Rules for predicting the playoffs

This article heavily borrows from Mr. Bill Simmons article on betting on the NFL playoffs. I highly recommend you all check out that article and all of his other stuff, he’s hilarious.

Rule 1: Never, ever, Ever back a lousy goalie on the road.

This one applies heavily to St. Louis and the Islanders. Goalies weaknesses get exposed over a seven game series as players learn tendencies such as how rebounds come out and when the goalie goes down. Add in a little playoff pressure, and you’ve got yourself a Cloutier special.

Rule 2: When in doubt, seek out the popular opinion and go the other way.

Notice that it says, “When in doubt.” Most people believe that Tampa is going to win against the Isle. The Sens/Leafs series is another matter. Watch the media and people on this site. If they come to a consensus pick, you can be sure that they’ll be wrong.

Rule 3: Before you select a team, make sure Alexei Yashin and Pat Quinn have nothing to do with them.

Does any name cause more Sens fans to spit in disgust than Yashin? In addition to his epic holdout, he managed to further alienate fans by regularly becoming a no-show in the playoffs. And Pat Quinn, over the course of five full seasons, coaching one of the league’s bigger spenders, in the city that almost every Canadian-born player wants to play in, in a generally weaker conference, has gotten to the finals zero times.

Rule 4: Don’t bet heavily against Martin Brodeur under any cir*****stances.

Let’s be honest. The NJ Devils have had no business being this successful over the last ten years. They’ve never had any offensive depth and generally don’t display a lot of skill. You know how some goalies can steal a round once in a while, well Brodeur has stolen 12+ rounds of hockey.

Rule 5: Ignore final records and concentrate on how teams did the last 15-20 games of the season.

Guys always talk about peaking at the right time. Teams that slump early and then pick it up for the last quarter of the season are scarier than teams that back their way into the playoffs. Watch how the Dallas/Colorado series unfolds. Colorado has not looked good as of late and I think its going to show.

Rule 6: When in doubt, check out the coaching matchups.

Last year you saw Pierre Lacroix take a painfully one dimensional team to the conference finals, beating out newbie coach Granato on a star-studded team. However, this applies less and less lately as head coaching positions become revolving door. Who do you pick between Steve Stirling and John Tortorella? Who cares. Of the well established coaches we have Hitch***** v. Burns who wear the same size pants and, coincidentally, coach the same system. There’s also Quinn v. Martin, two guys whose playoff records speak for themselves (badly). The only real mismatch coaching wise is Ron Wilson v. Mike Kitchen. Wilson is an old vet who has taken a pretty lackluster team to a very impressive record while Kitchen has coached about 15 games.

Rule 7: When in doubt, research special teams.

Often, probably too often, a power-play goal or five-on-three successfull PK determines the winner of a series. Nashville’s 24th ranked PK and 11th ranked PP are going to have a hard time hanging tough with Detroit 5th and 1st, respectively.

Rule 8: Beware of the road favorite.

This is one of my favorites. The great thing about NHL playoffs is that the upsets are unpredictable. If everyone thinks an upset is going to happen, it probably won’t. There was a strong contingent of media-types and HTR people saying that the Islanders, Capitals, and Blues looked like good upset picks. The Wild and Ducks ended up in the conference finals, while those teams all lost as they were supposed to.

Rule 9: Is anyone named Trevor, Scott, Garth, Ron, Reinhard, Roman, or Chris involved in a “one tweaked knee and their coming off the bench” capacity?

This is particularly pertinent to the Maple Leafs, who’ve already got Belfour ailing from a wonky back. By the way, I think “wonky” qualifies as a “single-use” word. Does it precede anything besides some body part? And for bonus points, can someone think of the last catastrophic goalie injury in the playoffs, where some team’s starter went down and the whole thing fell apart?

Rule 10: In the first round of the playoffs at least one team will sweep and a top 3 seed will be knocked off.

This is a hard and fast rule. Be sure to account for this in playoff predictions. Bonus points opportunity two: When was the last year in which either of these two truisms was false?

Rule 11: Never bet on a team who has both a coach and an owner whose last name ends in a vowel.

I don’t know. Ask Bill Simmons.

Rule 12: Before you make you decisions, take another look at the goalies.

Brodeur v. Esche/Burke. Hmm. Osgood v. Nabokov. Right…

And that’s it, your guide to predicting the NHL playoffs. Feel free to add on rules as needed.

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