Ramblings: Game 3 Recap, Oilers Trade Possibilities

by Ian Gooding on June 5, 2016

Sharks survive Game 3, Oiler trade possibilities, Steen shoulder surgery, plus more…

Of course we’re going to kick things off with a certain hockey game being played on Saturday. But in case you missed it, Joonas Donskoi scored the overtime winner 12:18 into overtime to give the Sharks a 3-2 win over the Penguins in Game 3. Here’s Game 3’s golden goal, in Finnish no less:

A call like this can only be topped by the Nick Bonino goal call in Punjabi from Game 1. I watched part of the game in Punjabi just to see if there would be another epic repeat goal call.

Most hockey fans without a rooting interest in the series would have wanted the Sharks to win, since it at least forces a Game 5 back in Pittsburgh. In addition, this series has been too closely played for the Penguins to be up 3-0. The hockey gods are sometimes fair.

Having said that, I stand 100 percent by my prediction that the Penguins will win this series. Their speed has given them an advantage in this series, carrying the play by outshooting the Sharks by a combined total of 113-74 in the three games. Any worries that young Matthew Murray isn’t up to the task should now be pushed aside. He’s posted a very respectable .919 save percentage in the series. If the Pens let the Stanley Cup slip through their fingers, I don’t necessarily think it will be because of Murray.

A few observations that I pulled from Game 3:

Even though Murray allowed the game-winner on just his fourth shot in OT, the previous shots he faced in overtime were high-danger chances where he had to make some point-blank saves. The Pens had taken nine shots on Martin Jones in OT. It doesn’t matter how many shots you take in overtime – it’s that one knockout blow that you need to win overtime (rest in peace, Muhammad Ali).

Lots has been discussed about Sidney Crosby in the faceoff circle in this series, namely the play he drew up for the Game 2 overtime winner and Logan Couture’s claim that Crosby gets away with it in the circle because he’s, well, Sidney Crosby. Sid the Kid was 50 percent in the circle in Game 3, winning 13 faceoffs and losing 13. In case you thought Couture’s comments were gamesmanship that would work to his advantage in Game 3, he only won 38 percent of his faceoffs, winning five while losing eight.

Ben Lovejoy scored the game’s first goal and assisted on Patric Hornqvist’s late second-period goal. If he’s somehow in your playoff pool, you’re laughing right now. The Reverend now has four points in his last five games, dating back to the Tampa series.

Like they had in the first two games, Pittsburgh outshot San Jose in this game (42-26 in Game 3). The Penguins carried the play early in the first period, while the Sharks didn’t record their first shot on goal until nearly halfway into the first period.

Even though this was an overtime game, some of the stats weren’t even close in Game 3. The Penguins nearly doubled the Sharks in blocked shots (38 to 22), although the Sharks nearly tripled the Penguins in hits (47 to 17). The Sharks also had considerably more giveaways (25 to 16).

Your turning point was likely the four-minute power play that the Sharks received in the third period, thanks to a Bonino high stick on Joe Thornton. Is there as clutch of a player on either team as Joel Ward, who ripped a slap shot past Murray as time expired on the Bonino penalty. That’s seven goals for Ward in the playoffs, with his previous four goals coming in the final two games of the St. Louis series. Murray would probably like to have that goal back, though.

Tomas Hertl missed Game 3 with a lower-body injury. So Melker Karlsson moved up to the Thornton-Joe Pavelski line. He and Little Joe were held without a point, but Big Joe recorded two assists. Thornton now has nine assists in his past seven playoff games.

Today’s celebrity sighting: Beast Mode, who switches sports as well as animal logos.

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In the article, Oilers insider Bob Stauffer suggests that out of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle, Hall’s value is the highest, followed by RNH and then Eberle. Yet of Hall and ugent-Hopkins, I believe the Oilers should trade Nugent-Hopkins.

The Oilers are already deep at center, with Connor McDavid a sure-fire number one center and Leon Draisaitl likely ready to be a second-line center (although young players can take a step back). With division rival Vancouver acquiring Erik Gudbranson, the pressure is on the Oilers to acquire a top-4 defenseman to keep up. Nugent-Hopkins can fetch that kind of return.

Having said that, the guy that is traded could be Hall. There’s talk that the Oilers could push hard for Milan Lucic in free agency, which could mean that they lean toward trading Hall, particularly if they draft the hard-nosed Matthew Tkachuk and sign Lucic. Signing Lucic isn’t something that fellow Edmonton Journal writer Jonathan Willis thinks is a good idea for either the Oilers or the Canucks.

So if you draft Lucic, could you have waited and drafted Benoit Pouliot several rounds later? What really drags Pouliot's fantasy value down is the fact that he's played only 55 and 58 games over the past two seasons. Something to consider.

Keep in mind that Lucic’s overall point total actually increased from 2014-15 to 2015-16 from 44 points to 55 points. This may be due to LA being a better situation than Boston for Looch, although he exceeded 55 points three times during his stay in Boston. That being said, you’ll want to wait until we know where Lucic lands before determining his fantasy value for 2016-17. I’d still be leery in spite of the point increase, considering that Lucic is a power forward who is now on the other side of 25.

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Alexander Steen could miss the start of the 2016-17 season after undergoing shoulder surgery (and yes, Dobber, I’ll emphasize that it was successful surgery). Steen will most likely miss the World Cup (here are three potential replacements for the Swedish team if you’re curious).

Steen originally injured his shoulder in February and missed five weeks of action. So his dip in production upon his return (four goals and 11 assists in 26 games) for a player who had reached 60 points in his previous two seasons could be explained by the bad shoulder. Obviously this news will mean that Steen’s fantasy value will take a hit next season, as the recovery timeline on a 32-year-old forward for this kind of injury is unclear.

As we saw in the playoffs, the Blues have considerable scoring depth. However, their forward lines for next season are currently in a state of flux, between the Steen injury news and the status of both David Backes and Troy Brouwer as UFAs. It should be an interesting summer in St. Louis.

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Other news:

Brayden McNabb has signed a two-year extension with the Kings.  

Here’s Elliotte Friedman’s Rumour Roundup from Game 3. Of interest is that the Avalanche may target Jacob Trouba with Tyson Barrie’s future in the Mile High City uncertain. On that, Bob McKenzie speculated on Edmonton’s TSN 1260 (via Today’s Slapshot) that the Oilers could be interested in Barrie.

Enjoy your Sunday. Follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.