Kevin Allen:Golden Knights may make changes and Blues are a playoff sleeper
The Vegas Golden Knights missing the playoffs for the first time in their short history has created plenty of a questions about what comes next.
What fans are wondering:
1. Will coach Pete DeBoer be fired?
He seems vulnerable based on the team underperforming and his criticism of his goalie Robin Lehner. Keep in mind that coming into the 2021-22 season, the Vegas Golden Knights were considered one of the top Stanley Cup favorites.
2. Will Lehner be the Vegas goalie next season?
Lehner didn't have a strong season. But he has three seasons left on a contract paying $5 million per season. The Golden Knights are impressed with Logan Thompson, 25, who came out of nowhere to become a potential starter. They could consider dealing Lehner.
3. Is the Golden Knights salary cap situation resolved?
No. They still must move players to give the team flexibility for next season. Evgenii Dadonov is a trade candidate. But there will be one or two others. Right now, the Golden Knights don't have the cap space to re-sign Reilly Smith.
It will be an interesting offseason for the Golden Knights.
2. According to Naturalstattrick.com, the Boston Bruins, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames have given up the fewest number of dangerous scoring chances this season. That’s important to know entering the playoffs.
3. The Bruins gave up 59 fewer dangerous scoring chances than Minnesota and 64 less than Nashville. Calgary has given up 75 more scoring chances than Boston.
4. No team qualified for the playoffs this season has given up more dangerous scoring chances than the New York Rangers. According to naturalstattrick.com, they have given up 243 more dangerous scoring chances than the Bruins. It is a good thing Igor Shesterkin has played brilliantly this season.
5. It’s more than impressive that 34-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins player Sidney Crosby received the most votes in the NHLPA Players poll in the categories of Most Complete Player and Best Role Model.
6. If you are wondering why the Detroit Red Wings didn’t promote top forward Jonatan Berggren from Grand Rapids this season, keep in mind that the Red Wings didn’t promote Moritz Seider when he was in Grand Rapids. That worked out pretty well for the Red Wings.
7. Don Granato isn’t going to win the Jack Adams award as coach of the year. The Buffalo Sabres missed the playoffs for the 11th consecutive season. But he might have done he best coaching job this season. Look how many players improved under his command.
8. Seider probably is the only member of this season’s defense that will be on the Detroit roster in two seasons. Would anticipate GM Steve Yzerman starting a defensive overhaul this offseason. Danny Dekeyser won’t be re-signed. Filip Hronek could be traded this summer.
9. The Toronto Maple Leafs have the fourth-best record in the NHL and their reward is they get to face the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round. And we wonder why the Toronto franchise hasn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967. Winning the Cup is never easy.
10. Looking forward to Minnesota vs. St. Louis first round matchup. As of this morning, both teams have 109 points. Each team is 8-1-1 in its last 10 games. The Blues rank fourth in scoring average (3.77 goals per game) and the Wild are fifth (3.73). Neither the Wild or Blues are ranked in the top 10 in goals-against average. The Blues have beaten Minnesota three times this season, but the games have been close. Two went to overtime.
11. San Jose Sharks player Thomas Bordeleau is the NHL third third-generation player. His father is Sebastien Bordeau (251 NHL games) and his grandfather is Paulin Bordeleau who played in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks and the WHA with the Quebec Nordiques. Previous three generation players: the Patricks and the Geoffrions. Craig Patrick is remembered more as the GM of the 1991 and 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup teams. But he played 401 NHL games, 144 with the California Golden Seals. His dad, Lynn and grandfather Lester, had brief stints in the NHL. Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion is a Hall of Fame player. His son Danny and grandson Blake played in the NHL. You can make an argument that Blake was a fourth generation player because his great-grandfather is Howie Morenz. His daughter married Bernie Geoffrion.
12. Really enjoyed Pierre Lebrun’s story in the Athletic about whether it’s time to scrap the shootout. I think the majority of fans would support adding a second 5-minute period of 3-on-3. The only issue would be increasing the average length of a game.
13. The Predators are not entering the playoffs on a positive note: they are 3-4-3 in their last 10. No other playoff team has fewer points in their last 10. Plus, goalie Juuse Saros is injured.
14. The Dallas Stars are the lowest-scoring playoff team (2.83 points per game) and the Toronto Maple Leafs enter the postseason with the highest goals-against average (3.03).
15. The Tampa Bay Lightning have a proven postseason offense, but the most difficult aspects of facing them in the postseason are Victor Hedman and Andre Vasilevskiy.
16. Could the St. Louis Blues be the best sleeper pick in the playoffs? DraftKings has them listed as +2000 in their draft odds. In 2019, I remember writing a story about a guy who won $100,000 betting early on the Blues to win the Stanley Cup.
17. Florida’s key player for its Stanley Cup quest might be a player who isn’t currently playing for the team. Defenseman Aaron Ekblad hasn’t played since March 18 because of injury. He will be back for the playoffs. The one question about the Panthers is whether they are strong enough defensively. His presence will help the Panthers significantly in the postseason.
18. The Carolina Hurricanes go into the playoffs with the NHL’s best penalty killing (89.4%). Meanwhile, the Minnesota Wild start the playoffs with the league's No. 30-ranked penalty killing (76.2%).
19. Believe John Tortorella will be back coaching in the NHL next season. Already starting to hear his name mentioned in connection with jobs that might be available.
20. If the Golden Knights fire Pete DeBoer and the Red Wings fire Jeff Blashill, DeBoer would seem like a logical candidate in Detroit.
21. Sorry to read of CEO Dave Morehouse’s departure from the Penguins organization. He did an excellent job for 16 years making sure Pittsburgh remained one of the NHL’s most vibrant franchises. But what I will miss is talking politics with Dave. Before coming to the Penguins, the Pittsburgh area native was a mover and shaker in national politics. He previously had jobs in the White House and Pentagon and was a key figure in the Al Gore and John Kerry presidential campaigns. Enjoyed hearing his stories from his years in politics.
22. Nicklas Lidstrom turns 52 today and could probably still help Detroit’s defense.
23. Bizarre situation in San Jose this week when someone figured out that a message submitted by a fan, and shown on the Sharks’ Jumbotron, actually had a vulgar message hidden in it. If you circled the first letter of every word, it was an insulting phrase directed at the Vegas Golden Knights.
24. One of the unsung contributors to the Calgary Flames improvement is defenseman Rasmus Andersson. At 25, Andersson has made a quantum leap in his development as an offensive catalyst. After never registering more than 22 points in his first three full seasons with the Flames, he has reached 50 points this season.
25. On this date, April 28, in 1968, Jacques Lemaire scored an overtime goal to beat the Chicago Blackhawks and send the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Final. They swept the Blues to win their 15th Stanley Cup. Lemaire went on to become one of the NHL’s most respected coaches. He will turn 77 in September.