Landshark
    Login Sign Up
 
The Shark Blog Draft Guru Starting Goalies Mock Draft Player Rankings Player Search Player List My Lineup The Daily File War Room Compare Players Hot List Market Draft Notes Expert Predictions Fantasy Hockey
Skip Navigation Links
Home
The SharkExpand The Shark
GamesExpand Games
Fantasy ToolsExpand Fantasy Tools
FeaturesExpand Features
Draft GuruExpand Draft Guru
About Us

The Shark Blog

Who will Win the Conn Smythe?

by chewy 10. June 2011 13:02
 

With just 2 or 3 games left to be played, it's fair to say that the battle for the Conn Smythe Trophy has been effectively narrowed down to 3 candidates.  At this point, the winner will largely be determined by which team can win 2 more games.

 

Before we meet the candidates, let's review our history.  Only 1 man in the last 20 years has won the award while playing for the losing team.  There is nothing that suggests any of the candidates have risen so far above that they could pull off that coupe this season.  A quick look at the last 10 winners shows that 3 have gone to goalies, 3 have gone to defensemen, and 4 have gone to forwards.  The last 3 winners have been forwards.  No defenseman can be considered a viable option at this point.  So perhaps, it's time for a goalie to take the crown?  Only if one can be found worthy.  As it so happens, there is such a one.

 

Here are the front runners heading into Game 5:

 

Tim Thomas (G-BOS) - Thomas is a lock in for the Vezina Trophy for his work in the regular season.  Apparently, he wasn't satisfied with adding just 1 more trophy to his case.  He has kept his amazing numbers in tact, despite playing behind what can only be described as an average defense.  Among goalies with 4 or more games played this postseason, he sits first in GAA (2.11), first in save percentage (.936) and tied for first in shutouts (3).  Should he finish first in wins (in other words, the magic 16), it will be hard to argue against him as this year's leading candidate.   Of the four playoffs opponents, only Tampa managed to show any sign of weakness in his game.  Versus Montreal, Philadelphia, and now Vancouver, Thomas has proven to be single most dependable player for Boston.

 

David Krejci (F-BOS) - While the support for Thomas is impressive, a strong case can certainly be made for David Krejci.  Following a slow start in the Montreal series, Krejci has been piling up the offense for Boston, scoring points in 12 of 15 games.  He leads the NHL in post season points with 22 and goals with 11.  Krejci has also had a knack for drawing penalties at key points in games by virtue of his incredible puck possession skills. 

 

Ryan Kesler (F-VAN) - The case for Kesler heading into the finals was hard to dispute.  He entered the series with 18 points in 18 games, heavily padded by his dominating performance against Nashville in Round 2.  The last 3 games have not helped his cause, however, as he's without a point since his assist in game 1.  Still, it's hard to argue with his numbers, as he is near the top in the league in goals (7), points (19), PIMs (43), hits (69) and game winners (2).  It's also hard to find another Canuck that has been more valuable to his team throughout the postseason run.  The case might have been made for Luongo, but the last two outings have effectively quieted that campaign.  Should Vancouver claim their first ever Cup next week, Kesler should be the man receiving this trophy.

 

It's hard to imagine any other player entering the conversation at this point, short of an incredible run in the final few games.  It would take a flurry of goals by either Sedin to enter the conversation and overtake Kesler on the Vancouver side.  It would take a couple of shutouts by Luongo to seriously consider him worthy of the prize.  On the Boston side, you could argue a case for Bergeron, or perhaps Chara, but neither can stand up to what Thomas and Krejci have done.

 

So who will win?   --- This much is clear.  If Vancouver wins the cup, Kesler takes the Conn Smythe hands down.  If Boston completes their comeback, the 2010-11 season will long be remembered as the season of Tim Thomas.

NHL Playoff Daily Recap - 4/15/2011

by chewy 15. April 2011 07:31
 

 

Goalie Notes:

  • Carey Price (MON) was outstanding, stopping all 31 shots he faced to beat Boston in Game 1
  • Ryan Miller (BUF) stopped all 35 shots to shutout the Flyers in Game 1
  • Sergei Bobrovsky (PHI) allowed just 1 goal on 26 shots in the loss to Buffalo

 

Skater Notes:

  • Brian Gionta (MON) kicked off the playoffs with a 2-goal performance
  • Scott Gomez (MON) assisted on both of Gionta's goals
  • Patrick Kaleta (BUF) scored the only goal of the game for Buffalo in the 1-0 win against Philly
  • Joe Pavelski (SJ) scored the OT winner for the Sharks
  • Ryan Clowe (SJ) finished with 3 assists on the night

 

 

Injury Update:

  • Henrik Zetterberg (DET) remains doubtful for game 2 on Saturday
  • Justin Williams (LA) made his return for LA last night

 

 

Recommended Starting Goalies for Daily Fantasy Hockey Tonight:

 

Draftstreet is taking a unique approach to their "daily" hockey offering in the playoffs.  They're stretching the contest to cover 2 days at a time, allowing more games to be included.  I like the approach, as it offers a wider selection of players every day. 

 

If you're new to Draftstreet, use promo code "LANDSHARK" for a 30% bonus on your first deposit.

 

Here are my goalie picks for today's contest (covering today and tomorrow):

 

1. Luongo (VAN) vs CHI -- The Canucks appear unstoppable right now.  Luongo looks to be on top of his game right now.

 

2. Fleury (PIT) vs TB -- The Pens may be the best defensive team in the playoffs, and Fleury was stellar in game 1.

 

3. Thomas (BOS) vs MON -- Price got the better of him in game 1, but I expect a full recovery on Saturday.

2011 NHL Playoff Preview

by chewy 12. April 2011 14:42
 

If you followed March Madness this spring, you know that this year was a wide open field and resulted in some big time surprises all the way to the Finals.  Looking at the field for this year's NHL Stanley Cup Finals, you get the sense that  maybe there's a theme for 2011.  Consider the following:

  • Last year's champs defaulted into the final spot in the West
  • The best team in the East all season (Philly) collapsed down the stretch and is back to questioning their goaltending
  • The Pens are still facing their first Spring without their top 2 players (maybe)
  • Several other teams also enter the dance with their top players on the shelf (Detroit - Zetterberg?, Buffalo - Roy, Anaheim - top 2 goalies are out, Washington - no telling how healthy Semin and Green are right now, Ranger - Callahan, LA - Kopitar...)
  • San Jose is looking good, but how is that different than any other season in the past 10 years?

 

Just about the only team that enters the playoffs with virtually nothing to worry about is the Vancouver Canucks… which may make them the team most likely to suffer a shocking first round upset (ala Capitals last spring).  It's tough to make any sense out of what will happen in the next two months, but we're here to try. 

 

EASTERN CONFERENCE

 

Washington Capitals (1) -vs- NY Rangers (8)

 

Believe it or not, this may be the toughest series to call for me, and here's why:  The Capitals finished as the top team in the East again, though they took a very different path getting there this season.  You'll read how Coach Boudreau has transformed this team into a defensive juggernaut.  That hype is overblown.  There are all kinds of questions surrounding the goaltending on this team.  Their best option statistically this season was Braden Holtby, and there's no indication that he'll be in the mix.  Varlamov and Neuvirth have much to prove as a starting goalie.  And despite the notion that the Caps are an offensive force, they have no balance.  They finished the season with just 3 20-goal scorers and a host of injury concerns.

 

Two weeks ago, I would have felt confident picking the Rangers to upset the Caps in this round, based on their all-around team play, and the man in the cage.  However, the loss of Callahan is huge.  Perhaps bigger than the loss of Kopitar in LA.  Even so, this Rangers team is built for ugly, boring playoff hockey. 

 

Outlook: Could easily go either way, but I'm looking for a repeat of last year's early exit.  Rangers in 6.

 

 

Philadelphia Flyers (2) -vs- Buffalo Sabres (7)

 

Here is another matchup that shouldn't be hard to call, but is.  A few months back, the Flyers were on top of the league and the Sabres were an afterthought for the playoff picture.  The teams have been moving in opposite directions since.  Philadelphia started the season with a dilemma of which hot goalie to start each night, as Bobrovsky and Boucher exchanged outstanding performances.  The two have slid down to mediocrity in the past two months, causing the Flyers to bring Leighton back into the picture in recent weeks.  Outside of goaltending, there are very few questions worth considering with the Flyers lineup.  No team can touch Philly in terms of total depth, both in scoring, and in defensive play.  This team is solid and balanced from top to bottom, with 6 20-goal scorers, and one more at 19.

 

The factor that gives Sabres fans hope is consistency across the roster.  That is, everyone can score a little, but nobody scores a lot.  An impressive 11 players topped 10 goals this season, but only Vanek managed more than 52 points on the year.  The assumption that this team relies on Miller is false, they've done just as well (if not better) with Enroth filling in this season, as they have with Miller.  I'm not doubting that Miller can be the Halak of 2011, but don't assume it's a no-brainer that he's the team's MVP this spring.

 

Outlook: Any objective look at these teams has to reach the conclusion that Philly just has far more talent than the Sabres.  If Roy were healthy, this may be more of a discussion.  Philadelphia in 5.

 

 

Boston Bruins (3) -vs- Montreal Canadiens (6)

 

I'm still having a hard time processing the fact that Montreal won two rounds last spring, so I can't just write them off.  However, please tell me what there is to be excited about with this team.   The top scorer on the team this year was Tomas Plekanec with a whopping 57 points.  The bright side, at least for Round 1, is that the Bruins top scorers only reached 62 points.  Just by the numbers, the Bruins are the superior team.   Boston outscored Montreal by 30 goals, and they allowed 14 fewer on the season. 

 

In terms of goaltending, you obviously know what to expect in Boston.  Thomas has been in a class by himself all season long.  Should he falter, Rask is a fine backup plan.  With Price, Montreal fans have to be cautiously optimistic that he can carry his fine regular season play into April and perhaps May.  No guarantees there.

 

Outlook: If you followed the head-to-head matchups between these teams, you know that anything can happen.  So make this the 3rd series in the East that the coin toss can decide.  I'm a little more confident on this one in leaning towards the Bruins.  Boston in 6.

 

 

Pittsburgh Penguins (4) -vs- Tampa Bay Lightning (5)

 

These are not your father's Pittsburgh Penguins.  For two decades now, Penguin fans have been accustomed to run and gun, entertaining hockey with lots and lots of goals scored.  Defense was an afterthought.  Switch those sweaters with a mid-90's Devils jersey this year and nobody would blink an eye.  This team is all about defense right now, by necessity.  Having seen every Pens game this season, I can even throw out the word… boring.  And that's not necessarily a bad thing, as the team continues to kill time waiting for Sid to return. 

 

Tampa Bay is a team changing identities, following a decade of complete mismanagement.  The question is, are they ready yet to prove they are for real?  The offense relies far too heavily on St. Louis and Stamkos (and even Stamkos has been MIA in recent weeks).  The team doesn't have the defense, and nowhere near the goaltending that the Pens bring to the series.  Tampa allowed 41 more goals than the Pens this season.

 

Outlook: The Pens are certainly capable of bailing out early this spring, as the goals have been hard to come by lately.  They may have fallen into the best possible matchup for them, as the teams below Tampa all put up more of a fight defensively.  Unless Crosby returns soon, I can't see Pittsburgh playing into May; however, I do see them advancing to round 2.  Pittsburgh in 5.

 

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE

 

Vancouver Canucks (1) -vs- Chicago Blackhawks (8)

 

If there is one team that should be a no brainer in round 1, it's the Vancouver Canucks.  The only cause for thinking this thing through any further is the fact that their opponent took them out 2 springs in a row now.  Will Luongo be thinking about that entering action this week, or is this just a stop on the way to the Finals?   Vancouver boasts three of the top forwards in the game today with the Sedins and Kesler.    Injuries this season have given them a chance to flaunt their incredible depth on defense.  I just can't see this team losing right now.

 

Chicago limped into the playoffs by default with a Dallas loss on the last night of the season.  Despite still possessing a talented stable of forwards, they just don't seem to be a team with the desire to get back to the top, back-to-back.

 

Outlook: Vancouver in 5.

 

 

San Jose Sharks (2) -vs- Los Angeles Kings (7)

 

At the start of the season, I picked LA to make it to the Finals.  I was still optimistic that my pick was worth justifying up until Kopitar went down a few weeks back.  Without their superstar up front, the Kings just don't have the firepower to compete, particularly with a team like San Jose.  LA should have Justin Williams returning shortly, which will give some cause for help, but it just won't be enough.

 

The Sharks are always a tough pick to justify, just based on their history of disappointment.  They seem to be on solid ground coming down the stretch.  They also have good balance in their scoring, with 7 20-goal men this season.  And don't forget that last year's Cup winning goalie has the crease for the Sharks.

 

Outlook:  Compared to the decisions back East, this one seems somewhat obvious:  San Jose in 5.

 

 

 

Detroit Redwings (3) -vs- Phoenix Coyotes (6)

 

Since the lockout, the 6th seeded teams have won more Round 1 matchups than the favored 3rd seeds.  That could easily happen in either conference again this year, and I'm picking it to come true out West.  And for me, the biggest reason is named Ilya Bryzgalov.  If this series comes down to a goaltending duel, Phoenix walks away with the win for sure.  Howard has proven to be a good starter over the past two years, but has a ways to go before entering the conversation against what Bryzgalov has proven. 

 

While just one Phoenix forward reached 20 goals (just barely), there were a gaggle of others that fell just short.  11 players topped the 10 goal mark, and 8 of them topped 15.  Another interesting (and meaningless) stat is that four of those guys had more goals than assists.  The Coyotes don't look great doing it, but they just get it done.

 

Detroit may start the series without Zetterberg and/or Kronwall.  Not bad, considering the injuries they battled through earlier in 2011.  No doubt this is a good team and could go deep. 

 

Outlook: Just feels like an upset to me.  Phoenix in 6.

 

 

 

Anaheim Ducks (4) -vs- Nashville Predators (5)

 

Time to get that coin back out of your pocket if you're looking to pick a winner here.  While neither team looks particularly fierce on paper, you probably wouldn't want to face either one of them right now either.  Both teams have won 7 of 10 down the stretch.  With Anaheim, you have perhaps the best top 4 forwards on an NHL roster.  The line of Perry, Getzlaf, and Ryan, when together, is unbeatable.  Add in Selanne, and you've got a top-heavy Anaheim offense that can score.  The problem here is depth.  And goaltending.  While they've gotten good results from their goalies this season, health is the factor right now with Hiller and Emery on the shelf to start to series.  That leaves Ellis with the reigns, and cause for concerns in So Cal.

 

Nashville has no such concerns regarding their goalie situation.  While he won't win it, Rinne should be among the finalists for the Vezina.  And while he won't win it, Trotz should get plenty of due consideration for coach of the year.  He continues to get results from a team that on paper looks like a bottom-feeder.  The average fan would be hard pressed to name a single forward on this roster.  Sergei Kostitsyn and Martin Erat top out the scoring at 50 points.  The strength of this lineup lies in what may be the best defense in the league.  Weber, Suter, Franson, Klein, etc. provide as much offensive chances from the back end as the Nashville forwards provide up front.

 

Outlook: Too close to call with any certainty, but the Ducks typically win in the Spring, while the Preds never do.  Anaheim in 7.

 

 

 

Finals Predictions

 

Just like with the NCAA tournie, all bets are off if you're trying to predict the two teams who will be left standing in June.  While I expect plenty of upsets along the way, I'm leaning on a safer bet for my two finalists.  I'm expecting the Flyers to come out of the East for the 2nd straight season to face the Canucks in Round 4. 

 

Outlook: Flyers win the Cup in 6.

Final Playoff Recap

by chewy 10. June 2010 08:41
 

4 Stars

#1 - Patrick Kane (F - CHI) - Kane scored the biggest goal in the last 50 years for the Blackhawks, as he snuck in the game winner in overtime.  He also added 2 assists, giving him 10 goals and 28 points in 22 post-season games.

 

#2 - Scott Hartnell (F - PHI) -  Hartnell refused to let the Flyers die.  He answered twice in key situations with goal-mouth tallies, including an impressive standoff against Duncan Keith.

 

#3 - Danny Briere (F - PHI) - Briere scored once and added two assists to finish the playoffs as the top point scorer with 30.  He also finished second in goals with 12, just 1 behind Michael Cammalleri.

#4 - Dustin Byfuglien (F - CHI) - Byfuglien kicked off the scoring in the game with an impressive rebound goal in tight.  He finished the playoffs with 11 goals.

 

 

Player Notes:

  • Jonathan Toews was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner, finishing the playoffs with 29 points in 22 games.
  • Antti Niemi wasn't spectacular, but was good enough, stopping 21 of 24 shots for the win.  He should enter next season as the #1 guy in Chicago; however, the situation is very unstable with Huet's contract and other prospects working their way up.
  • Michael Leighton seemed to lose his magic in the final series, allowing a couple of questionable goals in the final game, including the game winner in O.T.  Despite the Round 4 meltdown, he still finished the playoffs with an impressive 2.46 GAA and .916 save percentage.  It will be interesting to see which direction the Flyers go in net this summer, as always.
  • Winning a Stanley Cup will wash over a lot of poor play, but it was shocking to see how little Marian Hossa contributed to the Hawks run offensively.  Similarly, at least in the final few games, the likely Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith, stood out on several key mistakes leading to Flyers goals.  He seemed unwilling to put himself in front of shots after loosing his teeth.

Daily Playoff Rundown - 6/6/10

by chewy 7. June 2010 08:26
 

4 Stars

#1 - Dustin Byfuglien (F - CHI) - Byfulgien had a huge night for the Hawks.  He scored twice, added two assists, and delivered a classic hit on Chris Pronger. 

 

#2 - Kris Versteeg (F - CHI) - Versteeg scored late in the first period and added two assists for Chicago.

 

#3 - Ville Leino (F - PHI) - Leino continues to shine under the radar for the Flyers.  He had 3 assists in the game, giving him 19 point in 18 games in the playoffs.

 

#4 - Brent Seabrook (D - CHI) - Seabrook kicked off the scoring and added an assist for the Chicago.

 

Player Notes:

  • Chris Pronger played nearly half the game, and was a miserable -5 on the night with 0 points.
  • On the other side of the puck, Marian Hossa somehow managed to finish the game with 0 points and a -3 rating, despite 7 goals being scored by the Hawks.  Fortunately for Hossa, his teammates have been picking up the slack, otherwise, there would be a firestorm of attention on his poor post-season.
  • Michael Leighton was pulled for the 2nd time in the series after allowing 3 goals on 13 shots.  Brian Boucher didn't fare much better, allowing 3 on 14 shots.  Expect the Flyers to go back to Leighton once more in game 6.
  • Antti Niemi didn't have his best night between the pipes either, as he surrendered 4 goals on 27 shots.

 

Conn Smythe Trophy Update:

Pronger lost a slight step in the race with a poor showing last night.  Here are the top candidates:

1. Antti Niemi

2. Jonathan Toews

3. Danny Briere

Tip o' the hat to BlogEngine.NET --- 1.4.5.0

What fans are saying about Landshark Hockey...

Chewbacca knows more about winning fantasy hockey than any Wookie I know.

- Stu Briggert

 
Copyright 2010 - Landsharkhockey