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Playoff thoughts

Sunday 4/23/23

* Before the playoffs began, I said that I didn't really believe in the Edmonton Oilers because they're so power play reliant, and that was also a reason why I don't think Connor McDavid is what everyone else thinks he is. Even strength points reveal a lot more to me. There's a lot of series left and I'd expect the Oilers to prevail, but they are down 2-1 to the Kings, and McDavid is a -3 and all 3 of his points are power play points. Stay out of the box, and you have a good chance to beat Edmonton. Further, he took his head out of the game the other night, when he stopped playing to try to play official and raise his hand that a puck had been touched with a high stick. That's not your job. Your job is to play until you hear a whistle.

* Thought the Bruins made the right call and sent the right message playing Ullmark in Game 3. He's the guy. Let him be the guy. If you need someone else, you have someone else. But don't go to someone else until you need to.

* David Pastrnak is something of a problem. Yes, I know he's scored. But he's soft on the puck in these games, and he's turning the puck over. Or just making bad passes like on the power play. Is he a playoff performer? He's showing himself to be diminished as a player in these kinds of games. So far. I'd say that's his history to date.

* Charlie Coyle is a strange player. He's a good player but not a productive player. I'd say that his value comes from doing a number of things right, and those things add up over the course of a game. Not stat sheet things. He has little stat sheet presence.

* Charlie McAvoy finally had that game where he was out there a lot and significantly more than anyone else. I thought he established a tone right from the drop of the puck with a good, solid bodycheck. Orlov made more plays, though.

* I don't like LeBron James at all, but I do want to see the Lakers win just to see how far they can take things. I'm interested in that story.

* You see these graphics for Bruins players who move up the all-time franchise assists and points lists for the postseason. Guys who have been around for a long time. What gets me each time is how far back they remain of Ray Bourque.

* As for Bourque: I was thinking last night about career value. Who you'd most want in terms of value over a long period of time. You'd have Gretzky, Howe, and I could see Bourque being third. For twenty years--a fifth of a century--he was one of the top four defenseman in the league, and even at the end was out there for close to a half hour a game. For two decades you could plug in someone elite. No drop-off.

* Was also thinking about the first round for the Bruins the last time they won the Cup. Was it the closest first round for an eventual Stanley Cup champion in history? It's at least close. The Canadiens won the first two games--in Boston, no less--by scores of 2-0 and 3-1. Bruins won Game 3 4-2, then evened the series with a 5-4 OT win. Come back to Boston, and the Bruins win again, 2-1 in double OT. Montreal wins Game 6 2-1, and then the Bruins win the deciding game 4-3, in OT again. So the Bruins had to win two OT games and a double OT game. Each team scored 17 goals in the series. Think of how thin the margin of victory is. If the Canadiens scored in any of those OT games, the Bruins would have gone home, the coach would have been fired. Instead, you get a Cup.

* Probably saw more of the Celtics game the other night. The Celtics decide to play when they want to play. You'd think it'd be more a case of this is the time the game starts, and it's what we're doing for the next few hours, but no. On this occasion, the Celtics decided they didn't want to play much defense. Trae Young "only" had 32 points, but there were times he could do anything he wished. He'd come down the court and execute a floater. Not a circus shot, but sort of venturing into "Really?" territory. Next possession, he'd execute a runner. (He's a fun player to watch. And dangerous.) And everyone knew he was going to call his own number. There was little defensive resistance. This lack of a finishing mentality is what hurt the Celtics last year and probably kept them from winning the championship.

* A little surprised that the Leafs are up on Tampa, as it's the Leafs, and Tampa has been better in two of the three games.

* It could be that he can't do it consistently anymore--though I'm not ready to say that--but in the second period of that last game, Brad Marchand was vintage Brad Marchand. When he's at his best, he's constant energy, possessing the puck in a cycle game where he can also be his own one-man cycle. It's his quickness and edge work that allows him to be that way. Also, his tenacity. Quick feet. Tight and elusive turns. Then with drive to the net. A shooter's mentality to go along with his playmaker's knack and inclination.

* But again: Do you get a different result if the Bruins don't get that early lead because of another soft goal let in by the Panthers' goalie? Didn't like that it got close enough at the end to be uncomfortable. Playoff games can get away from you quickly. They reverse fast and hard.


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