The Colorado Avalanche have made an interesting signing — 24-year-old forward Andreas Martinsen, who spent the last three seasons playing in Germany.
Martinsen, who’s represented Norway internationally on a number of occasions, scored 18 goals and 41 points in 50 games for Dusseldorfer last year. His size (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) and physical play (team-high 99 penalty minutes) are what’s intriguing; in some ways, he’s not unlike another German League player to come to the NHL — David Wolf, the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder that joined the Flames this season after racking up a league-high 152 PIM in 2013-14.
(Wolf, 25, appeared in three regular-season and one playoff game for Calgary this year. He did make a name for himself, though, by getting after Corey Perry in warmups prior to Game 2 of the Ducks series.)
This isn’t the first time the Avalanche have combed the European leagues for talent. Last year, the club signed Borna Rendulic out of the Finnish league, and he went on to become the first Croatian born and trained player to play in the NHL (appearing in 11 games all told.)
The Anaheim Ducks needed to play just nine games to get past the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames. In order to accomplish that, goaltender Frederik Andersen had to be sharp and the Ducks’ star forwards had to perform as advertised, but Anaheim also required help from its supporting cast. It got it and no one exemplifies that more than Jakob Silfverberg.
The 24-year-old forward has three goals and is tied for fifth in the league with 11 points in the postseason. That’s in stark contrast to his 13 goals and 39 points in 81 regular season contests.
“He’s been a difference-maker in all the games,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau told the Los Angeles Times. “We knew he was capable, but he’s gotten hot at the right time and that’s great.”
Silfverberg feels like he’s playing the same way he has all season and wonders if the difference has simply been puck luck. At the same time, this could be a matter of his hard work paying off.
“Just from day one, seeing what he does, seeing his puck skills, seeing the way he can shoot the puck, I knew he could score,” linemate Ryan Kesler said. “It was just a matter of doing it game in and game out. He’s found that consistency to his game now and we’ve been working well off each other.”
Given that the Ducks will face the Chicago Blackhawks next, they’ll have to hope that Silfverberg can continue to be a significant factor.
“I think if we keep playing like we did in the previous two series we should be fine,” Silfverberg said. “We’re playing on top of our game right now and I don’t think there’s a better time to face the Blackhawks than right now.”
Corey Perry watch continues.
The L.A. Times reported on Thursday that Perry missed another Anaheim Ducks practice, however head coach Bruce Boudreau reiterated the point that he expects the veteran forward and playoff points leader to be in the lineup for Game 1 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.
Perry was hurt on a collision involving Calgary Flames forward Matt Stajan in Game 5 of that second round series.
“We have six days off, there’s no sense rushing him, I’m pretty sure he’ll be back on the ice [Friday],” Boudreau told the L.A. Times. “I have no indication that he’s not [going to be able to play].”
The latest Stanley Cup odds, courtesy online bookmaker Bovada:
New York Rangers — 2/1
Chicago Blackhawks — 11/5
Anaheim Ducks — 12/5
Tampa Bay Lightning — 19/4
Now, there’s always some smart guy who mentions it in the comments section, so we might as well beat him to the punch:
No, the odds aren’t always exactly what the oddsmakers believe to be 100-percent true. In this case, there’s possibly been a slight adjustment based on the size of New York’s fan base compared to, say, Tampa Bay’s. Generally, people like to bet on their favorite teams, and an Original Six team like the Rangers, in a big city like New York, has a lot of fans.
Then again, maybe Tampa Bay’s the long shot of the four because the oddsmakers just don’t think the Lightning have been very good in the playoffs. (Which they really haven’t been.)
Anyway, here are the Conn Smythe Trophy favorites:
Henrik Lundqvist — 4/1
Patrick Kane — 17/2
Corey Perry — 9/1
Jonathan Toews — 19/2
2.00 — Goals per game for the Rangers in these playoffs. The reason they’re in the conference finals is they’ve only given up 1.67 per game, thanks in large part to Henrik Lundqvist (.944 save percentage). Remarkably, six of the Rangers’ eight wins have been by a score of 2-1. Derick Brassard and Chris Kreider lead the Blueshirts with five goals each, followed by Derek Stepan with three, while Rick Nash, Carl Hagelin, Kevin Hayes, Ryan McDonagh and Dan Boyle have two each.
55.4 — Anaheim’s faceoff percentage, the highest of the four remaining teams. The Ducks struggled in this area last postseason, but the addition of Ryan Kesler (63.7% this year), who replaced Nick Bonino (45.8% last year), has really helped them. Should be interesting to see how Kesler does against Jonathan Toews, one of the best faceoff men in the game.
10-1 — The combined overtime record of the four remaining teams, led by the Rangers (4-0). The only team that’s suffered an overtime loss is Anaheim (Game 3 versus Calgary).
48.31 — Tampa Bay’s Corsi close percentage, the lowest of the four remaining teams. Which lends credence to the notion that the Lightning haven’t really played up to their potential in the postseason. In a related story, Ben Bishop was excellent versus Montreal, registering a save percentage of .940 in six games, while outplaying Hart Trophy favorite Carey Price. Let’s see how Bishop does versus Lundqvist.
9 — Power-play goals allowed by Chicago. Six to Nashville, then three more to Minnesota. Poor penalty killing is not something that’s normally associated with successful playoff teams, so the Blackhawks will want to tighten that area up versus the Ducks, who’ve scored nine power-play goals in nine games.