Generally speaking, I like to keep to my preseason Stanley Cup finalist predictions, at least when they’re still alive (wipes a bit of sweat away for not picking the Los Angeles Kings).
I had one rule with the first round, though: I just couldn’t pick the Montreal Canadiens in round two if they faced the Tampa Bay Lightning. So, I’m doubling back on that one.
(The rest of my predictions can be seen along the rest of the Rotoworld NHL staff’s soon enough.)
Anyway, last night’s Game 7 happened, so let’s chat it up. With fewer games as each round goes along, these Doses might get a little skinnier. Then again, who knows when an epic ramble may surface …
LIGHTNING 2, RED WINGS 0 (Tampa Bay advances)
-- The Red Wings almost had as many shots on goal in the first period (14) as the Lightning had in the entire game (17). This wasn't like Washington dominating the Isles in Game 7 at home.
Honestly, I've seen some make the argument that the Red Wings were the better in this series, and I can see it. Detroit might just be the best on-paper match for the Bolts possession-wise, at least in the East, so I'm not too shocked that the Lightning barely got through this round.
Editor's Note: Play one-day fantasy hockey tonight! Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a $15,000 league for Thursday’s NHL games. It's just $3 to join and first place wins $1,400. Starts tonight at 7:30pm ET. Play Now!
-- My guess is that fatigue (at least from the first round) shouldn't be an issue for any team other than the Lightning, who must turn around and face the Canadiens in Montreal in Game 1. The Habs get a healthy break compared to the Lightning (they dispatched the Sens on Sunday).
I still think the Lightning will get the best of the Canadiens in this series, but don't be surprised if Montreal wins Game 1 ... or at least carries the play.
-- Ben Bishop didn't just pitch a 31-save shutout in this high-pressure situation, he even got an assist. I still trust Carey Price more than Bishop in the upcoming series, but good on BB. He stood tall, and not just literally.
-- For the first time in his stellar career, Henrik Zetterberg didn't score a goal in a playoff series. In seven games, he fired 18 SOG. Steve Stamkos grabbed all the attention for failing to find the net in this series (and he did fail to do so, on 22 SOG), but Zetterberg couldn't buy a telly either.
It wasn't the greatest shooting season for Zetterberg in general, really. He scored 17 goals on 227 SOG in 77 GP, a 7.5 shooting percentage (down from his 10.3 career rate).
-- It's hard to imagine anyone doing a better job with the Red Wings than Mike Babcock has done, really. Even so, you wonder if everyone would benefit from a change of pace, which seems to be the way Babs* is leaning, depending upon who you believe.
To be blunt, if it came down to choosing between Babcock and Ken Holland, I'd keep Babcock ... but that's generally not how things work.
-- One of the questions Detroit faces is what to do in net. Petr Mrazek looked good at times from the "eye test" standpoint, and stole a game or two. His stats look great overall in this series (.925 save percentage) and were nice in the season (16-9-2, .918 save percentage).
Do you just stick with both Mrazek and Jimmy Howard? Do you try to trade Howard?
On the bright side, it's better to have a couple decent options than zero.
* - Note: He probably doesn't like being called "Babs."