Saturday, April 23, 2016
Morning Player Notes in the Playoffs (Apr 23)
What does a guy have to do to get a point in this pool? Well, the ONLY point in Game 5 of the Philadelphia/Washington series came from Box 21 defenseman Mark Streit. Okay, the game was a 2-0 victory for the Flyers, as they stay alive in these playoffs, live to play one more home game this weekend, but c'mon!
Michal Neuvirth was the goalie of record for the Flyers... he's not their Box 24 representation. Ryan White scored the winner... there was absolutely no reason to have him on the sheet, he doesn't score enough. So... ugh!
The Capitals didn't get their game together in this one and now there is some reasonable doubt about what they're going to do in Game 6. We'll cross that bridge when we get there.
No matter what, we were going to have a team behind the 8-ball after Game 5 in the series between the Panthers and the Islanders and in Sunrise, FL on Friday night, it was the home team finding themselves one game away from an early Summer.
This game wasn't a boat load better in the points department, as it was 1-1 heading into overtime. Thankfully, in those two goals, there were 4 points in there, so before the game was over, the game was four times better than the earlier game. Then in overtime... and double overtime... the pool didn't benefit a great deal from the winner, as non-pool forward Alan Quine scored to end it, with Thomas Hickey getting his 2nd assist in the game to actually become notable in this one. Thomas Greiss made 47 saves for the win and no points in the pool.
In terms of roster notes, Marek Zidlicky returned to the lineup, coming in for the injured Ryan Pulock, who may miss some considerable time and then Ryan Strome was a healthy scratch for the Islanders, as his offensive inconsistency was identified as an issue again, just like it was in the regular season.
The Minnesota Wild offense needed to show up eventually, if they were going to hang out with the Dallas Stars in this series and in Game 5, facing elimination, it did just that, and in clutch situations too. The 2-0 lead was somewhat impressive, but then their offense had to make up for their defense, as midway through the 3rd period, they found themselves down 4-3 and what should have been their bread and butter, couldn't hold up against the powerful Stars.
Enter: Mikko Koivu. The veteran Finn has been around the block and in Game 5, he was 'Johnny on the spot,' as he was in the right spot at the right time for the tying goal, with three minutes to go, eventually sending this game to overtime and then less than five minutes in, Koivu got a piece of a Ryan Suter point shot, redirecting it through Antti Niemi.
It was a great effort by the Wild in Dallas, so they have one more test to get through, back at home on Sunday, before they get a shot to move on. For them, at least they get a chance to keep going. If you're of the Stars persuasion on your sheet, you can't be too disappointed with a 4-goal effort and one more game in the opening round, since the games should only get tighter from here on in.
Other notable players in this one include, Suter, Jason Pominville, Jared Spurgeon and Mikael Granlund for the Wild, while John Klingberg had a couple of assists in the losing effort for the Stars.
Three possible elimination games and we had to wait until the end of the night before we saw one team get the boot on Friday night and it was one of the early Western favourites, as the Los Angeles Kings were ousted by the San Jose Sharks.
The real knock on the Kings in their chance to stay alive was that they couldn't put a complete effort on the ice and they paled in comparison to a very hungry Sharks team that obviously wanted it a whole lot more, but they also gave up a 3-0 lead, so there are some questions abound after taking part of that night off.
Nevertheless, the Sharks put their foot down in the 3rd period, scoring early to take the lead, scoring midway for insurance and then adding an empty-netter for a 6-3 win, which looks a lot better overall, than the game itself, when you throw in their 2nd period effort.
Martin Jones only had to make 19 saves in the deciding game for the win, while Joonas Donskoi, Logan Couture and Brent Burns were all 3-point players in the pool, leading the Sharks through to the next round, awaiting the winner of the Anaheim/Nashville series.
The Kings were the sheet's favourite team in the Western Conference to go all the way to the Finals, leading all West teams with 125 selections. The Sharks, on the other hand, move on with only 38 selections in the pool, so if they go far, your investments in San Jose were exceptionally wise. Jonathan Quick was the favourite West goalie, with 26 picks... gone. Drew Doughty had 17, Milan Lucic was at 15, Tyler Toffoli had 11 and Luke Schenn had 10. Those were some popular players, whose golf scores won't count in the pool.
With the Red Wings and the Kings now out of the playoffs, the Playoff Pool has taken a pretty good kicking, in terms of participation after the opening round. Only three teams have all 24 players left on their side and two more teams have 23 of 24 players. This really wasn't the bracket that anyone saw coming, was it?
On the flip side, 16 of 50 teams have already lost six players, three from each eliminated side, the highest ranking of those teams is still in 6th place, but for how long?