Thursday, April 04, 2019
Evening Preview (Apr 4)
I'm not sure how these posts have necessarily gotten better since I've changed it up from just the goalie starts to a more well-rounded post, because it looks like I've written a whole lot more than normal again today. Where did I ever find the time?
It's the second-to-last busy day on the regular season schedule, Saturday being the last one. I won't go much into the race detail here today, because I've already written a ton and it covers most of it already, so let's just get right to it and you can figure it out from there.
Joey Daccord (N/A) versus Carter Hutton (Wes)
It's a nothing game between the Senators and Sabres tonight and the Sens will be playing on back-to-back nights, sending NCAA signing Joey Daccord out for his NHL debut tonight. He was one of the top goalies signed out of college in these last few weeks, so the team is certainly interested to see what he can bring to the table.
Wes' team lost its grip on its top 10 spot last night in the limited amount of action, but his team starts 1 point back of 10th place and he gets a goalie start from Carter Hutton and the Sabres, who are trying to finish the season on a positive note. Wes' pool team is trying to do much of the same at this point.
Mikkel Boedker is expected to return tonight for the Sens after a couple of games as a healthy scratch, which is good news for Chelsea's team tonight. Another healthy body is good news. Coming out of the lineup tonight is Bobby Ryan, who ended up blocking a shot against the Rangers and will get the night off. Jeremy loses out on a skater game with this news, but his 19th place team is still comfortable.
Andrei Vasilevskiy (Dale C.) versus Frederik Andersen (Wilton)
Nothing new at stake for these two teams tonight, when Tampa goes into Toronto for a tune-up game ahead of the playoffs. This potential 2nd round match-up may not have the same bite that a playoff game might, but that's no excuse to not leave a mark tonight.
The Leafs are sending their number one goalie out for their last two regular season games, just to make sure Frederik Andersen is sharp going into the playoffs, which is good news for Wilton's team. Wilton's team has been able to maintain 9th place and is 8 points clear of 10th, which is comfortable... for now. The Lightning are chasing down some records of their own, so they are going to go with Andrei Vasilevskiy tonight, which is good news for Dale C., who has now moved into 10th place after Wednesday night and is chasing Wilton's team now for 9th. There's a little bit of intrigue there, I guess.
Jake Gardiner is set to make his return to the Leafs' lineup tonight after being out for over a month with a back issue. It's too little, too late for Troy's team, but he is in a battle for some bragging rights, so it is a positive in that way. More on that below. Nazem Kadri is also coming out of the lineup tonight, considered a maintenance day/healthy scratch. Since this game has no real meaning, he'll need the extra day ahead of the playoffs. This will be a missed skater game for John P. and his 14th place team.
Thomas Greiss (Stuart) versus Sam Montembeault (N/A)
The Islanders have an outside chance at the Metro Division title, but they need to win out and Washington needs to lose their last two in regulation for that to happen. The Islanders are on the road for their last two, starting with Florida tonight, who is playing for pride, on the way out to the off-season.
Stuart gets the only hockey pool start in this one, as Thomas Greiss was the first goalie off from their morning skate today, which is one of the better indicators on game day. There's very little hockey pool importance, since Stuart is miles ahead of the everyone else in the standings. It would have been better if Chelsea got a start from Robin Lehner, but he'll be backing up, dealing with some general soreness.
Jimmy Howard (Tony) versus Matt Murray (Scott)
The Penguins did indeed take the Red Wings for granted in the first half of their home-and-home series, so they are still looking to lock up their playoff spot tonight, but this time it will be in their own barn and probably with a little bit more desperation. A win would indeed clinch their spot, but a single point could do it with a little bit of help from the rest of the schedule.
Scott's team starts play tonight 6 points back of 24th place, so if there is any hope to get out of last place, he'll need the Penguins to clinch their playoff spot tonight with a win, so Matt Murray can collect those 2 (or more) points. Murray has been given the green light tonight and there's no sense in waiting for other teams to lose, right?
Carey Price (Stacey M.) versus Braden Holtby (Stacey C.)
The Montreal Canadiens still have a real shot at a playoff spot tonight, but they do not control their own fate. They do, however, still need to win the games that they have left, starting with tonight in Washington. The Caps need a win to earn the Metro title outright or else they could rely on some help in the schedule, but they will likely continue playing like they have something to play for.
We know Stacey M. will get her second start of the night from the visitors, who are pushing for that spot. Carey Price gets the nod in this crucial game for the Habs, who don't have control over their destiny, but Price's success will certainly leave Stacey's fate in her team's hands.
Cory Schneider (N/A) versus Petr Mrazek (Stacey C.)
The Carolina Hurricanes can clinch their playoff berth with a regulation win and a Montreal loss in any fashion or they can gain a point in the standings and they would need Montreal to lose in regulation. Either way is good for the Hurricanes, who get the New Jersey Devils tonight, a team coasting to the finish.
Stacey C. gets the only hockey pool start in this game, his team will get the Petr Mrazek start and look to close up the 7-point gap up to 7th place, the highest point he can finish this year. It's a pretty good bet for the 2 points, but that's why they play the game.
Brian Elliott (Troy) versus Jordan Binnington (N/A)
The St. Louis Blues start the night 1 point back of both Winnipeg and Nashville, all three teams start the night with two games remaining on the schedule, all three playing tonight and Saturday. The Blues get the traveling Flyers tonight, as they try and keep the pace and make things interesting. They'll be going back to their wonder-kid goalie, Jordan Binnington, to try and keep the pressure on.
The only pool start will be the last one for Troy in Philly this season, as Brian Elliott has been tapped for this game, as his team is in a 3-way tie for 15th place with Clayton and Brian at 617 points. Troy's team only has 4 points this week, 1 clear of the basement, so one last win from Elliott would be greatly appreciated.
Jacob Markstrom (Chelsea) versus Pekka Rinne (John P.)
The Nashville Predators will welcome the Vancouver Canucks to town tonight, as they try to keep the pressure on the Winnipeg Jets for the Central Division title. The Predators don't have the tie-breaker against the Jets, so they need to get the most points outright to take the title.
The Predators are treating this game as an important one and rightly so, sending Pekka Rinne out to the crease tonight. If John P.'s team is going to have a late shot at the equator of the standings, he'll need a big outing from his keeper tonight, as his team start the night 9 points back of 13th. Of course, if he gets that high, there are a couple more places he can get to as well. At the visiting end, Chelsea gets another start out of Jacob Markstrom, making his 60th start of the season, and he's playing for a long-term contract with the Canucks, so he'll be motivated for that extra win to negotiate with.
Grant's team has fallen right out of the money picture in the last couple weeks, so the return of Jake Virtanen to the Canucks lineup is within the realm of too little, too late. Grant's team has now fallen all the way down to 6th and is running cold, only 6 points this week.
Jaroslav Halak (Stacey M.) versus Alex Stalock (Ryan)
There isn't much in this game, as the Bruins already know who and where they are playing their opening round games next week, while the Wild are out of the playoffs in the west, so it will be going through the motions, some players looking to stay sharp, other players looking for job security next season.
Stacey M. is hoping that her second start of the night is a fruitful one, as she'll get another Jaroslav Halak start out of the Bruins, as her team defends 2nd place from the duo. Now that the Wild are out of the playoff picture, we might get to see Alex Stalock a little bit more, which is of interest to Ryan's team, which is still holding out hope for a top 10 spot, opening up tonight only 5 points back, not getting any help from his goalies last night.
It sounds like the Wild are going to shut down Zach Parise for their last two games of the season, citing the flu tonight and likely going to give some ice-time to NCAA signing, Nico Sturm. Dale C. is looking for help to stay in 10th place or even catch 9th, but no Parise for the last two games of the year won't be any help. On the Bruins side, David Krejci appears to be getting a rest for the Bruins, coming out of the lineup as a healthy scratch. This will make five bodies out of active duty on Neil's team, which still has some room to give in 7th place today.
Connor Hellebuyck (Jeremy) versus Philipp Grubauer (Jesse)
The fate of the last playoff spot in the west is in the hands of the Colorado Avalanche, since they control their own destiny. They need 1 point out of the last two games in the regular season to make it and the first game is against the division leading Winnipeg Jets. The Jets are in their dog fight for top spot in the division, so they will not be giving this game away.
Neither team appear to be giving up anything, as the Jets will run their number one out there tonight, Connor Hellebuyck getting the nod and giving Jeremy a start tonight. Not that it really matters to his pool team. The Avalanche have seemingly put all of their eggs into Philipp Grubauer's basket of late, as he is the choice to help lift the team into the playoffs tonight with the start against the Jets. Jesse was hoping that this would happen this season, but at a much earlier point in the season. Nevertheless, the starts does help his team in the last gasp for the money.
Jets forward Brandon Tanev has been sent back to Winnipeg to be evaluated for his upper-body injury and won't be available for tonight's game and it seems rather unlikely that he'll play on Saturday as well. Brian's chances of getting out of the weekly Basement Dweller spot have just gotten a little bit longer.
Aaron Dell (Troy) versus Anthony Stolarz (N/A)
It's a nothing game in Edmonton tonight, when the San Jose Sharks visit the Oilers. The Sharks may be tuning up for their playoff run, while the Oilers are probably looking at themselves and thinking, 'what do we do next?'
Troy gets the first of two starts from the San Jose Sharks, who are coasting through this match-up with their backup goalie, Aaron Dell. From having very little action in the crease to two starts, Troy's team won't know what to do with all of this action. The Oilers are also rocking their backup tonight, because why not?
In the lineup department, the Sharks will sit Joonas Donskoi tonight, according to some early afternoon reports. He'll be out as a healthy scratch, possibly nursing some bumps and bruises, just ahead of the playoffs. If Wes wants to see his team finish in the top 10, he's going to have to hope for his healthy players to really show up tonight or else it will be tough sledding going forward.
Darcy Kuemper (Neil) versus Marc-Andre Fleury (Troy)
The Arizona Coyotes don't control their own fate for that last wild card spot in the west, but they can still make things interesting, if the Avalanche were to drop tonight's game against the Jets. The Coyotes don't have it much easier, heading into Vegas to take on the Golden Knights, who are already locked in for 3rd place in the Pacific. Saying that, it will be interesting to see what their mind set is ahead of this game.
There was a bit of an eye injury scare for Arizona's Darcy Kuemper, but it sounds like he'll be good to go tonight against the Golden Knights, trying for that one last gasp for a playoff spot, you know, if the Avalanche hadn't quite knocked them out in the game earlier. They won't know for sure until midway through their game, at least. Neil is also trying to hold off Stacey C. for 7th place in the standings, so he's glad to get the start.
For the Golden Knights, Marc-Andre Fleury will try to shake off the rust of missing action since the middle of March, dealing with a lower-body injury. Fleury has been given the green light, which is more positive news for Troy's team, which is teetering over top of the basement heading into action tonight.