Tuesday, April 14, 2009

So, Prognosto Boy...How Did You Do?

Now that we have our 16 contestants for the Stanley Cup playoffs, it’s time to ask, “how did we do in prognosticating them?”

All in all, not too bad. We were correct in picking six of the eight playoff teams in the East and five of the eight in the West. The East turned out to be a real crap shoot, as seven teams were separated in the end by only eight points in the four through ten spots. If Buffalo hadn’t missed Ryan Miller for five weeks to an ankle injury (during which the Sabres went 5-7-2, including a loss to the Rangers (who finished only four points ahead of Buffalo), we suspect we’d have hit on seven of eight in the East.

Looking at the East, one can see that a lot of prognosticators – those less “peerless” – suffer the same problem each year. And that is, they seem to think that the team that spends the most “Stoopid Bucks” is going to be a winner. This year’s prize goes to all those prognosticators out there who thought Tampa Bay, which didn’t so much make a splash as they did start a tsunami of stoopid spending, was going to be a winner. The added Ryan Malone, Mark Recchi, Gary Roberts. They drafted Steven Stamkos. They put Barry Melrose behind the bench. And Tampa was going to challenge for the playoffs. The only thing they challenged was in finding heretofore undiscovered ways to lose games in extra time (5-18 in a whopping 23 extra time games).

We didn’t foresee Boston becoming so much more than the sum of their parts. They had pieces, and we count ourselves among those who constantly underestimate the unusual goaltender stylings of Tim Thomas. But they proved us wrong; they were no fluke.

We missed on Ottawa because we didn’t appreciate how much of a mess this team was once you got past their top line. And even they didn’t have an especially good year, not by their standards in recent years. They are the team that has seen their opportunity pass, and they might have to blow things up in order to compete in a few years.

In the West, our picks weren’t quite as bad as one might think at first glance. For example, we said of Colorado…
“There isn’t a lot of room for error…As it is, they are probably on the wrong edge of the playoff mix. Any injuries or bad stretches, and they’re sunk.”

Well, injuries they had, and it sank them.

We missed on Dallas because for the simple reason that Marty Turco forgot how to play goaltender. His start was too big a hole for a team with a defense-first mentality to climb out of. In the first month alone, Turco allowed five or more goals four times in nine appearances. He was a little better in November, allowing five goals three times in 12 appearances, but that sort of production killed whatever chance the Stars had this year. They made a bit of a push in January and February, but then sank, perhaps running out of gas trying to make up for that poor start.

Columbus had a history of failure, never having made the playoffs in their history. But we – and we suspect, everyone else – never saw Steve Mason coming. He is the reason we missed on Columbus and is the reason Columbus is preparing for a playoff series today. As for St. Louis, we just whiffed on that one, although for the sake of four points, we might have been right on Minnesota and on St. Louis. Minnesota was 1-3-0 against the Blues this year.

The big miss, though, was in not picking Vancouver to make the playoffs. We wondered if a team that finished the 2007-2008 season 23rd in scoring, 18th on the power play, and 25th when trailing first had enough oomph to help Roberto Luongo win a few games. Clearly, they did.


Hooks Orpik said...

Aside from Ottawa's lack of depth, one thing that really killed them (that you didn't hit on above) was the collapse of Martin Gerber. Even though the Sens got swept in the '08 playoffs, Gerber had a .912 save percentage and actually was better than that. He was the only reason that embarassing effort for them wasn't a total jailbreak.

He fell apart and was banished and that doomed Ottawa a lot too. If Gerber was brilliant Ottawa still probably wouldn't have made the playoffs, but they certainly would have had a more respectable season.

exwhaler said...

I figured that Ottawa was a FUBAR team because of that one-line offence, a very iffy goalie situation, and a shaky, long-neglected defense. I thought that Murray actually shored up the defense by adding Kuba and Picard, but it was matter of too little, too late.

Incidentally, my other FUBAR teams (decent teams heading for a serious fall, not already messed up teams, like the Lightning): Rangers, Canucks, Maple Leafs, Devils, Avalanche. Yeeeah. Thank god I'm not a betting man.