Luongo sucked! Mike Smith was great! Canucks choked! Blow up the Sharks! Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s take a look at some numbers from the first round matchups. First, the goalies:
The five tenders that made it out of the first round were remarkable, with Mike Smith’s .945 Ev Sv% and Jaro Halak’s .935 Overall Sv% coming in at the LOW END. If you taped Quick, Smith, Rinne, Halak, and Elliott together to make one supergoalie this round, they collectively would have turned in a .949 Sv% and a 1.57 GAA. That’s prettay…prettay good.
By contrast, the losing goalies showed more variance. Crawford was about who we thought he was (.915 Ev, .903 Ov regular season,) while Jimmy Howard underperformed (or was overwhelmed if you’re a Preds fan,) .929 Ev, .920 Ov regular season.
The narrative for the Canucks this offseason is that Luongo choked…again!…Schneider outplayed him, Schneider is the goalie of the future…et cetera and so on until our collective ears begin to bleed. However, they had the same Ev Sv%, while Schneider’s PP and SH rates were perfect, Luongo let in three power play goals and two shorties (gulp!) Schneider finished with better rate stats, but a couple of bounces here and a couple breaks reversed there and Luongo is 1-2 and Schneider is 0-2. Just saying…
Let’s look at Fenwick rates and total numbers of Sh and Missed Sh for the matchups:
LAK vs VAN
This series saw games where each team dominated in shots fired. The Kings had three games where they pushed the 60/40 mark, but in games 2 and 3, the Nucks blasted almost 60 pucks toward the net and dominated the stat. Also notable is that Game 4 (sans Daniel) and Game 5 (avec Daniel) were very similar in terms of shot output. Each game in the series was close, but the Hockey gods favored the Kings this time. Much has been made of the Kings out-fenwicking their opponents on the regular since the trade deadline, so I will be interested to see if they can continue that trend against a Blues team that is fantastic on defense…
STL vs SJ
Game by game fenwick rates were pretty even throughout the series, but what stands out to me is that after losing game 1 in double-OT despite outshooting the Sharks, the Blues turned around and won the next four despite being outshot by San Jose. LA vs STL could very well turn out to be the Bizarro PIT/PHI series where the losing goalie each night stops 39 of 40 shots and takes the 1-0 loss. It will be interesting to see if the Blues can continue to win games while putting up shots and missed shots totaling in the low-30s, or if the Kings can throw 50+ pucks at the net and find a couple weak spots in the armor of Elliott and Halak.
PHX vs CHI
It’s time for the requisite NHL-owns-the-Coyotes crackpot theory: the League FIXED the series so that the first five games would go into OT so they could sell more beer and make themselves more money! Those pigs. It all makes sense now…
I have written elsewhere on this site that Mike Smith won’t be on any of my fantasy teams next year, but there is no denying how locked in he was during the first round. The Hawks were touching 60 shots and misses in four games, and he still turned in a sub-2 GAA and a .950 Sv%. You have to hand it to the old guy. Maybe he’ll start doing credit card commercials where he’s locked in a taxi with a psychopath, frantically calling a gender-confused customer service agent with passive-aggressive tendencies…
What I said about St Louis needing to continue finding goals on a low number of shots goes double for Phoenix. I was surprised when they were able to run with the Hawks in game 1 and even game 2, but then they dropped off drastically in games 4-6, while Chicago kept increasing their total shot count. If Phoenix thinks they can settle in the low-twenties against Pekka Rinne, they must be feeling really lucky.
NSH vs DET
No team scored more than 3 goals in any game this series, while Pekka Rinne turned in some impressive performances in games 3 and 4, making more than 40 saves in each. I am not a Red Wings homer (they are so proud of their Hockeytown…Minnesota has a whole STATE OF HOCKEY) though I do sort of like their organization. I admit I had them picked to beat the Predators in this series, but that’s why they play the games. Nashville turned in some low total shot games, and if Mike Smith continues to be Voltron, they might be desparate for a goal. Phoenix has shown that even if they are undermatched on paper, they can take a game to overtime where anything can happen.
What do you think? What stats would you want to look at when breaking down a series? Who are your predictions to make it to the Western Conference finals and why? Leave a comment and share your thoughts, and don’t forget to follow me on twitter @Hashtag_Hockey