We are already a third of the way into the month of May. Tonight's choice was almost obvious from the beginning but we had some nominees of choosing. I mean Roberto Luongo did make 23 saves, Mason Raymond and Daniel Sedin both scored a goal. David Legwand scored for Nashville but in the end there was really only one clear choice.
Nashville forgot the memo that Ryan Kesler came to play again. It was not just his two assists ladies and gentlemen. There was that simple fact where he was just the most physical player on the ice. Simply Kesler was not afraid to take any guy on tonight at all. Whether it was Shea Weber, Pekka Rinne, or a 300 pound sumo wrestler, it did not matter. Vancouver was not losing tonight and Kesler made sure of that.
Is he on the level of the greats? No, not yet. But again he graces our Fantasy POTN for a third game in a row. That is the first time this playoffs that a player has done that from one team. There is a true grit that the Sedin Twins could learn a thing or two here. When you lace up the skates, one must learn how to truly play playoff hockey. Ryan Kesler knows it and lives it! Here is a video.
Every team needs a Kesler in the playoffs. In the end, the Selke may not be the only thing in his future but time will tell on that one.
There are times where a player just clearly comes up big. Jimmy Howard kept Detroit in it last night until they made a furious push to score three goals in the third to defeat San Jose 4-3 and push this series to a Game 6 in Detroit. Some of the 39 saves in all were relatively routine to be honest but Howard also had very solid rebound control and lateral movement like I had not seen from him since October.
Now is he Chris Osgood v 2.0? That was a question asked quite a bit and well if he wins a few Stanley Cups, wins around 400, and posts solid numbers all around, I suppose Howard would not complain in the least. What Detroit did last night was displayed a heart of a champion that should have been vanquished and yet it was there for everyone to see. Pavel Datsyuk, on one wrist, had three assists (two in the third). Tomas Holmstrom netted the game winner doing what he does best. For 20:00 last night, it looked like vintage Detroit. San Jose was frailed and bedazzled right on the ice. One could have checked pulses and probably found very few.
San Jose is now 1-3 in chances to eliminate an opponent and more than likely, they will take out Detroit at some point. The hardest victory is the fourth one indeed and the hardest pill for fantasy poolies to swallow is when a player expected to do big things in the playoffs just goes silent and missing.
That is what has happened to Patrick Marleau. Not only have the shots not really been there, as far as scoring chances, but he has no points in five games against Detroit. In Game 5, Marleau was nonexistent near the front of the net and yes it seems unfair to shine the spotlight on him but his absence is the most glaring. Dan Boyle has even showed up and most of the Sharks to be honest have played well. The fun involved is that usually there are always a couple "turkey basters" (good) and several turkeys (bad).
Inevitably there are always the outstanding and here is what we had from last night.
1. Jimmy Howard (DET) -- 3 GA on 42 shots...our Fantasy POTN.
2. Pavel Datsyuk (DET) -- 3 assists despite the wrist injury.
3. Niklas Kronwall (DET) -- Goal, assist, and some BIG HITS!
Also note that the kids in San Jose are alright. Couture, Setoguchi, and Pavelski all scored for San Jose. If it was not for Howard, the Sharks close it out last night no question. Now to take a quick peek of tonight.
Clearly, the Sedin Twins just cannot handle a physical presence. If Joel Ward can continue to play at that intensity, then Vancouver is in for a considerable dogfight. Pekka Rinne has outplayed Roberto Luongo in this series and that is not too much of a surprise. The problem is Nashville just needs a little more scoring and they might be the ones up three games to two and not Vancouver. Using the old "guns and butter" economics construct, Vancouver has way more guns but Nashville has the butter. The guns is the talent but the butter is the grit. It is very similar to the last round for Vancouver. Whenever they show the butter, Vancouver is almost impossible to beat.
Ryan Kesler is the one player that has just taken over offensively for Vancouver. He does not have that star player or line to worry about with Nashville which gives him free reign to drive the opposition crazy. Even in the loss the other night, Kesler scored twice, nearly had a third, and played right through some cuts and bumps. Would the Sedin Twins be able to do that? I highly doubt it. Nashville has to keep cranking the physicality if they expect to force a Game 7 and of course ride the hot goaltending of Pekka Rinne. Oh and the Ryan Suter-Shea Weber combo needs to do something offensively, even if it is just to open some lanes for the forwards.
Projections have been tough in this series but we will try our best here before the door slams us on the back side here. Here goes something and do read the TSN Gameday. There is something very telling in the numbers of the Sedin Twins and Ryan Kesler. Just imagine if they were all in sync.
Pekka Rinne (NSH) -- 2 GA on 36 shots
Joel Ward (NSH) -- 1 goal, 3 SOG
Shea Weber (NSH) -- 2 assists, 5 SOG
Ryan Kesler (VAN) -- 1 goal, 1 assist, 4 SOG
Alex Burrows (VAN) -- 1 goal, 6 SOG
Roberto Luongo (VAN) -- 3 GA on 39 shots
Yes we do think this one plays out as a 3-2 Nashville win in OT based on our simulations. Good luck fantasy poolies and we will be tweeting updates and random observations all night. Also, do check out the very interesting discussions with Kevin Allen and Scott Cullen last night on The Program.
Well what do you know the Injury Ninja is on the loose again. Is anyone really surprised? However, the more noticeable injuries will get our full attention now because there are not quite as much injury news to follow. It is always good to wait a bit for just such a reason.
With just six teams left now, you would expect the numbers to go way down as so many are playing hurt. However, it only went down slightly. Maybe teams are feeling generous in at least reporting a few more injuries.
Here is today's Injury Ticker amount:
Well the numbers dropped off only slightly from 22 last week. We do not count Rick Rypien as we firmly believe he could play but is being kept out for a reason that is unknown. Nick Spaling will play tonight, according to reports. That is why he is not being listed either.
Some think this is a thankless chore to follow thse injuries but necessary especially for fantasy purposes as well as the league. It gives the fan an idea of what some of the ailments to look for are.
The Red Wings are clearly a team that is playing with some injured parts. Pavel Datsyuk cannot take faceoffs at all or fire a slapshot with his wrist injury. Clearly Johan Franzen tweaked his ankle again and as a matter of fact, we added him even if he plays in Game 6. Franzen sat out the entire third period by the way.
The Mike Richards injury news comes today and I am sure at least 6-8 other Flyers, including Chris Pronger were playing with injury or multiple ailments as well. It is the playoffs and that is what is expected.
Again we want to thank all the beat writers, radio and media outlets, and the fans as well for all of their help. Without them, there is no way to get an accurate count on the injuries. All numbers are compiled from these sources to give the reader a more accurate breakdown of what is going on. See you next week and hopefully your fantasy team is not riddled with injuries as the playoffs continue into the Conference Finals.
The "Milk Carton Award" keeps on keeping on in this playoff season. Has anyone seen Patrick Marleau? Well we have not either, at least offensively. As a matter of fact, Marleau has no points in five games against Detroit. Now yes he has been shuffled off to third line duty but the reality is he has the players around him where he should score. However, not being paired with his buddies Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley has done something. It is hard to deny.
There is no time for sulking as Detroit is starting to make this a bit of a series and it just seems a segment of the offense is missing but even Marleau's two way game has come under fire as he just looked like he was just "skating around aimlessly" last night against Detroit. No one here is going to call him gutless but the numbers do not lie. Marleau had 26 power play points and has zero during the playoffs. He has no points in his last five games and only two goals in the postseason. Something just looks off.
Instead of pulling out a milk carton, we pull out the following from a better time for Mr. Marleau. Enjoy.
Maybe this will get Marleau going....something has to.
The moments get better and better as our playoff version of "This Day" rolls along. A big thanks to Kevin Allen and Scott Cullen for coming on last night. So what wound up making it onto our post for today? Well there were quite a few solid memories from this day in yesteryear. However, we did find one that just reigned supreme over the others.
May 09, 1974
Bobby Clarke had two goals and an assist, including the winner at 12:01 of OT, to give the Flyers a 3-2 win over the Bruins in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. It was the Flyers' first win in Boston after going 0-17-2 since November 12, 1967.