Ramblings: Tavares and the Isles; Parayko and the Blues (Apr. 18)
Rambling about the Blues bouncing back, Colton Parayko, John Tavares and more
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I knew – well, we all knew – that the Chicago – St. Louis series would be riveting. But I honestly thought that the Blues were toast after that crazy offside call on Friday. I thought it was series changing. It was certainly game changing. I had picked the Blues to win the series because I like their team better and Brian Elliott has truly emerged as a force. To call offside on Jori Lehtera was fine – if it was done in-game I wouldn’t have blinked. But to reverse the call based on a millimeter in a playoff game completely ignores the spirit of the game and makes things too rigid. As someone in the comments said on Saturday – if the ref looks at the replay (using their ‘secret’ camera angle) and can’t immediately and decisively reverse a call, then it shouldn’t be reversed. If it’s that close, leave it be. To sit there for five minutes and make sure you get it right sucks the fun out of the game and risks deflating a team and its fans. And that’s more damage than the actual call.
How close was that call? Well, the next night the opposite call was made on the same play by Derick Brassard. The difference between the two was about one millimeter. That’s how close it was. And to me, that’s too close to make a call that decides the game. Nobody would have argued upholding the call on the ice. Here were the two plays:
Lehtera (they want me to pay close attention because there is a giant ‘Dobbs’ sign in the background):
I don’t argue either call. They were correct. The difference between one and the other was a millimeter and you just can’t overturn a play for that. Simple rule change – if you can’t clearly and obviously overturn a play after 30 seconds of review, the play stands. One of the linesmen can hold a stopwatch.
So anyway, that was a big veering off topic. My long, winding, roundabout point was – I thought the Blues were toast. They played the rest of Friday’s game deflated and gave up a goal quickly on Sunday. So kudos to Elliott, who was again brilliant. What Elliott owners wouldn’t give to have him stay healthy for one full season. Just one!
Colton Parayko is an absolute stud. The best non-Elliott player on the Blues in the first three games in my opinion. Including Tarasenko. He’s just been tremendous. The fact that he has been so huge when it really matters speaks volumes as to his future. Yes, the Blues have a couple of studs in front of him right now and that will act as a drag on his production for a year or two. But he won’t be held back forever and I think he’s destined to become a 55-point NHL All-Star. At 6-6 226 pounds, if he could add more snarl over the next five years (he’s still only 22) he could be a Chris Pronger! The tools are there and I think he’s becoming more aggressive. Before these playoffs the last time I saw Parayko extensively was in January. He was good then – and so much better now.
This is a cool play. The talking heads in the intermission were discussing how Artemi Panarin had never before taken a faceoff in the NHL. You can tell that this was a set play and just prior to this highlight he says a few words to his countryman Artem Anisimov. I have little doubt that it was in Russian, and that the words were something like “let’s do what we set up weeks ago – this is finally it”. Watch this as Panarin loses the faceoff on purpose (and the reaction to each other afterward):
Petr Mrazek took over the starting job for the Red Wings on Sunday. Or rather – he took the job back. Not that losing the first two games was Jimmy Howard’s fault. Far from it. Frankly, I thought the Red Wings were horrible. Lifeless. Blame the team. The Detroit-Tampa Game 3 was the one game I didn’t get to see Sunday. But just looking at the box scores it seems clear that the team showed up. Tampa Bay got into a ton of penalty trouble and the Red Wings put forth a strong effort (30-16 in shots). So just like Howard shouldn’t be blamed for the two losses, Mrazek shouldn’t be lauded for the win. And while the Wings didn’t score on one of their seven power plays (including a five-on-three), the fact that TB was sitting in the box for half the game played no small part in their low shot total. But…it was a win, and a shutout, so Mrazek will get the next start and he’ll probably get all of them going forward. Barring a meltdown.
Andreas Athanasiou continues to impress and so Teemu Pulkkinen remains in the press box. Athanasiou scored his first NHL playoff goal and also had a beauty spin-o-rama.
#1 17.1% BLUNDEN,MICHAEL – BOYLE,BRIAN – CONDRA,ERIK
#2 12.6% JOHNSON,TYLER – KILLORN,ALEX – KUCHEROV,NIKITA
#3 12.1% DROUIN,JONATHAN – FILPPULA,VALTTERI – PALAT,ONDREJ
#4 9% CALLAHAN,RYAN – NAMESTNIKOV,VLADISLAV – PAQUETTE,CEDRIC
Ryan Pulock picked up the first two points of his NHL playoff career on Sunday. The Isles have been trying not to rush him, but he’s made it pretty clear that he’s an NHLer for good. And I think he makes a Parayko-like impact on the team next season. So low-30s for points, which isn’t a bad start. He’s still rookie-eligible next season. His strong play means that Marek Zidlicky will continue to serve popcorn to the gang in the press box.
But the Islanders have been all about John Tavares. We knew he came to camp in incredible shape. We knew that his game had a more defensive slant this season. That cost him points, but made him more of a complete player. And in the postseason is when he cashes in on that new style. Points in all three games now, six in all. If he and Kyle Okposo, who is also hot, can carry the Isles into the second round they’ll get Jaroslav Halak back (probably). Mikhail Grabovski isn’t skating (concussion) so his best-case scenario is now the third round. And Anders Lee (broken leg) is done until the fourth round. Can Tavares drag his team that far?
Speaking of red-hot players, Reilly Smith is going nuts right now. Points on all three Florida goals gives him a league-leading eight in the postseason. How do you see this coming when you sit down at the draft table? Smith had just three points in the last eight games of the season so it’s not like he was rolling into the playoffs on a hot note.
Still pointless in the postseason – Jaromir Jagr. He had 11 points in nine games to end the season and was picked ahead of Smith in every single playoff pool worldwide. Yes, it’s early but if the Islanders put the Panthers out in five or six, Smith’s 10 or 12 points or whatever he ends up with is still enough to greatly help anyone who drafted him. After all, if you drafted Smith you were probably figuring on two rounds out of him, and perhaps seven or eight points. Mission is already accomplished. Whereas if you drafted Jagr you were certainly hoping for more.
Stud Panthers’ D prospect Michael Matheson picked up his first NHL point. I think next season he’ll be a midseason call-up, but won’t initially make the team. But he has a very bright future as a potential top-pairing defenseman. You can read more on him here.
Saturday’s Prospect Ramblings can be found here.
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Two games for John Gibson. Two losses for John Gibson. His fault or no, it’s time to bring in the superior goaltender. Now watch Andersen actually steal games. You heard it here first! I will be shocked if Boudreau goes back to Gibson again.
He’ll have to steal four games though, and I doubt that’s gonna happen. The Preds are looking great and they’re in good shape too, having won both games on the road. Roman Josi has three points already. They have the depth, the health, the coaching, and Rinne seems to have found his game again lately. Give them three of the next five (if nec.) at home and Anaheim is in serious trouble.
Then again…didn't the Ducks start the season 1-5-2? Too far behind the back already, written off by some in terms of making the playoffs. And they did. So guess we shouldn't speak too soon on this one.
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