Ramblings: Lightning vs. Stars in Final, Cirelli OT Hero, Players Whose Value Has Fallen in Postseason (Sept 18)
We now have a Stanley Cup Final, which gets going on Saturday.
Lightning 2, Islanders 1 OT (Lightning win series 4-2)
If you picked Anthony Cirelli in your overtime challenge, congratulations. Cirelli scored 13:18 into overtime to send Tampa Bay to the Stanley Cup Final. Here's the goal, which didn't look like it went in right away. On the replay, you can see the puck went from one side of the net to the other, then trickled in.
When Jim Hughson said "bumps the slump" about Cirelli, he meant that the goal was Cirelli's first point in six games. Cirelli logged over 30 minutes in the double overtime Game 5, but his icetime was down to 17:02 with Brayden Point back in the lineup for Game 6. Cirelli is a valuable two-way contributor for the Lightning, but you'll want to be careful not to overvalue him too much in next season's fantasy drafts. He's been held to just six points (3g-3a) in 19 postseason games.
If you believe you've heard Cirelli's name as an overtime hero before, then you're right. Cirelli scored the Memorial Cup-clinching overtime winner for the Oshawa Generals in 2015. He's only 23, but he's already built a reputation for being clutch.
As for Point, his skating looked fine, but he appeared to be in pain on the bench. He had the second-highest icetime total among Lightning forwards, playing nearly 26 minutes and taking four shots. Since he also missed Game 3, he is hardly 100 percent right now. Consider him a game-time decision for Game 1 of the Cup final, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if he rested. There are rumblings that Steven Stamkos could be ready sometime during the final, which is also something to look out for.
With his first-period goal, Victor Hedman now has nine postseason goals. That's the third-highest all-time by a defenseman in a playoff year, and he still has another round to play. Hedman has now scored goals in back-to-back games and has six goals over his last eight games. He also fired six shots on goal in Game 6.
The Islanders had one heck of a playoff run, making it farther than any play-in round team. They simply ran into a more talented team in Tampa Bay. They were outshot 48 to 27 in this game and were also outshot in every game except Game 2 in this series. They did everything they could to wear Tampa out, delivering 137 hits over the last two games.
Semyon Varlamov recorded his highest save total in the postseason, stopping 46 shots. He finished the playoffs with four consecutive quality starts after temporarily losing his starting job to Thomas Greiss in Game 7 of the Philly series. Even with Ilya Sorokin expected to burst onto the scene next season, don't undervalue Varlamov in next season's drafts. "Timeshare" isn't quite as bad a word when it's within a Barry Trotz-system, especially when those starts are alternated. Also keep in mind that more teams will likely use some form of two-goalie system next season to prevent goalies from being worn down.
Adam Pelech missed Game 6 with a broken wrist. It's a wonder that he played in Game 5.
Noah Dobson made his playoff debut as the Islanders' seventh defenseman (both teams used seven d-men). He played only 12:55 in this game, the lowest total among Islanders blueliners. Dobson had already played 34 games during the regular season, recording seven points.
When talking Islanders, it's easy to get caught up in how impressive their defense is. Yet they also featured some impressive scorers. Nice work if you took a chance on Josh Bailey in your playoff pool. The longtime Islander currently sits sixth in playoff scoring with 20 points (2g-18a) in 22 games. Not far behind is Brock Nelson with 18 points (9g-9a) in the same number of games. In fact, go to Frozen Tools and click Top Line. You'll see that three of the five top point-producing lines in the postseason have been from the New York Islanders.
30 – KUCHEROV,NIKITA – PALAT,ONDREJ – POINT,BRAYDEN
25 – KADRI,NAZEM – LANDESKOG,GABRIEL – MACKINNON,NATHAN – RANTANEN,MIKKO
24 – BAILEY,JOSH – BEAUVILLIER,ANTHONY – NELSON,BROCK
21 – FAKSA,RADEK – GURIANOV,DENIS – HINTZ,ROOPE – PERRY,COREY
20 – BARZAL,MATHEW – EBERLE,JORDAN – LEE,ANDERS
Hockey Canada has announced that the upcoming World Junior Championship will be played in the Edmonton bubble, while Edmonton and Red Deer will host the following season (2021-22). The NHL is close to completing its postseason, so the Edmonton bubble seems safe to use again. I'll defer to one of the many prospect experts in the Dobber family as to how well-prepared various prospects will be for the tournament, since North American junior and college hockey are still in an unknown state. It's great to see this annual tradition is not being lost to COVID, though. Especially if the NHL season hasn't started by then.
The Arizona Coyotes have formally announced Bill Armstrong as their new general manager. Armstrong was previously the Blues' assistant general manager, so this seems to be a decent hire. Armstrong will have his work cut out for him, since the Coyotes are rumored to be shedding cap space and going younger by listening to offers on any player over the age of 25. Arizona is one team that could have a very different look next season.
The Flyers have signed Nicolas Aube-Kubel to a two-year extension worth just over $1 million per season. Aube-Kubel scored 15 points in 36 games and three points in 13 postseason games. He might be a player to think about in bangers leagues, as he led the Flyers in hits (82) after being recalled on December 15 and also in hits during the postseason (52).
In last week's Ramblings, I covered players whose fantasy stock has increased during the postseason, which you can read about here and here. This week, it's time for players whose value has fallen during the postseason. And it's not all players whose teams have failed in the postseason.
You'd normally think that if the Dallas Stars made it to the Stanley Cup Final, then Seguin would be having an unbelievable postseason. Well, that's not exactly the case. After being the only Star to reach the 40-point mark during the regular season (he hit 50 points), Seguin enters the Stanley Cup Final as the Stars' eighth-leading scorer with just eight points in 20 games. In addition, Seguin has just two goals all postseason and only one point over his last nine games. What a waste if he's in your playoff pool. As long as Dallas keeps winning and getting scoring from other players, there won't be many "what's wrong with Seguin?" articles written.
If you're a Seguin keeper owner and not all that concerned, keep in mind that he was at or near a point-per-game scorer for a half-dozen seasons before 2019-20. Then as the Stars transitioned from an offense-first team to a defensive juggernaut, Seguin fell to 0.72 PTS/GP during the 2019-20 regular season. On a points-per-game basis, that placed Seguin among the likes of Sam Reinhart and Alex Killorn – not the names that you normally draft near Seguin. This is a player whose fantasy value is falling fast, although he's still only 28 years of age and has plenty of time to rebound.
Numerous Flyers scorers had a disappointing postseason, but we'll focus on Giroux in particular since there was already a decline during the regular season. For a team that had designs on winning the Stanley Cup, its captain came up well short of expectations with just one goal (but also seven assists) in 16 games. He might have been on the ice for 14 of the Flyers' 27 goals, but goals from the player himself matter to both playoff poolies and Philly fans.
Giroux has been on a two-year decline. After reaching a career-high 101 points (1.23 PTS/GP) in 2017-18, his scoring declined slightly to 85 points (1.04 PTS/GP) in 2018-19, then fell even further to 53 points in 69 games (0.77 PTS/GP). If 2019-20 was played in full, Giroux would have finished with 63 points. It's fantasy-worthy, but it's not what we're used to. Giroux is also now 32 years old, so a bounceback to previous seasons seems less likely than would for someone like Seguin.
We all remember 2019 Binnington – the minor league callup who help turned St. Louis from a last-place team to a Stanley Cup winner in the span of six months. The 2019-20 regular season itself didn't show a massive regression, as Binnington finished third in wins (30) along with respectable ratios (2.56 GAA, .912 SV%). If the season ended right there, I wouldn't be writing about Binnington here.
I could be placing too much weight on a small sample size here, but I'll state the numbers anyway. Among goalies who played at least five games (the number that he played), Binnington posted both the highest goals-against average (4.72) and the lowest save percentage (.851). What's more, the 2019 playoff hero lost playoff starts to Jake Allen in 2020. Although he won't have Allen to look over his shoulder in 2020-21, Binnington will have something to prove to get past what was a disastrous postseason.
Talk to you tomorrow. For more fantasy hockey discussion, or to reach out to me, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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