Ramblings: Flyers and Canucks Force Game 7, Boston’s Future, Allen Trade Fallout (Sept 4)
The Islanders and the Golden Knights have looked like the better teams in their respective series. Yet the Flyers and Canucks have both clawed back from 3-1 series deficits to force Game 7. And you should know by now than in a Game 7, anything can happen. Here's what happened in an incredible night of Game 6's.
Philadelphia 5, NY Islanders 4 (series tied 3-3)
Ivan Provorov's goal during the second overtime period sealed the win for the Flyers, forcing a Game 7 on Saturday. Here's the goal:
Provorov also added an assist to go with a plus-3 while leading all players with 38:15 of icetime.
To get to this point, the Flyers haven't been easy on themselves. They've had to overcome the 3-1 series deficit. All three of their wins in this series have been in overtime. Then there's the shot total in Game 6, which was 42-17 in favor of the Islanders at the end of regulation and 53-31 at the end of the game. The Flyers have Carter Hart and his 49 saves to thank for saving their bacon in this game.
Alain Vigneault sure isn't making it easy on himself with his video challenges. After Matt Martin scored early in the second period to tie the game 2-2, Vigneault challenged for goaltender interference. The challenge was unsuccessful, which makes him 0-3 on challenges in this series. Anders Lee then scored late on the ensuing power play to give the Islanders the lead. Maybe it's time to have a word with the video coach.
The Flyers have also made it this far in spite of a poor power play. It went 0-for-4 in this game and has only scored four power-play goals in 14 games for an 8.7% success rate. Only the Rangers have a lower percentage of all the playoff and play-in teams. In addition, three of those power-play goals came in one game.
Oskar Lindblom, who battled a rare form of bone cancer for much of the season, made his much-awaited return for the Flyers. He was held without a point in just 17 minutes of icetime. The fact that he has made it back is the real victory, as his final treatments were in July.
With his first period goal, James van Riemsdyk now has goals in back-to-back games. This after being held without a point in his first nine postseason games, along with a healthy scratch or two in there. Somehow, I don't think he fits into the Flyers' plans going forward, even with three years left at $7 million per season. I've mentioned this before, but I think he's a possible future Seattle Kraken.
Sean Couturier did not suit up for the Flyers. He suffered what looked like a knee injury in a collision with Mathew Barzal during Game 5. Barzal was also a game-time decision for Game 6 from a separate incident, but he was able to play.
Vancouver 4, Vegas 0 (series tied 3-3)
If this game was on past your bedtime, I will summarize it in two words for you: Thatcher Demko.
Travis Green did not want to turn to the unproven Demko during this postseason, even for either of the Game 3/Game 4 back-to-backs. As a result, Jacob Markstrom got overworked to the point of injury, and the Canucks were forced to start Demko down 3-1 in the series. Demko's Game 5 was difficult to top, yet he managed to do that in Game 6 in stopping all 48 shots he faced. He will no doubt be spent for Game 7, but there's no way the Canucks roll the dice on Louis Domingue for a game of this magnitude. The following comment leaves the door open a crack for a possible Markstrom return for Game 7, but I’d be willing to bet that poker player Green is bluffing.
Demko's rapidly increasing stock means a debate is brewing as to which goalie the Canucks should turn to next season. Markstrom is still unsigned, and the Canucks are facing a very tight cap situation. Yet he's been good enough to save the Canucks' arses on many a game this past season. Signing Markstrom could mean opportunity cost in losing Demko in the Seattle expansion draft next summer (or whenever it is, given the current state of the world), not to mention other free agents like Tyler Toffoli and Chris Tanev. Keeping Demko means that the Canucks will probably need to shop for a 1B-type goalie, since Demko has never been an NHL starting goalie.
Back to the game. After a fast start, the Canucks went an entire 20-minute stretch between the first and second periods without a shot. They ended up getting outshot at over a 2:1 ratio in this game (48-23), but the final score is what matters. Also, you can't fault a team for having great goaltending.
Jake Virtanen scored the first Canucks goal. However, he was really shaken up after a hit late in the third period, but word after the game was that he is okay.
As for Vegas, they have their own goalie debate for the immediate future. Robin Lehner wasn't bad in Game 6, stopping 19 of 22 shots. The low shot total from the Canucks had a relatively high concentration of high-danger scoring chances. Yet here's a stat I caught from the CBC broadcast: Lehner is 1-7-1 with a 3.66 GAA and .889 SV% when he starts on consecutive nights. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess Marc-Andre Fleury for Game 7, but please don't take that to the bank.
Now that the Boston Bruins have been eliminated, let's discuss what happened and what might be in their future.
It seemed as though the Bruins weren't quite right from the start of training camp. There was the doubt as to whether David Pastrnak would be fit to play in time for the round-robin, and the games he missed in the Carolina series (which they won anyway). Then there was Tuukka Rask's exit from the playoffs for family reasons. All in all, it was an unsettling situation for the President's Trophy winners.
Before you chime in that Pastrnak didn't struggle offensively with 10 points in 10 games, yes, I caught that. But Bruce Cassidy did mention that Pastrnak's and Ondrej Kase's conditioning was an issue. It's fair to say that Cassidy expected more from Pastrnak.
There probably won't be many changes up front, but blueline could look very different next season. Zdeno Chara is now 43 and without a contract, so he might have to contemplate retirement. Torey Krug is a UFA set for a raise, but the Bruins don't have much coming off the books to make room for that raise. However, there is the flat salary cap, which might limit the lucrative offers to Krug. For the record, Krug stated on Thursday that he is very opposed to accepting a one-year contract.
The Bruins' window hasn't slammed shut, but it is closing. Chara is ancient (in NHL years, not human years). Patrice Bergeron is 35. David Krejci is 34. It doesn't seem like Brad Marchand has been around that long, but he's now 32. Rask, who has been rumored to be considering retirement in the next season or two, is 33. It's been nearly a decade since the Bruins won their Stanley Cup, so another one with the same core is getting out of reach.
If you haven't already, be sure to check out the Fantasy Impact piece on the trade that sent Jake Allen to the Canadiens. The instant thought is that the trade will help Jordan Binnington in that he no longer has to worry about Allen looking over his shoulder. After his out-of-nowhere 2018-19, Binnington fell to earth to some degree during the 2019-20 regular season. Then he hit a wall during the postseason (4.72 GAA, .851 SV%). Yet if Binnington's play in the bubble is a sign of things to come, don't be so certain that he'll be a goalie that you'll want to own anyway.
Now that Allen has been traded, Ville Husso should be ready to play his first NHL game next season. This is a positive development for any longstanding Husso keeper owner. By signing Husso to a two-year, one-way contract in January, the Blues have been eyeing a roster spot for Husso for a while and were chomping at the bit to trade Allen. Husso is now 25, which is definitely not old for a goalie, but his age signals that he's moving out of prospect territory.
As far as Carey Price's value goes, I think less is going to be more. No goalie played more games than Price during the regular season (58). Price has that massive contract, so the intention was that he'd be a workhorse. Yet he's now 33 years old, and the lack of a backup hasn't done either him or the Canadiens any favors. Of the 12 other goalies that played at least 45 games last season, only one (Marc-Andre Fleury) is older than Price. What you're going to lose in fewer wins from fewer starts, you'll gain in better ratios. During the postseason, we saw what Price is still capable of over a smaller sample size. That's something that is much better (10 GP, 1.78 GAA, .936 SV%) than his regular-season numbers (2.79 GAA, .909 SV%).
I'll be back here tomorrow to discuss not one, but two Game 7's from the Edmonton bubble! For more fantasy hockey discussion, or to reach out to me, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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