Ramblings: Leafs Stay Alive, Devils Eliminated, Advantage Capitals, Peters Opts Out of Carolina (Apr 22)

by Ian Gooding on April 22, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Leafs Stay Alive, Devils Eliminated, Advantage Capitals, Peters Opts Out of Carolina (Apr 22)

Leafs Stay Alive, Devils Eliminated, Advantage Capitals, Peters Opts Out of Carolina

The Toronto Maple Leafs will play another day. Frederik Andersen made 42 saves on 45 shots, while Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk each scored a goal and added an assist in the victory. The Buds scored all four of their goals by the 12-minute mark of the second period, which resulted in Tuukka Rask being pulled for the Bruins. Anton Khudobin stopped all eight shots he faced. I’ll admit that I didn’t watch the entire game, but the shot totals seemed to indicate that the Bruins carried the majority of the play in spite of the loss.

The Bruins’ fourth line took care of the majority of the scoring in this one. Noel Acciari scored a goal and added an assist, Sean Kuraly scored a goal, and Tim Schaller added an assist. Kuraly in particular has been a hidden gem in playoff pools with two goals and two assists so far in the five-game series.

The Bruins will attempt to clinch the series again on Monday night in Toronto.
 


Part of the reason Ron Hainsey’s icetime was so high in this game is that he spent over eight minutes killing penalties. He also led all skaters with four blocked shots.
 


Nazem Kadri also returned from his three-game suspension, recording an assist while winning 71 percent of his faceoffs.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning are moving on as expected, but that’s no fault of Cory Schneider. The Devils were kept in Game 5 by Schneider, who stopped 35 of 37 shots he faced. A strong playoff series (1.78 GAA, .950 SV%) should reaffirm Schneider’s status as the Devils’ starter and could even move his fantasy value up a little. Or to put it another way, he could be one of the fall’s draft day bargains as he attempts to rebound from a rough 2017-18 season that was derailed by injuries and losing his starting job temporarily to Keith Kinkaid.

That being said, we’ve also learned that Kinkaid is a better goalie than we’ve given him credit for.

Mikhail Sergachev and Nikita Kucherov both scored on Schneider, with Ryan Callahan chipping in the empty-netter. Kucherov, who fired seven shots at Schneider, hasn’t slowed down at all during the playoffs with five goals and five assists in five games.  

Taylor Hall, who did not record a point in Game 5, finishes his first-ever playoff series with six points (2g-4a) in five games.  

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Are the Washington Capitals a clutch team? The Blue Jackets controlled the shots on goal in Game 5 (42-29), especially in the third period (16-1!) so the Capitals were kind of lucky to make it out of this one. Braden Holtby stopped 39 of 42 shots he faced in the win. Like Schneider, he is firmly back in the driver’s seat, posting a 1.66 GAA and .936 SV% in four playoff games. And also like Schneider, you may be able to obtain his services at a discount next season.

Nicklas Backstrom was the overtime hero with the game-winner. He also scored another goal and added an assist. He probably isn’t the first name that came to mind when you were picking your playoff pool, but he is tied with John Carlson for the team lead with eight points in five games.

The Capitals will try to close out the series on Monday night in Columbus. Maybe it’s just me, and I do recognize there’s still some hockey left to be played, but it doesn’t seem like enough people are talking about a potential Capitals/Penguins rematch.

Matt Calvert had a game, scoring two goals while taking six shots in a losing cause for the Blue Jackets.

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The Hamburgler is back. But judging by the dog-like mask that he now wears for the Avalanche, can we still call him that? Andrew Hammond is a great unexpected story because he probably isn’t in your playoff pool, yet he posted what will be one of the best goaltending games of the playoffs (44 saves on 45 shots). And the one goal just as well could have been called no goal after video review. Nashville will probably still end up winning this series, but Game 5 was the most fun I’ve had watching a game in the playoffs so far (not that I’ve watched every game).  

A tale of two Nashville defensemen in that game:

Roman Josi had a great game, firing eight shots on goal and controlling the puck in one sequence during the second period.

P.K. Subban, fresh off his Norris Trophy nomination, did not have a great game. He was on the ice for both Avalanche goals, getting burned by the ever-patient Nathan MacKinnon on the first goal while getting caught up ice trying to create offense on the second goal.

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I can’t find the tweet anywhere, but it showed the Winnipeg Jets’ roster construction. Almost all Jets' players were acquired via the draft, trades, or college free agent signing – with barely any unrestricted free agency. The Jets proved that patience is a virtue by sticking to the plan. For the most part they did not give in to the temptation to offer the big bucks to overpriced free agents who would help solve immediate needs. The exception is Steve Mason, but his signing happened right at the moment when Connor Hellebuyck was really ready.  

Since the NHL is a copycat league from team to team, and since professional sports leagues can also copy from one another, I’m wondering if the NHL free agent market will one day crash the same way MLB free agency did this past offseason. Owners will be accused of collusion, but they will simply be waking up to the fact that you can’t buy a winner.

I mean, I still think prospective suitors will open the vaults for John Tavares this offseason. But you may end up with a few more free agents like Thomas Vanek, who ended up waiting until September 1 to sign with the Canucks. That seemed to be story in Major League Baseball this past offseason, where even significant free agents had not found a home less than a month before opening day. If even the big names aren’t signed fairly quickly, that will have a trickle-down effect on the mid-tier options and definitely the fringe players, who could look to leagues outside the NHL for work instead of waiting for the phone to ring.

If that happens, then July 1 could be a much quieter day for free agency. North of the border it would just be called Canada Day. Share whether you think this might happen or not.  

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Yes, I’d have to think that Bill Peters will be the next coach of the Calgary Flames. After all, the Flames’ decision to fire Glen Gulutzan combined with Peters’ decision to exercise his opt out seems like too much of a coincidence. It doesn’t mean the Flames won’t use due diligence in hiring someone, but Peters seems to have a very positive reputation as a coach with upside. If you believe in Peters, you’ll cite his league-high 54.45 SAT% this past season. But there may not be so many believers in Carolina, according to this article from Canes Country.
 


A couple of fantasy players of interest were mentioned in this article: Jeff Skinner and Valentin Zykov.

The article mentions that under Peters this season, talented sniper Skinner wasn’t really matched with a true playmaking center. According to Frozen Pool, Skinner lined up with Derek Ryan over 50 percent of the time. Skinner was held to 24 goals to go with a dismal minus-27. Whoever the new coach is could make Skinner more of a priority than Peters did. But one look at the Canes’ roster shows that they are clearly not built up the middle, which is considered a common feature among most Stanley Cup-winning teams. That’s not Peters’ fault. Unless the Canes can improve in that area, Skinner will probably just have to live with that.

Zykov was a late-season callup who had a strong run (7 points in 10 games). He had scored 33 goals in 63 AHL games in spite of a minus-13 ranking prior to that. By not calling up Zykov sooner, Peters seemed to be yet another example of a coach who would rather not allow a goal than score a goal (or to you, someone who doesn’t care about your fantasy team). Zykov has never really been a horrible plus-minus player at any other level, so a new coach would be wise to make room for him on an offense that was in the bottom third of the league overall.

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For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.

 

 

4 responses to “Ramblings: Leafs Stay Alive, Devils Eliminated, Advantage Capitals, Peters Opts Out of Carolina (Apr 22)”

  1. Striker says:

    I would argue that is how most NHL teams are built, just like Winnipeg. Draft, trades, & college free agents are UFA’s. Winnipeg has dabbled in the secondary UFA market, this summer they brought in UFA’s Kulikov, Mason, Hendricks & also paid a significant price to rent Stastny at the trade deadline, a 1st & a decent prospect in Erik Foley. They also spent a 4th to buy depth Dman Morrow at the trade deadline.

    Other UFA’s signed by Win, Perreault, Matthias, Tanev; a college 1. Stafford was also signed June 30th, 1 day before the UFA market opened.

    Few teams in the NHL function on a tighter budget than the Winnipeg jets. Even selling out every game & running at 102.1% of capacity this season Winnipeg still ranked 26th in attendance in the NHL. Winnipeg hasn’t seriously needed to enter the UFA market & when they have again it’s been 2nd tier guys like Perreault, Kulikov & essentially Stafford.

    I’m very curious to see how the Trouba situation plays out. Are the jets willing to make Trouba their highest paid player by a significant margin to keep him? I think money will become a serious factor in how this situation is going to play out.

    For me most teams that over pay for a player in the UFA market do so out of need, Winnipeg hasn’t had a serious need but also they simply don’t have the financial ability to do so. Their ownership group isn’t prepared nor willing to lose money trying to build a winner.

    • Ian Gooding says:

      Whether the Jets haven’t needed to or didn’t have the financial means to, it’s turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The Jets have managed to avoid costly long-term signings by the other western Canadian teams. Contracts like those of Loui Eriksson, Milan Lucic, and Troy Brouwer. Teams hijack their rebuilds when they try to fast-track them with lucrative UFA signings.

      • MarkRM16 says:

        Having a small budget is a double-edged sword. It can make re-signing talented players difficult, either as RFAs or pending UFAs, but prevents most GMs from signing contracts like the awful ones mentioned above. When they do make a splash that fails, it also makes it really tough to buy out the albatross contract. At least if the GM is smart, they’ll just be stuck with 1 terrible contract, not multiple ones that handcuff teams with larger budgets like the Hawks.

        Given their success this year, both in the RS and the playoffs thus far, presumably free agents will find Winnipeg a more appealing option than in years past.

    • MarkRM16 says:

      The Jets do sign some UFAs, but they are typically inexpensive role players, not big name, expensive ones. Mason is the exception to the rule. I hope for their sake that Seattle claims him, because they’re going to be shelling out big money in the near future.