The Rangers avoided elimination with a big 5-1 win over the Penguins on Friday night.
Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello sparked the victory with three points each. They are going to have to pick up the slack as long as Derek Stepan and Rick Nash continue to struggle. Nash picked up an assist on Friday, but he still has yet to score in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Derek Stepan is now on a seven-game pointless drought.
The Rangers goal scoring woes earlier in the series may have been different with a healthy Chris Kreider. In his second game back on Friday he had a goal and an assist in just 11-plus minutes of action. Better yet, his goal came on the power play and New York scored a pair on the man advantage, which had been an issue all series.
Ryan McDonagh scored a goal and added an assist to give him three points in his last two. He hasn’t looked entirely healthy all playoffs, but the Rangers will need more efforts like this from him if they plan on getting back in the series.
Kris Letang picked up an assist to give him five points in the series. He looks like he’s finally starting to get his legs back and I expect him to return to form next season. It would be especially helpful for Letang owners if Matt Niskanen leaves in free agency.
James Neal hasn’t scored since Game 1 and I wonder if sometimes his desire to throw his weight around doesn’t take his focus away from the offensive side of things. He is so skilled, but it seems like sometimes he gets wrapped up in throwing a big hit instead of putting the puck in the net.
The Wild evened up their series at 2-2 with the Blackhawks. I’ll admit, I thought Minnesota was done when Chicago jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but the Wild’s resiliency this whole postseason has been impressive.
Ryan Suter had two assists and played more than 31 minutes. I can’t believe he isn’t starting to wear down with all the ice-time he has received this season.
Ilya Bryzgalov only faced 20 shots, but a couple of his saves were huge.
Jared Spurgeon had a two-point night, and a very quietly put up an impressive fantasy campaign this year. He totalled 26 points in just 67 games, while going plus-15. He was the benefactor of playing with Suter for much of the campaign, so give him some consideration in your drafts next season. He gets decent power play time, too.
Patrick Kane is now pointless in three games and he’s been a minus-3 over that stretch. He’s also tallied just three shots in the last two contests. Not a shock Chicago has lost two in a row.
Nick Leddy returned from being a healthy scratch in Game 3 and went minus-1 without a point on Friday. That doesn’t bode well for him staying in the lineup, especially with just two points in the playoffs.
It’s been fun watching Teemu Selanne over the years and it looks like the Anaheim Ducks forward wants to go out with a bang. He’s got two goals in the series versus the Los Angeles Kings and perhaps the rest he was given on back-to-back nights throughout the regular season is starting pay off. He’ll need to keep up the pace if Anaheim hopes to rally against Los Angeles.
With Frederik Andersen day-to-day with a lower-body injury, it looks like the Ducks will be calling up John Gibson. It’s a tough blow for Norfolk who are in the American Hockey League playoffs right now and relying on Gibson.
I was somewhat surprised by the Leafs extending Randy Carlyle’s contract when many felt he was going to be fired. With Brendan Shanahan taking over one would have thought he would want his own guy in there to start fresh, but not so, apparently. This could be Shanahan’s first blunder unless Carlyle can really turn things around and get the team to play with some consistency next year. His job is far from secure though, I would think.
Perhaps the changes Shanahan plans to make are with the roster. Reports are once again surfacing that youngsters Jake Gardiner and Nazem Kadri are available in trade talks. This is nothing new as their names have come up before, but maybe Shanahan will pull the trigger on a move to shake up the roster. Help on the blue line would seem to be the top priority if they are going to move one of them.
So the World Hockey Championships are underway and the Canadians suffered an embarrassing opening game loss to France. Cristobal Huet had a strong game for France making 36 stops and Stephane Da Costa added a pair of goals. I’ve always enjoyed this tournament and it’s a great opportunity to watch players you don’t always get to see a lot of, as well as an opportunity for guys to make a statement before free agency.
One such player is James Reimer, who took the loss on Friday. Reimer had a tough year for the most part and if he plans on trying to earn a starting job somewhere else next year a strong performance at the Worlds would go a long way in making that happen. As an RFA, it remains to be seen what the Leafs plan on doing with him.
So after Nathan MacKinnon’s excellent opening round playoff series against the Wild, is he a top 10 fantasy pick next season? MacKinnon had 10 points in the series, but they came in just three games. In fact, nearly a third of MacKinnon’s 63 points in the regular season came during that amazing 13-game point streak he had. Still, other than a couple of small pointless runs of four and five games, MacKinnon was fairly consistent for most of the campaign.
One concern for MacKinnon in 2014-15 could be a departing Paul Stastny. If the Avs don’t re-sign him it may be a small adjustment for MacKinnon, who played the majority of his time with Stastny this season. Not to mention the always possible sophomore slump. I would put him as a top 20 fantasy pick if I had to draft today, and just outside the top 10.
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