Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons?

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).

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