Saturday, June 12, 2010

A guide to the NHL playoffs for you and me both

Here’s the one thing I know: the Stanley Cup playoffs are currently going on. Other than that one could say I’m not very well informed. So instead of me babbling on about things I know next to nothing about, like I do with most psychology papers, I thought I would go to the only NHL expert I know, or the only expert that lives with me at least, my roommate Dylan, who graciously agreed to sit down, crack a few Molson Lights and talk some hockey.

Actually, I just emailed him questions about the Stanley Cup playoffs and he answered them, but that was only because I was afraid my inability to hold a conversation would’ve caused him to leave the room after the second question. Anyway, here’s the interview.

Joe Pavelski is a center on the San Jose Sharks. He is also from Plover, which is pretty cool. What can you say about his play so far in these playoffs?
“Pavelski has been electrifying for the Sharks in this year’s playoffs, leading all active players in goals, including three straight multi-goal games. As a player Pavelski has grown into himself this season, carrying his fantastic Olympic form into the second half of the season and playoffs. Although a relatively unsung prospect coming out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (drafted in the 7th round in 2003), Pavelski is proving in these playoffs his pension for winning big – 2002 Wisconsin State Hockey Championship, 2006 NCAA Hockey Championship, 2010 Olympic silver. Pavelski has become an emotional catalyst for the Sharks.”

Speaking of the Sharks, they are currently up on your Detroit Red Wings (sorry). What’s the deal with that series?
“Starting to see a changing of the guard in the Western Conference; the Red Wings have played inconsistent all year long, starting out slow and surging late. Rookie goaltender Jimmy Howard has started to show his inexperience in the playoffs for the Wings. The Wings have struggled to get production outside of Henrick Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom. The Sharks are playing with enthusiasm and grit, beating the Wings to pucks and breaking down a traditionally staunch Red Wings defense. I expect the Wings to win the remaining game at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit with the Sharks clinching the series at home in five games.”

Are there any other players we should be watching out for through the rest of the playoffs?
“The remaining players I would look out for in the playoffs are Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Joe Pavelski of the Sharks, Mikael Samuelsson of the Vancouver Canucks, Marian Hossa of the Chicago Blackhawks. Also look for Zdeno Chara to be a physical and emotional force for the Boston Bruins defense.”

How big of an upset was that Canadiens-Capitals first round series?
“The Canadians upset was huge. The Capitals entered the playoffs as a clear-cut favorite to make the Stanley Cup finals. The Canadians were able to contain Ovechkin with stellar goaltending and tough defense.”

Because I’m somewhat self-absorbed, let’s try to sneak the NBA into this discussion. Why are the NHL playoffs better than pro basketball’s?
“For the casual fan, the NHL playoffs promise the tough physical play, occasional fight, and high speed action lacking in many NBA games. Personally I enjoy the fact that every goal counts. In a basketball game teams generally score on every possession, this is not the case in a hockey game. While high scores entertain fans, the staunch goaltending and physical defending present in hockey extends the excitement of the game. One goal changes the dynamic of a hockey game in a way that a single basket cannot, teams are forced to alter their entire game plans.”

Are you more of a Barry Melrose or Matthew Barnaby guy?
“I am a Barry Melrose fan, Barnaby was a bum when he played and continues that trend in his commentating.”

Who are the two players left in the playoffs you think would make for the best fight, and who would win this hypothetical battle?
“Georges Laraque of the Montreal Canadians and Chris Pronger of the Philadelphia Flyers. I would give the edge to Laraque.”

Okay, back to a mildly serious question, who do you see as the favorites to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals?
“In the finals I believe it will be the Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins.”

And who, in your mind, will be hoisting the Cup in the end? You’re really on the spot now.
“I am going to give the Penguins the Cup, repeating their championship from last year.”

Lastly and most importantly, what would you do if you had the Stanley Cup for a day?
“If I had one day with the Cup I would gather my friends and family for a day of grilling and drinking somewhere in the outdoors.”

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