Tag: Victor Hedman

Team Preview: Are the Tampa Bay Lightning ready to finally close on Cup final…

The Lightning had yet another successful season despite their 2016-17 missed playoff year and 5th place Atlantic division finish. The Lightning bounced back for a 1st place divisional finish and 3rd place NHL finish. Coming off a 54 win and 113 point season the Lightning, again failed to capitalize on the ultimate goal though. The Stanley Cup. This was the Lightning’s 3rd conference final loss in the last 8 years and fifth time failing to capitalize on a remarkable regular season in the last eight years.

Many times we have seen the Lightning miss their goal due to some injuries, like Steven Stamkos in the 2015-16 Cup run who many thought was the Lightning’s year and I am sure if you ask many fans around the league if Stamkos was healthy during that run it may have turned out differently for Tampa Bay.

Lightning offense able to lead Tampa to 1st place Atlantic finish again…

Heading into the 2018-19 year the Lighting are without Chris Kunitz and defenseman Andrej Sustr, nothing to really throw your arms in the air over as most of there core guys are still around and their young talent is still there. The Lightning have the Atlantic division at the palm of their hands, having to deal with Boston and Toronto, the Lightning should still be a sure favorite for the playoffs and another deep run.

Tampa Bay Lightning 2018-19 previewWith a line up of JT Miller, Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov on line one, off the bat you are looking at a top 10 first line pairing. If Miller can be consistent and continue to feed off Stamkos and Kucherov he is looking at an easy 60 plus point year. In Millers 19 games with Tampa Bay he tallied 18 points and in the playoffs he scored 8 points in 17 games. On line two the Lightning have Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson, Point and Johnson combining for 106 points is already enough to supplement a solid second line, throw in Palat’s 35 points in 56 games, a player who can easily be a 50 point guy, the Lightning have a top 5 ranked second line in the league. Now a third line lacking some center depth with Anthony Cirelli but still with Alex Killron and Yanni Gourde the Lightning have three scoring lines right there.

They will be expecting some big numbers from Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde again as the two are coming off remarkable years, which with their production was a main reason the Lightning were so consistent throughout the year. This will be a big test for 3rd round 2015 draft pick Cirelli to step into the mix and secure his third line spot. In 18 games last year he tallied 11 points and in the playoffs he managed to make little bit of noise with 3 points.

Lightning need McDonagh to make a big step next season…

Tampa Bay Lighting Ryan McDonaghOn defenseman the Lightning have a Norris winning defenseman now in Victor Hedman, proving to be one of the most versatile and consistent defenseman in the NHL. Hedman is a sure fire 60 plus points year in and year out. The next step is getting Ryan McDonagh to the next level, and capable of bringing what the Lightning thought they were going to get when he first came over. McDonagh tallied 3 points in 14 games last year with Tampa and is coming off one of his worst years (29 points) since he emerged in the league. McDonagh when healthy is capable of 40 plus points but if he cannot stay healthy or find his groove on this Tampa Bay team it will cause some concern for Tampa fans and leave the Lightning missing that “one” piece they need to secure a Stanley Cup. Along with the meat and potatoes guys in the league Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman, two guys who you know what you are going to get from them and nothing more. Two solid defensive defenseman but as Girardi continues to age as well as Stralman this Tampa Bay defense has some concerns. Luckily with Vezina nominee goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy the Lightning have a sure number one goaltender, with Vasilevskiy coming off a 44 win season posting a 2.62 GAA and .920 save percentage with 8 shutouts the Lightning better hope he can continue to log 60 plus starts a year at a consistent rate. Last year was Vasilevskiy’s second full year as a starter but from 2016-17 to 2017-18 his minutes increased from 1,480 to 2,075 minutes a 595 minute difference his starting time increased from 47 games to 64 games a 17 game difference, point of the story is, he has seen a steady increase in numbers and when this happens we all know what occurs in the long run…

Predictions? 

I think the Lightning edge out the Bruins for the top spot and hold off the Leafs as well, they finish around the same point mark and win wise, perhaps a 112 point divisional win. The only concern with the Lightning here is if they face some injuries and go on a skid they have two of the best teams in the NHL right on their tail ready to take over the division. Still I see a division win from the Lightning, but perhaps that next step is not next season as they will fall short of the ultimate goal once again.

 

 

Advertisements

Top-30 Fantasy Hockey Defenseman

All we have left are goaltenders now! But in reality who cares about those freaks of nature and their weird pregame rituals. Better off not ranking those creatures of hockey. Just kidding, honestly just hoping a goalie comes across this and gets a laugh out of it.

Anyhow… this year 2018-2019 Top-30 Fantasy defenseman heading into the year are as follows…

(Based on G, A, PT, PPP, PPA, PPG, PIMS, HITS, TOI, SHOTS) I do not account for blocks here because not every league or most leagues run that way. 

Top-30 Defenseman

  1. Victor Hedman, TBL
  2. P.K. Subban, NSH
  3. Drew Doughty, LAK
  4. Erik Karlsson, OTT
  5. Brent Burns, SJS
  6. Dustin Byfuglien, WPG
  7. John Carlson, WSH
  8. Roman Josi, NSH
  9. Seth Jones, CBJ
  10. John Klingberg, DAL
  11. Dougie Hamilton, CAR
  12. Torey Krug, BOS
  13. Matt Dumba, MIN
  14. Shayne Gostisbehere, PHL
  15. Aaron Ekblad, FLA
  16. Alex Pietrangelo, STL
  17. Mark Giordano, CGY
  18. Ivan Provorov, PHL
  19. Kris Letang, PIT
  20. Rasmus Ristolanien, BUF
  21. Tyson Barrie, COL
  22. Oliver Ekman Larsson, ARI
  23. Zach Werenski, CBJ
  24. Charlie McAvoy, BOS
  25. Jake Muzzin, LAK
  26. Mikhail Sergachev, TBL
  27. Brandon Montour, ANH
  28. Colin Miller, VGK
  29. Jacob Trouba, WPG
  30. Josh Manson, ANH

Ok, I was completely torn on this one. I am a big advocate for defenseman but some guys like Ekman Larsson, Ristolanien, Barrie fall off a bit due to their plus/minus, other players surrounding them, and honestly injury concerns. I like the bottom of the pack, around McAvoy down and think they all can be interchangeable at some point in the year. We can easily see Montour take off and surpass McAvoy but that bottom of the list is young and up and coming for sure. The top 10 is pretty simple, you cannot argue that or maybe you can but to me that’s pretty realistic. Anyone within that top 10 can realistically win the Norris this year to be honest.

The list looks good to me perhaps you do not agree. If not, feel free to comment below or tweet at me on Twitter @liveinthestands !

See you tomorrow for top-20 goalies for the 2018-19 year! To see what last years list looked like click here to find out!

 

Washington Capitals vs Tampa Bay Lightning: Eastern Conference Finals

This is a matchup we have seen in the playoffs only two times, 2002 and 2011, the Lightning holds the series advantage 6-2. In 2002 they beat Washington in the first round 4-2, in 2011 they beat Washington 4-0 in the second round. The good thing about hockey is as much as those numbers play a factor, they essentially mean nothing. In 2002 no active player is still on either team to this day and in 2011, the only two players who remain on the Lightning roster still to this day are Stamkos and Hedman, I am going to have to guess they barely remember that series.

Who has the edge here though this year? Let’s break down each aspect of the game.

Offense…

Tampa Bay: The Lightning have a very deep top nine, one of the best in the league and every player on this roster is capable of scoring and chipping in some way. Their leading scorer is Nikita Kucherov with 12 points, next up is Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos with 10. Ondrej Palat(8), JT Miller(7), Alex Killron(6), Yanni Gourde(6), Tyler Johnson(5). They have a list of players who can score every night, as we saw with Boston. When the lines look a little like, Kucherov-Stamkos-Miller, Point-Palat-Johnson and still have Killron, Gourde on the next two it is going to be a handful for the Capitals.

Washington: As we all know, the Capitals run through two guys a lot, Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, their two top scorers and guys that have been their fuel all playoffs. Their leading scorer is Ovechkin with 15 points and Kuzy with 14, despite Backstrom being out one game, game six he also is a point per game player with 13 points in 11 games. Throw in an all-around forward in TJ Oshie(8) and a defensive forward in Lars Eller(7) the Capitals will rely heavily on these guys like Oshie and Eller to chip in a bit more and take some pressure off Ovechkin and Kuznetsov. Welcoming back Tom Wilson will give them that edge as well, with the Lightning, have Coburn, Hedman, Callahan as their guys who like to throw the weight around, Wilson will match any Lightning and bring that physical presence each day.

Winner: Lightning on pure depth and versatility. Any line can chip and every line has a ton of speed plus their fourth line has been causing havoc every shift they are out there. A good fourth line makes a championship team.

Defense…

Tampa Bay: With Norris trophy winner Victor Hedman leading the backend, with the help of Anton Stralman, Ryan McDonagh, Mikhail Sergachev and Dan Girardi. The Lightning have a very deep, versatile defense as well. In McDonagh you can get both offense and defense(offensive defenseman), Girardi you know a solid 16+ minutes a game playing a fairly solid defensive game and Stralman playing a very solid 18+ minutes shut down style. With Sergachev and Hedman leading the rush on the backend, they have a ton of tools who can get do it all.

Washington: John Carlson through and through has been the most underrated defenseman this whole season, logging major minutes this postseason, producing 11 points, 3 goals and 8 assists in 12 games behind all defenseman by one point for the defenseman lead in the playoffs. With Matt Niskanen and Dimitry Orlov who have played a very solid shut down game with the Penguins and their top guys and the old veteran-like Brooks Orpik doing the same thing as Girardi in a sense. With two very inexperienced and young defenseman in Christian Djoos and Michale Kempny, the Capitals have seen these two young men, grow exceptionally well this playoff run and not make any MAJOR mistakes. A simple game that has been working well for them.

Winner: Lightning, too much depth and tools on that backend that supplement their offense so well.

Goaltending…

Tampa Bay: Andrei Vasalivskiy is up for a Vezina trophy and has been very solid and consistent this year for the Lightning. Someone who has really risen to the ranks of a starting role and has given the Lightning the confidence they need, making the saves he needs to when he needs to. Just in the Boston series, he allowed 12 goals in 5 games and 5 of those goals came in game one. He ranks third among active goalies in save percentage(.927) and third in goals against 2.20. This is a tough one because Vasilevskiy has had his team played very well in front of him, but has still been a part of their success in a big way.

Washington: Braden Holtby once a Vezina winner, but after one of his worst years as a starter, coming into the playoffs the Capitals went with Phillip Grubauer after that failed and the Capitals lost their first two games. They gave the torch back to Holtby who has been lights out for them with an 8-2 record, one coming in overtime in game two. Ranking second in goals against with a 2.04 and fourth in save percentage(.926). Holtby has allowed 23 goals compared to Vasilevskiy’s 22 this postseason and their numbers are very similar.

Winner: Capitals, experience-wise, I think we see Holtby elevate his game and play big on this stage that he has never been to before. They are very similar in numbers as far GAA, SV % and goals allowed but I think Holtby is going to be again the big difference maker for the Capitals and rise to the big stage when they need him most.

Series winner: I see the Lightning taking this series in 7, the home ice will play a major role and their offense is just too much to stop right now. With Point, Palat and Gourde all having great series thus far, along with a solid fourth line and Stamkos and Kucherov being relatively quiet that second round, the Lightning’s top guys will come to play and give them the edge here.

Norris Trophy Finalist Discussion

Well, well, well would look at this here. The NHL once again snubbed players for the Norris trophy. Year after year this happens and this year they messed up BIG time.

This year’s finalists are Drew Doughty(LAK), Victor Hedman(TBL) and P.K. Subban (NSH)

Doughty ended the year with 10 goals, 50 assists, 60 points ranked 7th among defenseman in points, playing all 82 games also not to mention. 11th among defenseman in plus/minus with a +23, tied for 16th for power-play points with 20 points. Finally ranked 1st for the defenseman with 26:50 average time on ice.

Victor Hedman played 77 games this season ranked 5th among defenseman with 63 points, 17 goals and 46 assists, second among plus/minus with a +32, 5th for power-play points with 26, lastly 5th among defenseman for time on ice per game with 25:51.

P.K. Subban played 82 games this season, ranked 9th among defenseman with 16 goals and 43 assists, ranked 20th in plus/minus with a +18 rating, ranked 7th for power-play points with 25 and 21st for time ice per game with 24:07.

NHL Norris Trophy FinalistWhat is the fuss? Oh well, the fact John Carlson nor John Klingberg were finalists is the fuss. At least one of them for christ sake. If you look at the supporting cast of all these finalists how could they not perform to be the best in the league year in and year out? In L.A. you have Doughty playing alongside Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, the late addition of Dion Phaneuf, Derek Forbort(not terrible, had 18 points this season), Christian Folin(again not bad had 13 points in 65 games). Either way, the Kings have four very solid defenseman that supplements Doughty quite well. Yes, he is the driving factor in L.A. and keeps the ship afloat but it does not hurt when you have two defensemen next to you that produce and can line up with other top forwards in the league. Now the Lighting and Victor Hedman, I mean cmon, the guy had Kucherov, Stamkos, Palat, Johnson, Point, Gourde, Killron, Miller up front to give the puck to can’t be too hard to get assists. And again yes Hedman is unbelievable without a doubt I am not saying he does not deserve it, but there are other guys that could have possibly been nominated. On top of playing with Ryan McDonagh later in the year and Mikhail Sergachev also, Anton Stralman is no slump and as much as you want to think it but Dan Girardi is a solid defenseman in that system Tampa plays. Do we even need to discuss PK Subban here, the Predators are absolute powerhouses of the league and were all year. On top of having one the best top nine in the NHL. Subban then played alongside the best d-core in the NHL. With Mattias Ekholm, Roman Josi(top-10 defenseman), Ryan Ellis, Alexi Emelin, Yannick Weber, literally a backend that is LOADED. Subban played great, and I love him but don’t think he is worthy of this nomination though.

Why John Carlson or John Klingberg? OK, well you look at Washington’s back end last year with Nate Schmidt and Karl Alzner all season plus Kevin Shattenkirk for 19 games, the Capitals then had Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, John Carlson and Dimitry Orlov a very reliable back end. Take away Karl Alzner a guy who ate major minutes for them and played a HUGE role on that back end in most if not all big situations. Then Nate Schmidt who had 17 points in 60 games last year but his time in Washington was usually a consist 15-20 points. Then add in Shattenkirk for 19 games who took Carlson’s job on the power play when he came to D.C. so Carlson’s production was obviously bound to drop. Well, now you start the year, with Taylor Chorney, Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos, Micahel Kempny with Carlson, then add a 31-year-old Niskanen, and 37-year-old Orpik, on top of a very inexperienced Orlov who coming into the year had only two full years in the league under his belt and coming off a career year.

NHL Norris Trophy Finalist
NHL Norris Trophy Finalist discussion

Carlson was basically asked to run the power play, ok increased power play production by 16 points, average 2.5 more minutes from last season without taking on more shifts. Played the most minutes among the Capitals defense by two minutes, a close second was Niskanen. And even though Carlson was not in the top 10 for time on ice per game he still produced the most points for a defenseman outscoring all defenseman besides Klingberg or Hedman by either 4-5 points. Not to mention he was not on the Lightning an Atlantic powerhouse or the Predators an NHL powerhouse. I am not discrediting any of these finalists but the numbers are clear, yes Carlson was on the Capitals and they won the Metropolitan but by no means were they a powerhouse of the NHL. They went through a lot of roster changes and asked some guys to step up, i.e. Carlson and look what he did. Went from 37 points in 72 games to 68 in 82 games. Carlson led all defenseman in points, ranked 2nd for power play points(32), 4th among assists and tied 8th for goals(15).

NHL Norris Trophy Finalist
NHL Norris Trophy Talk

Case for John Klingberg now, this one is very obvious. This guy was expected to play a major role after Dallas had a terrible season in 2016-17 and added Alex Radulov to supplement Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Also, Ben Bishop to give them a reliable starter. Dallas expected Klingberg to turn it around especially since he had 49 points in 2016-17 after producing 58 in 2015-16, therefore a lot of pressure was on Klingberg and the Stars had sights on the playoffs and more. Although they missed the playoffs by a few points due to Ben Bishop and other reasons, the Stars still had a better season this year than 2016-17. As well did Klingberg, who produced 67 points an 18 point increase from last season. Plus, who did this guy even have alongside him? Marc Methot who missed the whole season basically. Esa Lindell a young defenseman who produced well actually, Dan Hamhuis, who yes is a solid defenseman. Perhaps Stephen Johns or Greg Pateryn. Ok, so Klingberg had one or two defensemen who could supplement him and play alongside him to his kind of level and or capability. Klingberg ranked top four among his team in points and only trailed Radulov by 5 points. Klingberg not only ranked among the top for this team but also was 2nd among all defenseman in points, first in assists, tied 40th for goals, 14th for power-play points with 23 and 22nd for time on ice per game.

It seems like this happens too often it seems like Doughty and Hedman are literally just shoe-ins at this point. Switch it up, recongize some other players, the thor looking guy will sell tickets and get fans but give me a break. Yeah Doughty and his toothless smile and snarky attitude will get attention but the dedicated and actual hockey fans want to see something get called right here. Already ruining the playoffs with all these suspensions.