The headline is no doubt an overused cliché, but it fits perfectly for what happened on Saturday. The San Jose Sharks took full advantage of home ice, taking Game 1 of the Western Conference Final by a score of 6-3.
Logan Couture was at it again on Saturday, scoring his league-leading 10th and 11th goals of the playoffs and adding an assist. With the three-point effort, Couture has also moved into first place in the playoff point race with 17 points in 15 games. Couture’s 11 goals is now a career high in playoff goals, surpassing the 10 that he scored in 2016. Only five other active players have scored 10+ goals in multiple postseasons. If you’ve been following along here, you’ll know by now that Couture is a must-own in playoff pools anytime the Sharks have a decent shot at winning a round or two.
With every passing game, Timo Meier is making you notice more and more that he has the kind of talent that you can’t ignore. He had his 30-goal, 60+ point breakout season during the regular season. That success has continued during the playoffs with Meier now up to 13 points (5g-8a) in 15 games. Like Couture, Meier scored two goals and added an assist in the Game 1 win. Meier often uses his lethal shot to score, but on this goal he showed some great moves.
This Timo Meier goal is so filthy we had to take a shower after watching it 👀 pic.twitter.com/oeprkRuTy5
— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) May 12, 2019
Joe Pavelski also chipped in a power-play goal and an assist. Little Joe has two points in each of his two games since returning from the Game 7 injury against Vegas.
Jaden Schwartz was thought to have scored again, but the goal was later credited to Joel Edmundson with Schwartz being given an assist. Still, Schwartz has been the definition of a true playoff sleeper, scoring eight goals in 14 playoff games after scoring just 11 goals in 69 regular-season games. No doubt helped by being moved back to the top line, Schwartz’s fantasy stock is improving with a strong playoff run.
The secondary assist on the Edmundson goal was credited to Vladimir Tarasenko. That was his first assist of the playoffs. Yes, you read that right. Tank also has five goals in 14 games, but the total points seems underwhelming for a player widely considered to be the most talented offensive force on the Blues. I’m thinking that he’ll need to be more of a factor than that for the Blues if they are to get past the Sharks.
I had thought that Craig Berube might pull Jordan Binnington after the Sharks’ fifth goal late in the second period. However, Binnington played the entire game and made 19 saves, which along with Game 3 against Winnipeg was statistically his worst performance of the playoffs. He didn’t seem to let in any soft goals, so this one can’t really be on him. Jake Allen (remember him?) has not played a single minute during these playoffs, and it looks like that will continue into Game 2.
The Carolina Hurricanes’ run to the conference final means we’ve been seeing more of Dougie Hamilton than we did in the regular season. Because of the way that the Canes had been using the 25-year-old defenseman, he was rumored to be traded away from his third NHL team. So it seems worthwhile to check up on him to compare his playoff icetime and production to his regular-season icetime and production.
By the end of December, fantasy owners were asking the question as to whether to drop Hamilton, an idea that seemed far-fetched during drafts given his status as a multicategory wonder. After 38 games, Hamilton had a meager 10 points, including just three on the power play from mainly spending time on the second unit. After January 1, however, Hamilton rebounded to post 29 points in 44 games, including 15 goals. That goal total led all NHL blueliners after the new year. The downside for multicategory leagues was still the power-play points. Only four of those 29 points came on the man advantage, and he was still on the second unit behind Justin Faulk.
During the playoffs, Hamilton has scored a respectable seven points (3g-4a) in 12 games. Points-wise, he hasn’t had the kind of playoff production that Jaccob Slavin has had (11 points – all assists – in 12 games), and he’s still giving way to Faulk on the first-unit power play. We can’t question how the Canes have been deploying their lines; after all, they are winning playoff games. Faulk has one more year left on his contract after this season, so it’s possible that the budget-conscious Hurricanes trade him by the deadline next season, particularly if this season’s magic doesn’t carry over to next season.
There always seems to be the potential for more with Hamilton, given his relatively low icetime and high shot total (200-plus shots for three consecutive seasons). Of the nine defensemen who took at least 200 shots last season, Hamilton was the only one to average fewer than 20 minutes per game. He also had the highest hits total of that same group, which is another reason that he’s so desirable in multicategory leagues. If only he could find a way for that icetime, particularly the power-play time, to increase. As it stands, though, he’s in the discussion to be a top-20 defenseman in multicategory leagues.
Should Kaapo Kakko be the first overall pick? He’s making a mighty strong case for the Devils to draft him over Jack Hughes. Kakko has been the big story of the World Hockey Championship, scoring three more goals on Saturday to lead the NHL-inexperienced Finland to another win, this one over Slovakia. That’s now a tournament-leading five goals in just two games! We got a taste of his playmaking skills during the World Juniors, and he’s continuing to amaze during the World Championship.
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) May 11, 2019
Hughes, by the way, went without a point in his only game of the tournament. But we’re not going to make a snap judgment on these two players over a one- or two-game sample size.
Flying under the radar with all the Kakko hype was the hat trick plus assist that Kevin Fiala recorded for the Swiss in their 9-0 clobbering of Italy. It wasn’t against one of the tournament’s favorites, but this is encouraging if you’ve been patient on Fiala for a while.
The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies are the QMJHL champions, winning the league title in six games over the Halifax Mooseheads. Both teams will play in the Memorial Cup in Halifax. Unlike some previous years, it appears that the host city at least deserves to be in this tournament. Islanders’ first-round pick Noah Dobson was named the league playoff MVP, scoring 29 points (8g-21a) in 20 games. Not bad at all for a defenseman. I thought Dobson was going to be a top-10 pick in last season’s draft, but a few surprise picks meant that the Islanders could land solid value at 12th overall. You can view Dobson’s Dobber Prospects profile here.
In the other two leagues, the Guelph Storm can win the OHL championship with a Game 6 win over the Ottawa 67’s on Sunday, while the Prince Albert Raiders are in a similar spot as the Storm with the WHL championship if they can defeat the Vancouver Giants in Game 6 on Sunday.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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