Blues and Sharks gain advantage, Capitals survive, Drake Caggiula signs in Edmonton, plus more…
Linemates Paul Stastny, Troy Brouwer, and Robby Fabbri each scored a goal in the Blues’ 4-1 win over Dallas in Game 5. The playoffs have been a coming-out party for Fabbri, who has collected 10 points in 12 playoff games. This output shouldn’t be as much of a surprise as you’d think, as Fabbri scored 19 points in 25 games over February and March combined.
The Blues made one small yet effective roster move for Game 5, removing Ryan Reaves in favor of Dmitrij Jaskin. The young Russian forward scored a goal in the win.
Brian Elliott has simply been outstanding in the playoffs. As a Jake Allen keeper owner, I’m beginning to wonder where the value of the two goalies sits next season. My early take is that I think it’s going to be more of what we’ve become used to over the past few seasons in St. Lou. Allen won’t be rendered obsolete with this playoff run, yet Elliott has proven he is still very much in the picture.
The Stars’ goaltending was shaky yet again. Kari Lehtonen allowed three goals on 21 shots, so does Lindy Ruff return to Antti Niemi in Game 6? Unless unexpected major changes are made, you’ve got that goaltending tandem under contract for two more years, Stars’ fans. The two goalies have combined for a 3.09 goals-against average during the playoffs. Not surprisingly, that number is the worst among teams that made it to the second round.
In spite of the 4-1 loss, the Stars were better in shot attempts (65-45), shots on goal (28-22), and faceoffs (60 percent) (Dallas News). So the Stars have a great chance of bringing this series to seven games. But as I said before, if the Stars made it to the second round, they weren’t getting past either the Blues or Hawks. The Stars can score with any team, but the goaltending simply isn’t getting it done.
Here’s one more reason to like the Blues at this stage (and the Sharks, for that matter):
For once in their second-round series with the Penguins, the Capitals were on the lucky end of the shots on goal number. Although they were outshot 31-19, they won Game 5 by a score of 3-1. Contrast that to Game 3, where the Capitals outshot the Penguins 49-23 yet lost 3-2. The Capitals won by focusing on a more defensive approach.
With Game 5 being played at home and the Capitals not being rewarded for their possession, I thought that the Capitals would win this game. But honestly, Game 6 and if necessary Game 7 are completely up for grabs in this series.
Matt Murray’s .842 save percentage in this game was his worst in any playoff game. Yet I don’t know how the Penguins would turn to a cold Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 6 unless they had to. Fleury last played on March 31, which is over a month ago.
Triple-overtime losses can be difficult to get over. But the Sharks recovered in a huge way in Game 5 with a 5-1 win over the Predators.
Joe Pavelski scored another two goals, which ties him with Nikita Kucherov for league lead with eight playoff goals. Would Joe Thornton have had the season he had without Pavelski, who has been a top-10 goal scorer in each of the past three seasons? Thornton assisted on both of Pavelski’s goals.
Sadly, your team probably drafted a bunch of dudes you’ve never heard of ahead of Pavelski, like the Oilers did.
Logan Couture scored another one of the Sharks’ goals. Because he was held to 52 games, Couture couldn’t deliver for fantasy owners this season (only 36 points). However, fantasy owners should take into account his impressive playoff performance (13 points in 10 games) in rankings next season. Perhaps he is undervalued the same way he was overvalued entering 2015 single-season drafts.
In a losing effort, Colin Wilson recorded an assist. That extends his point streak to six games. In fact, he has recorded points in all but two playoff games. If the Preds can somehow make it out of their series with San Jose, perhaps he’s your playoff sleeper scorer this season.
You can find my take on the Bruce Boudreau hiring in Minnesota here. But in case you don’t feel like clicking on the link, I’ll tell you that I think it’s a great hire. Here’s one reason why.
Drake Caggiula seems to be a low-risk signing for the Oilers, since these undrafted NHL players don’t cost teams anything except money. The Oilers no doubt have to hope that Caggiula will be the next Artemi Panarin and not the next Fabian Brunnstrom or Justin Schultz, heaven forbid.
I’m not trying to sound like a spurned Canucks’ fan here (but you can certainly tell me if you think I am), but I don’t think Edmonton is the best fit for him. Caggiula will need to battle for his spot with the scoring-deep Oilers, while he would have had a much better opportunity obtaining a top-6 role with a team like the Canucks that isn’t overly deep.
Here’s a first draft of the Oilers’ lines next season, adding Caggiula in and assume no other moves and the fourth overall pick is not in the lineup next season.
Taylor Hall – Connor McDavid – Jordan Eberle
Benoit Pouliot – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Nail Yakupov
Patrick Maroon – Leon Draisaitl – Caggiula?
This in no way shows how Todd McLellan will actually draw out his lines. But these lines tell me one of two things: 1) The Oilers have amassed a lot of scoring depth through drafts, and 2) Caggiula will have his work cut out for him in cracking the top-6, let alone the icetime with Connor McDavid that we might assume. Again, we still have to wait for the offseason to happen here.
Here’s where the move could make sense: David Staples of the Edmonton Journal lists Pouliot a possible trade candidate with the emergence of Maroon.
For more on Caggiula check out this thread in the Forum.
Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, and Jamie Benn are your three Hart Trophy finalists. My money is on scoring leader Kane. Who do you think will win?
Finally, here’s a look at potential 2017 first overall pick Nolan Patrick of the Brandon Wheat Kings scoring a goal in Game 2 of the WHL final against the Seattle Thunderbirds. His 26 points in 18 games leads the Dub in playoff scoring.
Enjoy your Sunday. Follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.