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Apparently The Regular Season Is Irrelevant In The NHL

While the opening round of the NBA playoffs so far could have been blindly simulated, chaos is governing the ice.

Ranked dead last in early January, the St. Louis Blues completed arguably the greatest midseason U-turn in NHL history by advancing to the conference semifinals. And that’s probably just the third-most-surprising storyline of this young postseason. Tampa Bay and Calgary, the top seeds in each conference, survived less than two weeks, combining to win a single game. Never before had the President’s Trophy-winning team been swept. Never before had the top seeds both been eliminated in the opening round.

It has already seemed like “the year of the underdog” in the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs. But unlike its hardcourt brethren, the NHL is accustomed to things not going to plan in the “second season.” So how does this postseason stack up against years past? Using the archived money lines at SportsOddsHistory.com, we can decipher a team’s implied probability of advancing and use that to rank the wildest opening rounds in Stanley Cup history.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

After marauding the league during the regular season, the Tampa Bay Lightning were installed as 1-to-4 favorites going into their series with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Jon Cooper’s outfit won the President’s Trophy behind 128 points and 62 regular-season wins, which tied for the most ever. Tampa was the league’s highest-scoring team by a generous margin, spearheaded by three 40-goal snipers — a feat that hadn’t been accomplished in nearly a quarter-century. Not since 2009-10 had there been a bigger favorite in a series.1 Columbus checked in at +325, which translates to a 23 percent implied probability of winning after adjusting for the cut of the bookmaker, or the vigorish.2 Tampa Bay fell apart against the new-kids-on-the-block Blue Jackets in what could be argued was the single biggest collapse in modern sport. What’s more, it was the first series win in Columbus franchise history.

CALGARY, AB - APRIL 19: Colin Wilson #22 of the Colorado Avalanche scores on the net of Mike Smith #41 of the Calgary Flames in Game Five of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome on April 19, 2019 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB – APRIL 19: Colin Wilson #22 of the Colorado Avalanche scores on the net of Mike Smith #41 of the Calgary Flames in Game Five of the Western Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome on April 19, 2019 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

“In today’s game with the parity, it’s not unusual that an eight [seed] beats a one anymore,” Cooper said after the loss. “Everybody’s that close.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

North of the border, the Calgary Flames were given a 67 percent implied probability of winning their series against the Colorado Avalanche. Bill Peters’s squad included the league’s second-best offense3 and a triumvirate of 30-goal scorers. After taking the series opener, Calgary got buried in four straight games by the Avalanche, a wild-card club with the 17th-best record in the NHL.

“Obviously we were the big underdogs,” Avs center Nathan MacKinnon said. “And no one picked us to win.”

But the pandemonium didn’t stop there. Despite not having home ice, the Pittsburgh Penguins had a 59 percent implied probability of winning their series against the New York Islanders. They were promptly swept. The Nashville Predators, which had reached at least the second round in three consecutive seasons, had a 61 percent implied probability against the Dallas Stars, but the Preds fell in just six games.

The Vegas Golden Knights, last season’s expansion surprise, were slight favorites over the San Jose Sharks despite not having home ice. But the Sharks came back from down 3-1 in the series to force a Game 7, in which they found the net four times on one power play and edged Vegas in an all-time classic. “That’s a once in a lifetime game,” Sharks center Logan Couture told The Athletic. “I don’t think my heart can take another one like that.”

Sens call up Brannstrom, 19; was in Stone deal

Ottawa Senators fans will get an early look at the key player the team received in the Mark Stone trade because the team is calling up 19-year-old defenseman Erik Brannstrom for the home game against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The Senators traded all three of their top goal scorers at the deadline in Stone, Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel.5

While the return for Duchene and Dzingel from Columbus centered on draft picks, Ottawa received a potential star in Brannstrom from Vegas. He was selected 15th overall in 2017 by the Golden Knights and is considered an elite puck-moving defensive prospect. The Knights also sent forward Oscar Lindberg and a second-round pick.

Brannstrom played 41 games with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL before the trade, scoring seven goals and adding 21 assists. In five games with Belleville since the deal, he has an assist.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

The Sweden native also played for his country in the world junior championships this year and had four goals in five games.

Team-by-team look at how to approach NHL playoff fantasy action

Last season was an example of just how straightforward this can sometimes be when it comes to picking among the scorers. Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom were the most obvious choices from the Washington Capitals, so if you liked this squad to make a run for the Stanley Cup, these would have been no-brainer selections for your squad. In fact, they finished one-two-three in scoring (Kuznetsov, Ovechkin, Backstrom) and that was that.

Yet, that was about the only predictable aspect. The run by the Vegas Golden Knights was impressive and pushed Reilly Smith to finish fourth in scoring. Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby exploded together for 21 points each in just 12 games to finish tied for fifth, even though the Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t escape the second round. Despite being a fantasy trainwreck in the regular season, Braden Holtby ended up with the most wins (16) and posted two shutouts, while Marc-Andre Fleury was right behind him in scoring with 13 wins and four shutouts.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

So, with uncertainty still likely to come into play, there is a general strategy to fall back on:5

You want players from the teams that will advance the furthest. This is pretty obvious, as more games played equals more points. Of the 36 players that scored more than 10 points during last season’s playoffs, only 12 were not on teams that made the conference finals.

In most formats, goaltenders will earn the most points. This is, of course, assuming most teams will ride one goaltender through the playoffs. The Fleury/Matt Murray show we saw for the Pittsburgh Penguins in their back-to-back Stanley Cups has been the exception, not the rule. The goalie that wins it all will probably get 16 wins and a couple of shutouts sprinkled in. If your league awards two points per win, that’s already more points than the top-scoring skater of the playoffs is probably going to get. Evgeni Malkin’s 36 points in 2008-09 is the only example from the past 10 years of a player eclipsing 32 points.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

All your eggs should be in a minimal number of baskets. Pick your teams that you think will go far and take players from those teams. Sean Couturier and Mitch Marner both scored better than a point-per-game during the playoffs last year, but that doesn’t help you much if they don’t get out of the first round.

The bigger your pool, the more contrarian you need to be. This is the same approach you take for daily fantasy sports, as the more opponents you are facing in your pool will usually translate into more of the same lineup decisions. If you are in a pool with 10 of your co-workers, go ahead and stack the top teams and pick all the superstars. There should be enough variety among only 10 teams. However, if your friend runs a playoff pool with 50-100 entries, all of a sudden you need to zig a little while everyone else is zagging to have a chance at winning. You don’t want to go completely contrarian, but a couple of sleeper picks will be needed to separate you from the pack. Taking part in an online pool with thousands of entries? You may need to predict something like a Colorado Avalanche-Columbus Blue Jackets final — and be right — in order to win the crown.

Wild’s Brown arrested for public intoxication

Minnesota Wild forward J.T. Brown was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication in Dallas hours before the Wild’s season finale.

Police reports indicate the incident happened at British Beverage Co. early Saturday. Brown did not play in the Wild’s final game that night against the Dallas Stars, who beat the Wild 3-0 to take the Western Conference’s top wild-card spot. The Wild announced he was out because of illness.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Brown apologized to the Wild, his teammates, family and fans for making a “poor decision.” He said in a statement to the Star Tribune that he put himself in “a bad situation” and takes full responsibility.4

The Wild said the team is aware of the report and has no comment.

Dallas police say an off-duty police officer was advised by employees of a nearby business that Brown was causing a disturbance with other patrons and employees inside the business. Brown was asked to leave and escorted off the premises. Police say Brown later returned and caused a verbal altercation with the staff. He was taken into custody by officers and processed for public intoxication, a misdemeanor. Police say it was later discovered that Brown was a member of the Wild.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Brown, 28, is in his first season with the Wild after signing a two-year, $1.375 million contract last July as a free agent. The Burnsville, Minnesota, native and former Minnesota Duluth standout appeared in 56 games, recording three goals and eight points as the fourth-line right-winger. He previously played for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Anaheim Ducks.

Brock Boeser overcomes personal, family hardships to star for Canucks

The summer of Brock Boeser took place at a 6,000-square-foot Minnesota lake house with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the water (and an inflatable trampoline volleyball court docked just outside). The Vancouver Canucks winger rented the place with three high school buddies, and before you begin wondering if this is some “Entourage”-esque setup, the 21-year-old clears things up.

“Come on, they’re my friends!” he said. “They’re not using me; everyone pays rent.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

In the mornings, Boeser drove 20 minutes to his parents’ house to have breakfast and play with Coolie, the Australian Cattle Dog mix the Boesers fell in love with — and adopted — at January’s NHL All-Star weekend. He’d then work out and spend afternoons lake surfing.6

Things might be good in Minnesota, but they’re just as pleasant in Vancouver, where Boeser has fallen in love with the city because “the fans are awesome, it’s beautiful, everyone is really active … and the sushi, the sushi is so good. They have it for us after games, and I only need a few pieces because I’m satisfied and move on.”

Boeser led the Canucks in scoring (29 goals and 55 points in just 62 contests), wooing just about everyone who saw him. Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz compared Boeser’s release to Alex Ovechkin’s. Says Vancouver defenseman Erik Gudbranson: “His release is ridiculous, just ridiculous. The puck is on and off his stick in a split-second.”cheap nfl jerseys china nike

In January, Boeser raked in an impressive All-Star haul. As the first rookie to win MVP, he picked up $675,000 — more than two-thirds of his salary — in bonuses and prize money, plus a new car. That has led Boeser to enjoy the unexpected spoils of fame. He was taken aback when he found out somebody was selling a T-shirt featuring a collage of … his face.

“Just a bunch of pictures of me,” he said. “All over.” (Indeed, they retail for $24.99 and also come in tank-top form.)

Because of his platinum blond locks, Boeser is constantly being tagged on social media alongside photos of Prince Charming from “Shrek.” Then there are the even crazier perks, like filming a skit for the Canadian Juno music awards with singer Michael Buble.

Max Pacioretty ready for new chapter with Golden Knights

When Max Pacioretty told his kids he had been traded from the Montreal Canadiens, one of his three sons pointed to his bedsheets covered in NHL team logos and asked which one was Vegas.

Problem is, the sheets were pre-Golden Knights. Instead, he showed his sons a YouTube video of the team’s pregame extravaganza during the playoffs. They quickly became excited. And they weren’t the only ones.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“When we came here and we played them … it was one of the most amazing hockey experiences in my life,” Pacioretty said Wednesday at his introductory news conference. “I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a first-class organization that I’m proud to be a part of.”5

The 29-year-old Pacioretty, who was traded Sunday and immediately signed to a $28 million, four-year contract extension that runs through the 2022-23 season, said coach Gerard Gallant and general manager George McPhee made it clear he was being brought into an organization that is ready to compete for a Stanley Cup again.

Add in the research he did about the community, his familiarity with Gallant, who was an assistant in Montreal in 2012, and the success of the team in its inaugural season, and the All-Star felt it was a good time to relocate.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“I feel I have the opportunity right now to just get back to what I loved doing as a kid, and that’s just going out there and having fun and playing hockey,” Pacioretty said. “They play a fast game, they’re all on the same page every single night and they play for each other. They mentioned that there’s going to be 23 captains on the team this year, and I could feel that today with the energy in the room and the camaraderie of the guys. I’m just excited to be a part of that.”

Pacioretty, who had 17 goals and 20 assists last season with Montreal, said he is also excited to be reunited with veteran center Paul Stastny, whom the Knights signed earlier this year. The Pacioretty-Stastny tandem will be familiar to fans of past versions of the U.S. men’s national hockey team and could prove to be an upgrade to a second line that lost James Neal and David Perron in free agency.

Weekly Reader: The fallout from NHL Awards ballots being public

Every year, there are votes that boggle the mind, and this year was no exception. Some of them are egregious — like Mathew Barzal getting anything less than a first- or second-place vote for the Calder Trophy — and some of them are just curiously baffling, like putting Vladimir Tarasenko fifth on a Selke Trophy ballot in the hopes that he eventually plays defense, one assumes.

Fans see these votes, and start hurling bile at the voters for their malfeasance. For example: Who left Nathan MacKinnon off their Hart Trophy ballots completely, nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal when the Colorado Avalanche center had one of the most rock-solid cases for either winning the award or finishing second?98

Well, it turns out that Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette, Ansar Khan of MLive.com, Ross McKeon of the San Francisco Chronicle and Steve Zipay of Newsday did. None of them voted for Taylor Hall of the Devils, who won the award, in first place either. Hickey had both Evgeni Malkin (first) and Sidney Crosby (fifth) on the same ballot.

We know this because, for the first time, all of the Professional Hockey Writers Association ballots have been released. You can read them here. (Emily Kaplan and I published ours here — along with explanations — after the awards show.)

The decision was made back in March, as 81.3 percent of members voted to make the ballots public. “As journalists we expect full transparency from the teams and people we cover,” PHWA president Mark Spector said.cheap nfl nike jerseys china  “Our members are aware that the same is expected of us from our readers, and many voters have voluntarily revealed their ballots in the past. As a group, we have concluded that it is time to make full transparency part and parcel of voting on the NHL Awards.”

Ilya Kovalchuk agrees to 3-year deal with LA Kings

“We are excited to add Ilya to the LA Kings organization,” vice president and general manager Rob Blake said in a statement. “He gives us an added element of skill and scoring along with a desire to win. We will withhold further comment until July 1.”

Kovalchuk, 35, hasn’t played in the NHL since 2013, when he returned to Russia to play for SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

He was the subject of a free-agency sweepstakes when he announced his intention to return to the NHL. He led the KHL with 63 points last season, and he was second with 31 goals scored.97

Kovalchuk was the No. 1 pick of the 2001 draft by the Atlanta Thrashers. He was the first Russian player to be selected first in the NHL draft. Over his 11 NHL seasons, no active player scored more goals than Kovalchuk’s 417.

He scored 816 points (417 goals, 399 assists) in 816 regular-season games with the Thrashers and New Jersey Devils.

Kovalchuk’s first contract with the Devils was famously spiked by the NHL for cap circumvention. The Devils then signed Kovalchuk to a 15-year, $100 million contract in 2010. Kovalchuk “retired” just three years into that deal, saying he had soured on the NHL after the 2012 lockout for reasons that included escrow withholding and North American taxes.

He also said he wanted to be closer to family, walking away from $77 million owed by the Devils to sign a four-year deal with SKA St. Petersburg.

The Kings were a suitor for Kovalchuk in 2010 before he chose the Devils.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

Los Angeles rebounded from a poor 2016-17 campaign to make the playoffs this past season, but the Kings were swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Vegas Golden Knights.

Several teams made pitches to Kovalchuk’s agent JP Barry this past week, including the Boston Bruins.

“We put our position forth,” Bruins GM Don Sweeney said Friday. “He’s got plenty of options that he’s mulling over as we discussed, and he said he’d get back to us.”

Kovalchuk, a three-time NHL All-Star selection, won two KHL titles with St. Petersburg. He also was the MVP in Pyeongchang as the Russians won the Olympic gold medal.

Vasilevskiy turns East final around for Lightning

Two games and two losses brought plenty of criticism of the young Russian goaltender. Cooper wasn’t thrilled about that.

”The questions were coming from the other side of the table, and I felt it was the questioning of Vasilevskiy,” the Tampa Bay coach said. ”We don’t. He’s been the guy for us.’‘where can i get cheap nfl jerseys

Vasilevskiy is the guy who turned the series around for the Lightning, who now lead the Capitals 3-2 and can eliminate Washington on the road in Game 6 on Monday night and move on to the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights. After a 6.00 goals-against average and .839 save percentage in Games 1 and 2, he has a 2.00 GAA and .943 save percentage since as the series’ biggest difference-maker.

Cooper saw it during the 2016-17 season when Vasilevskiy struggled during a stretch of 10 consecutive starts when Ben Bishop was hurt and then again late this season when a swoon by him and the entire team almost cost Tampa Bay the East’s top seed. Vasilevskiy bounced back strong each time.300

”His ability to be able to turn the page now and understand, ‘You know what there might be a tough night for you, but I’m going to go out the next night anyway and I’ve got to be there for my team,’ – I think that’s where his growth process has really come in,” Cooper said.

The same happened between Games 2 and 3 in this series. The shy Vasilevskiy who has been reluctant to do interviews told a pool reporter he didn’t make any adjustments from his worst games against the Capitals to his best.

Somehow, he has looked like an entirely different goalie. Chants of ”Vasy! Vasy!” filled Amalie Arena in Game 5 on Saturday night when he stopped 28 of 30 shots, and the highest praise was reserved for inside the Lightning’s locker room.

”He’s a world class goaltender, that’s what he does,” defenseman Braydon Coburn said. ”He battles hard every day in practice all season long, and he’s raised his game in the playoffs here.”

No doubt his teammates have improved their play in front of Vasilevskiy, with defenseman Anton Stralman saying: ”We always feel like we owe him.” china cheap nfl jerseys But against a star-studded Capitals team led by countrymen Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, Vasilevskiy had to raise his game to give Tampa Bay any chance.

If the Capitals can crack Vasilevskiy like they did the first two times, there will be a Game 7 on Wednesday night at Tampa Bay. But they’d better figure that out and get an even better game from Braden Holtby because the Lightning are 11-0 in the playoffs when scoring three-plus goals.

Sweden beats Switzerland to retain world ice hockey title

Sweden capped a victorious run through the ice hockey world championship by edging Switzerland 3-2 on Sunday in the final after a penalty shootout to successfully defend its title.

Forward Filip Forsberg scored the decisive goal in the shootout to give Sweden a third world title in six years, and 11th overall.

Sweden won all 10 matches at the tournament.

”We wanted to win the gold medal, and here we are,” Sweden forward Viktor Arvidsson said. ”It’s unbelievable, especially for Filip (Forsberg). He’s a great player,wholesale nfl jerseys supply  one of our top players. It’s unbelievable to win with my teammates.”

Arvidsson, together with Nashville Predators teammates Forsberg and defenseman Mattias Ekholm, joined the Swedish team during the tournament after the Predators were eliminated from the NHL playoffs.

”We had the puck a lot,” Arvidsson said. ”They did a great job defending.”299

Sweden outshot Switzerland 38-27 but could not get the puck past goaltender Leonardo Genoni.

Switzerland finished runner-up for the third time after 2013 and 1935. It has never won.

”We battled hard … all the tournament long,” Switzerland defenseman Mirco Muller said. ”Once you look at the bigger picture, it’s huge for Swiss hockey. But right now, there’s a disappointment. We definitely had our chances.”

Switzerland stunned Canada 3-2 in the semifinals after a 3-2 upset against Finland in the quarterfinals.

”They were close to winning the whole championship. So, credit to them,” Sweden forward Magnus Paajarvi said.

Forward Nick Bonino scored the winner on a rebound during a power play in the final period. Anders Lee and Kreider added empty-net insurance goals to give the U.S. its third bronze in six years.

”It’s important for the team but it’s also important for USA Hockey,” U.S. captain Patrick Kane said. ”Now, we can build up off this level and try to keep being better and better.”where can i get cheap nfl jerseys

Kane had an assist in the game to finish the tournament with 20 points for eight goals and 12 assists, the first player to do so since 2008.

”Obviously I’m here to produce and try to create offense and make plays out there,” Kane said. ”Overall, I’m happy … it was a fun tournament and a great experience for me and I hope it will help me with my career going forward too.”