It's prediction season in the NHL blogosphere. Writers and commenters alike are focused on calling playoff series, handing out hypothetical NHL awards, and prognosticating on draft selections. It's a time of the year when fans will be insulted by "oversights" and embrace "obvious" endorsements. Words will be exchanged, money will change hands, and bookies will skip town; it's great fun for all involved! I'll try my best to bring you thoughtful Habs-oriented predictions throughout the postseason from a variety of sources on top of the regular news and analysis usually posted. Hopefully the Habs will go deep and their players' contributions will be recognized to make this a frequent feature for the coming weeks. Without further ado, here are you links for the day:
Habs News and Analysis
- Coach Michel Therrien was not made available to the media today, so there's not much roster news to report. Here's what the forward lines look like heading into the postseason based on practice today: Gionta-Plekanec-Ryder; Desharnais-Bourque-Pacioretty; Gallagher-Eller-Galchenyuk; Prust-White-Moen; Halpern-Armstrong. Meanwhile, these are the defensive pairings MT and company went with: Gorges-Diaz; Markov-Subban; Bouillon-Tinordi; Kaberle-Drewiske; Weber.
- Carey Price has been named the Molson Cup Player of the year for most three-star selections. In the HIO Player of the Year poll, fans voted P.K. Subban as the top player. P.K. beat out all challengers with 53% of the vote.
- Christopher Boucher takes a look at the shorthanded productivity of the Montreal Canadiens at the individual player level. He notes that Subban is "far-and-away the Habs top short-handed player." According to Chris' data, P.K. recovers more loose pucks than any other defenseman and has the most successful dump-outs per minute. Lars Eller, Brandon Prust, and Travis Moen are all mentioned for leading the forwards in loose-puck recoveries, successful dump-outs, and pass interceptions respectively.
- Nathan Beaulieu has been charged with assault stemming from an incident at a house party last Saturday in Strathroy-Caradoc, Ontario (a suburb of London). Police are awaiting his arrival in the city and expect him to appear later in the week.
- Corey Sznajder over at Carolina Hurricanes blog Shutdown Line has posted an Eastern Conference Playoff Preview. For the Habs-Sens series, Sznajder notes that the Canadiens are "superior to Ottawa in every area except for goaltending." Montreal has better FenClose numbers, FenTied numbers, higher GF/60, and better PK SA/60 numbers. Meanwhile, Ottawa has higher PP SF/60 and a higher save percentage both at even strength and on the penalty kill. With the addition of Karlsson, Sznajder feels that the Sens chances improve, but overall predicts the Habs to win in seven.
- The fine folks over at Arctic Ice Hockey also give their picks for the first round. Author TJ Maughan notes that the Senators averaged more shots per game on the season than the Habs did, all while missing their two best players for the bulk of the season. Since one of those players seems to be back in full form, Maughan likes the Sens. He also notes that Craig Anderson is very good. Overall, five editors pick the Sens to win while three pick the Habs. Every editor on Arctic Ice Hockey, save for one, predicts that the series will go six games or longer. It's gonna be a good one, Canada.
- Scott Reynolds over at Copper and Blue gives his predictions for all eight first round series. He notes that the Habs are the better possession team, pointing to their Fenwick tied numbers on the season. Ottawa fans would likely rebut, noting that the Sens have been the third best team in the league since the trade deadline in score-adjusted Fenwick. Reynolds also notes that Craig Anderson and Carey Price differ by 0.1% in terms of EV save percentage over the last four seasons at 92.4% and 92.3% respectively. Overall, Reynolds picks the Habs to win in five.
General News and Analysis
- The Colorado Avalanche will get the first pick in the 2013 NHL Entry draft followed by Florida, Tampa Bay, Nashville, Carolina, Calgary, Edmonton, Buffalo, New Jersey, Dallas, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Winnipeg, and Columbus. Here's reaction from the fine folks over at Mile High Hockey as well as Panther fans over at Litter Box Cats.
- Here's Canada's preliminary roster for the 2013 IIHF Hockey World Championship. Canada's lineup at centre is pretty impressive with Steven Stamkos, Claude Giroux, Jordan Staal, Eric Staal, and Ryan O'Reilly all on the team. The tournament runs from May 3 - May 19 in Sweden and Finland and all Canada's game will be broadcast on TSN/RDS.
- For some reason, the "NHL on TSN" panel has created a parody of "The Hangover." The acting's not great, but that just adds to the charm!
- CBC has no plans to discipline Don Cherry for his comments regarding female sports journalists working in locker rooms. The network feels that Ron MacLean provided balance to the discussion by disagreeing with Grapes and that CBC employees are entitled to have opinions in the same way every Canadian is.
- After a season of silence, the venerable and terrifying Gabriel Desjardins, founder of BehindTheNet.ca, has penned his first post for Arctic Ice Hockey in 2013. He notes that as game time progresses, hitting decreases and that teams hit more when they're behind on the scoreboard. These two points were raised in response to Toronto coach Randy Carlyle citing 50+ hits as a measure of success for his team.
- Backhand Shelf's Daniel Wagner is not a fan of the whole "Canada's Team" concept. What say you, reader?