Bruins Draw First Blood, Sabres Win Draft Lottery, Vegas No Longer Undefeated

The shorter rest compared to the opponent wasn’t an issue for the Boston Bruins, whose top line struck again for multiple points each. From a Bruins’ perspective in Game 1, there was lots to unpack from the scoresheet. So far it’s been apparent that in order for the Bruins to win, their top line has to score. They did just that with a combined total of 11 points on Saturday.
 


David Pastrnak recorded another four assists, bringing his amazing playoff point total to 17 points in just eight games. He is now one point ahead of Jake Guentzel for the playoff scoring lead. He only turns 22 later this month and has just completed that fourth year that is the breakout for many. So there’s lots more to come.

Brad Marchand didn’t lick anyone in this game (I don't think). But as we’ve become accustomed to, he added his usual doses of offense and annoyingness in scoring a goal and adding three assists.  

Not to be outdone, Patrice Bergeron scored two goals and added an assist. Like Pastrnak and Marchand, Bergeron was also a plus-4 in this game. That’s back-to-back three-point games for the top-line center if you include Game 7 against Toronto.

Rick Nash scored two goals of his own, including a power-play goal. The Bruins amassed a grand total of eight seconds of power-play time in Game 1, yet were able to capitalize quickly on their only opportunity. Nash saw just under 13 minutes of icetime in this game, which is the second time that has happened during the playoffs. He'd been held without a goal in his previous five games. 

Jake DeBrusk continues to add to his brief playoff legend by adding another goal. He’s now on a mini-scoring run with four goals over his last three games and six goals overall in these playoffs. With this performance, he is certainly adding to his fantasy stock as a potential sleeper in next season’s fantasy drafts.

About the only thing that went wrong for the Bruins in this Game 1 road win was Tuukka Rask losing his skate blade on a Lightning goal. Unfortunate, but kind of funny. Rask was obviously irate, but there is no rule stating that the officials needed to stop the play (NHL PR).
 


For the Lightning, Brayden Point had a Jake Gardiner-like plus-minus of minus-5 (sorry, Leafs fans, I realize that’s just one game). Ondrej Palat and Anton Stralman were a minus-4 each. Both Lightning goals came from defensemen (Mikhail Sergachev and Dan Girardi). The Bolts will need a better showing from their top line in Game 2; otherwise, their chances of winning the series could be in serious jeopardy heading up to Boston for Game 3.

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed five goals on just 23 shots. The sixth Bruins’ goal was scored on an empty net, as Jon Cooper decided to roll the dice and pull Vasilevskiy with over six minutes to play.

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The Buffalo Sabres are the big winners of the draft lottery, giving them the opportunity to draft Rasmus Dahlin first overall. The Sabres had the best odds of any team (18.5%), thanks to their 31st overall finish that was five points worse than any other team. So even if your team “lost” the lottery draft (as mine did), this is simply the universe unfolding as it should. For more, see Dahlin’s profile at Dobber Prospects.

Buffalo arguably needs this player more than anyone, as they have been held together with a paper-thin defense in recent seasons. Dahlin’s presence would ease the burden on Rasmus Ristolainen, who the Sabres have leaned on heavily at over 25 minutes per game over the last three seasons. This overuse has put undue pressure on the 23-year-old defenseman, who is a career minus-102 over four and a half seasons, including a minus-25 last season. The Dahlin effect could result in a slight reduction in Ristolainen’s point totals and peripheral stats resulting from icetime, but make him a more effective defenseman overall.

I know it’s not a perfect comparison, but I tend to think of Victor Hedman’s development when I think of where Dahlin will be next season. Hedman did not crack 30 points until his fifth season, when he broke through for 55 points in 2013-14. Dahlin might be even better than Hedman, but don’t expect an inexperienced defenseman on a rebuilding team to take the fantasy world by storm next season. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t target him on your keeper league team, of course. Hedman did play in the NHL the year he was drafted, so I would expect the same from Dahlin. Just temper your expectations for 2018-19.

The other big winner of the draft lottery was the Carolina Hurricanes, which I discovered the moment my 9-year-old son said to me, “Dad, why do the Hurricanes have a star next to their logo?” while I had laser-like focus on the picks that were being announced. Most mock drafts will likely project the Canes as picking right wing Andrei Svechnikov. He would provide the Canes with a potential top-end scoring threat, something that they are limited in at the moment. For more, see Svechnikov’s profile at Dobber Prospects.

As for the rest of the picks, it should be fun to project where they will end up. Here are the overall draft lottery results, in case you don’t have them memorized by now:
 


Dobber’s own Cam Robinson joined TSN 1040 radio in Vancouver to share his thoughts on who the Canucks should pick seventh overall (direct link here). Expect the Canucks to target a defenseman, as that is the organization’s most pressing need. They should have plenty to choose from in that spot.  
 


And of course, you can view Cam’s 2018 NHL Draft Rankings at Dobber Prospects.

As for the format, it didn’t bother me. I liked having the break in between to process things. I’m sure it improved ratings for the game as well.

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Believe it or not, there was actually a hockey game while we were waiting in suspense for the top three picks. Logan Couture scored at 5:13 of the second overtime to give the Sharks a 4-3 win over Vegas in Game 2. The victory ties the series at 1, while giving the Golden Knights their first-ever playoff loss. Here is the goal, which is a classic Couture snipe on a power play.

The Knights thought they had won during the first overtime period on a Jonathan Marchessault goal, but the goal was waived after review for goaltender interference by Marchessault.

Couture’s overtime goal was his second of the game and fourth of the playoffs. The Sharks fired 47 shots over regulation and overtime, with Couture leading the way with seven shots.

Brent Burns also scored two goals and added an assist while taking six shots of his own. Burns had not scored a goal since Game 1 of the Anaheim series. He and Marc-Edouard Vlasic both logged over 36 minutes of icetime, while Justin Braun racked up 35 minutes. There’s a major icetime imbalance among Sharks defenders, as Paul Martin played just 10 minutes and Dylan DeMelo only 17 minutes. Vegas spreads its icetime much more evenly among its defensemen.

In a losing cause, William Karlsson scored two goals. He is well-known for his out-of-nowhere 40-goal season, but something that doesn’t get mentioned enough is Karlsson’s strong two-way play. He was definitely worth consideration for the Selke Trophy because of his penalty-killing ability. Perhaps that is why he couldn’t get off John Tortorella’s checking line in Columbus.

As impressive as the Golden Knights have been during the playoffs, the Sharks controlled the majority of the play with 47 shots compared to the Knights’ 29 shots. This was even without shots on goal warrior Evander Kane, who was serving his one-game suspension. Marc-Andre Fleury really kept Vegas in this game.

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Lastly, some injury news: Evgeni Malkin could return for Game 2 on Sunday (NHL.com). He may return for what is shaping up to be a fun day to watch hockey with the Penguins/Capitals followed by the Jets/Predators.

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For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.