The thing a lot of people expected to happen, happened. Maybe it didn’t happen when they expected it to happen, but it happened. And was it ever a happening.
Washington carried a 1-0 lead into the third period and Alex Ovechkin scored 28 seconds into the frame to push his team to 2-0. Everything was going so great! Then Pittsburgh scored three goals, one from each of Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, and Patric Hornqvist, to go up 3-2 in a span of five minutes. That would hold as the final.
All jokes aside, this was a really good game. Both goaltenders made some 10-bell saves, both teams hit some posts, and despite 33 shots through two periods, it was basically end to end. This feels like a missed opportunity for Washington considering they had a 2-0 third-period lead with Evgeni Malkin out of the lineup.
With Vegas already up 3-0 and absolutely flying, Alex Tuch scored one of the more beautiful goals you'll see these playoffs:
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) April 27, 2018
Sure, it was a power play, but he still gashed four players. That's impressive.
Anyway, Vegas stomped the Sharks. They scored three goals in under two minutes early in the first period. They didn't stop from there. San Jose just needs to completely shut this one out of their memory and look towards Game 2.
The finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award were released Thursday and they are Connor McDavid, Taylor Hall, and Nathan MacKinnon. The award is given to the most outstanding player as voted on by the NHLPA. In other words, this is the best player on the season as voted by his peers. There’s often a lot of overlap between the Ted Lindsay and the Hart Trophy nominees (the most valuable player). If you want to start parsing the difference between most outstanding player and most valuable player, feel free to do so in the comment; the Ted Lindsay is McDavid’s to lose.
The NHL announced their plan for the draft lottery. They’re going to draw teams 15-4 during their draft lottery show on Saturday night, then teams 3-1 during the second intermission of the evening game. I’d assume this is to get people to stay tuned in and watch the Sharks/Golden Knights contest. Regardless, we know have our parameters for the Rasmus Dahlin sweepstakes. Be sure to tune in during the second intermission, all you fans of teams who missed the playoffs.
Yesterday in these Ramblings I discussed market share in shot attempts by defencemen as a percentage of their team’s shots. The point was more to point out which defencemen may be taking too many shots and even though that makes them great fantasy options, it could hurt their team’s scoring.
Today’s Ramblings will cover the forwards. Rather than doing total shot total attempts, though, we will be using just on-ice shot attempts. That is, what percentage of a team’s shots that occurred with a given player on the ice were taken by that player?
A few reasons for this exercise:
- It’s not to point out the obvious. Yes, we know that Alex Ovechkin, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Brendan Gallagher take a ton of shots. It makes sense they take up a good chunk of the shots available. It’s to point out guys, maybe in fewer minutes, who are shooting a lot relative to the shots that occur when they’re on the ice.
- To that end, finding players who shot a lot in the lower minutes range, maybe with a low shooting percentage, can make for good deep league values in 2017-18. Maybe it was an injury-shortened season, maybe it was a call-up, maybe it was a guy buried in the bottom-6. These types of players can eventually have breakout years. Recent examples are guys like Gallagher, Jason Zucker, and Viktor Arvidsson.
- Just in general, to think deeper in the player pool. This is a generalization but I find often (and I’m guilty of it myself), we typically focus too much on the top-100 (ish) players. Fantasy leagues aren’t won and lost in the first seven or eight rounds. They’re won and lost in the final seven or eight rounds. At least in terms of skaters. Drafting William Nylander instead of Evgeny Kuznetsov doesn’t win or lose leagues, same for Leon Draisaitl over Blake Wheeler or Brandon Saad over Mikael Granlund. Drafting Dylan Larkin over Richard Panik, Jason Zucker over Bobby Ryan, or Brendan Gallagher over Tyson Jost is what puts you over the top.
Here are the top-20 market share leaders among forwards with at least 300 minutes played, all stats expressed at five-on-five, and taken from Natural Stat Trick.
Most of these names make sense. There are a few, however, that may not. Also, we can exclude Iiro Pakarinen now as he’s destined for the KHL.
I’ve written about it before but this contract is going to be fascinating. He was without a contract last year before the Wings signed him to a one-year deal. Since getting to the NHL, he leads Detroit in goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five (1.11) by a considerable margin (next-closest is Anthony Mantha at 0.80). In his 1800+ minutes in that span, he’s sandwiched between Jeff Skinner and Brad Marchand league-wide. Despite Detroit not being a high-volume team, his volume relative to the team is extremely high which is why he can score a lot of goals without a high shooting percentage; it sits at 9.23 percent through 172 career games.
Athanasiou has high shot rates and that plays well on a team that doesn’t take a lot. He’s highly skilled and has probably earned a long-term contract. Will the team give him one?
Brodzinzki has just 41 NHL games through his age-24 season, scoring four goals in that span. Over his last two AHL seasons, though, he does have 40 goals in 88 regular season games. That’s not bad, even for a guy now in his mid-20s.
You can read his Dobber Prospects profile here.
Colour me intrigued here as a guy to look for in very deep leagues. Barring a signing or a trade, there may not be room for him in the Los Angeles top-6 with Dustin Brown and Tyler Toffoli kicking around. Even if they were to play him on his off-wing, the team favoured Alex Iafallo this year to go along with Tanner Pearson being a staple. There is no immediate path to significant playing time.
I don’t mind betting on a guy who shoots this much, though. It could be a long slog to get enough minutes to have a fantasy impact and maybe he never does. But those are the types of bets you want to make in the fantasy game; low-risk with upside.
I wrote about Virtanen about six weeks ago and much of what was said then still applies now. For that reason, I won’t go too deep here.
Caution should be exercised though. With the retirement of the Sedin twins, after the top line, there’s not a whole lot here. There are some maybes like Adam Gaudette, Brendan Leipsic, and Jonathan Dahlen. There are guys who need to find form, and fast, like Brandon Sutter, Loui Eriksson, and Sam Gagner (his numbers without the Sedins were bad last year). Basically, the entire roster outside of a handful of players is a giant question mark. It doesn’t bode well for security in Virtanen’s fantasy value. As a late flier, though, I could be interested.
Wood was the only player in the NHL this season to play at least 75 games, managed under 1000 minutes in total ice time, and still put up at least two shots on goal per game. That’s a lot of shots in not much ice time, particularly for a second-year player.
New Jersey struggled to score at times when Taylor Hall was off the ice but Wood had a good season with 19 goals and a manageable shooting percentage. It’s a wonder where he fits into New Jersey’s plans next year, though. He was effective in the bottom-6, providing some scoring and good two-way play. They have wingers that need signing, and if not, some other wingers they’ll go sign or trade for. Wood might get some minutes in the top-6 this year but I’m not sure he’s a mainstay. With decent peripherals, though, a guy who shoots this much is a nice deep-league asset in multi-cat leagues.
For me, this is the most intriguing name of the bunch. He got off to a good start this year with five goals and 12 points through the first 20 percent of the season. Then he went a couple weeks without a point, got injured, and never really found that early-season success again. He was used basically as a third liner in the playoffs.
One area that stuck out is the scoring depth for Colorado. Their top guns are great, they have a solid blue line (especially if a couple of their prospects pan out), and they should be fine in goal. But they need more middle-six scoring. The top line was great with MacKinnon and Rantanen over a point per game and Landeskog finishing at 62, but the next-closest after that was Alex Kerfoot at 43 and no other forward had more than 37. When you look around the division, you don’t need guys like Patrik Laine or Nikolaj Ehlers in your middle-six to be successful, but you do need guys like Nino Niederreiter or Craig Smith. Colorado needs a few players who can put up 20 goals and 45 points. Do they have that in-house?
I imagine this team will be patient and allow guys like Kerfoot, Tyson Jost, and JT Compher to develop on their own before making any sort of big splashes. That would include Andrighetto as well. Outside of top PP minutes, he should be given every chance to succeed next year and the fact that he was a go-to guy outside the top line for Colorado gives me hope. Call it cautious optimism.
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