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The LONESTAR PUCK Round 2 Preview

2019-04-23

Good Evening DCHLers,

Well, that was quick. The DCHL Playoffs are already 1 round complete. We have had 2 sweeps already. And someone can fact check me, but I think our Wild Card teams are a perfect 4-4 going into RD 2. This is incredible! A champion was dethroned, 3 division leaders were ousted, and only the PRESIDENT’S TROPHY winning BLACKHAWKS stand where the other division champions fell. There are tons of storylines going into Round 2!

But the big storyline in RD 2 appears to be in the WILD CARDS! Will they go perfect going into Round 3? My thoughts and reasons are below!

 

Minnesota vs. Chicago-  Has anyone ever looked at the DCHL and thought “you know what this league needs? A playoff matchup between JACOB MARKSTROM and MARTIN JONES!” If you have ever thought that maybe contact MIKE GILETTO, he can probably make a bet out of it since he won’t be doing much else this post-season.

Now now, let us get back to the right conference here. MINNESOTA went from a blazing wild card contender to a potential cup favorite seeming overnight thanks to their trouncing of WINNIPEG in 6 games. The series was barely even close too. The WILD simply scored more goals (21) and only allowed 16. But they did lose the shot battle 186-169 against one of the top scorers in the league in Brock Boeser. Like a good team though, the WILD persevered as a team and a quick glance at the +/- stats suggests the team succeeded largely because of even strength play. Their top 5 scorers all have at least 2 goals and 4 points meaning the puck is finding its way to everyone and the WILD are no longer a team to overlook going forward.

For Chicago, the most noteworthy story is the emergence of MARTIN JONES who really stood fast for a team with question marks on their defense. JONES boasts a first round GAA of 1.60 and a SV% of .938 and a SHUTOUT. The thought this game would go to 7 was only on the back of SERGEI BOBROVSKY and the BLACKHAWKS found a way to break that back! The offensive stats were slightly better than MINNESOTA’s with 191 shots for and an even 20 goals, but the HAWKS should be even stronger with the return of STAMKOS in Round 2. I do not look down on the WILD, I can’t. They are OFFICIALLY here. But the HAWKS just appear more ready NOW.

The PICK: HAWKS in 7

 

Arizona vs. Calgary- The Pacific had its own share of drama this week as the Battle of Alberta rushed to conclusion via the 2nd SWEEP of this DCHL postseason. Additionally the FLAMES won 2 OT games on “The Road” against a longtime rival, including the clinching game. I only punctuated “The Road” because ALBERTA is actually pretty damn big. You need a full army to occupy it! Luckily for GOOD VINCE, he gets to play host in the first 2 games when ARIZONA comes to town.

YES, I SAID ARIZONA. As if this year looked 2018 in the face and said “give me all your Giant’s Milk,” the 2019 Post-Season is taking NO PRISONERS. The YOTES got off to fast starts, slow starts, non-starts, and even won games on the road and in overtime. They do not boast any top end stats except maybe FREDDY FREAKING ANDERSEN’s line, but they found a way against one of the most superior rosters you could build in a league like ours. ARIZONA was also the first of two WILD CARD teams meaning they supposedly received an “easier road” than MINNE who was the 8 seed. None of that matters now as the FLAMES possess all the characteristics of a hot team including JOHN “BRAVEHEART” GIBSON who already has a Sweep and better stats than FREDDY.

Of course stats don’t tell the whole story which makes this game one of the toughest to pick. They both can win in all situations and both can recover after a slow 1st period. So I’m making my pick based on 2 facts. First, CALGARY has more regular season wins over ARIZONA. This still is not enough because in the DCHL the regular season does not indicate post season success. So my second reason is, MIKKO KOIVU. He is one of my favorite all time hockey players and has some pretty strong Round 1 stats. 50.7% in the faceoff dot really stands out as well as his 5 points and 28.6 shooting percentage. I want a cup for MIKKO but it definitely won’t be easy.

The Pick: FLAMES in 6.

 

Buffalo vs. New Jersey-  The DEVILS go into this round with even more confidence than a 1st time playoff appearance can validate. The reason is because the DEVILS just knocked off one of the best performing rosters in the league from BOSTON. The DEVILS did not even rely on home ice games to complete the upset either. They had a tighter goal margin, but won that as well 19-15. They did not have super impressive numbers from BIG BEN BISHOP but still found a way against a team who blocked 86 of their shots. This series probably would not have been as close as it was had JERSEY found more lanes through the BRUINS defense, but to their credit, they did step up when it counted to win quite a few metrics, most notably, the series.

The SABRES are going to be a tougher challenge. This is the first matchup in this Article to feature teams with multiple entrants on the league scoring leaderboard. BUFFALO has VIKTOR ARVIDSSON and BLAKE WHEELER to NEW JERSEY’s TAYLOR HALL and SAM REINHART. This talented quadruplet looks to be the decisive battle in this series. But there are some wild cards in the deck.

Specifically, will PEKKA RINNE return to form? His round 1 was one of the worst in the league despite his advance. BEN BISHOP also has another level even with his better round 1 numbers, but the goalies aren’t where the wild cards end. If the series goes on long enough, BUFFALO could receive two players (ERIC STAAL and TYLER TOFFOLI) back from injury. Should that happen, NEW JERSEY might have beaten a top team only to face a better team in Round 2.

The Pick: SABRES in 6

Philadelphia vs. New York Islanders- This matchup is hard to pick emotionally. I have a friendship with Josh that is almost a decade old, but FLAX loves the NHL BLACKHAWKS. Even if I unsubscribed from the entire internet, I would still know how each HAWKS game goes because FLAX would find a way to get me word that Kaner, Tazer, or the CAT scored a Hattie or some shenanigans. Even if he had to train the Raven himself, FLAX LAPLANTE is the AMAZON PRIME for NHL BLACKHAWKS updates. And for that I am thankful.

But to make this pick I am not. Unfortunately I have to disappoint one friend or the other, not that I haven’t in other matchups above, I just think Flax and Josh like me more!

But to the point, the ISLANDERS won 3 in a row to beat the HURRICANES in 6. I know some will say the ISLANDERS should have swept them but I’m just going on a limb here to say FLAX pulled off an impressive feat. The ISLANDERS survived 16 of 24 Power Plays and still found a way to keep games close and pull ahead late to win it. They sent WAYNE SIMMONDS home for the summer for the 3rd straight year without a playoff (Correction: One) series to his name. The ISLANDERS did that, they did that for all of us.

But PHILLY is going to ruin the party for everyone. They boast an identical 33% success rate on the Power Play. They are defensively sound and score a lot of goals. Only one of their 4 wins was a 1 goal difference and that was the decisive goal in Game 4 of the sweep. BRADEN HOLTBY looks spectacular yet again as he looks to protect the net into early summer. Neither team has top scorers yet in the league leaderboard, but to PHILLY’s credit, they’ve played fewer games than most. If they did play a game 5 or 6, there is no reason not to think KONENCY, COUTURIER, or LANDESKOG couldn’t make the cut.

I won’t say the series is cooked, but I will say, there is much more hope in other Wild Card teams this week. But does NEW YORK have more than hope? It would be MAGIC if they did!

The Pick: PHILLY in 6.

This is the LONESTAR PUCK Reporting!