Friday, May 13, 2011

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

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