Ramblings: Updates on Hamilton and Ennis; Dach’s playoffs; Kyrou – August 7
I know I've written a few times about Kirby Dach already this postseason, but I want to write more about him. Why? Because hockey's back and who cares.
Remember back to the 2019 draft. Chicago got lucky to move up to three and likely surprised a few people by taking Dach. Not that it was off the board – that was Moritz Seider – but there was Bowen Byram on the board, and the team obviously need(ed)s defencemen. But they went with Dach and it's hard to say they made the wrong choice.
Hockey Reference has him listed a little under 200 lbs, but we're going to need an update. The broadcast on Wednesday talked about Dach's focus on getting bigger and stronger during the pause. Watching him play, he seems to have done just that. The guy is an absolute freight train and he doesn't turn 20 years old until next year. Oh yeah, he also has good hands and vision.
He also has very good awareness. Here's something I noticed in their last game.
They had a power play early in the second period. Dach was curling to the front of the net, where he was going to draw some defenders with his size, but Dominik Kubalik was already there and wouldn't budge. What does Dach do? Gives him a little nudge, as if to say, "go give Kane an outlet, don't just stand here":
A 19-year old rookie taking charge of the power-play positioning on the fly in the playoffs.
That might seem like a small thing, but it showed me this isn't a guy who is just happy being in the NHL as a rookie and is looking to earn ice time. He's earned his ice time. At this point, he's starting out on his journey to prove that he doesn't just belong in the NHL, but that he's an upper-echelon star in the making. With the way he's looked in the postseason, it's hard to argue that.
Dougie Hamilton was back at practice for Carolina. That they got through the play-ins without much fuss and were able to give Hamilton a couple weeks to heal up (by the time they get back into game action) could be huge for their long-term prospects these playoffs.
This really sucks for Ennis. He had a resurgence of sorts over the last couple years and seemed to have found a home in Edmonton's top-6. He's a fun player to watch and we can only hope that he's all-systems-go for when the 2020-21 regular season starts up.
I did a little experiment on Twitter last night. It was as follows:
POLL: if you were an NHL GM and you could have any one of these four wingers for free in a trade – and for this exercise let's assume equal cap hits – which would you take:
— Michael Clifford (@SlimCliffy) August 7, 2020
After the first 10 minutes, Jakub Vrana had zero votes (out of 33 total). So I followed it up with this:
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-partner=”tweetdeck”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>(the guy that leads this list in goals/60 at 5v5 the last three years, primary assists/60 at 5v5 the last three years, and WAR/60 the last three years has zero votes)</p>— Michael Clifford (@SlimCliffy) <a href=”https://twitter.com/SlimCliffy/status/1291532582128164871?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>August 7, 2020</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″></script>
(the guy that leads this list in goals/60 at 5v5 the last three years, primary assists/60 at 5v5 the last three years, and WAR/60 the last three years has zero votes)
— Michael Clifford (@SlimCliffy) August 7, 2020
There'll be a note later these Ramblings about Vrana's power-play time. That's obviously the big issue here. But I do believe he has the highest production ceiling (not multi-cat) of anyone on this list. Maybe look to see what he might cost in keeper leagues.
On the Minnesota side of things, Zach Parise was moved to the top line and the trio of Foligno/Eriksson-Ek/Greenway was reunited. They were flat-out one of the best shutdown lines in the league this year, and with Toffoli out of the lineup, it made sense to reunite their shutdown line to take care of the Pettersson unit.
Before detailing the game, I just wanted to make one note about Kevin Fiala:
in case you’re ever wondering if Fiala is “for real,” his primary points/60 at 5v5 from 2016-19 (i.e. before his “breakout”) was higher than: Rantanen, Nylander, Pacioretty, Pavelski, Mantha etc etc
— Michael Clifford (@SlimCliffy) August 5, 2020
Don’t wonder if his breakout 2019-20 is a mirage. It's not. He's great. The only thing that can stop him now is himself. If he maintains this level of commitment to his game, he's an elite scoring winger.
Anyway, to the actual game.
There wasn't much scoring here, which can probably be expected for a 12:30 PM local start time on a Thursday. There was quite a bit of nastiness, though, including a bad hit from Ryan Hartman on Elias Pettersson, Fiala shoving Markstrom and then Sutter drilling Fiala from behind, and other chippiness. We had double-digit power plays, something that has been fairly normal this postseason.
Goals from Brock Boeser, Antoine Rossel, and Elias Pettersson gave the Canucks a 3-0 win, and 2-1 series lead. Quinn Hughes had a trio of assists while Jacob Markstrom stopped all 27 shots he faced for the shutout.
One small note: Matt Dumba took Ryan Suter's spot on the top PP unit late in the game for the Wild as Ryan Suter didn't take a shift for the final seven minutes of the game. He did not finish the game on the bench, either. If we get an update, we'll pass it along, but as with everything, this will probably be secretive.
Both John Carlson (apparent injury) and James van Riemsdyk (apparent non-injury) were of the lineup for Washington and Philadelphia, respectively, on Thursday. JvR was a scratch, so it seems obvious the coaching staff isn't very happy with his play and performance so far.
Scott Laughton skated on the second line with Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny and that paid dividends as Laughton scored a first-period goal on a great behind-the-back wrap pass from Konecny. Laughton, though injured for a fair bit of 2019-20, had an excellent campaign when he was on the ice. It's been a long slog for him to get where he is, but the years of hard work are paying off. Good for Laughton.
Evgeny Kuznetsov got his ankle twisted under him at one point and he looked in pain but he finished the contest. I bring that up because Jakub Vrana took his spot on the top PP unit in the third period. We saw this happen earlier in the year, so it could be a shake-up because the Caps have looked… not great… so far in their round robin. Or it might be injury-related. We don't know why, but this exact situation was discussed in these here Ramblings a week ago. Sometimes, preparation meets luck.
Laughton added a second goal and an assist as the team took a 3-1 win from Washington. The Caps have one tune-up game left and they need it.
Max Pacioretty was out again for Vegas, this time for their game against St. Louis. On the Blues' side of things, though, both Vladimir Tarasenko and Robert Thomas were held out of the lineup. The big note here is that Jordan Kyrou took Tarasenko's spot on the top line. Kyrou has shown tons of promise in the AHL but hasn't been able to solidify a spot on this roster over the last couple years. He won't stay in the top-6 when their playoffs actually start, but that they see him in that role is certainly nice to see.
I didn't really care about the game much, I wanted to watch Kyrou. He looked to be taking his defensive responsibilities seriously. He was covering for his defencemen, providing small-space outlets for his blue liners, and did not seem to be lax on the backcheck. Those are all the little things that the Blues coaching staff would, I assume, value.
He looked to have good chemistry with Schenn and Schwartz. I don't want to say he looked great or anything, but his speed is obviously the key and he showed it. Combine that with showing the defensive awareness, and these are all positive signs. Maybe he can earn his way.
Vegas controlled the game, winning 6-4 with Marc-André Fleury in net, outshooting St. Louis 38-14. We'll see what a full Blues lineup hopefully looks like soon.
Joonas Korpisalo was pulled after Toronto's third goal, Nick Robertson's first career tally, which put Columbus down 3-0. He had played well this series but this wasn't a good night and Columbus was playing far better than in Game 2. It's not to say Korpisalo is done for the playoffs, but Tortorella likely saw his team playing well and felt this was needed to keep them in the game. Pierre-Luc Dubois did score a few minutes later, his first of the play-ins.
Joonas Korpisalo was pulled after Toronto's third goal, Nick Robertson's first career tally, which put Columbus down 3-0. He had played well this series but this wasn't a good night and Columbus was playing far better than in Game 2. Pierre-Luc Dubois did score a few minutes later, his first of the play-ins.
The Jackets would come all the way back to tie, then win in overtime 4-3. PLD had a hat trick to lead his team to a 2-1 series lead. Elvis Merzilikins stopped all 21 shots he faced in relief. I would assume he starts in Game 4.
Update on the late game in the morning.
No data at this moment.