Ramblings: Jets and Flames Post-Knockout; Keller; Playoff Hockey – April 23

by Michael Clifford on April 23, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Jets and Flames Post-Knockout; Keller; Playoff Hockey – April 23

 

It was locker cleaning day for the Winnipeg Jets and there was a lot of interesting tidbits to come of it.

There were a lot of votes of confidence for coach Paul Maurice, namely one coming from Blake Wheeler, with the captain saying he’d run through a brick wall for his bench boss.

The Jets have made the playoff in three out of five years with Maurice behind the bench full time and that includes last year’s trip to the Conference Final. Quite honestly, I don’t know whether Maurice is a good coach or not, and I don’t think the vast majority of hockey fans and analysts don’t either. Some people may point to questionable lineup decisions but literally every coach has those, so pointing it out isn’t unique to Winnipeg. The team has become more disciplined, ranking in the top-5 for short-handed opportunities every year from 2014-15 through 2017-18 before finishing 9th this year, so maybe he’s helping in this area?

Whatever the Jets decide to do, they better make sure if they decide to get a new coach that he’s better than what they have. The grass isn’t always greener – just look at Los Angeles since the end of Darryl Sutter’s tenure.

As for Patrik Laine, we may have a reason for his, let’s say, lackluster performance in the regular season: a back injury he was fighting throughout the year. The extent and nature are unknown, but any tweak would be enough to throw anyone off-kilter. Keep this in mind: Laine had a 30-goal season as a 20-year old, his third consecutive 30-goal season, while fighting through a back problem. Any and all inquiries as to What’s Wrong With Laine should now be settled.

In that tweet, we found it Nikolaj Ehlers fractured his leg during Game 5 of the playoffs. I assume that if he was fine enough to keep playing, any sort of recovery won’t linger into next year. Of course, once we have a more definitive answer, we’ll pass it along.

Josh Morrissey was still battling the effects from a separated shoulder earlier in the season that kept him out of the lineup for six weeks until the postseason. This was obvious as Morrissey typically played 22-ish minutes a night but played just 18 minutes a night in the playoffs.

We won’t know until we hear more about Laine, but it does not appear any of these issues will be long-term.

As I mentioned in these Ramblings before the playoffs, there were a lot of injuries for the Jets in the second half of the season. Morrissey, Ehlers, and Byfuglien were the ones we knew about, and now we know about Laine. It makes sense that this team did not look the same from January onward as it did from October through December. They’re a team with Cup aspirations but I hope they don’t blow it up. All of Laine, Jacob Trouba, and Kyle Connor are RFAs. I hope to see them all back next year.

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There wasn’t nearly as much to report from media day for the Calgary Flames. It was mostly just discussion about how disappointing they were to lose out in the first round. There were no major injuries or anything along those lines to report, even Sean Monahan.

One interesting quote came from Matthew Tkachuk about how the playoffs are so much different than the regular season and he knows that better now that they’ve failed.

I bolded the word because it really reminds me of a lot of teams in the past. In 2007-08, the Blackhawks, a team on the rise, missed the playoffs by three points. The year after, they made the playoffs and lost in the Conference Final, winning the Cup the following season. The Penguins lost in the first round in 2007, lost in the Finals in 2008, and finally broke through in 2009 for the Cup. It’s not to say Calgary will win the Cup, and they’ve probably wanted to go deeper in the playoffs by now, but I see some other similarities here.

The problem would be that a major cog in their team, Mark Giordano, turns 36 in October. They can’t replace a Norris-calibre defenceman should he start to really decline. But if he doesn’t, there’s no reason to be pessimistic about this team.

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Just want to point everyone in the direction of Cam Robinson’s 2019 draft rankings. He has a little write-up on the guys he has ranked in the first round as well as a complete list of his first three rounds, all the way to 93rd overall.

I also want to point in the direction of Jokke Nevalainen, who has been posting updates throughout the World U-18 Championship. You can read his first update here and his second one here.

Aside from Cam and Jokke’s great work, we have an army of scouts and writers doing lots of work at Dobber Prospects leading up to the draft. Be sure to check constantly for updates on the players you’ll be drafting in dynasty leagues this summer.

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I was reading an article from Richard Morin from the Arizona Republic on the down year from Clayton Keller. There was a lot of talk about how he had difficulty getting to the net, and how the good teams get to the net to create chances.

So, I looked into that:

  • Going over our numbers here at Dobber Hockey, Keller had 108 even strength shots on goal from within 30 feet of the net in 2018-19. That number was 113 in 2017-18.
  • Keller’s individual expected goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five this year was 0.62. Last year it was 0.63. The importance of that is that expected goal rates are heavily influenced by shot distance – guys like Brendan Gallagher and James van Riemsdyk always rate highly because of it.
  • His role on the PP changed from primarily a bumper/net front-type player in 2017-18 to a primarily wing role in 2018-19, so if he wasn’t getting to the net on the PP, it wasn’t his decision.

Of course, there’s a whole lot more to the story than just checking numbers on a couple of sites. He did have fewer shots from right in tight than last year but his rate of shots from medium-to-high danger areas was basically unchanged. I’m sure there are instances when the coaching staff wished he got to the net more and that would explain their comments. In reality, when looking at the season as a whole, it was more of the same from his rookie year.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Keller won’t shoot seven percent next year like he did in this one.

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We were guaranteed a third Game 7 of these playoffs as Carolina held down the fort in a 5-2 win over Washington in Game 6. After falling behind 2-1, Teuvo Teravainen scored early in the second period to tie the game up 2-2 with Jordan Staal scoring early in the third period to take the lead. Justin Williams salted it away with the fourth goal.

Alex Ovechkin was kicked out late in the game with a misconduct but it shouldn’t have any bearing on his availability for the next game.

There was a no-goal call due to intent to blow that may have cost the Caps a goal in the third period. Ovechkin jammed a puck that was under Mrazek's pad and he thought they scored. This was the play:

 

 

I don't understand the fervour, it seemed like a pretty cut-and-dry play. I guess everything is magnified in the playoffs.  

It was a great night for both Jaccob Slavin and Dougie Hamilton as they assisted on Warren Foegele’s goal in the first period, giving Slavin six points in the playoffs and five for Hamilton. The man named Dougie added an empty-net goal for his sixth point. The pairing played over half their shifts against Washington’s top line and just crushed them; Ovechkin-Backstrom-Wilson all had shot shares under 35 percent. Alex Ovechkin scored on a rush when they were on the ice but let’s be honest, you can only hold down one of the greatest ever for so long.

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Dallas moved on to the second round thanks to a 2-1 overtime win in Game 6 Monday night. John Klingberg sealed the series on an odd-man rush off a nice find from Alex Radulov. The Stars had carried the play for most of the overtime period, and pretty much the second half of the game for that matter. It was a just reward for a team looking to earn a spot in the Conference Final for the first time in over a decade.

Ben Bishop, two days after his Vezina finalist announcement, saved 46 shots in the win. For the series, he had a .945 save percentage. It’s a fair to discuss things like Nashville’s abysmal power play, which was bad all year and went 0-15 in the playoffs, or their scoring depth, but not many teams will get past a goalie who manages a .945 over the course of a series.

Nashville’s third pair didn’t get much ice time, but I will say that Dante Fabbro seemed to get better each game. It’s hard to look good in a loss when you play 14 minutes on the third pair, but he seemed to outlet the puck well while holding is own in the zone. There is still a lot of work to be done here, obviously, and it was only a handful of games so beware confirmation bias.

The Stars now go to St. Louis to face the Blues in the second round.