It’s been a while since I put up more than a couple simple charts, so let’s dig in and look at the Elite Eight of 2012! Only one series has yet to be decided, so let’s start with the Caps/Rangers. This time, I have included Fenwick/60, or Sh+MSh adjusted for overtime games. This post will be long so I’ll put a table of contents at the top for easier navigation:
**If you need a refresher on the stats used here, check out the Glossary**
WAS vs NYR
NJD vs PHI
LAK vs STL
PHX vs NSH
All Teams Fenwick/60
Washington Capitals (#7) vs New York Rangers (#1)
The teams have alternated wins in this series, leading to a Game Seven tomorrow night…they have flip-flopped so much we could call this the Romney Series (hey, you got politics in my hockey! you got hockey in my politics!!) Quoth Homer Simpson: “Okay Marge, its your child against my child. The winner will be showered with praise. The loser will be taunted and booed until my throat is sore!!” I couldn’t find a clip of that line so here’s another from the same episode
If the Rangers win, this series will probably be remembered by the Game 5 Joel Ward kerfuffle…which would be unfortunate because like any sports implosion, they usually find a scapegoat *coughBARTMAN* and just blame it on one guy instead of realizing all the events that led up to that flashpoint. After Game 1, which ended 3-1 Rangers, the teams played very evenly for four games, trading one-goal victories. Then, in game 5 and 6, New York seemed to turn on the afterburners like Maverick and Goose or Brian and Dominic, depending on what year you were born. Score effect seems to have played a huge factor in Gm 5, but Washington only mustered 24.2 SMS/60, and was outshot 68-32 in Fenwick, which shows they turtled in a big way. It is reasonable to expect that Game 7 will be more even like the early games in the series, but if Washington gets a lead, they might consider keeping their foot on the gas, as two blown leads in the last three games of a series seems like a pretty good way to get your coach fired. The League has announced that the conference finals will begin on Sunday, so don’t be surprised if the series winner drops the first game to the more rested Devils. Speak of the…Devils…(ugh,) Let’s move to the other series in the East…
New Jersey Devils vs Philadelphia Flyers
I admit I feel a bit reedemed, as I wrote about Bryz in Round 1 and how lucky he was that Fleury shit the bed the way he did…though picking on the Flyers for having bad goaltending is like picking on Justin Bieber for his haircut. Just because it’s an easy joke doesn’t mean I’m not going to make it o_O
The Flyers came out strong in Game 1 and then sputtered out, particularly in Game 2 and Game 4. The Devils blocked a moderate amount of Philadelphia’s shots, but not enough to cover for the fact that the Bullies just didn’t let rip with enough pucks, especially if we consider that they probably had a good idea “Y U Heff 2 B Mad” wasn’t likely to strap the team on his universe-contemplating shoulders and carry them through. One would think that based on the way the Rangers and Capitals are playing, the plucky Devils will be underdogs in the East Finals, but maybe Broduer the Timeless one has got some magic left in those 40-year old bones.
Los Angeles Kings vs St Louis Blues
Bill Simmons mentioned on the B.S. Report this week that Kings fans are sort of waiting for the other shoe to drop, because everyone who followed this team in the regular season remembers the ABYSMAL offense of the Kings for a good chunk of the season. I’ve got a first-hand view of things out here, and they seem to have convinced themselves that the addition of Jeff Carter was their saving grace, but as long as they keep winning, we don’t have to revisit the 30th-ranked G/Gm the team carried for about four months…but who am I kidding, I’m going to probably reach for Carter in next year’s fantasy draft. Besides, we all know Jon Quick is the real Savior-on-skates…these charts were posted earlier, but I thought I’d revisit them here. Note that since no game went to overtime, the Sh + MSh numbers are also the SMS/60 figures, so no point in being redundant redundant.
The West bracket has been a showcase of elite goaltending, and the Quick vs Smith matchup is very enticing to people like me who prefer defensive struggles to barnstorming Pennsylvania-style games. There is no love lost between these division rivals, and people seem to forget that it would not have taken much for the Kings to wind up with the #3 seed and the Yotes to get #8.
Phoenix Coyotes vs Nashville Predators
Mike Smith continues to play the part of the “Hot Goalie” and the Nashville Predators are bounced sooner than many predicted. If the Preds don’t sign Ryan Suter or Radulov decides to go back to Mother Russia, the Preds may not be in a position to come back as contenders next year. Stores of franchises turning themselves around are good for sports leagues, SEE: Lions, Detroit; Rays, Tampa, Tigers, also Detroit, but if they don’t get any hardware, they typically get lost in the history books.
We got a few very even games sandwiched between two lopsided games in Games 1 and 5. Look at the disparity in the last game. The Preds split their SOG pretty evenly across periods, 10-12-11, and unfortunately I do not have MS by period. If anyone knows where to find those numbers please let me know! I’m STILL not taking Mike Smith on my fantasy team next year, but you can’t deny he’s got a fair chance to bring that Conn Smythe trophy back to the desert.
All Teams Fenwick/60
Now that I have started adjusting for time, we can look across series and see how the teams compared in their shot output:
A couple of things surprise me–first, that six of the eight teams are basically between 35 and 40 S+MS/60, with Washington trailing the pack but just barely and Nashville leading the field by more than just a few shots. This is where adjusting for score effects would be beneficial. Per Behind the Net, this is the closest I could find, but I’ll keep looking.
Of course I saved the best for last! We knew there some top-notch goalies (and also Bryz) going into this round, but raise your hand if you predicted Rinne AND Elliott would have a lower Ov Sv% than Bryzgalov. Ok, put your hands down now, liars.
Smith and Quick, #1 vs #2. LAK vs STL was supposed to be a 10-goal series (that’s combined) but it didn’t really turn out that way. We could very well be in for 6 or 7 2-1 games, but on a per-game basis, anything can happen. That’s why they play the games! Brian Elliott–yikes.
So what do you think? Who do you think will make it out of the NYR-WAS series, and who will make it to the finals? Post a comment below and share your thoughts!