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From the Branches: Can you really guess the Cup winner?

The Solar Bears president says you can't.

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Harry How/Getty Images

Yesterday I interviewed Anthony Noreen and Jason Siegel (president/co-owner of the Solar Bears), and I'll have something up about it today. But perhaps the most interesting thing that we did was sit around and talk about the NHL playoffs.

It was fascinating to get a front office perspective on the NHL playoffs. These guys more than anyone know the crazy attrition of a hockey season, and Jason said, "You think you can guess who wins? You can't guess who wins the Cup. The parity is so slim when you get that good, and so many things could happen -- look at Lundqvist's injury."

He's right, I take back all of my guesses.

Playoffs

Philadelphia @ Washington (2-0 Washington)

Capitals vs. Flyers Recap: Caps Crush Orange, Drop Flyers 2-0 | Japers Rink
Plus: Braden Holtby is a stone-cold brick mason, recording 19 saves and laying down a shutout in Game 1. Hear hear, Holtby!
Minus: There were so, so many penalties in this game. The two teams split 10 whistles between them, and the Caps played the most dangerous game early on, taking three in quick succession.

NY Islanders @ Florida (5-4 Islanders)

Islanders vs Panthers 5 Lessons from Game 1: Florida top six scary, Isles 2nd line scary bad | LHH
"Let's...not have to win that way again."

Minnesota @ Dallas (4-0 Dallas)

Stats Recap: Only Score Effects Help Minnesota Wild in 4-0 Loss to Dallas Stars | DBD
"The Dallas Stars dominated their Game 1 victory against Minnesota in every way possible, on paper and on the scoreboard."

San Jose @ LA Kings (4-3 Shorks)

Sharks vs Kings Game 1: Sharks stay strong on the road, take Game One | FTF
"In a game that switched leads four times, the visiting Sharks were able to hold off the rival Kings in Game One with a 4-3 win."

Refs admit they messed up on Sharks goal:

Oops!

Hockeys

Because It’s the Cup | Players Tribune
I have been the "Keeper of the Cup" for 27 years. It’s been my responsibility to accompany the Stanley Cup on its journey to some of the most remote parts of the world. In that time, I have seen a lot of strange and amazing things.

Why You Should Be a Hockey Fan | DBD
"Hey there, friend. Welcome to hockey! You may have wound up here by happy accident of happenstance (happenstaccident?). Perchance an acquaintance of yours has been rambling nonstop about how great hockey is, how it is the best sport in the world, and how There Is Nothing Like Playoff Hockey? (Those things aren't not true, but we'll get to them later.) Anyway, you're here, reading about the subject of hockey, and that's what's important. The playoffs have just begun, which means you literally could not have picked a better time to get interested."

(Probably meant for Southern fans, eh?)

SC Bern's Cinderella Story from a Different Perspective | Swiss Hockey News
"Now let’s turn the page. After the endless stories about what SC Bern did well and why they became champions and what all other teams did wrong, it’s time for a critical and hopefully also factual evaluation about the new champion. One of the most stupid pearls of wisdom, especially in sports, is when you claim that a winner did everything right and a loser did everything wrong."

Leafs: Do you Agree with Lou Lamoriello’s Assessment of Nazem Kadri? | Tip of the Tower
"As far as Toronto Maple Leafs general manger Lou Lamoriello is concerned, Nazem Kadri isn’t a first-line centre, but does it even matter?"

Some interesting research out today

Science of the slapshot: Improving your game through physics | Globe and Mail
"Hache has extensively researched the physics of hockey in his most recent book, aptly named 'Slapshot Science,' and devotes an entire chapter to the inner workings of a shot."

Hockey is luckiest major North American sport: Researchers | Toronto Sun
"[T]he MIT team also found out something that should salve the wounds of anyone whose NHL predictions this spring turn out to be way off: hockey is the luckiest of any of the major sports."

Visualizing Team Power Play Performance With One Chart | NHL Special Teams
"As a part of my presentation last weekend at the Vancouver Hockey Analytics Conference, I debuted a new power play chart that I feel presents a good view of each team's power play performance and success as the season has progressed. It will take quite a bit of explaining so let's dive in."

AIHL

DBTB is going Down Under! We're following the Australian Ice Hockey League this summer! | DBTB
"Thanks to a campaign started by SB Nation blogs Stanley Cup of Chowder and Pension Plan Puppets, you don't need to wait that long - Die By The Blade will be joining them and picking a team to root for and follow this summer in the Australian Ice Hockey League!"