April 24, 2014

steve laidlaw

2014-04-24

Dobber here – I’ll be taking your fantasy hockey questions all day today. Simply follow this link and ask away. Registration takes approximately 10 seconds – 12 seconds if you type slow or want a long user name.

 

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Well, it finally happened. The annual Marc-Andre Fleury meltdown has begun. Or he made a couple of ill-timed mistakes that cost his team in a game that they were outplayed in anyhow. Either way. But the spotlight is on and he could not afford a single mistake. Now the critics have all the fodder they need.

 

Those were two awful goals but I won't pin this all on Fleury. How about Sidney Crosby over-pursuing puck leading to the tying goal? Not good.

 

The Penguins sat on their lead way too much and allowed the Blue Jackets to win the shot battle 46-25. Not surprising that they came back.

 

On the other hand, if the 3-1 lead is really a curse in this series then the Penguins should be thankful that they dropped Game Four to avoid the 3-1 series lead. Of course, such omens are ridiculous. And the Penguins can look back at this game as a missed opportunity if they do drop the series.

 

And hey, at least Paul Martin is leading the playoffs in scoring now with eight assists through four games. If he can stay healthy I really believe he could be a guy to look at for next season.

 

The Fleury gaffs:

 

 

 

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Full credit to the Jackets. They hung tough and got the comeback they deserved despite missing two of their four best defensemen with Fedor Tyutin and Ryan Murray both injured.

 

Their solution was to give Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski all the minutes. Good plan! Johnson has been a revelation in these playoffs. He leads the Jackets in goals with three in four games. Playoff warrior. Remember that for next year.

 

Brandon Dubinsky came up huge with the tying goal, his first of the playoffs. Dubinsky is tops on the Jackets with six points now. You'd definitely have to say he is winning the head-to-head matchup with Crosby.

 

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Interesting question in the forums on whether to keep Ryan Johansen or Eric Staal for next season. I'm a big Staal believer. I've already discussed my reasoning but to summarize: Staal's even strength production was in line with his career production. Only the Hurricanes' miserable power play (28th in the league this season) caused him to slump.

 

That said, it's hard to ignore Johansen here. The eight year difference in age between these two isn't nothing. While I don't think it'll be next year, Staal is definitely going to decline at some point. Johansen, on the other hand, is far from such a regression. In fact, Johansen is right in around the age where goal scorers peak.

 

I do think that Johansen's 13.9% shooting this season is problematic. That probably regresses next season. But his on-ice shooting percentage was right around league average at 7.92% indicating that his own shooting helped to buoy subpar performances by his