Random Playoff Thoughts

I have lived in Ottawa for almost 7 years now and during that time Senators fans have complained about two things, the rough physical play of the Leafs that resulted in many playoff failures and the boring defensive, wait for a mistake by the opponent, hockey of the New Jersey Devils. Surprisingly, I am not hearing many complaints now that the Senators have decided to play a more physical neutral zone trap, wait for turnovers and powerplays to attack style of game.

If I were a Sabre’s fan, I would be furious at my team for not competing. Outside of Ottawa’s big three, Buffalo’s forwards are faster, more skilled and much deeper than Ottawa’s but they refuse to put the effort in to win the battles necessary to win the game. When they do they get some success like in the dying minutes of regulation in game 2 when they won the battle along the boards, shot the puck towards the goal and Brierre put the puck in the empty net. Or late in game 3 when some hard work had Ottawa penned in their own zone for what seemed like a full minute struggling to get the puck out. But for the Sabre’s that effort has been too little too late. With one loss in OT and another one goal game, had they just played hard for just 10 more minutes they could have had a win or two.

It amazes me how some people gave the Detroit Red Wings so little respect and so little chance of beating the Anaheim Ducks. I have heard many people picking the Ducks to win the series in as few as 4 or 5 games (which won’t hapen now) but the Wings are a team with oodles of playoff experience and who has finished atop the western conference standings 3 seasons in a row and 4 out of the last 5 seasons and trailing only Dallas in 2002-03 by 1 point. I think people get too mesmerized by the Pronger-Niedermayer combo of the Ducks and don’t give enough respect for Detroit’s all round veteren team.

Is it just me or are these playoffs much less interesting than most years. While some of the hockey has been good there haven’t really been any overly intriguing series or story lines outside of maybe the Senators figuring out how to play playoff hockey. There has only been one series last 7 games and that series, Dallas vs Vancouver, featured probably the least interesting hockey. Only twice has a team staved off elimination, Minnesota winning game 4 vs Anaheim and Dallas winning game 6 vs Vancouver. In all other series whenever a team won got their third win they immediately won their fourth the very next game. There have been no real upsets or underdog teams making a run like the Oilers of a year ago. There are no teams ravaged by injuries with unsung heros doing their best to help their team survive like the Sabres and their defense injuries a year ago. There are no rookie goalies, or rookies of any kind, playing with the poise of a veteren helping his team to the promise land like Cam Ward of the Hurricanes a year ago. For the most part these playoffs have been a storyless playoff with little intrigue unless you have rooting interest in a team still playing.

Posted in NHL

This article has 14 Comments

  1. Good article david. However, u never picked ottawa, and it was clear u didnt like them from the beginning. so i’m glad to see all ur predictions were wrong. GO SENS GO!!!!!!!!! CANADA”S TEAM!!!

  2. In all honesty, how can you know so little about hockey.

    The Senators wait for turnovers for offense?? Buffalo is much deeper? Is that why they shortened their bench meanwhile all four of Ottawa’s lines contribute to victories?

    Ha. Ha ha

  3. Four lines? The Sens have scored 48 goals in the playoffs, 23 of those goals come from their top line and another 8 from defensemen. Lines 2-4 have contributed just 17 goals in 15 games, not exactly earth shattering. And Buffalo shortened their bench because certain players were turning the puck over resulting in Ottawa chances.

    But let’s be honest here. Ottawa won the series in 5 games but two of those games were OT wins and one was a 1-0 win. Pretty much the same story against New Jersey. All the games were close with a huge part of the difference (and the reason the Sens won) was the special teams play. If Buffalo had any kind of power play success they could easily be heading to Ottawa for game 6 up three games to two. That is how close the games were and the same could be said for the New Jersey series.

    Next series will be interesting as the Ducks and Red Wings both have a very solid 87.8% PK success rate and both teams have shut down defensemen (Pronger and Lidstrom) far better than anything the Senators big 3 have faced so far.

  4. screw u david. ur a sens hater. did u know how many goals teams won games by in the past won. no one has to shoot up the scoreboard to wn the stanley cup. sabres beat ottawa in 5 last yr. 3 games in OT!!. so don’t take anything away fro the GREAT play of the sens. GO SENS GO!!>. learn someting about hockey bud

  5. My god guys, can you not take a compliment or understand facts? The Senators have learned how to play smart, defensive hockey and relying significantly on turnovers and power plays for offense. That is a complement guys because that is the system that wins the Stanley Cup.

    And the facts back me up. Even strength (not including the empty net goal) Ottawa scored 8 goals, as did Buffalo. Against New Jersey, Ottawa scored 9 even strength goals vs the Devils 8.

    But again, that is how teams win in the playoffs: Play defensive hockey, capitalize on turnovers and the PP. It took the Sens a few years to figure it out, but they have and they are finally seeing some success. The only thing the Sens (and in particular the big 3) have to figure out now is how to defeat either Lidstrom or Pronger because no team in the east has a defenseman anywhere near the caliber of those two.

  6. Okay david, some good points in there. But the question isnt if we can get pass pronger and lindstorm, it’s if either squad can handle HEATER-SPEZ-AND ALFY! not pitts, NJ!! or even Buffalo could do that.

  7. But the question isnt if we can get pass pronger and lindstorm, it’s if either squad can handle HEATER-SPEZ-AND ALFY!

    Depends on your perspective. If we are asking the question what Ottawa needs to do to win, then stating they have to find a way to get past Lidstrom or Pronger is the answer. If we are asking what Detroit or Anaheim has to do to win, then shutting down Ottawa’s big three, particularly on the PP, is the answer. It all depends on your perspective and what question you are trying to answer.

    But, what I was trying to point out is that Lidstrom and/or Pronger provide a dimension that no team in the east has: A shut down defenseman that can also kill you offensively, and that will certainly be a challenge for Ottawa’s big three.

  8. Wade Redden is exactly that, if on his game. Pronger or lidstorm vs heatley spezza alfredsson will not be the main focus. I think that this is where depth scoring will be crutial for ottawa. And I don’t know wut you think, but Ottawa does have great depth. Other than the big 3, they have 8 players will multiple goal playoffs, and no regular forward that has not had a point.

  9. Redden is a good defenseman but he is not even close to being a shutdown guy the calibre of Pronger or Lidstrom. Redden is soft, can be caught out of position and can be beaten by speed. He isn’t even the shut down guy on the Senators let alone the calibre of Lidstrom or Pronger. And while Lidstrom had 62 points and a +40 and Pronger had 59 points and a +27 Redden had 36 points and a +1. Redden is good but not anywhere near the same calbire as Lidstrom or Pronger.

    Depth: Lines 2-4 have 17 goals in 15 playoff games. Is a goal a game from lines 2-4 great depth? Not really. Detroit had 9 players with 3 or more goals, Ottawa has 6. Ottawa’s big three have 21, 20 and 17 points. Their next best forward has 7. Their second and third line centers have combined for just 11 points. Eleven points in a combined 30 games is pretty weak. I am not trying to say that they are bad players, but if Ottawa’s opposition can hold the big 3 to one goal a game and the rest of the forwards to one goal a game they will be in pretty good shape.

  10. except that buffalo pittsburgh and new jersey have been incapable of this.

    it is true that the next senators opponent will have a hall of fame defenseman, while their previous opponents didn’t have one. buffalo was asking to be steamrolled with how they played in previous series’.

    still, i think the senators 3rd line has underperformed, and they will be the ones to get it done in the Finals – very often, scoring comes from where you least expect it in these tightly-fought playoff games. also while detroit has a lot of scoring depth, they really only have two guys capable of playing at a high level right now. anaheim has a bit more depth, but a lot of it is younger players – who knows what can be gotten out of them.

  11. who cares about redden. the sens have the best D line in the playoffs right now (assuming neidermeyer and pronger are replacing eachother, ensuring both are never on at the same time) with volchenkov and philips. sure anaheim has the big 2, but after beaechemin, they have nothing. ottawa has 3 great D lines. with everyone playing a part. no team can match that. they have the best scoring line, that no one has been able to shut down. and they are very physical. their only weak point is emery.

    either opponent will be tough. lidstrom is the best D in the NHL, and detroit plays a great team game. probably the best coached team. anaheim pretty much onyl has the big 2. even their forwards arent producing as much as expected.

  12. If Phillips and Volchenkov have to occupy Getzlaf, Penner & Perry, then Selanne is going to rip Emery apart. And putting the big bodies on the big bodies makes sense, so Selanne will be facing Redden on the right side. Not good for Sens fans. I predict the pizza line gets broken up by game three.

    Then again, can Pronger and Neidermayer be everywhere all the time? No. But when you have Giguere playing the way he is behind them and a team that collapes in the slot and focuses on clearing the zone the big two don’t have to be superhuman.

    and despite all this bad news for the Sens, I still think they’ll win. I haven’t seen a PK push the PP back like the Sens did to the Sabres in a LONG time. That kind of commitment and execution is hard to bet against.

  13. It is going to be an interesting series and as good as Ottawa has looked so far these playoffs, Anaheim is a different type of opponent as they will be far more aggressive physically than Pittsburgh, New Jersey or Buffalo. Before the season started I thought Anaheim was still a year away from contending with so many young players in the lineup but the young players, particularly Getzlaf, have stepped up and done the job.

    This series will also be a bigger challenge for the big three as Pahlsson might be the best shut down center in the game right now and Pronger one of the best shut down defensemen. That combo also presents a challenge that Ottawa hasn’t faced in the playoffs yet. That said, Pahlsson and Pronger haven’t really faced a trio like Alfredsson, Spezza and Heatley.

    If, as you predict, Ottawa is forced to break up that trio I don’t like Ottawa’s chances. Bryan Murray has been trying for two years to get two lines going but has always been forced to revery back to putting the big 3 together. Mike Comrie and Mike Fisher just aren’t good enough offensively to be able to play with Alfredsson. It’ll be a short series in Anaheim’s favour if that happens.

  14. I’m not sure I agree with the contention that this year’s edition of the playoffs aren’t as exciting as those of years past. The stronger, deeper teams have done well and progressed, while the weaker teams have been soundly beaten. The match ups in both conference finals is evidence of this.

    Is this year less exciting because we don’t have an overachieving low seed in the final four, or final two? Beyond simple homerism, what excitement is offered to all hockey fans in seeing a weaker seed go far in the playoffs? I think we’ve all been trapped in a sports movie paradigm where we root for the overachiever simply because they overachieve. Let’s root for the best hockey played by the best teams instead. Bettman be damned.

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