Since all 16 playoff teams have been chosen and the playoffs are set to begin on Monday, you can now officially start preparing your playoff squad. As is the case every year, you can grab the interactive playoff draft roster to help you plan your team. Define your own media to organize or use Dobber’s choices. Head to the Dobber Sports store to buy yours or find out more!
If you want to set up a simple playoff pool with friends or co-workers, Free Box Pools might be for you.
Also expect the writers to give their thoughts on their Stanley Cup and first-round picks shortly. If you want advice on team and player selection, I encourage you to read Mike’s playoff breakdown in the Ramblings yesterday.
Questions abound for the Vegas Golden Knights after failing to live up to expectations this season. Is there really a break between Robin Lehner and Peter DeBoer? The fact that Vegas has invested three more seasons in Lehner could be the death knell for DeBoer. Is it all about the coach? Barely, as there have been a ton of injuries, with Lehner perhaps the most notable. No one on this team has played every game this season, while Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, Jack Eichel and Alec Martinez have all played less than half of the team’s games.
Logan Thompson has played about as well as one could ask for in this situation, including back-to-back quality starts in back-to-back games this week (both losses). Unless there’s an offseason move, he could be back in the AHL next season thanks to Lehner and Laurent Brossoit, who still has a year left on his contract. I still like him as a potential keeper, though you might have to be patient due to his status in the contract pecking order.
Since returning from a back injury, Stone has just one point in his last eight games. Not that he’s the fastest skater around right now, but from what I saw in Wednesday’s game, Stone seems to be working like he still isn’t 100%. I would keep an eye on his injury status over the summer as it was an issue that persisted all season and could be a throwing trajectory issue if not addressed.
Eichel has just one point in his last six games, although that came after a six-game point streak. It’s too early to say Vegas shouldn’t have made this trade, but players like Conor Garland, Joel Eriksson Ek, Sam Bennett and retired Ryan Getzlaf have similar points-per-game pace to Eichel (0 .67 PTS/GP) this season. Eichel could drop in next season’s fantasy draft, which could make him a great deal as an upside-down elite player with a clean slate.
Jonathan Marchessault has been held without a point in his last four games.
All in all, I could see the Golden Knights returning to the playoffs next season whether you like them or not. (If you don’t, let me remind you that the playoffs are spicier and more inescapable when there are villains.) In the meantime, what we’ve learned about the Golden Knights is that the whole is now less than the sum. of his games, while the opposite was true in their historic first season.
Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Claude Giroux, Mackenzie Weegar, Gustav Forsling and Sergei Bobrovsky did not play for the Panthers on Thursday. It is not known if they will be training today (Friday). Huberdeau was seven points behind Connor McDavid going into Thursday’s games, so it looks like he conceded the Art Ross Trophy to the Oiler.
With those top scorers off Florida’s roster, Carter Verhaeghe was the Panthers’ star on Thursday. Verhaeghe scored two goals, which were his first goals in almost three weeks. Maxim Mamin and Eetu Luostarinen assisted on both of Verhaeghe’s goals. I wonder if some of the secondary scorers like Verhaeghe, Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart and Anthony Duclair will be rested on Friday. Due to their win and Colorado’s shootout loss, the Panthers have now secured the President’s Trophy and home-court advantage in the playoffs. Friday’s game in Montreal makes no sense in the regular season standings.
Spencer Knight had a 27-save shutout against the Senators. The shutout was Knight’s second of the season and career.
More load management scratches for playoff-bound teams: Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner will both miss Friday’s game. Matthews is the likely winner of the Rocket Richard Trophy with 60 goals and also finishes with his first 100-point season. Marner finishes just outside 100 points (97 points), despite being on a full-season 110-point pace.
With the Avalanche secured as the first seed in the Western Conference, Cale Makar is also shouldn’t play friday. Roman Josi may be the leading scorer among defenders, but Makar will finish with staggering numbers: 28 G, 86 PTS, +48. Wow.
Over the course of a season, I don’t think I can remember that many healthy players being taken out just before the playoffs. While it’s entirely possible to work around this if your fantasy season isn’t over yet (Friday’s schedule has a ton of games), this less than ideal scenario is reason enough to end your fantasy season. a week earlier if possible. This practice has been happening for years in fantasy football leagues, although all my fantasy hockey leagues are still ready to play until the last day. If your league’s season is already over, consider yourself ahead of the curve.
Before you freak out about losing a bunch of extra players on Friday, keep in mind that the four Eastern Conference playoff games are still to be determined. Another positive sign if you’re hoping for players to return: Anze Kopitar and other Kings who were eliminated Wednesday were back in the lineup Thursday, with Trevor Moore, Phillip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson resting. So not forcing players into playing them on consecutive nights could be part of the plan.
Dustin Brown has announced he will be retiring after this season’s playoffs. Brown captained the Kings to their two Stanley Cups and spent his entire 18-year career in Los Angeles where he played more than 1,300 games. Brown’s contract was already set to expire after the season. The Kings managed to rebuild their way to the playoffs while retaining all Brown, Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick from their championship seasons.
Linus Ullmark recorded a 37-save shutout from his former team (Sabres), which turned out to be his first shutout since 2019. I’m going to assume the contract situation wins and he’s the starter for the game 1 against Jeremy Swayman.
Patrice Bergeron’s 400and career goal also happened to be his hat-trick goal. The Bruins captain has been on fire lately, scoring five goals and nine points with a plus-8 differential and 15 SOG in his last three games. This game was Boston’s last regular season game, so I wonder if the Bruins will make a regular roster for tonight’s game in Toronto. That said, they still have something to play for, as they could force a playoff game with the Leafs (uh oh, Toronto) if they can tie or pass Tampa Bay in the standings on the final day.
Oliver Bjorkstrand can be hot and cold – we know that. Still, after an 11-point drought, Bjorkstrand has scored three straight and six points in his last three games. Non-playoff teams might be the ones to target for waiver wire players, which I did for Bjorkstrand in my roto league on Friday. His plus/minus (-33) has been a problem this season if your league has that stat, but the good news is that he’s a plus-3 in his last three games.
Just when you thought Nikita Kucherov was no longer the top flight, he has now scored goals in eight consecutive games. In those eight games, Kucherov has 21 points. I would say he is ready for the playoffs.
With two assists on Thursday, Noah Dobson reached 50 points for the first time in his career. Dobson solidified his place on the Isles’ first-team power play, leading the team with 22 power-play points. He is also now in the top 10 in the PPP category for defenders.
The Carolina Hurricanes would not only like to remind you that Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta won the Jennings Trophy for the lowest goals against of any tandem (202 GA), but also that many people thought that getting away from their former tandem of goalkeepers was a bad idea.
Johnny Gaudreau scored his career high of 40and goal of the season, making him the third Flame to reach that number. His 92 points at even strength is by far the league lead in this category, as no other player has more than 80 TEUs. In fact, it’s the highest even-strength point total since Jaromir Jagr in 1996. That’s the kind of season he’s had. There will be a big contract waiting for him this summer. The question is, will he sign on the dotted line with the Flames or with another team?
Brock Boeser has not had his best season. But at least he ends the season on a high note, scoring two goals on Thursday, including the overtime winner. Boeser has four goals and four assists in his last six games. It will be interesting to see how the Canucks handle his $7.5 million qualifying bid, which could take a number of different ways that may or may not mean he’s back in Vancouver next season.
By the way, that 1990s jersey match was glorious.
Some stellar saves:
Well, David Rittich:
At least Rittich was able to hold on to a 5-4 shootout win over Colorado. I guess not many people took a chance and threw Rittich in this game against the mighty Avalanche.
Need a babysitter for Friday? Try Connor Ingram, who is confirmed to face the Coyotes in a later game tonight. Ingram is only 1% listed on Yahoo and 13% on Fantrax. Unfortunately for the Predators, it looks like they will make the playoffs with the Rittich/Ingram duo. Juuse Saros has a sprained ankle, which should sideline him for several weeks. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Preds turn to Ingram at some point during the first round. Ingram was a standout goaltender in the AHL, starting 54 games with Milwaukee (Dobber Prospects profile).
Looking for more confirmed goalkeeper picks on the last major day of the season? Head to the goalie post. And good luck if you’re in a race to the finish!