What are goalies? Calgary and Dallas combined for six goals last night and that ended up the lowest scoring affair of the evening. All told we saw 34 goals across four games and based on what we’ve seen, I would expect similar volume today. Even teams who do have healthy starting netminders can’t buy a save right now. All four of the series resuming today currently sit at 2-1 in favour of the road team and in the spirit of more playoff hockey, we’d like to see at least of couple of home teams tie up their series. With that in mind, let’s go over the schedule.
For Carolina, Pyotr Kochetkov has done his best to compensate in the abcences of Antti Raanta and Frederick Andersen but the Hurricanes will probably need one of their veterans to get healthy to avoid an upset here. Boston meanwhile could finally hand the reins over to the inexperienced Jeremy Swayman who has largely outperformed Linus Ullmark this season. To make life easier on their goaltenders and their precarious position, Carolina could do well to avoid Boston’s rejuvenated powerplay. All the cliches apply here. So far Carolina has managed to outscore Boston at five-on-five (despite Boston having a 60/40 advantage in five-on-five score- and venue-adjusted expected goals-for percentage) but the Bruins special teams look good right now. We can only hope for seven games here.
Hard to believe it in the year of our lord 2022, I know, but Minnesota’s trade deadline acquisition of Marc-Andre Fleury looks like a gamebreaker. Ville Husso meanwhile has not like the best version of himself in this series. To Minnesota’s credit, they’ve run the 5V5 SVA xGF% 60/40 and the Wild have found ways to convert at even strength while St. Louis has struggled. It seems like a total reversal of fortunes considering how well the Blues shot during the regular season and how good their goaltending looked. The Blues have a heap of injuries on the back-end but I don’t know that that necessarily explains their offensive woes. Full credit to Fleury and the Wild for shutting down St. Louis’ offence. I still really hope the Blues find a way to stretch this out because this match-up lends to great hockey.
Andrei Vasilevskiy I am begging you to make a goddamn save. Please for the love of god tell me that you have simply let Jack Campbell outfperform you thus far to build us up for a very Toronto-esque collapse. Speaking of Lightning players who need a breakout, Brayden Point can get it going any time now. Tampa’s x-factor player in year’s past, Point can make the difference in this series if he starts getting some bounces in his favour. Meanwhile for Toronto, William Nylander hasn’t collected a point yet. Trade him to Ottawa for pennies on the dollar I say. Probably the scrappiest series going right now, and special teams could make the difference with five-on-five rates very close (except the fact that Toronto has found ways to score at even strength and Tampa hasn’t). As badly as I ‘d like to see the Lightning finish this in six games, it feels like we’ll have to endure seven.
In the battle of the veteran netminders, Mike Smith has handily out-dueled Johnathan Quick. It doesn’t hurt their cause that Edmonton’s powerplay has showed up at its best. Edmonton has also run the table about 60/40 in terms of 5V5 SVA xGF% with the even strength goals to show for it. The Kings had good nerd stats during the regular season but right now they look outmatched in every way by the Oilers. This feels like the most automatic series outside of Colorado/Nashville at this point.