Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hurricanes rope-a-dope into the playoffs

The Weakest Link-the 'Canes D
photo:carolinahurricanes.com
Man this image from the 'Canes own Website scares me. Let's hope the D doesn't spend a huge chunk of this series on the PK. If so, we're doomed I say, dooooomed.

How many times did you hear this one last night from Joe Beninati, "Ya know, the 'Canes have only beaten one playoff-bound team since March ....( I forget the date he referenced)?" Well, Joe is right. But the Hurricanes have only played the Lightning x 3, Sabers and Devils in that time span. They beat the Sabers on Mar 22. Took the red-hot Devils to OT on April 11, were 2-1 vs. the Lightning, and got Soprano-whacked last night in the season finale against the Sabers. I hope last night was just a rope-a-dope and not a foreshadowing of a coming big thud. 'Canes have not been world-beaters in the past month. But they have shown the ability to rise to some occasions, like last weekend's Lightning back-to-back. Getting behind early in the series will signal the inevitible coming thud.

'Canes v. Habs Round Deux
The Drive to Extinguish the Legacy of the Molson Miracle

Forwards
I think Mike Ribero is a pansy and the refs are on to his act. Sakku Koivu always scares the piss out of me. He can be as dominating was Peter Forsberg at times, possesing the puck and making the tape to tape pass in the offensive zone. Alexi Kovalev can dominate too if that version of him shows up on a given night. God I wish Erik Cole wasn't still in that neck brace. The Roddy/Koivu matchup will be real interesting. In the world of 5-on-5 hockey, the 'Canes should own the momentum. If it comes to a lot of special teams play, the Habs are decidedly better on the PP (5th in the league-'Canes were 17th). Look for the contributions of the Veterans Admisinstration, Whitney, Weight, and Recchi, to steadily grow over the course of the playoff run-the deeper the 'Canes go, the more they shine.
If they call a legit game-Edge 'Canes
If they call, "looks like he intended to hook" penalties-Edge Habs

In nets
Christobal Huet is been mah-velous, but let's face it, he's French. TV analysts also say he goes to his knees too soon (another French-like tendency) opening up the top shelf. David Aebischer has playoff experience, but because he's Swiss and not a true son of Gaul, the lack of love he's getting from the Francophones may wear on him. Marty Gerber has a French-sounding name, but he's mui Swiss. Yeah, Marty gives up some cheap ones too. He seems to have big wickets under his armpits. But he's also shown the ability to rise to big occasions (ex. vs. Team Canada in the Olympics). Rising now would be appropriate Marty...
Edge 'Canes

Defense
I've harped about this aspect of the Hurricanes game all year. Ain't no Reddens or Phaneufs on that blueline. Last night's game showed how bad the 'Canes can play in their own zone. Who knows what we'll get night-to-night out of Oleg Tverdovsky. Who knows if Frankie Kaberle will hit more Habs than his face hits glass and metal. Mike Commodore needs to eat lots of fish throughout the playoffs. Lots of Protein-enriched brain food. Glen Wesley will rise to the occasion, but he won't get anywhere very quickly. Bret Hedican is a monster when healthy and moving at full speed. On the Canadians side, Mathieu Dandenault probably knows what it takes to excel in Stanley Cup playoff mode. Andrei Markov is also a fine and steady defenseman. Souray and Komisarek are the Habs versions of Commodore and AWard-Physical and fearless, but at times dopey.
Edge Habs

Prediction: Canes in 7


5 comments:

Jeff J said...

I was gonna reply to this, but ended up writing enough material for a post. Anyway, here's the gist:

The Habs have a better PP rate than the Canes and the PK rates look pretty close, so you would think Montreal would have the special teams edge, right? BUT the 'Canes are +18 goals on PP/PK and the Habs are only +2 for the season.

The big difference is the number of PP/PK opportunities - Canes are +86, Habs are -18 on the.

Even if you look at goals per PP/PK (including shorties), the Habs are +0.179 goals per power play opportunity and are -0.168 goals per penalty kill. 'Canes are +0.154 on the PP and -0.144 on the PK. Add it all up and you have a dead heat.

CasonBlog said...

Damn you and your high falootin' Canadian public school education. The analysis you've done shows a dead heat. I obviously watch a lot more 'Canes than Habs, and the Carolina blueline really worries me-at even strength, but even more on the PK. I wish the 'Canes would have put a shot up on the site that showed Nikki Wallin teeing up a shot from the point and your boys on D. That might have had a better vibe.

Jeff J said...

...Habs are -18 on the.

If my education is so high falootin,' why did I end that sentence with 'the?'

roddie said...

I just figured it was French or the metric system. ;-)

CasonBlog said...

I just thought he might have been eating some of that weird and most likely hallucenigenic green plant he puts in his comments.