The Hot Hand Going Into the Post-Season

Written by Darryl Dobbsfrom

If momentum has anything to do with early playoff success, than wrap your hockey pool hopes around San Jose, Detroit, Calgary, and New Jersey. These teams are all white-hot, and there is little reason to think they will cool off any come playoff time.

The San Jose Sharks look to match up against the Nashville Predators. The Sharks have won eight in a row (and have scored over four goals per game doing it) and are 20-5-3 in their last 28. I’d say that’s momentum. During those eight games Joe Thornton has 19 points, Jonathan Cheechoo has 16, Nils Ekman and rearguard Tom Preissing have eight each. Prior to those eight games, it was the line of Patrick Marleau, Steve Bernier, and Milan Michalek picking up the points. This team is riding a wave. They are playing like they will blow by Nashville and score a ton of goals while doing it.

The Detroit Red Wings will face the Edmonton Oilers in the first round, and all indications point to a quick victory. The Red Wings have not lost in regulation in 19 games going 16-0-3. Here is an early word of caution – this could be a four game series, which will limit the points that the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Lidstrom, and Brendan Shanahan get. If they go on to face San Jose in the second round, it will be a matchup of the irresistible force versus the immovable object. Two hot teams going head to head. Speaking of Datsyuk, the Wings have won their last five games without him, as he has a ‘lower body’ injury. My own opinion? Datsyuk has a ‘need a little rest’ injury. I’m not saying the Wings are faking an injury to rest their star, I’m just saying that they’re not exactly rushing him back. By the way – Shanahan has 23 points in those 19 games, Lidstrom has 21, Robert Lang has 18, Tomas Holmstrom has 16, and Steve Yzerman had 17 points in 17 games before injuring his ‘lower body’ for the last two.

The Calgary Flames look to square off against the surprising Anaheim Mighty Ducks. The Flames, despite being 7-0-3 in their last 10 games, are the one hot team that I would not recommend pinning your hopes on. First of all, they are playing against an Anaheim team that has surprised on more than one occasion this year. Secondly, despite the Ducks being 5-5-0 in their last 10, the reality is that they are 17-8-1 in their last 26. The Flames are 15-7-4. During their 10 game undefeated (in regulation) streak, Calgary has averaged under three goals per game, and have only gone eight for 51 on the power play. This team would seem to be all Mikka Kiprusoff. Even Jarome Iginla was held off the scoresheet for four of those 10 games. Interesting note: Jamie Lundmark, acquired from Phoenix at the trade deadline, has 10 points in 11 games in a Calgary uniform. His ice time (and power play time) has increased accordingly.

The New Jersey Devils are 10-1 in their last 11, and seem to be on a collision course to face the Rangers. This team has been scoring goals, as well, with nearly four goals per game in that span. The ‘EGG’ line may have been dispersed, but the members of that line are still putting the puck in the net. Brian Gionta has 18 points in those 11 games, as does Scott Gomez, and Patrick Elias has 13. Rookie Zach Parise has replaced Elias on the top line, and has eight points in those 11 games. He had just 23 in his first 68. The Devils are on a role, but here is another word of caution – the Rangers have home ice advantage and are juggernauts at home (25-9-6), and they are only 5-5 in their last 10 games because rookie sensation goalie Henrik Lundqvist has been on the shelf.

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