Series 1: St Louis Blues vs Minnesota Wild
M: DUUUUUUUUUUUUBNYK. My favorite Cinderella story of this season, tbqh.
C: Definitely the most improbable run ever. Dubnyk’s numbers were better than suggested by his former teams, but no one expected him to single-handedly bring the Wild back from the dead.
M: HIS FORMER TEAM WAS THE OILERS. HOW CAN YOU JUDGE HIM BY THE OILERS.
C: As Perron would say “You can’t.”
M: Nope. That blue line is terrible. I love them, I can say this. But the Wild play defensive hockey. They love defensive hockey. I’m happy Dubnyk was put in a position to flourish, even though it means that the WILD are flourishing too.
C: As a match up, this is a really hard one to predict. This is one of the best Blues teams in years. Tarasenko, Steen, Oshie and Backes are all having good years offensively, and the tandem of Brian Elliot and Jake Allen have been good in goal. They also hold the edge in offensive special teams, being 4th in the NHL in Power Play %. On the other hand, Minnesota has the best Penalty Kill in the league. We know Dubnyk can handle an intense amount of starts, but he hasn’t really gotten any playoff pressure yet.
M: He’s played for Team Canada at World’s. I know that’s a one and done tournament, but hey. Pressure.
C: St Louis holds a very slight edge in even strength Corsi For % (51.7 vs Minn’s 51.0), but the teams are in a dead heat at 52.4% even strength Scoring Chance For %. This one might as well be a toss up. Both teams had tough series last playoffs, with the Wild going further because the Blues ran into the Hawks in the 1st series, whereas the Wild did all the analytics nerds a favor and eliminated the Avs. They’ll both be feeling the need to make a deep run.
Carolyn’s Prediction: Blues in 6
Merrin’s Prediction: Wild in 6
Beards to Watch: Marco Scandella (already bearded in his roster photo, so), Robert Bortuzzo (Dark and Beardy), Zach Parise (It’s a mystery! He’s always clean shaven)
Series 2: Nashville Predators vs Chicago Blackhawks
C: I’m sorry Preds, but Patrick “Showtime” Kane was just cleared to play for Game 1.
M: He seems a little more reluctant than the Hawks organization though. The one hockey player I know of that actually pays attention to what his body is telling him.
C: BE MORE LIKE PATRICK KANE, STARS. That said, the Hawks are definitely the favorites in this match up anyway. The Preds were rolling early in the season, but went on a sharp and swift decline in the last few months.
M: The Hawks haven’t been doing much better without Patrick Kane, but I still think they’re the better team overall. The Predators seem to rely more heavily on keeping the other team from scoring than scoring a lot themselves, and the Hawks are able to do both.
C: The big difference makers are going to be the goaltending here. You have two defensive teams that can score (Nashville actually leads Chicago by a smidge in Scoring Chances For %), and you’ve got Pekka Rinne (0.923 Sv%) going up against Corey Crawford (0.924 Sv%). The biggest advantage that Chicago has statistically is their much deeper back up goalie situation. Scott Darling has posted a 0.935 Sv% this year, and Raanta, who was recalled for additional depth has posted a 0.936 Sv%. Carter Hutton of Nashville is sitting at a 0.902 Sv%
M: Chicago has the better goals against average though.
C: And Nashville has the better goals for average. It’s a good, close series. Should be hella exciting.
Carolyn’s Prediction: Hawks in 7
Merrin’s Prediction: Hawks in 5
Beards to Watch: Scott Darling (Ginger Beard), Jonathan Toews (Trainwreck Beard), Shea Weber (Currently bearded), James Neal (SURPRISE GINGER)
Series 3: Anaheim Ducks vs Winnipeg Jets
M: fffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffuck the Ducks. Surprisingly, Winnipeg has a better goals against average, but the Ducks have a better goals for? Sounds like it’s going to be another matchup like the Hawks/Preds. But I still have a feeling (call it an educated guess) that the team I loathe is still gonna come out on top.
C: Yeah, Anaheim’s biggest weakness is in net. Their duo of Andersen & Gibson have only posted 0.914 Sv% (each). Both Pavelec and Hutchinson have had incredible runs, even though their numbers aren’t great. Especially these last few weeks with Winnepeg chasing that last spot, Pavelec had been practically unbeatable, posting 3 shutouts in his last 3 games. PAVELEC. Two of those games were against other playoff teams jockeying for position, so they weren’t walk in the parks, either.
M: I wonder what his save % was before and after that Jan 15 game against the Stars, when he kept them to one goal on 47 shots.
C: Good question, Merrin. Why look, I have the answer. How convenient.
M: Well I know who to ask.
C: From 10/1/14 – 1/14/15 Pavelec’s Sv% was 0.909. Since then, it has been 0.934.
M: I’m literally crying. We turned the Jets goalie bot on. YOU’RE WELCOME, YOU FEATHERED PIECES OF SHIT.
C: Offensively, I just think Winnipeg has more weapons than the Ducks, though you can never discount the production of Getzlaf & Perry (*spits*).
M: I discount them all the time. I will give them away for free.
C: Winnipeg leads the even strength CF% by a pretty significant margin (53.1% vs 51.3%), though SCF% is basically even (51.4% for the Jets vs 51.6% for the Ducks).
M: I’m starting to think the Jets may actually pull this off, though I didn’t pick them for my work bracket.
C: Yep, add in the fact that Anaheim has one of the worst power plays in the league, and Winnipeg is about average on the PK%, and I think they definitely have a shot.
Carolyn’s Prediction: Jets in 6
Merrin’s Prediction: Jets in 6
Beards to Watch: Patrick Maroon (May Actually Be A Pirate), Andrew Ladd (Beard of Past Glory), Dustin Byflugien (hoping it will be as big as he is)
Series 4: Vancouver Canucks vs Calgary Flames
C: This is absolutely the hardest series to predict for me.
M: Since I don’t spend a lot of time crunching numbers, my predictions are mostly based on feelings. And I FEEL like the Flames could pull this off, if only because it would piss Vancouver off A LOT.
C: And honestly, that might be the way to go? Statistically, the Flames are TERRIBLE. They’re on of the worst teams in the league at even strength Corsi For% with only 44.4%! They have a negative 5v5 goal differential, and are rocking a sky high all situation PDO (aka puck luck) of 101.6. Anything over 100 means a team is getting some great lucky bounces, and Calgary is sitting 4th in the league. Their luck has to run out sometime.
M: Hopefully not in this first round though, because I never want good things for the Canucks.
C: That’s the hard thing for me to reconcile. The Flames haven’t gotten lucky just this past month – it’s been like this all season. And unlike Montreal and the Rangers, it’s not that they’re riding high on Sv%. Hiller & Ramo have had pretty comparable numbers to Vancouver’s Miller & Lack. Literally, they’re just getting more pucks in the net.
M: And they’ve been doing this without having their captain and a significant piece of their defense since February.
C: Vancouver definitely has the edge in special teams with the 2nd highest PK% in the league, but both teams are about even in Goals For/Game and Goals Against/Game. It’s just a matter if the Flames can turn on their 3rd period game (where they are tied most Goals in the league). This series is either going to be awful and boring, or way too exciting for fans in western Canada.
Carolyn’s Prediction: Flames in 7
Merrin’s Prediction: Flames in 7
Beards to Watch: Brandon Bollig (Carolyn’s Kryptonite), Chris Higgins (Dad Beard), Henrick and Daniel Sedin (Identical Ginger Beards), Johnny Gaudreau (Terrible Rookie Beard)