting a day off once every five games or so. And so on.

I think the playoffs are a useful tool not only to enjoy watching hockey, but also to see what coaches really think is the best strategy to win. While during the regular season a team may sacrifice some success to instead develop players (see Marcus Johansson and faceoffs, or Tyler Seguin) and chemistry, once the playoffs come around, the team will ice what it thinks is its best team, with the most aggressive winning strategy.

Under this assumption, let's look at what Bruce Boudreau really has thought of his lineup in April 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. All information from behind the net.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Recap: Sharks 3, Red Wings 2

Sharks win series 4-3. The series was truly an instant classic, and I bet will stand not only as the definitive moment when the Sharks "arrived" but also as one of the best series of all time. Seriously.

Conference Finals Preview

I think the Eastern Conference Finals will be a snoozer, but the Western Conference Finals should, again, be excellent hockey, and with all the games in the Pacific time zone the games will be convenient for me to watch.

Hell yes.

Blind Corsi: Lightning in 7, Canucks in 7. I would've picked Lightning in 6, but this classifies as one of those "exceptional cases" that I wrote could sway the Corsi-based prediction. Boston's goaltending is vastly superior to Tampa Bay's. San Jose's power play is also an "exceptional case" but that advantage isn't enough for blind Corsi.

Tampa Bay just feels like a team of destiny, but the Bruins feel to me like the playground bully. While losing Patrice Bergeron hurts a lot, Boston has been getting solid play up and down their lineup and completely rolled over a solid Philadelphia team. Obviously, part of that is sub-par goaltending in the Flyers' net and frequent brain cramps in the defensive zone, but Boston deserves plenty of credit for not going into a shell to try and mitigate the talent disparity (as I would've instructed them to do, if I were Claude Julien), and staying aggressive. They are much more disciplined in their attack than Washington. Like the 07-08 Flyers and 08-09 Blackhawks, I think the Conference Finals is when the fairytale comes to an end. Tampa will put up a fight, but they've been riding hot goaltending, an insanely hot PK, a clicking PP, and insane shooting when trailing thus far. It can't last. Bruins in 7.

There's not much more to Vancouver-San Jose than what I wrote above. Both teams knocked off recent champions in this postseason, both teams are great at possession (I think San Jose is slightly better), both teams have gotten solid goaltending for the most part, both teams have a great power play and not-terrible-but-not-top-notch penalty killing. Both have questionable psyches--both can't "choke" here, unfortunately for the mainstream media and haters. I think these are two pretty much even teams. Ryane Clowe's return coupled with Joe Thornton's complete pwnage of Datsyuk and Zetterberg--and, in fact, the entire Sharks team ramping up their game to significantly outclass that veteran class-of-the-league organization (admittedly in one game, though the only do-or-die one)--makes me think Jumbo Joe is on a mission. He'll control Kesler or the Sedins, and Pavelski should be able to do a decent job against the other, which means that Logan Couture, Dany Heatley, and Clowe can run roughshod over Vancouver. At least, enough to sway the pendulum (plus, Imma sticking with my bracket picks). Sharks in 7.

By the way, here's a recap of my predictions and blind Corsi predictions thus far. I like to use "games off," to give credit for simply picking the wrong team in seven games, for example.

The idea is pretty simple. The range of possible outcomes exists on a spectrum:

[Away] in 4<-->[Away] in 5<-->[Away] in 6<-->[Away] in 7<-->[Home] in 7<-->[Home] in 6<-->[Home] in 5<-->[Home] in 4

The games off score is how many of those double-arrows you have to cross to get form the prediction to the actual result. For example, picking the wrong team in Game 7 is one game off. The max games off score is 7 (which I came close to in both Eastern Conference Semifinal series).

Me: Caps in 5, Sabres in 6, Bruins in 7, Penguins in 5, Canucks in 7, Sharks in 4, Red Wings in 5, Predators in 6, Caps in 6, Flyers in 6, Canucks in 6, Sharks in 7.
Total games off: 18

Blind Corsi: Caps in 6, Flyers in 7, Habs in 6, Pens in 6, Canucks in 7, Sharks in 6, Red Wings in 5, Predators in 6; Bolts in 6, Flyers in 6, Canucks in 6, Sharks in 7. Total games off: 14

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

H2H Corsi, Game 4

Another year, another playoff loss. But hey, if the Caps have a 1/30 chance of winning it all any year, they have a 49% chance of winning it once in 20 years. So we probably don't have to wait all that much longer!

H2H Corsi, Game 3

I'm glad I missed this one.

Monday, May 2, 2011

H2H Corsi, Game 2

I added in zone start differentials as well. My numbers may not agree with those given by Timeonice since TOI counts 4on4 events, whereas I do not.