Preds, Bolts, Bruins, Sharks All Go Up 2-0
All four series on Saturday saw teams take a 2-0 in their series. So now we have six teams (Nashville, Tampa Bay, Boston, San Jose, Vegas, and Winnipeg) all leading their series 2-0.
Teams that take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup Playoff series hold an all-time series record of 312-49 (86.4%)
— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) April 14, 2018
So according to those odds, five of those six teams will go on to win their series if the universe unfolds as it should. So of that group, which of those teams do you think is the most likely not to win its series? Or to put it another way, which of Colorado, New Jersey, Toronto, Anaheim, Los Angeles, or Minnesota is the most likely to bounce back and win its series? Tough call. All of those teams except for Anaheim will be returning home for the next two games, so I’d expect that one or two of these teams will still at least make it into a series.
Tampa Bay/New Jersey
Alex Killorn scored two power-play goals to lead the Lightning to a 5-3 win over New Jersey. Killorn now has three goals over his first two playoff games.
Nikita Kucherov assisted on both of Killorn’s goals and scored a goal of his own. Kucherov has more playoff goals (24) than any other player since he entered the league in 2013-14. This won’t be a surprising statement by any means, but Kucherov should be considered an elite option in playoff pools.
Even though New Jersey is down 2-0 in this series and was down 5-1 at one point in this game, an encouraging sign for them is the fact that they controlled a significant portion of Game 2. Andrei Vasilevskiy had to face 44 shots to earn the win.
In my previous Ramblings, I mentioned that Cory Schneider could use an opportunity during the playoffs to revitalize his fantasy value. Sure enough, opportunity knocks. Keith Kinkaid was pulled for Schneider in Game 2 after Kinkaid allowed five goals on 15 shots. I’d be surprised if Schneider doesn’t get the call for Game 3 even though Kinkaid has basically been the starter since February. Schneider will have his work cut out for him against the heavily favored Lightning, but let’s see what he can do. Remember that Schneider hasn’t earned a win since December 27 and has lost eight consecutive starts.
In a losing cause, Nico Hischier scored his first career playoff goal.
In a true team effort, the Predators relied on five different goal scorers in their 5-4 win over Colorado. There has been no lack of goal-scoring for the Preds, however, who also scored five goals in Game 1 and have spread out the scoring with eight different goal scorers already in this series. Assuming the Preds advance to at least the next round, there are plenty of solid options to choose from. There won’t be that one guy that runs away with the playoff scoring lead, though.
That trend dates back to last season, when only one Predator (Filip Forsberg) finished in the top 10 of playoff scoring in spite of the team making it all the way to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Two players who were knocked out a round earlier than Nashville (Ryan Getzlaf and Erik Karlsson) even finished ahead of Forsberg in scoring.
For the Preds, Kevin Fiala’s goal was a power-play marker, while he also added an assist. In a losing cause, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog each scored a goal and added an assist while combining for 11 shots on goal.
If David Pastrnak is in your playoff pool, Saturday was a good day. If you’re a Leafs fan, not so much. Pasta piled up – count ‘em – six points, including a hat trick while posting a plus-5. So it goes without saying that he’s your playoff scoring leader with nine points, including four goals. Pastrnak’s linemates Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each chipped in with four assists, while Torey Krug had three assists of his own. These four Bruins now hold the top four positions in early playoff scoring, so you’re doing quite well for yourself so far if you loaded up on Bruins.
The Leafs have simply had no answer for the Bruins’ top line, which has now combined for 20 points over the first two games. It certainly won’t help that two-way pivot Nazem Kadri will miss two more games. By the time he is eligible to return, this season could very well be over.
Frederik Andersen was mercifully pulled in favor of Curtis McElhinney midway through the first period after allowing three goals on five shots. Andersen has now allowed eight goals in three and a half periods of playoff hockey. The Leafs’ defense has made it look easy for Pastrnak and company to destroy the Leafs in Games 1 and 2. Still, I wonder how much of a factor fatigue is for Andersen, who has played more regular-season games over the past two seasons (132) than every other goalie except for Cam Talbot.
Another piece of bad news for Toronto: Leo Komarov left Game 2 with a lower-body injury after a collision with Kevan Miller.
In the late game, Logan Couture scored a goal and added an assist in the Sharks’ 3-2 win over Anaheim. Tomas Hertl also had a strong game on Couture’s line, scoring a goal while adding six shots on goal.
Even though he didn’t record a point in Game 2, Evander Kane fired seven shots on goal and now has 13 shots in two playoff games.
Well here comes Corey Perry pic.twitter.com/9Zsiti0Gby
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 15, 2018
Here are some quick takes from the other series that did not play on Saturday:
This is the series that I’ve watched the most, since I live on the West Coast and the easiest time for me to watch hockey is after the kids go to bed. This series won’t be your cup of tea if you’re into goals, as the teams have just four combined goals over the first two games.
I know he’s been on the losing end of both games, but Jonathan Quick has been spectacular in this series. The scores in this series could be more lopsided if not for Quick, who has a .964 SV% in the series. The Kings are clearly a step slower than the Golden Knights, and I’d be concerned about the Kings’ playoff chances going forward given the way the NHL is evolving. Quick’s win totals might be slightly compromised as a result (and he won’t be playing 70+ games going forward), but his ratios should be fine.
I picked the Jets in seven games. Even though my choice of teams looks correct so far, I’m starting to think that I gave the Wild too much credit in the number of games. I’d have a hard time picking Minnesota as the team that will bounce back. But if the Wild can’t chip away at the Jets, then maybe the weather will.
The #NHLJets returned to Winnipeg from Duluth this afternoon due to the ongoing conditions in the Twin Cities. The plan now is to depart tomorrow morning for Minneapolis.
— Winnipeg Jets PR (@WpgJetsPR) April 14, 2018
Flying into a city on the day of a game isn't a situation that helps the Jets. And this weather is not to be taken for granted, as it has wiped out the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday games of the White Sox/Twins series. (I realize this is not a fantasy baseball article, but just a reminder to make the necessary adjustments if you play.)
Game 2’s result was a surprise given the Pens’ performance in Game 1. Still, the Penguins won’t lose the Stanley Cup because of lack of talent. It’ll be because of fatigue, injuries, or both. This is a team that has gone the distance over the previous two seasons, so eventually that has to catch up to them. But that won’t happen in this series.
Columbus was my one upset pick that numerous others seem to agree with. I’ve even been daring enough to pick Blue Jackets players in my playoff pools because I think they have a real shot of coming out of the Metropolitan Division.
One more prediction: The Stanley Cup Final will consist of two teams that started play after 1990. That may even be the case for the conference finalists. The future is now. And I'm going to go to bed now, because I feel old.
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.