April 30, 2014

Game 7 Predictions for tonight!

The NHL first round has been awesome. After the Rangers got throttled last night in Philly, we now have 3 Game 7's on tap for tonight:

The Flyers and Rangers game last night was a bloodbath. Wayne Simmonds had a night. Lundqvist was pulled after giving up 4 goals, and mentioned he was already starting to get in the right mindset for Game 7 while watching the remainder of Game 6 from the bench. I've only seen a couple games from this series, and although its tough to bet against a world-class goalie at home, I think i have to go with my gut on this one. I think the Flyers are just grittier and I like their makeup more. It seems to be working right now. I'll pick the Flyers to win. 

This has been an unbelievable series...the Avalanche are a scary team. They are fast, quick-striking, exciting, exhilarating, and all of that is amplified at home in Denver, which is where the game is taking place tonight. Patrick Roy is a fearless coach, he takes risks and they have been paying off. The big thing all the hockey nerds are talking about with this game is the statistical anomalies of this series to date. If you take out special teams and abnormal situations (like when the goalie is pulled), the Ave's have been one of the worst teams in the playoffs while the Wild have been one of the best.

Colorado’s advanced stat ranks out of 16 playoff teams (5-on-5, score close)
Goals for %: 13th
Corsi for %: 16th
Fenwick for %: 16th
Shots for %: 16th
Shooting %: 8th
Save %: 10th

Minnesota’s advanced stat ranks out of 16 playoff teams (5-on-5, score close)
Goals for %:  4th
Corsi for %: 1st
Fenwick for %: 1st
Shots for %: 1st
Shooting %: 7th
Save %: 9th

Clearly the Wild have been outplaying Colorado thus far. With that being said, I'm a believer in the "clutch" gene that stats geeks say does not exists. That's why the Ave's are still in this series. Clutch play by talented stars. The MacKinnon-Landeskog-Stastny line has been lights out at home. The 18 year old #1 pick already (MacKinnon) has 11 points, 2 clutch goals and speed that is killing the Wild.  He lives in the basement of Jean-Sebastien Giguere's house and carpools to work with the backup goaltender every day. And while he may not play like a kid, away from the rink, well, that's a different story. "You realize he's 18," said Stastny, who had a goal and three assists. "He's hungry, that's what makes him a good player. He doesn't rely on his skill."

Anyway I'm predicting a close game but I think the Ave's end up on top. There's too much mojo going on and on top of all of this, Matt Duchene is back and I think he can make a difference tonight. I'm picking the Avalanche.

The Game 7 I am most looking forward to watching. The Sharks & Kings seem to play a 7 game series every year. Seriously. These teams know each other extremely well.

2014: 4 regular season and 7 playoff games
2013: 2 regular season and 7 playoff games
2012: 6 regular season and 0 playoff games
2011: 6 regular season and 6 playoff games

38 games over 4 years is a lot. Last year the Kings won Game 7 in the 2nd round on home ice. In fact, last year, the home team won every game in this series. The Sharks will be playing at home tonight and trying to avoid a historic collapse after  winning games 1, 2 and 3.

In the first 3 games of this series the Sharks, outscoring the Kings 17-8. In the past three games, however, the Kings have roared back and outscored the Sharks 13-4. Which means after 6 games these teams have each scored 21 goals. It's not surprising this series has been that close.

Over the past 3 games the Sharks top 4 players from the regular season-Thornton, Marleu, Pavelski, Couture- have combined for 1 goal and 2 assists. That's not nearly good enough, especially against a deep, and experienced team like the Kings.

I love the Kings. Always have. Even before they got UMass' Jon Quick and cousin Dustin Brown and won the Cup. They are good. They have the makeup and experience to win a road Game 7 for sure. They are hot and playing with confidence. I have no doubt they fully believe it's their series to lose at this point.

The Sharks also have a TON of experience. No, they haven't even gotten to a Cup Final, but check out this BRUTAL playoff history for the Sharks. Keep in mind its basically the same core of guys on all these teams.

2013: Sweep Vancouver in Round 1. Lose Game 7 to Kings on road in Round 2

2012: Lose 4 straight games in Round 1 to the Blues after winning Game 1.

2011: Beat Kings in 6 games in Round 1. Beat Red Wings in 7 games in Round 2. Lose to Canucks in 5 games in Round 3.

2010: Beat Colorado in 6 games in Round 1. Beat Detroit in 5 games in Round 2. Lose to Blackhawks in 4 games in Round 3.

I think tonight is the night we see the Sharks come through. I think they are pissed about being the laughing stock of the Western Conference every Spring. In 2011, they faced this same "Up 3-0 and lose 3 straight" dilemma.... and they took care of business AT HOME vs a MORE EXPERIENCED and CHAMPIONSHIP TESTED team in the Red Wings. They played at home that night and used the crowd to fuel them to Victory. My gut tells me they draw off that experience and find a way to win tonight. Logan Couture was a rookie back then, and scored the GWG in the decisive Game 7. That's going to happen again tonight. I'm going against my boy J Quick and picking the Sharks to win tonight in what I expect to be an AWESOME game. DO NOT fall asleep before this game is over.

April 28, 2014

Bring on the Habs!

The Bruins took care of the Red Wings in 5 games, which many people expected. After losing Game 1 on a Datsyuk magic goal, The B’s buckled down and really dominated Detroit for all but the first period of Game 3. The Bruins depth and experience proved to be way too much for Detroit to handle. (Plus you knew the series was over in Game 2 when Brendan Smith got bullied and embarrassed by Chara)

The Bruins chased another starting goalie- Jimmy Howard- out of the net in this series . Sure, he sat initially because of the “flu” but if he had been playing well, he would have played in Game 5. Something that has always fascinated me, the Bruins have chased the starting goalie in a ton of their recent playoff series:

2014 Round 1- Jimmy Howard benched for Jonas Gustavsson

2013 Round 4- Corey Crawford was never benched

2013 Round 3- Marc Andre Fleury was benched for Tomas Vokoun

2013 Round 2- Henrik Lundqvist was never benched

2013 Round 1- James Reimer was never benched (I thought he was?)

2012 Round 1-  Brayden Holtby was never benched

2011 Round 4- Roberto Luongo was benched for Corey Schneider

2011 Round 3- Dwayne Roloson was benched for Mike Smith

2011 Round 2- Brian Boucher was benched for Sergei Bobrovsky

Luckily The Bruins have an absolute STUD in net. Tuukka Rask. It’s almost unfair. Almost.

Other players that stood out  in Round 1:

Dougie Hamilton- Showcased elite offensive skillset

Torey Krug- PP game changer

Carl Soderberg- a Horse

Patrice Bergeron- Best player on Ice 99% of the time

Jordan Caron- Filled in seamlessly for Paille

Kevan Miller- Rock solid play is still somewhat underrated

Milan Lucic- Looked fast

Moving on to Round 2…. Here are some Keys to the Series vs. the Montreal Canadiens

Montreal won the regular season series with the Bruins going 1-2-1 in the 4 games:

12/5 @ Montreal, Bruins lose 2-1
1/30 @ Boston, Bruins lose 4-1
3/12 @ Montreal, Bruins win 4-1
3/24 @Boston, Bruins lose 4-3 in a Shootout

The Canadiens are coming off a first round sweep of the TB Lightning, who lost their goalie and looked awful. The Habs won game 4 last Tuesday night. This becomes important, creating a lay off of up to 10 days between series. A huge storyline will be Rust vs Rest… My opinion on the subject is that the long lay-off has to hurt Montreal. It should take them at least a period or 2 to get the intensity up to what it will need to be to compete with the Bruins.

The other storyline the media is sure to bleed out is Montreal’s speed and how it can beat the Bruins. Sure. I heard the same thing about the Red Wings… what happened there? The Bruins looked much faster than Detroit.

The Bruins PP has been an unstoppable force. That’s right. That’s not a typo. This is real life. The Bruins have a kick ass PP… Through 5 games in round 1 they are converting at a 37.5% clip (6 goals in 16 chances.)

Bruins PP in 2013 playoffs:    11/63 (17.4%)
Bruins PP in 2012 playoffs:    2/23 (8.7%)
Bruins PP in 2011 playoffs:    10/88 (11.36%)

Krug and Hamilton are making the difference here. With these guys at the point, Big Z can move down low on the PP, and obv presents a matchup nightmare for any team/goalie.

The Canadiens PP will also be a large storyline in this series. BRUINS FANSbe prepared to pull some hair out from the crowd/home town treatment the Canadiens get in Montreal. It’s real. If you don’t believe it’s real, you’re a clown. I went to a game earlier this month (April 5th vs Red Wings) and it was repulsive how the crowd solely cares about penalties being called on the opposing team. It’s like they don’t give a shit about 5 on 5 hockey and are just interested in winning on the PP.

Here are some interesting/fishy PP stats:

This year (2013-14) Montreal had the 2nd fewest minor penalties in the league.
Last year (2012-13) Montreal had the 3rd fewest minor penalties in the league.
In 2011-12 Montreal had the 3rd fewest minor penalties in the league.
In 2010-11 Montreal had the 2nd fewest minor penalties in the league.

The point here is two-fold. One is that the Canadiens play a soft and weak disciplined style of game. They don’t take many penalties. The second point is that the Canadiens are ALWAYS benefiting from questionable officiating in Montreal. Always. THIS DOESNT HAPPEN IN OTHER PLACES
It’s like the officials give in to the crowd too much. It’s annoying. I’ve seen in on TV for years and now Ive seen it in person. Its disgusting. All the fans do in Montreal is root for PowerPlays.

The Canadiens will NEED to stay out of the box to beat the Bruins. They cant be taking too many penalties because the Bruins will kill them on the PP.

Everything on paper points to a Bruins series win. The Bruins are a better team. They just man-handled the Red Wings, who like the Canadiens, are built on speed. But you know what? The Bruins looked faster than Detroit. And I expect more of the same from this upcoming series.

The games will undoubtedly be heated at points. That usually benefits the Bruins… the after whistle stuff, the extra hitting, physicality, etc. But, as the better team, the Bruins need to be careful. 5 on 5 play benefits them a lot more than Montreal.

Ultimately, it’s foolish not to pick this series to go long. Seed #s don’t matter, past performance doesn’t matter, when 2 teams that hate each other like this face off, things tend to be pretty equal.

Carey Price might be able to steal a game or two for Montreal, but I still don’t see them winning the Series.

Coaching:  Advantage Bruins. Not close. This season Julien is basically putting a bow on his coaching career. He’s the best coach in the league. His system works.

Offense: Advantage Bruins. The Bruins scored 43 more goals than Montreal in the regular season… that translates to over half a goal per game difference. That’s pretty big. The Bruins offensive depth is outstanding… in round one 10 different players scored for the Bruins. Marchand & Krejci didn’t even score for the Bruins. The top 3 lines are playing exceptional right now. Matchup Nightmare. On the other side, the Canadiens will be looking to a handful of guys to score all their goals. Bruins killer Vanek, Pacioretty, Emelin, Subban, Eller, and  Plekanec are the guys that scare me. Especially Vanek… guy can just shoot the lights out of the puck. Guys like Desharnais, Gallagher, Galchenuk, and Gionta can also make plays from time to time.

Defense: Both teams are deep here. And both have guys who contribute in all zones. The only thing that really differs these PP units is the Bruins have the best player- Chara.

Goalie: Carey Price is a good goalie. He’s not Tuukka Rask, though.

Special Teams: Finally the Bruins have a potent PP like the Habs traditionally have had. Both teams also have good PK units. Special Teams are probably even for this series, although with the recent Bruins success on the man advantage I would think you have to bet on them to outperform Montreal.

Overview: You have to assume this is going to be a long series. 6 or 7 games. I don’t see the Bruins losing, they just are too good and have too much experience and have too much of an advantage in net. I’m picking the Bruins in 6 games. I think they will clinch the series on the road in Montreal. That’s how good this team is. They will split the first 4 games 2-2 and win at home in Game 5 and then close the series in Game 6. Take it to the bank.


April 14, 2014

Bubba Campbell wins the Green Jacket

Bubba Watson outlasted young Jordan Spieth yesterday to win his 2nd Green Jacket in 3 years. He was so long and so good off the tee. Spieth mentioned afterward that Bubba was nearly unbeatable at a place like Augusta when he is driving as best as he can. Kuchar made a few too many mistakes, including a 4 putt early in the round, and once again came up just short at T-5.

McIlroy came back with a strong weekend and finished T-8, after a 2nd round 77 had him as the last guy to make the cut. On the weekends at The Masters, players golf in groups of 2.  This year, an odd number of players, 51, made the cut. So the last place player McIlroy was given a choice to play alone or with a "marker."  The "marker" since 2002 has been 51 year old Jeff Knox. Knox is a 2 time amateur champion in Georgia, but he is not a pro golfer. On Saturday, Knox ended up shooting a 70, -2, while McIlroy shot a 71. Playing from the same tees, putting out every hole, playing exactly like a competitor would- Knox turned in a very impressive round and beat the former world #1 by one stroke.

Knox and McIlroy

Knox has played as a marker with Keegan Bradley, Craig Stadler, Sergio Garcia, and Bubba Watson in the past. He is a member at Augusta National and holds the course record from the Member tees at 61.

Knox declined all interviews and questions after. Needless to say, this guy is an animal. And, as I discussed with a a few golfer friends this weekend, I think that the Club Champion from Augusta should be in The Masters field. Further, the pro or the club champ at every PGA stop should be in the field that's competiting at their "home" course.

Anyway, here are the final fantasy scores. Congrats to Chumpbell on the Green Jacket and Chipotle winnings.

-7 Bunny Team (Campbell) 

+13 Team EDM
+15 Team K Cup
+17 The God Children
+20 Free* Not Free
+26 Team Mosey
+30 Team Zeitgeist
+35 #DeutscheBill
+41 Team Finna
+41 Team Hardo

Free* Not Free  +20
McIlroy E
Spieth -5
English +12
Leishman +13

Team Finna  +41
Kuchar -2
Bradley +15
Cabrera +14
Reed +14

The Godchildren  +17
Scott +1
Mahan +4
Oosthuizen +3
Watney +9

Team K Cup  +15
J Day  +2
Z Johnson  +12
Stricker +5
Jimenez -4

Team Mosey  +26
D Johnson +13
Fowler -2
Poulter +2
Donald +13

Team Zeitgeist +30
Westwood -1
Schwartzel +11
Immelman +15
Kaymer +5

Team EDM +13
Rose +1
Birdman +1
Els +11
Bjorn E

Team Hardo +41
Mickelson +11
Dufner +16
McDowell +12
Couples +2

#DeutscheBill  +35
Garcia +11
Snedeker +7
Walker E
Every +17

Bunny Team -7
Stenson +1
Watson -14
Haas +2
Woodland +4

April 9, 2014

2014 Masters Challenge


The 2014 Masters starts tomorrow.... after a LONG and harsh Winter, it is finally golf season!!!! The best Major of the year is up first. Last year, Adam Scott became the first Australian to win the green jacket on the second playoff hole. This year he is looking to become only the 4th champion to defend his title. Also this is the first Masters in 21 years that Tiger Woods is not in, so the field is wide open. Here is a list of the most recent Masters champions:

2013- Adam Scott
2012- Bubba Watson
2011- Charl Schwartzel
2010- Angel Cabrera
2009- Phil Mickelson
2008- Trevor Immelman
2007- Zach Johnson
2006- Phil Mickelsoin
2005- Tiger Woods
2004- Phil Mickelson

And as a reminder, here was the final leaderboard from last year’s Masters Tourney:

Winner- Adam Scott -9
2 Angel Cabrera -9
3 Jason Day, -7
T-4 Tiger Woods -5
T-4 Marc Leishman -5
T-6 Thorbjorn Olesen -4
T-6 Brandt Snedeker -4
T-8 Sergio Garcia  -3
T-8 Matt Kuchar  -3
T-8 Lee Westwood -3

And lastly, here was the final fantasy golf scores from last year. Abe won the challenge.

This year’s wager:  Everyone in the pool owes the Winner a Chipotle Burrito and Drink


The final score of all the players on each team will be added up and the lowest cume score wins. Each team will have 4 golfers.

+6 will be added to any players score who misses the cut

-6 will be deducted from the score of the team who picks the Champion

If there is a WD, that player will be given a score of the worst round from that day. And then +6 for not finishing.


Round 1
Jeremy- Rory McIlory
James- Matt Kuchar
Abe- Adam Scott
Adam- Jason Day
Beck- Dustin Johnson
Dan- Lee Westwood
Sean- Justin Rose
Paul- Phil Mickelson
Bill- Sergio Garcia
C Bunny- Henrik Stenson

Round 2
C Bunny- Bubba Watson
Bill- Brandt Snedeker
Paul- Jason Dufner
Sean- Jim Furyk
Dan- Charl Schwartzel
Beck-  Rickie Fowler
Adam- Zach Johnson
Abe- Hunter Mahan
James- Keegan Bradley
Jeremy- Jordan Spieth

Round 3
Jeremy- Harris English
James- Angel Cabrera
Abe- Louis Oosthuizen
Adam- Steve Stricker
Beck- Ian Poulter
Dan- Trevor Immelman
Sean- Ernie Els
Paul- Graeme McDowell
Bill- Jimmy Walker
C Bunny- Bill Haas

Round 4
C Bunny- Gary Woodland
Bill- Matt Every
Paul- Fred Couples
Sean- Thomas Bjorn
Dan- Matt Kaymer
Beck- Luke Donald
Adam- Miguel Angel Jimenez
Abe- Nick Watney
James- Patrick Reed
Jeremy- Marc Leishman

Team Rosters:

Free* not Free- McIlroy, Spieth, English. Leishman
Team James- Kuchar, Bradley, Cabrera, Reed
The Godchildren- Scott, Mahan, Oosthuizen, Watney
Team K Cup- Day, Z Johnson, Stricker, Jimenez
Team Mosey- D Johnson, Fowler, Poulter, Donald
Team Zeitgeist- Westwood, Schwartzel, Immelman, Kaymer
Team EDM- Rose, Birdman, Els, Bjorn
Team Hardo- Mickelson, Dufner, McDowell, Couples
#DeutscheBill- Garcia, Snedeker, Walker, Every
Bunny Team- Stenson, Watson, Haas, Woodland