Ramblings: Caps/’Canes Game 7; Radulov; Meier; Demko; More – April 25

by Michael Clifford on April 25, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Caps/’Canes Game 7; Radulov; Meier; Demko; More – April 25

 

The Bruins will be without Kevan Miller to start their series against Columbus and is considered week-to-week for now. If I were a Bruins fan, I wouldn’t expect him back in this series and just be pleasantly surprised if he does.

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It may not be as serious as Miller’s injury, but Jamie Oleksiak will be out for at least the first game of Dallas’s second round series. However, they look to be getting Mattias Janmark back, which will only help their depth. They’ll need all the depth they can muster against a St. Louis team that is playing arguably the best hockey in the league over the last four months.

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Thatcher Demko re-upped with Vancouver for two years at just over $1-million per season. He'll still be an RFA at the end of this deal. 

He was solid in just a handful of starts in 2018-19 and Markstrom is still signed for next year. The best-case scenarion fantasy-wise next season is a 1A/1B situation where Demko gets about 45 starts. I certainly will not make that my expectation unless we're told something different, or one of them is sent packing. 

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It’s been the playoffs of randomness and comebacks, so why not add one more to the pile.

Washington took a 2-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game as Andre Burakovsky forced a turnover two minutes in and converted for the first. The next goal came about four minutes later thanks to this brilliance (and maybe a bit of poor Carolina defending)  from Alex Ovechkin:

 

 

The game would eventually get to 3-1 in Washington’s favour before a late goal in the second period from Teuvo Teravainen and early goal in the third period from Jordan Staal tied the game at three. That’s where the score stood until overtime.

Double overtime, to be exact.

Somehow, it kind of felt like Justin Williams would be involved in the winning goal, and sure enough he was. Near the mid-point of the second overtime, Justin Williams threw a puck on net from below the dot and Brock McGinn deflected it out of midair and past Braden Holtby for the series-clinching goal. The assist on McGinn’s goal just adds to the aura of Mr. Game 7.

It really seemed like Washington was running out of gas in overtime. They played pretty well through regulation but didn’t seem to be able to maintain the same level the rest of the way as Carolina could. A Cup run last year plus a Game 7 double overtime this year would figure to add up.

The Washington loss means all four division winners lost in the first round. I wonder how many perfect brackets are left.

The Caps will be back next year with most of the core under contract with a couple guys left to sign. Sometimes you just run into a good team.

Congrats to Carolina fans. It’s been a long time, but this team looks primed for a deep run if they can get healthy. That last part will be important, needing the scoring help against the great Islanders goaltending.

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I was going to go on a long diatribe about the blown call in the San Jose-Vegas game but realized there's not much point. It was an abysmal call that led to a third period hockey fans probably won't ever forget. 

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I want to piggy-back off something Cam Robinson mentioned in his Ramblings yesterday: Timo Meier was an absolute monster in that Game 7. He had over 20 minutes of ice time at even strength alone, fourth-most among their forwards. He had 10 shots on goal and 15 shot attempts, and he was all over the ice creating chances what felt like every shift.

I will be very interested to see where Meier’s ADP falls in September. He’s coming off a 30-goal, 66-point season where he had 250 shots and fell just shy of 100 hits. He finished just outside the top-50 players in standard Yahoo! leagues and seems to be a rising star.

But what will the Sharks look like in September? They have about $25-million in cap space but Erik Karlsson, Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Gustav Nyquist, Joonas Donskoi, and Tim Heed are all unrestricted free agents, while Meier and Kevin Labanc are restricted free agents. Even on a generous assumption that Thornton retires (I don’t think he will), and they don’t re-sign Nyquist, Heed, or Donskoi, they still have about $25-million for Karlsson, Pavelski, Meier, and Labanc. They might be able to squeeze the four of them but it would be very tight, and they still have to fill out their roster.

In short, the team that goes into 2019-20 will look very different from the team that finished the 2018-19 season. Does this affect Meier’s ADP? Last year, he was about the 200th player off the board. I assume he’s a top-100 guy. Whether or not he’s a buy is a topic that will be broached in the offseason, but he’s certainly showing himself as a burgeoning star, even when the lights are brightest in the playoffs.

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Not much to say about the Boston-Toronto series. It was an even series between two even teams and the difference ended up being Boston’s power play. Toronto’s offseason will be interesting because question of cap space and Babcock’s decision-making are going to be at the forefront, but as far as the series goes, scoring with the man advantage turned the tides. Nothing more, nothing less.  

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One other playoff performer worth pointing out is Alex Radulov. Heading into Game 7 between Carolina and Washington, Radulov led the playoffs in shot attempts per 60 minutes at five-on-five at 26.01. For reference, only one player had a higher shot rate in the regular season (Brendan Gallagher), and Gallagher was the only player over 21 shot attempts per 60 minutes. Radulov had six points and 30 shots on goal in six games, including one game-winning tally.

This is another guy whose ADP I’m looking forward to seeing this fall. He had a great year with 72 points in 70 games, tallying over 50 penalty minutes and over 200 shots along the way. There is a very good young core of defencemen on the team but it seems as if Jamie Benn is slowing down, and Radulov himself turns 33 years old in July. He’ll also be a top-75 pick and that would feel about right. Can he repeat this year, though?

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You know what’s weird about these playoffs? Goalies aren’t really costing their teams a series. I mean, yes, Andrei Vasilevskiy was objectively terrible, but only he and Petr Mrazek were starters that could really be said were playing so poorly they might be costing their team a series. And I don't even think Mrazek has been bad, just inconsistent. It feels like this series is a microcosm of his career. 

There was (justifiable) concern about guys like Mike Smith and Martin Jones, and Jones did stumble often early in their series but he’s a big reason San Jose was able to reel off three straight (yes, I know they had to reel off three straight wins largely because of Jones). Smith was unspectacular but solid, with his only really bad game being Game 5.

I guess it just goes to show the unpredictability of the playoffs. Vasilevskiy, a Vezina finalist for the second year in a row, absolutely blew it, while Jones, who’s never had a great year as a starter, was a significant reason the Sharks (eventually) advanced.  It’s a big part of what gives the NHL playoffs its charm but I’m sure it’s frustrating for many fan bases. Sometimes, your team just gets the breaks, and sometimes it doesn’t.