Ramblings: Canes Clinch, Pietrangelo, Pearson, Byfuglien, Friday Picks, and more… (Apr 5)

by Ian Gooding on April 5, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Canes Clinch, Pietrangelo, Pearson, Byfuglien, Friday Picks, and more… (Apr 5)


The interactive playoff draft list is ready for download now! Don’t wait until five minutes before your draft or deadline to purchase it. If you haven’t already preordered it, get yours today! If you have already purchased it, jump right in. It’s available in the Downloads section on the Dobber website (login required for the site, not the forum).

Once you purchase the draft list, please take a moment to get familiar with it before your draft. Read the Instructions tab before you begin using it. The Excel spreadsheet file is interactive (macro-enabled) and not just a “list.” The point total projections depend on which teams you set to advance, or you could go with Dobber’s picks if you’re really not sure. I’m not trying to make it sound super complicated or anything, but it’s better to be prepared. Hey, we just want you to win your league!

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Thursday was all about teams trying to clinch playoff spots and teams trying to jockey for position. This doesn’t matter to fantasy teams that happen to still be active (like me in my roto league), but it certainly matters to those who are preparing for playoff pools. Even though almost all of the playoff teams are set, hopefully you don’t have to commit to choosing players right now.

When you’re the Carolina Hurricanes, clinching a playoff spot is a momentous occasion.
 


Yes, the “bunch of jerks” punched their 2019 playoff ticket with a 3-1 win over New Jersey. Even though the Canes won’t be providing any victory celebrations after any home playoff wins, I have a feeling that they’ll be a popular underdog to pull for.  

Petr Mrazek stopped 36 of 37 shots to earn the victory. Mrazek has had quite a run recently, posting an 11-2-0 record with a 1.68 GAA and a .944 SV% since mid-February. Both he and Curtis McElhinney will be UFAs at the end of the season. Since the Canes are a top-10 team in goaltending, I would have to believe they would bring back at least one of these goalies next season and maybe even both. If you need to pick a Canes’ goalie for your playoff pool, it’s probably Mrazek, although he and McElhinney have basically been splitting starts for the past few weeks.

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The Hurricanes’ victory combined with the Montreal Canadiens’ loss to Washington means that the Habs’ playoff hopes take a significant hit. The Canadiens have the same number of points as the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the Jackets have a game in hand. The Jackets’ last two games are against relatively beatable opponents in the Rangers and Senators, but nothing is guaranteed of course.   

The Habs had their chances (Max Domi and Artturi Lehkonen each took six shots), but Braden Holtby was up to the task in stopping 33 of 34 shots in the Capitals’ 2-1 win. Holtby has been getting it done for fantasy owners at the tail end of the season, reeling off five consecutive wins. Check out his splits this season (from his Frozen Pool profile):

Qtr         GP          W            L              OTL        GAA       SV%       QUAL    QUAL%

1              13           5              5              2              3.24        0.900     4              30.8

2              16           11           5              0              2.61        0.918     10           62.5

3              15           5              6              2              3.35        0.903     7              46.7

4              15           11           3              1              2.20        0.921     10           66.7

The defending Stanley Cup champions have now clinched the Metropolitan Division and should be considered the favorite to represent the division in the Eastern Conference Final.

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All I can say is thank heaven I dropped Brian Elliott yesterday because I was about to run out of goaltending starts and still had plenty of forward starts. That was Elliott’s night, all in a span of less than seven minutes. Hopefully you didn’t fall victim though.

Alex Steen inflicted the most damage for the Blues in their 7-4 win over the Flyers, scoring two goals and adding an assist with a plus-3. You can’t be blamed if you completely ignored Steen, as he had been held without a point in his previous five games.  

Alex Pietrangelo recorded three assists for the Blues. The father of triplets has now reached the 40-point mark for the third consecutive season and fifth time in six seasons. Obviously this is a dip from last season, which Dobber (who is a father himself) warned you about before the season. Pietrangelo’s second-half production (27 points in in 42 games, 0.64 Pts/GP) has been noticeably better than his first-half production (13 points in 28 games, 0.46 Pts/GP), which may be related to the Blues’ remarkable second-half surge. Or maybe it’s because he’s adjusted to life as a busy dad.

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The Canucks might have nothing left to play for, but don’t tell Tanner Pearson. The recently acquired left winger scored another goal and added an assist, which gives him four goals in his past five games and eight goals in 18 games as a Canuck. The Canucks are dying for top-6 forwards that can play alongside their big three of Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, and Bo Horvat. Pearson might be proving that he can at least be that guy beside second-line center Horvat.

Just to get you excited for next season, Quinn Hughes assisted on both Canucks’ goals, giving him three points in four games as a Canuck. Between Cam Robinson and me, there’s a disproportionate amount of Canucks’ highlights on here. With that in mind, here’s one more of one of Hughes’ assists.
 


We’ll have all summer to debate whether he will start next season on the Canucks’ PP1. The Canucks use Alex Edler a ton, so I wouldn’t quite pencil Hughes in yet. But it’ll be a matter of time.

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Jaroslav Halak stopped all 26 shots he faced in the Bruins’ 3-0 win over Minnesota. That’s five shutouts this season for Halak, which is not bad for a backup goalie. Halak’s ratios (2.34 GAA, .922 SV%) are among the top 10 among goalies who played at least 30 games. Halak is signed for another season in Boston, which might be something to think about when valuing Tuukka Rask next season. Rask has won 27 games and played in just 45 games this season, which are his lowest totals in six seasons.

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The Colorado Avalanche were another team that clinched a playoff spot on Thursday, thanks to a 3-2 overtime win over Winnipeg. Philipp Grubauer stopped 34 of 36 shots he faced in the win, which gives him a 7-0-2 record over his last nine starts. He has posted a 1.63 GAA and a .953 SV% over that span, which should cement him as the Avs’ starting goalie to start the playoffs and into next season.

The Avs clinched a playoff spot in spite of missing Mikko Rantanen, who has missed the past seven games with an upper-body injury. Alex Kerfoot has been subbing for Rantanen on the Avs’ top line. Although Kerfoot was held without a point on Thursday, Kerfoot had been taking advantage of the situation with eight points in his last six games.

Dustin Byfuglien might have been angrier than you were that he didn’t receive much power-play time on Thursday.
 


So once all was said and done, Jacob Trouba logged over five minutes of power-play time, while Byfuglien logged just 36 seconds. It’s not as if Big Buff was stapled to the bench in this one, as he took on over 25 minutes of overall icetime. Trouba is an RFA this offseason and rumors have constantly been swirling that the Jets will trade him. However, Trouba potentially sticking around and the presence of Josh Morrissey could result in a changing of the guard for Winnipeg’s PP1. By the way Big Buff has just two points in his last nine games, and that’s even with an assist on Thursday.

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Not that there should have been much doubt, but the Pittsburgh Penguins also clinched their playoff spot on Thursday. Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby each recorded three points with each taking five shots on goal. Kessel has now reached 80 points for the second consecutive season, while Crosby has a chance to reach 100 points for the first time in five seasons if he can record two points on Saturday against the Rangers.

If you’re trying to plan playoff matchups in the Eastern Conference, this might help:
 

 

With Nikita Kucherov's 40th goal of the season, the Lightning are the first team to boast three 40-goal scorers (also Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point) since the 1995-96 Penguins. 

Almost forgot to mention: Jake Gardiner returned to the Leafs' lineup on Thursday, although he was held without a point in just under 17 minutes of icetime. 

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Leon Draisaitl scored twice on Thursday, which gives him 49 goals on the season. These were his first goals in four games. The Battle of Alberta on Saturday night might be a mean-nothing game in the standings, but it will at least be worth watching to see if Draisaitl can become the second player to reach 50 goals, following Alex Ovechkin. The only other player with a snowball’s chance in hell at reaching 50 is John Tavares, who would need to record a hat trick on Saturday to reach that mark.

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Chances are that you’ll have more than enough options for Saturday, even with players potentially sitting out to get some extra rest before the playoffs. So Friday is the day to load up on players who will play on a light schedule (just three games). I mentioned both of the Strome brothers on Twitter, since the Rangers and Blackhawks are among the teams that play.

Some more players to consider (if you can still add them for Friday):

Oliver Bjorkstrand – Eight goals in his last eight games, also 30 shots in his last six games

Anton Khudobin – Confirmed starter on Friday (see Goalie Post for more goalie starts). Won three of his past four games, with the other game a shootout loss. Posted a 1.94 GAA and .943 SV% over that span.

Kevin Shattenkirk – No points in his last six games, but still receiving first-unit power-play time

Tony DeAngelo – If Shattenkirk isn’t available, or you could pick him over Shattenkirk outright

Alexandar Georgiev – Also a confirmed starter for Friday. He seems to alternate between good and bad starts, but the pressure is completely off as he and the Rangers get to play spoiler against the Blue Jackets.

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