Game 1: Boston won this game in every area: goaltending, offense, defense. Tough game for Ward.
Game 2: Carolina won, but they were completely outplayed. Good game Ward.
Game 3: Carolina was actually able to outplay Boston for a change. Maybe I was wrong. After being shut down in the first couple games Carolina plays hard at home to win convincingly (albeit in OT)
Game 4: Man I feel like an idiot. From my vantage point it looks as though Boston isn't even trying anymore. They now have a large hill to climb and it's quite unlikely they will pull it off.
Game 5: Carolina still has 2 chances. Much better game by Boston.
Game 6: Watching the game I thought Boston was dominating, however, the numbers above tell a different story. Boston has shown over the last couple games why they got the most points in the east.
Game 7: Carolina proved they're at least as good as Boston, this should be a good conference finals...
Has there ever been a more lopsided series? Boston has better scoring, defense, goaltending & special teams. I'll be curious how many people pick the Hurricanes to win. Just look at the season series (18 GF Boston, 6 GF Carolina)
Updated: [the comments below indicated more discussion might be necessary]
I’ve felt all season that Boston has been outperforming all scoring expectations. Whether you look at the players they have or based on their expected scoring rates, Boston has either been one lucky team or proving day in and day out that expected scoring rates and analysis is worthless. I’d be the first to say that, I would rather Boston be a lucky team than a good team. If they’re a good team it means my research is wrong. That said, even with all the analysis I’ve done, goal differential is still essentially the most important indicator of a good team and Boston has that!
This is Boston’s bread and butter. I know they have a great goalie, but really Chara really is the most important player to this team. They had the fewest goals against in the league this year and didn’t do too poorly last year.
I liked Thomas the first season I saw him. I knew with his size and skill that he would be a successful goalie. However, I never expected he would be this successful. Personally I feel Thomas is a .915 goalie (Luongo is a 0.920 goalie for example). They theoretical limit for an NHL goaltender is about .920 (these are all shot quality neutral metrics) with a minimum around 0.880. 0.915 is excellent, but this season Thomas has outperformed his historical averages and came in around 0.930 (1.5% better than I’d expect), 1.5% might seem like a small amount, but it’s equivalent to about 30 goals against over the course of a season. However, just because he was lucky all season doesn’t mean his luck is going to run out tomorrow.
Carolina met expectation in terms of scoring. They actually have the worst scoring record of all remaining teams and they’re up against a team that has great goaltending and defense. Adding Eric Cole at the trade deadline was huge for this team, during the period he was on the team average goals for per game jumped from 2.6 to 3.7. That being said, Eric Cole didn’t seem to be an important player in the first round.
I wouldn’t exactly call this one of Carolina’s strengths and they were lucky to have another bad offensive team to play against in the first round. Pitkanen is the only real name (although I’ve really come to like Gleason – first round pick). Corvo always was a great offensive defenseman for Ottawa, but not exactly defensively minded. Seidenberg is steady, but no all star. (as you can see I know very little about Carolina).
I was never a fan of Ward in the playoff run on 2005-2006. What frustrated me was that the team in front of him was playing so well it didn’t matter too much how he played, he just had to be better than Martin Gerber. However, in 2005-2006 he was 22 now he’s 25, which for goalies is when they begin to peak. I still think of Ward as an average starting goalie, he’s not amazing (he has been lately). In the long run his numbers should hover around .900.
Few other notes:
Carolina had the lead for 82 minutes in the entire 7 game series against N.J. Sure wins are all that matters in the end, but winning in the final seconds of a hockey game doesn’t give me confidence in a team’s abilities to win hockey games (it isn’t something that is generally repeatable).
Boston’s goaltending is certainly better than Carolina’s
Boston has better defense than Carolina (who would you rather have Chara or Pitkanen?)
Offensively I think the teams are reasonably equal.
Overall though, I have a hard time seeing Carolina live through this series.