Latest posts by Beerguyrob (see all)
- Your “Whatever You Say, Man” Tuesday Evening Open Thread – May 21, 2019
- Your Victoria Day Monday Evening Open Thread – May 20, 2019
- Your Mid-Long Canadian Weekend Sunday Evening Open Thread – May 19, 2019
From a first round that made no sense to a second round that featured some of the best overtime games in the league’s history, the NHL Playoffs, 2019 edition, have sure been awash in tension and emotion.
BUT ENOUGH OF THAT SENTIMENTAL BULLSHIT!
It’s time to talk about the third round.
Carolina vs. Boston – starts Thursday, May 9th (schedule here)
We have all discussed before what an abomination the Carolina Hurricanes are, what with their having displaced the great memory of the long-deceased Hartford Whalers. But it’s time to rest the use of that word, for abuse causes it to lose all meaning.
In fact, Hartford/Carolina and Boston have only met four times total in the playoffs, the most memorable was a first-round Adams division meeting in 1990, which Hartford stretched to seven games after winning Game Six in overtime.
The Bruins won Game 7 and went all the way to the Cup finals, losing to the Oilers in four straight. Now, when those teams met earlier in the 1989-90 season, the result was a series of line brawls that ended with multiple ejections amid a Bruins 7-2 victory.
I just wanted an excuse to post this.
The Bruins met Hartford again in the opening round of the 1991 playoffs, defeating them in six games.
They’ve played Carolina twice – in 1996 and 2009. In 1996, the Bruins beat Carolina 4-2 in the opening round, but Carolina returned the favour in 2009, beating the Bruins 4-3 in the second round. (Carolina lost the Conference Finals to the Penguins, who went on the win the Cup.)
Of the two teams, Boston had the harder route to this series, in part because of the asinine Gary Bettman playoff structure, and in part because they made it difficult on themselves. They beat the Leafs in seven games, because they always do in the 21st Century, and they outlasted a Blue Jackets team that was built to wear other teams down and succeed on the counterattack. (Evidence of that was how easily Columbus dispatched Tampa Bay, a team built to dominate the regular season.) The Hurricanes, meanwhile, had the harder first-round when they were matched up with Washington, whom they eliminated in seven hard-fought games, with the Canes winning Game seven in that dramatic overtime.
Their series against the Islanders was more non-descript. The Islanders did the Lord’s work in eliminating the Penguins, and it seemed like Barry Trotz’s team felt that was enough, bowing out in four quick games.
Boston still has the scoring advantage. Pissy bitch Brad Marchand
No problem, here's the video pic.twitter.com/SyzLYARylS
— Jeremy B (@JBSpeed) May 7, 2019
has been lighting it up, but the Bruins have also been getting solid third- and fourth-line scoring which has helped them work their way through the opponents they’ve faced so far. Forty-two year-old Zdeno Chara is still leading the team in ice time, and the rest of the defence remains solid, with few injuries and only Charlie McAvoy’s suspension getting in the team’s way. Tuukka Rask has been pulling yeoman service between the pipes, some nights single-handedly keeping Boston in games and in series.
Carolina, meanwhile, is exceedingly confident. The Cherry-described “bunch of jerks”
as a result of their “Storm Surge” celebrations,
have been relaxing for the better part of a week thanks to their quick dispatch of the Islanders. The team is ready for their first Conference final since 2006, and have been preparing the arena for the auspicious event.
The team has succeeded despite an observable lack of scoring. Only one player has a point per game pace going (Jaccob Slavin). Where they’ve succeeded is in the counter attack; fully half of their goals come in response to the other team’s odd-man rushes. Goaltending is still a weakness, in that Petr Mrazek still has bouts where he thinks he is still in Philadelphia (courtesy Gratliff) and managed to ease fan fears by getting injured & having Curtis McElhinney sub in for him, inspiring confidence in the team’s netminding.
Conclusion: Boston has the scoring, but Carolina has the momentum. If the Bruins can rattle Carolina’s goalies, this might be a short series.
Prediction: Bruins in five.
St. Louis vs. San Jose – starts Saturday, May 11 (schedule here)
Continuing the trend of teams that aren’t supposed to be here, the Blues & Sharks were absolutely no one’s picks to be here (outside of only their most rabid fans). Yet here they are, in a rematch of the 2016 Conference finals,
a series the Sharks won 4-2 on their way to their first Cup final – losing to the Penguins.
The Blues have had two coaches this year – Mike Yeo (7-9-3), and Craig Berube (38-19-6). You’ve all heard the story about how St. Louis were dead-last on December 1st, but the coaching change & callups reinvigorated a moribund group of players, leading them back to the Conference finals. They have some quality scoring, but Alex Steen & Brayden Schenn better get off the schneid soon. Plus, there’s Patrick Maroon – he of the 2OT goal & celebration
a St. Louis boy looking to drag the Blues through to where they haven’t been since 1970. And they made another St. Louis area boy happy as well.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) May 8, 2019
They have the forwards to get the job done, but it’s the defence and goaltending which is going to need some sharpening. The Blues’ defence wilted during a couple of games versus the Stars, which is something they cannot afford to do against the Sharks and their three solid lines. Their top-3 of Alex Pietrangelo, Colton Parayko, and Jay Bouwmeester have been averaging almost five minutes per game of ice time more than the rest of the defence. Eventually they are going to get exposed, unless someone else stands up. Luckily, Jordan Binnington has been able to keep the magic happening, keeping his GAA under 2.5.
The Blues don’t give up a lot of goals, but they do occasionally give them up at the worst times.
The Sharks are the “destiny” team. Not to beat the dead horse too much, but they are clearly using the “Joe Thornton Retirement Tour” angle as team momentum.
Getting Joe Pavelski back for Game seven versus Colorado, and having him pot one, has just amped up the hype
and lends vague credence to the “destiny” theory.
The San Jose defence is the rock upon which this team is based. Brent Burns – granted, they’ve played lots of overtime – is logging nearly 30 minutes per game, a full five minutes ahead of the next closest player in the league, never mind his own team. The Erik Karlsson signing now looks like genius as he has been a compliment to the Sharks defence, not an interloper. The two of them have combined for 26 points, and when teamed with Hertl, Couture & Meier on the power play this unit accounts for 50% of all the Sharks points. A key for the Blues, thus, will be staying out of the box.
In goal is the real problem. Martin Jones got it together in Game seven, but otherwise he has merely been average. His Goals Against Average is 2.75, a half-goal worse than Binnington. The Sharks have to keep him from getting rattled, because he has as many ticks as a 2011 Marc-Andre Fleury,
and one bad game could sink this series for the Sharks, because Aaron Dell is no Bunny Larocque when it comes to having a confident backup.
Conclusion: Fuck destiny. I want a post-expansion rematch.
Prediction: Blues in six.
There you have it. My non-expert analysis of the Conference Finals which should hopefully get us a return to 1970.
Oh yeah, put it into my veins.