The second-place Edmonton Oilers could be taking on the Winnipeg Jets in the opening round of the playoffs. It’s a then less ideal matchup for the Jets, but let’s talk about this more than a likely scenario in the playoffs. Right before this team fell off the cliff, I was talking to the guys at Oilersnation and confidently said the Jets will win a seven-game series against the Oilers. Now, not so much and it sucks to say it. Honestly, I hope the Jets burn the Oilers so the folks of Edmonton can stop saying, “Winnipeg doesn’t have an airport.” Hey Edmonton, your airport is 20 minutes from downtown, our’s is much nicer and it’s right in the city. Kidding aside, I want to gloat about the Jets beating the Oilers. So let’s break this playoff matchup down.
The Oilers have had the Jets’ number pretty much all season. Winnipeg is 2-7 against Edmonton this season and they’ve been outscored 34-22. It’s great to watch a generational talent go hard and show off, unfortunately, Connor McDavid has been doing it to the Jets and forcing them to focus on him, which leads to the Oilers’ third line scoring multiple times. It feels like the Jets forget to show up when the Oilers roll into town.
The Jets are lacking scoring from their defensemen, which is one of the largest problems with them this season. The Jets have a total of 10 goals from the backend. The Oilers have 32 goals from their backend. The lack of scoring from the backend isn’t ideal, and the Jets D-core has been letting players sneak past and that leaves the goaltenders high and dry. Thankfully, Connor Hellebuyck has looked good for most of the season, or at least, up until the collapse of the Jets. Even when you look at shut-down defensemen between the two clubs, the Oilers win that too. Josh Morrissey isn’t as gritty as Adam Larsson and doesn’t block as many shots as him. Morrissey, who has 85 blocks this season, can’t compare to Larsson’s 125 blocks. Yes, Morrissey can shut guys down at the blue line, but once someone gets past him he’s taking the body of the puck carrier rather than taking away the shooting lane. The fact the Jets have a rookie like Logan Stanley playing a predominant role with the defense is such a red flag for me.
Jets goaltender Hellebuyck has sucked against the Oilers, he has a .878 save percentage and has also allowed 4.6 goals per game. Is there a reason for this? None that I can find, although three of those losses have been within one goal (not counting empty-net goals). It’s rough when you know your goalie doesn’t have much of a chance against some of the best scorers in the league and the defense can’t defend against them, which leads to these lopsided games.
The offense is actually pretty comparable. The high-end talent of the Oilers obviously beats the Jets’ high-end skill. If anyone says Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor are better than McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, they’re delusional. That being said, the Jets’ bottom six are much better and more consistent than the Oilers. Edmonton has this carousel of bottom-six players, where Winnipeg has been more consistent in the bottom six. So there’s better chemistry for the Jets in that area, which I think gives them an upper hand if their bottom six can start clicking when everyone has returned. Essentially, when everyone is healthy the Jets have two first lines and two third lines, where the Oilers run with two first lines and two fourth lines. I see that as an advantage but it’s the only one I can see right now.
I know this didn’t show the Jets in the best light, but I have to be realistic about them. Let me know if agree with my thoughts about going into the playoffs against the Oilers. Do you think I’m too harsh on the Jets? You can comment below or hit me up on Instagram and Twitter – my handle is @angushout.
Rolling into the playoffs let’s hope the Jets #GiveThemHell.
The Montreal Canadiens clinched the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division on Monday evening, earning one standings point in a 4-3 overtime loss against the Edmonton Oilers.
With Montreal in, the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks are finally out. The Flames current sit fifth in the North with 49 points in 52 games and could achieve a maximum of 57 points by winning their final four contests.
Montreal has one game remaining and has 58 points. The Canucks have six games left to play and could also, theoretically, reach 57 points.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, and Canadiens will be the four North Division playoff teams this season. Toronto and Edmonton have locked down the first and second spots, respectively; Winnipeg and Montreal are still jockeying for the third and fourth positions.
The Flames will miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2017–18 season. In 2018–19, they won the Pacific Division and placed first in the Western Conference with 107 points before losing in five games to the Colorado Avalanche in the first round.
The following year, the Flames defeated the Winnipeg Jets in the qualifying round before being defeated by the Dallas Stars in six games.
Barring any trades, the Flames will participate in the NHL Draft Lottery for the first time since the 2015–16 season. The Flames traded their 2018 first round pick to the New York Islanders for Travis Hamonic in June 2017; after Calgary missed the playoffs, the Islanders did not win the lottery but selected Noah Dobson with the Flames’ pick (12th overall).
Were the season to end today, the Flames would possess the 11th-best odds at winning the first overall pick in the lottery.
The Buffalo Sabres, Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks, Ottawa Senators, and Los Angeles Kings all currently boast worse points percentages than Calgary; the Seattle Kraken will automatically be given the third-best odds.
Through 52 games, the Flames have a 23-26-3 record. Their .471 points percentage is the 12th-worst in the club’s 41-year history in Calgary and the sixth-worst since the 2000–01 season.
Worst Flames records since 2000–01
|Season||Games Played||Points||Points Percentage||W–L–T–OT record|
The Flames drafted Matthew Tkachuk sixth overall after their disappointing 2015–16 season. In 2014, they picked Sam Bennett at the fourth slot. Sean Monahan came to Calgary with the sixth selection at the 2013 draft.
After recording a disappointing 75 points in the 2002–03 season, the Flames were able to pick Dion Phaneuf with the ninth selection in the stacked 2003 draft. At the 2001 draft, the Flames traded down from 11th overall (Fredrik Sjostrom) and received the 14th (Chuck Kobasew) and 41st (Andrei Taratukhin) picks.
With 23 wins in 52 games, the 2020–21 Flames would be on pace to win just 36 times in an 82-games season.
The Flames’ lack of scoring likely sealed their fate this season. Despite holding their opponents to just 149 goals in 52 games (tied for the ninth-fewest in the league), the Flames have scored just 138 of the own (ranking in a tie for 26th).
Only Columbus (137 in 56), Vancouver (135 in 50), Detroit (127 in 56), and Anaheim (126 in 56) have scored less often than Calgary this season. Vancouver, with two games in hand, looks like a safe bet to possibly pass the Flames in that department.
The Flames will conclude their season with a four-game series against the Canucks. They’ll kick it off in Calgary on May 13 at 7:00 pm MT.
Winning is still losing around these parts
Only as a Canucks fan do we know that even when the team is winning, it’s still finding ways to lose. After an impressive win last night against the Jets, the Canucks were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. It was inevitable but there was still that outside chance they could pull it off.
Knowing the Canucks, they’ll run off six of their final seven games with wins to put the dagger in a little deeper. This isn’t anything new so the realists won’t be too bothered by their latest exit. That being said, they do have a game tonight and it would be great to see the young guys get a tally or two on the board.
Nils Höglander had himself a game last night and he’ll definitely want to keep it going this evening. It might be over but there is plenty to be excited about going into the offseason.
Let’s Do This!
Shuffling the deck
Kole Lind was in the press box last night and may draw back in, but Zack MacEwen is back and there’s a chance we may also see Jonah Gadjovich. Is there a reason the Canucks have to play Matthew Highmore or Marc Michaelis? I get they made some trades to make one of them happen, but seriously, what are we even doing here?
Canucks still in the red and haven’t paid Green, Höglander has arrived, the Draft lottery and that Demko save
- How has Travis Green not been offered a contract yet, a real contract? There are two schools of thought on this: Management either believes he’s the right guy for the job or he isn’t. They’ve spent money in the offseason, they’ve spent money to shore up their goaltending position, but the man equally as important to the team’s success is left out in the cold. We should start preparing for Green to not be the coach because no respectable organization would have muffed it this bad.
- Nils had himself a game last night and even his teammates were fist-bumping him and rubbing his helmet when the final whistle went. They know what he means to this team and that they have another impactful young player making a difference every night. Even though it’s gimmicky, when Nils pulls off “The Michigan goal”, we’ll know that the confidence he exudes is ready to flow.
- Are the Canucks going to consider a Jack Eichel for Elias Pettersson trade? Would any of you make that move or is he not a “good in the room guy”? What’s the best trade package the Canucks could put together not involving Pettersson?
- The Draft Lottery is coming and everyone that’s anyone is using the simulator these days. I took the plunge and 30+ spins later, the Seattle Kraken had won it eight times while the Canucks finished second three times. So even the theoretical Canucks can’t catch a break.
- Back to the Swedish sensation for a minute: Nils is fourth in rookie even-strength points with 25. Sure, he’s not Jason Robertson or Kirill Kaprizov but he’s in the mix in his first season and that’s all that matters. That kid has a bright future.
- Thatcher Demko is worth every penny:
“It was a good 60-minutes for us. We were smarter with the puck and had some solid PKs.” – Demko, who made 39 saves pic.twitter.com/h2cZJAdjKM
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) May 11, 2021
PowerGlove Player of the Game
- Jack Rathbone. I don’t know why exactly but I just have a feeling he’s going to do something ridiculous. Just a hunch. I think I’m 1/25 with hunches, so there’s that.
Things I’m looking forward to
- Brock Boeser finishing with a goal-a-game to end the season.
- Opening up kids and adult outdoor league sports so we can have a bit more of a life this summer.
- Finishing season three of Breaking Bad.
- Travis Green getting a contract… with the Canucks.
- Another Canucks win.
The final game of the Oilers’ 2021 regular season will now be played in the afternoon. Adjust your calendars accordingly!
The Oilers were scheduled to host the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday with the start time listed as To Be Announced. This, of course, was one of the make-up games from earlier in the season when the Canucks were dealing with their COVID-19 outbreak.
START TIME UPDATE: NHL Regular Season Game 673 on Saturday, May 15 between the @Canucks and @EdmontonOilers will begin at 1:30 p.m. MT / 3:30 p.m. ET. #NHLStats https://t.co/a9ZOtWmQGr pic.twitter.com/b9h7BGsERt
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 10, 2021
The American NHL teams will all be finished their seasons on Thursday and Edmonton and Vancouver is the only regular-season game scheduled for Saturday. My guess is that the NHL has opted to move this game to the afternoon in order to open up prime-time slots to begin the 2021 playoffs for the American teams.
There’s no official word yet on when the playoffs will start, but the final game of the 2021 regular season is scheduled to be played between Vancouver and Calgary on Wednesday, May 19. Given television and radio deals and sponsorships, I can’t imagine the NHL will cancel those remaining Calgary and Vancouver games no matter how pointless they are, so the Canadian Division playoffs will likely start a few days later than the American divisions.
The Flames and Canucks are still mathematically alive in the playoff race. If Edmonton sweeps their two-game series against the Canadiens this week in regulation, both teams have the ability to win out and grab the fourth and final playoff spot in Canada. Calgary sits eight points back of Montreal with four games left to play and Vancouver is 14 points back with seven games left to play.
I’m not the kind of person who likes to be told what to do, so when Sheldon Keefe told reporters not to read to much into the lines at practice today, I knew exactly what I had to do: read too much into them.
Sheldon Keefe on today's lineup at practice:
"I don't think anybody should read too much into what they saw on the ice here today, because we've got to play two more games here in the regular season and all our players aren't yet available to us in games." https://t.co/9ChXReoZ5U
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) May 11, 2021
There are several jarring changes from what the Leafs have been running recently to tear into. My beautiful editor Jon Steitzer already covered the change in net, with Frederik Andersen returning to the lineup after being out for a long time.
As such, I’ll just read too much into the forward lines and defense pairing that Sheldon Keefe chose to attack me with today.
Alex Galchenyuk // Riley Nash
How on earth does Alex Galchenyuk, our favourite redemption arc boy, end up sitting on this team, in favour of offensive black hole Riley Nash? That’s not to unfairly disparage Nash, he’s a capable hockey player, but nothing good can happen offensively while he’s out there.
Meanwhile, Gally has been a fountain of youth and spark of competitive spirit in John Tavares and William Nylander, respectively. He’s elevated the play of that line tremendously since he was put on it. While I understand that Zach Hyman and the big-splash-trade-deadline-acquisition Nick Foligno need their places in the top-9 forwards, I am incredulous at the idea that Galchneyuk doesn’t deserve one of those places too with how he’s played.
Ilya Mikheyev has had a quite poor season, Riley Nash can’t generate offense to save his life, and while I like Alex Kerfoot in the right role, Alex Galchenyuk has been the better player this year, by a significant margin.
Hopefully Keefe is just messing with me on this one, but I’m forced to be very concerned at this lineup change.
Zach Hyman // Nick Foligno
It’s not that surprising to see that Zach Hyman will find himself playing with two of the best players in the league on that top line; his role has been to complement those kinds of players for a long time. However, in the case of Foligno, his role has been more of a checking line one in Columbus. Knowing that, it’s confusing that his place on this Toronto team is with the big four (Matthews/Marner to start, and now Tavares/Nylander).
It’s ridiculous when the Leafs have so many good offensive weapons to pair with the the skill of their top forwards to see a checking forward jammed into that role instead. However, when you consider the success that Hyman has had in that role, you have to concede that the possibility of it working out well is there.
Ultimately, the Leafs are making a gamble that Foligno can elevate Nylander and Tavares the way that Hyman does, and the way that Galchenyuk already proved to be able to do, as mentioned above.
Ben Hutton // Rasmus Sandin
OK, this one I can explain away fairly easily. With Andersen returning, there are some salary cap binds the Leafs have to negotiate. One of those is the unfortunate fact that Rasmus Sandin can get performance bonuses because of his rookie contract.
The math surrounding that is far more complicated than I intend to unpack in this post, but potential performance bonuses count against the cap differently than a player’s actual salary when you’re using the Long Term Injury Reserve (LTIR) for salary cap relief, like the Leafs are with Nash and probably Hyman too. Those potential performance bonuses have to be considered as if they’re definitely going to be paid out, even if that’s impossible. As such, Sandin’s contract means he can’t play for the Leafs because they don’t have enough money in the LTIR reserve to put him on the roster and cover his potential performance bonuses.
Hopefully you read the incredulous, frustrated tone in this article with the facetious undertone I had while writing it. While not satirical, I certainly exaggerated my feelings on these practice lines for the sake of a laugh. Underneath that exaggeration, though, are some real points on how good Alex Galchenyuk has been, and how the salary cap is shafting Rasmus Sandin. So, I hope you found those gems in this rough.
Of course I don’t think that Sheldon Keefe has concretely set the playoff lineup based on one practice lineup. So far this season, I’ve not been given much reason to distrust Keefe’s lineup choices, so I have to believe that he’ll make correct ones going into the playoffs when those decisions matter most.