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NHL Playoff Preview: East

Welcome to the playoffs!

This preview is fairly simple to navigate through, but there are some elements that require some explanation.

Stats and graphics were compiled and prepared by Gus Katsaros and the writeups were written by Peter Harling

Each image can be blown up to a larger size by clicking on the graphic. The first click will take you to a splash page, and then clicking on the same image on that page will blow it up to its original size.

Every series preview has the same format.

All data was compiled using and

The images are as follows:

A game-by-game Corsi breakdown by components, with the colors defined by the legend at the bottom.

Underneath is the head-to-head matchup broken down by their basic Corsi makeups.

The main image is a side by side comparison of the team's season plotted using the Fenwick Close. (Note; Archiving for FenClose began Feb 18 which will produce and N/A for games prior to that date.

Underneath all the visuals is a table with the head-to-head matchups. Most of the headings are self-explanatory, but the structure has the team that placed higher in the standings as the 'team', with the Decision, home/road and other columns based on that team versus their opponent.
Clicking on the team in the column will open a new window with the gamesheet for that game (hover over the team for a title).

TS is 'times shorthanded'.

The FenClo columns are the Fenwick Close for each of the sides, as they entered the game against their opponents.

Colored rows are as follows:
A BLACK row indicates the 'Team' column played the previous night as part of a back-to-back set, while the 'OPP' was rested.
A BLUE row indicates both teams played the previous night as part of a back-to-back set.

Enjoy the preview and if you're team is in the playoffs, enjoy round 1.








Date Team  Dec  OS  HR  Opp  GF  GA  PPG  PPOpp  PPGA  TS  SF  SA  FenClo BOS FenClo TOR
2/2/2013 BOS W   R TOR 1 0 0 2 0 3 34 21 #N/A #N/A
3/7/2013 BOS W   H TOR 4 2 0 3 0 3 25 27 55.81 44.79
3/23/2013 BOS L   R TOR 2 3 0 1 0 2 33 13 54.51 45.34
3/25/2013 BOS W SO H TOR 2 2 0 1 1 3 29 25 54.87 44.98

The Bruins have owned the Leafs since the Kessel trade. That trade will overshadow this series and may be a psychological edge for the Bruins. However, Boston is struggling right now, and looks nothing like the team that won the Cup two years ago. This season Toronto has had some success against the Bruins but the Leafs will need James Reimer to best Tuukka Rask in goaltending. As well the Leafs will rely heavily on a few select players (Kessel, Lupul, and Kadri) for offense. Phil Kessel has been a top six scorer in the regular season for the past two years, but has had little success in his ten games against his former team.

This series will play a role in how history views the infamous Kessel-Seguin/Hamilton trade, and may even have an influence on how much longer Kessel remains a Leaf.

Another important factor could be Boston’s powerplay. Toronto plays an aggressive, physical game and will give the Bruins some power play chances. Boston’s power play is dead last in the NHL despite all their offensive weapons. If it does not make the Leafs pay for taking penalties, it could cost them.
Despite recent history between the two teams where the Bruins have totally dominated, this could be a close series, and if the Leafs were to beat Boston, now could be the time as they are not playing their best.

Fantasy outlook: Boston has too much depth and experience in the playoffs to be denied. The playoffs are all about momentum, and while Boston has none right now, that can change in one shift. Best fantasy bets, Bergeron, Marchand, Chara, Seguin, Lupul, Bozak, and James Van Riemsdyk.







Date Team  Dec  OS  HR  Opp  GF  GA  PPG  PPOpp  PPGA  TS  SF  SA  FenClo MTL FenClo OTT
1/30/2013 MTL L   R OTT 1 5 1 6 2 5 32 27 #N/A #N/A
2/3/2013 MTL W   H OTT 2 1 0 5 1 3 32 33 #N/A #N/A
2/25/2013 MTL O SO R OTT 1 1 1 4 0 1 45 24 52.67 51.68
3/13/2013 MTL W SO H OTT 3 3 2 5 2 3 45 32 52.77 50.85

This will be an interesting series to keep an eye on. On one hand, the Habs end up in second in the East, a year removed from finishing at the bottom of the conference. On the other hand, despite lengthy injuries to the Sens number one centre, starting goalie, the reigning Norris trophy winner and top winger, the Sens still managed to win games enough to earn a post season seeding.

Montreal has struggled during the home stretch and Carey Price in particular has not been playing very well. Unless Price can flip the switch immediately and rediscover his game, Montreal could be in trouble. Montreal will be depending heavily on rookie sensations Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk to continue their strong play. P.K. Subban has also been a force for Montreal and has had a Norris Trophy calibre season. The loss to injury of Alexei Emelin will be significant.

Ottawa managed to push the Rangers to seven games last year in the playoffs largely on the shoulders of Craig Anderson’s outstanding performance. If Anderson can deliver the elite level stats he has produced when healthy this season it may be enough to upset the second seed Habs. Ottawa also has a rally cry around “win it for Alfie”. Aside from Spezza, the Senators have returned to health, most notably Erik Karlsson. Karlssons return will address the offense issue for Ottawa who finished 27th in goals for in the NHL during the regular season.

Because Ottawa was so depleted by injury may be the only reason they are below Montreal in the standings. Ottawa has elite goaltending, speed, grit, leadership, and the acquisition of Cory Conacher has provided them with some more secondary scoring.

Fantasy outlook: These two teams split the regular season series, during which time the Sens were ravaged by injuries. Ottawa can adapt to play a variety of styles of hockey and match up very well against Montreal. This has the potential to be a seven game series, with Ottawa prevailing. Best fantasy bets, Erik Karlsson, Craig Anderson, Subban, and Price.








Date Team  Dec  OS  HR  Opp  GF  GA  PPG  PPOpp  PPGA  TS  SF  SA  FenClo PIT FenClo NYI
1/29/2013 PIT L   H NYI 1 4 0 3 2 2 38 24 #N/A #N/A
2/5/2013 PIT W   R NYI 4 2 1 3 0 7 26 34 #N/A #N/A
3/10/2013 PIT W   H NYI 6 1 2 4 0 3 28 24 51.97 49.18
3/22/2013 PIT W   R NYI 4 2 0 2 0 2 25 35 51.34 49.77
3/30/2013 PIT W   H NYI 2 0 0 2 0 4 27 35 51.24 49.7

The New York Islanders have returned to the post season, and their reward is a first round match up against the heavily favoured Pittsburgh Penguins. The Islanders are an underrated team with young talented players like Matt Moulson, Josh Bailey, Frans Nielsen, and Kyle Okposo, veteran leaders such as Lubomir Visnovsky, Mark Streit, Brad Boyes and Evgeni Nabokov and a budding super star in John Tavares. After years of stockpiling high draft picks and prospects, the Islanders boast surprising depth. While it is refreshing to see this dynasty franchise of yester years beginning to return to respectability, they are horribly out gunned in this series against the Penguins.

Pittsburgh’s overwhelming top end talent lead by two of best players on the planet in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are insulated by an all-star cast consisting of Kris Letang, James Neal, Kris Kunitz, and Marc-Andre Fleury. Not to mention their deadline acquisitions of Brendan Morrow, Doug Murray and Jarome Iginla. The talent Pittsburgh boasts will be more than the Islanders can handle in my opinion.

Fantasy outlook: Pittsburgh wins this series and has the ability to win several games in blow-out fashion. The only concern about picking Pittsburgh players in round one is they may only play four games.







Date Team  Dec  OS  HR  Opp  GF  GA  PPG  PPOpp  PPGA  TS  SF  SA  FenClo WSH FenClo NYR
2/17/2013 WSH L   R NYR 1 2 0 4 1 5 28 40 #N/A #N/A
3/10/2013 WSH L   H NYR 1 4 0 3 1 2 29 30 47.19 53.99
3/24/2013 WSH W SO R NYR 2 2 1 3 1 2 24 32 45.95 53.37

The return of Alex Ovechkin to elite status has vaulted the Caps to first in the South East division and the third seed. Washington has had a tremendous second half while the Rangers have squeaked in. Despite this, look for the Rangers to see second round action. Washington has had plenty of regular season success in the past only to flame out against a superior defensive team with a hot goalie in the playoffs. History should repeat itself again as the Rangers are a superior defensive team who hits, blocks shots and boasts arguably the best goalie in the NHL in Henrik Lundquist.

Washington will have to rely on their power play. It was deadly in the regular season and will have to be in the post season. Ovechkin is the catalyst with the man advantage, either scoring off the one timer or forcing the opposition to over defend him, leaving a teammate open.

There is a reason why the Rangers were preseason favorites to be Stanley Cup Champions this year. They are built for the playoffs and added superstar Rick Nash. After their deadline additions of Ryane Clowe and Derik Brassard they have addressed their depth concerns and should be dangerous.

Fantasy outlook: This could also be a full seven game series but a low scoring one. These two teams met in last year’s playoffs in the second round with the Rangers prevailing. Best fantasy bets, since his arrival from Columbus Brassard has exploded. Brad Richards has had a miserable season, but always brings it in the playoffs and should be a reliable option again. Ovechkin is red hot and should be motivated to prove he can do it in the playoffs as well or better.

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