GDT: The Other Guys

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    ...s at allYes, its time again for another non-Leafs game day thread.  Tonight marks the start of the 3 other conference quarter finals games, with the Montreal Canadiens in Boston; Buffalo will be in the city of brotherly love for their first date with the Flyers and for a night cap the Battle of California will begin between the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks.

    Though our boys in blue won’t be playing tonight, these three series are chock-full of ex-buds.  5 of the 6 clubs playing tonight have former Leaf products.  The rosters are a gold mine Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda Leaf fans, as Brad Boyes, Tukka Rask, Tomas Kaberle, Tyler Seguin (well…sort of), Kris Versteeg, Hal Gill, Jamal Mayers, Ian White and Kyle Wellfed will be on the ice tonight.  Only the Kings are without a Leaf alum… which oddly doesn’t help their chances.

    Stats, storylines, and erroneous predictions after the break

    3. Boston Bruins v. 6. Montreal Canadiens (7pm CBC)

    TEAM GF (rank) GA (rank) PP% (rank) PK% (rank)
    Boston 246 (8th) 195 (3rd) 16.2% (20th) 82.6 (16th)
    Montreal 216 (24th) 209 (8th) 19.7% (7th) 84.4% (7th)

    Alright, who here isn’t expecting a rout by Boston tonight?  Montreal might have special teams advantages and they might be a lot quicker, but Boston’s line-up has the size and nastiness between Lucic, Horton and Chara to effectively suffocate almost any attack by the bleu, blanc et rouge.  Peter Chiarelli was active on and before the deadline, heavily augmenting his already fearsome roster with the likes of Chris Kelly, Tomas Kaberle and Rich Peverly.

    The Bruins – surprisingly – don’t have the best goals against in the league.  They still have the hottest (statistically speaking, anyway) goaltender in Tim Thomas, who comes into the opening game with a scintillating 2.00 GAA and a .938 SV% the latter stat being a new NHL single-season record.  For all the depth that the Bruins might have, it’s the play of Flint’s finest that will make or break the Bruins post-season chances.

    The Bruins might have the edge in goaltending, but Carey Price has been no slouch this season. He’s bounced back from a dreadful 2008 – 09 playoffs (where the Bruins swept the Canadiens) and 2009-10 regular season that saw him supplanted by super Slovak Jaro Halak.  Now that Carey knows the Price is right, can he come up big when the Habs need him to?

    2. Philadelphia Flyers v. Buffalo Sabres

    TEAM GF (rank) GA (rank) PP% (rank) PK% (rank)
    Philadelphia 259 (3rd) 223 (11th) 16.6% (19th) 82.8% (15th)
    Buffalo 245 (9th) 229 (14th) 19.4% (9th) 83.0% (13th)

    Opposites attract?  The 2009 – 10 Cup finalists from the East were absolutely dominating in the early parts of this season, possessing a 10 point lead in the East standings prior to the All star break.  Since then, Briere and the boys have been on cruise.  Contrast that with the Buffalo Sabres, cellar dwellers till December. They’ve had the best record in the NHL since the All Star break, getting timely goals and timely goaltending from both Ryan Miller, and more recently (and when it mattered) Jonas Enroth.

    The Flyers have as good a forward corps as anyone in the East with 2 30+ goal men (Briere, Carter) and 5 20+ goal scorers.  They also possess the East’s best defensive corps, but will be without Chris Pronger who is still nursing various injuries.  Yet they come into the game with rookie Sergei Bobrovsky between the pipes.  Lotta questions there.

    For the Sabres, its going to come down patience, coaching and determination.  And by that, I mean the health of Ryan Miller.  As is standard in April, Miller’s injury report was as vague as the answers I give my girlfriend when she asks why I’m getting home so late.

    2. San Jose Sharks v. 7. Los Angeles Kings

    TEAM GF (rank) GA (rank) PP% (rank) PK% (rank)
    San Jose 248 (6th) 213 (10th) 23.5% (2nd) 79.6% (24th)
    Los Angeles 219 (22nd) 198 (6th) 16.1% (21st) 85.5% (4th)

    Somebody call Richard Dreyfuss, it’s the Sharks! After years of dominating the regular season only to sputter out in the playoffs, the San Jose Sharks are primed for a long, successful run.  The roster additions that the Sharks have made for the 2010 – 2011 season were made by GM Doug Wilson in one last dying attempt to make this team a cup contender.  With playoff no-show Evgeni Nabokov replaced by cup winner Antti Niemi, the Sharks look more dangerous than ever before.  The team has two 30 goal scorers and five 20+ goal scorers (this isn’t cut and paste, but thanks for noticing).  And their competition? Well lets just say they’re a little world weary.

    The Los Angeles Kings will be making their second consecutive playoff appearance, and will likely bow out just as gracefully and quickly as last year.  This would be a different series but for the injuries.  They come into tonight LAKing (see what I did there?) their two highest scoring players.  Also, starting goaltender Jonathan Quick ended his season on a down note, going 2 – 4 – 0 in final 6 starts.

    Time for the erroneous predictions.  San Jose has got this one in the bag.  Its all over but the crying.  Hands down.  BOOK IT!

    …I can’t wait to wake up to a 4 – 1 stomp-out by the Kings tomorrow.

    Enjoy the games, Ladies and Gents.

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