Ramblings: Game 5 Bolts/Caps, Rangers’ New Coach, O’Reilly’s Future (May 20)
The Tampa Bay Lightning took a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final, giving them a 3-2 lead in the series and a chance to wrap up the series Monday in Washington. Game 5 represented the first game in this series in which the home team won.
Tampa was lightning quick to get on the board in Game 5, as Cedric Paquette scored his first goal of the playoffs just 19 seconds into the game. Here is the goal:
The Bolts made it 2-0 later in the first period on an Ondrej Palat goal, assisted by Nikita Kucherov. Palat now has six goals during the playoffs along with points in four of his last five playoff games.
The Lightning struck quickly again in the second period, with Ryan Callahan scoring his second of the playoffs. The goal had to be reviewed, as it appeared to go off Callahan’s glove. But the call on the ice was confirmed and it was a good goal. See below.
At that point the shots were 14-4 for the Lightning, who had a 3-0 lead. They appeared to be in the driver’s seat at that point, right? Well, keep reading.
A few minutes later, Evgeny Kuznetsov tipped a Matt Niskanen point shot for his 11th goal of the playoffs. If Kuznetsov is in your playoff pool at the moment, you won’t have any complaints about his performance. He has goals in four consecutive games and points in eight consecutive games. Over his eight-game point streak, Kuznetsov has 13 points (6g-7a). Suffice to say that this is easily his best playoff performance of his career, which has spilled over from the regular season.
Dating back to February 24th, #Caps Evgeny Kuznetsov now has 50 points (22 G, 28 A) in 35 games
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) May 20, 2018
The Capitals continued to pour on the chances for the rest of the game, outshooting the Bolts 13-5 in the second period and 13-4 in the third period. But it was only with a minute and a half to play and the net empty that Alex Ovechkin scored his 11th of the playoffs to make the score 3-2. With 21 points in 17 games, Ovie sits just one point behind Kuznetsov for the team lead in playoff points.
But in spite of being outshot 30-22 in the game, the Lightning held on for the victory. The Capitals have outshot the Lightning in every game in this series, so you have to like their chances heading into Game 6 at home. However, Andrei Vasilevskiy appears to have righted the ship after struggling in the first two games, so he will need to be a necessary piece for the Bolts again if they hope to close out this series on Monday.
This morning I overheard a guy at the park telling his friend in a very loud voice and certain tone that the Jets will be done after Game 5 because they are too tired. Hard hitting analysis, I know, but does he have a point in that fatigue is a reason that the Jets are down 3-1 in their series with Vegas? Well, remember that the Jets had just one day off after the hard-fought seven-game series against Nashville, while the Golden Knights had a full five games of rest. The road to the Stanley Cup can be a war of attrition. Maybe this didn't get enough attention when we were making our picks.
The guy mentioned Dustin Byfuglien in particular as looking tired. I don’t know if that is the case, but I do know that Buff leads all remaining skaters with an average of over 26 minutes of icetime in the playoffs. He has also skated at least 27 minutes in each of the last three games. That’s enough to make anyone tired. But with eight hits to go with an assist in Game 4, I’d say he’s still holding up fine. But there’s also hidden injuries and ailments that are revealed after the playoffs, along with many other reasons that a team lost.
The Rangers haven’t officially announced anything, but David Quinn is expected to become the team’s new head coach (ESPN). The Rangers have over a dozen players who have NCAA experience, so the Boston University coach appears to be a good fit. Kevin Shattenkirk in particular has played for Quinn at Boston University. After struggling with injuries in his first season as a Ranger (23 points in 46 games), Shattenkirk could be in for some kind of a rebound now that he has a coach he is familiar with. In addition, Quinn is known for developing defensemen, according to the New York Times. So that’s something else that works in Shattenkirk’s favor.
Expectations probably shouldn’t be sky-high for Shattenkirk, who missed nearly the entire second half of the season after knee surgery in January. Remember that this is a Rangers team that has decided to rebuild and traded away Michael Grabner, Rick Nash, J.T. Miller, Nick Holden, and Ryan McDonagh while Shattenkirk was sidelined.
On the latest TSN Hockey Bobcast, Bob McKenzie discussed Ryan O’Reilly’s future with the Buffalo Sabres at length; in that, he believes O’Reilly will be traded sooner rather than later. You can listen to the podcast for more, but I’ll discuss O’Reilly’s past season and what a move out of Buffalo could do for his fantasy value.
I drafted O’Reilly on multiple teams in 2017-18 because I liked the value he provided as a late-round option (at around the 170th pick for me). What’s not to like about consistent 55-60 point seasons and 20+ minutes of icetime per game? And if the Sabres improve, then so could his fantasy value, right?
Well, the Sabres didn’t improve. In fact, they earned that first overall lottery pick with a true last-place team. O’Reilly was honest in how discouraged he was about the season. If he spent any time looking at his overall stats, then his career-worst minus-23 would have served as a source of pain. Plus-minus is a stat in both leagues I drafted him in, so eventually I dropped O’Reilly in my shallower league.
But it wasn’t all bad for the Sabres’ center. O’Reilly fired a career-high 230 shots, which placed him in the top 50 among all skaters. He also scored 15 power-play goals, which tied him for third in the entire league. That’s 15 of his 24 goals scored with the man advantage. On a Sabres’ team that was mostly worth avoiding fantasy-wise, that’s not bad.
McKenzie suggests Montreal and Carolina as two options that would make sense for O’Reilly. The way those two teams are constructed, I think O’Reilly would help those teams in real life more than those teams would help O’Reilly’s fantasy value. O’Reilly is basically a known commodity at this point – a second-line center on most teams. So my take before anything happens is that his fantasy value probably wouldn’t change much with a trade, unless he won the lottery in landing on a line with two high-scoring wingers.
Marian Hossa has decided to retire after 19 NHL seasons. Hossa already missed all of last season with a skin disorder, so the news shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. In addition, the Blackhawks have had a season to adjust to life without Hossa, which a) didn’t go well for the Hawks, and b) won’t change anyone’s fantasy value. Still, Hossa has had a great NHL career and had been a fantasy asset for nearly all of that career. Hopefully retirement treats him well.
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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