Ice Chips: The Stanley Cup is Three-Quarters Full
As the Stanley Cup playoffs march on, player stats become a bit more challenging to interpret. Of course, if you spent the past week watching your team go to a Game Seven, you might not even be aware stats are still being given out.
For instance, looking at Flyer Daniel Briere’s line so far, it’s pretty impressive. He leads the NHL with 11 playoff points. But don’t forget, Briere (who is obviously well-loved in Montreal, by the way) has already played eight games. Compare that with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby. Crosby has eight points in just four games, a much more economical line. Heck, even New York Ranger Jaromir Jagr, a bit of a dud during the regular season, has eight points over five games. The moral of the story? If you’re not putting up great numbers, see if you can keep your series going. If your numbers are good, then end the series as quickly as you can.
Speaking of ending a series quickly, over in Minnesota, defensemen Kim Johnsson and Brent Burns probably couldn’t wait for their series against the Avs to end. The two blueliners averaged around 28 minutes of ice time per game during the playoffs. I haven’t checked in a while, but the Wild have other blueliners too, right?
One thing you have to love about the playoffs is that it really lets the clutch players rise to the top. Flyer Joffrey Lupul’s regular season line (20 goals, 26 assists) was solid if not spectacular (especially given his late-season struggles), and his playoff run started slowly but culminated in a first round clincher in overtime. Thursday night, in the second round opener against the Habs, Lupul struck again, putting up another goal (although I’m not convinced it should have counted). Sadly, it wasn’t enough as the Flyers went down in overtime.
Over in Round Six of the classic Detroit-Colorado rivalry, Johan Franzen picked up the pace also, scoring two goals and adding an assist in Detroit’s Game One win. Franzen ended the season on fire, but was pretty quiet in the Red Wings’ first round win over Nashville. You have to wonder how long Colorado will last in the second round, though. Peter Forsberg missed the opener with a groin injury, and honestly, if it wasn’t that, it would have been his ankle, or an in-grown hair, or morning sickness or rickets. If that wasn’t bad enough, Colorado goalie Jose Theodore gave up four goals on the first 16 shots he saw, before going home sick to the team hotel. Backup Peter Budaj stopped the next 20 shots, but Colorado does not want a goalie controversy. You know. Like in Detroit, where backup Chris Osgood started Game One over Dominik Hasek.
Round Two Previews
- Friday, the Penguins begin their series against the Rangers, a matchup that must have had the suits at NBC and Versus pinching themselves. The Rangers have a reputation for being defensive, but they can skate when they have to. Don’t be surprised if the first few games are offensive bonanzas. But after the cakewalk that was Pittsburgh’s first round sweep of Ottawa, is Crosby ready to get physical?
- Friday also sees the Stars kick off their series against the Sharks. No one expected Dallas to make it to the second round, so it’s going to be pretty loose. San Jose played a tough series against Calgary and it’s going to be feeling that. But the Sharks’ Joe Thornton seems to be thriving under the pressure of the playoffs, and as he goes, so will go the Sharks. After all, Jeremy Roenick can’t do it all (unless we see another Game Seven for the Sharks, that is).