Carey Price is done for the series with a lower body injury. Budaj time.
My quick post-mortem take on the Canucks. Things aren't as rosy as they once were in Vancouver.
Caught most of the third and all of overtime in the Ducks/Wings game. Great, great hockey game. Anaheim's speed advantage is quite apparent, especially with their second, third, and fourth lines. Continue to be impressed with Nick Bonino, who fired home the OT winner after a beauty play from former Pens d-man Ben Lovejoy.
Gustav Nyquist is/has quietly emerged (I tend to use quietly emerged a lot... but Nyquist hasn't really received much attention) as Detroit's fourth or fifth best offensive threat. He is a slippery player, much like Datsyuk and Zetterberg. It is going to be fun to watch him develop. Does he have top line, PPG upside? Maybe, maybe not. But it is within the realm of possibility.
You can't fault the Leafs for losing last night - they battled really, really hard. Boston is simply a superior team in all aspects of the game. Toronto will have a lot to be proud about if they end up losing this series to Boston. It's been a season of positive surprises in the Big Smoke.
If Patrice Bergeron is the most underrated center in the game, David Krejci isn't far behind. His three goals last night will get the praise and attention (and for good reason), but it is his physical game and defensive play that separates him from most skill centers. Like Datsyuk and Zetterberg, he ratchets up his hitting when the postseason begins. What a great player.
Milan Lucic is flying. Absolutely flying. Oh, and he weighs 230 pounds. And has tremendous vision. Scary proposition trying to stop him. He had a disappointing regular season, but he has been a beast this round. He had no points last night, but factored in to many offensive opportunities.
Some other noteworthy performances - Chara with four helpers (he doesn't age), Bergeron with a goal and seven SOG, and Nathan Horton with two helpers and three SOG.
Cody Franson had a goal, three SOG, and a solid game. He is a great example of what playing with confidence (now) compared to playing with out it (last year) can do to a player. I loved watching him run the PP in the WHL with Vancouver, and he is finally starting to show he can hack it as a top offensive defenseman in the NHL.
I tweeted this out a few days ago - but when he is healthy, Joffrey Lupul is an elite player. He competes hard, he's big, and he has a ton of skill. He has really embraced the role of leader with Toronto.
Rask had 45 saves on 48 shots - he is up there in the conversation for the best goalie in hockey. He makes everything look so easy, and whenever he is out of position, his insane reflexes usually take care of the rest.
I have really enjoyed this series. It is a great learning experience for Toronto, as they get to see what it takes to win a Cup (Boston). Four lines that can play, consistent and tough defense, and getting pucks in deep. Consistently. Toronto still turns the puck over too much.
Nazem Kadri has hit a bit of a wall, which is to be expected after his strong regular season. I would try and buy low on him if you can after this series.
Mike Green is back. Not sure if that means 30 goals again, but he is his old self out there. And as a fan of exciting offensive hockey, that is a great thing to finally write again.
Derrick Brassard had a strong game for the Rangers - the change of scenery is doing him good.
Any roto playoff leagues? Callahan's line - an assist, plus-1, six SOG, seven blocked shots, and five hits.
Carl Hagelin is making me look smart for naming him to my Prime Cuts team - three points last night, and he is finally finding a way to consistently use his speed to create chances at the NHL level.
A goal and six SOG for Stepan. Does he have 80+ point upside? I think so, especially if Torotrella sticks around after this season. He absolutely loves Stepan and plays him a ton.
Absolutely amazing goal:
Brenden Dillon and Stephane Robidas have been used as Canada's primary shutdown pairing. I am hearing that Dan Hamhuis may be joining the team, but the Dallas top pairing has been rock solid on Canada's back end.
Drew Doughty played over 33 minutes for the Kings last night. His offense has dried up, but it has little to do with him. The role he plays now is primarly shutdown focused, especially with Mitchell and Greene out. He is a phenomenal defenseman but just isn't getting the opportunities to produce.
The next King in ice time was Regehr at 25 minutes (a full eight minutes below Doughty).
Anze Kopitar had a phenomenal game, too. You are starting a team tomorrow - how many centers do you take ahead of Kopitar? Crosby, Toews, Stamkos, Tavares, Malkin, aaand... Giroux? Getzlaf? Anyone else?
Bouwmeester is the perfect defenseman to go up against big teams like LA - he has the size at 6-4 and 220 lbs to deal with the likes of Brown and Kopitar, and he has the mobility to do it without taking penalties. Don't forget the Blues have him under contract for next season, too.
Vezina finalists – Lundqvist, Niemi, and Bobrovsky. All three are deserving, as is/was Tuukka Rask.
Speaking of Bobrovsky – the Jackets are confident that they will be able to re-sign him soon.
If, for whatever reason, you missed Steve Laidlaw’s Cage Match from yesterday, here it is again – Goligoski vs. Josi. Roman Josi is one of my favourite young defensemen in the game, and Laidlaw consistently has been writing great stuff with this series.
I concur with Mike Amato from yesterday – the Canucks having such easy divisional opponents does them no favours come playoff time. It took them three games last year to get going, and the same could be said for 2013.
It is time to dive back into my 30 teams in 30 days (on Thursday/Friday/Saturday, at least). Today’s team – Florida Panthers
2013-14 sleeper: Drew Shore
Shore had three goals and 13 points as a rookie in 2013. Most importantly, though, is the fact that the coaching staff trusted him to play regular minutes (he averaged just shy of 16 minutes per contest). Florida will try to re-sign Stephen Weiss, and his future will have a huge impact on what happens with Shore and Nick Bjugstad next season. At the high end of projections, Shore could center the second line and put up 40-50 points. He is a do-it-all player. Gritty, smart, a good skater, and very skilled.
The production wasn’t there as a rookie, but the rest of his game was. And that is a great sign for both next season and the long term future. He is ideally the perfect second line center, but that may be selling his upside a bit short.
Longer term sleeper: Alex Petrovic
I nabbed Petrovic in my keeper league a few months ago, and he is currently taking up one of my eight farm spots. The TJ Brennan acquisition from Buffalo created more of a log jam on the back end in Florida, but Petrovic plays a very different game than Brennan. Petrovic is a two-way defenseman with a lot to give both offensively and from a physicality perspective.
He had 17 points and 102 PIM in 55 games as a pro rookie in the AHL in 2012-13. He played six games with Florida, as well. He will probably spend next season shutting between the AHL and NHL before becoming a full-time NHL player in 2014-15.
Florida has Campbell, Jovanovski, Kuba, Gudbranson, Kulikov, Weaver, and Petrovic under contract for next season. Brennan is an RFA who will likely be retained.
Jovanovski is very injury prone at this point of his career, which could open up some minutes for Petrovic.
Big Game Joe Pavelski - four goals and four helpers in only four games. He's such a dynamic player, and although his numbers have suffered a bit as the Sharks move him around the lineup, he is yet again finding a way to step up and help Couture lead the team.