May 232008
 

Both Pittsburgh and Detroit have made it to the Stanley cup finals relatively easily and over the course of the season these two teams probably showed themselves to be the best of the east and the best of the west. But, over the course of the season (and last season) the west has also shown itself to be the much better conference overall. But, Pittsburgh was one of the only eastern teams with a winning record against the western conference going an outstanding 8-1-1 though Detroit went 7-2-1 against the east as well. These two teams did not play each other in the regular season so we have nothing to go by there. I have said in previous rounds that I think this could be Pittsburgh’s year but I really don’t know if they have enough to beat Detroit. The big difference I think will be Detroit’s defense which is superior to the Penguins. Pittsburgh really needs to get some confidence and success early in the series or this could be a quick one. My prediction is the Wings win the first two at home and then take the series in 5.

  1. Pittsburgh at Detroit

    Pittsburgh (road) Detroit (home)
    Predicted Winner Detroit (Good)
    Fair Odds +131 -146
    Overall Record 47-27-8 54-21-7
    Home/Road Record 21-17-3 29-9-3
    Last 10 Games 6-3-1 7-2-1
    Past Games
    • None
May 082008
 

Unfortunately I am kind of short on time these days so I have to keep these predictions brief. In the west, if Osgood continues to give the Wings good goaltending I think Detroit wins this series fairly easily. Dallas will still pull out a couple wins based on Turco’s stellar goaltending but I’ll predict Detroit in 6. In the east I like Pittsburgh. The Flyers have really been saved by some solid goaltending from Martin Biron and a sputtering Montreal power play. I think Pittsburgh’s two lines of top talent will give the Penguins a big edge. Pittsburgh in 5.

For more analysis of the series see stars.hockeyanalysis.com and penguins.hockeyanalysis.com. If any Detroit or Philadelphia fans want to contribute drop me a message.

  1. Dallas at Detroit

    Dallas (road) Detroit (home)
    Predicted Winner Detroit (Good)
    Fair Odds +128 -139
    Overall Record 45-30-7 54-21-7
    Home/Road Record 22-14-5 29-9-3
    Last 10 Games 3-5-2 7-2-1
    Past Games
    • 2008/01/02: Dallas 1 at Detroit 4
    • 2008/01/05: Detroit 3 at Dallas 0
    • 2008/02/17: Detroit 0 at Dallas 1
    • 2008/03/13: Dallas 3 at Detroit 5
  2. Philadelphia at Pittsburgh

    Philadelphia (road) Pittsburgh (home)
    Predicted Winner Pittsburgh (Some)
    Fair Odds +120 -126
    Overall Record 42-29-11 47-27-8
    Home/Road Record 21-15-5 26-10-5
    Last 10 Games 7-2-1 6-3-1
    Past Games
    • 2007/11/07: Philadelphia 3 at Pittsburgh 1
    • 2007/11/10: Pittsburgh 2 at Philadelphia 5
    • 2007/12/11: Pittsburgh 2 at Philadelphia 8
    • 2008/01/24: Pittsburgh 3 at Philadelphia 4
    • 2008/02/10: Philadelphia 3 at Pittsburgh 4
    • 2008/03/16: Philadelphia 1 at Pittsburgh 7
    • 2008/04/02: Philadelphia 2 at Pittsburgh 4
    • 2008/04/06: Pittsburgh 0 at Philadelphia 2
Apr 232008
 
  1. Dallas at San Jose

    Dallas (road) San Jose (home)
    Predicted Winner San Jose (Some)
    Fair Odds +125 -133
    Overall Record 45-30-7 49-23-10
    Home/Road Record 22-14-5 22-13-6
    Last 10 Games 3-5-2 7-2-1
    Past Games
    • 2007/10/29: San Jose 4 at Dallas 2
    • 2007/11/07: Dallas 3 at San Jose 1
    • 2007/11/14: San Jose 4 at Dallas 3 (SO)
    • 2007/12/05: San Jose 3 at Dallas 2
    • 2007/12/15: Dallas 4 at San Jose 2
    • 2008/01/17: Dallas 4 at San Jose 2
    • 2008/03/27: Dallas 2 at San Jose 3 (OT)
    • 2008/04/06: San Jose 2 at Dallas 4

    My opinion: This is an interesting secound round matchup since it features two teams who have each had dissapointing playoffs in recent years. On paper San Jose is probably the better team but they may not be as rested having gone 7 games against Calgary. I think home ice will serve the Sharks well though so I’ll predict Sharks in another long 7 game series.

  2. Colorado at Detroit

    Colorado (road) Detroit (home)
    Predicted Winner Detroit (Good)
    Fair Odds +132 -148
    Overall Record 44-31-7 54-21-7
    Home/Road Record 17-19-5 29-9-3
    Last 10 Games 5-4-1 7-2-1
    Past Games
    • 2007/12/27: Detroit 4 at Colorado 2
    • 2008/01/08: Colorado 0 at Detroit 1
    • 2008/02/01: Colorado 0 at Detroit 2
    • 2008/02/18: Detroit 4 at Colorado 0

    My opinion: This is another very intriging matchup as it features a renewal of an old rivalry and while many of the players have changed some core players on both teams remain and although neither team really plays with a physical edge, I am sure some of that old rivalry will resurface. Detroit is better on defense with Lidstrom and crew but Colorado probably has an edge up front with more offensive depth. The key to this series is likely to be goaltending as the Avalanche hope Theodore can continue his resurgent season and the Wings hope that Osgood can carry the reigns as it seems age has finally creeped up on Hasek. Prediction: Avalanche in 6.

  3. Philadelphia at Montreal

    Philadelphia (road) Montreal (home)
    Predicted Winner Montreal (Strong)
    Fair Odds +146 -187
    Overall Record 42-29-11 47-25-10
    Home/Road Record 21-15-5 22-13-6
    Last 10 Games 7-2-1 8-1-1
    Past Games
    • 2007/11/01: Philadelphia 2 at Montreal 5
    • 2007/12/13: Montreal 4 at Philadelphia 1
    • 2008/02/16: Philadelphia 0 at Montreal 1
    • 2008/02/17: Montreal 5 at Philadelphia 3

    My opinion: This series features a small, speedy skilled team in Montreal vs a bigger and more physical team in the Flyers. The key to this series will be for Montreal to get a quick start to the series and try and end the series early. If they don’t I think Philadelphia will wear them down over the course of a long series and should it go 6 or 7 games I like Philadelphia’s chances. To be perfectly honest, I am not a fan of either of these teams and if I had a choice I would hope they would both lose. But since one of them has to win I’ll choose Philadelphia in 6 if only because Montreal (the city) doesn’t deserve to win after the behaviour shown from some of their ‘fans’ after game 7 against Boston.

  4. NY Rangers at Pittsburgh

    NY Rangers (road) Pittsburgh (home)
    Predicted Winner Pittsburgh (Some)
    Fair Odds +121 -128
    Overall Record 42-27-13 47-27-8
    Home/Road Record 17-14-10 26-10-5
    Last 10 Games 5-1-4 6-3-1
    Past Games
    • 2007/10/23: NY Rangers 0 at Pittsburgh 1
    • 2007/11/08: Pittsburgh 2 at NY Rangers 4
    • 2007/11/17: NY Rangers 4 at Pittsburgh 3 (OT)
    • 2007/12/18: Pittsburgh 0 at NY Rangers 4
    • 2008/01/14: NY Rangers 1 at Pittsburgh 4
    • 2008/03/18: Pittsburgh 2 at NY Rangers 5
    • 2008/03/30: NY Rangers 1 at Pittsburgh 3
    • 2008/03/31: Pittsburgh 1 at NY Rangers 2 (OT)

    My opinion: The Rangers goaltending and defense defense vs Pittsburghs offense. It is an interesting matchup. Typically goaltending and defense win (see the success of the New Jersey Devils over the past 15 years) but the Penguins are loaded with star players so the defense wins rule may be tossed out the window. I like the Rangers but I wonder if they have enough offense to win agaist a strong offensive team like Pittsburgh. My gut also tells me that this is Pittsburgh’s year. So with that in mind I’ll predict Pittsburgh in 6.

May 262007
 

Ottawa at Anaheim

Ottawa (road) Anaheim (home)
Predicted Winner Anaheim (Some)
Fair Odds +122 -129
Overall Record 48-25-9 48-20-14
Home/Road Record 23-12-6 26-6-9
Last 10 Games 6-2-2 5-3-2
Past Games
  • None

It cannot be argued that the Senators and Ducks have been the best teams in the eastern and western conferences these playoffs. The Senators made it to the Stanley Cup losing just 3 games and the Ducks lost just 4 on their route to the Cup and only a strong team in Detroit gave them any kind of challenge. So, the question becomes, which team is better. Well, during the regular season the western conference was by far the better conference as teams in the west compiled an outstanding 82-48-20 record against teams in the east and only Chicago and Columbus had sub .500 record. It could also be argued that Minnesota was a better team than Pittsburgh, Vancouver was a better team than New Jersey and Detroit was as good or better then Buffalo. All-in-all, I think Anaheim had the tougher path to the Stanley Cup than Ottawa.

For Ottawa, they finally obtained playoff success by playing a significantly different style of game that they have in past playoffs and even different that how they played in the regular season. In past playoffs and in the regular season they tried to play an offensive style game and in large part tried to out score their opposition. In the playoffs they have played the opposite style of game by trying to give up fewer offensive chances and goal than the opposition do and by capitalizing on turnovers and power plays. The statistics back this up in dramatic fashion. In the regular season the Senators averaged 32.3 goals for and gave up 30.2 shots against. In the playoffs they have average fewer shots for per game (30.23) and significantly fewer shots against per game (24.4) and the differences would be even more dramatic if you adjusted to a per 60 minute basis because of the longer overtimes in the playoffs.

With that in mind, I think the question for Anaheim becomes, can Anaheim’s offence break through Ottawa’s defensive play? Well, the Anaheim Ducks have average 32.3 shots per game and 2.42 goals per game these playoffs against Minnesota, Vancouver and Detroit, all very solid defensive teams so I think they should be well prepared for a defensive-minded team in Ottawa. If the Ducks can get close to 30 shots a game on Ray Emery they should get enough offence to win the series. What the Ducks bring that the Senators have not faced yet in these playoffs is a far more aggressive, physical forecheck and I think we need to watch how Ottawa’s defence handles that. In particular, watch the Redden-Meszaros pairing because at times in the past those guys have backed down from the physical play. If Ottawa’s defence is at all intimidated by Anaheim’s physical play the series won’t go well for the Senators.

The other reason Ottawa has made the finals is by the offensive production of Ottawa’s top line of Alfredsson, Spezza and Heatley. That trio has combined to score 23 of Ottawa’s 46 goals in the playoffs while the rest of the Senators forwards have combined for just 17 goals in 15 games. The challenge for the Ducks is to figure out how to stop Ottawa’s big line and a huge part of that is going to be placed on the shoulders of Selke Trophy nominee Samuel Pahlsson and Norris Trophy nominee Chris Pronger. This is going to be an interesting match up because while Alfredsson, Spezza and Heatley have never faced anyone close to the calibre of Pronger in these playoffs, the Ducks have never faced a line the quality of Ottawa’s top line either. If the Ducks can hold Ottawa’s big three to no more than one goal a game they will be in good shape but that will be tough, particularly if the Ducks take too many penalties.

The final thing I want to point out before I make a prediction is what I pointed out prior to the Sens-Sabres series. Back then I mentioned I thought it was important to put some pressure on the Senators by winning early and maybe putting some doubt in the minds of the Senators players. The same holds true in this series. In all three of their series so far the Senators have come out playing hard in game one and ended up winning all three game ones in relatively dominating fashion. The Ducks need to turn that around and take it to the Sens as much as the Sens are likely to take it to them in game one and let the Senators know that they have a tough series on their hand and nothing is going to be easy. Two factors that might come into play here is whether the Senators will be a tad rusty after having a full 8 days off and whether Ottawa will be at all affected by the travel to the west coast, something they haven’t done all season. What happens in game 1 of this series could set the tone for the rest of the series so it should be interesting to watch.

Ok, so now for my prediction. I think dealing the Ducks with their aggressive, physical play, something the Senators have not faced these playoffs, will be a huge challenge for Ottawa in this series. That aggressive play will mean the Ducks will take some penalties and give Ottawa lots of chances on the power play which will keep them in the games but I think 5 on 5 Anaheim will be the better team and will break down the Senators defensive game. I also think Giguere is a better goalie and will out play Emery and the Ducks aggressive fore check will allow them to capitalize on Emery’s rebounds. In the end I think the Ducks take the series. Prediction: Ducks in 6.

May 082007
 

Ottawa at Buffalo

Ottawa (road) Buffalo (home)
Predicted Winner Buffalo (Some)
Fair Odds +118 -122
Overall Record 48-25-9 53-22-7
Home/Road Record 23-12-6 28-10-3
Last 10 Games 6-2-2 7-3-0
Past Games
  • 2006/10/07: Buffalo 4 at Ottawa 3
  • 2006/11/15: Ottawa 4 at Buffalo 2
  • 2006/11/18: Buffalo 1 at Ottawa 4
  • 2006/12/16: Ottawa 3 at Buffalo 1
  • 2007/01/03: Buffalo 3 at Ottawa 6
  • 2007/02/07: Ottawa 2 at Buffalo 3
  • 2007/02/22: Ottawa 5 at Buffalo 6 (SO)
  • 2007/02/24: Buffalo 5 at Ottawa 6

My Opinion: This is the first and will be the only divisional matchup of these playoffs but despite that fact it pretty much features the best two teams in the eastern conference. It should be a dandy of a series as well as it is a rematch of last years second round matchup as well as a continuation of a fairly heated regular season rivalry. Despite the fact that Ottawa won the season series with 5 wins I think Buffalo goes into this series as the favourite. I, and many others, thought Buffalo was the elite team in the east prior to the season and I don’t think they have done anything to alter my opinion of that. But Ottawa has been pretty dominant so far in these playoffs so one can’t write them off yet. For Ottawa to win this series though they need all 6 of their defensemen to come up big defensively as Buffalo features a four line attack far beyond anything Ottawa has seen in the playoffs so far. Ray Emery also needs to come up big and do a better job controlling rebounds because I can assure you that Buffalo will get more traffic in front of the net to capitalize on those rebounds than either Pittsburgh or the Devils did. Offensively the Senators need to get more production from the second, third and fourth lines as the only forwards other than the big 3 to score in the New Jersey series were Fisher, Vermette and McAmmond with one goal apiece. If the rest of the forwards just score 3 goals in 5 games against the Sabres the Senators may very well be preparing for the golf course in short order. For the Sabres, I think the key to the series might be to get on the Senators early in the series and put some pressure on them. So far Ottawa has never trailed in a series and has never been in a must win situation. If the Sabres can win game one it might change the psyche of the Senator and knock their confidence level down a bit and that can only help. In the end I think the Sabres are a faster team with more consistent and deep offense and probably better goaltending so I will stick with them as my pick to come out of the east. My Prediction: Sabres in six

Anaheim at Detroit

Anaheim (road) Detroit (home)
Predicted Winner Detroit (Some)
Fair Odds +120 -126
Overall Record 48-20-14 50-19-13
Home/Road Record 22-14-5 29-4-8
Last 10 Games 5-3-2 5-1-4
Past Games
  • 2006/10/18: Detroit 1 at Anaheim 4
  • 2007/01/02: Anaheim 1 at Detroit 2
  • 2007/01/07: Detroit 2 at Anaheim 4
  • 2007/03/26: Anaheim 0 at Detroit 1

My Opinion: I have never really been sold on Anaheim’s strategy of being a top heavy team relying significantly on 2 or 3 defenseman and one line to produce most of their offense. They also have a lot of youth on their team which I also think is not ideal in the playoffs. But so far in these playoffs they have pretty much dominated their opponents winning both series in 5 games. But, I think that is partly because of the matchups they faced. Both Minnesota and Vancouver were largely one line teams relying on just a few players to produce offense. This is ideal for the Ducks as they could use their high end talent on defense and solid goaltending to shut down that one line and all is good. But the Red Wings are a different beast and one that I think will give the Ducks a much tougher challenge as they have more depth and experience than either Minnesota or Vancouver which will put some pressure on Anaheim’s less talented depth players, particularly the defense. The biggest concern I think the Red Wings have is the loss of Mathieu Schneider, their #2 defenseman. Not having Schneider in the lineup means ancient Chris Chelios will be required to take on more ice time. So far Chelios has been up for the task but one has to question whether he can play upwards of 25 minutes a game over the course of a long, physical series. In the end I think the Red Wings will have enough defense to largely shut down the Ducks offense and will be able to score enough goals to squeek out a series win. My Prediction: Detroit in 7

Jan 312007
 

Here are tonights game predictions for tonights game. The Rangers-Leafs game is of critical importance to both teams as the Leafs and Rangers are tied in the standings, 2 points behind 8th place Tampa. The Rangers have been struggling with inconsistency recently and they need to improve on that to make the playoffs. Both the Leafs and Rangers have suffered from inconsistent goaltending.

On another note, this will be the last time I will post game predictions on HockeyAnalysis.com. Beginning tomorrow I will start posting game predictions on my new website PredictHockey.com. PredictHockey.com is the replacement website for my game pick’em pool. It will run much like the pickem pool where you can predict the outcome of NHL games and test your prediction ability against my algorithm as well as other people. There will hopefully soon be other things you can predict like who will make the playoffs, who won’t, who will win the Stanley Cup, who will win league trophies, etc. Should be fun so go check it out, sign up and begin predicting games yourself.

Home Team Fair
HTOdds
Road Team Fair
RTOdds
Predicted Winner Confidence
NY Rangers -152 Toronto 134 NY Rangers Good
Edmonton -213 Columbus 153 Edmonton Strong
Anaheim -174 Phoenix 142 Anaheim Good
Jan 302007
 

Here are the game predictions for tonights games.

Home Team Fair
HTOdds
Road Team Fair
RTOdds
Predicted Winner Confidence
Buffalo -217 Boston 154 Buffalo Strong
Philadelphia 129 Tampa Bay -142 Tampa Bay Good
Carolina -129 Toronto 123 Carolina Some
Atlanta -105 New Jersey 105 New Jersey Some
Ottawa -101 Washington 101 Ottawa Some
NY Islanders 123 Detroit -129 Detroit Good
Pittsburgh -125 Florida 120 Pittsburgh Some
St. Louis -103 Minnesota 103 Minnesota Some
Colorado 103 Nashville -104 Nashville Some
Calgary -187 Los Angeles 146 Calgary Strong
Vancouver -165 Columbus 139 Vancouver Good
San Jose -141 Dallas 129 San Jose Good
Jan 292007
 

Only 2 games tonight but a couple of important ones. As reported yesterday in my predicted standings, the Bruins and Rangers are amongst the group of teams fighting for the final couple playoff spots and tonight these two teams face off for 2 important points in the standings. The other game sees the struggling Canadiens face the hot Senators. The Canadiens need to get back to winning some games consistantly or else they face the threat of falling back in the standings to the point where they could join the pack of teams fighting for the final playoff spot or two. If they struggle for another week or two that is right where they will be.

Home Team Fair
HTOdds
Road Team Fair
RTOdds
Predicted Winner Confidence
Boston -134 NY Rangers 125 Boston Some
Montreal -117 Ottawa 114 Montreal Some
Jan 282007
 

Here are the game predictions for todays games.

Home Team Fair
HTOdds
Road Team Fair
RTOdds
Predicted Winner Confidence
Chicago 118 Calgary -122 Calgary Good
Atlanta -344 Philadelphia 171 Atlanta Strong
Detroit -152 Colorado 134 Detroit Good
Anaheim -134 Dallas 125 Anaheim Some
Vancouver -109 San Jose 108 San Jose Some
Jan 272007
 

Here are the game predictions for todays games.

Home Team Fair
HTOdds
Road Team Fair
RTOdds
Predicted Winner Confidence
Philadelphia 127 NY Rangers -137 NY Rangers Some
Toronto -106 Montreal 105 Montreal Some
Ottawa -138 Boston 127 Ottawa Some
NY Islanders 114 Buffalo -117 Buffalo Some
Washington -102 Carolina 101 Carolina Some
Columbus 101 Minnesota -101 Minnesota Some
Florida -131 New Jersey 123 Florida Good
St. Louis 114 Nashville -116 Nashville Good
Phoenix -135 Pittsburgh 126 Phoenix Some
Edmonton -167 Los Angeles 140 Edmonton Good