Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Best Team Of Playoffs So Far

A quick look at the playoff results so far make it clear that the Pittsburgh Penguins have been the best team in the playoff games so far. They have an undefeated 6-0 record so far. They have the highest goals per game so far in the playoffs and the lowest goals against. They have outscored opponents by a 23-9 margin so far. That is dominant hockey.

Of course, their record is improved by the fact they have played against a poor quality of opponent so far in the playoffs. They had a first round sweep against an imploding Ottawa Senator team who played the worst among all first round playoff teams. They have had two games at home so far against the New York Rangers, who are not exactly a frontline Stanley Cup contender. Had Pittsburgh been playing in the tougher West Conference, I think it is a safe prediction that they would not have as good a record so far in the playoffs. Nevertheless, Pittsburgh has looked very good so far and will likely be the East Conference representative in the playoffs.

Pittsburgh's success has come from some very good goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury was seen as a question mark in the regular season and led me to suggest that they would benefit by adding a frontline goalie. They never did add this goalie, but as long as Fleury can keep up his 1.50 GAA and .944 saves percentage they have a frontline keeper. Fleury has the best goalie numbers among playoff goalies who have appeared in all the games their team has played.

Offensively, Pittsburgh has had dominant performances from Evgeni Malkin (who I think is the early playoff MVP) and Sidney Crosby. Both have ten points and the best points per game in the playoffs so far (other teams have more games played and thus higher scorers).

Pittsburgh has played very well in the playoffs so far. They have been the best team in the playoffs to date and will very likely be the East Conference representative in the finals. They must hope that they face a beat up West Conference team to increase their Stanley Cup chances.

Pitt is no doubt good, but remember, the Rangers were projected to take the eastern conference in the beginning of the season. We'll see how it plays out, as the Rangers have tied it at 3 in game 3. And stop saying, "so far".
Who predicted the Ranmgers to take the East Conference? Here are 12 different pre-season predictions and not one picked the Rangers for first in the East Conference.
1) Its looking like a Pitt-Detroit Finals more and more with each passing game!
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