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.
Per NHL PR:
Backstrom has now assisted on 20 of Ovechkin's 54 career playoff goals.
He's assisted on 230 of Ovechkin's 607 regular season goals.
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) May 2, 2018
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.
Does your fantasy keeper league use any anti-tanking measures? If so, what are they?
— Ian Gooding (@Ian_Gooding) May 1, 2018
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.
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.
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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