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Monthly Archives: April 2006
In 1994-95 more than 40% of the season was lost to a labor dispute. The fans reacted in 1995-96 by setting a new attendance record. In 2005-06 history repeated itself. An entire season of games was lost and fans reacted by setting a new attendance record. This leads one to ask, does taking hockey away from NHL fans make these fans happier?Not being much of a hockey fan, I do not know.
well, as a hockey fan that lived through both lockouts, let me attempt to answer.
The answer is, I think, pretty simple: if the fans are convinced that the problems that led to the strike are solved, they’ll put the stoppage behind them and come back to the game. They have to feel that there’s been a solution, not just a stoppage. That’s been the problem with baseball’s occasional slow return to attendance numbers: fans generally seemed to believe (and not without justification) that the enxt time the contract was up, they’d have another strike.
After the first stoppage, most fans (and hockey people) felt they’d dealt with the issues; it turned out, that CBA had flaws. This latest stoppage, I think the fans were more or less willing to put up with it because the ownership group seemed determined to fix the problems AND build a better working relationship with the players; if they’d simply outwaited the players and gone off to business as usual, I think it would have been much different.
It didn’t hurt that there were hockey franchises going through bankruptcy, and other franchises up for sale with no takers. It made it a lot easier for the owners to justify the need for drastic behavior. Most fans, I think, realized hockey was seriously screwed up and at risk of failing as a league. That changes your attitude…
We have now written a book that is bound to be read by perhaps dozens and dozens of people. In this book we argue that the story the media tells about labor disputes is not true.
excuse me, but, well, duh. Good news does not sell newspapers. Never has. It serves the newspaper’s purpose to be as negative as possible and emphasize the problems. And sports columnists have a long history of having (and caring about) only a faint aquaintenceship with the facts, because they get in the way of the rabblerousing.
If labor and management in professional sports believe that strikes and lockouts do not threaten future attendance, will these events occur with even more frequency?
No, because they’re still expensive and economically disrupting events, perhaps even more disrupting to sponsorships and non-attendance revenue than gate receipts.
And besides, nobody wants to be the first league to be involved in a stoppage when that changes. Remember when building a new arena or stadium “guaranteed” big revenues? And then Oakland rebuilt the colliseum for the Warriors, and then there was New Comiskey, and…. It’d be a bad idea to assume there won’t be bad side effects to a stoppage, because that’s the kind of arrogance that might well cause them to happen.
- “You know the type of game you’re going to get – we talked about it – it’s Marc Joannette and Warren, who I’ve had my issues with over the years.
And Darren Pang, today on XM, basically agreed with him. And to a degree, so do I. Joannette’s one of the guys that I’d originally put on my “least favorite” list and pulled because I just didn’t feel comfortable doing it from memory with my lack of detailed notes on him. But now that others are saying it too, I feel better about saying “me, too”.
where McTavish loses me, though, is that this is the refs fault. There are good refs and bad ones, and many in the middle. And all along the history of the game, different refs have brought a style and/or personality to games they called: nobody in their right mind would expect a game by Fraser to be called the same way Paul Stewart used to. One reason I really like Walkom as the new head of officiating is that the type of game he called — strong control, quiet personality, stable and consistent — is the type of game the NHL has to be getting everyone to stretch for.
It’s McTavish’s job, and the players responsibilty, to understand how the referees are going to impact the game, and adjust their game strategy accordingly. The good teams do this as a matter of course, and yes, I am saying they scout referees the way they do the opposition. And in reality, McTavish knew what his team was looking at, prepped his team for it, and they didn’t do what he told them to do.
Coming out on the refs in public is really just a way to try to swing a call your way in a later game. it’s politics. and it might well work. I got no problem there, by the way…
Here is, for what it’s worth, part of an email I sent last night about the officiating this year. It sums up my feelings pretty well:
I’m loving the officiating now. Rob Shick and Pollock had a really tough game tonight in San Jose, and he and his partner did a great job in my mind. Sillinger was ready to pop most of the night, and they kept the game from going sideways all evening. It wasn’t an easy night. If you check the tape, early in the first, you’ll see that there’s a sequence and after the whistle, the Preds start yapping at Pollock and giving him grief, and it was clear from our seats that Pollock got a bit stressed, but kept his cool — and Shick noticed it, and held up the faceoff and went over and talked to him for a short bit and got him calmed down and focussed again. A real quiet but veteran move, and it really impressed me. He was talking to everyone tonight (both were, actually), and working to keep tempers down, and the couple of times I thought the game was going to spin nasty, he cut it short with a good but timely penalty. And Sillinger more than deserved the 10 at the end…
So for what it’s worth — I’m really loving the new standards. The more I hear the dinosaurs whine about them (of course Derian Hatcher hates it; he can’t skate, he can’t keep up, he’s obsolete in the new NHL. and that’s great), the more I like seeing the league’s stance. Keep at it. Who would you rather see decide a game? Paul Kariya or Derian Hatcher, anyway? To me, the answer’s simple…
and yeah, I know Sillinger bitched at the press about the roughing call after the hit by McClaren — but it was correct, because it wasn’t a “shove back”, it was a punch to the face. If he’d shoved back, no call. But the tempers were escalating, the hit was legal (not late, but close….), and the response was an angry escalation. And Schick sat them for two, and kept the tempers from escalating any further. It was a key point of the game where it could have spun into chaos (or worse, a Flyers game) — and Schick caught just the right moments to get involved a LITTLE, to prevent it. that’s the kind of reffing I really like — where the refs stay out of it TO A POINT — but catch it before their job becomes aiming firehoses on the cinders and calling the next of kin.
In some way, you can best tell the good refs from the bad refs by how often games they ref spin out into rugby games. The better refs let them play, but not let them take over. The bad refs either clamp down too soon and piss players off, or don’t clamp down soon enough, and spend the rest of the night getting dirty looks from the linesmen, who, of course, are paid to clean up the messes…
With Crawford’s track record in Vancouver and Colorado, I’m not sure he’ll be waiting long to find a new job. But what I couldn’t help but wonder was how different things might look had Todd Bertuzzi not gone after Steve Moore in March 2004. Something tells me that playoff would have looked a lot different with him in the Vancouver lineup.
This is very true, but… who’s ultimately responsible when it comes to defining what is and isn’t acceptable player behavior on a team?
The coach. Marc Crawford may (or may not have) encourage Bertuzzi to go after Moore; Marc Crawford did, however, clearly coach a team where that kind of action (and it’s justification under The Code) was not only acceptable, but expected.
So don’t cry many tears for Crawford over this; his team did what he demanded of them; in this case, it turned out badly.
I keep thinking about Crawford and Bertuzzi, and the environment of, well, goonism that Crawford and coaches like him create (like him, off the top of my head: Cherry, Quinn, Keenan, Sutter to some degree). And then I look at New Jersey and Lamoriello, and Scott Stevens (and a whole bunch more guys, too). How would Scott Stevens have handled returning the favor to Moore? Do you honestly believe Bertuzzi would have been encouraged to do it in the way that led to Moore’s injury?
Which is not to say Steven’s didn’t cause injuries. Ask Eric Lindros. But — what we’re talking here is fair battle vs. goonery. Some teams and coaches demand their players live up to the ideals of the game (without compromise); other coaches crawl behind The Code, and use it as an excuse for their “just win, baby” mentality, and then whine when it goes too far and people call them for what they are: honorless goons with no respect for the game and their fellow players.
because if they did — they wouldn’t do that. The Code is, ultimately, a rationalization of the “win at any cost” manifesto, of street thuggery instead of athleticism. And teams that live by The Code will also die by it — usually whining to the press afterward.
And how much The Code lives in the mindset of a team is defined by, and only by, the coach.
So don’t shed a tear for Crawford here. He demanded a certain mindset out of his team in name of victory. It’s that mindset that convinced Bertuzzi what he did was acceptable behavior. With or without explicit words about Moore, Crawford created the environment that allowed and encouraged Bertuzzi to act.
And I dare you to tell me that if the team was the Devils that the same thing would have happened. Because we all know that on that team it would have been handled, but very differently, and with class.
I’ve been watching our internal leadership conference and spending quite a
bit of time talking in the virtual hallways, and I’ve been surprised at
the intensity of feeling about Mr. McNealy. Yes, there are those
here saying “About bloody time, now we can make some progress” but there’s a
much bigger group that is genuinely emotional about this transition.
Maybe it’s a function of seniority: I never met nor corresponded with Scott, and
he hasn’t been
much of a presence in the company’s conversation in the time I’ve been here.
But there are a lot of smart, seasoned, unsentimental people making it clear
he’s been a major force in their lives, at a more personal level than I’m
used to hearing when people speak about executives.
I’ve been watching the increasing irrelevance of Sun for some time now with some sadness. It seemed to me it was Scott’s time some time ago, and I have to admit I wonder if this move is too late, or if we get to watch Sun follow down the tracks of SGI and Pyramid and Fortune.
Before I went to Mama Apple, I worked at Sun. I was employee 1285. I still proudly display the lucite block they issued the day Sun went public, and it was four very interesting, challenging years. I worked early on on NFS and Yellow Pages (except in the UK), spanning the time from the early Sun-3′s to the first (literally) Sun-4 (my last project was helping push the 4/260′s out the door). I was also the person who forged Scott e-mailing the tstech mailing list asking to be subscribed one year (it’s probably safe to admit that now), but the real fun was when someone else didn’t catch the joke and actually did it… I’ve met Scott a few times, but I wouldn’t bet he’d recognize my name, much less notice me in a (small) crowd.
And when Apple was struggling, going back to Sun was one of the exit strategies I seriously considered.
I’ve got to hand it to Scott, though. Look around Silicon valley. Look around high tech. Count the number of CEOs who successfully steered a company from pre-IPO to the size Sun got to. It just doesn’t happen; guys who are good at managing startups generally don’t transition well to mid-sized companies, much less big ones. He did — and Sun thrived.
I think McNealy made a fatal mistake a few years ago, and today, he’s paying for it. It’s the same mistake Michael Spindler made, one that almost killed Apple.
Both men decided the enemy was Microsoft, and declared the competition was to be a war to the death. If you think about it, there are very few companies that have gone up against that company and thrived. In Spindler’s case, he fought the war on price, dropping the price (and quality) of the macintosh (how many of us remember the Performa line fondly?), only to find out that Mac users weren’t really price sensitive, and, well, neither were Windows users. They still bought Windows, only now we made a lot less per CPU than we used to. By also turning the fight over the OS into an “us or them” fight, he did a great job convincing folks that Apple wouldn’t be viable unless they improved their market share and caught up with Windows — we all know how that particular view on Apple’s market share has helped Apple.
McNealy decided to fight Microsoft in the courts, primarily. If there were victories there, they were pyrrhic. And while he was off fighting the Great Satan Microsoft, he didn’t notice that the real “enemy” had overrun his loyal followers and converted them: Linux and LAMP. Sun was way too late to the game here, and instead of embracing and adopting, they continued to push Solaris in exclusion to Linux. Linux moved onto lower-priced hardware, and as it became accepted and that hardware started competing with Sun. Instead of a workstation running Solaris, more and more users were buying Dell (or Compaq, or GAteway, or IBM, or….) and running Linux. That was the real challenge Sun had to fight, and it was very late to the game. IMHO, if they’d adopted in Linux early on, many of those boxes running an Intel chip would have been Sun boxes running Linux on a Sparc instead.
It was as if the King had taken the army off to fight a battle, only to return to find the kingdom converted to a new religion that doesn’t recognize the King as their leader any more. A technological shift and a bloodless coup — but that’s small solace to the King. And so Sun is increasingly squeezed into the upper reaches of the “so freaking big it hurts” machine business, which is a nicer business to be in than trying to sell Performa’s to Windows owners, but isn’t the kind of business to sustain Sun at it’s old financial and employment levels.
The other problem I see with Sun is they could never quite figure out what to do with Java — and still haven’t. It’s as if McNealy didn’t have the courage to truly open it up and build a business around it (as MySQL so successfully has, or Red Hat); at the same time, they knew they couldn’t charge for it if they had any hope of it being adopted widely — so they seemed to try a middle course that did both, but neither well. And so Java’s done pretty well, but not nearly as good as it might have — and it’s helped Sun somewhat financially, but it really isn’t an answer to the loss of the hardware business.
Can Sun be fixed? Perhaps. I’d like to see Java spun off into its own company, and treated like MySQL. Build the business around the language, not on it. Open it to the community fully, and rally the community on it. Hardware? They’ve lost a lot of momentum to Linux in the lower end of the market; probably tough to pull that back. But have strengths in the Enterprise software — but they need to continue investing in it, and move it forward. I don’t think they have as much as they can.
And this is a tough one, but I think it has to be done: instead of opening up Solaris (too little, too late), move it into an End of Life position, work to the core strengths of the company today (enterprise class hardware and enterprise software solutions) and support their existing customer base while they move their hardawre and applications to Linux. I simply don’t like the financial realities of supporting two OS’s here, and Sun’s actually better off (I think) contributing back to Linux than trying to continue to push Solaris forward. They can turn this into a win-win. Maybe.
My final thought on McNealy: he made a mistake or two, his focus on Microsoft being a doozy that really hurt the company in the long-term.
But look at the string of successes — he’s done so well, for so long, that we should al buy him a new hockey stick and thank him for what he’s done. His legacy shouldn’t be that ultimately he made a mistake, but that he avoided it for as long as he did. (and I really AM sorry he got signed up for tstech, that wasn’t what I expected to happen. Honest. it’s not quite installing a golf course in his office, but… )
How do the sharks look after two games?
They split in Nashville, which implicitly gives them home-ice advantage for now, unless Nashville splits in San Jose.
I was, overall, happy with the Sharks play in both games; Nashville really took it to them early and the Sharks were a step slow and taking bad penalties, but by the end of game 1, they were back in it and Nashville’s penalty problems had started. In game 2, that momentum continues, with the Preds struggling to keep up with the Sharks. Right now, it’s the Sharks series to lose — but if Nashville can adjust their tactics appropriately, they can make it interesting. I’m just not convinced they can right now.
The big adjustment the Sharks made was on the power play; game 1, cross-crease passes were consistently not getting through. Game 2, back it up a few feet, use the point more, and Nashville wasn’t getting in the way nearly as much. The Sharks were also more committed to north-south skating with the puck and transitioning into the zone with more authority, and Nashville seemed a step slow in dealing with it. Confidence and speed and some grit, a nasty combination to defend.
It’s not Mason, either. He more or less singlehandedly kept game 2 from being a total laugher. My three stars for the game were Toskala, Mason, and Marleau. He deserved some credit for not letting the team be blown out of the building.
So, what does Nashville need to do? Keep Kariya flying; keep people in passing lanes on the penalty kill, figure out how to manage BOTH thornton and marleau (they seem to be able to defend one, but not both). They need to react faster, be less passive on defense, but they can’t be too aggressive or the sharks passing seems able to eat them apart. Mason has to stand on his head, and his defense has to get better. They have to stop taking penalties. period. easier said than done.
A big thing for the Sharks is the third line, centered by Mark Smith. The Preds seem to have trouble dealing with the bangers and grinding cycle after defending thornton and marleau, and so Smith gets them skating around and a bit crazy. If the smith line keeps scoring, Nashville’s done.
It’s going to be a fun couple of games in san jose — but Nashville’s got a tough road to stay in this series.
I’m going to be tracking which refs are in the playoffs and how far they go, as well as my evaluation of their jobs in games where I see enough of the action to fairly judge…
Prediction for game 7 Calgary/Anaheim: Kerry Fraser will be one of the refs. I’d personally recommend Don Van Massenhoven to work with him; I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Dennis LaRue or Dan Mariouelli. (answer: it’s Van Massenhoven and Brad Watson. Another good choice, but — Kerry Fraser only three games in the first round? That’s very unusual)
Prediction for Round 2:
These refs will make the 2nd round (around 10 total):
These refs will not make the 2nd round:
Here are the referees in the first round and how many games they’ve reffed. All refs stayed in pairs until the first two series finished, then the pairings shifted around for the last three 1 round games played (with one to go). If I rated a pair in a game, my ratings for them are listed.
Devorski (5) [A-]
Pollock (5) [A A- B+]
Shick (5) [A F]
Watson (5) [B]
Jackson (4) [B]
Joannette (4) [C+ D]
Koharski (4) [A A- F]
LaRue (4) [B+ B+]
Leggo (4) [B+]
Mariouelli (4) [B+ B+]
McCreary (4) [A- A- B+]
McGeough (4) [B+]
Meier (4) [A-]
Van Massenhoven (4) [A- A-]
O’Halloran (4) [B C]
Warren (4) [C+ D]
Hasenfratz (3) [B C}
Kimmerly (3) [A A-]
Peel (3) [A-]
Sutherland (3) [A- A-]
Full-time referees that didn’t make the first round:
Angus, Blaine (1991)
Auger, Stephane (1994)
Heyer, Shane (1988 *)
Kowal, Tom (1998)
Lee, Chris (1996)
Martell, Rob (1992)
McCauley, Wes (2001)
O’Rourke, Dan (1999)
Rooney, Chris (1996)
Spada, Craig (2001)
Walsh, Ian (1996)
(the NHL moved to a two-ref system in 2000-2001; Heyer was a linesman prior to that time).
Referees in the first round with less seniority (1998 or younger):
(so, if I’m Blane Angus, Shane Heyer, Tom Kowal, Rob Martell, Chris Rooney or Ian Walsh, I should have some idea that my boss isn’t happy with my performance; or maybe they’re injured, I don’t have access to that.
Heyer is well-known in San Jose, and we wish he’d go back to being a linesman. Laurie reminds me that Chris Rooney was the ref that gave Joe Thornton the bogus 5 minute major three minutes into his first game back in Boston after the trade.)
The pairs (number of games reffed):
van massenhoven/peel (3)
Van Massenhoven/Watson (1)
(it’s unfortunate, but while Koharski and shick called a good game for game six ana/cal, Koharski missed the call badly on Selanne’s 1st goal, which was good and there’s no way to justify how it was called. Since that was such a significant call in such a significant game, they get flunked for that game. Fortunately — anaheim winning anyway reduces the impact of that call, but we can’t for a second ignore just how critical that call was, and how badly it was flubbed. On the other hand, both teams were exceptionally grumpy (surprise! (duh), and they did a good job of limiting the damage. could have been a lot nastier game than it was.
van massenhoven/peel (A-)
Van Massenhoven/Watson (A-)
NY Rangers/New Jersey
Not exactly a “top 10″, because there are some refs I simply haven’t watched enough to judge properly, but here are a quick list of referees I most want to see in the playoffs this year, and a second list of referees I think are on the bottom of my “most wanted” list.
(and a quick note: given that it takes a ref a couple of years to really get their game legs, anyone on my bottom list with < 100 games in the league is considered on probation. anyone with > 200 games? it’s probably time to rethink your career)
My top refs:
Don Van Massenhoven: With Steve Walkom retired, I think the best ref in the league. Handles a game well, calls it without screwing up the flow of the game more than necessary, works well with the players, doesn’t get intimidated or frustrated. He is in many ways a model for the “new” NHL ref: his personality doesn’t leak into the game much, he’s not intimidated by players or coaches, he keeps a fairly level head and doesn’t let his temper affect the game, but he takes little crap and he’s not afraid to make a gut call at a key time, and he gives the players the leeway to play the game, but if you watch games he refs, they devolve into chaos or fightfests a lot less than other refs.
Kerry Fraser: Best positioning among the refs, always in a good position to see the play. Fraser has two negatives: first, he’s got a distinctive personality, the strongest personality on the reffing circuit now that Paul Stewart’s retired, and he does make mistakes (all refs do, of course. *gasp*) — but when Kerry makes a mistake, it tends to be a huge blooper; mistakes that get remembered. The thing I find amusing is if you listen to the fans on TV, or travel around the arenas, Fraser is just as strongly disliked in every arena in the league, and the fans will tell you he’s “got it in” for their team. To me, that’s actually an indication he’s doing something right… There isn’t another ref I’d rather have in a game 7.
Rob Shick: San Jose gets ol’ “Shickhead” at San Jose a lot, because he’s based out in California (Rancho Murieta). This year, he broke his foot and was out for a while, and we got to see Shick in all his “I’ve been on the golf course for weeks” racoon-tan glory when he came back; he nearly glowed in the dark. I may be the only fan in San Jose arena that doesn’t mind seeing Schick show up; I remember (sigh, I’m getting old) when he was a young and struggling baby ref, back in the Cow Palace days. Today, he’s a good, solid veteran ref that’s capable and consistent.
Don Koharski: are you surprised to see veteran refs at the top of the list? You shouldn’t. You might be surprised to see Koharski on the list, though. But you shouldn’t. He’s had his struggles and some visible problems (no donut jokes, please) — but he’s put those behind him, except in the minds of fans who never forgive, much less forget. Like Schick he’s a solid and stable veteran who knows the game and tries to keep it rolling, but not let it fall off the cliff.
Kelly Sutherland: best skater among the refs; Laurie swears he’s got a figure skating background. Better skater than many NHLers, and a pretty good ref as well. The best of the younger refs with < 300 games (first NHL game 2000). When I went through the games I remembered as well-reffed this last season, Sutherland's name was the one that showed up most often other than the four veterans above.
Wes McAuley: one of the new generation of refs, ex Michigan hockey, played in the minors and italy, then recruited into reffing. Very young (< 50 games in the NHL), but the kind of ref the NHL is recruiting these days, and shows some real potential. We'll have to see how he matures.
My “not so favorite” refs:
Shane Heyer: is by far the ref we most want to NOT see in san jose, which is a problem, since he’s based in Vancouver and does the west coast a lot. One of the two refs who promoted from linesman when the NHL went to the two ref system (the other was Jay Scharrers, who went back to being a linesman), Shane was a pretty good linesman, and as a ref, generally out of his league. He shows both a tendency to be out of position (causing either a non-call, or a bad call based on seeing the end of the action, not the actual infraction, so he calls a lot of dives as penalties, and also a lot of trips where a player fell down. He should probably go back to being a linesman. Also has problems calling games consistently (the holy trinity of bad reffing: falling for dives, missing the play, and calling it inconsistently!)
Mike Hasenfratz: two really young refs, so they still have some ability to come up to speed, but they epitomize the problems refs have trying to ref in the NHL: the fall for dives, they’re inconsistent, they get out of position (or interrupt play by getting in the way), and just generally looking like they’re struggling to keep up with and manage the game. Now, it should be said: the same was true of both Rob Shick and Steve Walkom when they were baby refs (and Walkom might remember that one of his first NHL games ever reffed was in San Jose, and it was very memorable, if not good — San Jose fans carried a grudge (and signs offering free eye exams) for a couple of years after that — yet Walkom turned into one of the best refs in the league… The two-ref system is designed, in part, to help younger refs handle the NHL speed and intensity, but even so, the first 50 games by ANY ref are going to be an adventure…)
Mick McGeough: The good news is that when Mick McGeough keeps his temper under control, he’s a really good, veteran ref. The bad news is: when is the last time you saw a game he reffed when he didn’t lose his temper? And when McGeough gets mad, he gets flakey. I won’t go so far as to say he takes it out on the team that pissed him off — more than he loses his ability to be patient and let the play and intensity develop, and once he’s started that red flush on the neck and the stiff back, teams are best advised to just keep their yaps shut and play hockey. Not that they do. It’s a weird situation: when he gets angry, he doesn’t get vindictive, he merely gets — twitchy — makes snap calls, bad calls, too many calls. And both teams face his wrath. And there are certain players that seem to have permanently hit his “not on my christmas card” list; Laurie and I used to have an over/under on when Bryan Marchment would get his first penalty — now, the joke is that during TV time outs, McGeough skates over the the bench, grabs the phone, and wherever Calgary is playing, Marchment suddenly takes a two minute roughing call. It was our feeling that if McGeough could start the game with Marchment in the box, it might save everyone time and energy….
Paul Devorski: When I went through my list of games I went to and saw this year, and double-checked the ones I remembered as badly reffed — Devorski was the veteran ref most often involved. On the other hand, unlike someone like Mick McGeough, there isn’t a single tendency or problem that stands out to me; it’s just that games he refs just aren’t handled all that well. I guess if you really want to make me miserable, just pair up Devorski and Heyer (or Hasenfrazt) and send them to San Jose for a key series…
And my nominee for worst-reffed game of the year: April 13, 2006, Vancouver @ San Jose, where the calls were random and brutal (and before you look, the sharks won, and the brutality was random, not aimed at either team). Our winners of this year’s “tripped on the blue line” award: Paul Devorski and Marc Joannette.
(maybe next year I’ll feel up to more detailed critique’s of refs like I did years ago; we’ll see. I kinda miss it, but to do it right takes a lot of work. )
yup. time to prove myself an idiot in front of friends and family (and you)
My choice to come out of the Western Conference: San Jose
My choice to come out of the Eastern Conference: New Jersey
Stanley Cup Winner: San Jose
West: Detroit, Calgary
East: Ottawa, NY Rangers)
Detroit/Edmonton: Detroit in 5. Edmonton just doesn’t have the firepower.
Dallas/Colorado: Dallas in 6. I don’t think Colorado stacks up well here; I like Dallas, just not deep into the playoffs this year (if they meet the Sharks, the sharks match up very well against them)
Calgary/Anaheim: Calgary in 6. The series to watch in the first round out west. It’l be interesting to see what’s left of the winner and whether they have anything left for the rest of the playoffs. Low scoring, very physical and the teams don’t like each other.
Nashville/San Jose: San Jose in 6. Lots of folks wanted to go for the seeding with Nashville when Vokoun went down. Not me. Chris Mason isn’t a great goaltender, but he’s good enough to go on a “mission from God” for a series or two. I’m worried this could be an upset by the Predators, but I can’t see Mason taking them a round or two on sheer guts. It won’t be easy, but I think the Sharks can overpower them. (then again, maybe the balloon will pop and the Preds will go out in four. I just don’t think so)
Ottawa/Tampa Bay: Ottawa in 4. Tampa just doesn’t impress me. Does Ottawa need Hasek back to go deep, though?
Carolina/Montreal: Carolina in 5. Sorry, habs fans.
New Jersey/NY Rangers: series to watch in the east in the first round. New Jersey should win; the Rangers won’t go quietly. Could get brutal.
Buffalo/Philadelphia: Buffalo in 6. I’ve been burned too often by Philly in the playoffs to pick them in a series. they always seem to find a way to lose. This year, it’s forsberg’s groin and rathje’s hip, and, oh, pick a goalie that wants to be the starter…