The Summer of Steve & playoff picks

Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Rangers.

Here we sit for the 4th straight season, hours away from the opening of the playoffs and once again Edmontonians have to watch the Stanley Cup playoffs on TV. No live games in our city. No chance of “Shirts off for Horcoff” chants in the streets. No chance the boss allows you to show up late because of a series clinching victory the night before. No playoff games sucks, even for the media.

Covering the playoffs is akin to how the fans cheer during the playoffs. It is more intense, fun and exciting. Sure, the quotes can be more cliché than ever, but after one or two games a few players get a good hate on and the mental mind games begin.

The playoffs are like the Olympics, but longer, especially in a Canadian city when their team wins a few rounds. Only Vancouverites will have a chance to rekindle their Olympic spirit, because the Canadiens and Senators are big underdogs.

My buddy Ryan Lambert told me about Whatifsports.com and pointed out that Montreal, Ottawa, Boston, Philly, Detroit and Nashville have ZERO chance of winning the Cup.

“We simulated the entire playoff 2,001 times using the current season rosters and statistics. Home ice advantage is taken into account. Average wins and losses per series are indicated in the bracket.”

Keep in mind that through all of their calculations they didn’t produce one upset in the first round. LA has the best chance at an upset at 30.9% while Detroit, 26.9% and Colorado 23.9% are next.

Before I get to Sheldon Souray and Steve Tambellini’s upcoming press conference later today, here’s my picks for the first round.

SAN/COL

Everyone is scared of the Sharks and their inability to win in the playoffs, but the Avs are too young and the Sharks are flat out better. Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle’s Olympic experience will lead this team past the Avs, and in fact, they will win the Cup this year. Sharks in five.

CHIC/NASH

I like Barry Trotz’ team, and if they were 5th or 6th I’d pick them to win a round, but the Hawks are just too deep. The Preds will continue their streak of never winning a playoff series, but they will give the Hawks a tough series. Hawks in six.

VAN/LA

I’m going with the Kings in an upset, although the Kings have 101 points compared to the Canucks’ 103 so is it really an upset? The Kings like to pressure the puck down low, and they have three solid lines, and the Canucks defence is their weakness. The Sedins have been unreal all year, but Michel Handzus is one of the best checking centres in the league. That will be a great match up with Handzus, Freddy Modin and Wayne Simmonds v. the Sedins and Burrows. Roberto Luongo has looked average down the stretch, but he still has a huge edge over Jonathon Quick. Kings in Seven.

PHO/DET

No team since the 1983-1985 Oilers has made it to the Cup finals three straight seasons and the Wings won’t end that streak. The Wings have been the best team since the Olympic break, 16-3-2, and they have way more playoff experience than the Desert Dogs. The Dogs were 13-5-1 after the Olympics, and they are the Rodney Dangerfield of the NHL; they get no respect. The Coyotes are relentless on their puck pursuit, and they will make life very difficult for the Wings’ defenders. Jimmy Howard is a rookie and Ilya Bryzgalov has lots to prove. The Coyotes have home ice, and they will use it to win in seven. Dogs in Seven.

WASH/MONT

This will be ugly. I don’t care how good Jaroslav Halak was in the Olympics and down the stretch for the Habs, he won’t post a 2.00 GAA this series, and the will need to if the Habs want to win. The Canadiens don’t have the firepower to keep up with the high-scoring Capitals, and the Habs’ defence isn’t big enough to slow down Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom and the boys. Capitals in four.

NJ/PHILLY

I really want to pick the Flyers in this one. They won five of six in the regular season, but I don’t put much stock in that. They have to rely on Brian Boucher to win, and he’ll need to recapture the out-of-body experience he had back in 2003/2004 with the Coyotes when he posted five consecutive shutouts and didn’t allow a goal for 332:01. The Flyers have lots of talent up front and on the backend, and they will push the Devils. My gut tells me to pick the Flyers, but stupidly I will pick the Devils in six.

BUFF/BOS

Ryan Miller is good enough to beat the pop-gun offence of the Bruins. Only the Flames (204) scored fewer goals than the Bruins (206) and with Marc Savard out, I don’t see how the Bruins score enough to win. The Sabres have a great goalie, but they aren’t good enough to compete with the Pens or Capitals later on. Peter Chiarelli will be ecstatic drafting Taylor Hall this summer to improve their scoring next year. Sabres in six.

PITT/OTT

Similar to the Wings, I don’t see them making the Cup finals three years in a row, but they will get out of the first round. (Since my gut tells me Philly wins, the Pens will beat the Sabres in the 2nd round, but lose to the Caps in the finals, however I’m dumb and not picking that so the Pens will lose in the 2nd round). I’m guessing Ottawa would have preferred if the Pens won the Atlantic, so they could have faced the Devils instead, and for the first time since 1996, Canada won’t have a team in the 2nd round of the playoffs. (Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto and Calgary all lost in the first round that year). Pens in Six.

TAMBO SPEAKS

Steve Tambellini has a press conference at 1 p.m. today, where he will address the season, Sheldon Souray and the first overall pick. Yesterday was a monumental day in Oiler history, when it was confirmed they will have the first overall selection in the draft, for the first time in franchise history.

This story should be bigger, but Souray’s comments, and Tambellini’s insistence to wait two days to respond to them, means it will Taylor or Tyler talk will be over-shadowed.

Tambellini and the Oilers should have had an end-of-the-season presser planned on Monday. He could have wrapped up the season, and then luckily he would have been able to address Souray’s comments Monday. This would have allowed the Oilers to focus on the first pick, and just how big of a deal it truly is.

Instead today we will hear what Tambellini’s plans are for the summer, and his thoughts on Souray’s statement.

Last year, Tambellini showed passion and fire when he announced that Craig MacTavish would not be returning, but that the players were just as responsible. He then vowed to make changes. No major changes occurred, and he chose to promote from within with J.F Jacques, Ryan Stone and Gilbert Brule.

Today we should hear what his plan is for the off-season. I’ve said it many times before that this is the most important off-season in Oiler history, and Tambellini’s tenure with the Oilers will ultimately be decided this summer.

He’s in a tough spot, with so many underachievers and he is still trying to clean up Kevin Lowe’s mess, but he knew that when he took the job, and now he needs to make the right moves to turn this organization around.

He can’t trade, buyout or not qualify any players today, but he needs to make it clear that he has a plan moving forward. Being cryptic and not straight forward is unacceptable now.

He needs to show Oiler fans that he is a better communicator than Souray suggested he is.

The SUMMER OF STEVE begins today.

  • I read this on another site:

    "Look at some of the interviews we've done with our prize prospects, for example. There are little things: Anton Lander not knowing where the Oilers want him to play in the coming season. Robby Dee bluntly saying that "I haven't spoken with Edmonton at all". One of our very best prospects, Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson, also apparently having no clue what the organization wants from him, speaking of the AHL as if it would be a nice opportunity if it ever came up. One such anecdote from a prospect, it's a misunderstanding. Three, it's a trend. Even Teemu Hartikainen, whose rights the Oilers would lose if he's not signed this summer, said after his series with Tappara that "hopefully they like my game in Edmonton and want to sign me."

    I was wondering if anyone here knows whether this is true/accurate and who is in charge of communication and such with prospects.

    • MrCondor

      I feel there should be some communication, but how can the Oilers know where these prospect are going to be next year?

      The oil need to review the prospect's scouting reports and evaluate them at camp before they can decide their immediate future.

      I hope they are getting some feed back from the organization, but a letter reading "if you bulk up and increase your hockey sense, there is a 54.2% chance you'll be in the AHL next year" doesn't really help anyone.

    • BarryS

      Not sure but don't teams work through agents rather than directly with the player before they're signed? Seems to me some or all of these players were under contract to euro pro teams, so at what level can the Oilers talk to them while they are under contract? Tambo said he wants to sign the euros this summer so I quess we have to take his word for it for now.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      I read the blog, well written and sounds nice but I think everyone just wants to jump on this "communication" band wagon because everyone wants as much ammo against the team as possible.

      How much did we here about communication before this? I'd say little to nothing. It's the flavor of the day.

      Another ridiculous part is that they basically accuse the whole orginazition do we really think theirs 4-5+ people that are all "poor communicators?

  • I also updated mine.

    As per Brownlee on Gregor's show today:

    Benefit of the doubt goes to Tambo on this one–44 denied seeking a trade to a room full of media last year after Brownlee's story suggesting that he might have asked for one.

    He lied then why not now?

    SEGUIN IS THE NEW SEXY

    • Because the right thing to do was to say no. He didn't take it public a year ago, and now you want to vilify him for that. Had he said yes a year ago, then he would've been considered a d-bag like Heatley for making his demands public.

      • I'm supposed to give the guy props for making trade demands in year two of a HUUUGE contract (that he was happy to sign because it WAS the most money available) just because he did it behind closed doors initially? Or just because the first year of his contract was such a waste due to injury? Or because he asked to be traded even though he was a key piece of a playoff drive.

        Make no mistake. His acts reek of douchebaggery.

        He isn't on the level of Heater but how does anyone get off on defending the guy?

        • Not trying to defend him so much as I'm trying to show how he was "damned if he did and damned if he didn't". Doesn't change the d-bag level all that much. At the end of the day, he wants out. He tried to do the right thing and it didn't work, so then he took this route. Now you wanna chastise him for denying that he asked for a trade last year? Had he gone ahead and said yes, then he would have been vilified for going public. He was in a no-win situation. He tried the right thing without success, so now he's taken this route. Bottom line… Don't let the door hit you in the arse on the way out!

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            The real douchy thing isn't how he went about it (then or now) it's the fact that he wanted out after playing 100(ish) games of a 400 game contract….especially when the team was respectable the first time.

  • Have to agree with Arch on that one. I mean, the majority of Seguin's goals came from 5 on 5, whereas Hall scored a large portion of his goals on the PP. You could argue that a good percentage of powerplay goals come from the perimiter.

    Now I'm not trying to discount the fact that Hall isn't afraid to drive the net and would definitely give us some more "crust," but I think Crash may be creating too much of a discrepancy between the two players' ablity and desire to score in tough areas.

    Overall, I feel Seguin has more upside and will be the better player down the road. The better player in regards to the Oilers needs for sure.

    Eat that Crash!!! ; )

    • Where does it matter where the goals came from? Here's a newsflash, PP goals are worth just as much as EV strength goals and many pp goals are scored by crashing the net…sheesh…again people getting caught up in one season?…tell me Bombay…what has Seguin done in the playoffs in the OHL compared to Hall when it really counts?….What has Seguin done in his entire tenure in the OHL compared to Hall?…..

      You pick out this meaningless stat for this one season that Seguin has more EV strength goals…it could easily go the opposite way the next year….How many points and goals did Seguin score for the World junior team? How many OHL and memorial cup mvp awards does he have?

      Why do you think Seguin has more upside just because Central scouting rates him as number one? What makes you think Seguin will be the better player down the road? Tell me why, don't just tell me. How do you know what the Oilers needs are going to be down the road? As far as I can see the Oilers really need some highly skilled guys who bring their lunch buckets and show up the more the pressure mounts….Hall has shown that he does this…all Seguin has done is have ONE good regular season…

      Eat that Bombay 🙂

      • I'm not really sure if you get this, but you don't get to pull comments out of your ass like "Seguin is a soft perimeter player" and then get upset when people point out possible reasons why that could be wrong.

        Try framing his comments in the appropriate context before squawking like a 14 year old girl.

        Could Hall have more EV goals next year, sure…that wasn't the point. The point was that the number of EV goals helps suggest he isn't soft. It may or may not be meaningless in a general sense, but for his point it made sense.

        It's like you didn't even read his post, you just saw the words "EV goals" and threw an immediate tantrum without even trying to figure out what he actually said.

        • Actually what you are doing here is really what is called throwing a tantrum…do you feel better now?

          So did you actually read his post?…you interpreted it one way I did another.

          What pointing out the EV strength goals meant to me was that it made him better than Hall because he had more of them and Hall needed the PP to score…it had nothing to do with whether he is a perimeter player or not….then the point was made that because Hall scored so many PP goals that the arguement could be made that he is actually the perimeter player.

          I believe Seguin to be a perimeter player, if you don't like that too bad.

          So before going off like a 14 yr old girl yourself, try pulling your head out of your ass and grow up…

          Look in the mirror dumbass when you start with a garbage barrage like the one you just threw…if you also noticed in both my posts and Bombays post they both ended with smiles or winks and there was no malice in his or in mine.

          I have opinions like anyone else on this site but I don't blow a gasket and resort to the crap that you just did…so blow off.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            1. There was no name calling, so don't make things up please.

            2. There is no malice in my post either. I don't know you, so why would I feel any malice? I just thought your reply was infantile and way short on logic, so I commented.

            3. It has nothing to do with interpretation. He was very clearly making an argument with that point that Seguin is not necessarily a perimeter player. You responded to something else. Do you really not see the disconnect? It wasn't up for interpretation.

            4. I don't care that you think Seguin is a perimeter player. It has absolutely nothing to do with my comments to you. I have no opinion on the matter because I haven't watched him play often enough. Out of curiosity though…how many times have you seen him play?

            5. I didn't blow a gasket, I simply called a spade a spade. The only one upset here is you.

            All I am asking is that you at least try to figure out what someone said before responding.

      • They're both talented players. Seguin has worked his way into the #1 spot. That is probably a reflection of his character. Hall has been 'the guy' for longer. Seguin is the classic late bloomer.

        Hall has 280 point in his 183 OHL games. Seguin 173 in 124 games. Both have played on teams that have won won Ivan Hlinka & U17 championships. Just looking at the numbers, Seguin will pass Hall's OHL totals in his 3rd year, if he plays it.

        It will be a great debate for the next couple of months, probably even for many seasons after the draft.

        • I never once said that Seguin isn't a good player…of course he is…I've also said that I'll warm up to him if he ends up here…

          It seems it's ok on here for there to be support for Seguin over Hall…I here people on here taking pot shots at Hall more in a personal manner than anything else and it's all ok with everyone…

          Such things as him being ugly or calling into question his attitude or saying that his dad is a meddler and all of this without warrant…but it's ok to do that I guess.

          Then there's idiots like Tiger Under Glass coming in here and resorting to name calling tirades similar to a grade school kid…nice stuff.

          I agree with you…the debates will rage on I'm sure for a long time….I guess you could say I'm part of the Team Hall group and I have my points and opinions as to why.

          I'm not sure whether Seguin would pass Halls totals if he played his 3rd year or not it would still require a very very good year to do it. Not likely he'd ever be able to catch up in the playoff numbers. But keep in mind too that if Seguin plays his 3rd yr of junior it will be as an 18/19 yr old whereas Halls 3rd year was as a 17/18 yr old. Traditionally 19 yr olds are the top guys in the league scoring wise.

          I don't hate Seguin…I just like Hall much better as a player. I enjoy the debates they are fun.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Gregor, San Jose win the cup? It never fails. They get picked to win it all in October, picked when playoffs start, than they fold like a lawn chair every year. Olympic experience isn't going to do anything for the sharks, especially after dropping the first game at home. Put down the pipe sharks fans, they will be out in the first or second round, as per usual.