Ramblings: Preds Sweep, Blue Jackets Bounced, Tryamkin, Calder, and More – April 21

by Michael Clifford on April 21, 2017 | (4 Comments)
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Preds Sweep, Blue Jackets Bounced, Tryamkin, Calder, and More – April 21

 

Playoff recap including Nashville's sweep, Nikita Tryamkin, and the Calder and Selke Trophies.

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Montreal-New York

The series didn’t slow down with the hits, particularly early in the contest. It was also a tale of two games, with Montreal carrying the better of the play through the first two periods, and the Rangers taking over from there. The overtime win for New York has them a win away from the second round.

Artturi Lehkonen score Montreal’s first goal in this game, assisted on the second, and had a wonderful rookie season. The raw numbers might not pop out with just 28 points in 73 games, but he did score 1.01 goals per 60 minutes of five-on-five play. That is the exact same rate as Rick Nash and David Pastrnak. Granted, his 10.64 shooting percentage may be a bit high, but it was tied for 95th out of 262 forwards with at least 750 minutes played. That isn’t an obscene mark.

More importantly, Lehkonen’s 9.57 shots per 60 minutes was 25th out of the same group of forwards, sandwiched between Nathan MacKinnon and Zach Parise. He and Auston Matthews were the only two rookies in the top-30. According to Corsica Hockey, he also generated the second-most individual scoring chances per minute of all Habs forwards, trailing only Brendan Gallagher.

All this is something to keep in mind for next year. Assuming the Habs re-sign Alex Radulov, they could have a nice top-4 winger set with Radulov, Lehkonen, Gallagher, and Max Pacioretty. Watching this series, it looks like Lehkonen is ready to be the long-coveted number-2 left winger the Habs have been looking for over the last few seasons, and a jump in ice time could make him a solid late-round pick depending on the size of your fantasy league.

Pittsburgh-Columbus

Razor-thin margins is what playoff hockey often is. With the game 3-2 in the third period, Columbus thought they tied it up but were called for goalie interference. Sidney Crosby scored on the ensuing power play, and then Scott Wilson scored not long after. And that was the end of the 2017 playoffs for Columbus.

Admittedly, this is the series I watched the least of. It was always on at the same time as other teams I’m more interested in, and it seemed pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Penguins would win this series after the first two games. If anyone has some thoughts on this series, and players who stood out to you (please don’t say Crosby or Malkin), hit up the comments. I just wanted to give a shout out to Marc-André Fleury. He managed a .933 save percentage in the series, which may have assuaged some concerns NHL teams had with regards to inquiring about his services in the offseason.

Nashville-Chicago

I thought Nashville would win the series, but a sweep was not something that was anticipated. Yes, Pekka Rinne has obviously been a huge story for them, but it didn’t really seem the Predators were overmatched and reliant on their goalie like, say, St. Louis.

Kevin Fiala turning into the player he has this year has been a revelation for the Predators. He not only scored an overtime goal earlier in this series, he’s played very well just about every game. That has been crucial for a team that struggled at times this year to find goals outside of their top line.

A low-scoring game (it really was for about the first 50 minutes) means looking elsewhere for highlights. This hit by Duncan Keith on Viktor Arvidsson might be the best of the postseason so far:

Just wanted to make a quick note here that out of about 25 NHL writers/personalities from ESPN and Sportsnet, one (Jeff Marek) had the Preds winning this series. Here’s what’s funny about that: over the final 40 games of the season, which encompasses when P.K. Subban returned from injury, Nashville was fifth in the league in adjusted shot attempt percentage at five-on-five, and ninth in expected goals for percentage (from Corsica). Chicago over that same span was 15th and 14th, respectively. Rinne’s .976 save percentage was the reason that this ended up a sweep, and picking Chicago in and of itself wasn’t egregious by any stretch. But the fact that it was so overwhelmingly Chicago among the biggest media organizations is a bit curious. The Preds Twitter account had fun with this, too:

The final note on this series: there are eight seeds, and then there are eight seeds. Minnesota last year was the former, Nashville this year is the latter. I would have thought the 2012 Kings was the watershed moment with regards to this notion, but maybe it’ll be the 2017 Predators instead. Keep this in mind for future playoff pools. You could have a full Preds lineup left while people were drafting Tanner Kero in the third round.

San Jose-Edmonton

Again, a game of razor-thin margins. With Edmonton up 1-0, the team hit three posts. They failed to add a goal, and found themselves down by one after the first period.

I wonder sometimes what the long-term plan is with Drake Caggiula. He did look good on the wing of McJesus (yeah, most people do), but that top-6 is loaded with both money (present and future), and talent. He probably won’t become anything significant in the fantasy game but he just seems to impress in some manner in every game, even if it’s not always on the scoresheet.

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Vancouver got some pretty bad news as they found out that 22-year-old defenceman Nikita Tryamkin would be returning to Russia for next season. The team still has his rights until 2022 should he decide to return at some point.

I am not here to debate the decision itself. Whatever a person chooses is best for them is their prerogative. Nothing more.

This is a team clearly in need of a rebuild, and losing a young blue liner like this hurts a lot. Sure, they still have guys like Boeser and Juolevi, along with Demko, but the Canucks need a complete reboot. They are likely losing the Sedins in a year (if not sooner), and were nowhere near the playoffs as it was.

For fantasy purposes, this probably doesn’t change a whole lot. Tryamkin never really profiled as a high-end scorer on either side of the Atlantic, but it hurts the team defensively moving forward, which can in turn have a negative impact on goaltending.

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We found out the Calder Trophy finalists on Thursday night, and they are as follows:

  • Auston Matthews (TOR)
  • Patrik Laine (WPG)
  • Zach Werenski (CBJ)

Matthews was the first rookie in over a decade to score 40 goals, with he and Alex Ovechkin being the only two to do so since 1993. Laine was the first 18-year-old since Sidney Crosby to score at least 35 goals, and they were the only two to do so in the last 30 years. Werenski was just the second teenage defenceman in the last 20 years to manage at least 45 points in a season, along with Tyler Myers in 2009-10. It is hard to argue with those three selections.

It is also hard not to think about the players that weren’t included: Both Mitch Marner and William Nylander, with 61 points each, would likely win in most seasons, yet aren’t among the top-3; Brady Skjei was a godsend for an awful Rangers blue line; Mikko Rantanen led Colorado in goals (low bar, but still); Sebastian Aho had 24 goals and 25 assists, something only Jack Eichel did as a teenage rookie in the last two years. All this fails to mention Matt Murray, who became the youngest rookie goalie with at least 30 wins and a .920-plus save percentage.

None of this has much to do with fantasy other than their obviously stellar performances this year, but this rookie class really was something else. The fabled 2005-06 class gave us several future franchise cornerstones, and eventual Stanley Cup champions. It seems this class will do the same although, of course, only time will tell.

The question now is, who you got?

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The Selke Trophy seems to go around to most of the same players. Ryan Kesler is a finalist, and he won in 2011. Same for Patrice Bergeron, a three-time winner. Mikko Koivu is a new name to the list, and he also had a fantastic season.

I just wanted to give some love to Mikael Backlund. He was a big part of arguably the best “second” line in hockey, which is a term used loosely because they were superior to the Johnny Gaudreau-Sean Monahan line for most of this season (when they were together, anyway). His line had among the highest rate of defensive zone starts – near the top with Kesler and Koivu – and most of his minutes were against some of the best in the league like Ryan Getzlaf, Jeff Carter, and Joe Pavelski. His line also had a 53.1 percent goal share at five-on-five (Getzlaf was 54.4 percent, for reference) while getting a .913 save percentage behind him. That is stellar play.

Backlund will likely not be a significant offensive contributor (his 53 points this year was the first time he cracked the 50-point mark) but it’s clear he and his line mates were significant factors in the Flames reaching the postseason. 

 

  • Harry Baird

    I watched the Penguins series on and off (the general flicking back and forth) and they had their skates laced up and were ready to roll when the puck was dropped in game one. Although they gave up a number of goals, just having all their defencemen, save for Letang, seemed to keep the transition game going. They rolled their six d-men with each of them averaging 20 minutes a game. Olli Maatta stood out to me. Although he did not figure in much of the scoring, he played a large roll in the teams success. Up front, the line of Kessel, Rust, and Malkin had it going which reminded me of the HBK line from last years playoffs. Hornqvist was a leader and physical presence in front of the net on the power play. He was moved up with Crosby and Guentzel after Columbus cut the lead to 3-2 in game 5 and seemed to help settle things down. If there was anyone I was dissapointed in it was Sheary….just did not get it going in the series. Team speed and a lethal power play (5-15) that spent most of every power play in the other teams zone will take this team a long ways this year.

  • Allan Phillips

    Not to downplay Rinne’s performance, but it wasn’t just him. The Preds kept Chicago’s possession way down by challenging everything in the neutral zone, cutting off the cycle game, and swarming the front of the net on both ends. Any time the puck was in the danger zone, there were 3-4 Preds there to help stop the shot. Except for brief stretches in Games 3 and 4, it was mostly one-and-done for the Hawks. I give the Preds a lot of credit, but I also see this as unpreparedness and complacency on the part of the Hawks. No intensity. You rest everyone, lose your last 7 games, how do you think the playoffs are going to start?

    • Striker

      Let me start by saying I took Nashville to beat Chicago. There is at least 1 upset in the 1st round & this was mine. There were only 2 other match ups that would qualify as an upset for me, [email protected] or [email protected]

      Chicago didn’t lose it’s last 7 games they lost their last 4. 2 in OT & 1 by 1 goal. They barely rested players. Hjalmarsson returned to Sweden down the stretch for personal reasons missing the final 3 games, Keith sat out games against Col & was joined by Hossa, Toews & Seabrooke against Anaheim the 2nd & 3rd to last games of the season.

      Chicago had a brutal schedule down the stretch, 6 of 8 games played on the road, 8 games in 14 days. The trip started with a 3 game road trip to play Flo, TB & Pit then they returned home to play Clb & Bos, then hit the west coast to play Col, Anh & LA. That’s brutal.

      I do agree with you that this wasn’t all Rinne although he did play great. Nashville skated circles around Chicago beating them to almost every loose puck & nullifying tons of icing calls. They also shut down Chicago’s top 2 lines & their lack of secondary scoring killed them.

      • Dobber

        Was their schedule any more brutal than, say, the march through the Stanley Cup playoffs? No excuse. They lost their last eight games, reg season and playoffs. You lose eight in a row it’s not because of a tough schedule and players not resting.

        I took Nashville too. I took a lot of contrarian picks though – NSH, EDM, CBJ and MIN. So maybe I bat .500 on them…