The season is quickly winding down. Several playoff series are already locked into place, division titles have been decided, and teams are dressing lineups with that in mind. Look no further than Calgary to see the results of a team shutting it down.
This was heading into Monday night’s game.
At optional morning skate at Staples Center. As Brad Treliving told the boys this morning, no Backlund, Tkachuk, Giordano, Brodie, Hamonic, or Hanifin tonight vs. LA.
Bennett, Quine, Fantenberg, Kylington, Stone, and Valimaki will all come in. #Flames
— Pat Steinberg (@Fan960Steinberg) April 1, 2019
If your league still plays meaningful games in the final week of the regular season, this should be enough evidence to convince them otherwise.
Tuesday night still offered some matchups with repercussions though. The Wild took on the Jets in a true must-win game. A loss by Minnesota or an Avalanche victory would result in their elimination from the second season. That was all the motivation they needed. Minny jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never looked back, defeating their Central division rivals 5-1.
Zach Parise scored two goals and Devan Dubnyk made 29 stops.
It’s been a terrific late-career jump by Parise. The total now sits at 28 goals and 61 points for the 34-year-old. This is also as healthy as he’s been in the last six campaigns. Don’t expect this to be replicated in 2019-20.
Jacob Trouba continued to skate on the top power-play unit despite Dustin Byfuglien getting his legs under him after missing a couple of months. Trouba scored the lone goal for the Jets – a shorthanded tally.
There it is!
— x – Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) April 3, 2019
The soon-to-be RFA will once again be a topic of discussion this offseason. The Jets will need to make some changes as their cap structure shifts with Patrik Laine (RFA), Kyle Connor (RFA), and Tyler Myers (UFA) also in need of new deals this summer. It will be interesting to see if the Jets can manage to lock him down to a long-term deal after consecutive bridge-deals, or if the trade-market finally opens up for the 25-year-old.
Blake Wheeler recorded his 70th assist of the season on Trouba’s goal. That set a new franchise record, passing Marc Savard’s 69 apples from the 2005-06 season with the Atlanta Thrashers.
So how did the Avs do? Well, they allowed two first-period tallies by the Oilers in a cruel attempt to give the Wild hope before rattling off six straight to win 6-2.
Alex Kerfoot potted two goals, Tyson Barrie had a goal and an assist, and Semyon Varlamov stopped 27 for the victory. It was just the second start in over two weeks for Varlamov as the Avs look more and more comfortable rolling Philipp Grubauer.
I know which goalie I’ll want next season.
Speaking of netminders, Mikko Koskinen started on back-to-back nights despite the Oilers being eliminated on Monday. This was his 24th start in the last 25 games – the one he missed was due to illness. He has a 0.904 save percentage over that period. Not exactly world-beating.
It will be difficult to see a path to the post-season for the Oilers next season if they return with the same defence corps and masked men.
The Stars defeated the Flyers in a similar 6-2 fashion to punch their ticket to the post-season. They’re one of the few teams who doesn’t know their opponent yet, as the Blues, Preds and Jets could all still pluck the Central Division title.
Alex Radulov scored two goals and two assists to extend his point streak to six games and 10 points. The 32-year-old is just two behind his career-high 72 from a season ago, but he’s done so in 14 fewer games. This is one vet that I’m okay buying in on next season. Dallas rides the big horses and that won’t be changing next year. Another 70-point season seems very doable.
John Klingberg recorded two assists to bring his total to 44 in 62 contests. The 26-year-old has been something of a forgotten man in the elite defender conversation this year due to those missed games. But his 58-point pace is nothing to sneeze at.
He should still be considered a top-10 D heading into drafts next fall.
Nashville defeated Buffalo 3-2 to help drive the tank further for the Sabres. Since the deadline, Buffalo is a league-worst 2-15-2. That includes zero regulation wins, five games without a goal, and being outscored 78-37.
These dudes know how to improve their lottery odds.
Do you know who doesn’t know how to improve their lottery odds? The Canucks. Despite long being out of it, Vancouver finished up their home schedule with a 4-2 victory over the Sharks. It was their third win in a row.
Get him early in your keeper drafts next year.
Oh yeah, Martin Jones was poor in this one once again. The Sharks have the worst save percentage in the league (0.888). Will anyone really be surprised if San Jose is quickly dispatched by the Golden Knights in the first round?
I sure won’t be.
The Lightning took on the Habs with a chance to make some history. They came into the night with an eye on their 61st win of the season. That would move them into sole possession of the second-most in NHL history. Nikita Kucherov was aiming to make some history of his own too. His 86 assists are just one shy of Jaromir Jagr’s all-time record by a winger. That blows my mind.
Unfortunately, for fans in South Florida, neither managed to happen on Tuesday evening.
The Habs desperately needed to keep pace with the recently surging Blue Jackets and found a way against the NHL’s best, outshooting the Lightning 45-24 and winning 4-2. Artturi Lehkonen produced the game-winning goal, an assist and five shots on net.
Meanwhile, Max Domi scored his 28th goal and his 71st point of the campaign. Domi hasn’t ever really been considered a goal-scorer. However, the seven percent conversion rate he played at for the 140 games before being dealt to Montreal seemed mighty low.
Unfortunately, its a buyer beware situation as his 14.5 percent clip this year seems a touch high. His shot volume has improved from a career-average of <2 shots per contest to the 2.5 he’s put on net this season. If he can maintain a similar volume next season, but with the expected regression in conversion rate, we can pencil Domi in for 20-22 goals next season and around 60-points.
I won’t be drafting him for too much more than that next fall.
No Victor Hedman in this one as the Norris contender is out with an upper-body injury. We don’t yet know the extent of the ailment and whether it will limit his availability in the post-season next week.
With him on the shelf, Mikhail Sergachev was seeing top-four minutes at even-strength and practiced on the team’s top power-play unit. Unfortunately, the Bolts didn’t draw a penalty in this one. Sergachev skated 22:14 with a shot, three blocks and five hits. He could be a nice sleeper pull in playoff pools if Hedman misses real time.
Montreal’s victory brought them into a tie with Columbus who took on Boston on Tuesday. Sergei Bobrovsky got the nod in this one but ended up getting the hook after allowing four goals on 23 shots. Joonas Korpisalo came into finish this one but that was all the head starts the Bs needed as they cruised to a 6-2 victory.
Jake DeBrusk scored two and added an assist to bring his totals to 27 goals and 41 points in 66 games. He’s producing legitimate top-six metrics in his second season and you’d have to expect there is more to come.
He sees top power-play deployment on a high-end team. He has developed nice chemistry to David Krejci on line two, and despite a conversion rate that will likely slip next season, he’s displaying an ability to find the back of the net on a consistent basis. The breakout may not be next season, but I see a 65-point season in his future.
Arizona laid a big old egg against the Kings losing 3-1 and basically ended their hope of a post-season appearance. They’ll need to win their final two games against Vegas and Winnipeg in regulation, and see Colorado lose their final two games against Winnipeg and San Jose in regulation.
It’s been a nice run for the Coyotes; something to build on for next season. But good intentions don’t bring in playoff gates, and this organization needs those in a bad way.
Follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson
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