June 2nd, 2013

Dobber Sports

2013-06-02

 

We’ll recap the two Conference Final Series openers momentarily, but we’ve been covering coaches like crazy over at CanucksArmy.com this week and I figured I’d point you to a more general post on the subject of “the impact of a coaching change” written yesterday by Blake Murphy. The results of Blake’s number crunching are intuitive – coaches generally shake up the dressing rooms they enter: surprise, surprise – but it’s a really insightful read nonetheless.

 

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While the games were, obviously, the main event on Saturday there was also the “unsigned draft pick deadline” for 2011 NHL draft picks. I put together a list of unsigned draft picks who will either reenter the draft or become UFAs for the Sporting News.

 

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There’s some surprising names on that list, like mobile defenceman Zach Yuen who may be selected even earlier in the 2013 draft than he was a couple of years ago. The Jets traded up to land Yuen in 2011, and his game seemed to be progressing nicely. Really curious to hear what happened there…

 

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The other unsigned pick that I’m very surprised to see re-enter the draft is Belleville Bulls centreman – and 2011 Detroit Red Wings pick – Alan Quine. Brendan Gaunce earned the defensive accolades this past season for Belleville, and for good reason since he’s a two-way force at the OHL level, but Quine did the majority of the defensive heavy lifting from what I’ve observed. Quine consistently soaked up the majority of defensive zone starts for Belleville in the handful of games that I watched this season, and generally did pretty well to limit the damage as the Bulls third-line centreman. Quine strikes me as a player who is a pretty safe bet to develop into a fourth-line centre at the NHL level, with some penalty-killing and defensive value. I’d further posit that he’s got some top-9 potential (with a lot more uncertainty in that projection). I guess the Red Wings system is deep enough, and they were close enough to the fifty contract max, that they felt they could pass up on a nice asset. Expect to see Quine taken off the board in the first 100 picks on June 30th though.

 

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Okay enough foreplay, let’s get to Saturday night’s action. We’ll start in the West where the Blackhawks only won by a single goal but basically ran the defending Stanley Cup Champions off the ice in game one of the 2013 Western Conference Finals. At even-strength the Blackhawks controlled well north of 60% of the shot attempts and the actual shots on goal too! The Keith-Seabrook pairing led the way for Chicago from a possession standpoint, but damn did that Toews, Hossa, Bryan Bickell line look dominant as well.

 

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Here’s an odd tidbit from Chicago’s game one victory: Keith and Seabrook were matched up primarily against the Jeff Carter-Mike Richards line (I’d describe it as a soft match, since the Blackhawks had home ice). Meanwhile Coach Q used Oduya and Hjalmarsson more often against the Kopitar line, which, yeah you just don’t see the Kopitar line draw a secondary pair as their primary matchup very often.

 

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The Handzus, Kane, Patrick Sharp line enjoyed the Sedin treatment (and then some) with nine offensive zone starts, and zero starts in their own end of the rink. Despite the line’s offensive oriented deployment, the Handzus line came out “even” (mostly) in their matchup against the Voynov pairing and the Stoll line primarily. While the Kings were otherwise stomped on Saturday night,

if their third line can battle Patrick Kane’s group to a draw with any regularity in this series that bodes very well for L.A. If Sutter just matches Kopitar more firmly against the Toews line that could, in theory, free up Mike Richards and Jeff Carter to wreck the likes of Dave Bolland and Marcus Kruger…

 

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Really good post game take on Los Angeles’ puck possession issues from Jesse Spector. I’d call L.A.’s postseason puck possession issues “inexplicable” if not for the fact that Robyn Regehr con