Thursday, April 13, 2017

Hello out there. We're on the air. It's hockey night tonight!

The NHL Stanley Cup playoffs got underway last night with five Game Ones. I tried posting this while watching the Penguins-Blue Jackets game, but Blogger was acting up and wouldn't upload my scans.

Whether you're a casual fan or a die-hard puckhead, the playoffs are always exciting to watch. The first time I remember following playoff hockey was in 1991, when the Minnesota North Stars had a losing record and somehow made it to the finals against Pittsburgh. I really wanted Minnesota to pull off the upset, even though the Penguins had traded for Whalers legend Ron Francis that year. Naturally the North Stars lost - and tomake things even more painful the franchise relocated to Dallas a short time later. 

I have to admit I'm not as interested in hockey as I used to be. It isn't just because the Devils are lousy, or because scoring is way down from the 80's and 90's. It's because the same teams win every year, in both the playoffs (Blackhawks, Penguins) and the draft lottery (Oilers, Oilers, Oilers, and.. the Oilers). Baseball - a sport with no salary cap - has much better competitive balance; three teams with historically long title droughts have won a title since 2004, and the Indians came very close to ending theirs.

Hockey has started to resemble basketball, in that there are very few teams who can actually win a championship - and it's almost essential to build around a transcendent player acquired only through the draft lottery. You can't make trades anymore; every halfway decent player has a no-movement clause. And even with an insanely high salary cap you can't 'buy' a winner through free agency because star players never leave their original team (see Stamkos, Steven) This may be why I'm more excited for the Expansion Draft than the Entry Draft. Colorado will get Nolan Patrick, but who will end up on Vegas?

Most of the teams in this year's playoffs have had the good fortune to accumulate multiple first-round picks and turn them into key players. Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Washington are the obvious examples, but Toronto and Edmonton could soon be following their blueprint.

Here are the first round match-ups, most of which are already underway:

Capitals vs. Maple Leafs

Penguins vs. Blue Jackets

Canadiens vs. Rangers

Senators vs. Bruins

Blackhawks vs. Predators

Ducks vs. Flames

 Oilers vs. Sharks

 Wild vs. Blues

Are you a fan of playoff hockey? Is your team chasing the Cup? Got any predictions for the first round?



  1. Great post, you make some interesting points about the state of the NHL. Love that retro UD Crosby parallel too. I'm rooting for the Bruins and am still stunned that they stole that game last night. They're extremely lucky that Toronto lost their final game and thus they drew Ottawa instead of the powerhouse Caps in round 1!

  2. Absolutely love playoff hockey. Can't stand the format that chooses who plays each other. For example, we have Penguins vs Blue Jackets. How is it that these teams who finished 2nd and 3rd for points in the Eastern Conference are playing each other in the first round? This makes absolutely no sense and is seriously flawed. They were two of the better teams all season and one will be ousted in the first round. How is that fair? There are ways to fix this and even how the regular season plays out but, before this ends up way off track I'll stop now with this mini rant. Did I mention I absolutely love playoff hockey? Is my team chasing the Cup? Yes. Go Bruins!! Got any predictions for the first round? Yes. Capitals lose again but, that's an easy one. Blackhawks don't win every year. Although it may seem it. They just got lucky in the draft getting Kane after Toews the season prior. That team beat the odds in the lottery. Speaking of, with the weighted ball method Avalanche still only have a 1 in 4 chance of landing the number 1 overall pick. Penguins had seven years in between Cup wins. In actuality, since the year 2000 there's been 10 different hockey teams to win the Cup. Since 2000 there have been 11 different baseball teams to win a championship. 8 different teams in basketball since 2000.

    1. "Lucky in the draft?" Cmon man...

    2. Blackhawks were slated to draft 5th that year. They were extremely fortunate to win the lottery with only an 8% chance of winning and got to move up all the way to the top and draft first overall which obviously, the were able to draft Patrick Kane. So yes, the were lucky in the draft.

  3. Nice shout out to Stompin' Tom in the title..

    My roommate cheers for the Canadiens... I cheer for anyone but them.. Sportsnet had one prediction of Oilers/Canadiens final.. Another had a Leafs victory.. (We finally had a Cubs World Series win, so anything's possible)
    in any event, I'd just like to see the Cup come back to Canada... And not go to Montreal lol

  4. Love playoff hockey! No predictions... but I'll be cheering on my beloved San Jose Sharks!

  5. This is my first year of playoff hockey. I'm enjoying it so far but I'm that rare person who generally prefers the regular season to playoffs. I have the Washington-Toronto game 2 on as I type this reply, getting ready to start double overtime...which means this is now the longest hockey game I've ever seen. I'll stay with it to the end then switch over to NBA. I don't know enough yet to predict who will win, but I'm going to enjoy watching.