Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

NHL Playoff Predictions: Round 1

April 14, 2014

Last year, I tried to predict the outcomes of each round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and did pretty well. More interestingly, I actually did get exactly one series wrong in every round. Yes, that’s literally, not on average. This year, I’m following hockey and sports in general less, so it should be interesting to see how I do this year.

As always, my predicted winner will be in bold.

Eastern Conference

Boston vs Detroit
Tampa vs Montreal
Pittsburgh vs Columbus
Rangers vs Philadelphia

Detroit, as they proved last season, are a team that can surprise you. They work hard and can come up with wins when they need to. But eventually you get beaten down by sheer talent, and Boston has that, and experience. They should pull it off.

Tampa/Montreal should be close, but Montreal has not been known for doing well in recent playoff outings, and I don’t see any reason for that trend to not continue.

Barring another Fleury collapse, Pittsburgh has the talent to easily get past Columbus.

Rangers/Philly is another close series, but it’s hard to bet against Lundqvist, especially since he’ll be motivated by this maybe being his last chance at a championship.

Western Conference

Colorado vs Minnesota
St. Louis vs Chicago
Anaheim vs Dallas
San Jose vs Los Angeles

Colorado seems to have a good team, which should give them the edge in the first round, at least.

St. Louis backed into the playoffs and are struggling right now, while Chicago still has a great time and a lot of experience. The Blues will have to wake up in a hurry and even then would be in tough.

It’s a complete bias on my part, but Anaheim in the past has had a number of early exits and a few good runs. Dallas has some good experience and so might be able to give them a run for their money.

Same bias against San Jose: I know them more for choking than for succeeding. The Kings also have a lot of experience and will jump on any weakness San Jose demonstrates.

Take Two …

August 26, 2013

I watched and talked about the amateur Lydia Ko winning the Canadian Open last year.

Well, she came back this year and did it again. Going away. Again.

She seemed a bit more serious and to have a little less wonder this year, which is sad. But once she turns pro — and she will, eventually — she should be a force on the LPGA tour for years to come.

The most remarkable thing? Over the past two years, she’s had to forfeit almost a million dollars in prize money, because she’s an amateur. That’s a pretty large chunk of change to give up.

NHL Playoff Predictions: Summary

June 25, 2013

So, I guessed wrong in the finals, taking Boston over Chicago. I’m relatively happy either way; the only team in the final four that I had a problem with was Pittsburgh. So, my overall total this year was an amazingly good 11 -4. I’ll take that. Although, as pointed out before, this left me with a very interesting pattern: I got exactly one series prediction wrong in every round. So if you bet the farm on Chicago assuming the trend would continue, congratulations!

So, that’s it for hockey this year. See you next season!

NHL Playoff Predictions: Stanley Cup Finals.

June 9, 2013

So, I continued my pattern of getting exactly one series wrong in every round, going 1 – 1 for an 11 – 3 record overall. Which means that what everyone should do is take my prediction and then go and bet the farm against it [grin].

Chicago vs Boston Incorrect

Ah, the great coin toss. It’s really hard to decide between these two teams, which is really how it should be when you’re at the Stanley Cup finals. Both have really strong offenses, defenses, and goaltending. Both seem to be coached well. Both have overcome adversity. Both seem to be playing at the top of their games right now. Neither have played each other this season, so we can’t see how their styles match up against each other in any way. This is one of those series that’ll likely be far easier to predict after a game or two, but until then no one knows what’ll happen.

Despite the West generally being considered the stronger of the two conferences, and the Black Hawks having had an amazing season … I’m going to go with Boston. Mostly because I think that Rask is lights out right now and Chicago doesn’t have a Chara to shut down the Boston offense. After Boston shut down the incredibly potent Pittsburgh offense, it’s hard to imagine that they won’t do something similar to Chicago’s, and if it comes down to last shot wins Rask’s last series was far better than Crawford’s against a much better offense.

Overall record: 11 – 4

NHL Playoff Predictions: Round 3.

May 30, 2013

So, in the second round I again did quite well, going 3 – 1 with Boston being the only series that I got wrong. That leaves me at a sterling 10 – 2 for the playoffs so far, meaning that I can’t do any worse than 10 – 5. So, a good year this year.

Without further ado, here are my picks for the Conference semi-finals:

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh vs Boston Correct

Okay, yes, Pittsburgh swept the season series, but did it by one goal in each game. But in watching the Pittsburgh versus Ottawa series, Pittsburgh looked vulnerable. Vokoun, for all of his excellent GAA and save percentage, gave up a number of rebounds and looked beatable. Ottawa just didn’t have the team to take advantage of that. Boston, on the other hand, does have that team. Their defense is solid, Rask is playing well, and they have far more offensive potential than Ottawa did. They are a team that could play a more defensive game and look to take advantage of their chances, or even play a more open, offensive style and bet that their defense will stop Pittsburgh more than Pittsburgh’s will stop them. They’ve overcome adversity and so will never quit even if they get down. So, I think Boston will pull this one off.

Western Conference

Chicago vs LA Incorrect

It’s hard to choose between the teams in this series, since all are strong teams and all have the experience and all have overcome diversity. However, I think Quick will make the difference. I don’t think Chicago has really faced an elite level goaltender in these playoffs, and Crawford is not an elite level goaltender. Quick, on the other hand, is an elite level goaltender and seems to be on his game. By the time Chicago figures him out, the series will likely be out of reach.

Overall record: 11 – 3

NHL Playoff Predictions Round 2

May 14, 2013

So, it looked a bit shaky there for a while, but I ended up going a stirling 7 – 1 in the first round. The second round, however, is going to be a lot harder to predict, especially in the East.

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh versus Ottawa Correct
Boston versus Rangers Incorrect

As I’ve said before, I’m a fan of the Senators, and they have a much stronger defensive team and much better goaltending than the Islanders did. So they could give the Penguins some trouble. If Fleury was in goal, based on the first round it would be an overpowering offense with a porous defense against a weak offense with an overpowering defense. But Vokoun played well in the last two games, and Ottawa just doesn’t have the offense to keep up with Pittsburgh. If Spezza can play, then that might help, but in the end it comes down to the two goaltenders … but Vokoun only has to not lose the series for his team to win, while Anderson probably has to steal it. Anderson is capable of stealing it, but again Pittsburgh’s offense is just too strong and they will capitalize on the mistakes that the Senators will make. It’ll likely be close, and it breaks my heart to say it, but I think, in the end, it’ll be Pittsburgh.

There really isn’t much to choose between these two teams either. Both teams went to 7 games against an opponent that probably shouldn’t have taken them that long. They’re close in regular season record. Both had to come back a bit to get their win, although Boston’s was more dramatic (and they almost blew the series). I don’t know the full injury report for the Rangers, but I know that the Bruins are banged up, especially on defense. Lundqvist seems to be on his game again based on the last two, and while Rask has played reasonably well he seems more vulnerable. Again, another close series, but the Rangers likely have the depth and experience to pull it off.

Western Conference

Chicago versus Detroit Correct
LA versus San Jose Correct

Detroit has a never say die attitude and pulled off a seven game victory over Anaheim, but Chicago is a stronger and more experienced team. Again, another series that’s likely to be close, but Chicago will probably pull it out.

LA are the defending champions. They got down 2 – 0 in the series with the Blues and pulled it off. They have plenty of rest and the Sharks have been off since an uneventful sweep of a badly underperforming Canucks, meaning they might start a bit rusty. The Kings should be able to take this series.

Overall record: 10 – 2

First Round Playoff Predictions …

April 30, 2013

So, I tried this last year and then forgot to update for the second round, but I’m going to try it again. My pick will be in bold.

Eastern Conference

Pittsburgh vs NY Islanders. Correct
Montreal vs Ottawa Correct
Washington vs NY Rangers Correct
Boston vs Toronto Correct

I like the Islanders, but they really don’t stand much of a chance against Pittsburgh, even if Crosby can’t return.

I’m also a fan of the Senators, but in this case this series really does depend on goaltending. Ottawa doesn’t score a lot, but they give up very few goals as well, and aren’t likely to start giving up more now that Anderson has come back and seems to be playing well. That leaves a lot of close games, and Ottawa has played in and won a ton of them, and Ottawa always plays well when they are the underdog.

The sixth spot in the East is the position everyone wants to get because you end up facing a weaker team. Washington, despite the resurgence of Ovechkin, just doesn’t have the team to beat the Rangers.

Toronto did well to make it into the playoffs this year, but they are a vulnerable team, and Boston is a strong team that’s been fighting to be the best the whole season and has a lot of experience in the playoffs.

Western Conference

Chicago vs Minnesota Correct
Anaheim vs Detroit Correct
Vancouver vs San Jose Incorrect
St. Louis vs Los Angeles Correct

Chicago had a tremendous season and has experience. Minnesota might give them a run, but in the end Chicago should prevail.

Detroit had to go on a tear to get into the playoffs, and has a lot of experience at this. Anaheim has had some good runs and also some crashes in the playoffs. Detroit should be able to ride their momentum and experience to get through the first round.

San Jose is noted for not doing well in the playoffs, and Vancouver has some experience and two good goaltenders. They should be able to take that to the second round.

St. Louis and LA are pretty much a dead heat, but LA are the defending champions and that experience should carry them through.c

What Lockout?

January 5, 2013

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a hockey fan, but haven’t talked about it much on this blog, nor have I said anything about the lockout. For me, my interest in watching hockey has waned a bit since I dropped cable, and thus can only get the “Hockey Night in Canada” feeds. But just this past fall, I started watching NFL football games because I’ve found that sports are the perfect thing to watch when you want to read or do something else, because if you just half-listen you’ll hear the announcers’ voices change when something interesting happens and you can watch the replays to see what it was. Baseball is actually the best sport for this, because it has plenty of time to show replays so you never miss anything exciting.

But I digress.

Anyway, when the lockout started I saw a news report of someone playing a PS3/360 version of a hockey game and doing the play-by-play himself. And this got me musing that maybe you could have the game play itself and just watch. But I never got around to trying it. Today, wandering out into the world before heading back to work on Monday, I thought about trying it and snagged a used copy of NHL12 for about $20, and decided to try it. I set up a league of 12 teams — unlike other versions, I had to find a league that had 12 teams and then substitute teams into it — that included all of the Canadian teams and a few others, started a fantasy draft to get a random set of players, and watched the first game.

It’s actually really fun.

The commentators aren’t bad, but I’ve definitely heard better. But they say enough to keep you into the game without having to keep a complete running commentary in your head (although having one is a good idea). The graphics aren’t quite life-like, but they’re good enough that you quickly stop caring about them. The play — on Superstar — isn’t NHL quality but interesting enough to watch. And it keeps what’s important about watching sports: the ability to care about one team or the other winning, and the inability to know how it’s going to turn out.

It also, of course, lets me run a full game in about an hour, and watch a game whenever I want, which is a big improvement over the NHL.

So, with this, do I really care if the lockout ends, other than to pay attention to see if my favourite team(s) do well or do poorly?

Amateur …

August 27, 2012

So, over the weekend … I watched golf. Specifically, the end of the Canadian Women’s Open.

Now, I don’t normally watch golf. I’ve been able to watch the Ryder Cup and the President’s Cup in the past, and watched when Mike Weir was on his way to winning the Master’s, but in general I don’t watch a lot of golf. But on Saturday afternoon I was about to take another run at TOR, and wanted to have something on in the background, and remembered that CBC often shows sports, and flipped there to see if they were. And golf was on. And my thought was “Perfect! It’s a sport that I don’t have much interest in watching but that I can at least listen to while waiting for the cooldowns on my abilties to expire between scraps”. But then they had to go and ruin it all by … making history.

Now, when it comes to sports I can’t resist a good story. Which was one of the main reasons I followed Mike Weir’s run at the Master’s. And so, soon into the afternoon, I learned that there was a chance for history to be made, with Lydia Ko being possibly the youngest woman ever to win an LPGA event and being the first amateur to do it in a long, long time. She also seemed like such a pleasant person so it was pretty easy to root for her.

So, on Sunday, instead to playing TOR I watched the end of the round (laundry played a bit of a role in that as well), where she indeed manage to win it, and did it going away on Sunday with an impressive showing on the back 9.

One of the funniest moments, though, seemed to come when they were handing out the awards at the end. They handed out a medallion to the top Canadian, and then went to hand out the award for the top amateur … except that I think most people — especially Ko herself — had actually forgotten or didn’t realize that, of course, that would be the tournament winner, Ko. You could see that reaction on her face, which was almost a “Yeah, yeah, top amateur and then the trophy … oh, wait, that’s ME”.

It was a story worth watching, in my opinion. And she deserves congratulations, especially since that’s about all she’ll get out of it; as an amateur, she couldn’t actually take home the prize money …

Oops …

April 29, 2012

So, I was 3-5 in the first round of playoff predictions. But I was still in my really busy phase and … completely forgot to predict the second round before it started. Oops. So, since it isn’t really good to predict a series after it has started, I’m out of the prediction business for this year. So, if you want to see my mediocre picks for playoff series, you’ll have to wait for next year.

Why don’t you go play some golf?


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