Thursday, April 30, 2009

Second Round Playoff Match-Ups

The second round of the playoffs start tonight in Vancouver, as the Canucks host the Blackhawks, in the only game of the night. Since it is the only game of the night, it has an earlier start time in Vancouver, as it's a 7pm MT start on CBC.

In terms of the pool, the match-up is relatively close, as they were both favoured to make it through to the second round in their first round matches. The Canucks hold a slight edge, holding 75.4% of their potential selections, while the Blackhawks have 64.5% of theirs. The most popular player chosen on the Canucks for the post-season, Alex Burrows with 25 selections. The most popular Blackhawks player on the sheet, Duncan Keith with 22 selections.

The goaltending match-up sees Roberto Luongo (taken 18 times) take on Nikolai Khabibulin (taken 3 times) go head-to-head, both have played well in this post-season already.

Starting up on Friday night on TSN2 at 5pm MT, the Ducks invade Joe Louis Arena to start a series with the Red Wings. This will start an all-TSN channel evening on Friday, with a pair of early games.

The Ducks beating the Sharks in the first round turned out to be a huge upset on the sheet, so it should come as no surprise that the Red Wings are heavily favoured in this series as well. The Red Wings hold 91.3% of their possible selections in the pool, meaning that everyone and their dog should have one Wing on their team. The Ducks did walk out of the first round with 15.3% of their selections, which was a good move by those people, as they have a leg up on other teams, especially if it goes seven games. The most popular Red Wings, Marian Hossa and Johan Franzen, each have 29 selections. The most popular Ducks player, Ryan Whitney, with 9 selections.

The goaltending battle is a little more interesting, as Chris Osgood, in Detroit, is the only pool goalie expected to start in this series. Jonas Hiller walked out of the regular season with the number one job, swiping it away from J-S Giguere, who is on the sheet. Osgood was taken 8 times on the sheet, while Hiller couldn't be taken and no one wanted Giguere in the first place.

The Eastern Conference bracket starts a little bit later on Friday night, a 5:30pm MT start on TSN, which sees the Carolina Hurricanes, fresh off their upset of the Devils, take on the East-winning Bruins in Boston.

There is lots of love in the pool for the Bruins, as they were the most popular team on the sheet, taking a whopping 94% of their possible selections, which overshadows the Hurricanes like a monolith, who only have 39.3% of their selections. An upset in this series could very well shatter the hopes and dreams of many, taking a good point total to the Conference Finals. The most popular Bruins player is Tim Thomas, with 28 selections. From Carolina, the most popular player is Erik Cole, with 13 selections. Shocking fact: the most popular player for the Hurricanes has 0 points through the first round.

Well, in goal, you already know who is tending for the Bruins and how popular he is, but for the Hurricanes, it's Cam Ward, who only has 4 selections to his name. Although the goaltending match-up is a little one-sided in the pool, it shouldn't be one-sided on the ice, as both goalies are carrying high save percentages into the second round.

Finally, we'll have to wait until Saturday afternoon before we get to see Game 1 of the Penguins/Capitals series, which gets started in Washington at 11am MT on CBC. It will get the marquee treatment through the second round by NBC in the States as well, hence the Saturday early start.

This series is much more evenly matched going into the second round on the sheet. Everyone had a feeling that they'd both make it through, but confidence wasn't exactly at it's highest. The Penguins come into the series as the favourite, taking 76.5% of their possible selections, while the Capitals don't trail too far behind with 74.8%. Neither team would be a dramatic loss in numbers, unless you have some top players for one team rather than the other. The most popular Penguins player is Sidney Crosby, with 38 selections. The most popular Capitals player is Mike Green, with 30 selections.

Much like the DET/ANA series above, there is only one pool goalie starting in Game 1 of this series, but unlike the DET/ANA series, some people took the opposing goalie, who isn't starting. For the Penguins, Marc-Andre Fleury gets the nod in net and he has 10 selections to his name for this series, while Simeon Varlamov will get the nod, as the non-pool goalie. Jose Theodore, the initial starter for the Capitals, did receive 5 selections, but he was yanked in favour of Varlamov after Game 1, which Theodore blew pretty badly. Don't expect to see Theodore for the remainder of the playoffs.

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