Pick up my SEVENTH annual Interactive Playoff Draft List. I stuck a video clip below of how it works.
It's not too late to start an easy pool at the office. You can grab a pre-made "boxed" pool for free right here.
In a game featuring Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, and Evgeni Malkin, the best skater for either team was (by far) Brayden Schenn. Schenn showed why he was so dominant in junior – there isn’t anything on the ice he doesn’t excel at. He made a great pass on Briere’s first goal (the linesman made the wrong call, but the pass was terrific), and showed great instincts on his own goal, deflecting in a slap-pass.
Playoff stud Daniel Briere scored twice, and he led the Flyers with four shots on goal.
I also thought Wayne Simmonds had a really strong game.
On the Pittsburgh side – the big guns were all good, but not great.
Pascal Dupuis’ point streak continues – now has points in 18 straight games (he had two last night).
Quiet game from Pavel Datsyuk (by his standards, at least).
Hard to generate a lot with Pekka Rinne in goal and Weber/Suter combining for about 60 minutes of ice time.
The Canucks missed Daniel Sedin last night (obviously), especially on the PP.
Roberto Luongo was stellar and the only reason the Canucks were in the game as long as they were.
LA had a ton of power plays (including a full five minute one in the second) – their PP wasn’t great looking, but it was effective, finding the back of the net twice. I thought they would miss Johnson on the PP (just as the Canucks would miss Cody Hodgson), but both teams are better at even strength with the trades they made.
Kesler played close to 20 minutes, winning 15 draws and recording two helpers.
Mika Zibanejad has joined Ottawa’s AHL affiliate for their stretch run. The AHL regular season ends this weekend. If the Baby Sens are out early, he’ll likely get the call up to the big club (assuming they are still playing).
Wanted to give a shout out to DobberHockey reader Samuel C, who accurately predicted a sophomore slump for Jeff Skinner – we had a little friendly wager going on with Skinner and 30 goals, and he didn’t hit the over (which I had predicted). I’ll still use injuries as an excuse, though!
What would I do if I were Steve Tambellini? For now, I would draft Nail Yakupov. Try to bring in some actual defensemen (read: not Cam Barker or Andy Sutton) who can move the puck and play some semblance of defense.
I’d also start entertaining offers for Jordan Eberle. Eberle is going to be a star forward (heck, you could say he already is). However, I think he struggles to repeat his season of 2011-12 (at least in the near future). His shooting percentage was unsustainable, and he saw a lot of easy offensive minutes. I am a huge fan of his, but if the Oilers can get a top pairing stud (a player like Oliver Ekman-Larsson or John Carlson) for him, it is a move that they may want to consider.
Selling high is hard because most people struggle to actually recognize when an asset is over performing. Eberle is going to score 40+ goals in this league, but in a few years, the Oilers should be seeing that production from the other three young studs (not counting Magnus Paajarvi, who had a brutal 2011-12 season in both the AHL and NHL).
Another thing to consider – all of these young guys are going to be needing their big money contracts around the same time – will be hard to fit much else in under the cap, assuming they all develop as we expect them to.
Pittsburgh was able to succeed for a few reasons. One, Malkin and Crosby are generational talents. Nugent-Hopkins could reach that level, too. Two, they had the veterans at defense and forward to insulate them, and they had a goalie to build around in Marc-Andre Fleury. Devan Dubnyk showed himself quite well this past season all things considering… but is he the guy to build around?
I personally think Dubnyk deserves a shot at starting, as long as he has a credible back up behind him (and not Khabibulin).
Roberto Luongo’s secret (not so secret now) twitter feed is hilarious. Check this out if you have a few minutes to spare.
For most of the playoffs, my thoughts on the late game(s) will be posted later on in the morning. I work away from a computer for most of the morning (Pacific time), and I am usually catching my zzz’s before the late games finish up. The downside of a five AM wakeup call each week day.
Linus Omark let the Twitter world know he wants out of Edmonton to get a fresh start elsewhere. I think he could thrive in the right situation, but he needs to change his attitude right now. Seems to think he deserves a top six spot. I understand the Oilers don’t have room for a skilled young winger (they have enough of them), but Omark did a lot of sulking and complaining this year.
As always, Elliotte Friedman’s 30 thoughts is a great read. Some of my favorite exerpts from this week:
“We see a lot of the Senators at HNIC, and, last year, when we were doing games, opposing coaches and players had the same message: "They can't get the puck out of their zone."
Ottawa's transition game was horrid. Karlsson almost single-handedly changed things. While Paul MacLean did adjust the team's schemes, Karlsson's ability to pass and carry it out of trouble was the biggest factor in that improvement. The Senators don't sniff the playoffs without his ability in this area.”
Imagine the impact a defenseman like Karlsson could have in Edmonton. Abysmal break out this year, but so much talent up front. They just need to receive the puck in better spots.
“5. Biggest on-ice adjustment MacLean made? Asking his defencemen (other than Karlsson) to try and make plays. Ottawa was a real get-it-off-the-glass-and-out team. He wanted puck possession and challenged them to make good passes, even up the middle.”
Personnel is key for this – Gonchar, Kuba, Karlsson – the Sens had the puck movers in place. Having possession of the puck compared to always retrieving it off of the boards is such a difference, especially for physically immature young players.
Colorado extended Joe Sacco – great news for Ryan O’Reilly, Gabriel Landeskog, and Steve Downie. If I own Matt Duchene, I’m concerned right now. Peter Mueller, too (although that concern may be justified). Sacco loved playing his gritty, two-way guys, and they thrived under him. The same can’t be said for the more offensively-inclined players, like Duchene. A situation to keep an eye on, at the very least.
“Derek Roy, an alternate captain who has been in the organization for nine of Ruff's 15 seasons, was the first to voice dissatisfaction with the coach Monday. Last week, Ruff said if the players couldn't get into the postseason, it meant they weren't good enough. When the playoff run fell short, he put the blame on the players, specifically the veterans and core members.
"To be pointing fingers right now is obviously tough," Roy said. "Behind closed doors I think it's fine. You can be hard. It's not fun, but it's good to be hard on your players behind closed doors, on the bench to get them pumped up. I'm not a coach, but I don't think it's the right thing to be saying it to the media."
Weber is a pretty honest player… but this is a cheap play. Suspendable?
How the Interactive Playoff Draft List works, and what it has to offer…