Ramblings: Rinne Struggles Continue, Anti-Tanking In Fantasy Leagues (May 2)

by Ian Gooding on May 2, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Rinne Struggles Continue, Anti-Tanking In Fantasy Leagues (May 2)

Rinne’s Struggles Continue, Anti-Tanking In Fantasy Leagues

The whiteout in Winnipeg had no shortage of goals, with at least three goals in each period. It kind of reminded me of a World Junior game, which can be so exciting to watch because of the wild momentum swings. This series is really delivering in terms of excitement!

Nashville jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, quieting the rabid Winnipeg crowd. Mike Fisher, P.K. Subban, and Austin Watson all struck for the Preds. In spite of the early struggles, the Jets stuck with Connor Hellebuyck anyway.

The first-period deficit seemed to serve as a wake-up call for the Jets in the second period, as they fired four pucks past Pekka Rinne. The Jets controlled the play particularly during this period, outshooting Nashville 16 to 6. Two of those goals came off the stick of Dustin Byfuglien, who later added an assist to give him a three-point game.

Filip Forsberg tied the game for the Preds in the third period, but Blake Wheeler put the Jets in the Game 3 driver’s seat for good with a power-play goal with five minutes to play. Wheeler also added an empty-net goal to give him a three-point game as well. Paul Stastny was another Jets’ player to earn three points with a goal and assist of his own.

If I’m a Nashville fan, then I’m worried about the play of Pekka Rinne. The odds-on favorite to win the Vezina Trophy, Rinne has allowed at least three goals in each of the three games against Winnipeg and four goals in two other playoff games. In particular he fell victim to two cross-ice pass goals in the second period, although the usually vaunted Nashville defense also looked very suspect on those goals.

Rinne’s playoff goals-against average now sits at 3.08 and save percentage at .901, both of which are league-worst numbers among starting goalies for the eight remaining teams. That’s strikingly similar to his split against the Jets during the regular season (4 GP, 3.52 GAA, .901 SV%). I know that the Preds have also been scoring on Hellebuyck both in the regular season and in this series. But as the series wears on, I don’t think that style of play favors the Predators against a squad as high-powered as Winnipeg’s. If Rinne can’t reduce the number of goals allowed, then the Preds’ season will fade into the night in this round. That won’t be easy.  

Just how much do the Predators rely on their big four on defense? Bottom pair Alexei Emelin and Matt Irwin were held to under ten minutes of icetime in Game 3. But it was a rough night overall for their defense as Roman Josi was a minus-3 and both P.K. Subban and Ryan Ellis were each a minus-2. And there was also this play, where one puck knocked over two Nashville defenders.


Alex Ovechkin scored the game-winning goal with just over a minute left in regulation to lead the Capitals to a 4-3 win over Pittsburgh. Ovie also added an assist on John Carlson’s first-period power-play goal. He’s in a four-way tie for the playoff goal-scoring lead (Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby, Mark Scheifele) with eight goals and has also scored goals in four consecutive games. Maybe Ovechkin’s teams have a history of coming up short in the playoffs, but he doesn’t. Over his playoff career, he has scored a goal every other game and about a point per game.

Speaking of which, do we consider the playoffs to be a success for the Capitals if they can simply get past the Penguins? Everything else might be gravy if they can just defeat that one team. I think Barry Trotz wouldn’t have to worry about his job if his team makes it to the final four.

Nicklas Backstrom recorded three assists to give him 12 points in nine playoff games. With 87 points in 105 career playoff games, Backstrom can’t really be blamed for the Caps’ playoff failures either.

Tom Wilson recorded nine hits, including this one on Zach Aston-Reese. Is that a hit to the head worthy of a suspension? Some will say no, but it’s worth mentioning that Aston-Reese now has a broken jaw along with a concussion. I would think that’s it for Aston-Reese’s playoffs, unless he makes a fast recovery and the Penguins go the distance.

As for the possibility of Wilson getting suspended?

Wilson is second in hits (41) during the playoffs, trailing only William Carrier of Vegas, who has 45 and has played two fewer playoff games. Carrier averaged 3.1 hits/game in half as many games compared to Wilson’s 3.2 during the regular season. Wilson, of course, is a must-own in leagues that count hits and/or penalty minutes, especially when you factor in his improved scoring totals.


I posted this question based on an email I received from one of my leaguemates earlier this week in a league where I am commissioner. His team was in last place for most of the season, yet he continued to diligently update his roster every week in spite of making transactions aimed at next season. Another owner had not updated his team in ages and managed to surpass this owner in the race to the bottom. As a result, he lost the opportunity to draft Rasmus Dahlin in a scoring system that awards extra points for defensemen. So this owner brought up the idea of having a draft lottery.

(By the way, there was no incentive for the other (absentee) owner to tank, as he had traded his draft pick during the last offseason.)

The draft lottery idea seemed to be a good one in theory, but I really had no idea how to conduct it. Fortunately I received more responses than I thought I would. Ideas included the top non-playoff team receiving the first pick instead of the bottom team, a mini-consolation round tournament where the winning team receives the pick, tying fantasy teams to actual teams in a draft lottery simulator, and picking ping-pong balls out of a bucket … or having a dog make the picks. Imagine if your ability to acquire a future franchise player came down to the unpredictability of the league commissioner’s dog. Woof.

Not surprisingly, the whole draft lottery idea has been debated in recent days. On one hand, the weakest teams should be given the opportunity to acquire franchise players – not teams that barely finish out of the playoffs – because the truly weak teams need the most help. But if teams like the Oilers still can’t get it right after multiple successful draft lotteries, how many more chances should they be given?

If you are opposed to the draft lottery and believe that the NHL should return to the system where worst picks first, you might want to watch this documentary from TSN. As goofy and random as the draft lottery can be, it serves a purpose. Judging by the responses to my question, it can serve a purpose in fantasy leagues too.



Other news:

Like it or not, Sens fans, Guy Boucher is returning as coach, as is the rest of his coaching staff. He’s going into the final year of his contract, so I wonder if the team is working on an extension. Either that or he's on a very short leash to start the season. 

Here’s Mike Clifford’s Fantasy Take on the Oilers signing goalie Mikko Koskinen and how the signing might affect Cam Talbot.


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


9 responses to “Ramblings: Rinne Struggles Continue, Anti-Tanking In Fantasy Leagues (May 2)”

  1. Allan Phillips says:

    In my 20-teamer, we have a consolation tournament of the bottom 8. The winner gets the #2 pick in the entry draft and has a shot at the #1. The runner-up and the #3 team get slight move-ups. The entry draft order is an equally-weighted draw, but the top four teams cannot be in the top 4 picks, so they are dropped down. The vet draft is an auction, so order is largely irrelevant.

    My other league is also auction, so vet draft order doesn’t matter. It’s 12-team roto, top four get paid. This league has a parity draft for the 8 non-money teams, where each team chooses 1 unprotected player from the top four teams. Parity draft order is 5 through 12, so you lose out on high end picks if you tank. The prospect draft is a draft lottery among the bottom 8, with NHL-like odds. However, this draft can be less relevant because we allow prospects of any age to be drafted, with the restriction that they can be held as a prospect for 5 years max.

  2. YouCantYandleTheTruth says:

    Last place team in my league pays an extra 25% on the top of the league fee.

  3. Phil says:

    We use the consolation bracket to determine picks 1-4 in the redraft. Keeps everyone involved until the season ends for the most part.

  4. Jeffrey Zon says:

    Our 10 team league implemented a draft lottery for the first time this year. The bottom 4 teams do not make the playoffs and go into a two-week elimination tournament. Draft Lottery odds are a combination of regular season finish (with the heaviest weights to the lowest finishing team), and tournament finish (with the heaviest weights to the team that wins both weeks). This seems to have provided a disincentive to outright tanking, because each consolation bracket team wants to compete for better lottery odds in the playoff weeks. No matter what, the bottom 4 teams share the top 4 picks the next year. Teams will always be incentivised to sell off assets for help in a rebuild, but the dampening of their draft odds seems to put a reasonable cap on this.

    We also have a separate rule that penalizes any GM who does not dress their team. If they do not reach a certain percentage of their max games played for each roster spot, that owner could lose their picks, or even get booted from the league based on the decision of a league-wide vote. Thankfully this process has never been used.

  5. Cameron MacKinnon says:

    My 16 team league has two rules in place to discourage tanking. First, we have a draft lottery; the bottom 4 of the 8 non-playoff teams participate. Second, the 8 non-playoff teams participate in a Toilet Bowl tournament. Lose all 3 matches and you win the Toilet Bowl. There’s a $50 “fine” for “winning” the TB.

    Indirectly, we also have a promotion/relegation divisional system where the higher your division, the more likely you’ll make the playoffs. So, long-term, there’s incentive to keep your team competitive.

    Now, of course, there will still be people who “tank”, but they tend to do it in more of a re-building mode that doesn’t go against the rules, or the spirit of the pool.

  6. Striker says:

    That hit by Wilson in suspendable & he is a repeat offender. I said no to a suspension to Dumoulin as Dumoulin moved at the last second making the head contact potentially accidental & I stress potentially. Backstrom already had Dumoulin so how is Wilson joining the contact a hockey play, doesn’t that pull him out of position 2 players hitting the same player?

    In this hit on ZAR Wilson is coasting so it’s certainly not charging but he has ZAR lined up for over 40 feet, can see he’s crouched over & has time to make sure not only that he gets low enough to make shoulder to shoulder contact but does’t take the head as primary point of contact. ZAR doesn’t turn away Wilson does a very good job of making sure it doesn’t look predatory but with all that time why didn’t he adjust his path to make sure he takes the shoulder 1st.

    I have come a long way on hitting in the last 15 years. Full circle really. Even at the minor league level. My oldest came through youth minor hockey when Hockey Canada was still allowing hitting in Bantam house. It got eliminated after his 1st Bantam season, although he played competitive hockey that allowed for such. In Rep it was Peewee & has now been moved to Bantam. 2 of my 3 boys played competitive hockey, 1 all the way thru, when the time came to go to Jr & it would have been Jr. B, a gong show, he choose to stay with baseball as opposed to hockey. 5 concussions, 3 broken wrists, to many broken ribs to count made that choice easy & that was just in competitive minor hockey. None of those injuries were inured on hockey plays but inflicted by a dirty unnecessary hit, slash, spear, etc.. Crazy.

    Hockey Canada has now eliminated it from all levels of house including Midget. The # of players that have returned to play hockey in Canada following the eliminating of hitting in house jumped significantly in this time frame & some players who never played hockey started to do so at these higher age levels but I digress.

    Unless the NHL eliminates hitting to hurt these types of hits are going to continue. Wilson coming in to hit ZAR that hard isn’t a hockey play unless your goal is to eliminate the player from the game. I like hard hitting hockey but not predatory hitting to hurt. I wish the NHL would adopt the standard used in the WJC’s. There should be only 3 reasons we need to check someone, eliminate the player from the puck, puck from the player or player from the play. Those are hockey plays. Leaving a player unable to continue to play isn’t a hockey play.

    Wilson is a good hockey player, a huge physical presence & great skater for a man his size. He doesn’t need to play this way to be just as effective. Once the NHL gets nailed with it’s concussion lawsuit in 5 to 7 years just like the NFL it will change in the meantime we see players eliminated prematurely from the game with long term issues from something that stems from the neanderthal history of the game that is still alive & well.

  7. Striker says:

    We have all 3, anti tanking rules, a playoff format that factors in & a weighted lottery. You are required to dress your best roster every week, the Commish or even a member team who feels someone is deliberately tanking it can have it addressed. If someone is sitting Crosby & dresses Gaunce the Commish will just make the change & the member team fined for his error. The only way you might sell this roster decision is Gaunce plays 4 & Crosby 1 but even then the Commish is approaching you. We also has a 3 playoff round; 2 week segments, between the non playoff teams to earn some additional odds of winning the lottery.

    We have 24 man rosters but only dress 14 each week, 3 skaters at each forward position, 4D & a goalie. Just because you finish last doesn’t make you the worst team. It may make you the worst GM but injuries, not following trends; hot & cold, schedule, etc., dressing the wrong players, not making add drops consistently or making trades all factor in.

  8. chimp82x says:

    Draft lotteries normally don’t work against anti-tanking because, in most lottery formats, the last-place team usually has the best odds of winning. Last place may not be guaranteed to get 1st overall, but the incentive to come last still remains. So it doesn’t really solve the problem.

    We just had our end of year GM meeting and we threw around the idea of putting all non-money teams (4th through 12th) into a lottery with EQUAL odds. So the 4th place team would have the same odds as 12th. This type of lottery would surely kill any incentive to tank.

  9. Mathieu says:

    I take part in a 20 teams keeper league, where the Top 12 make the playoffs. To minimize the risk of tanking, we have three measures in place.

    First, our 8 did-not-qualify teams enter a post-season “loser championship”. The winner of that tournament earns no money, but rather gains the right to chose between protecting an extra player that summer or getting an additionnal non-tradable draft pick (at the very end of the draft session). It also makes post-season more fun for DNQ teams, as they still have something to play for.

    Then, we do have a lottery for the 1st overall. All 8 DNQ teams take part in the lottery. We put poker chips in a bag and draft just one. The team that finished last has 35 chips in the bag, the others respectively have 20, 14, 10, 8, 6, 4 and 2. We film the draft for everyone to see.

    And then, we have a three members board of governors who can make a call on whether someone is actively trying to tank (dressing injured players, sitting healthy stars, etc.) If someone is found guilty of it, all the draft picks in their possession are moved to the end of each round. Gladly, we never had to implement that.