Ramblings: Playoff Goaltending and Officiating, P.K. Subban (May 11)

Ian Gooding

2019-05-11


There were no NHL games to write about today (or last night, depending on when you’re reading this). That’s something we’re going to have to get used to over the next few months.

Instead, the World Hockey Championship kicked off on Friday. You can find more detailed game summaries of Friday’s action over at NHL.com.

One game I will mention is the Finland/Canada matchup, where the Finns came out on top with a 3-1 win. We know that Canada’s roster is filled with NHLers, but Finland?


 


The Finns, of course, have Kappo Kakko, who scored twice. Check out this beauty from the future Ranger (???)
 


Over in the Sweden/Czech Republic matchup… do you miss Elias Pettersson yet?
 


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In case you missed it, the Dobber Hockey Experts Panel has made its conference final picks. Yes, these were posted before Game 1 of the Boston/Carolina series. No cheating.

I realize that the Bruins’ power-play (2 for 5) was a significant factor in their Game 1 win. However, it did seem that they received the more favorable officiating (more on that topic in a bit). I picked the Bruins to win this series and obviously I’ll stick with that pick here. The difference-maker here is Tuukka Rask, who from what I’ve seen has been the Bruins’ best player recently. Over the Bruins’ four-game win streak, Rask has faced at least 30 shots in each game, yet he has a 1.50 GAA and .959 SV% over that stretch. Of the four remaining starting goalies, Rask also has the best ratios (2.02 GAA and .938 SV%). If you could pick one goalie from that group to win your team a Stanley Cup, is there anyone you would pick over Rask at this moment?  

Over in the West, I picked San Jose, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if St. Louis pulls this out. I think the Sharks played a little better against Colorado than they did against Vegas, but there were still moments that I thought that the Avalanche could win the series. Those who don’t think the Sharks can go all the way are often citing Martin Jones as a reason. His playoff numbers (2.72 GAA, .910 SV%) have been a bit better than his regular-season numbers (2.94 GAA, .896 SV%). I’m not buying that the Sharks can’t win with him, because he has been to the final before. If goalies like Cam Ward and Antti Niemi can backstop teams to a Stanley Cup, then why can’t Jones? The expectation for that to happen, though, would be that the Sharks’ big guns would have to continue to come up big.

Speaking of the Blues, it looks like Craig Berube will have the interim tag removed from his job title next season (NHL.com). In other news, water is wet and the Pope is Catholic.

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The Flames have signed 23-year-old defenseman Alexander Yelesin, who played for Lokomotiv of the KHL last season. With 10 points (4g-6a) in 55 games in the KHL last season, he doesn’t seem like the kind of defenseman that will make a huge fantasy impact, although he is a physical defenseman who could provide even more depth for a blueline that’s already in good shape.

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With the Nashville Predators being one of those teams that exited the playoffs earlier than expected, the P.K. Subban trade rumors have had time to grow. There are a few reasons that the Preds may want to part with him. For starters, there’s a team-high $9 million cap hit, which is on the books for four more seasons. There’s Subban’s lifestyle as a celebrity, which doesn’t seem to rub everyone in team-first hockey the right way. And of course, there was a down season cut short by injuries.

Subban’s 0.49 PTS/GP (31 points in 63 games) was his lowest points-per-game average since 2011-12. Injuries obviously played a role, yet Subban fell far short of meeting expectations as a top-50 pick in many leagues. For those in roto leagues, Subban’s power-play point total was afflicted by Nashville’s abysmal 12.9 percent power-play conversion rate (worst in NHL). Subban recorded just ten power-play points all season, a major dropoff for someone who had reached at least 20 PPP five times in his career.

Because of the decline, there’s a buy-low opportunity for teams in both the real world and the fantasy realm. Yet Subban fell dramatically from a 60-point pace in 2017-18 to a 40-point pace this past season. That pace was barely in the top-50, and it was in the neighborhood of the likes of Nate Schmidt and Tony DeAngelo (who played a similar number of games as Subban). So where exactly do we rank Subban next season?

This offseason is shaping up to be one with significant activity, both with free agent signings and with trades. So it’s way too early to carve anything in stone. I would group Subban in a higher tier than Schmidt and DeAngelo, yet there’s no way I’m ranking him among the top tier of blueliners (although you’d certainly let someone else in your league draft him there if they are doing so out of name recognition). So somewhere in between. This is very preliminary, but I’ll say within the top 20 is fine. Top 10 is reaching, though.

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There’s been a lot of talk recently about the quality (or lack thereof) of officiating. Of course, now we are throwing video into the mix, which creates another argument on when we should and should not use video. Yes, we need it for offsides. Wait, no we shouldn’t because it’s a waste of time and the officials still don’t get the call right. So even with video, we’re still having these debates. When are these blown calls finally going to go away?

I had a discussion awhile back with a friend of mine who is a police officer. We were discussing how video simply isn’t as irrefutable as society believes, particularly in the context of dashcams and intersection cameras used as evidence in vehicle collisions. The next paragraph is his description of video.

Close one eye to take away your depth perception.  Put your hands up to the side of your face or put on a hoody to take away your peripheral vision.  Crouch down, maybe behind something, or maybe climb a ladder for a higher up view where your line of sight on a person's face or hands may be obscured, or from within a crowd or behind a car.  Put some earplugs in so maybe you can't hear what's going on.  Don't turn your head when something happens out of your field of view.  Or maybe you do have sound but by the time the video sees what's going on it's already happened and all you see is the aftermath.  That's what video sees.

Now apply this to officiating, even with video. I understand that not all of the above may apply to a hockey game. Yes, there may be multiple cameras at multiple angles. Even with that, will all calls be cut and dry enough for officials to get 100 percent of the calls right 100 percent of the time? I used to say to every debatable call, send it to video to make sure. Now we’ve gotten to that point and we’re still not sure. So what’s next in the way of technology to get calls right? A tiny camera chip inside the puck? Sorry, kid, you don’t get to take that puck home that you caught.

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For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.

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