The Lightning and Capitals kicked off the Eastern Conference finals on Friday evening. Get used to the this whole “one game a night” situation. The slowing trickle of hockey is in full effect. We tend not to notice it as much because the hockey is often played at such a high-level this time of year. Embrace it while you can.
Tampa got the ball rolling by enforcing some borderline ridiculous arena rules. Fans were not permitted to wear red in support of the visiting team. It wasn’t enough to keep the Caps from piling on the steam early though.
Washington came out flying. They outshot the home team 25-10 through the first 40 minutes of the game and had the Amalie Arena whisper quiet. First, it was Michal Kempny scoring a seeing-eye wrister from the point. His first of the playoffs and opened the scoring seven minutes in.
With the period about to end, Nikita Kucherov scored on an incredible individual effort. It’s a darn shame that the Bolts had too many men on the ice.
Instead of heading into the break tied at one, Alex Ovechkin wired one of his patented power-play one-timers with four seconds remaining in the frame.
The second period wasn’t any sunnier for the Florida residents. Jay Beagle and Lars Eller (another power-play marker) extended the lead to four, and set the tone that the Capitals are not to be underestimated. They accomplished this without Nicklas Backstrom in the lineup. The all-star pivot missed his second consecutive contest with a hand injury.
Washington ended the night 2/4 on the power-play and boast the second best conversion rate among playoff teams (32.6%). Tampa Bay is operating with the 13th ranked penalty kill (71.4%). I wonder if discipline will be talked about much at the Bolts morning meeting tomorrow?
I'll just leave this here
Tampa decided to show up in the third period and finally flashed some control over the game. Steven Stamkos scored his fourth of the playoffs with a power-play goal on a nice feed from Kucherov. Ondrej Palat pulled the team to within two with seven minutes to play on a short side snipe. But that’s as close as they would come.
With that, Washington has stolen home ice.
Former Penguin, Chris Kunitz welcomed Tom Wilson back from his three-game suspension.
The power winger was somewhat invisible in his return. He recorded three shots and no hits in 15 minutes of ice time.
Ondrej Palat has quietly been one of the best players for the vaunted Tampa Bay forward corps. The Czech winger is up to nine points in 11 games while starting 44.57 percent of his draws in the offensive end. The trio of Point, Johnson and Palat have been a nightmare to match up against. They can shut down top lines and create offence quickly and effectively.
The Bolts will need those boys to be as good as they were through the first two rounds to claw their way back in this one. However, let’s not forget that Boston laid a beat down on Tampa in game one of the semis only to lose four straight after that.
The DobberProspects gang are working tirelessly to put out another stellar edition of the Fantasy Prospect Report. Keep your eyes peeled for that in the coming weeks.
A long summer without hockey quickly approaches. To fill the void, I’ll begin to do a quick re-draft for the top 10 selections from drafts over the last 10 years. The caveat being, I’ll be choosing players based on an eye towards a points-only league. Wingers will get a tad more love than centres due to the high volume of pivots. Additionally, I’ll have my work cut out for me as I attempt to value top-flight defenders and workhorse goaltenders.
Hindsight will afford me a great deal in the early stages of this series. Things will become much more clouded the closer we get to this most recent crop.
This will surely be an exercise in futility that will bring about monsoons of criticism and verbal abuse. But, since we all know I’m a glutton for punishment, it will be a worthy endeavour. The added bonus is that you can have your say in the comments. Who would be in your top ten and why?
1st Overall: Erik Karlsson
It’s hard to argue against Erik Karlsson in any debate. It would be difficult to put him anywhere but the top of this draft. Sure he has 150 few points than Steven Stamkos but his production from the back-end is unconscious. Being able to wheel out a blue-liner who produces at a clip of a superstar forward is just too hard to pass up on.
2nd Overall: Steven Stamkos
As mentioned above, the Tampa centre leads this class in goals (348) and points (668). He has a 60-goal season under his belt and when healthy is a threat for a top-five league point producer. The Lightning had the luxury of spreading their star power throughout their lineup. This has reduced his need to do everything, but that doesn’t diminish his ability.
3rd Overall: Brayden Holtby
The wait was longer for Holtby, but the peak has been well worth it. Eight goalies were selected before the Caps stud netminder in 2008 – including Chet Pickard and Tom McCollum who were both taken in the first round. He played 73 contests in 2014-15 and won 41 of them. Or how about the 48 wins in 66 games the following year. The 42 wins the year after that? This past season bore witness to a surprisingly down year for the former Saskatoon Blade. However, he’s displaying that all-world talent once again in the playoffs. He’s consistently one of the top goaltenders off the board in yearly drafts and for good reason.
4th Overall: Drew Doughty
All he does is win. Doughty burst onto the scene with his tremendous skating ability, big shot and creativity. His 59 points as a sophomore screamed dynamic point producers. But as the Kings decided to bang their way to multiple Stanley Cups, his green-light was turned off more and more. He’s still managed to record the third most regular season points (442) from any player in the 2008 crop. His most recent 60-point campaign isn’t hurting matters either.
Nothing says elite producer like a defenseman who can rally double-digit goal totals and a 50-60 point pace in his age 24-27 seasons. Josi has done all that while usually acting as the second defensive option on the top man-advantage unit or anchoring the second squad. My favourite thing about him may be his paycheque. The Swiss stud somehow only makes four million a year!
Carlson has been a bit of an up and down player over the course of his career. However, there has been no questioning his offensive contributions on what has been a monster of a power play unit for the last five seasons. Top-end blue-liners you can lean on are very valuable.
7th Overall: Alex Pietrangelo
One of the steadiest defenders in the league and also a staple on fantasy teams. At one point it appeared as though he may break into the elite producing class. Yet playing at a 47-point pace over the past seven seasons is nothing to sneeze at. As long as he’s on a top PP with Vladimir Tarasenko, all should be well.
8th Overall: Jordan Eberle
Do you like consistent players that get run out of town? Me too! Eberle has yet to fall below 0.62 points-per-game (51-point pace) in any of his eight NHL campaigns. He has five 20-plus goal seasons to go along with that tasty 34-goal, 76 point season as a sophomore. He’s basically the Rodney Dangerfield of hockey.
9th Overall: Derek Stepan
Only four players from the ’08 class have more points (416) than the former Ranger pivot. He’s broken 50-points in six of the last seven seasons with lockout-shortened campaign missing out. That ended up being his career year where he produced 44 points in 48 contests. A consistent point-getter at even-strength and the power-play he’ll continue his constancy on an upstart Coyotes’ squad.
10th Overall: Cam Atkinson
Heading into 2017-18, the vertically-challenged winger had increased his production in six consecutive seasons. He may have been on the outside of the fantasy landscape for a good portion of his career, but he’s a 60-point threat in the heart of it now.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3