Wishes for Adidas’ NHL Takeover

With Adidas being the parent company of Reebok, they’re set to assume production of all NHL jerseys for the 2017-18 season.  Last time this happened, when Reebok took over in the offseason of 2007, all NHL team jerseys were redesigned to fit the new Edge template.  With this change being forced upon each team, some took the opportunity to rebrand or refresh their looks.  Some overhauled completely (Dallas, Vancouver, and Washington for example).  Others made minor tweaks to their jerseys.  Some made basically none.

Some teams made mistakes.  A few of them, unfortunately, still live to this day.  I’ve taken it upon myself to present a few concept logo blocks with my vision for team primary logos and colors going forward.  If these changes don’t happen, I will be disappointed, but I won’t give up hope — I’ll continue adding to this collection when inspiration strikes, provided that my ideas don’t magically come to life before then.

First up, my Buffalo Sabres:

Buffalo SabresBuffalo Sabres (Away)

Ditch the silver lines, return to a real, vibrant blue, and voilà!  That’s all they need.  This look is clear, identifiable, and timeless.  If they’re going to hoist the Cup at some point, I desperately hope it’s in these.  With the Sabres scheduled to play as the home team at the 2018 Winter Classic, we may see this jersey appear as soon as then — hopefully they do the right thing and elevate it to primary duty afterward.  If not, the likely worst case scenario is it would become a full-time third in 2018-19.  If that happens, they will have earned my money.

Calgary Flames (Third)Calgary Flames (Fourth)

Fixing the Calgary Flames would be simple: return to the 1980s.  Get rid of the black.  Promote the existing third to primary and add a road counterpart.  You won the Cup in these jerseys; why wouldn’t you want to promote them?  ’nuff said.

Carolina Hurricanes (Third)Carolina Hurricanes (Fourth)

The Carolina Hurricanes need a uniform update, badly.  Their 2013 redesign was horrendous, but thankfully they kept their unique third in reserve.  I wouldn’t mind seeing them upgraded to full-time duty.  The flag logo is far better than the swirl, even though they did win the Cup in the latter, but there’s also the fact that I’m not a fan of black primaries.  What about red?  I think that looks damn hot, even if it is a (tropical) storm warning flag.

Colorado Avalanche (Third)Colorado Avalanche (Fourth)

The Colorado Avalanche have been using the 2007 Reebok transition look for a decade; they’re the last to maintain use of the “apron string” look.  It needs a change more than any other team.  Their current thirds are decent, but I’m not sold on them being a primary.  They’re just a bit too experimental, plus burgundy has always been the Avs’ color.  How about these?

Columbus Blue JacketsColumbus Blue Jackets (Away)

The Columbus Blue Jackets‘ third is a great, great look.  I love the jersey, the color scheme, and the logo.  It’s more distinct, compared to the Jacket’s current palette which features zero unique colors.  The only problem is that vintage white cannot be used as an away jersey base, so to solve I’ve made it white across the board.  Looking sharp!

Minnesota WildMinnesota Wild (Away)

The Minnesota Wild are rumored to be going forward with a green jersey, similar to their Stadium Series jersey from last season.  I’m for it.  I think they should keep their away white jerseys and use them template for the homes.  Easy.  I bet this is exactly what we see come Draft Day, more-or-less.

Ottawa Senators (Third)Ottawa Senators (Fourth)

The Ottawa Senators are in dire need of a new look, having used the same original Reebok template since 2007.  Luckily, they’ve already created a complete set that would do nicely.  The “O” logo ties the franchise back to its predecessor in Ottawa, while ditching the tired look of the three-quarter-profile cartoon centurion.  Same as with Columbus, the vintage white is normalized to pure white.  There was a rumor swirling earlier this year that something like this was in the works for the future.  It’s been quiet on that front recently, but I’d still imagine this has a very good chance of happening.

Alternatively, they’ve been sitting on this cleaner version of their original profiled Senator logo for awhile.  It’s not on their jerseys anywhere, for some reason.  If the classic look isn’t to be, why not revamp the jerseys with this badass logo on front?  Hell, I’d be okay with a return to the black primary if this is what it looks like.

San Jose SharksSan Jose Sharks (Away)San Jose Sharks2San Jose Sharks (Away2)

This is more of a thought than a hope.  The San Jose Sharks used the Reebok takeover to refresh their Shark-biting-stick logo in 2007; modernizing while maintaining the overall look.  It’s been a decade since then, and the franchise has matured to a point of ubiquity and success in the Bay Area.  It’s time to grow the logo to match.  We know it’s a hockey team, so there’s no need for a stick in the logo.  This past season the Sharks released a beautiful set of “future” secondary logos for marketing purposes, which went more-or-less unused: see the clean full-bodied shark above.  There’s also a variant with a more triangular shape and a subtle SJ at the vertex.  Either one I think would be a great primary look.

Washington CapitalsWashington Capitals (Away)

Last but not least, look at this.  The Washington Capitals have used this stunning secondary logo since their transformation in 2007.  How is it not the primary?  I get that the wordmark is an update of their original logo, but come on.  This would be an incredible primary logo.  It’s simple, easily reproduceable and identifiable, and it’s freaking brilliant.  It forms a “W.” It’s got the Capitol in negative space.  The angle in the neck invokes the Washington Monument.  It’s wonderful.  After their latest playoff failure, it might just be a decent time to re-brand.  Make this the primary now.

I have a few more wants that I’m not sure how (read: am not skilled enough) to express visually:

Los Angeles Kings

The Los Angeles Kings would do well to add purple back to their look.  I’m not sure if that requires a whole new logo or not — I’d lean toward the latter, given all of their success with their current setup.  Perhaps just a trim on the jersey?  The league needs more purple; ie any purple.

Vancouver Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks have a great set of uniforms, and it hurts to suggest changes because of their mixed history.  I like the orca logo, but the “Vancouver” wordmark needs to go.   Alternatively, promote the third to full time and go full 1970s.  Either way, that’s all I want, so there’s nothing really new to illustrate here.  The design of the jerseys and their colors are perfect already.

In conclusion, I’m surprised by how content I am with the look of the NHL these days.   Only a handful of teams need a redo on the logo, jersey, and/or colors.  For the rest, a few uniform tweaks here and there would be nice, but overall I think these aforementioned changes would be enough to make the league the best it could possibly look.  Now, if only we could make color versus color jerseys for games the norm, only then would we have perfection.


Stanley Cup 2015, I: Leave It All To Chance


tank2This year was bonkers.  Absolutely insane.  Tank battles, mumps, rallies, unexpected goaltending, playoff mainstay turnover, rookie domination, Central Division ascendancy; it’s too much to summarize in a few words, so I’ll leave that to the professionals.  For me though, I, for the first and probably only time, made pre-season predictions, and boy were they wrong!  Check these out.  Quoth myself, from October 8th:

Pacific:  Anaheim ✔️, Los Angeles ✖️, San Jose ✖️
  Chicago ✔️, St. Louis ✔️, Dallas ✖️
Wild Cards:
  Vancouver ✔️, Edmonton ✖️

Atlantic:  Boston ✖️, Montréal ✔️, Tampa Bay ✔️
  Pittsburgh ✔️, Columbus ✖️, New York Rangers ✔️
Wild Cards:
  New York Islanders ✔️, New Jersey Devils ✖️

Notables off the board:  Detroit ✖️, Minnesota ✖️, Philadelphia ✔️, Colorado ✔️

Draft lottery top five (aka Tank Wars):  Calgary ✖️, Winnipeg ✖️, Buffalo ✔️, Carolina ✔️, Toronto ✔️

Stanley Cup Champion:  San Jose Sharks NOPE ✖️✖️✖️

Bat 60% on the draft lottery, so that’s not too bad.  About 53.5% everywhere else, with positioning ignored.  My Cup pick San Jose Sharks didn’t even make the postseason, breaking a decade-long streak.  At least they can’t lose to the Kings in the first-round.  I wouldn’t dare pick the Sharks anyway, after all you don’t sleep on the Ki– oh.  Ohhhhhhhhhhhh.  You know, it’s too bad a cocky, coast-through-the-regular-season-only-to-flip-the-switch-in-the-playoffs team coasted a little too much and missed the playoffs by four points.  It’s really a shame.  Hey, what’s that sound?  I think I hear people jumping off the bandwagon!  How about those Senators?  They were off everyone’s radar.  How about them forcing one of Boston or Pittsburgh to miss?  Insanity.  With both the Cup Champion Kings and the Presidents’ Trophy winning Bruins missing the big dance, this really feels like a sea-change type year.  Big things are coming this playoffs — I know it.

Remember last year, how I said I was planning something a little different for this year’s bracket?  No?  Well, this is it: instead of using my brain to figure out the team with the best chance of winning each respective series, I’m going to leave it all up to random chance.  Why not, eh?  It makes even more sense this year, with my Buffalo Sabres waiting on the luck of the draw this Saturday in the Draft Lottery.  It’s been a beat-the-odds kind of year.

For each series I flipped three coins.  The first result chose the winner of the series: heads being the top position in the match-up on the bracket, or the Atlantic and Central division in the division finals, and the East in the case of the Cup Final.  The other two determined the number of games in the series like so: HH = 4 games, HT = 5 games, TH = 6 games, TT = 7 games.  I did this for all 15 series through each round.  My chances of filling this bracket perfectly?  0.000000000002842171%, or 1 in 35,184,372,088,832.  Yep.

Naturally, I engineered an Excel spreadsheet to do this automatically, giving me a new random bracket at the touch of a button.  I tried to be impartial as much as possible, biasing slightly only for series length, as we don’t see too many sweeps these days.  Not weighting for seed or skill makes for some amusing results.  Flames winning the Cup in 4?  Probably not.  Predators versus Islanders for the Cup, with the Isles prevailing?  Ratings nightmare, and also unlikely.  Who knows though?  That’s what makes this particular exercise fun!


How’s this one look?

01. A1 vs AW -- HTT - A1 in 7
02. A2 vs A3 -- HTH - A2 in 6
03. M1 vs MW -- TTT - MW in 7 (!)
04. M2 vs M3 -- HHT - M2 in 5
05. C1 vs CW -- HHT - C1 in 5
06. C2 vs C3 -- THH - C3 in 4 (!)
07. P1 vs PW -- HTT - P1 in 7
08. P2 vs P3 -- HTT - P2 in 7
09. Atlantic Final - A1 vs A2 -- HTT - A1 in 7
10. Metro Final ---- M2 vs MW -- HHH - MW in 4 (!)
11. Central Final -- C1 vs C3 -- TTH - C3 in 6
12. Pacific Final -- P1 vs P2 -- HTH - P1 in 6
13. Eastern Final -- A1 vs MW -- HHH - A1 in 4
14. Western Final -- C3 vs P1 -- THT - P1 in 5
15. Stanley Cup Final - A1 vs P1 -- HHT - A1 in 5

flipsheetnhl_bracket_2015_r1Well, somehow I ended up with two #1 seeds in the final.  Perhaps not the worst draw, though I have a Presidents’ Trophy upset in the first round.  Hmm…

(Full disclosure: I couldn’t help myself and made a real bracket too.  I won’t be tracking it here, but it aligns with my predictions below.)

And now for each series preview.  This is what I’m actually leaning towards, based on performance, injuries, stats, and overall gut feeling.  My major indicators are record, last ten games (immediate trends), Fenwick, or unblocked-shot-attempts (USAT) at 5-on-5 and with the score close (possession proxy corrolated with winning percentage) in addition to the same metric since the trade deadline reflecting roster adjustments and PDO (or SPSv%), reflecting luck, notable absences from the lineup,  and finally, the season series, which I will mentally bias toward more recent games.  How closely does any of this match the entropy above?

Montreal Canadiens  Ottawa Senators

A1. Montréal Canadiens vs A4. Ottawa Sénateurs: The Canadiens and Sénateurs met last in 2013, a bloodbath of a series climaxing with a Game 3 line brawl combined with a stunning hat-trick by rookie Jean-Gabriel Pageau.  It was Ottawa that triumphed that year in five long games.  This year it’s different.  Very different.  Ottawa broke an NHL record by rallying from 14 points out to make the playoffs, riding the hot play of Andrew Hammond, middling AHL goaltender and unlikely hero.  Montréal on the other hand has launched to the Atlantic Division peak behind the stellar, franchise-record-breaking play of Carey Price.  He’s a near-lock for the Hart Trophy this year, an incredible backstop to an admittedly average group of skaters.  This series comes down to one thing: can the Senators and Hammond stay hot, or are they out of their depth against one of the best in the East?  I want to believe, however I’m gonna go with last year’s Eastern runner-up in this one.  Canadiens in six.

Record (P-W-(ROW)-L-OTL-SOL) & Last 10 (W-L-OT/SOL):
MON:  110
-50-(43)-22-5-5 — (5-2-3)
  99-43-(37)-26-6-7 — (6-2-2)

5v5 Fenwick/USAT-Close (since 2 March)
MON:  50.8%, 17th (51.5%, 13th)
OTT:  47.9%, 22nd (50.4%, T16th)

PDO/SPSv% (since 2 March)
MON:  100.9, T4th (99.9, 18th)
OTT:  101.1, 2nd (102.3, 4th)

Notable injuries:
MON:  Max Pacioretty (day-to-day)
OTT:  Chris Phillips (IR), Milan Michalek (day-to-day)

Season Series:
2014-12-20; OTT 1, MON 4
2015-01-15; MON 1, OTT 4
2015-02-18; MON 2, OTT 4
2015-03-12; OTT 5, MON 2
MON: 1-3-0 — OTT: 3-1-0

Tampa Bay Lightning  Detroit Red Wings

A2. Tampa Bay Lightning vs A3. Detroit Red Wings:  It’s been said for the past few months as the Atlantic seeds changed little: this is the Steve Yzerman Cup.  He’s considered the greatest captain in Detroit Red Wings history, and now he’s the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Is Stevie Y a better leader than he is a builder?  I’ve been predicting the Red Wings’ demise for years to no success.  I’ve been predicting the Lightning’s emergence for a few seasons as well, to limited success.  Know what?  I’m gonna do it again.  Detroit, while a good team, is heavily outgunned here.  If Tampa Bay can keep their goaltending healthy (their death blow last season), then they should have no problem handling the Red Wings.  Lightning in five.

Record (P-W-(ROW)-L-OTL-SOL) & Last 10 (W-L-OT/SOL):
108-50-(47)-24-3-5 — (6-3-1)
  100-43-(39)-25-4-10 — (4-4-2)

5v5 Fenwick/USAT-Close & PDO/SPSv% (since 2 March)
TBL:  53.7%, 4th (52.2%, T10th)
DET:  52.0%, 10th (50.4%, T15th)

PDO/SPSv% (since 2 March)
TBL:  99.9, T19th (100.8, T11th)
DET:  99.3, 24th (99.2, 20th)

Notable injuries:
TBL:  Jason Garrison (day-to-day)
DET:  Johan Franzen (IR), Justin Abdelkader (day-to-day)

Season Series:
2014-11-09; TBL 4, DET 3 S/O
2015-01-29; DET 1, TBL 5
2015-03-20; DET 1, TBL 3
2015-03-28; TBL 0, DET 4
TBL: 3-1-0 — DET: 1-2-1

New York Rangers  Pittsburgh Penguins

M1. New York Rangers vs M4. Pittsburgh Penguins:  Every year I have to do Metropolitan Division predictions, and every year I don’t care.  I don’t know what it is about the Metro that leaves me so apathetic, with the notable exception of Columbus.  That’s a team I can get behind! … As far as this series goes, well it’s a second-round rematch from last year, and like then, I think it’s an easy choice.  I was surprised to see the underlying numbers of the Rangers so low, considering their Presidents’ Trophy and apparent dominance since December.  I’m going to trust my gut with this one and pick the Rangers in five.  The Penguins have looked below-average in the last few months, nearly backing into a playoff spot on the last day thanks to an easy win over the bottom-feeding Sabres.  Their decline seemed to shock the core group and I’m convinced they’re rattled, unable to focus in a series with a juggernaut.  However, my coin flips say otherwise…

Record (P-W-(ROW)-L-OTL-SOL) & Last 10 (W-L-OT/SOL):
  113-53-(49)-22-2-5 — (7-3-0)
  98-43-(39)-27-6-6 — (3-5-2)

5v5 Fenwick/USAT-Close (since 2 March)
NYR:  49.7%, 20th (47.7%, T23rd)
PIT:  53.9%, 3rd (56.2%, 2nd)

PDO/SPSv% (since 2 March)
NYR:  102.3, 1st (103.1, 2nd)
PIT:  100.4, 11th (98.3, 22nd)

Notable injuries:
NYR:  Rick Nash (day-to-day), Marc Staal (day-to-day)
PIT:  Christian Ehrhoff (day-to-day), Kris Letang (out for remainder of season)

Season Series:
2014-11-11; PIT 0, NYR 5
2014-11-15; NYR 2, PIT 3 S/O
2014-12-08; PIT 3, NYR 4 OT
2015-01-18; NYR 5, PIT 2
NYR: 3-0-1 — PIT: 1-3-0

Washington Capitals  New York Islanders

M2. Washington Capitals vs M3. New York Islanders:  One last hurrah for the Nassau Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum; will this one last more than one round?  I’m not optimistic.  These are the best Islanders and Capitals teams we’ve seen in years.  Alex Ovechkin looks back to championship conference finalist semi-finalist form, while John Tavares is challenging for league MVP.  These two teams are so evenly matched, I might as well flip a coin for them… They say Capitals in five;  I’m gonna keep things a little more equal and go with Capitals in seven.  The Islanders would be the better story, but I think this might be the year the Capitals breach the third round.

Record (W-(ROW)-L-OTL-SOL) & Last 10 (W-L-OT/SOL):
  101-45-(40)-26-7-4 — (6-3-1)
  101-47-(40)-28-1-6 — (4-3-3)

5v5 Fenwick/USAT-Close (since 2 March)
WSH:  51.7%, T12th (51.9%, 12th)
NYI:  54.3%, 1st (51.0%, 14th)

PDO/SPSv% (since 2 March)
WSH:  100.2, T12th (100.1, 17th)
NYI:  100.0, T15th (96.3, 30th)

Notable injuries:
WSH:  Eric Fehr (day-to-day)
NYI:  Frans Nielsen (day-to-day), Travis Hamonic (day-to-day)

Season Series:
2014-11-26; WSH 2, NYI 3 OT
2014-11-28; NYI 2, WSH 5
2014-12-29; WSH 3, NYI 4 OT
2015-02-21; NYI 2, WSH 3 SO
WSH: 2-0-2 — NYI: 2-1-1

St. Louis Blues  Minnesota Wild

C1. St. Louis Blues vs C4. Minnesota Wild:  This one is gonna be fun.  Both met their fate at the hands of Chicago last year.  St. Louis’ window might be closing, while the Wild have theirs wide open, having turned into a consistent contender since 2012 and their acquisition of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter on July 4th.  Minnesota rallied from a substantial deficit in the west thanks to the improbable play of goaltender Devan Dubnyk (I’m sensing a theme here), becoming near unstoppable on their way to the first wild-card slot.  Meanwhile, the Blues have (and I say this every year) perhaps the best team they’ve iced yet.  Their only question is goaltending.  The forwards and defense group are so deep, it’s not even fair.  Minnesota has extended their depth similarly, so it’s hard to say what will become of either of these teams on the ice.  I like the Wild and their troupe of former Sabres, but I think this is the Blues’ year to emerge from the West.  Blues in six.  It’s too bad we have to lose one of these teams from the start.  They would make an excellent division/conference final.

Record (P-W-(ROW)-L-OTL-SOL) & Last 10 (W-L-OT/SOL):
STL:  108
-51-(42)-24-3-4 — (6-3-1)
MIN:  100
-46-(42)-28-5-3 — (6-3-1)

5v5 Fenwick/USAT-Close (since 2 March)
STL:  52.2%, 9th (52.4%, 9th)
  51.9%, 11th (50.1%, 17th)

PDO/SPSv% (since 2 March)
STL:  100.8, T7th (100.3, T14th)
MIN:  100.5, T9th (100.2, 16th)

Notable injuries:
STL:  none

Season Series:
2014-11-29; STL 3, MIN 2 S/O
2015-03-14; MIN 3, STL 1
2015-03-21; STL 3, MIN 6
2015-04-11; MIN 2, STL 4
STL: 2-2-0 — MIN: 2-1-1

Nashville Predators  Chicago Blackhawks

C2. Nashville Predators vs C3. Chicago Blackhawks:  Welcome back to the playoffs Nashville.  Your reward is a date with the last-standing modern dynasty in the Chicago Blackhawks.  The Predators have cooled off dramatically since the days earlier in the season where they were Presidents’ Trophy contenders.  The Hawks have been on and off all year, nearly falling out to a wild-card slot on the last day.  Both have stumbled into the playoffs, Chicago due to injuries, Nashville due to… well it doesn’t seem to be regression.  Expectations?  Being the Predators?  They’re a difficult team to pin down.  This is a series where a victory by the higher-seeded team would be considered an upset.  And I’m going to pick it thusly.  I really shouldn’t pick against Jonathan Toews and this group, but there’s always one powerhouse to fall in the first — this year it’s Chicago’s turn.  Predators in seven.

Record (P-W-(ROW)-L-OTL-SOL) & Last 10 (W-L-OT/SOL):
NSH:  104
-47-(41)-25-4-6 — (4-4-2)
CHI:  102
-48-(39)-28-3-3 — (4-6-0)

5v5 Fenwick/USAT-Close (since 2 March)
NSH:  53.6%, 5th (55.8%, 3rd)
CHI:  53.0%, 6th (52.5%, 8th)

PDO/SPSv% (since 2 March)
NSH:  101.0, 3rd (98.2, T23rd)
CHI:  100.2, T12th (101.8, 7th)

Notable injuries:
NSH:  Mike Fisher (day-to-day)
CHI:  Patrick Kane (IR), Kimmo Timonen (day-to-day), Brad Richards (day-to-day)

Season Series:
2014-10-18; NSH 1, CHI 2 OT
2014-10-23; CHI 2, NSH 3
2014-12-06; CHI 3, NSH 1
2014-12-29; NSH 4, CHI 5 S/O
NSH: 1-1-2 — CHI: 3-1-0

Anaheim Ducks  Winnipeg Jets

P1. Anaheim Ducks vs C5. Winnipeg Jets:  The Teemu Selänne Cup!  The team that drafted the Finnish Flash, versus the team with which he won a Stanley Cup nineteen years later.  This is the first playoff series involving an NHL team from Winnipeg since 1996.  I’m eagerly awaiting the whiteout at MTS Centre for Game Three, as well as the brilliantly devious chants the crowd concoct.  Despite what I just wrote about Chicago, this is another series that has upset written all over it:  Anaheim inspires little confidence in the playoffs, despite regular season success (aka Bruce Boudreau’s trademark) while the upstart Jets are a big, bruising team riding questionable goaltending and hot and cold streaks all year long.  They got immensely better at the deadline, thanks to a blockbuster trade with Buffalo, while Anaheim became Columbus’ trade partner in the Kings’ stead.  Does that portend good things for Anaheim?  I’m still not thrilled with their depth, but they win on star-power for sure.  This seems more toss-up than easy pick, but I’m going with my gut — Jets in seven.  Welcome back to the playoffs, Winnipeg.  I’m probably wrong about you; hopefully not.  What I do know is that I’m on your bandwagon, for sure.

Record (P-W-(ROW)-L-OTL-SOL) & Last 10 (W-L-OT/SOL):
ANA:  109
-51-(43)-24-2-5 — (6-4-0)
WPG:  99
-43-(36)-26-7-6 — (6-3-1)

5v5 Fenwick/USAT-Close (since 2 March)
ANA:  51.4%, T14th (52.2%, T10th)
  54.2%, 2nd (56.5%, 1st)

PDO/SPSv% (since 2 March)
ANA:  100.2, T12th (101.1, 9th)
WPG:  100.9, T4th (101.2, 8th)

Notable injuries:
ANA:  John Gibson (day-to-day)
  Mathieu Perreault (day-to-day)

Season Series:
2014-12-07; ANA 4, WPG 3 OT
2014-12-13; ANA 4, WPG 1
2015-01-11; WPG 4, ANA 5 S/O
ANA: 3-0-0 — WPG: 0-1-2

Vancouver Canucks  Calgary Flames

P2. Vancouver Canucks vs P3. Calgary Flames: Western Canada’s favorite off-and-on-again rivalry, the last three times these team met in the first round, it went to game seven overtime, and the winner went on to the Stanley Cup Final.  I don’t have confidence in either of these two making it past three rounds, but you never know.  Calgary is perhaps the biggest fluke team of 2014-15, improbably winning the most hopeless games on luck, luck which seems to have only gotten better toward the end of the season.  Their possession numbers are awful, even with an inflated PDO, implying they’re worse than they appear, which isn’t good to begin with.  Calgary is the enemy of the advanced-stats crowd this year — I wouldn’t dare pick them to win in the playoffs, a la some guy who picked Colorado last year.  Vancouver has had perhaps the most uneventful season, rising to second in the California-dominated Pacific Division with little fanfare.  They’re not the 2010-2012 Canucks, but they’re absolutely not the 2013-14 version either.  The aging core has demonstrated they’ve still got it, however they’ll be tested by Calgary’s formidable youth movement.  I think I’ve got to stick with the numbers: Canucks in six.  Wouldn’t it be funny if this was the Vancouver team to win it all?  Nobody would see it coming.

Record (P-W-(ROW)-L-OTL-SOL) & Last 10 (W-L-OT/SOL):
VAN101-48-(42)-29-3-2 — (6-3-1)
CGY:  97-45-(32)-30-4-3 — (6-3-1)

5v5 Fenwick/USAT-Close (since 2 March)
VAN:  50.9%, 15th (49.5% 18th)
CGY:  46.2%, 26th (47.7%, T23rd)

PDO/SPSv% (since 2 March)
VAN:  99.0, 26th (97.0, 27th)
CGY:  100.0, T15th (103.4, 1st)

Notable injuries:
VAN:  Shawn Matthias (day-to-day)
CGY:  Mark Giordano (IR)

Season Series:
2014-10-08; VAN 4, CGY 2
2014-12-20; CGY 2, VAN 3 OT
2015-01-10; CGY 1, VAN 0
2015-02-14; VAN 2, CGY 3
VAN: 2-2-0 — CGY: 2-1-1

Five Canadian teams enter, a maximum of three emerge.  It’s great that a super-majority made it this time, it’s just too bad about the seeding.  Except that these series will be awesome!  It’s a great year for Canada (and therefore the world)!  We’ve also got seven teams that have never won the Cup, with six possibly making it out of the first round.  Only half of 2013’s final four remain, while the victor of last year’s is left at the gate.  Parity rolls onward.

playoffs-2015-1Here’s my homemade 2015 Stanley Cup Playoff bracket.  I always say I think I’m done changing things, and I always change things.  What’s new here?  Lots: I felt the upper corners too blank, so I filled them with colored banners.  To match, I’ve tinted each side of the ice the color of their respective conferences, similar to my minimalist standings from last year’s playoff series.  The bracket itself was altered, pushing the competing teams together rather than centering them on the previous round.  This way, the tallies crawl up the bracket connectors.  Indeed, I did the same for the Cup Final, with the tallies oriented horizontally, climbing up to the Cup.  I think that’s all.  Looking forward to filling this one in!

As mentioned before, there are a lot of new faces in this tournament.  Let’s go new teams!  I’m pulling for you Winnipeg!  Vancouver, you’re cool too.  St. Louis, is this your year?  How about you Minnesota?  Nashville, up for the challenge?  Hey, Islanders, want to close out your building with a fifth Cup?  Ottawa, got a continued run in you?  Anything can happen; this is gonna be a circus.

Stanley Cup 2013, II: Thoughts on the First Round, Guesses for the Second

 I  II  III  IV  V 

I missed the last day of the first round because I was having a night to remember with Sara Bareilles.  I regret nothing of course, but damn, how I wish I could have seen those last five minutes of that Leafs/Bruins series while I was waiting for the show to start.  It’s weird to say, but I was actually kinda pulling for the Leafs.  Still, with the Bruins’ win, my team prognostications for the playoffs have finished the first round with an astounding 62.5% accuracy!  Wow, so high!

predictions2Of the five series I got right, I got three of them extremely right, calling the number of games and all.  However, of the other three I got wrong, I got them very wrong.  Hoo boy, my conference finals could look better.  (1 seeds all the way!)  All in all, my predictions put me in the 64th percentile on NHL.com and in 51585th place!  Making my way up!  Let’s recap:

Blackhawks vs. Wild:  Blackhawks win.  Obviously.  I was in Chicago during Games 3 and 4 so I was right in the center of the storm, even though the games were in Minnesota.  Chicago really is a hockey town.  At the hotel bar during Game 4, it was every TV showing the Hawks and it was awesome.  A lot more about my time in Chicago is coming in a post later.  I’ve got a lot to write about in the next few days.

Ducks vs. Red Wings:  I picked the Red Wings to win in a long series, but I was rooting for the Ducks the whole time.  Oh well, at least the Wings/Hawks series should be great to watch.

Canucks vs. Sharks:  Poor Canucks.  I said the series could go either way and I did mention San Jose could dominate, but I never wanted that to happen.  It’s the end of an era in Vancouver, and big changes are coming this summer.

Blues vs. Kings:  After game two, I tweeted this: “My gut is looking pretty good right now. #Blues #Kings”  Well… it was looking good, but like I said, it was a dumb pick.  Still, this was easily the most entertaining and fun series to watch in the first round.  Despite their “collapse,” the Blues are still an incredibly strong team and their future remains bright.

Penguins vs. Islanders:  The Penguins won, but not in the way many picked.  The Islanders fought hard, exposing Marc-Andre Fleury as swiss cheese in the playoffs once again and nearly took the series to seven.  It was a lot more fun than I imagined it would have been and major kudos to the Isles for that.  It’s hard to say if this year was a fluke, but the future might also be quite bright on Long Island.

Canadiens vs. Sénateurs:  To Montreal/Ottawa.  I missed a lot of this series.  I hear there was some bloodshed and lost teeth and line brawls.  Also an epic Montreal collapse.  The all-Canadian series don’t get a lot of love here in the states, but from what I’ve read this one may have just created a bitter rivalry in the new “Northeast” division.

Capitals vs. Rangers:  As far as New York/Washington goes, I didn’t really care.  Washington got trounced in Game 7 and they’re now out playing golf as I predicted.  Perhaps this is the Rangers finding their form and getting set to go on a long run.

Bruins vs. Maple Leafs:  Finally, Leafs/Bruins.  I don’t know why I picked this one to go to seven, but here we are.  I still can’t believe what happened last night as I was frantically checking my dying phone for updates.  Twitter exploded and it was amazing.  I still hate the Bruins though, and I really wish they could have lost.  Would have been sweet justice after the lockout.

Overall, a very fun very tight first round.  Holy overtime, Batman.  17 games is an NHL record, and I don’t believe any games made it to 2OT or beyond.

So, that brings me to another round of predictions, this one not quite based on my bracket due since I only got one of the second-round series correct.  Let’s take a spin of the wheel, shall we?

Chicago Blackhawks  Detroit Red Wings

1. Chicago Blackhawks vs 7. Detroit Red Wings:  The Hawks’ quest to knock out the West’s lowest seeds continues.  I’ve got Chicago winning the Cup and as long as they’re in, that will be my pick.  Detroit showed in the last round that they are just not the same playoff powerhouse that dominated the last decade and thus I think this series will be short.  Chicago is rested and I doubt they have any rust from their time off.  I see them going to six at most, but I say Hawks in five.

Los Angeles Kings  San Jose Sharks

5. Los Angeles Kings vs 6. San Jose Sharks:  The defending champs obviously moved on, and here they now face the other standing team from California.  I predicted all of the Golden State’s teams to fail, and I went 1 for 3!… That’s not good.  As usual, I decided I don’t want the defending champions to have the chance at a repeat, and since I do live a half-hour from San Jose, I will be rooting for the Sharks.  They’ve had a bit of time off since making quick (eh? eh? anyone?) work of the Canucks and I think they’re just rounding into playoff form now.  Their window is closing and I think they’ll make the most of it.  That’s what I want.  My prediction?  Kings in six.  Sorry Sharks, but I just don’t see the dominance of the Kings stopping any time soon.  Ideally, though, Sharks in seven for the entertainment value.

Pittsburgh Penguins  Ottawa Senators

1. Pittsburgh Penguins vs 7. Ottawa Senators:  Oh look, another 1/7 series!  Those pesky Sens surprised the Canadiens and the Penguins nearly went the distance with the Islanders.  The Penguins should be scared and even before the series begins, I feel that the Senators have momentum.  It is hard to deny the abundance of talent on Pittsburgh though, and with their goaltending problems solved with Tomas Vokoun (?), I’ve got them coming out of this series.  Penguins in six is the safe bet to me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was an upset.  Ottawa is a healthy team again (cue Spezza laugh) and their offense is kicking it, but I just can’t find it in myself to commit to them.  Sorry Sens.  And holy crap, watch Matt Cooke score the series winning goal.  That would be hilarious.

Boston Bruins  New York Rangers

4. Boston Bruins vs 6. New York Rangers:  Oh boy, I have no idea how this will go.  The Bruins nearly collapsed to the Leafs.  The Leafs!  The Rangers came out on top of a Capitals team that dominated the last weeks of the regular season, though as was shown this morning on Puck Daddy, had just 10 wins against playoff teams in their last 28 games.  Yikes.  So, for this one I’m just going to go with what I want.  Which is actually what I don’t want least and that would be the Rangers advancing in, let’s say, four.  Bold I know.  Why not, eh?

And that brings me to my updated and ever-living homemade playoff bracket.  I received a few suggestions from the last one I posted and got some new ideas from elsewhere.  Check out my new completed first-round playoff bracket, all set for round two!

Playoffs 2013 - Round 2Here’s to an entertaining second round.  As always it will be hard to top the opening round, but who knows what will happen.  Anything is possible!

…I might even stop saying that, too.

(Late edit: I just remembered that I also made new team logo blocks to replace those seen above and in the bracket.  I might use them in my next bracket… or maybe I’ll wait until next year.)

(Late late edit: If you’re reading this after May 29th, all of the logo blocks have been updated.  Hooray, revisionist history!)