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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Playoff Reflections: How much does the Regular Season Matter?

Now that the first round of the playoffs are over, my playoff pool entry is a complete disaster. The underdog won every series in the west and my Stanley Cup champion pick (Detroit) is gone.

The first round of the playoffs raises some interesting questions:

How much does the regular season matter? If you were watching the west you'd think that the 82 game regular season was pretty much a waste of time, but if you saw the east you'd come to a different conclusion. Without crunching any numbers it does seem that teams that were fighting to get into the playoffs did well (EDM, ANA, COL, SJ, NJ) of course Tampa and Carolina lost in their bids to advance. Was this just a fluke or we will see more upsets in the playoffs in the future?

Has the salary cap and revenue sharing of the CBA having an effect? Just take a look at the DET-EDM series. Without the new CBA the Oilers would not have had Chris Pronger. After Roloson he was the most important player in the series scoring huge goals and helping to shut down the Wings offense. If this was the old NHL, Edmonton doesn't have Pronger and probably doesn't advance.

Is this is what playoff hockey looks like now? Plenty of people have complained about the number of power play goals. Frankly I don't have a problem with that. Hockey is sport with a rule book, if a team (or player) commits an infraction they should be punished and the other team is given an advantage. What concerns me most is seeing a traditionally free skating franchise like Edmonton play a trap against Detroit. What concerns is watching some very boring hockey played by the Calgary Flames (Nothing amused me more than hearing Flames fans get frustrated as the Ducks played the protect-the-lead-at-all-costs strategy against Calgary in Game 7).

Are there more fluke goals? Hockey is a game where the puck does strange things. Fortunate bounces have always been crucial to winning the Stanley Cup (contrary to those stupid My Stanley Cup ads which tell you it is all about heart). Is it just me, or have there not been some crazy goals. Jason Williams had that insane goal from behind the net that bounced off of three or four skate blades. The Oilers scored that controversial goal in Game 6 where the puck seemed to pop out of the Oiler player's pants and go into the net under Legace's glove. Again no hard numbers here, but I have watched a ton of playoff games on OLN and CenterIce so far. Perhaps, the weird goals are a function of all the playoff rookie goalies in net so far. This year we have a large number of inexperienced keepers and maybe they have been victimized more than veteran keepers. (I'm not sure I believe this, but I'm throwing it out there).


  • Did you catch Bucci's latest? He mentions the excessive and unbalanced application of the rulebook and how it seems to be producing some tentative players and playoffs without the usual playoff edge - it still feels like regular season sometimes as a fan. The buzz just isn't there... I think there's some merit to this.

    I have no problem with penalties in the playoffs either, but I think defensmen should be allowed to clear the crease, I think if a crosscheck is a penalty at one end of the ice, it should be a penalty at both ends etc etc ad nauseum.

    You've got a good point about goalies, but can Brodeur really know whcih skate the puck will bounce off last and which set of hockey pants will attempt to produce the game winning goal? I don't know.

    Maybe it's just the smaller equipment, leaving more space for the strangest bounces to suirt their way through to the back of the net...

    Do you thing the best 8 teams advanced???

    By Blogger hoser, at 3:18 PM  

  • I read Bucci's column and I just have to disagree. I've watched more playoff hockey then ever this year and there have been plenty of hard hitting games. In fact, one of the biggest differences in my opinion is there seems to fewer blowout games where the losing team spends the rest of the game "tyring to send a message" for the next game.

    As far as rookie goalies allowing the fluky goals, maybe Brodeur doesn't pull away from the post like Roloson did on that weird goal by Jason Williams.

    But I like your point about the smaller equipment having an effect. Hadn't really thought about that.

    Did the best 8 teams advance? On paper certainly not. But that is why you play the games. If we could clone the Wings and Oilers and have each set of cloned teams play each other I'd guess the Wings team wins the series 70-80% of the time. If Roloson is off by just a bit Edmonton doesn't win in my opinion. But that is what makes sports exciting and agonizing.

    By Blogger The Falconer, at 7:07 PM  

  • Teams do seem to feel that they have a chance to come back now that's for sure.

    Well, you've certainly watched a lot more hockey than me this playoffs, so I can't argue with you. This brings up a point, it wouldn't apply to Bucci, but maybe the lack of tv coverage has doused the flame of NHL playoff hockey somewhat. If you don't have OLN or Center Ice - it's a lot harder to get into the rush that is the NHL playoffs. I used to watch games on ESPN & ESPN2, but now see very little.

    By Blogger hoser, at 8:22 PM  

  • If you have either OLN or Centerice you've been able to watch two games almost every night so far during the first rounds. You might have to pay more for your hockey fix. I wish they would let you buy cable channels a la carte because I only watch about 12 any more.

    By Blogger The Falconer, at 5:01 PM  

  • "You might have to pay more for your hockey fix."

    That's a heck of a way to grow the sport...

    By Blogger hoser, at 8:45 PM  

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