With this being the last day of the regular season, this may not be a typical Ramblings in terms of running through all the boxscores. Sure, there were some noteworthy highlights that will be mentioned. However, I’ll also note various end-of-season happenings as well as some notes heading into the playoffs.
Connor McDavid left his game on Saturday with what was originally feared to be a broken leg, but x-rays on his leg turned out to be negative. He’ll be scheduled for an MRI back in Edmonton.
We still don’t know the exact severity of his injury or the timeline for recovery, but we at least it sounds as if we don’t have to worry about him not being ready for next season. On the surface, it might not seem like a big deal because the Oilers won’t play games that matter again until October. However, significant injuries will interrupt previously scheduled offseason training plans. Consider Brock Boeser’s slow start this season as an example, after he recovered from a significant back injury and a lingering wrist issue.
McDavid may not have led the league in scoring (he finished second). However, he is the only player not to go two consecutive games without a point, which is remarkably reliable.
McDavid’s unsightly injury overshadowed Leon Draisaitl scoring his 50th goal earlier in the game. We can say he earned that 50 goals, and not just because he plays for the Oilers. Higher-than-normal shooting percentage (21.6%) aside, that 50-goal total is legit because none of Draisaitl’s 50 goals were empty-netters. Even with the shooting percentage that signals favorable luck, Draisaitl also took over 200 shots (231) for the first time in his career.
As for the Oilers themselves, it’s now just one time in the last 13 seasons that they’ve been to the playoffs. The fact that they employ two 100-point scorers and still miss the playoffs is telling of how rough a state this team is in.
Johnny Gaudreau was another player who was flirting with 100 points, yet with an assist on Saturday could only get to 99. Bill Peters tried everything in his power to push him up to 100, gifting him 27 minutes in icetime! Still, his speed and ability to put up points in bunches were a major reason that the Flames were able to take that next step as the Western Conference’s top team in the regular season.
Matthew Tkachuk and Sean Monahan were scratches for the Flames, while Mark Giordano and Elias Lindholm returned to the lineup. I managed to get the latter two back into my lineup, though I wonder if it was worth it with the lack of sense of urgency from the Flames in this game.
In case you missed it, your playoff matchups are now set:
#StanleyCup Playoff Matchups#GoBolts v #CBJ #AllCaps v #TakeWarning #Isles v #LetsGoPens #NHLBruins v #LeafsForever #GoAvsGo v #Flames #GoStars v #Preds #VegasBorn v #SJSharks #STLBlues v #GoJetsGo Home Ice advantage TBD
— SiriusXM NHL Network Radio (@SiriusXMNHL) April 7, 2019
The Jets, by the way, secured home ice in their series with St. Louis with a 4-2 win over Arizona.
Look for our Experts Panel coming up soon, where our writers will pick the winners in each first-round series, the Stanley Cup finalists and winner, the Conn Smythe winner, and the top 5 in playoff scoring. Don’t ask me for my picks yet, because you’ll see them in there. 🙂
The interactive playoff draft list is ready for download now! Don’t wait until five minutes before your draft or deadline to purchase it. If you haven’t already preordered it, get yours today! If you have already purchased it, jump right in. It’s available in the Downloads section on the Dobber website (login required for the site, not the forum).
Once you purchase the draft list, please take a moment to get familiar with it before your draft. Read the Instructions tab before you begin using it. The Excel spreadsheet file is interactive (macro-enabled) and not just a “list.” The point total projections depend on which teams you set to advance, or you could go with Dobber’s picks if you’re really not sure. I’m not trying to make it sound super complicated or anything, but it’s better to be prepared. Hey, we just want you to win your league!
Also, please make sure you try logging in, so that our admin team has enough time to take care of any password resets before your draft!
Auston Matthews and Fabian Brunnstrom are two relatively recent players who posted hat tricks in their NHL debuts. We can add Ryan Poehling to that list, as he scored his three goals plus a shootout goal in the final game of the season, a 6-5 shootout win for the Canadiens. There isn’t much that we can do with that today, aside from remembering his name in keeper leagues for next season. Poehling is a center, which has been a thin position for the Habs in recent seasons, although it seems to be an area that they’re trying to address with Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Nick Suzuki, and Poehling all in the system.
It will be interesting to see whether Poehling makes the Habs in 2019-20 or he further develops his skills in the AHL. The 2017 first-round pick just turned pro after finishing up with St. Cloud State, where he scored 31 points in 36 games in each of his last two seasons. I’ll take a wild guess and assume that he’ll end up with production somewhere between Matthews and Brunnstrom.
You can view Poehling’s Dobber Prospects profile here.
Nikita Kucherov scored a goal and added an assist to lead the Lightning to a 6-3 win over Boston. Kucherov finishes the season with 128 points, which is the highest single-season total for a Russian-born player. Kucherov will also win the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer and should be considered the fantasy MVP in pure points leagues as well as many multicategory formats. Expect him to be the top-ranked player in fantasy playoff drafts as the Lightning should be considered the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. Or to Don Cherry or Brian Burke (can’t remember which one), they’re the easy pick to win.
By the way, the Lightning tied the 1995-96 Red Wings for the most wins in a season (62). Their 128 points are the fourth-most in NHL history. There’s a lot of hockey left to be played, but this could be their year.
The noteworthy “healthy” scratches for this game included Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Torey Krug, and Brayden Point. Expect all three to be ready for the playoffs. However, these final-day scratches were a recurring theme throughout the day. I’m going to give this shutdown of the final week idea some more thought in one of my leagues this offseason.
With a goal and an assist on Saturday, Sidney Crosby has reached the 100-point mark for the first time since the 2013-14 season. Crosby had finished with between 80 and 90 points in each of those previous four seasons, so his scoring numbers have been fairly consistent if you factor in the scoring inflation that happened this season.
In the end, there were six 100-point scorers this season. Kucherov, McDavid, Patrick Kane, Draisaitl, Marchand, and Crosby. I mentioned Gaudreau just falling short, as did Nathan MacKinnon (99 points) and Steven Stamkos (98 points). Aleksander Barkov finished with a career high of 96 points, which rounds out the top 10. To compare, the lowest scorer in the top 10 finished with 89 points last season, and all the way down to 75 points and 77 points in the two seasons before that. Further proof that scoring is up.
Have we seen the last of Roberto Luongo? I was hoping that he would go out with a win on Saturday since we don’t know for sure yet, but it was not meant to be. Lu allowed four goals on 27 shots in the Panthers’ 4-3 overtime loss to New Jersey. It’s sounding more and more like the Panthers will go after an established starting goalie (Sergei Bobrovsky, maybe?) Assuming that the Panthers find a way to part with James Reimer, would Luongo accept a role as a backup in order to keep playing? I keep thinking that the inevitable result is for Luongo to go on LTIR before his contract ends in 2022, which would save both the Panthers and the Canucks (especially the Canucks) on significant cap space known as the cap recapture penalty.
Erik Karlsson returned for the Sharks on Saturday after missing the past 17 games with a groin injury. He was held without a point but was a plus-3 in 22 minutes. He should be available as normal for playoff pools.
Evander Kane scored his 30th goal of the season, which is the first time since 2011-12 that he has reached that total. The Sharks are now the first team with four 30-goal scorers (Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, Kane) since the 2008-09 Red Wings and Flyers.
I competed all the way to the bitter end in my Experts Roto League representing the Dobber brand, but alas I fell just short. Congratulations to David Petrie of The Hockey Writers, who started the day in third place but pulled ahead of both Jan Levine of Rotowire and myself. Levine and I tied for second place. Look how close the results were (type CTRL+ to make your browser text bigger if it's hard to read):
As you can see, fellow Dobber expert Eric Daoust finished in fifth place.
Sometimes victory isn’t quite meant to be, but my biggest weakness turned out to be goals. Yet all I would have need to win was to move up 1.5 points, which with these standings turned out to be three stinking goals. I scored 353 goals all season, but I could have won had I scored just three more goals to get up to 356. In fact, I could have advanced 3 points had I scored just five more goals than I did. A long season can come down to the smallest margin of victory.
The other point that I wanted to make was that I autopicked this team. Yes, autopicked. A word that serious fantasy players want no part of. I wrote about this in a Ramblings in late September, describing how I had prepared for this draft that I would not be present for due to other commitments. I’ll let you read how I did it, but in the end I’ll give a ton of credit to Fantasy Hockey Geek for what turned out to be a successful season. Being able to enter all my stat categories into the Geek, then using Dobber’s projections (tweaked a little to my own likings) to spit out custom rankings for my league is invaluable. I was then able to move players up and down the Yahoo pre-rankings according to how the Geek ranked them. I absolutely recommend the Geek without reservation.
I probably could have used the waiver wire more (Petrie made 73 moves, while I made just 22). However, I kept my first 13 picks for the entire season, only dropping the 14th pick (Chris Kreider) late in the season when he was battling an injury and I needed to maximize my games played. The funny thing is that earlier in that Ramblings, I suggested that Elias Lindholm’s ownership needed to be higher (just 18 percent at the time) because he would be a more ideal linemate for Gaudreau and Sean Monahan than James Neal. Lindholm was my 15th pick and was just 18 percent owned in Yahoo leagues at the time. Now I’m deciding whether he should be one of my four keepers for next season. Funny how that worked out.
I’m not suggesting that I prefer autopicking over live drafting. Although there’s that feeling of control with picking your own players, autopicking might not turn out as bad as you might think. I’ll try to attend next season’s draft, since I may not want to pick my second goalie in the 15th round (I can keep four players before the draft, including one goalie). But at least I know that I might be fine if I can’t make it and moving the date/time is impossible.
This league can be viewed publicly, so you can take a closer look here.
Like many of you, Bob Cole has been calling hockey games longer than I’ve been watching them. That familiar voice will be missed. I used to hate seeing him get criticized on Twitter, knowing that calling play-by-play is not an easy job, so I sure hope this isn’t Sportsnet putting him out to pasture. Here’s another solid HNIC montage on some of his great calls. Mr. Cole is a Canadian treasure.
"The truth is you have to sell the song with your sincerity. That's Bob's magic. He sings the game." – @RonMacLeanHTH
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 6, 2019
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) April 6, 2019
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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