The Calgary Flames dealt the playoff hopes of the New Jersey Devils a big blow on Monday night with a 1-0 victory. Has there been a more impressive team than the Flames in the last month or so? They’ve been long out of it but are still playing hard and getting results. Credit Bob Hartley and the entire coaching staff for not letting them check out mentally.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Mark Giordano scored the goal as he’s been on a tear over the last month. He’s up to 46 points now and will be pushing 200 shots when the season is done. The most impressive thing about Giordano’s game might be his plus-12 rating considering he’s on the Flames. He probably deserves a little more attention for the Norris and should be a high pick among defensemen next season.
Speaking of next season, where does Karri Ramo get taken next year? He picked up the shutout against New Jersey and has a winning record in Calgary with some fine other numbers to go along with it. You’d think he gets the full time No. 1 duties next year in Calgary and even if they’re just marginally better, he is going to have some huge upside. Ramo should be a worth a roster spot as a number two goalie with an outside chance to fill in as the main guy if your squad suffers an injury.
Adam Larsson was a scratch again after getting in three games recently. Jon Merrill is seeing decent power play time now and it appears he is winning the battle for playing time among the two young defenders. Larsson’s opportunities were likely hindered this year because the Devils hung around the playoff chase. Had they fallen out of it, Larsson may have received more games in an evaluation process. He is still just 21 years old, but he was a high enough draft pick that the Devils are just going to have to turn him loose at some point and let him sink or swim.
Andy Greene now has just one point in his last nine games. Although he did lead the Devils in shots in Monday with six. I wouldn’t expect the world from him next year as he’s really struggled since the New Year and has had a difficult time of getting anywhere close to the pace he set earlier in the campaign.
Ilya Bryzgalov with his second straight shutout???? He hasn’t lost yet in regulation since arriving in Minnesota and what a story that would be if he somehow leads them to some postseason success after being written off. However, Bryz has had his playoff issues in the past and I would be cautious about using a pick on him in your playoff pool.
Charlie Coyle scored the lone goal for the Wild to give him 12 on the year and five points in his last four games. He was a guy that many were calling a sleeper prior to the start of the year, but he missed some time with an injury that has hampered his production. Had he played the entire year he likely would have been up over 20 goals.
Michael Hutchinson got the start for the Jets and looked steady in his first NHL game. Ondrej Pavelec hasn’t lived up to expectations this season and has been outplayed by Al Montoya. Winnipeg is going to have some decisions to make between the pipes this offseason and this piece from Puck Daddy touches on the fact he may be a good buyout candidate.
Dustin Byfuglien will miss the rest of the season with a torn muscle. If I were Paul Maurice and the Jets I would play Byfuglien at forward all season next year. The Jets have one of the more underrated defense corps from top to bottom and they could probably to stand giving some other youngsters more ice-time. Jacob Trouba is one such defender to target for next year, as he’s impressed in his rookie campaign and Maurice seems to like to move him all over the place on the power play.
Evander Kane returned to the lineup after being scratched Saturday for reportedly breaking a team rule. Something tells me his time with the Jets isn’t going to end amicably between the two sides.
John Gibson made his NHL debut for the Anaheim Duckson Monday and did so with a 18-save shutout. With Gibson coming through the ranks and the emergence of Frederik Andersen, the Ducks would probably be wise to let Jonas Hiller walk in free agency and spend those dollars elsewhere on more pressing needs this summer.
Patrick Maroon has now cooled off considerably from that surprising stretch he had late last month. He's got just one assist in his last four contests and only five shots over that span. Maroon still got power play time against Vancouver though and it will be interesting to see what the Ducks do with him next year. He's got over 100 PIM right now, so if he is going to continue to be used with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry with the man advantage in 2014-15, he could add some real value.
The loss officially eliminated the Canucks from playoff contention and they, much like the Leafs, should expect some significant changes after their difficult season. The window to win a championship is a lot shorter than people realize and Vancouver has clearly missed theirs.
The play of guys like Alex Burrows hasn't helped this season. It looked like he was coming out of that nightmare slump in the middle of last month with a seven-point run in five games, but all of a sudden he's now pointless in seven again. Daniel and Henrik Sedin were both slowed by injuries which led to down years and it really showed how much Burrows relies on them for his production.
Nicklas Jensen has just one point in seven games after going on a nice streak after being called up. He's a guy you should expect the Canucks to use full-time next season. Jensen has the skillset to play a top-six role and the Canucks are in dire need of some fresh talent.
Still no timetable for Mike Smith’s return from injury.
Smart move by the Tampa Bay Lightning to extend Steve Yzerman for four more years. The architect of two Canadian gold medal teams has done a great job in Tampa and I thought he got a solid return for Martin St. Louis from the Rangers. Especially when you factor in that his hands were pretty much tied with St. Louis only requesting to go to one team.
Philadelphia Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo has been suspended four games for a hit on Chad Ruhwedel of Buffalo.
Mike Green will miss Washington’s next two games with injury. He’s far from the offensive player he was back in 2009-10, but he season wasn’t a complete disaster at least. Green would have had a good chance for 40 points and a new career high in PIM had he not gone down, and his shot totals are starting to climb once again. Washington, on the other hand has been a major disappointment down the stretch, losing five of their last six games when they had a legitimate shot to make the playoffs.
Tough times for Brandon Saad in Chicago who was a healthy scratch on Sunday. He’s in the midst of a dreadful slump that has seen him post just one point in nine games, going minus-6 over that span. Slumps like these are at the worst possible time for fantasy owners and scratching Saad says a lot about how bad he’s playing when you remember Kane and Toews are already out of the lineup.
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul is done for year because of knee surgery. This might help to explain the baffling decision to give heavy ice-time to Clarkson-Bolland-Raymond in the final 10 minutes on Saturday against Winnipeg. If Lupul was healthy he probably would have ate up some of those shifts. I’d expect significant changes this offseason after the brutal Toronto finish now that Tim Leiweke is in charge.
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