Who won't win the Stanley Cup?
This is the first time I've written a Between the Pipes like column in sometime. I hope to remain writing for the playoffs and the season recap. This short post will be about my favorite stat, goal differential.
In the last 20+ years, we have never had a Stanley Cup winner with less than a +25 goal differential in the regular season. The Penguins win over the Red Wings in 2009 was the lowest of the 20 years with a +25. How about the loser? Well for the losers there have been various goal differentials. For the most part they’ve all had a positive goal differential too. There are three exceptions. Carolina in 01-02 lost to Detroit and had a 217/217 GF/GA. In 92-93 Los Angeles lost to Montreal with a negative differential 338/340 GF/GA. The Kings gave up a lot of goals that year, only three teams gave up more goals than them that season. In 90-91 the Minnesota North Stars (remember them) had a negative 10 differential 256/266 GF/GA and a 27-39-14 record (yikes!). Of course that year there were only 10 teams in the West so all but two teams got in the playoffs.
Last year I wrote “So that means if we cut out the bubbles teams, though there are still five to seven games left so a lot could change, your Stanley Cup Champions will either be Washington, Buffalo, Vancouver, Chicago or San Jose.” and what do you know Chicago won the cup. They had a +62 while their Stanley Cup opponent, the Flyers, had a +11. Naturally it was a foregone conclusion that the Blackhawks would win.
This year I don't see why the pattern won't hold true again. So sorry any team with a less than a +25 goal differential, you won't be winning the Stanley Cup this year. In the East we have Washington, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston and surprisingly the Rangers. A stark contrast from last year when the East only had two teams with a +25 goal differential.
In the West we have Vancouver, San Jose, Chicago and the umm Predators. Hmmmm aren't those the same three teams (minus the Predators) as last year in the West? Surprising, when you consider where Chicago is standingwise. Los Angeles has a chance to get to the +25 mark but it probably won't happen.
I can't see the Rangers winning it all, if they actually get in which now doesn't seem likely, and for some reason I can't see Philadelphia having the same run. The Flyers don't have the goaltending and they are really moving in the wrong direction at the wrong time. Washington, Pittsburgh and Boston are your best bets in the East. Out West I really don't like any of the teams. Sure Vancouver is by far having the best year but considering their past luck, I can't really see them winning it all. Same with San Jose. It's hard to look past all of those other dismal playoff performances and think that for some reason it will be different this year. On the other hand, the Sharks do have a much needed upgrade in goal with Niemi and you can't really argue with the Canucks dominance. I think that one of three above mentioned Eastern teams will knock out the West this year in the Stanley Cup Finals. No I didn't even mention the Predators because I mean come on.
So how did I do with my predictions from the beginning of the season?
4. New Jersey
8. Tampa Bay
Pittsburgh over Washington
2. San Jose
4. Los Angeles
San Jose over Vancouver
Stanley Cup Finals
Pittsburgh over San Jose
I got all but two right in the East and all but two right in the West (assuming the Blackhawks win or the Stars lose). Not sure I'd keep those conference finals now but who knows. I'm still puzzled on how Nashville keeps making the playoffs every year and to a lesser extent Buffalo. I'm pretty sure the Predators will get knocked out of the playoffs in the 1st round (again) and no one will care (again). Sorry if I offended the 5 Predator fans throughout this article.
Stay tuned for my mini 1st round playoff preview which will be up in a few days.