Ramblings: Playoff teams, Johnson injury, hat tricks

by Ian Gooding on April 10, 2016

Playoff teams set, Johnson injury, Spezza Ovechkin hat tricks, and more…

If you have a favorite NHL team, that team played on Saturday. Your team’s game may or may not have been meaningful.

With many teams either gearing up for the playoffs or simply just playing out the string, teams may have decided to sit key players for the team’s final game. Case in point Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang today. Hopefully you weren’t leaning on them for a fantasy championship.

With that in mind, is your fantasy league still active until the last game of the season? One of my leagues shut it down with a week to go, while three more are still active. With some NHL teams taking a page out of the book of, say, the San Antonio Spurs and New England Patriots and resting their stars before the playoffs, do you think it is better to eliminate that final week from your fantasy season? It might seem fair, but life sometimes isn’t fair. Neither are the fantasy playoffs.

*

There were some very meaningful games earlier in the day, however. Games with playoff implications. And now we know that the Red Wings and the Flyers will be part of the dance, while the Bruins won’t. So simply put, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Claude Giroux, and Jakub Voracek can be on your playoff draft list, while Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand shouldn’t be.

That means Dobber’s 2016 Interactive Playoff Draft List is all set. Set the teams you think will go far, or go with Dobber’s picks if you’re really not sure. You can also re-download it if you purchased it early so you don’t accidentally add any Bruins because they were on your list.

*

With that in mind, you can start planning around these playoff matchups (higher-seeded team listed first):

Tampa Bay vs. Detroit

Washington vs. Philadelphia

Dallas vs. Minnesota

St. Louis vs. Chicago

Both of Sunday’s games (Flyers @ Islanders, Ducks @ Capitals) have implications on the other four playoff matchups. If your fantasy season comes down to Sunday, then it goes without saying that anyone from any of those four teams is an option. And that means anyone. The Islanders rested some regulars on Saturday and will likely do the same on Sunday. So someone like Alan Quine, who scored his first NHL goal in 18 minutes of icetime in his first NHL game on Saturday, could be a sneaky Sunday play.  

There are no terribly easy matchups in the above playoff list. I’m not going to submit my picks yet, but you’ll see them up along with the rest of the Dobber crew early next week. I’ll lay down a few clues through the remainder of the Ramblings, although I might also change my mind later. Some of these picks won’t be easy.

Even more importantly for fans of Canadian hockey teams: The Leafs will finish 30th, giving them the best odds at the first overall pick and Auston Matthews. If you’re looking to kill some time, head over to NHL Lottery Simulator, the most popular website in Canada, and pick a winner. Don’t like the result? Play again until you do.

Let’s now turn our attention to some of the noteworthy statlines from Saturday, which is what I’m used to doing here.

*

Oh man, Tyler Johnson. This has just been a horrible season. A total of 14 goals and 38 points is about half of what he was able to accomplish last season. And now this.

Judging by Jon Cooper’s reaction, you’d have to think that Johnson could miss some playoff time. So as you plan your playoff draft list, you’d have to tentatively add his name to the list of injured Bolts – Steven Stamkos, Anton Stralman, Victor Hedman, and Ryan Callahan. Stamkos and Stralman are definitely out, but the others should be considered day-to-day.

A healthy Lightning squad would have no problem taking out the Wings in the first round. But with all those injured Bolts, or even just without Stamkos, the Bolts shouldn’t be considered such a strong favorite in this series. It just simply might not be their year.

*

If you’re still competing for a fantasy title, there were a couple of hat tricks that may affect the outcome of your league.

Jason Spezza scored all three Stars’ goals in their 3-2 win over Nashville. His season total of 63 points was around where he was projected to finish, but the composition of those points (33 goals to just 30 assists) was perhaps not what we were expecting.  

As for the #1 seeded Stars, I’ll cite my March 13 Ramblings to predict their playoff path. Now that we know they’ve finished first in the Central and will face Minnesota, I’ll say that the scoring will get them by the Wild. But there’s no way they make it past Chicago or St. Louis in the next round. Their goaltending will do them in, which is a shame if you like the exciting brand of hockey that they play. The Stars have a team 2.79 goals-against average (20th in the NHL), with every single team behind them in that category a non-playoff team.

Alex Ovechkin ensured that we wouldn’t be denied a 50-goal scorer this season, scoring numbers 48, 49, and 50 on Saturday. Watch him score all three below.

That wasn’t the only Capitals’ milestone in that game. Braden Holtby tied Martin Brodeur’s single-season wins record with his 48th win of the season. With the competing interests of making history and a Stanley Cup run, would it be better for the Capitals to play or rest Holtby against the Ducks on Sunday? Check Goalie Post to find out, but I’m thinking Philipp Grubauer is still in the picture as a speculative add.  

For the Blues, Vladimir Tarasenko scored his 40th goal, ensuring that we’d have at least four 40-goal scorers this season (Ovechkin, Tarasenko, Patrick Kane, Jamie Benn).

*

An effective line combination that might last exactly one game: the Devante Smith-PellyPatrik Elias – Pavel Zacha line used by the Devils on Saturday. Zacha was playing in his first NHL game, while Elias was playing perhaps his last. Elias’ potential last game was one to remember, as he scored a goal and added two assists. Zacha added two helpers with both recording a +4. Not only could Zacha make the Devils next season, but he could be in line for some top-6 minutes with the team’s lack of strong scoring options (2.22 goals/game, 30th in NHL).

*

The goaltending performance of the day belonged to Andrew Hammond. The Bruins threw the kitchen sink at the Hamburgler, but he robbed the Bruins of a playoff spot in stopping 39 of 40 shots. We knew that last season’s surprise success wouldn’t carry over into this season, but you would have been very happy if you picked him up for Saturday because you needed goaltending help.

*

Then there’s Matt Murray. A popular late-season waiver-wire pickup because of the Marc-Andre Fleury injury and the Pens’ recent winning ways, Murray left Saturday’s game after Brayden Schenn collided with him. The move to pull him sounded precautionary, but which Penguins goalie do you target in your draft? Murray? Fleury? Jeff Zatkoff? I wish I knew, but Pens’ goalies probably shouldn’t be at the top of your list.

*

The Frozen Four final was played on Saturday night, with North Dakota taking the title with a 5-1 win over Quinnipiac. Team leading scorer and freshman Brock Boeser scored a goal and added three assists in the win. A late first-round pick of the Canucks in the 2015 draft, Boeser may stay in school one more season, according to Elliotte Friedman on HNIC tonight. Right now Boeser is ranked 181 on Dobber’s Fantasy Prospect Forwards list, but I’d expect him to take a significant leap in the next rankings. Right Dobber?

Boeser’s teammate Drake Caggiula, who scored two goals in this game, is also rumored to have generated some interest from the Canucks. Friedman is saying that Ottawa is also a top contender, and Chicago may even be in the mix now that he can’t burn a year (I believe that means if he signs with a playoff-bound team and suits up right away).

*

No doubt trying to secure a place on the Canucks next season, RFA-to-be Emerson Etem has a five-game point streak to end the season, along with goals in four of those past five games. With zero percent ownership in Yahoo leagues, I’m guessing that streak was largely ignored.

Enjoy your Sunday. Follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.