Goaltender Corey Crawford has led the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup championship, but when Chicago attempts to eliminate Nashville on Thursday, he won’t be playing between the pipes. Rookie Scott Darling has been a big part of the first round series and will get another start in Game 5.
It’s an impressive, yet oddly common story this season. If you look at the GAA leaders so far in the 2015 postseason, you won’t see Carey Price or Henrik Lundqvist listed in the top-three. Instead it’s Darling, Devan Dubnyk, and Jake Allen. Three netminders who weren’t in starting roles when the campaign began. Then there’s Petr Mrazek, who shutout the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday to give Detroit a 2-1 series lead.
“It might be the year of the backup goalie this year,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told CSN Chicago. “Somebody you’ve never heard of may get an opportunity and all of a sudden is a key guy. We all know the importance of the goalie and how the guy who is playing well is getting that net. Sometimes it’s competitive with internal competition but at the same time the rapport is excellent [with the normal starter] and it’s a healthy situation to be in.”
The question is if this trend will continue. Dubnyk really can’t be regarded as a backup anymore and that’s been true since Minnesota acquired him, but if Darling, Allen, or Mrazek falter, then their respective teams might not wait long to replace them.
We’ve already seen Ottawa’s Andrew Hammond be relegated to warming the bench despite his tremendous regular season run and Vancouver’s Eddie Lack was yanked early in Tuesday’s contest. Even still, at this point it’s entirely possible that the goaltender who leads his team to a Stanley Cup championship will be one that didn’t hold the starting job at the beginning of the season.
Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron and Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar have been selected as the three finalists for the Selke Trophy. The trophy rewards the league’s best forward from a defensive standpoint.
Bergeron is looking to claim the award for the third time in just four years. He led the league in 2014-15 with a 60.2 success rate on the draw, had 48 takeaways, and a plus-two rating over 81 games. From an analytics perspective, he had a great season with a Fenwick percentage of 57.36 in 5-on-5 situations compared to the Bruins’ Fenwick of 48.01% when he was off the ice. In other words, Boston was far better when it came to possessing the puck when he was on the ice.
That translates to a Fenwick Relative percentage of plus-9.35, which was the second highest in the league among players that logged at least 800 total minutes of ice time.
Toews won the Selke Trophy back in 2013. He finished with the fifth highest plus/minus rating at plus-30 and his 56.5% on the draw ranked sixth in the NHL. He also had 45 takeaways in 81 contests.
His Fenwick numbers weren’t as impressive as Bergeron, but were still strong. Toews had a 54.02 Fenwick percentage compared to Chicago’s 51.84% when he was off the ice.
For Kopitar, this is his second nomination in as many days as he was list among the Lady Byng finalists last night. He had a faceoff percentage in 2014-15 was 52.6, a minus-two rating, and 29 takeaways. While those numbers aren’t great compared to his competitors, he looks much better from a Fenwick perspective.
His 5-on-5 Fenwick percentage was 58.93 in 2014-15 compared to Los Angeles’ 53.16% when he wasn’t on the ice. He also had the highest 5-on-5 Fenwick plus/minus of the three candidates at plus-260, which measures the unblocked shots his team took while he was on the ice against the unblocked shots his opponents took.
There were many people that watched Connor McDavid’s interview after finding out that the first overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft would go to the Edmonton Oilers and came to the conclusion that he didn’t seem happy. Connor’s father, Brian McDavid, attempted to counter that speculation.
“To be honest, he was a little bit in shock,” Brian told the Edmonton Sun
“He would have had the exact same expression on his face if the winner had been Buffalo, Toronto or Arizona. The reality is that his future had just been decided by bingo balls.”
The elder McDavid added that it would be a “big thrill” for his son if the Oilers took him with the first overall pick, as they are expected to do.
That being said, the Oilers winning the lottery did come as a surprise to the McDavid family. They assumed that Edmonton wouldn’t win given the number of first overall picks the Oilers have already gotten in recent years.
“We were just shocked when the balls bounced in their favor,” Brian said.
“Connor is very aware of the rich history and the passionate fans in Edmonton and would be proud and humbled to follow in the steps of those great players and teams. I hope my saying this will put that subject to rest.”
If you missed the interview that Brian McDavid is responding to, here it is:
MacTavish: Oilers could ‘ignite’ with ‘a few key personnel changes’
We had a pair of afternoon games on NBC today, but there’s a lot more action to come. Tonight on NBCSN there will be a Canadian doubleheader as Montreal will play against Ottawa and Vancouver will face Calgary. In addition to NBCSN, you also have the option of streaming those contests online via NBC Sports Live Extra.
Here is the livestream link for Game 3 between Montreal and Ottawa, which starts at 7:00 p.m. ET:
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Starting at 10:00 p.m. ET you can click on the link below for the Vancouver vs. Calgary livestream:
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
If you missed this afternoon’s games, then here are our recaps of Chicago’s 4-2 victory over Nashville and the Islanders 2-1 overtime win against Washington.
Ottawa needed a 21-3-3 run to make the playoffs and throughout that stretch, most of the praise for the Senators’ turnaround was focused on goaltender Andrew Hammond. He certainly was a big part of the their success, but he wasn’t the sole cause of that incredible run. Others stepped up for Ottawa as well during that stretch and the Senators similarly need to provide current starting goaltender Craig Anderson with more support going forward if they going to pull off a second unlikely comeback.
“We’ve kind of been a one line scoring team over the past five or six games. We need some help,” Senators forward Erik Condra said, per the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch.
Rookie Mark Stone has three points in the playoffs, Clarke MacArthur has found the back of the net twice, and Mika Zibanejad has a goal and an assist. That covers the full range of Ottawa forwards with at least two points in the first round.
Kyle Turris, who had 35 points in 36 contests after the All-Star break, has been held off the scoresheet for two straight games. Then there’s Bobby Ryan; a 28-year-old forward with four 30-plus goal seasons on his resume and the owner of a seven-year, $50.75 million contract that kicks in next season. He doesn’t have a point yet in this series.
“(Ryan) had some poise tonight, so it was good to see,” Senators coach Dave Cameron said in defense of his player, per the team’s website.
Still, Ottawa needs more out of Ryan. The Senators have tied their future closely to him with that contract. With that in mind, he’ll be one of the key players looked at to be the hero in Game 4.