Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Peerless Prognosticator Brings You - - the Western Conference Prognostications

And now, having covered the East, we’ll turn to the West . . .

Detroit Red Wings (1) – Calgary Flames (8)

Season Series: Tied, 2-2

Series Theme: “Flames versus Flame Outs”

Fun Fact: Detroit has been eliminated in the first round in nine of their last 20 playoff appearances

The clubs exchanged a couple of one-goal games; they’ve exchanged a couple of three-goal games. The home team has won every game. They’ve alternated wins. Detroit scored 254 goals, Calgary 258. Detroit has had 398 power play opportunities, Calgary 401. Detroit has been shorthanded 408 times, Calgary 414. Detroit is 17.1 percent on the power play, Calgary 18.2. Detroit is 84.6 percent on the penalty kill, Calgary 80.4. They both wear red. Not a dime’s difference between them, eh?

Not quite . . . Detroit lost four – count ‘em, four – home games in regulation this season, and Calgary was not a good road team (13-20-8).

Detroit in seven.


Anaheim Ducks (2) – Minnesota Wild (7)

Season Series: Tied, 2-2 (Minnesota has a shootout win)

Series Theme: “Wild versus Wild”

Fun Fact: Pierre-Marc Bouchard has one-fourth of his season goal output against the Ducks (5-of-20)

Anaheim had more fighting majors than any club in the league. They nearly lapped the field (71 to 47 for second place Phoenix). A lot of good that’ll do them here . . . every game in the season series was a one goal affair, but the series ended before New Years, making this a tougher read. But here is perhaps the telling statistic . . . Anaheim, which finished second in the league standings, was 20-13-8 since the last meeting with the Wild. On the other hand, the Wild are 28-9-6.

At the start of the season, Anaheim was The Peerless’ pick to win it all. But they have the problem of playing the one club that seems to have given them consistent trouble (all the games were one-goal games, all won by the home team). Anaheim will move on, but this could go to overtime in a seventh game.

Anaheim in seven.


Vancouver Canucks (3) – Dallas Stars (6)

Season Series: Tied, 2-2 (Vancouver has a shootout win, Dallas an overtime win)

Series Theme: “I’d rather have bad luck than no luck at all”

Fun Fact: Roberto Luongo hasn’t played a playoff game of any sort in a North American league since 2000, with Lowell in the AHL, but in six international tournaments since he has a 2.02 GAA.

22 games, 8-14, 2.53, .892, two straight one-and-done. That is the length of chain forged by Stars’ goaltender Marty Turco in career playoff work that he drags behind him. Think that won’t be a factor? And he’s the one with the experience. So, is it better to have bad luck in playoffs?... or none?

This is another of those season series where every game was decided by one goal or in a shootout. And again, the home team won every contest. Both clubs had a strong finishing kick – Vancouver is 28-8-6 since the start of the new year; Dallas is 25-10-7. If there is one statistic that stands out, it is this – Vancouver led the league in penalty killing; Dallas was 11th. That’s not the good part . . . despite that, Vancouver gave up only two fewer power play goals than did Dallas, a product of have to kill off 59 more short-handed situations (15.7 percent more). Vancouver has to keep from giving up too many short-handed situations to nullify their penalty-killing advantage – Dallas had the sixth fewest shorthanded situations in the league.

Turco will not win the series for Dallas, but their defense and discipline very well could.

Dallas in seven


Nashville Predators (4) – San Jose Sharks (5)

Season Series: Nashville, 3-1 (including a shootout win)

Series Theme: “Too many cooks spoil the broth”

Fun Fact: Joe Thornton leads all scorers in this series without having the benefit of scoring a goal of his own (0-7-7)

This is a series marked by having four goaltenders, any one of whom could start. Tomas Vokoun went down with an injury, enter Chris Mason . . . he only finished second in the league in save percentage (Vokoun was fifth). Evgeni Nabokov has not lost a game in regulation in more than a month (March 2, 3-1 to Anaheim). But Vesa Toskala had more wins for the year (26 to 25) in fewer appearances (38 to 50). How the coaches handle the goalies is a subplot to this series.

San Jose finished stronger (7-1-2 in their last ten to 5-3-2 for Nashville), but the Sharks played Phoenix, Los Angeles (twice), and Chicago – they won all four games. Nashville had their own patsies, beating Edmonton twice and St. Louis. They did, however, lose in a shootout to Chicago.

It could come down to this…starting on St. Patrick’s Day, Peter Forsberg played in each of the Predators’ last ten games. He was 1-8-9, +6 in those games. If he’s healthy, he’s the wild card in this series.

Nashville in seven.