Friday's Baker's Dozen - 4/20/2012
Time for my weekly Baker's Dozen.
- What a first week it has been in the playoffs. Here are what people are saying about the emotion, passion, overtime games, upsets, crossing the line, fights, suspensions and basically everything that has made the first round of playoffs more interesting than you could ever imagine.
- Nick Kypreos (on Twitter at @RealKyper) might have summed things up best: "#Flyers #Penguins #Sens #Rangers etc. Why is it so hard for some to understand consequences or not..players will do #anythingittakestowin ?"
- I have always believed that while the power play is very important, come playoff time it’s not as important as the penalty kill. You can win a series without tremendous PP but it’s really difficult to win a series if the PK is struggling. You have to score more goals, and if affects the confidence of players to play on the edge if they are scared to take a penalty. Sharks need to give up zero power play goals against in the next 3 games.
- What is happening in the Western Conference? After 4 games in each series the Coyotes, Blues, Predators and Kings have 3-1 series leads. Meanwhile the Blackhawks, Sharks, Red Wings and Canucks are all one game away from being eliminated in the first round. This is hard to believe considering:
• The last three Western Conference Finals had two of these four teams.
• You have to go back to 2005-06 (#6 ANA vs. #8 EDM) when none of these teams were in the Conference Finals
• The last time the Sharks, Wings, Hawks and Canucks did not get past the first round was 2001.
So what teams are going to come back in the first round?
- Todd McLellan, after the Sharks lost game 3 to the Blues: “Our penalty kill was not very good. The first one gets through. They earned that one. The second one was a missed assignment. The third one is on our tape and we don’t clear. We end up playing in our end and it finds the back of the net. Our power play wasn’t real sharp and at this time of the year it has to be.
“It affects your confidence, your ability to keep going. You can feel it a little bit on the bench. It changes the way you play the game. Sometimes you are not as aggressive as you’d like to be because you are afraid to go to the box. There’s no doubt about it. We have to look at it and fix it.”
- One week into the playoffs and there have been nine suspensions. WOW. Here they are:
Raffi Torres, ___ games, Phoenix
Arron Asham, 4 games, Pittsburgh
Carl Hagelin, 3 Games, NY Rangers
Andrew Shaw, 3 games, Chicago
Byron Bitz, 2 games, Vancouver
Craig Adam. 1 game, Pittsburgh
James Neal, 1 game, Pittsburgh
Nicklas Backstrom, 1 game, Washington
Matt Carkner, 1 game, Ottawa
- Remember, it’s the first to 4, not the first to 3. Also remember, anything can happen at any given time. Here is a reminder of the strange things that can happen that change the complexion of a series.
- Twitter quote of the week goes to @DaveLozo during the Philly vs Pitt game last Sunday: “Poor Matt Cooke on the bench is all like, guys, come on, can't we just get back to playing hockey already? Sheesh."
- How is this for a great series! Chicago and Phoenix have played 4 games. All 4 have gone into overtime. In separate games, Chicago has scored with 5 seconds, 14 seconds and 1 minute 26 seconds left in the game to send 3 of the games to overtime. The NHL Playoffs allow for unsung heroes and the biggest of the playoffs is Phoenix’s Mikkel Boedker who has scored consecutive overtime goals, both in Chicago, to give the Coyotes a 3-1 series lead.
- During Game 2, the St. Louis bench broke. Literally. CSN’s Ray Ratto (@RattoCSN) summed it up best: “Blues bench was taken to the quiet room”
- Scott Hartnell might have summed it up best: "It's scary when it comes down to that level. It's not fun to play with that kind of stuff. You ask the best player in the world, Sidney Crosby, what they were thinking out there and he said, 'Well, that's playoff hockey.' For me, that's not playoff hockey. It's dangerous hockey, it's trying to hurt some people out there and it's scary. You've got to keep your head up at all times. Crosby comes in and grabs me from behind and another guy (Adams) comes and throws about eight bombs at the back of my head."
- Washington Head Coach Dale Hunter on playoff hockey: "It used to be you had to deal with the 'tough guy,' and now you don't have to deal with it. It's more of a free game. It's an emotional game out there. It gets heated up, and that's what happens sometimes."
- Here are the 3 keys to the first four games. So what should the keys for Games 5, 6 and 7 be?
1. Physical investments
2. Net front presence
3. Mentally focused/strong
1. 1st forechecker (OZ) and pass (DZ)
2. Net front presence (again)
1. Board battles
2. Every detail, every shift matters
3. Discipline & focus (play with but control your emotion)
1. Key moments – win them
2. Special teams
3. Play fast – win battles – puck skills ….. in that order