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Monday, 24 April 2017

The Leaderboard

While the Pac-Man high score screen was always a delight to add my name to, the reality is that the HBIC Playoff Pool leaderboard requires much more skill than just sending a pixelated yellow character around a screen eating pixelated while balls. There's real science and decisions to be made here, and the leaderboard will show you who has made wise choices when it comes to their prognostications thus far. As you scroll down the list to find your name, there may be some disappointment or sadness, but you still have seven series left in which to improve your standing! Let's see who charged out of the gates in this contest, who had solid first rounds, and who certainly needs to do a little studying of the season series for each series in the next round!

You'll want to refer back to this page for the point totals as we move through the playoffs. This is where all future points updates will happen. I have listed the names below in alphabetical order as per your submitted first name, so scroll through and find your name and point total.

Because of the scheduling for second round, if you want to gamble some points in the "Risk It!" option at this time, send me an email indicating that. Again, you must call the series perfectly to get the gambled points doubled. If you're wrong, you won't lose points, but you also won't receive any points for that series. In other words, don't gamble on EVERY series unless you absolutely have to do so!

Here are the current standings after Round One!

HBIC PLAYOFF POOL LEADERBOARD
Name Tie-Breaker Points Rank
Andy S.
Washington
27 n/a
Casey H.
NO TEAM!
30 n/a
Chris C.
Anaheim
20 n/a
Cole V.
Minnesota
34 3rd
Dan F.
Washington
21 n/a
Dave F.
Washington
24 n/a
Jackson N.
Edmonton
21 n/a
Jared R.
Chicago
27 n/a
Jay W.
Chicago
31 n/a
John M.
Pittsburgh
34 3rd
Justin S.
Washington
35 2nd
Katie S.
Anaheim
29 n/a
LJ S.
Pittsburgh
27 n/a
Matt H.
Washington
33 n/a
Michael J.
Washington
34 3rd
Neal L.
NO TEAM!
34 3rd
Peter S.
MONTREAL
41 1st
Ted A.
Pittsburgh
19 n/a
Tony T.
Chicago
24 n/a
Tyler D.
Edmonton
20 n/a
Westin F.
Washington
33 3rd
Zeke P.
Chicago
24 n/a

As you can see, the highlighted names occupt first-place, second-place, and third-place as it stands after one round, but don't think those spots are stationary. Those are the people you're hunting down in this quest for some free gear. As you can see, some are closer than others, but no one is truly out of this contest until the Stanley Cup has been awarded. If you want to risk a few points on a series or two, that's at your discretion, but it could get you back into the race very quickly.

Secondly, due to the number of entrants, I will be awarding three prizes to this year's contestants. As you may be aware, there are a number of people who drop out over the course of the playoffs, so your odds will likely get better as the playoffs go on AS LONG AS YOU CONTINUE TO PLAY. As you can see above, six names are in yellow, tie-breakers may factor in once the dust has settled, and the top-three spots are there for the taking to those who can predict the next seven series correctly!

Here is the next spreadsheet for the contest.

Good luck, everyone, and congratulations to our leaders!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Math Begins

With the Marcus Johansson goal in Toronto tonight, that will end the opening round of the rather surprising NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. If one was a betting person, I'm not certain that anyone would have predicted the Nashville Predators sweeping the Chicago Blackhawks or the Anaheim Ducks sweeping the Calgary Flames, but the bigger surprise to me were the 18 overtime games we saw! If Gary Bettman wanted parity, those 18 games of extra time might be a prime example of that. In any case, the HBIC Playoff Pool leaderboard will go up tomorrow and we'll see who had themselves a solid first round of predictions!

I'll have the next spreadsheet posted at the bottom of the leaderboard, and you may want to note the URL or make it a favorite to check the leaderboard after each round. With no hockey until Wednesday, you'll have lots of time to check and recheck your next round of entries, and I'll post the honorable mentions on Tuesday in giving some kudos to those who did well in each opening round series. Be prepared to see your names in lights... potentially!

With everyone's brackets busted - thanks, Chicago! - from what I've read on Twitter, I'm quite certain everyone will adjust their picks to reflect a Washington-Anaheim Stanley Cup Final since they are the best teams left. If you learned anything from the opening round, though, it might not be such a wise plan to count out Nashville who seemed to enjoy handing the Blackhawks some early tee times. I'm not saying that St. Louis will be as much of a pushover, but Nashville has had a lot of preparation time for their next opponent.

On the other side, the Ottawa-New York Rangers series will be interesting in that Mike Zibanejad and Derrick Brassard will face their old teams and try to make those respective GMs regret that trade. If New York happens to get past the Senators, there will be all-Metropolitan Division Eastern Conference Final which is appropriate considering how good that division was this season. I'm not saying one should count on this result, though, as the Senators somehow found their defibrillation machine and re-energized Bobby Ryan.

Of course, Anaheim and Edmonton will throw haymakers at one another as these two heavyweights in the Pacific Division renew acquaintances. Anaheim is faster and slightly bigger than San Jose, but certainly less skilled on paper. Edmonton is faster and more skilled than Anaheim, but there will be questions on how much punishment that their forwards can take. Personally, I see this series going six or seven games with the winner of Game Five taking the series.

Finally, the annual meeting between the two Metropolitan Division foes in the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins happens in Round Two, and this might be the series that defines Alex Ovechkin's career. It's almost certain that this Capitals team will be broken up due to salary cap concerns at the end of this season with players like TJ Oshie, Karl Alzner, Justin Williams, and Kevin Shattenkirk all facing unrestricted free agency. They will be the favorites against Pittsburgh despite everything that's happened in the past, so it will be interesting to see how they approach this series knowing that the Penguins basically have been awaiting this opportunity since the trade deadline.

If the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs was exciting, this upcoming round could be very interesting with the storylines developing. If you're part of the HBIC Playoff Pool, you certainly have a lot to think about when it comes to how these series may play out and whether or not you want to risk any points in the "RISK IT" option.

Until tomorrow's leaderboard is tabulated, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Real Contempt

I really tire of those people preaching how the current format of the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs have ruined any chance of the best two teams in each conference reaching the conference finals. This isn't something new, folks. The Smythe Division had the same problem in the 1980s. The Adams and Patrick Divisions faced the same problems in the early-1990s. Just be thankful it's nothing like what the ECHL puts its teams through when it comes to the number of times the teams see one another over the season. That's where real contempt for one another is found.

When the dust settled on the ECHL season this year, the Kelly Cup Playoffs pitted the top-ranked Florida Everblades against the Orlando Solar Bears in the opening round. These two teams had already met TWELVE TIMES this season with Florida holding a 10-2 advantage in the season series, including the final game of where the Blades hung ten goals on netminder Mitch Gillam. I'm pretty certain that's an ingredient in the contempt these two teams may have for one another.

But, as they say, the postseason wipes the slate clean and everyone starts with the same record. Where there might be lingering hatred and a feeling of vengeance, those feelings are replaced by efforts on the ice where revenge is best served up on the scoreboard. Orlando certainly believes in that mantra as they claimed Games One and Two in this series to go up 2-0 in the series, equaling their total wins versus Florida in twelve attempts this season. Florida won Game Three by a 5-4 score to make it a 2-1 series in favour of the Solar Bears, but tonight's game was off the charts when it came to entertainment value.

With Ryan Massa looking to post his third win and the Solar Bears leading 3-0 late in Game Four, we took a wee break from the hockey action to bring you that hatred and contempt. Jump to the 3:30 mark to see the fun!

Wowzers. Not only did we get a full line brawl, but both Ryan Massa and Alex Nedeljkovic engaged in the all-too-rare goaltender fight! Both Massa and Nedeljkovic were given game misconducts, but it's pretty clear that the Florida Everblades weren't very happy being pushed to the brink of elimination in this series after dominating the Orlando Solar Bears all season. Needless to say, this rivalry just moved to a different level for the remainder of the Kelly Cup series.

11 misconducts. A goalie fight. And they do it all over again tomorrow at 4pm. Yeah, playoff hockey is pretty darn awesome!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 21 April 2017

No Jackets Required

This is a personal post by all means, but I am thoroughly happy that the Penguins have ousted the Columbus Blue Jackets in five games. They await the winner of the Capitals and Maple Leafs, but the Penguins showed a lot of the same traits in this series that they did last season in winning the Stanley Cup. You heard commentators mention goaltending and special teams as key factors in this series, and the only difference in this series compared to last season is the fact that Marc-Andre Fleury put in a Matt Murray-like effort in these five games. The Penguins will now await the NHL's best team or the team that may surprise everyone in the opening round.

The Penguins used team speed, getting pucks to the net, and all of their supporting cast to get past the Blue Jackets when you consider that Jake Guentzel has been one of the best players on the ice. This is a team that hasn't had Chris Kunitz or Kris Letang in the opening round, yet they adapted well and made adjustments to advance just as they did when Trevor Daley went down in the playoffs last season. You can question this team's resiliency and supporting cast all you want, but they got incredible efforts from the aforementioned Guentzel, Bryan Rust, and Ron Hainsey to complement the efforts from Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel.

The second-round match-up for the Penguins will probably be this year's most difficult series for the Penguins based on how the Capitals and Leafs are playing in their own series. While the New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, and Boston Bruins are still lurking in these playoffs in the Atlantic Division, none of those teams should really scare the Penguins. It will be the Round Two series that may determine who represents the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Final this season, and you probably already know who I'll be cheering for when this series begins next season.

Let's go, Pens!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Hockey Show - Episode 239

The Hockey Show, is back tonight with a pile of stuff to go over. We've seen wins, losses, heartbreak, and jubilation through the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, and that goes true for the Survivor: NHL Playoffs contest! Our first elimination happened last night, so we'll bring in the exiled Survivor contestant and get his thoughts on his team's playoff performance. We also have some news about some player movement, Canada winning a gold medal, how the rosters for the World Championship are shaping up, and more! It's another busy show on The Hockey Show tonight on UMFM!

As you can see, the Survivor: NHL Playoffs board has been updated with our faded and grayed-out competitor Jared M. showing up after the Flames were summarily dismissed in a sweep at the hands of Derek A.'s Anaheim Ducks! We'll see if we can Jared to give us his thoughts on the Flames' lack of success tonight to kick off the show before we start working our way through the other seven series. There were also a few players who will have new addresses next season as two Vancouver Canucks decided to pack up and leave the west coast city for greener pastures. Canada and the US renewed their rivalry on the ice in Bonn, Germany at the World Para Ice Hockey World Championship, and we'll go over that game. The Portage Terriers and OCN Blizzard battled for the Turnbull Cup, and we have a winner in the MJHL after that series ended. Anything else comes up may get a mention as well, so tune in tonight as we send Jared off Playoff Island on The Hockey Show!

Listen, if you haven't done it already, you really should download the UMFM app. It's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows any time of the day, so go get it! Just follow this link on your iDevice or this link for your Android device and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show or UMFM! Download the UMFM app today, and don't miss any of our great programming or shows!

If you're all over social media, we try to be as well! Email all show questions and comments to hockeyshow@umfm.com! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show.

Tonight, there's a ton of hockey chatter on The Hockey Show and the best way to hear our thoughts on the hockey world is to tune in on 101.5 UMFM and on the UMFM app!

PODCAST: April 20, 2017: Episode 239

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!