For the second straight year, the Minnesota Wild have unfortunately passed away after game five of the first round. Sixteen of the Wild’s last twenty playoff games have ended in a loss, and the team has now failed to move past the first round for three straight years.
Day 10 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs saw an elimination and a team staying alive. The Jets dominated their way into the second round, the Flyers lived to fight another day and Andrew Hammond stole the show keeping his team alive for another game.
Heres’s how it went down:
Philadelphia 4-2 Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh leads series 3-2
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) April 21, 2018
With the Flyers on the brink of elimination they had no choice but to come out early and set the tone. Philadelphia outshot the Penguins 9-5 in the first period.
The Flyers not only outshot Pittsburgh in the first period but also got on the board first. Philly took a 1-0 lead thanks to Claude Giroux with just under three minutes left, as the captain rifled home a one-timer from Jakub Voracek. It was Giroux’s first playoff goal since the 2013-14 season.
The lead did not last long as the Penguins turned it on in the second period outshooting the Flyers 14-8.
Bryan Rust scored his second of the playoffs to tie the game at one, as he deked his away around three Flyers’ defenders to burry the wrap-around goal.
Jake Guentzel netted his second of the playoffs and has now scored a point in three straight games as well, giving the Penguins a 2-1 lead with just under four minutes left.
Philly would not let that go however, as Valtteri Filppula scored his first of the playoffs burying his own rebound to tie the game at two heading into the third period.
In a hard fought third period it took until 1:15 left in the game for Sean Couturier to score from the blue line to give the Flyers a late 3-2 lead. It was Couturier’s first game back since missing Game 4 with an injury.
Michal Neuvirth had an outstanding performance stopping 29 of 32 Penguins shots including robbing Sidney Crosby on the glove side in the dying seconds of the game to hold onto the victory for Philadelphia. Neuvirth is the third goaltender to start these playoffs for the Flyers.
The Flyers were able to stay alive with a Game 5 win, sending the series back to Philadelphia for Game 6 on Sunday. It will be an exciting game with Philly having their backs against the wall and able to push for a seventh game.
Minnesota 0-5 Winnipeg
Winnipeg wins series 4-1
Tonight's Three Stars:
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) April 21, 2018
The Jets came out fast and hard as they scored four goals in the first period putting the Wild into a hole they could not climb out of.
The first goal came 30 seconds into the game with Jacob Trouba scoring his first of the playoffs sneaking one through the five-hole of Devan Dubnyk.
Four minutes later another Jet scored his first of the post-season as Bryan Little deflected a shot by Dustin Byfuglien past the Wild net minder.
After a Wild turnover Brandon Tanev scored low glove side on Dubnyk with 11 minutes left in the period. It only took another 49 seconds before the Jets scored again. Joel Armia deflected another Byfuglien shot into the back of the net for a 4-0 lead.
The four early goals were enough to chase Devan Dubnyk as he was relieved of his duties and replaced with Alex Stalock.
Mark Scheifele put the game away 40 seconds into the third period, as he one-timed a shot from the slot into the net on the powerplay.
Connor Hellebyuck recored his second career playoff shutout and his second of the series. He faced 30 shots and turned away all of them.
The Jets dominated the series outside of Game 4. They were the more explosive, physical and had some of the best performances by a goaltender in the playoffs so far. They look to give whoever they face in the second round a difficult hard hitting competition.
Colorado 2-1 Nashville
Nashville leads series 3-2
— NHL (@NHL) April 21, 2018
The Predators were looking to wrap things up Friday night and get ready for a second round series against Winnipeg.
Andrew Hammond had other ideas however. He got the start for the Avalanche with Jonathan Bernier out with a lower body injury he sustained in Wednesday night’s 3-2 loss. It was Hammond’s third start since January 10 and he held his own early facing and turning away 11 shots in the first period. As the game went on Hammond turned away scoring chance after scoring chance of the Predators.
Hammond finished with 43 saves on 44 shots.
Pekka Rinne quietly had a solid night for Nashville as well stopping 24 of 26 shots.
With under 10 minutes left in the game Nick Bonino scored his first goal of the playoffs, his 17th career playoff goal to break the magical shutout from Andrew Hammond.
Five minutes later, Nathan MacKinnon showed great patience waiting down low in the slot before passing cross crease to Gabriel Landeskog who buried it in the open net to tie the game at one.
With 1:28 left PK Subban was caught cheating up ice on the offensive side which led to a two-on-one for the Avalanche. J.T. Compher threw a shot on net and Sven Andrighetto cleaned up the rebound, scoring his first career playoff game to send the series to Game 6.
Andrew Hammond was an absolute monster and assuming he gets the start Sunday, it could make for a very intense and exciting Game 6. The Avs are going to be looking to send it to a Game 7, and regardless of the outcome Sunday, they have played a very impressive series against the defending Western Conference Champions.
The offense finally slowed down on day seven of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with goaltenders stealing the show. Connor Hellebuyck led the Jets to a 2-0 victory, the Capitals getting back into their series and the Knights became the first expansion team to win a playoff series.
Here’s how it went down:
Previously I looked at the Eastern Conference and previewed the playoff picture. Now it’s time to look at the other side and preview what to expect from the Western Conference. The West is set up with talented teams mixed with veteran groups that have been to the dance before. There are only two teams that I see as favourites to make it all the way, but there’s always a chance for an upset, especially when there are more experienced teams. Here’s a preview of the Western Conference playoffs.
You could go read a magazine or go to major websites for season previews… but then it’s the same thing that tens of thousands of people read. So here is the start of my unique division by division season previews, which get you set for upcoming NHL season.
FIRST PLACE – DALLAS STARS
Added: A. Radulov – B. Bishop – M. Hanzal – M. Methot – B. Flynn – T. Pitlick
Lost: P. Sharp (fa) – C. Eakin (e) – J. Hudler (fa) – A. Niemi (bo) – A. Hemsky (fa)
I get the sense that Jim Nill isn’t a very patient man. After the team saw their point total slip by 40 last season, their GM went out and solved their goaltending problem, solidified their d-core and just for fun, added a few more solid offensive pieces. They added a laundry list of impressive names to a team that already featured Benn, Seguin, Klingberg, and Spezza.
This team has a plethora of high-end skill, especially down the middle, where I don’t think there’s a team in the league that can match them. Seguin-Hanzal-Spezza-Shore is a terrific group and should be able to carry this team to a fantastic regular season.
Are there worries? Yeah. I don’t love their depth on the wings or on the back end, even though they are improved. Maybe that’s something they can look to add at the deadline, although they don’t have cap space as of now.
Regardless, I’m feeling bounce-back performance from the team in Texas and their off-season moves back up that feeling.
SECOND PLACE – NASHVILLE PREDATORS
Add: S. Hartnell – N. Bonino – A. Emelin
Lost: J. Neal (e) – C. Wilson (t)
I did not like their offseason. The Scott Hartnell reunion is a nice story, but he is not the player he used to be. They also paid a lot for Nick Bonino, a player who I question can be a competent second line center. He’s never cracked 50 points and his GF% drops 11% when he goes from mid-level competition to elite competition (via puckiq.com). I don’t think he’s a good second line center.
So then why do I have them so high? Well, they still have Pekka Rinne and one of the best group of defensemen in the league. We also just witnessed some breakthrough performances during the playoffs and I believe guys like Freddy Gauthier, Colton Scissions, and Pontus Aberg are ready for full-time NHL duty.
The injury to Ryan Ellis stings, but again, their depth is incredible and I have full confidence they can survive the few months without Ellis.
If there’s an x-factor, I’d say it’s Ryan Johansen. Fresh off a big extension that pays him like an elite #1 center, he’ll need to produce more than the 14 goals & 47 points he got in 82 games last year.
Despite seeing declines in their point totals the last 3 years, I expect the Preds to have a strong season in a tough central division.
THIRD PLACE – WINNIPEG JETS
Add: D. Kulikov – S. Mason – M. Sgarbossa
Lost: P. Postma (fa) – C. Thorburn (fa) – O. Pavelec (fa)
They couldn’t keep pucks out of their net. That was the only reason this team didn’t find any success during the regular season. They finished 7th in goals for and the difference between their goals for per game and goals against per game was just (0.11).
To put that into perspective, only one other non-playoff team in the west had a better differential, that was the LA Kings at (0.02). Simply put: the Jets had a really solid regular season last year, their goaltending was just horrendous.
They went out and improved their goaltending situation by grabbing Steve Mason, who should be a little more stable than Pavelec/Hutchison were as backups. The addition of Mason, combined with a more experienced Connor Hellebuyck should help drop that goals against per game number.
They also went and added Dmitry Kulikov, who does have holes in his game but is an upgrade on Paul Postma.
Combine that with a group of forwards that’s deep, highly skilled and only getting better, I think the Jets have a winning team and have no problem slotting them into a playoff spot.
FOURTH PLACE – MINNESOTA WILD
Add: M. Foligno – R. Murphy – T. Ennis
Lost: M Hanzal (fa) – J. Pominville (t) – M. Scandella (t) – E. Haula (e) – D. Kuemper (fa)
The Wild went all in last year, paying a king’s ransom for Martin Hanzal at the deadline. It didn’t work out, but they still have a pretty solid core intact. Their solid wing depth is still there, and while I worry about their depth down the middle, maybe someone like Joel Eriksson Ek can thrive playing on a line with someone like Zach Parise or one of their other skill guys.
Their solid wing depth is still there, and while I worry about their depth down the middle, maybe someone like Joel Eriksson Ek can thrive playing on a line with someone like Zach Parise or one of their other skill guys.
Their solid d-core and Devan Dubnyk should leave them looking good in their own end. If there is one concern I have it’s a lack of that superstar presence, someone who can be a game-changing presence on offense. Is Mikael Granlund that guy? His point total increased by 25 last year, so will we see another big step forward?
If they get some big performances, which I expect they will, I have no doubt about the Wild being a playoff team.
FIFTH PLACE – CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
Add: B. Saad – P. Sharp – C. Murphy – A. Forsberg – J. Berube – J. Rutta
Lost: A. Panarin (t) – N. Hjalmarson (t) – M. Hossa (i) – M. Kruger (t) – T. Van Riemsdyk (e) – J.Oduya (fa) – S. Darling (t) – B. Campbell ®
That’s a long list of departures from the Windy City, and the new names are honestly quite underwhelming.
Just looking at their offense, they essentially swapped out Hossa and Panarin for Saad and Sharp. I understand the cap relief element of things, and they got a great deal with Sharp, but the bottom line is they got two players who produce less than the players they now have. The combined GF/60 of Hossa and Panarin is 4.9, while that number for Sharp and Saad is 4.3.
On defense, they lost their second best dman in Nik Hjalmarsson and two good supporting players in Van Riemsdyk and O’Duya. To replace them is 27-year-old rookie Jan Rutta and Connor Murphy. Another sizeable step back.
They also lost Scott Darling, who was an outstanding backup. Berube should be fine in that role, but it’s another step back, even if it is small.
Now despite getting worse in all three areas of their roster, they still have a good chunk of their core so they should stick to the playoff picture. Their depth isn’t god either so one big injury could really put them in a hole. The flip side of that, they have some good young players. If Debrincat, Schmaltz, and Murphy can prove their solid NHL players early on, there is some potential for the Hawks to challenge for the division.
Their depth isn’t good either so one big injury could really put them in a hole. The flip side is that they have some good young players. If Debrincat, Schmaltz, and Murphy can prove their solid NHL players early on, there is some potential for the Hawks to challenge for the division
Just going off their roster right now, gotta slide them lower than others may have them.
SIXTH PLACE – ST. LOUIS BLUES
Add: B. Schenn – B. Bennett – C. Thorburn
Lost: D. Perron (e) – J. Lehtera (t) – R. Reaves (t) – N. Yakupov (fa)
In a division as close and deep as the Central, you need to always be improving. The Blues didn’t do that.
It may be a storyline for a few years, but they still don’t have an elite centerman to play with Tarasenko. Schenn is good, but he isn’t a top line center.
They’ve seen a decline in points over each of the last 4 seasons (111-109-107-99) and with a slew of their direct competition making serious strides forward, the Blues may be the odd team out. They didn’t get any help from the schedule makers either, playing 6 of their first 9 on the road. A bad start can really set a team back, and again, in a division as loaded as the Central, a bad start could ruin your season.
If there’s a bright side, they should still have strong special teams (PP = 8th & PK = 3rd). A solid 60-65 starts from Jake Allen would also help. They have some cap space heading into next offseason with Paul Stastny coming off the books, so maybe a high pick and a little reset heading into 19/19 wouldn’t be the worst thing for the franchise.
SEVENTH PLACE – COLORADO AVALANCHE
Adds: N. Yakupov – C. Wilson – J. Bernier
Lost: F. Beauchemin (fa) – M. Grigorenko (fa) – C. Pickard (e) – P. Wiercioch (fa) – R. Bourque (fa)
It’s hardly a hot take to predict the Avs to finish in the basement, but it’s difficult to expect an organization that’s as lost as them to bounce back from a historically bad 16/17 season.
I liked the 3 additions they made over the offseason, all are essentially no risk and could pay off, but they didn’t get any better. Losing Beauchemin and Pickard won’t exactly help them gain points in the standings.
Joe Sakic also, to this point, failed to deal Matt Duchene despite everyone in the hockey world knows it’s coming. I don’t think this is exactly a very inspired group of guys heading into the new season so expect the same old, same old from the Avs.
1 – Dallas – Loaded up this offseason, filled almost all their holes.
2 – Nashville – Not a good offseason, but are still built like a Cup contender.
3 – Winnipeg – So much potential, goaltending looks better.
4 – Minnesota – Lost some decent players, no one too crucial. Another playoff appearance.
5 – Chicago – Every aspect of their team got worse. In the playoffs, but barely.
6 – St. Louis – Don’t think they’re good enough to take out Chicago for final WC spot.
7 – Colorado – Dumpster fire. Going to pick high in next years draft. Dahlin?
Chicago Blackhawks (1st Central) vs Nashville Predators (2nd Wild Card)
LAST 10: Chicago (3-3-4) Nashville (5-4-1)
Tyler Yaremchuk: Let’s start with this: I really really really like the Nashville Predators. I think their defence is exceptional and if Pekka Rinne plays good then they could be giving the Hawks dynasty a real run for their money. In the end, I think Chicago is too deep. They can beat you in too many ways and have a lot of players breakthrough this year (Panik, Hartman). My pick is
Blackhawks in six.
Liam Horrobin: This serious could easily go to seven games with the amount of fire power both teams have. Nashville have the young up and coming roster led by Flip Forsberg up front and Subban at the back. On the flip side, the Blackhawks have all the experience in the world and that’s what will help them cross the line.
Blackhawks in seven
Taylor Paniccia: A Western Conference dark-horse to many people, this is a first round matchup that the Predators didn’t want to get involved in heading into the playoffs. These two teams have met twice in the postseason in recent years (2010 and 2015) with the Blackhawks winning both series in six games. It’s no secret that the Chicago Blackhawks love to play against the Nashville Predators as the Hawks took the season series this year four games to one. This is a Chicago team that knows how to win and will be looking to avenge their first round exit from last year and hunt down the Predators.
Blackhawks in six.
Brayden Engel: For the second time in 3 years, Nashville gets the pleasure of taking on the Blackhawks in the first round. Much like in 2015, I don’t see the out-experienced and out-skilled Predators making much of a dent in the armour of juggernaut Chicago.
Blackhawks in six.
Josh Goodings: As much as I’d love to see Nashville take down Chicago I don’t see this series being much different from the one in 2015. I really like Nashville’s young core of Forsberg, Johansen, Subban, and Josi. I expected more from the Preds this season, but they still have a bright future. Sadly I don’t think they have enough to beat the Blackhawks, who many were skeptical of after they failed to advance to the second round last year. But clearly they’re still the good ol’ Blackhawks, finishing 3rd in the NHL this year with 109 points. I think the Preds will be the Hawks first victim on their path to another Stanley Cup Final.
Blackhawks in six.
Devin Horne: How can you bet against Patrick Kane and Johnny Toews? The Blackhawks are still the dominant force in the west and will cruise to the western conference final. Nashville still doesn’t have all of the pieces they need to make a deep push, Subban was a great addition but I feel like they need something more up front. Watch out for Pekka Rinne though.
Blackhawks in six.
THE VERDICT: Experience and knowing how to win has BTI thinking the Hawks escape a potentially electric Nashville squad. Hawks late in the series is what we’ve decided.
Minnesota Wild (2nd Central) vs St. Louis Blues (3rd Central)
LAST 10: Minnesota (5-3-2) St. Louis (7-1-2)
Tyler Yaremchuk: I think the consensus is that this series will be one of the least exciting (or least attention grabbing) in the first round. Minnesota is slipping and if Devan Dubnyk isn’t back to his elite level in a hurry, then the Wild are in serious trouble. On the Blues side, even without Shattenkirk, they have a very good defense. You also can’t forget about Vladimir Tarasenko. The Blues are also a better 5v5 possession team, so when the whistles go away in the playoffs (like they often do), I give them the edge.
Blues in seven.
Liam Horrobin: The Wild are getting cold at the wrong time! Devan Dubnyk’s have got worse every month which will also not help out the Wild. On the other hand, the Blues have been playing good hockey of late giving themselves a 7-1-2 record in their last 10 games. Out of all the series in west, this will be the closest one but I am going to have to take the Blues. Another great regular season for Boudreau but yet another disappointing postseason.
Blues in seven.
Taylor Paniccia: A few months ago I held the Minnesota Wild as one of my favourites in the West. But After buying at the deadline the Wild have cooled down as well as their goaltending from Devan Dubnyk, while the deadline seller Blues went on a hot run with much improved goaltending from Jake Allen. A fairly even season series between the two teams, (Blues taking it three games to two) look for special teams to play an important role in this playoff series, with the Blues running better numbers on the PP as well as the PK. While the Wild hold the title for most goals scored and goal differential in the West look for Jake Allen and the Blues to keep up their peak heading into the post-season and take down the Wild.
Blues in six.
Brayden Engel: The Blues are 15-3-2 in their last 20 games coming into this series. Not to mention Dubnyk’s abysmal .895 SV% since the Blues started their streak. While regular season success/momentum doesn’t guarantee anything, it makes St Louis a sexy pick for an “upset”.
Blues in 7.
Josh Goodings: The Blues have been red hot ever since Mike Yeo became the new bench boss, while Minnesota has seen their very strong start drop off as of late. Devan Dubnyk looked like a potential Vezina winner at the halfway point, now he might not even be nominated. Dubnyk went 6-8-2 with a .895 SV% since the beginning of March, and if he doesn’t turn it around now the Wild’s playoff run will be very short lived. On the other hand Jake Allen has been red hot since March, going 11-2-2 with a .942 SV%. Despite trading Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline the Blues still have a very solid d-core, as well as the biggest offensive threat in the series in Vladimir Tarasenko. I smell an upset in the state of hockey.
Blues in Six
Devin Horne: Am I the only person not looking forward to this snooze fest? This is the series I’m least looking forward to, excitement has faded as the Wild have cooled off and Dubnyk isn’t standing on his head like he was earlier this season. St. Louis trading Kevin Shattenkirk didn’t exactly inspire a ton of confidence. Sure, you don’t want to lose him for nothing, but if the Blues thought they had a shot they wouldn’t have traded him.
Wild in Seven
THE VERDICT: A hot Jake Allen and a cold Dubnyk is all the reasoning most of our writers needed to make the Blues their “sexy” upset pick in round one. It’ll take a lot of hockey, but Blues in six or seven is our call.
Anaheim Ducks (1st Pacific) vs Calgary Flames (1st Wild Card)
LAST 10: Anahiem (8-0-2) Calgary (4-6-0)
Tyler Yaremchuk: The Flames can’t win in Anaheim, I don’t know why, and if the Flames knew why then they wouldn’t keep losing. Are they due for a win in So-Cal? I would say no. Even without Fowler, the Ducks are solid on the backend and i trust their offensive core, especially with the addition of Eaves. The Flames can win if the Ducks health becomes a serious issue or if they can throw the Ducks off their game by adding some bad blood to things. I don’t see that happening.
Ducks in 5.
Liam Horrobin: This will be a fun but short series. The Flames have got all the speed up front while the Ducks have it all at the back which could be the difference maker. When you have a first line which has Perry and Getzlaf, then the second line with Ryan Kesler it’s very difficult to not say they’re the favourite. Much like Nashville, the Flames will have to rely heavily on their goaltender Brian Elliott if they want any chance of winning.
Ducks in 5.
Taylor Paniccia: A matchup I’m very excited to watch. This series has all the signs of good old school hockey as these two teams do not like each other. The size and physicality of the Anaheim Ducks will be a problem for the small forwards of the Calgary Flames. With the Flames not winning in Anaheim in over ten years look for this to a be a mental problem for Calgary. While the Flames do have a deep roster the Ducks dominated the season series (four games to one) and have been one of the NHL’s best down the stretch. Look for the Ducks to extinguish the Flames quickly.
Ducks in 5.
Brayden Engel: Another familiar matchup brings the return of the Red Mile and, in all likelihood, a disappointment for Calgary fans. I’m not one for season series numbers because I think a playoff date varies greatly from playing on the second half of a back to back in December but Anaheim did win 4 of 5 against their first round opponents. There’s no way a Randy Carlyle coached team could let its fans down right?
Ducks in 5.
Josh Goodings: The Flames cannot win in Anaheim. Simple as that. The Flames haven’t won a game at the Honda Centre since 2006. Insane, and I really don’t think that’s gonna change during this series. Not to mention Anaheim is just a better, more experienced team. This should be a quick and easy series for the Ducks.
Ducks in 5
Devin Horne: We were so close to the first playoff battle of Alberta since 1991, but Anaheim had to ruin that. Thanks guys. As an Oiler fan I’m not sure which team I hate more, since acquiring Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler the Ducks are giving Calgary a run for it’s money. It would be a dream come true for Calgary to upset the Ducks and possibly meet Edmonton in the second round, but the Ducks are just too good. Deep down the middle and even with the Cam Fowler injury their defense is still a force. Add to that Calgary hasn’t won in Anaheim in 20 some games.
Ducks in 6
THE VERDICT: I swear we didn’t discuss this, another consensus. Ducks will continue their dominace over the Flames despite a banged up defensive core. Ducks in 5 all across the board is our call.
Edmonton Oilers (2nd Pacific) vs San Jose Sharks (3rd Pacific)
LAST 10: Edmonton (8-2-0) San Jose (4-6-0)
Tyler Yaremchuk: The San Jose Sharks are banged up and slumping. The Edmonton Oilers are healthy, fast and hot. That would explain why many have the Oilers walking away with this, but I’d pump the breaks. This Sharks team knows how to win and they know how to play in the playoffs. They can get away with the little slashes and cheap plays, a definite advantage over a younger Oilers team. Martin Jones should also be scaring Oilers fans, he’s the type who can carry a team through a round and he proved it last year. In the end, I think the raw skill of Edmonton prevails, but barely.
Oilers in seven.
Liam Horrobin: With the injuries that the Sharks have had in recent weeks, you’ve got to make the Oilers the
favourites. However, even without those injuries, the Oilers still took the season series verse the Sharks. Although Connor McDavid led the league and Oilers in points, in the last few weeks, the Oil have had numerous other players step up like Lucic and Eberle. With those guys now hitting a hot streak, the depth that the Oilers have will help them defeat the Sharks.
Oilers in five.
Taylor Paniccia: It’s no secret and people have to realize it. The Edmonton Oilers have owned all Western Conference season series matchups this year. The Oilers have won the season series against all Western Conference playoff teams except for the Wild and the Predators. With the fade of the San Jose Sharks in the later stages of the season and the injuries to the likes of Thornton, Couture and Pavelski, look for the Oilers to drown the Sharks in their return to the post-season.
Oilers in six.
Brayden Engel: Connor McDavid puts up 4 goals in his first game of the postseason and exposes himself to Joe Thornton, setting the tone for the series. Really think home ice makes a huge difference in this one with Edmontonians finally hosting some playoff action and getting to wear orange to the games to show their support for the NDP party’s leadership.
McDavid in 7.
Josh Goodings: The Oilers are legit. After finishing 29th in the NHL last year, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Cam Talbot have lead the blue and orange back to the playoffs with a 103 point season. They’re no joke, and they’ve been great against not only the pacific division but the entire Western Conference, winning their season series against every team except Nashville and Minnesota. They won the season series against San Jose 3-1-1, winning the 3 most recent games. Earning home-ice advantage in this series was huge for the Oilers, as they won their last nine home games of the season. Brent Burns is the clear cut MVP of the Sharks this season, but it’s worth noting he slowed down at the end of the season, scoring only 2 goals in his last 23 games. Logan Couture and Joe Thornton being banged up could also make this series much easier for the Oilers, but the Sharks are not a team to just shrug off, this will be a hard series for the Oilers to win. But the Sharks have the biggest challenge in this series, stopping the McDavid/Draisaitl duo. Draisaitl put up 21 points in the last 14 games, while McDavid had 25 points on his 14 game point streak to close out the year. The Oilers head into their first playoff berth since 2006 extremely hot, with no intentions of slowing down.
Oilers in six
Devin Horne: Decade of darkness is over! I predicted the Oil to make the post season, but I thought they would be fighting tooth and nail for a wild card spot, not 2 points back of a Pacific Division title. Thornton is going to play hurt, as is Logan Couture. Sharks are still deep at centre and Martin Jones is an absolute beast. The Oil faired pretty well against the Sharks this season, taking the season series 3 to 2. Connor McDavid is the best player on earth, Draisaitl, Maroon, Talbot, and Eberle/Lucic are finally hitting their strides. This Oilers team is looking scary. Sharks are the veteran team and will be a handful for the Oilers, but I think the Oil squeeze into the second round.
Oilers in seven.
THE VERDICT: We really think alike here at BTI. Everyone has the Oilers winning the first round, but the amount of games varies. Some say it will be dominace over the limping Sharks, while others think the veteran San Jose squad will put up a better fight. In the end, all are saying the Oilers advance.
(photo via Toronto Star)
A report out of Ottawa this week claims that the Senators plan to ask Dion Phaneuf to waive his no-movement clause before this year’s expansion draft.
Some are surprised since Phaneuf seemed to have found a good role in Ottawa and the organization, by all accounts, is happy with what they’ve gotten from the former Maple Leaf.
But one thing that should be noted with a story like this is even if the team asks a player to waive his NTC or NMC, that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to lose him, it may just be a strategy, and there will be a lot of teams using this strategy. Let me explain it from the Senators perspective:
The Senators can only protect 3 defenders. Karlsson and Ceci are automatics, which means one of Methot or Phaneuf need to be left unprotected. Methot has a fairly team friendly contract and would likely be a vet that Vegas looks at favorably. While Phaneuf, while still valuable, is still owed $7 million a season until 2021. Likely a deal that Vegas doesn’t want to touch.
So the Senators would much rather protect Methot from the expansion draft, but Phaneuf’s NMC means he needs to be automatically protected, meaning Methot would likely be lost. If the Senators can approach Phaneuf and say:
“Look, we want to keep both you and Marc Methot around, we know they won’t touch your contract, so if you waive your NMC, it will improve the team.”
Then they could be in a scenario where they don’t lose a top six forward or a top four d-man. This is something I think a lot of teams will be doing during the months leading up to the expansion draft. As it sits right now, only Calgary, New Jersey, San Jose, Washington, St. Louis, and Toronto don’t have any active no move or no trade clauses. Meaning that ⅘ of the NHL could have a problem similar to the one Ottawa is facing. Here are some other notable scenarios it may be happening:
The Anaheim Ducks are in a tough spot with their defense, so asking Kevin Bieksa to waive his NMC could be the difference between losing one of Silfverberg/Cogliano or losing Josh Manson, a big difference for that organization.
The Blackhawks likely don’t want to lose Trevor Van Riemsdyk, as he is a young, cost controlled defenseman. If they want to keep both TVR and Kruger, it may require convincing Marian Hossa to waive his NMC. He owns a cap hit of $5.25 million until 2021, so it’s close to a guarantee Vegas won’t want to touch him. This could be a scenario where Hossa weaves his NMC, with an understanding he won’t be going anywhere.
The Blue Jackets have 3 forwards with NMC’s, one of which is Scott Hartnell, who will be getting $4.75 million. If the team wants to keep Matt Calvert or Josh Anderson, they will need to ask Hartnell to waive his clause, even though it’s doubtful he will be selected due to his contract.
Could the Minnesota Wild do this with Ryan Suter and Zach Parise? Potentially both?! It’s a little insane at first glance, but
word is, that Vegas doesn’t want term. They want contracts they can get out of in 3-5 years so they have money for free agency and players coming off entry-level contracts. Well, Parise and Suter are both owed $7.5 million until 2025, will Vegas really take those deals with two players who are aging and declining in skill? Doubtful. Leaving them both unprotected allows Minnesota to keep Nino Niederreiter and all 4 of their young d-men. It’s a little crazy, but it might work!
The Rangers have three players who fit this bill, Marc Staal ($5.7mil until 2021), Dan Girardi ($5.5mil until 2020) and Rick Nash ($7.8mil until 2018). Out of those, Rick Nash might actually get taken because of how little term is left. But leaving one of the older d-men unprotected allows them to go with the 8 skaters option and keep Oscar Lindberg or Kevin Hayes.
More of the same in Tampa where the difference between Ryan Callahan waiving his NMC or refusing could cost the team a young/impactful forward like Vlad Namestnikov or a reliable vet like Alex Killorn.
Plenty of examples of how crucial convincing an aging vet to take a leap of faith will be when the expansion draft roles around. A GM’s ability to negotiate and convince a player to trust him could have repercussions that will be felt for over a decade.
The NHL all-star weekend is over which means it’s time to get back to business, and by business, I mean beating your friends at fantasy hockey.
Games actually won’t get back underway until Tuesday, so again another none seven day game week.
Now, until the trade deadline, you should start keeping on eye out for players that are in the trade talks. A new change of scenario could change a players season around. Also keep a look out for players returning from injury, like Max Domi
This week’s list will contain players who will help you in daily, weekly and dynasty leagues.
Let’s get going.
Jason Zucker – Minnesota Wild
ESPN Owned Percentage: 34.7%
The Minnesota Wild forward is having himself a career year racking up 33 points in 48 games. In his last 10 games, Zucker has continued to build on those numbers scoring nine points helping the Wild maintain their spot at the top of the Central. One downfall with Zucker is that he doesn’t play on the power play, obviously, you’d like to see your players play on the odd man but Zucker is still having success without that extra ice time. When I play fantasy I really enjoy to pair up linemates, if you own Mikael Granlund then you’re going to want Zucker too.
Andre Burakovsky – Washington Capitals
ESPN Owned Percentage: 24.5%
Burakovsky has made the list two weeks in a row now because he simply keeps performing at a high level. Since the last time we spoke about him, the Caps forward has scored five points in three games, maintaining his hot streak. The only issue with Burakovsky is he isn’t playing top-six minutes meaning it’s unlikely he’ll be able to continue this for much longer. We can only hope that eventually, he’ll make his way up to the depth chart and gains more minutes.
Alexander Burmistrov – Arizona Coyotes
ESPN Owned Percentage: 1.5%
Since joining the Arizona Coyotes Alexander Burmistrov has been superb. Burmistrov has scored a point in every game but one since January 16th and has been Arizona’s best forward. So far, he hasn’t been a huge contributor on the powerplay, nevertheless, at least he is getting minutes which means those points will come. Also, a big reason to pick up Burmistrov is because of the fire sale the Yotes are likely to have in the next couple of weeks. They’re allowing Hanzel, Vrbata and maybe Doan to all leave come trade deadline which would give Burmistrov the opportunity to move up the depth chart.
Dmitry Orlov – Washington Capitals
ESPN Owned Percentage: 37.6%
Despite being on pace for 41 points this season, Dmitry Orlov continues to go unnoticed by more than half of all leagues. The Caps defenseman is playing a little less than 20 minutes a night and is ranked in the top 25 for points by a defenseman. Orlov was a big contributor in both of the Caps victories last week scoring four points in only three games. Orlov is also a nice player to slip into your lineup in you’re a John Carlson owner, who is currently injured.
photo via likesuccess.com
With the end of the regular season here and fantasy playoff hockey talk hot, let’s countdown the top ten players you should pick up for success in your pool.
10 Tyler Seguin – I do have the Minnesota Wild taking down the offensive heavy Dallas Stars but it’s too tough not to have a natural goal scorer in Tyler Seguin on this list.
9 Vladimir Tarasenko – It’s hard to pick between the Chicago Blackhawks and the St. Louis Blues on who advances to the next round but it’s always better to take a superstar on a team that may potentially get knocked out in the first round than a depth guy on a team that may go far.
8 Pavel Datsyuk – It’s a going away party for the Magic Man as this his going to be his last crack at Lord Stanley. Find his silky mitts putting up points and for the Detroit Red Wings to take down the banged up Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of playoffs.
7 Aleksander Barkov – It’s a toss up in my opinion between Jagr and Barkov and just out of sheer instinct Barkov will lead the way for his team in the playoffs.
6 Corey Perry – Many people are saying the Anaheim Ducks are the best team in the NHL right now and Corey Perry will lead the way with what I feel is a simple first round matchup for the Ducks
5 Zach Parise – The Minnesota Wild will knock out the Dallas Stars in the first round of playoffs and find none other than Zach Parise leading the way for the Wild. They upset the St. Louis Blues a year ago and I feel they can do the same against Dallas this playoff campaign.
4 Sidney Crosby – Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins are arguably the hottest team in the NHL. Crosby since the All-Star break has been the NHL’s best player and look for Pittsburgh to keep up their momentum and take down the difficult New York Rangers in the first round of playoffs.
3 Anze Kopitar – There’s no doubt that Anze Kopitar is LA’s go to machine. Look for LA to advance to the next round of playoffs and for Kopitar to be in on many of their goals.
2 Alexander Ovechkin – I believe Ovechkin is interchangeable with the number one spot on this list. It really comes down to who you favor winning the cup this year. Ovechkin’s importance to the Washington Capitals offense is heavy. He’s a natural sniper and is the best powerplay player in the league. Averaging just over five shots per game you can’t leave The Great Eight off this list. With Washington a true top three cup contender look for Ovechkin to really step up his play in the playoffs to try and capture his first Stanley Cup ring.
1 Patrick Kane – It’s hard not to have the NHL’s leading scorer on the top of this list. With Stan Bowman and the Chicago Blackhawks roster you can’t sell them short of taking home yet another Stanley Cup. Look for Chicago to go deep in this year’s post-season and don’t be surprised when you see Patrick Kane leading the way in points for his team and possibly capturing a Conn Smythe if the Blackhawks take home another Stanley Cup.
(photo via thehockeynews.com)
The match-ups in the Western Conference this year have to be some of the tightest we’ve seen in years. Our writers/podcasters sat down and took their hacks at who will win each series. Enjoy and feel free to debate in the comments!