[Inspired by Arsenio Hall's "Things That Make You Go Hmmm…", Clayton Imoo talks about Canucks-related things that make him go hmmm… You can follow Clay on Twitter at (@canuckclay) or on his website, Clay's Canucks Commentary.]
Photo credit: Yahoo! Sports
I’m excited, you’re excited, we’re all excited. So let’s not waste any time…here are a few Things That Make Me Go Hmmm:
1. What a difference one game makes. As the Canucks look to open their postseason against the Los Angeles Kings tomorrow night, most of the non-Daniel attention is on whether or not this year’s team is better equipped than last year’s for a long playoff run. Those arguing for this year’s squad point out a much deeper and better-balanced set of forwards, healthy defencemen, both goaltenders playing well, and overall a bigger, stronger and mentally-tougher team.
What I find interesting however is the fact that everyone (myself included) seems to want to compare this year’s team to last year’s. That’s all fine and dandy, but all bets are off once they playoffs start. Every run to the Stanley Cup includes so many intriguing factors: hot and cold streaks, goaltending, special teams, injuries, and luck to name a few. While I certainly agree that Canucks are better off from last year’s experience, there are 15 other teams that are just as hungry. So don’t be surprised if the Canucks stumble a bit; after all it was a bit of a strange season. After all, it would be foolish to suggest that just because one thinks that this year’s team is stronger that they should automatically make it to the Finals.
Just imagine how different this entire season would have been if the Canucks won on June 15, 2011. I think the fans would have been quite lenient during the regular season thinking that the team would “turn it on” again in the playoffs. Instead, this whole season was about doing everything it takes to win one more game than last year. And it all starts tomorrow.
2. Don’t get upset. With the way the NHL seeds its teams for the playoffs, it’s created two very intriguing match-ups both involving the “weak sister” of the division winners. In the West, we have the Coyotes (97 points) as the #3 seed hosting the Blackhawks (101 points). And in the East, it’s the Panthers (94 points) hosting the Devils (102 points). Which begs the question in each series: Who is the favourite?
Does one go by higher seed and therefore home-ice advantage? Or do you look at it as I see it and go with the higher point totals? I expect both Chicago and New Jersey to win their respective series sending the two division winners packing. And I’m not too sure anyone would consider these actual upsets.
If both the Canucks and Blackhawks win (and the Blues beat the Sharks), then we’ll have a Vancouver-Chicago match-up for the second round. How good would that be?
3. Spacing out the schedule. Ever since the NHL released the playoff schedule on Sunday, there has been a lot of talk about how “spread out” the first round is. Partly due to how busy the Staples Centre (and Rogers Arena for that matter) is, there is a two-day break between games #3 and #4 and a three-day break between games #4 and #5.
While the three-day break in particular seems a tad excessive, the total potential series length of 16 days (April 11-26 inclusive) is only two days longer than last year’s opening round (April 13-26) and only one day longer than last year’s Stanley Cup Finals (June 1-15).
Factor in the same time zone and the end result should be some good hockey (or at least some rested players). Plus an extra day to visit Disneyland.