09 April 2012

MvsW #0100 QoD (And Day9!)

There's one significant inspiration for my coming back to write at Sacrifice the Body: one of my favorite people, the most bejujular Sean Day[9] Plott (newly added to the Inspirations group on the sidebar!) and the Day9 Daily. One of the primary points of the Day9 Daily was that Day9 didn't have the time to play Starcraft professionally, but he still wanted to do something involved with the game. Moreover, he also wanted to push himself a little bit, to make sure he actually did it, and stayed on top of it. It didn't necessarily have to be something huge or incredible each day, but the point was that he wanted to make himself do something each day.

I wanted to do something similar, here at StB. One of the challenges with writing is coming up with something original or interesting to say, especially when you're talking about a hockey blogosphere in which pretty much everything has already been said. So I tried to think of a way to give myself something to write regularly, whether it be something big or small, and the best thing I could come up with was to steal a prompt.

Specifically, to steal the Marek vs Wyshynski Question of the Day prompt. "Talent borrows, genius steals," right? It won't always be something heavy or involved, and maybe it ends up being the only thing I write for weeks at a time, but the idea is that at least I'm writing something. It also won't always be up to date, as I rarely listen to the show as it airs, but it gives me a place to start. So, with that said...

Marek vs Wyshynski #100 (Apr 09, 2012) Question of the Day:
Which goalie has the best chance of pulling a Halak/Hextall/Giguere in the playoffs?

The context for this is obviously the incredible runs that each of the aforementioned goalies have pulled off in previous years. For my money, J. S. Giguere's Conn Smythe performance in the 2003 playoffs was the single greatest playoff performance that I've ever seen. Giguere was absolutely insane, carrying an 8th seed to 15 wins and a game short of the Stanley Cup. 15 wins, with only a +5 goal differential. 0.946 SV% on a playoff-high 697 shots (over 21 games, that's over 33 shots/game). He carried a Mighty Ducks of Anaheim team that should've been out in the first round to within a game of a Stanley Cup. The dude just plain went to another level.

To me, a critical component of that performance (and one reason why I put Giguere's 2003 over Thomas' 2011) is the underdog factor. Obviously, guys like Lundquist, Thomas, and Halak could have a lights-out playoff, but they're not really the underdogs. Looking among the non-division winners, my pick has got to be Pekka Rinne (NSH). I'm not sure that Rinne and the Predators really count as an underdog, being a #4 seed, but they are a team that does have some even strength problems and makes their living on special teams, with a NHL-best PP% and the 10th PK%.

In order to make a run on your goalies' back, you have to play a brutally physical defensive style, where you win games not by scoring goals, but by not giving them up. NSH certainly has the players and the scheme to play a style like that and enjoy a long playoff run as a result, riding Rinne and the Suter/Weber pairing to a Stanley Cup, or at the least, a very deep playoff run. In a very tight Western Conference, it's a hell of a road to walk, but if anyone is going to walk that road this year, I think it's going to be Nashville.

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