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S13 - Whalers on to Round Two [WB11]

2019-11-04

It took a mere five games for the Hartford Whalers to exact a small measure of revenge on the Ottawa Senators, sending them home packing for the offseason.  For Hartford the series was won essentially where we felt it would be when we previewed the series prior to game one.  

Manny Legace attempted to keep his team in the series, and the Sens defense was up to the task in terms of putting up the goals, however it was the lack of offense that the Senators had at their disposal that did the Senators in.  Looking at the series, the biggest and most obvious statistic for Ottawa was the goals scored by their forward group. In five games, the club only received three goals from that group (Alexei Kovalev, JP Dumont and Claude Lapointe).  Of those three goals scored, only Dumont scored a goal at even strength. Only one goal in five games from that forward group.

Credit can be given to the Whalers in this series, as they received contributions up and down their lineup with seven players with multiple goals in this series, while Ed Belfour put up a .944 save percentage during the five games.   The Whalers proved they were the better team, and are advancing to the second round once again.

 

Up next for the Whalers will be the New York Rangers, who will provide a unique and different test on multiple levels.  The Rangers and Whalers both finished the regular season with 47 wins (the Rangers did have an extra three points on the season), so the clubs are pretty much even.  The storyline will be based on the two teams having hooked up for big trades over the past two seasons, trades that have really built this Rangers squad into what it is today, and have simultaneously allowed the Whalers an opportunity to keep their club amongst the elite of the VHL.

Joe Sakic, Jyrke Lumme and Curtis Leschyshyn will be suiting up against the Whalers during this series, while Glen Wesley, Gerald Diduck and Matthew Barnaby will be doing the opposite.  Those six players are what is left of the trades, although you can argue that Eric Lindros and Cory Stillman were brought into Hartford using resources brought in from New York. It goes without saying, these are two teams that really know each other.

The regular season saw the two teams play a total of four games, with Hartford winning only one.  However, the first three games all happened pre-Sakic trade, and at this point are nothing but a box score without any purpose or story for this series.  The only game that happened post trade was in fact a tidy Whalers 4-2 win. So how do these two teams match up?

 

Goaltending

Little known nugget, during conversations regarding the Sakic trade, there was talk of these two teams also swapping their starting goaltenders.  WIth that in mind, both goaltenders have been rock solid this postseason. Both Ed Beflour and Tom Barrasso are sporting identical .944 save percentage, with Barrasso holding a slightly better 1.33 goals against average after keeping a young but overwhelmed Tampa Bay attack at bay.

Edge: It is a coin flip really.  We are going with this being a draw

 

Defense

Want some offense from the back end?  This series has Teppo Numminen and Lumme on side, with Brian Campbell and Wesley on the other side.  How about defensive minded defenders? We got Barrett Jackman and Leschyshyn on one side and Sylvain Cote and Diduck on the other.  Both of these two teams have constructed a defensive unit that are quite talented and versed to not only defend but attack.  

Edge: We feel that while the Whalers defensemen are a touch better in attacking the opposing teams, the Rangers have the overall edge on the backend.

 

Forwards

The New York Rangers rely on a top heavy forward attack, with there top line of Sakic, Marchand and Kozlov playing around twenty-three minutes per game, while a third line guy can be expecting something closer to thirteen minutes per game.  This usage will put pressure on the Whalers defense and with any thought of matching lines, as the Whalers use more of a balanced approach with their line distribution.  

The Rangers certainly have the advantage at center, especially on the top two lines with Doug Weight joining Sakic in that role.  Surrounding them is high end talent giving the Rangers a pair of lines that can strike at any time.

For the Whalers, they will have to get a big series from there wings, as Geoff Sanderson and Paul Kariya will have to continue to be playing the high end hockey they have shown to date in these playoffs.  Perhaps the biggest challenge will be the clubs second line of Jochen Hecht, Cory Stillman and Danton Cole to continue their goal scoring ways in the second round. The Whalers need to have a balanced attack to survive the second round, if they cannot get that, they will be in trouble.

Edge: The Rangers have the better top end talent, and both teams have gotten contributions from throughout the line up.  Given the difference in play between Sakic and Lindros, we will give the edge to New York

 

Make no mistake, these two teams match up close to even throughout the scorecard.  Picking a winner can be as simple as a coin flip, but with two forty-seven win teams battling it out in the second round, this one could go the distance, and perhaps it is home ice advantage that becomes the difference maker?

Call us homers, but we got the Whalers in seven here (for dramatical sakes, lets say it goes into overtime as well in game seven).

 

Around the VHL

The other Eastern series will have the Penguins hosting the Bruins.  Pittsburgh struggled early against Washington before stomping on the gas pedal.  The Bruins dismantled a good (but not apparently great) Sabres team. This one is close, but we will take Pittsburgh (because no one else will...and we are not big fans of the Bruins around here).

Out West Edmonton and Saskatoon will battle in the second round.  While the distance between the two cities is rather close, the talent level between the two is not.  Edmonton in five.

Finally, Winnipeg and Calgary will wrap up the Western Semi Finals (good year for the Canadian clubs in the West).  Calgary has that Palmer guy running the show, and the Jets pulled off the first round upset. Palmer probably wins, but let’s go with Winnipeg providing another upset.

 




Steve Tindall

love you too dustin, go Whale!

S13 - Whalers on to Round Two [WB11]
Looking back at the First Round and then ahead to the Second Round

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