Playoff hockey is just over a week away. Yes, you read that correctly.
As I’ve been doing weekly over the last couple of months, I’m going to share some info and thoughts to help give you the best chance of success when play resumes.
Let’s get to it.
The “3M” Line
I think Calgary’s 2nd line of Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund, and Andrew Mangiapane may be able to do some real damage against Winnipeg. They were absolutely steamrolling teams at 5v5 (~54 CF%, ~55 xGF%, plus-8 goal differential) despite playing tough minutes against opposing team’s best players. While in some cases that could take away from a line’s ability to create offense, I think it will actually help CGY2. Winnipeg is one of the worst defensive teams in the league at 5v5 and a lot of it stems from their top offensive players. The Kyle Connor – Mark Scheifele – Patrik Laine trio gives up more than 32 chances per 60, which is quite bad. The top line with Blake Wheeler in place of Laine isn’t much better, allowing 31.86 chances per 60 and controlling less than 48% of the high-danger opportunities. I think CGY2 can generate offense against WPG1. The fact they’re likely going to see WPG1 when Calgary controls matchups should only add to their ice time, making them a more enticing play.
How Many Pucks Can a Chychrun Chuck?
An under the radar player I’ll be targeting, even as a one-off, in the play-in round: Jakob Chychrun. The Arizona Coyotes and Nashville Predators played some of the highest pace hockey in the league prior to the pause. There were tons of shots to go around. It definitely seems worth noting Chychrun ranked 5th at 5v5 – behind only Shea Theodore, Brent Burns, Roman Josi and Hayden Fluery – in shot attempts/60 over the last 20. He was putting anything and everything on net. I think the potential pace in this series should afford him the opportunity to continue doing so. Pekka Rinne (projected starter) has also struggled mightily this season and is prone to allowing goals from a distance, meaning Chychrun actually has a decent chance of finding the back of the net with some of the long range shots he’ll be firing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he finds himself on some slate-winning teams in the opening round.
Oh, and play Josi in all of your cash lineups.
The next time I see you guys hockey will be back. It’s go time!
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com