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 Ramblings - Penguins; Injury Notes; Joffrey Lupul Allow Anonymous Users Reply to This Topic...
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admin
Forum Admin



Canada
2287 Posts

Posted - 04/28/2017 :  12:17:35  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
No Game 7s in the first round means no games for me to enjoy and comment on for the Wednesday Ramblings. I guess it makes for great practice for all the non-game nights that are forthcoming…

I went a miserable 4-4 in the first round. I think I was just getting cocky because for the first time ever in 2015 I went 8-0 and I believe I went 8-0 or 7-1 again last year. Just two historic years for me and I let it get to my head – 4-4 really sucks! Yes, I nailed Nashville and Edmonton but I pretty much took contrarian picks far too many times and that’s just arrogance. Next year I will be smarter – that’s a lesson learned.

This round is incredibly hard to gauge because every single series is a coin flip. I don’t think I’ve seen an entire first or second round like this where there is literally no easy series to call. But I will still make a big-picture projection here (or rather – reiterate the one I made on Monday): your Stanley Cup winner will come out of the Pittsburgh vs. Washington series. That will be the series of the playoffs.

The greatest difference in regular-season points among the 2017 Second Round opponents is seven (WSH: 118, PIT: 111). The remaining opponents are separated by five (STL: 99, NSH: 94), four (NYR: 102, OTT: 98) and two (ANA: 105, EDM: 103) points, respectively.

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The key for the Penguins and the only way they will win, in my opinion, is Conor Sheary. He’s the weak point of Sid and the Kids. He’s streaky and he’s pushed off the puck easily. And his right now, his streakiness is at the negative end of the spectrum. Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby can’t be getting five points each in the series while Sheary manages just a secondary assist or two. Each member of the line needs six points. The Evgeni Malkin line is rolling along just fine. The Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen lines chip in as expected. And the goaltending, which will be Fleury to start and Murray if Fleury stumbles, will be fine. The weak point is the right side of the top line. And when Sheary’s “on” then that line becomes the best in the league and unstoppable. So that’s the key, otherwise the Caps take it.

Of course, after I jotted all this down an article came out late Tuesday night about how Sheary practiced on the third line with Nick Bonino and Scott Wilson.

Carl Hagelin is reportedly looking at returning at some point in this round. Look for him around Game 4. The speed he’ll bring to the lineup will make a difference in a series like this one.

Chris Kunitz is taking contact in practice and ‘should’ be ready to make his 2017 postseason debut Thursday. He’ll take Carter Rowney’s spot on the fourth line (with Cullen and Kuhnhackl). Or, given the Sheary demotion above, perhaps he’ll be up with Crosby and Guentzel.

I have a conspiracy theory regarding Matt Murray. He’s still not skating, but is apparently doing off-ice workouts. He has a lower-body injury. But here’s my theory – the Penguins don’t want to rock the goaltending boat. Last year it was different because Murray was so dominant and Fleury really was healing from an injury and by the time he was ready – Murray was well into the playoffs. This time, it’s still early and Murray dominated throughout the second half of the season and is coming off a Cup win. If he returns now, the media wouldn’t shut up about it. Fleury would be under a microscope. So you keep Murray’s practices private, and state publicly that he’s not ready. If Fleury ever stumbles, then I suspect that Murray will be magically and immediately ready. But I think Fleury is doing great, so we’ll probably never see my conspiracy theory come to pass. By the third round, if they get there, then a Murray comeback will be okay – fans and media would understand why Fleury still gets the starts.

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Hey look – Robby Fabbri is skating on his own without gear. I noted in my Draft List that he was a possibility for the third round and now I suspect he will be there if the Blues can make it.

For some reason I’m cheering for Nashville in this series. Can’t put my finger on why that is. But I do think it would be cool to see St. Louis make it to the Final 4 even though they were sellers at the Deadline. I love that kind of asset management – move out an expiring contract, and go deep into the playoffs anyway. Imagine if the Blues played against Shattenkirk in the Final?

*
Cam Fowler was supposed to be out for 2-6 weeks with a knee injury. He’ll be in Anaheim’s lineup tonight and that marks three weeks of recovery. Sami Vatanen missed the last three games with a UBI but is also ready to return to the lineup tonight. With those two studs out, Shea Theodore had room to flourish, and boy did he ever – five points in the four games. His ice time is going to take a beating and I’m guessing Brandon Montour and Korbinian Holzer will be scratched.

*

Legendary fantasy hockey bust Fabian Brunnstrom has retired from hockey. He was the hottest undrafted free agent signing of 2008. Along the same lines of Roman Cervenka, Jiri Dopita, Janne Pesonen, Damien Brunner and Artemi Panarin – you can see the ups and downs of falling for the hype. In the case of Brunnstrom, he kicked off his NHL career with a hat trick in his first game and the had five points in his first four NHL games. Talk about getting off to a good start! He had 36 points in 100 games after that (so 41 in 104), which are actually decent numbers for a player that age starting an NHL career. But when he slowed, he was sent to the AHL. His confidence seemingly shattered because he stopped producing even at that level and he couldn’t earn his way back up. He’s now 32, which is too young to retire from pro hockey – I’m sure he was making a decent living in Sweden!

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The Islanders signed Dennis Seidenberg to a one-year extension for some reason. The 35-year-old was a healthy scratch at times down the stretch, but had a very strong first half. I suspect his role in 2017-18 will be a reduced one.

*

I’m curious about Joffrey Lupul. Are you? He wanted to play and as of last summer he felt he could. And then was never heard from again. Try to find info on him other than a Toronto Sun mention in February (and the writer, Steve Simmons, said that Lupul didn’t answer his phone – which was uncharacteristic of him). But how does an outgoing and involved (community-wise) guy like Lupul just completely disappear from the public like that? Best explanation: he was asked to. Why would the Leafs do that? Let him talk. Let him mingle with the fans. Let him sit in the press box, even if you don’t want him playing for you anymore. He could be a great ambassador.

Lupul has one more year left on his contract with a cap hit of $5.25 million. Right now the Leafs can bury him on LTIR, whereas if he played for them they’d be stuck with the cap hit. So even if he’s better, they need him to not be. It would be nice to trade him to Vegas and split the cap hit for one season, but that still makes it $2.6 million more hitting Toronto’s cap than would hit them if he remained on LTIR. They do get Brooks Laich, Milan Michalek, Colin Greening and Stephane Robidas off the books for next season.

I’d like to see Lupul play for the expansion team and squeeze out another three seasons before retiring. I hope Toronto is doing right by him, and not taking a ‘strictly business’ stance here.

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Nikita Zaitsev is worth a two-year bridge contract at $3 million per season. I sincerely hope that the Leafs don’t sucker into signing him for five or more seasons, because that contract would have ‘regret’ written all over it.

*

Joe Thornton had – wait for it – “successful” surgery on his knee yesterday. As with all surgeries, we can instantly tell if it’s successful because the part being operated on didn’t explode or fall off. Holy crap, can we withhold the “successful” label on surgeries until several months have passed and we can actually determine the level of success?

In all seriousness though, Thornton is a legend in my books. How he played with a torn ACL and MCL is historic. On, what, two weeks of rest? Not even?


Written by Dobber of www.dobberhockey.com

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slozo
Moderator



Canada
4808 Posts

Posted - 05/03/2017 :  21:17:26  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I agree with your suspicions (it's not a conspiracy to hide a fact from the public . . . it's just hiding the truth) on Murray. I think he'll suddenly be healthy IF/WHEN Fleury falters. It'll be easy to pick out if it happens like that, but we'll have to see.

Pens up 3-1 now, but I predict a game 6 at least.

Blues/Preds is only compelling for the "loser" factor - either would have been a huge surprise to make it to the third round. But one will. Preds are looking to keep rolling, but I would have liked the Blues here on paper. We'll see.

Lupul
Hells yeah, I've been super curious about him, and its a testament to Lou Lam and Shanahan that in the hockey media frenzy of Toronto, they've been able to seal him up in a time vault like nobody's business!

My private theory (with no basis in fact) is that Lupul had some "issue" - whether it was substance abuse, maybe even a family issue, something he or the team would have wanted to keep private. Then Lou put the clamp on it. To my mind, it absolutely HAS to be a mutual feeling of wanting to keep it private and out of the public eye, otherwise Lupul would have talked at some point.

I hope he's doing well, and yeah - wish nothing but the best for him, because he certainly seemed like a nice guy, and he served well for the Leafs.

EDIT - Zaitsev signed for 7 years, a bit long, but I don't think we'll regret it. We'll have to agree to disagree!



Don't Leaf me hanging, Buds!

Edited by - slozo on 05/03/2017 21:20:22
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