I haven't seen sufficient discussion of this fact. The Anaheim Ducks have yet to lose a playoff game in regulation. Their two losses to Chicago came in multiple overtimes and their loss to Calgary was in overtime as well. They swept the Winnipeg Jets. That is quite a run. How long will it last?
I have thus far stayed out of the Mike Babcock affair, but I thought I would say my piece.
In the first place, I am not sure that Babcock's move to Toronto is the biggest off-ice personnel move that occurred that day. Boston announced that Don Sweeney would be their new GM. A general manager has more ability to set the longterm success of a franchise than a coach does and thus likely Sweeney will have more longterm importance than Babcock.
Mike Babcock is possibly the best coach in the NHL. If he isn't the best, he is close. I pick him as the Jack Adams Trophy winner this year. He cannot win it because he isn't an announced finalist. The voters tend to pick the coach of the most improved team instead of the best coach.
Obviously Toronto will be improved with better coaching. Peter Horachek did not have a good run as the Leafs coach. Replacing him with someone who is average will be an improvement and Babcock is well above that.
The Boston Bruins missed the playoffs and fired their GM in Peter Chiarelli. That quickly began to look like a mistake when he was almost immediately hired by the Edmonton Oilers to be their GM. You have almost certainly made a bad move if you fire somebody who is immediately such a good candidate that another team races to hire him.
Boston needed a new GM. The problem is that it is hard to find a good GM. They do not grow on trees. Giving up Chiarelli with no plan one who to replace him is not smart. Boston basically admitted it when they hired Don Sweeney to replace him,
The second round of the AHL playoffs completed tonight. This is my summary of them. Here was my first round summary.
Manchester Monarchs defeat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins four games to one. Manchester is the Los Angeles Kings farm affiliate and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton belongs to Pittsburgh. This was not a particularly close series. Manchester's offence was led by Jordan Weal who is tied for the playoff lead in points. Michael Mersch and Brian O'Neill also made significant offensive contributions. Colin Miller led their defence. Jean-Francois Berube was their top goaltender. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's offence has been led by Conor Sheary and Andrew Ebbett. Derrick Pouliot led their defence. Matt Murray did the majority of their goaltending.
In the second round I picked Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks as the playoff MVP at that point. Keith has slowed down since then. He has no points and is -1 in his last three games. Thus I am going to pick a new MVP. Given his hat trick last night, Tyler Johnson of the Tampa Bay Lightning seems like a logical choice, but I am not going in that direction. I select Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks as the MVP at this point.
Perry has 15 points in 10 playoff games at this point. He is tied for the playoff lead with a +8 +/- rating. Johnson in contrast has one more point in five more games played. He has a league leading 11 goals, which is four more than Perry. He has a +4 +/- rating. The main difference is that Perry has a significantly lower games played total and hence a much higher points per game. Perry is much more productive offensively.
The medal round was completed today at the World Hockey Championships in the Czech Republic. I have earlier reported upon the preliminary round and the quarterfinals. Here I will look at the semi-finals which were played yesterday and the medal games today.
Here are the results:
SemiFinal - Canada 2 Czech Republic 0. Canada dominated this game outshooting the Czech 41-23. Goals were scored by Taylor Hall and Jason Spezza. Mike Smith had the shutout for Canada. Ondrej Pavelec was the losing Czech goalie. This puts Canada in the gold/silver game and the host Czechs into the bronze/4th game.
On June 29th, the 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame class will be announced. There are three first year eligible players who should be inducted in Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov and Chris Pronger. I predict all three get inducted. There might be some issue regarding Chris Pronger in that he hasn't officially retired so that the Philadelphia Flyers can circumvent the salary cap. I don't think the Hall of Fame committee will make him wait - but I could see the logic in it being debated. The Hall of Fame can induct four male players. This would be a good opportunity for a previously overlooked player to be added as a fourth. I predict that Mark Recchi may be that fourth. In an ideal world, I think Sergei Makarov might be a better candidate as a fourth but given the number of times he has been overlooked, I think Recchi is a more likely fourth selection.
The quarterfinals in the World Hockey Championships took place today. This tournament is underway in the Czech Republic. The quarterfinals were single elimination and played between the top four teams from each of the two groups in the preliminary round. The winners in these games advance to the medal round.
Here are the results:
USA 3 Switzerland 1. Connor Hellebuyck was the American goalie and Reto Berra was the Swiss goalie. Roman Josi opened the scoring for the Swiss in the first period. Ben Smith and Charlie Coyle scored less than a minute apart in the second period to give the Americans the lead. Jake Gardiner added an insurance goal in the third period. This puts USA in the medal round.
The second round of the playoffs just ended. Looking back on my predictions I got three correct and one wrong. My incorrect prediction was picking Montreal to defeat Tampa Bay. It is hard to take credit for the New York Rangers victory over Washington when it is a seven game overtime decision but that was a correct prediction. When combined with my first round predictions, I have a 9-3 record so far in playoff predictions. Thus I am guaranteed to get more playoff predictions correct regardless of what happens in the remaining three playoff series.
Let's move onto the semi-final predictions:
The so-called World Hockey Championships are underway in the Czech Republic. While it is hard to take seriously a "world championship" tournament played while many of the best NHL players are not available as they are still playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs, it does give us some good games and it gives us a look at some of the better European players playing alongside NHL players thus giving us an idea of their relative quality.
This year's tournament is being played in Prague and Ostrava. The sixteen teams involved are split into two eight team groups that play round robins. Group A plays in the O2 Arena in Prague and Group B plays in the Cez Arena in Ostrava. The top four teams in each group move onto a single elimination quarterfinal with the winners advancing to the medal round.
Here are the results:
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
Why am I blogging? I want to.
Why are you reading it? ???