Humboldt Strong, Flyers and Avalanche Clinch, Vigneault Fired, Thank You Sedins
With this being the final Saturday of the regular season, fantasy hockey leagues are wrapping up and crowning champions, if they haven’t done so already. The playoffs are around the corner and with that, playoff pools. Your favorite team might be gearing up for the playoffs, or (like mine) gearing up for the draft lottery.
Yet the normal excitement of all of this has been overshadowed by the unimaginable tragedy of the bus accident involving the Humboldt Broncos. Cam mentioned the news while it was still fresh in yesterday’s Ramblings. On Saturday we heard the unfortunate numbers. A total of 15 people lost their lives while others have been injured, some seriously. We are starting to hear about some of the stories of the victims, which include the head coach, radio play-by-play announcer, team captain, and son of a former NHLer. Here are some comprehensive biographies from the National Post.
If you would like to help the families of the victims, a GoFundMe page has been set up, which has raised over $2.5 million. The hockey community, and even some outside of the hockey community, has really come together with an outpouring of support for the families, who will never be able to replace their loved ones with any amount of money. But they will need that money for funerals and time off work as they grieve. The survivors could also be facing staggering medical costs, not to mention a sudden end to their hockey dreams.
These were lives that were lost too early and too suddenly. I really can't say much else here, except to offer my sincerest condolences to everyone affected. Hug your children and remind them to stay safe. I know this was difficult for my family to talk about today.
— NHL (@NHL) April 7, 2018
— NHL (@NHL) April 8, 2018
Humboldt, we're all playing for you tonight. pic.twitter.com/YJoRsBvscs
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) April 8, 2018
It makes the results of the games and the fantasy implications seem secondary. But my job is to cover that topic, so that is what I will try to do. There is still lots to talk about both from a real-life and fantasy perspective.
If you had told anyone that you thought Claude Giroux would score 100 points this season, they would have thought you were taking crazy pills. But in a season that has reverted away from another dead puck era, Giroux’s final tally reached 102 points (second in the NHL), thanks to his hat trick on Saturday afternoon. With a ten-game point streak and points in 18 of his last 19 games, Giroux represents a huge risk/reward gamble in playoff pools for those who understand that the Flyers’ playoff run might be short if their goaltending can’t keep it together.
Speaking of which, Brian Elliott earned a relatively easy 17-save shutout in his second start since returning from injury. Flyers’ fans have to be breathing a sigh of relief now, as Michal Neuvirth can’t stay healthy and Petr Mrazek’s numbers as a Flyer are actually worse than his Red Wings’ numbers. Cruising to an easy 5-0 victory, there wasn’t much doubt that the Flyers were going to clinch their playoff spot once the puck dropped on this game.
Aaaaaaand… the Rangers only needed several hours after the game to make a coaching change.
NYR have fired head coach Alain Vigneault. Search will commence for his replacement.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) April 8, 2018
I can’t say that I’m surprised, given that Vigneault has a history of favoring safe veterans over younger prospects, which doesn’t fit with the current direction of the Rangers. What I am surprised about is that it happened right away. Whoever takes over as coach for the Rangers won’t have an easy time guiding this team to a playoff spot next season, although that coach will likely be more committed to a rebuild and could help the younger players more. We’ll have to wait and see who is hired, though.
Will Vigneault be an NHL coach again? Absolutely. I’ll even predict he’ll eventually be the coach of the Montreal Canadiens again someday. Both Michel Therrien and Claude Julien have served two tours of duty, so I would expect AV to be back there again to continue the merry-go-round of bilingual coaches. That is, if another team that fires its coach over the next few days doesn’t get to him first.
In what was the most compelling matchup of the night, the Avalanche were able to cap off a major turnaround by clinching a playoff spot with a 5-2 win over the Blues. This was a 47-point increase for the Avs, which doubled what they earned last season.
Gabriel Landeskog was the key cog for the Avs, scoring a goal and adding two assists with six shots on goal and ten hits. We all know about the MVP-type season and drastic improvement from Nathan MacKinnon (44-point improvement), but Landeskog was able to improve by 29 points himself. It was impossible to predict this kind of production from either player last season, but both players were far too young to be written off completely.
For the Blues, Vladimir Tarasenko left the game after a collision along the boards resulting in an upper-body injury. This might seem like a moot point now that the Blues will miss the playoffs. But it sounds like a bit of a serious injury and probably worth monitoring this offseason if you are a Tarasenko keeper owner.
Since you now know all the playoff teams (just not all the matchups), don’t forget to download Dobber’s 2018 Playoff Draft List, which is available now! Fully customizable, or you can go with Dobber’s picks if you prefer.
Your confirmed playoff matchups are as follows:
The other two playoff series will depend on the outcome of the Bruins/Panthers matchup on Sunday. Check back for our Dobber writer playoff predictions early next week.
The Blue Jackets rested Artemi Panarin, Cam Atkinson, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, and Sergei Bobrovsky on Saturday. Was it just to rest these players for the playoffs, or an attempt at a mini-tank to lose to Nashville and fall out of third to avoid a first-round matchup to Pittsburgh? You be the judge, but the Capitals might use that as motivation if they perceive this as a slight. It should be an interesting series, as the Jackets are a well-constructed team and should be a sexy first-round upset choice given the Capitals’ inability to get over the Metropolitan Division hump.
Speaking of the Capitals, Alex Ovechkin couldn’t quite get to 50 goals. You can’t fault him for lack of trying, as he managed to get to 49 by scoring two goals and taking eight shots on goal and 18 shot attempts on Saturday. So he’s your Rocket Richard Trophy winner. That’s two consecutive seasons of no 50-goal scorers, but at least we were closer this season than last. Ovie might not be many people’s idea of a Hart Trophy candidate, but he might be the most valuable player in your fantasy league because of the league-leading totals in both goals and shots (355).
By the way, just a friendly reminder that the Bruins/Panthers Sunday game has been entered into the CBS and Yahoo leagues, so check your league to find out if this game will count for you. A few weeks ago Sunday April 8 had not been entered because this game was not originally scheduled for this day (it was a makeup game for one cancelled earlier in the season), so there was some uncertainty as to whether it would count in fantasy leagues. So in some fantasy leagues, it goes without saying that you’ll want to load up on Bruins and Panthers.
In one roto league I targeted Colton Sceviour because he’s recorded points in four consecutive games and has been playing on the Panthers’ top two lines recently. And because I have one more game to burn at RW. Sceviour scored a goal and added an assist on Saturday while playing on a line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck.
Of course, check this game for healthy scratch information, just in case. The Bruins aren’t likely to scratch anyone important, as they will win their division if they pick up a win. The Panthers have just been eliminated from the playoffs, so they would be the more likely of the two teams to bench any studs.
If you needed clutch goaltending and a possible John Gibson injury replacement, Ryan Miller got the job done for you. Miller stopped all 31 shots he faced in earning the shutout against the Coyotes and his fourth consecutive win since Gibson went down. Miller used to start a ton of games but he is now 37 years old. So it will be interesting to see if he can carry the load if Gibson isn’t ready to start Game 1 of his playoff series next week.
In an absolutely mean-nothing game in the standings, Mark Jankowski broke out for four goals with a plus-3 on eight shots on goal in the Flames’ 7-1 win over Vegas. You probably weren’t targeting him if you needed a final push, as he had not recorded a point over his previous nine games. But because Sean Monahan was shut down, Jankowski was given minutes with Johnny Gaudreau. Jankowski finishes his rookie season with 17 goals, so there’s the potential for him to bump two-way forward Mikael Backlund out of second-line minutes next season.
Not exactly breaking news, but Connor McDavid is your Art Ross Trophy winner with 108 points, including two assists on Saturday. He’s a safe pick for first overall in next season’s drafts.
The Sedins were held without a point in their final game in Edmonton, although Daniel scored a goal in the shootout. Not quite as fun as Thursday’s overtime game against Arizona, where Daniel scored the winner in their last game in front of the home fans. Hollywood couldn’t have written a better ending.
A classy send off by the Oilers, who also presented the twins with a bottle of wine before the game. Henrik in particular made life difficult for the Oilers throughout his career, scoring more points against them (85 points in 96 games) than any other team. Interestingly enough, Daniel actually scored more points against the Flames (88) than the Oilers (84) in his career. Next for the Sedins: jersey retirement and hopefully the Hockey Hall of Fame!
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) April 8, 2018
So if you’re Connor McDavid, the captain of the Edmonton Oilers, do you get to wear the special orange shirt while everyone else has to wear the dark blue shirts?
Finally, here is a compilation of some Sedin stats throughout their amazing careers.
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) April 8, 2018
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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