With several key DobberHockey members out of office, I had the opportunity to "John Gibson" my way into the rotating line up. Let's get started.
When I look back at the second round, I think about the article by Sean McIndoe where he showcased the idea of a repeat final four. At the time of release, it was hard to argue that possibility, since Pittsburgh was up three games to one, while both Los Angeles and Chicago were up two to none in their respective series. The only bracket that appeared up in the air was Boston/Montreal, when the Habs were up a game after three.
With the above in mind, how many of you were ready to make it rain? Well, shucks! That is the beauty of playoff hockey, folks. Eventually, every series tied up, with three of them pushing game seven. Both Eastern teams moved on, upsetting their respective opponents. Chicago held their ground, and we await the verdict in California.
With round three upon us, both of my DobberHockey panel picks are still present, therefore I guess should advocate those picks… who am I kidding? Of course I am going to back those picks!
To be clear, I participated in two playoff brackets and somehow managed to put my eggs in the same Western basket – the Chicago Blackhawks. From the start, I felt that the winner between St. Louis and Chicago would be the team representing the West in the Stanley Cup Final. I struggled with this match-up. I could have easily hedged my bets, selecting one of each to go the distance in either pool. Stubborn as I am, I decided to lock in the defending Blackhawks on the fact that St. Louis was not only coming in hurt, but also entering the playoffs on a nasty losing streak. Thankfully, it has worked in my favor thus far. As seen in the round two upsets above, however, there is still one final Western opponent before the big dance. I do not want to get caught chirping early, so knock on wood!
The East was a crapshoot with most of the opposition flocking towards Boston. Why shouldn't they? It was a sexy pick. But, I preferred to play the odds.
For DobberHockey, I selected Montreal to meet Chicago. Why? Under the assumption that Carey Price would pull off a Jonathan Toews circa 2010 and receive the Gold medal/Conn Smyth duo (or perhaps even a Stanley Cup trio!). Beyond that silly stance, I felt that 1) they were fully able to beat Tampa without Ben Bishop, 2) If any team could, the history against Boston would work in Montreal's favour, and 3) the momentum gained against Boston would eventually carry the Habs past the team representing the Metropolitan Division in the Eastern Conference Final (now known to be the Rangers).
Despite my confidence in Montreal, I chose an underdog in the Eastern conference for my work bracket. There was an abundance of Boston, Pittsburgh and Montreal selections among my coworkers, leaving the Rangers out in the cold. Therefore, the Blue Shirts were free game (zero support). I couldn't resist. Who doesn't enjoy a nice risk/reward option? While I still picked Chicago to win it all, I have that Rangers runner up trump card in my back pocket. Since this pool has the potential to net me some coin, I am not opposed to a Big Apple win.
Thoughts on the Eastern Conference Final?
Staying true to my gut pick, I am going with the Habs to come out on top. From Tuukka Rask to Henrik Lundqvist, it will be another elite goaltender showdown. Both teams match up well on paper, especially with the goals-by-committee approach. The X-factors will come in the form of Rick Nash (will he finally show up?) or a nice breakout performance by Max Pacioretty. Also, a little more help from Andrei Markov would go a long way as well. Since New York has a habit of going to seven games, why break that trend?
Habs in seven. Price beats out Lundqvist to a montage of the Gold medal game in Sochi.
Damn, that Olympic flashback made me feel a little nostalgic. What better way to quench that feeling, than by throwing down a classic Studs and Duds!
3 ) Three-headed Mighty Duck –
For a team to win seven post season games after featuring a revolving door of goaltenders is quite impressive. It is unfortunate that Frederik Andersen went out with an injury, but the world of hockey has moved on to the next big thing; John Gibson. It is evident that Gibson soaked in the biggest challenge of his career to date, and now the Ducks appear to have an embarrassment of riches in net.
This situation reminds me of Vancouver when they had Roberto Luongo and Corey Schneider running the show with Eddie Lack waiting in the wings. Sadly, we all know how that turned out. Either way, Anaheim will better handle that situation – after all it would take a massive derailment to match that Van City train wreck.
2) Pass me the puck!
Love him or hate him, PK Subban has been very dominant these playoffs. Leading all defense with 12 points in eleven games, Subban does it all with flare. Sadly, this paves the way to the inevitable bump in salary this offseason. And "bump" is definitely a soft choice of word here, as you know PK will probably land in the eight million dollar range. Tough pill to swallow, but production-wise this last contract was a hands down steal for the Habs.
Salary and production aside, I really do enjoy Subban's approach to the game. Whether it is jumping jacks for the puck or pre-game singing, it is refreshing to see players bring that much enthusiasm to the rink. There is no lack of passion here, and it shows.
Pierre McGuire has a new crush…
1) The King's Guard
Los Angeles lived to see the second round due to the combined effort of playoff point leading Anze Kopitar alongside leading goal scorer Marian Gaborik. Kopitar, known to play a solid two-way game has dominated the scoreboard through all but one game this spring. On the flipside, Gaborik has lived up to trade deadline expectations for the Kings, win or lose. Management sought out a goal scorer and Gaborik delivered.
3) Still the best in the world?
Thirteen games, one goal. While Sidney Crosby also added eight assists, that isn’t the point. When Pittsburgh needed their star the most, he failed to deliver. No need to beat a dead horse, this story is going to drag out for a very long time. But for the hell of it, should Crosby still be labelled the best player in the world? In my opinion, yes.
His performance in clutch situations will be questioned and compared to that of Jonathan Toews. That is fair. However, so soon that we forget that Crosby had his fair share of clutch moments, which includes the golden goal. Talent-wise, he is still the best in the world and there is no denying his accolades.
As for fantasy hockey, which is obviously the most important aspect here, there is no question that Crosby dominates (unless you are in the deepest of dynasty leagues with limited salary). If the Crosby owner in your league is foolish enough to fall victim to the latest media frenzy, definitely send in your offers. While there is little reason to think that this shouldd be treated as a buy-low performance, stranger things have happen. (UHL, don't even try!)
2010’s Golden Goal…
2) Sorry bro, no mojo!
Mike Richards is a player who usually carries post-season swagger. But rather than living it up as a bonafide workhorse, Richards has been a pile of fantasy garbage. Good thing Los Angeles went out to acquire goal scoring help, because Richards has clearly lost his mojo. Should the Kings bow out in the second round to Anaheim, this guy will have to carry a portion of the blame.
1) If you don't use it, do you lose it?
Through 14 games, Rick Nash has amassed an impressive five assists. In a cold streak that dates back to last year’s post season, this prolific goal scorer has managed to only put up one marker in 26 NYR playoff games. For a player that waited so long to be effective in the post-season (skipping the Columbus sweep in 2008-09), Nash continues to disappoint. Is anyone surprised?
Obviously there was a plethora of honourable and dishonourable mentions. Too many to list, so share your top studs and duds in the comments below.
In less than three short weeks, on Sunday June 1st, DobberProspects will deliver my yearly birthday gift; the annual Prospects guide. It is a great release date for poolies, especially those that have a roster freeze in effect. This allows plenty of time to soak in the open book of knowledge and uncover gems for free agency, and more importantly, your entry draft.
Over the last week and a half, Steve Laidlaw and I kept the tradition of Jeff Angus' Prime Cuts alive. For the folks at DobberHockey, the works of what seemed like a hundred-plus back and forth emails transpired into a three part series. Check out Part One and Part Two. Part Three will showcase the starter, backup and one switch to the roster (on the second line). Any guesses as to who will backstop the 2013-14 Prime Cuts?
On the topic of DobberHockey collaborations, this past season DobberHockey's own Eric Daoust (who will publish tomorrow's ramblings) as well as Rick Roos (who delivered yesterday's ramblings) joined me in providing great insight into a series called Holding Court over at Fantrax. The column was basically a blend of writer Cage Match with a touch of Roos' previous DobberHockey segment, Final Verdict.
Lastly, the UHL, often referred to as DobberHockey's unofficial Dynasty league, is looking to bolster its roster with candidates looking to go head-to-head against some Dobber Sports heavyweights. The league comprises of a nice mix of writers, avid readers, and forum juggernauts alongside some random stragglers who seem to have proven their worth.
Every so often a spot opens up and we refer to a short list of candidates to sub in. Those interested need to pass our commissioner's gruesome and utterly disgusting interview process. Be warned. The latest victim to join the UHL ranks is none other than DerekReese. Should he fail, clause 483 states that we can publicly shame him in the ramblings. Tick tock!
Jokes aside, it is a great league. If you are interested, send me an email – gates at dobbersports dot com.
Gates Imbeau is Dobber Sports' assistant manager.