2011 NHL Playoffs: Analyzing LBC's first-round picks
The day of reckoning has come. And by that, I mean that it's time to analyze the LBC team's first round predictions and see how we did. In addition, we'll note contributions by some former Panthers in each series. Overall, we didn't do too badly, even though none of us predicted Nathan Horton's overtime winner in game five for the Bruins.
Washington Capitals (1) vs. New York Rangers (8)
Actual result: Capitals in 5
John: Capitals in 6
Donny: Capitals in 5
Ryan: Rangers in 7
Donny nailed this one while Ryan and I expected the Rangers' fight to result in a few more wins. It's not that the Rangers didn't try hard, it's just that their lineup is not even close to a match for the Caps. They kept it close in almost every game, but the new-look Capitals were able to open up their defensive game for a bit of the old run and gun when they needed it and thus were the first Eastern Conference team to qualify for the second round, earning a nice rest for the team and the chance to get some of their injured players back.
Ex-Panther factor: Dennis Wideman was injured in the regular season and has yet to appear in the playoffs for the Capitals. He may return in the second round. Former Panthers captain Bryan McCabe, brought in by the Rangers just before the trade deadline to help on the power play, had just 2 assists and 14 penalty minutes in the series.
Philadelphia Flyers (2) vs. Buffalo Sabres (7)
Actual result: Flyers in 7
John: Flyers in 7
Donny: Sabres in 6
Ryan: Flyers in 6
This one went more or less as I expected, only with more goaltenders. The Flyers started with their rookie sensation Sergei Bobrovsky, who was pulled for Brian Boucher who was pulled for Michael Leighton who was pulled in favor of Boucher. The Sabres took it to the Flyers for six games, but ultimately the better team won. The Flyers, even with all of their goaltending issues, are a deeper team than the Sabres. Nothing is a testament to that as much as in game six, when an injured Chris Pronger was in the lineup solely to bring some life to the Flyers' power play. The goaltending carousel is going to be a problem in later rounds, but in this round, they outmatched the Sabres' scoring and defense, which wasn't good enough enough to allow Ryan Miller to steal the series.
Ex-Panther factor: Long-ago Cat Rob Niedermayer had a goal and three assists. Defensemen Jordan Leopold and Steve Montador had an assist each, with Leopold also having 9 hits and 12 blocked shots while Monty had a slightly more modest 7 hits and 9 blocked shots. Nick Boynton found himself in a familiar position in this series. He sat in the press box for the Flyers.
Boston Bruins (3) vs. Montreal Canadiens (6)
Actual result: Bruins in 7
John: Bruins in 5
Donny: Bruins in 6
Ryan: Bruins in 6
We all seem to have underestimated the Canadiens here. After getting manhandled by the Bruins late in the season, the Habs regrouped and the did to the Bruins what they did to the Capitals and Penguins last year. The Bruins regrouped and took the series to seven games, then won despite blowing a lead to the Habs late in the third period of game 7.
Ex-Panther factor: It's all Nathan Horton. Gregory Campbell was a -2 with no points and 10 hits for the B's. Jacques Martin's team put the fear into the Bruins by winning the first couple games on the road. But Horton had three goals in the series, two of which were the overtime winners in games 5 and 7.
Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (5)
Actual result: Lightning in 7
John: Lightning in 7
Donny: Penguins in 5
Ryan: Penguins in 6
The Lightning started the the series shaky, losing 3-0 in game one, but settled down and won game 2 on the road. The Pens then won both games in Tampa and had the opportunity to close the series out at home in game 5. So Guy Boucher's team regrouped and came out strong in game 5, blowing the Penguins out 8-2 in Pittsburgh, won 4-2 at home and then played a nerve wracking 1-0 game 7 in Pittburgh. They move on to face the Capitals in a Southeast Division round 2 matchup.
Ex-Panther factor: Although the Panthers have sent several players to both teams in the last few years, most of them are retired or playing for other teams or in other leagues. The lone representative for the Cats in this series is Dominic Moore. Moore had 2 goals, both on the power play, 1 assist, 14 penalty minutes, 9 hits and 4 blocked shots and along with goalie Dwayne Roloson was considered one of the two series MVPs by the fine folks in the game threads over at Raw Charge.
Vancouver Canucks (1) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (8)
Actual result: Vancouver in 7
John: Vancouver in 4
Donny: Vancouver in 5
Ryan: Vancouver in 6
All of us picked the winner, but seemed to have underestimated the resolve and ability of the Blackhawks. They may have backed into the post-season, but after dropping the first two games in Vancouver, they came out at home looking like the defending champs and forcing the Canucks to near collapse. Franchise goalie Roberto Luongo (who?) got pulled in game five and backup Cory Schneider started game six. If that wasn't a strange enough start to the game, Schneider got outdeked on a game-tying Michael Frolik (wait, who?) penalty shot and Luongo had to come out of the dressing room to relieve his backup. Luongo started the last game and played lights out, but the Hawks kept it close, with Jonathan Toews tying the game at 1 late in the third to force overtime before Alex Burrows ended Vancouver's long nightmare.
Ex-Panther factor: Where do we start? Besides the tying goal on a penalty shot, former Panther Frolik had another goal and three assists for five points, had 12 hits and finished a +3. The factor for the Canucks was quite different, as most of the team's former Cats saw some bench or press box time. The lone exception was forward Chris Higgins, who had a goal and 20 hits and was a -1 in seven games. Forward Mikael Samuelsson snared a goal and an assist. Roberto Luongo was 4-3 in six starts and in relief. He was pulled in two games, had one shutout, a 2.97 GAA and a .900 save percentage. Defenseman Keith Ballard and forwards Victor Oreskovich and Tanner Glass had zero points in a combined 17 games. Glass and Oreskovich had 16 and 14 hits, respectively, while Ballard had only 5.
San Jose Sharks (2) vs. Los Angeles Kings (7)
Actual result: San Jose in 6
John: San Jose in 6
Donny: San Jose in 4
Ryan: Los Angeles in 6
Who would have guessed that the much maligned Joe Thornton would score the OT game winner in game six to send the Sharks on to the second round and the Kings to the golf course? I might have been that bold. In any case, the Sharks finally got some clutch play out of their stars this series, but will have their hands full in the second round with a well rested Red Wings team that should have some guys named Zetterberg and Franzen back in the lineup. The Kings, minus star forward Anze Kopitar, were just not good enough and not deep enough to win this one, despite the return of Justin Williams.
Ex-Panther factor: Does Dan Boyle count? He had 3 assists, 6 hits and 12 blocked shots and was a -1 in six games.
Detroit Red Wings (3) vs. Phoenix Coyotes (6)
Actual result: Detroit in 4
John: Detroit in 5
Donny: Detroit in 6
Ryan: Detroit in 7
One of my NHL rules is "never count the Red Wings out in the playoffs" and they showed why in this one. Despite the losses of Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen, the Coyotes were never really in this one. The Red Wings' goalies are oft-maligned and though their bid to sign Evgeni Nabokov for the playoffs this year didn't work out, once again the Wings showed that they have the offensive depth to only need good goaltending.
Ex-Panther factor: Very short-time Cat Todd Bertuzzi had a goal and 2 assists, 7 hits and 4 blocked shots in Detroit's four wins.
Anaheim Ducks (4) vs. Nashville Predators (5)
Actual result: Nashville in 6
John: Nashville in 7
Donny: Nashville in 7
Ryan: Ducks in 6
As two of us predicted, the Predators learned from last year's first round loss and put the clamp down when the series was on the line. They took the lead in game six and kept the Ducks from taking it to overtime, no matter how much Teemu Selanne tried to put the entire Ducks team on his back and carry them into the second round himself. This was a great series that probably no one bothered to watch and a fitting end to the Finnish Flash's career if he is done. If we're lucky, we'll see him again next year, but if not it was a hell of a way to go out even if his team didn't make the cut.
Ex-Panther factor: Umm, Andreas Lilja had no points in three games for Anaheim. Nick Spaling had 2 goals and 2 assists. OK, Nick never played for the Panthers. He was the guy the Preds picked with the 2007 second round pick we traded them for Tomas Vokoun.
More from SB Nation on why this was the best first-round ever.