2012 Stanley Cup Playoff Preview

It’s been a long time. I know why I haven’t written in so long, and it’s because when I do, it takes, FOREVER. but I hope you enjoy the fruits of my labour with the following two-part series. Today, I break down the series’ in brief, along with my picks for the entire playoff season. Tomorrow, I go into further detail and tell you the rationale behind my thinking. Without further ado, here is my 2012 playoff preview.

Western Conference

(1) Vancouver vs (8) Los Angeles

Season Series: 2-1-1 Vancouver (2-2-0 LA)

Rk Team GP W L OT P ROW GF GA GD ESF ESA PPF PPA

1

Van

82

51

22

9

111

43

249

198

51

185

154

57

40

8

Lak

82

40

27

15

95

34

194

179

15

136

139

49

38

Legend:

OT=overtime/shootout losses | ROW=regulation/overtime wins

GF=goals for | GA=goals against | GD=goal differential

ESF=even-strength goals for | ESA=even-strength goals against

PPF=power play goals for | PPA=power play goals against

—————————————————————————–

The last time these teams met in the playoffs was in 2009-2010, with Vancouver winning in 6 games. However, prior to game 5, the teams played four hard-fought games, and the series was tied at 2-all. The Sedins’ took over a bit in the final two games, but many people were impressed with the Kings’ play and saw them as a team on the rise. Expectations were high this year in LA after an off-season that saw them acquire Mike Richards from Philadelphia, but the season didn’t go as planned.

A quick look at the numbers tells us that Vancouver is a pretty heavy favourite here, but by no means does that mean this series will be easy. Vancouver outscored LA by 55 goals this season, and boasts a great goaltending tandem with maligned but talented Roberto Luongo and young star Cory Schneider. And while they may not be quite as deep on defence as they were last season (losing Christian Ehrhoff in free agency hurts their powerplay), this team doesn’t have any obvious holes. They have a good mix of size, skill, and speed, good special teams, and plenty of playoff experience.

While LA certainly has talent, they struggled all year long to score goals. Players like Mike Richards and Drew Doughty nearly equaled career lows from their rookie seasons, and no one outperformed expectations offensively. Yet many observers think this team is built for the playoffs, with plenty of size and skill up front with Carter and Kopitar, and gritty leaders like Richards and Brown. Despite a poor season, Drew Doughty remains a dynamic presence on the back-end. And then there’s the x-factor in goaltender Jonathan Quick – a surefire Vezina Trophy candidate who posted 10 shutouts this season.

Judging by the results of the season, there’s no question that Vancouver is a far better team. But in a short best-of-7 series, all it would take is for a few Kings forwards to find their groove, and for Jonathan Quick to maintain his stellar play from the regular season. I’d be shocked if this series went fewer than 6 games, and expect that a few games will be decided in overtime.

Top-10 Scorers

VANCOUVER
Pos Name GP G A PTS +/- PPG SHG GWG PIM
F Henrik Sedin

82

14

67

81

23

8

0

6

52

F Daniel Sedin

72

30

37

67

14

10

0

6

40

F Alexandre Burrows

80

28

24

52

24

3

2

7

90

F Ryan Kesler

77

22

27

49

11

8

1

1

56

D Alexander Edler

82

11

38

49

0

5

1

0

34

D Kevin Bieksa

78

8

36

44

12

2

0

2

94

F Chris Higgins

71

18

25

43

11

1

1

4

16

F Jannik Hansen

82

16

23

39

18

0

1

1

34

D Dan Hamhuis

82

4

33

37

29

1

0

0

46

F David Booth

62

16

14

30

-5

3

0

1

34

 

LOS ANGELES
Pos Name GP G A PTS +/- PPG SHG GWG PIM
F Anze Kopitar

82

25

51

76

12

8

2

2

20

F Justin Williams

82

22

37

59

10

9

0

2

44

F Dustin Brown

82

22

32

54

18

9

1

6

53

F Mike Richards

74

18

26

44

3

3

4

1

71

D Drew Doughty

77

10

26

36

-2

3

0

3

69

F Jeff Carter

55

21

13

34

-1

10

0

2

16

D Willie Mitchell

76

5

19

24

20

0

0

2

44

F Jarret Stoll

78

6

15

21

2

1

0

0

60

D Slava Voynov

54

8

12

20

12

3

0

2

12

F Simon Gagne

34

7

10

17

-1

0

1

2

18

IR

(2) St. Louis vs (7) San Jose

Season Series: 4-0-0 Stl

Rk Team GP W L OT P ROW GF GA GD ESF ESA PPF PPA

2

Stl

82

49

22

11

109

45

210

165

45

165

125

45

40

7

Sjs

82

43

29

10

96

34

228

210

18

171

158

57

52

A clash between the young upstarts and the grizzled veterans. St. Louis is one of the youngest teams in the league, and virtually all their keys players are mid-20’s or younger. In fact, only two of their top-10 scorers are over 30, and both goalies are just 26 – virtual babies in goalie terms. After starting the season 6-7, St. Louis fired Head Coach Davis Payne and replaced him with veteran bench boss Ken Hitchcock. All Hitchcock did was guide the team to a 43-15-11 record – good for 3rd place in the NHL – and created a stifling defensive system, allowing the fewest goals in the entire league.

And then there’s the San Jose Sharks. After two straight Conference Final appearances (where they lost to Chicago in 4 straight, and Vancouver in 5), the Sharks looked poised to take the next step after acquiring a top-flight defenceman in Brent Burns to round out their roster. Instead, they took a massive step back, barely making the playoffs, and looking about as dysfunctional as any team league-wide. No team has been more disappointing, as the Sharks can’t even point to injury problems this season, unlike other pre-season favourites like Buffalo, Washington, and Los Angeles.

But despite the disparity in their regular season stats, I’d be shocked if this series was quick. San Jose has a history of being a last-minute team, waiting till crunch time to really bring their A-game. In 2008, they went down 3-games-to-none in the 2nd round against Dallas, but nearly came all the way back, losing in a game 6 triple-OT thriller. In 2010 they almost went down 2-games-to-none in the 1st round against Colorado, but Joe Pavelski scored with 32 seconds left and the Sharks won game 2 in OT, eventually taking the series in 6. Last season they got down 4-0 in game 3 against LA but then stormed back to win 6-5 in OT, a huge turning point in the series. And this season, when it looked like they’d miss the playoffs, they won 7 of their last 9 to sneak into 7th. Looking at their top-8 scorers, it’s hard to imagine that this team finished 7th, with former Canadian Olympians in Thornton, Marleau, and Boyle, US Olympian Joe Pavelski, young star Logan Couture, and other talented players like Brent Burns, Ryane Clowe, and Martin Havlat.

While St. Louis is certainly favoured after posting 11 more regulation wins and taking the season series 4-0, I think there’s a definite possibility that an upset is brewing. It’s always interesting when a young, inexperienced team plays an experienced veteran group, because emotions always run high in playoffs, and momentum swings can have a more pronounced effect on a younger group. Ultimately it may come down to whichever goaltender plays better, and St. Louis should have an advantage, as Halak and Elliot have been great all year, while Antti Niemi has been fairly inconsistent. Niemi is a cup winner though, and played very well in the 2nd round last year against Detroit, so he has proven that he can raise his level.

Top-10 Scorers

ST LOUIS
Pos Name GP G A PTS +/- PPG SHG GWG PIM
F David Backes

82

24

30

54

15

8

2

4

101

F T.J. Oshie

80

19

35

54

15

3

1

3

50

D Alex Pietrangelo

81

12

39

51

16

6

0

6

36

D Kevin Shattenkirk

81

9

34

43

20

5

0

2

60

F David Perron

57

21

21

42

19

5

1

4

28

F Patrik Berglund

82

19

19

38

4

0

2

3

30

F Jason Arnott

72

17

17

34

13

6

0

3

26

F Chris Stewart

79

15

15

30

1

2

0

1

109

F Alexander Steen

43

15

13

28

24

3

0

3

28

F Andy McDonald

25

10

12

22

4

3

0

2

2

 

SAN JOSE
Pos Name GP G A PTS +/- PPG SHG GWG PIM
F Joe Thornton

82

18

59

77

17

4

0

2

31

F Logan Couture

80

31

34

65

2

11

2

5

16

F Patrick Marleau

82

30

34

64

10

10

0

8

26

F Joe Pavelski

82

31

30

61

18

8

1

2

31

D Dan Boyle

81

9

39

48

10

3

0

2

57

F Ryane Clowe

76

17

28

45

-5

4

0

2

97

D Brent Burns

81

11

26

37

8

5

0

2

34

F Martin Havlat

39

7

20

27

10

4

0

1

22

F Dominic Moore

79

4

21

25

-8

0

1

1

54

F Michal Handzus

67

7

17

24

-6

2

0

0

18

 

(3) Phoenix vs (6) Chicago

Season Series: 3-1-0 Phx (1-2-1 Chi)

Rk Team GP W L OT P ROW GF GA GD ESGF ESGA PPF PPA

3

Phx

82

42

27

13

97

36

216

204

12

182

168

34

36

6

Chi

82

45

26

11

101

38

248

238

10

206

187

42

51

Former Stanley Cup champs versus the perennial underdogs. This series reminds me a lot of Anaheim-Nashville from last season – a recent cup winner with high-end offensive talent against a defensively conscious, depth-based group. The big mistake from last year was thinking that Ray Emery could come close to beating Pekka Rinne – in the end the gap in goaltending was just too great. The same could be said this year, as Corey Crawford has been inconsistent for Chicago, while Mike Smith has put together a near-Vezina quality season in Phoenix.

All that being said, I don’t think Phoenix is as good a team as Nashville. Smith is no Pekka Rinne, and there’s no Weber-Suter tandem in Phoenix either. Meanwhile, Chicago is a more well-rounded team than Anaheim, with great defencemen like Keith and Seabrook on the back-end (which Anaheim lacked), and more offensive depth beyond the top few guys. Furthermore, apart from losing Brian Campbell (who was vastly underutilized), Chicago is virtually the same team as last year. And lest we forget, Chicago nearly staged a historic comeback against the President’s Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks in round 1 – losing in OT in game 7, after being down 3-0 in the series.

Phoenix’s one saving grace is that Jonathan Toews’ status is still up in the air after missing the past 2 months with a concussion. But it looks like Toews is on the road to recovery and should make an appearance in the series.

Top-10 Scorers

CHICAGO
Pos Name GP G A PTS +/- PPG SHG GWG PIM
F Marian Hossa

81

29

48

77

18

9

2

4

20

F Patrick Sharp

74

33

36

69

28

7

1

8

38

F Patrick Kane

82

23

43

66

7

4

0

5

40

F Jonathan Toews

59

29

28

57

17

5

1

4

28

F Viktor Stalberg

79

22

21

43

6

0

0

6

34

D Duncan Keith

74

4

36

40

15

1

0

1

42

F Dave Bolland

76

19

18

37

0

7

3

2

47

D Nick Leddy

82

3

34

37

-12

0

0

0

10

D Brent Seabrook

78

9

25

34

21

2

0

3

22

F Andrew Brunette

78

12

15

27

-13

4

0

0

4

 

PHOENIX
Pos Name GP G A PTS +/- PPG SHG GWG PIM
F Ray Whitney

82

24

53

77

26

8

0

1

28

F Radim Vrbata

77

35

27

62

24

9

1

12

24

F Shane Doan

79

22

28

50

-8

5

0

5

48

D Keith Yandle

82

11

32

43

5

0

0

2

51

F Antoine Vermette

82

11

26

37

-13

4

1

4

28

F Lauri Korpikoski

82

17

20

37

3

0

3

3

14

F Martin Hanzal

64

8

26

34

12

3

0

2

63

D Oliver Ekman-Larsson

82

13

19

32

0

2

1

2

32

F Daymond Langkow

73

11

19

30

-4

1

0

1

14

F Raffi Torres

79

15

11

26

2

1

0

1

83

(4) Nashville vs (5) Detroit

Season Series: 3-3-0

Rk Team GP W L OT P ROW GF GA GD ESGF ESGA PPF PPA

4

Nas

82

48

26

8

104

43

237

210

27

183

170

54

40

5

Det

82

48

28

6

102

39

248

203

45

200

153

48

50

The fact that these two teams are meeting in the first round is nothing if not unfortunate. This series could easily be a Conference Final instead of a 1st round match-up, but instead, we have the pleasure of watching two great teams go toe-to-toe right off the hop.

But it also makes predictions difficult. Detroit still boasts the usual suspects – Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen, Lidstrom – but they’re all a bit long in the tooth now. Datsyuk is nearing 34, Zetterberg 32, Franzen 33, and Lidstrom is weeks away from turning 42 years of age. When they’re fresh and healthy, they can still light up the scoreboard as well as any team in the league, but all too often teammates are looking around the dressing room and finding one or more of those guys are watching from the press box.

Meanwhile Nashville has the same cast of hard-working, two-way forwards, along with the league’s best defensive pairing in Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, and last year’s Vezina runner-up Pekka Rinne. But to their opponents’ dismay, they’ve been given an offensive spark with the return of the world’s “best player not playing in the NHL” – Russian phenom Alexander Radulov. Radulov has been the MVP of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) two of the last three seasons, and has shown flashes of brilliance in the 9 games since his return to the NHL. If Radulov can harness his potential, his offensive contributions could be enough to take Nashville to the next level and make their first deep run at the Stanley Cup.

But ultimately, this series is a coin flip. If these teams were meeting in the 2nd or 3rd round, I’d have no qualms with taking Nashville, since Detroit’s aging group has been unable to sustain a long playoff run since 2009. (They’ve been eliminated in the 2nd round two years straight). But in a first round match-up, the Wings are as dangerous as anyone. Pekka Rinne will need to be the better goalie in order for Nashville to move on, and forwards like Radulov, Erat, and Hornqvist will need to score big goals.

Top-10 Scorers

NASHVILLE
Pos Name GP G A PTS +/- PPG SHG GWG PIM
F Martin Erat

71

19

39

58

12

5

1

3

30

F David Legwand

78

19

34

53

3

5

0

2

26

F Mike Fisher

72

24

27

51

11

5

0

7

33

D Shea Weber

78

19

30

49

21

10

2

1

46

D Ryan Suter

79

7

39

46

15

3

1

1

30

F Sergei Kostitsyn

75

17

26

43

8

1

1

3

34

F Patric Hornqvist

76

27

16

43

9

8

0

3

28

F Andrei Kostitsyn

72

16

20

36

-1

5

0

5

26

F Craig Smith

72

14

22

36

-9

6

0

1

30

F Alexander Radulov

9

3

4

7

3

0

0

0

4

DETROIT
Pos Name GP G A PTS +/- PPG SHG GWG PIM
F Henrik Zetterberg

82

22

47

69

14

3

0

4

47

F Pavel Datsyuk

70

19

48

67

21

4

0

5

14

F Valtteri Filppula

81

23

43

66

18

3

1

1

14

F Johan Franzen

77

29

27

56

23

11

0

10

40

F Jiri Hudler

81

25

25

50

10

2

0

2

42

F Todd Bertuzzi

71

14

24

38

23

0

0

1

64

D Niklas Kronwall

82

15

21

36

-2

7

0

4

38

D Nicklas Lidstrom

70

11

23

34

21

4

0

0

28

F Danny Cleary

75

12

21

33

2

2

0

0

30

D Ian White

77

7

25

32

23

0

0

0

22

 

Eastern Conference

(1) New York (Rangers) vs. (8) Ottawa

Season Series: 3-1 Ottawa (1-2-1 Nyr)

Rk Team GP W L OT P ROW GF GA GD ESGF ESGA PPF PPA

1

Nyr

82

51

24

7

109

47

226

187

39

182

151

44

36

8

Ott

82

41

31

10

92

35

249

240

9

200

183

49

57

The tagline of this series is offence versus defence. All Ottawa knows how to do is score, meaning they rely heavily on goaltender Craig Anderson to bail them out of tough situations. Meanwhile New York plays a highly defensive style, and has their franchise player in net with goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. This will be an interesting series to watch, as Ottawa will try to dictate play with their up-tempo offence, while New York will try to slow down the pace with a relentless forecheck, neutral zone trap, and blocking a million shots in their own zone.

Ottawa’s gameplan is very simple. Put the puck in the hands of Erik Karlsson, and let him distribute to Spezza, Michalek and Alfredsson. Beyond the top-4, there isn’t much to be frightened of, though Foligno and Turris are no slouches up front.

The question for me isn’t whether New York’s defence stop Ottawa’s offence – Ottawa will score their fair share. However, Ottawa can tighten up enough to stop New York? Ottawa’s defence was rather porous all year, giving up the most goals (240) of any playoff team. Meanwhile New York produced a rather average offensive output, but does have star power up front with Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, and the surprising Ryan Callahan. The Rangers also have secondary scoring with Stepan, Dubinsky, Anisimov, and Hagelin, and I just don’t think that Ottawa can match their depth.

Ottawa did win the season series 3-1, so by no means is this series a foregone conclusion, but come playoff time, goals are always much harder to come by. If Ottawa’s offence dries up even a bit, they’ll have a lot of trouble beating the Rangers in tight games.

Top-10 Scorers

NEW YORK RANGERS
Pos Name GP G A PTS +/- PPG SHG GWG PIM
F Marian Gaborik

82

41

35

76

15

10

0

7

34

F Brad Richards

82

25

41

66

-1

7

0

9

22

F Ryan Callahan

76

29

25

54

-8

13

1

9

61

F Derek Stepan

82

17

34

51

14

4

0

4

22

D Michael Del Zotto

77

10

31

41

20

1

1

2

36

F Carl Hagelin

64

14

24

38

21

0

2

2

24

F Artem Anisimov

79

16

20

36

12

4

1

1

34

F Brandon Dubinsky

77

10

24

34

16

0

1

1

110

D Ryan McDonagh

82

7

25

32

25

0

0

1

44

D Dan Girardi

82

5

24

29

13

1

0

2

20

 OTTAWA
Pos Name GP G A PTS +/- PPG SHG GWG PIM
F Jason Spezza

80

34

50

84

11

10

0

2

36

D Erik Karlsson

81

19

59

78

16

3

0

5

42

F Milan Michalek

77

35

25

60

4

10

1

3

32

F Daniel Alfredsson

75

27

32

59

16

7

3

4

18

F Nick Foligno

82

15

32

47

2

1

0

3

124

D Sergei Gonchar

74

5

32

37

-4

2

0

1

55

F Colin Greening

82

17

20

37

-4

4

0

0

46

D Filip Kuba

73

6

26

32

26

3

0

2

26

F Kyle Turris

55

12

17

29

10

1

0

2

31

F Chris Neil

72

13

15

28

10

2

0

0

17

(2) Boston vs (7) Washington

Season Series: 3-1-0 Was (1-2-1 Bos)

Rk Team GP W L OT P ROW GF GA GD ESGF ESGA PPF PPA

2

Bos

82

49

29

4

102

40

269

202

67

226

159

43

43

7

Was

82

42

32

8

92

38

222

230

8

181

181

41

49

This series might not be close, but it could still be interesting. We all know how completely disappointing the Capitals were this year, but some of us still remember their 7-0 start to the year, which included a 7-1 win over Detroit. Then Mike Green got hurt, and everything went downhill from there. Ovechkin slumped for about half the year, and Backstrom got hurt after in game 38. Suddenly the Caps were floundering for the first time in nearly 5 years. They pulled it together at the end of the year, going 10-5-1 to hold off a charging Buffalo squad and grab 7th in the East, but for a team that was talked about as a President’s Trophy winner, it was a tremendous fall from grace.

Although the Bruins finished with a good record, their season was no less inconsistent. After lifting the cup in June, they began the season 3-7, and people started to ask questions. Then they put together a 15 game unbeaten streak, before losing 2-1 in a playoff-style game in Winnipeg. And then there’s the lopsided wins. The Bruins manhandled their opposition at times, beating Toronto 7-0 In November, and 8-0 in March; they beat Philadelphia 6-0 in December, and Florida 8-0; they also beat Calgary 9-0. But then they lost 6-0 to Buffalo, 6-1 to Tampa Bay, and 6-2 to Florida, none of whom even made the playoffs. Furthermore, out of the teams they blew out, only Philadelphia and Florida made the playoffs, and each of those teams had similar performances against Winnipeg, with Philly giving up 9 goals in a 9-8 loss, and Florida getting crushed 7-0. Perhaps those lopsided wins had less to do with Boston, and more to do with their opposition.

Now there’s no question that Boston is heavily favoured over Washington. Take away their respective starts, and the Bruins were miles better than the Caps for the bulk of the year. But Washington has an interesting stat: their record this year with Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin and Green all in the lineup is 10-1. And they also won the season series 3-1 against the Bruins. The main chink in their armor now is the fact that their top-2 goaltenders – Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth – are both injured. Vokoun is out for at least the 1st round, while Neuvirth is day-to-day. That leaves youngster Braden Holtby to carry the mail against the defending Stanley Cup champions, and I don’t like his chances. But the fact that Washington’s top guns are all healthy should make this series very interesting, and if they do manage to keep the series close early on, it might have a dramatic end.

Top-10 Scorers

 BOSTON
Pos Name GP G A PTS +/- PPG SHG GWG PIM
F Tyler Seguin

81

29

38

67

34

5

0

7

30

F Patrice Bergeron

81

22

42

64

36

5

2

3

20

F David Krejci

79

23

39

62

-5

2

0

2

36

F Milan Lucic

81

26

35

61

7

7

0

1

135

F Brad Marchand

76

28

27

55

31

5

1

3

87

D Zdeno Chara

79

12

40

52

33

8

0

0

86

F Rich Peverley

57

11

31

42

20

1

0

1

22

F Chris Kelly

82

20

19

39

33

1

2

6

41

F Nathan Horton

46

17

15

32

0

6

0

3

54

IR
F Benoit Pouliot

74

16

16

32

18

1

0

5

38

 WASHINGTON
Pos Name GP G A PTS +/- PPG SHG GWG PIM
F Alex Ovechkin

78

38

27

65

-8

13

0

3

26

F Alexander Semin

77

21

33

54

9

2

0

1

56

D Dennis Wideman

82

11

35

46

-8

4

0

3

46

F Marcus Johansson

80

14

32

46

-5

1

0

3

8

F Nicklas Backstrom

42

14

30

44

-4

3

0

4

24

F Brooks Laich

82

16

25

41

-8

5

1

5

34

F Jason Chimera

82

20

19

39

4

1

2

5

78

F Troy Brouwer

82

18

15

33

-15

3

0

5

61

D John Carlson

82

9

23

32

-15

4

0

0

22

D Mike Green

32

3

4

7

5

3

0

1

12

(3) Florida vs (6) New Jersey

Season Series: 2-1-1 Fla (2-2-0 Njd)

Rk Team GP W L OT P ROW GF GA GD ESGF ESGA PPF PPA

3

Fla

82

38

26

18

94

32

203

227

24

150

178

53

49

6

Njd

82

48

28

6

102

36

228

209

19

182

182

46

27

There’s a tendency to bash the Panthers, calling them the worst team in the playoffs. For my part, I believe that is entirely true. The Panthers have very little scoring, and non-elite goaltending – probably the two most important elements for playoff success. But somehow they get the job done. They have the ability to stay in games, and I could see them taking three or four games to OT, and getting a couple of bounces.

But there’s no question that New Jersey is the favourite. Ilya Kovalchk has had a tremendous year, and Zach Parise has bounced back nicely after missing almost all of last year after knee surgery. Patrik Elias has had a career resurgence at age 35, and the Devils are getting production from all kinds of unexpected sources like Clarkson, Sykora, Zubrus, and rooke Adam Henrique. Travis Zajac is also back healthy, and Marek Zidlicky is finding his groove after coming over in a trade with Minnesota.

Florida’s best hope is that Brodeur has a series worthy of retirement – which isn’t out of the question – but even if that does happen, Johan Hedberg can carry the mail for a few games. New Jersey shouldn’t blow Florida out of the water, but I seriously doubt Florida has the chops to pull off the upset.

Top-10 Scorers

 NEW JERSEY
Pos Name GP G A PTS +/- PPG SHG GWG PIM
F Ilya Kovalchuk

77

37

46

83

-9

10

3

5

33

F Patrik Elias

81

26

52

78

-8

8

2

3

16

F Zach Parise

82

31

38

69

-5

7

3

3

32

F Adam Henrique

74

16

35

51

8

0

4

3

7

F David Clarkson

80

30

16

46

-8

8

0

7

138

F Petr Sykora

82

21

23

44

4

4

0

6

40

F Dainius Zubrus

82

17

27

44

7

4

3

2

34

F Alexei Ponikarovsky

82

14

19

33

-3

4

0

2

34

D Marek Zidlicky

63

2

20

22

-6

2

0

1

34

D Adam Larsson

65

2

16

18

-7

0

0

0

20

FLORIDA
Pos Name GP G A PTS +/- PPG SHG GWG PIM
F Tomas Fleischmann

82

27

34

61

-7

6

0

4

26

F Stephen Weiss

80

20

37

57

5

5

1

6

60

F Kris Versteeg

71

23

31

54

4

8

1

5

49

D Brian Campbell

82

4

49

53

-9

1

0

0

6

D Jason Garrison

77

16

17

33

6

9

0

3

32

F Tomas Kopecky

80

10

22

32

-8

2

0

2

32

F Mikael Samuelsson

54

14

17

31

1

7

0

1

20

D Dmitry Kulikov

58

4

24

28

-5

2

0

1

36

F Marcel Goc

57

11

16

27

5

3

0

1

10

F Shawn Matthias

79

10

14

24

-2

1

0

1

49

(4) Pittsburgh vs (5) Philadelphia

Season Series: 2-3-1 Pit (4-2-0 Phi)

Rk Team GP W L OT P ROW GF GA GD ESGF ESGA PPF PPA

4

Pit

82

51

25

6

108

42

282

221

61

225

188

57

33

5

Phi

82

47

26

9

103

43

264

232

32

198

174

66

58

December 8, December 29, February 18, March 18, April 1, and April 7. These are the 6 dates where the Pens and Flyers squared off. I bring it up because many are pointing to the season series as the reason why the Flyers may have an edge over the Pens. But although the Flyers won 4 of 6 (including one in OT), that stat may be a bit misleading. The Pens went 0-2 in the first 2 meetings, but neither Crosby nor Letang were available. With Letang in the lineup, the Penguins actually went 2-1-1 on the year. And while many believed that Crosby’s return put Pittsburgh over the edge, I think Letang is just as valuable to the Pens, assuming Malkin is healthy and in MVP form as he has been all year. Letang is one of the top-5 defencemen in the league, and can do it all – skate, pass, shoot, and hit – and having him the lineup really shores up the back-end.

Conversely, Philadelphia will be without Pronger and Meszaros on the defensive size, as well as Van Riemsdyk up front, and possibly Briere. The fact that Philly still has a chance shows the tremendous depth of their roster, but the skill and experience brought by Pronger and Briere simply can’t be replaced. Yes, the series will be entertaining, and I expect an ebb and flow where each team will look dominant at different points, but in the end I think a healthy Penguins team will outlast an injury-depleted Philly squad.

Top-10 Scorers

PITTSBURGH
Pos Name GP G A PTS +/- PPG SHG GWG PIM
F Evgeni Malkin

75

50

59

109

18

12

0

9

70

F James Neal

80

40

41

81

6

18

0

4

87

F Chris Kunitz

82

26

35

61

16

6

0

3

49

F Pascal Dupuis

82

25

34

59

18

0

3

8

34

F Jordan Staal

62

25

25

50

11

5

3

0

34

F Steve Sullivan

79

17

31

48

-3

5

0

1

20

D Kris Letang

51

10

32

42

21

4

1

3

34

F Matt Cooke

82

19

19

38

5

1

2

4

44

F Sidney Crosby

22

8

29

37

15

2

0

3

14

F Tyler Kennedy

60

11

22

33

10

0

0

1

29

 

PHILADELPHIA
Pos Name GP G A PTS +/- PPG SHG GWG PIM
F Claude Giroux

77

28

65

93

6

6

0

5

29

F Scott Hartnell

82

37

30

67

19

16

0

6

136

F Jaromir Jagr

73

19

35

54

5

8

0

2

30

F Danny Briere

70

16

33

49

5

4

0

3

69

F Jakub Voracek

78

18

31

49

11

0

0

2

32

F Wayne Simmonds

82

28

21

49

-1

11

0

4

114

F Matt Read

79

24

23

47

13

4

2

6

12

D Kimmo Timonen

76

4

39

43

8

4

0

0

46

D Matt Carle

82

4

34

38

4

3

0

0

36

F Maxime Talbot

81

19

15

34

5

1

2

2

59

Summary of First-Round Picks:

(1) Vancouver versus (8) Los Angeles            Pick Vancouver

(2) St. Louis versus (7) San Jose                      Pick San Jose

(3) Phoenix versus (6) Chicago                        Pick Chicago

(4) Nashville versus (5) Detroit                        Pick Nashville

(1) New York versus (8) Ottawa                       Pick New York

(2) Boston versus (7) Washington                  Pick Boston

(3) Florida versus (6) New Jersey                    Pick New Jersey

(4) Pittsburgh versus (5) Philadelphia           Pick Pittsburgh

Second Round:

(1) Vancouver versus (7) San Jose                  Pick Vancouver

(4) Nashville versus (6) Chicago                     Pick Nashville

(1) New York versus (6) New Jersey              Pick New York

(2) Boston versus (4) Pittsburgh                     Pick Pittsburgh

Third Round:

(1) Vancouver versus (4) Nashville                 Pick Nashville

(1) New York versus (4) Pittsburgh                Pick Pittsburgh

 Final:

(4) Pittsburgh versus (4) Nashville                  Pick Pittsburgh

One thought on “2012 Stanley Cup Playoff Preview

  1. Quick correction, on your picks you have in the Nash vs Det Pick Det but in the second and third rounds you have Nash.
    Other than that, awesome read! Good insight into each round!

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