|1998 CSF||2002 CQF||2008 CSF|
Look, I’m sick enough that my attendance at the first two games (tonight and tomorrow night) are going to be game-time decisions. I’m going to link to statistical breakdowns here and here, and add a couple of notes:
- The 1-3 record is a bit deceptive. One of those losses came with 0.8 on the clock. Ouch. Another came in a game where Eetu Laurikainen was a brick wall after Driedger sieved it up in the first. It could easily be 2-2 or 3-1.
- From the stats, it looks like Calgary has the advantage in offence, overall depth, and even-strength play; Swift has the advantage in goaltending and special teams. Goes without saying that solving Laurikainen on the man advantage would be a huge boon.
- The Hitmen outshot the Broncos in three of four games. Without knowing anything about score effects, it’s hard to say what the deal is there, but it’s what we’ve got, and it’s at least somewhat encouraging.
- Of the four Eastern series, this is easily the one with the best upset potential. Laurikainen has shown he can steal a game in Calgary already this month, and while the playoffs tend to lean less on special teams overall, it’s often true that early in the playoffs the refs like to flex their muscles before putting the whistles away about halfway through the first round. That’s potential trouble. And Swift does seem to match up better against Calgary than any of the other low seeds do against their opponents (though Edmonton-Kootenay might be interesting; Kootenay’s been a top-tier team since Christmas, and whether that’s their true talent or not, there’s no way to know whether that’ll end right away or not).
- Injuries will also be a factor. The Hitmen, at least, have been plagued by injuries or absences from key players all year, which probably contributed to some of the inconsistency I’ve seen from them throughout. Hopefully, everyone’s as close to 100% as they can be at this point, with a large number of vets sitting out at least one, if not both, of last week’s back-to-back games against Kootenay to close out the season. And hopefully the week-and-change off doesn’t leave too much rust on guys like Roach and Rissling, who are going to be leaned on a lot throughout these playoffs.
- I’m nervous about this series, but ultimately optimistic. There’s just enough arrows pointing in Calgary’s direction that I think this will be a tough but winnable series. Hitmen in seven.
Go Hitmen! *blows nose* (Oh geez, not again.)