Ducks can’t avoid Jaws, Sharks advance to round 2

The San Jose Sharks defeated the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 in game four of the series to complete the sweep. They will take on the Golden Knights in round two. The Sharks advance on the back of a great all-around team series where they got production from all of their core players.

San Jose had complete control of the series from the opening drop of the puck in game one. Anaheim was held to only one lead throughout the entire series. That lead only lasted nine minutes before the Sharks answered with points of their own. The defense of San Jose kept the Ducks offense in check, and goaltender Martin Jones played a significant factor into that.

Martin Jones

Sharks advance

Photo By: Daily Herald

Every year in the postseason there is a goalie that gets hot and shuts a team down. This postseason that goalie was Martin Jones. In four games Jones’ goals against average was an even one goal allowed per game and had a save percentage of .970.

Jones only allowed more than one goal one time throughout the entire series and even was able to post a shutout; something he did only four times throughout the whole regular season. Martin’s play stopped the Anaheim Ducks from grabbing any momentum throughout the entire series and allowed the Sharks offense to play loose and free.

Playing The Knights

Going into round two Jones will be going up against a goaltender that is even hotter than he is in Marc-Andre Fleury. This matchup will be arguably the most entertaining one to watch in round two.

Expect the same story from this series. Low scoring games and lots of physical play. The only difference is, both teams are most likely looking at a series going longer than just four games.

Both teams match up fairly evenly with each other. The Sharks are more star-powered, but the Golden Knights are very fundamentally sound.

In four games against Vegas, this season the Sharks are 1-2-1, but only one game was decided by more than one goal, and two of the games went to overtime. The deciding factor in those four games was the Golden Knights special teams. In the Knights three wins against San Jose, they recorded three powerplay goals and one shorthanded goal. Look for the Sharks to try and fix these issues for their upcoming series.

Game Breaker: Evander Kane

At the trade deadline, the San Jose Sharks acquired Evander Kane from the Buffalo Sabres, and he made a tremendous impact in the Sharks first series versus Anaheim.

In game one Kane opened the series scoring with two goals within six minutes of each other. Those two goals helped propel the Sharks to a 3-0 win allowing them to flip the home-ice advantage in their favor.

In game three Kane was able to get one goal, and an assist that helped San Jose take down the Ducks 8-1 in what was most likely the end of the Ducks hopes at a series win.

Evander’s strong series is precisely why the Sharks acquired him for their playoff push. The Kings struggled mightily against the Golden Knights defense. San Jose is hoping that Evander Kane can help crack the code of their defense.

If the Sharks can take-down the Golden Knights in round two, Kane is most likely going to need to put out a solid series.

How Far Can They Go?

The Sharks look like a very strong contender to be the Western Conference representative in the Stanley Cup. They play defense first, then offense and that is a proven winning formula in the playoffs. San Jose is also getting very elite goaltending. Something only one other team in the Western Conference is getting.

If the Sharks can get through the Golden Knights and the other conference teams keep beating up on each other. There is no reason why they can’t make another run at the cup. The experience is there, but they have to make it happen.

 

Featured image by: World News Insider

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Possible trades for Sabres forward Evander Kane

Going into the season, everyone had a feeling that the Sabres were not going to be a competitive hockey team. Fast forward to five days before the trade deadline and Buffalo is battling it out with the Arizona Coyotes for worst team in the NHL.

As the days roll forward towards the trade deadline,the possibility of Sabres’ forward Evander Kane being traded becomes more likely.The 26-year old forward is in constant ups and downs with the Sabres ever since being traded to Buffalo from Winnipeg three ago. Kane is now in the last year of his contract and seems to be on the fast-track out of Buffalo.

Recently, Kane got into a scuffle with teammate Justin Falk. While being separated, you could hear Falk calling Kane “selfish.” So things in Buffalo are not “peachy,” but what team will Kane fit on when he leaves? Kane is an excellent player, but with a significant cap hit and a sub-par attitude, he is going to have to land in the right position to be successful.

What He Needs

Kane will need a place with a stable structure, but again the issue with that is very few teams with structure have the cap space to bring in a guy like Kane. Two places that come to mind would be Nashville and Toronto. These teams have the cap space to take on a guy like Kane, and they have a veteran presence in the locker room that keeps everything straight.

Now comes in the issue of Kane’s value. Every team values players differently and that plays into how much they are willing to give up for a player. Kane has been a cancer in the Buffalo locker room, and that is an instant red flag for many of these teams. There are many great players available at the deadline this year in the NHL, and a guy with a bad attitude and a fat contract most likely doesn’t fit into that mix.

With that being said, here are some possible trades that you could see from these three teams at the deadline to acquire Evander Kane.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Sabres forward Evander Kane

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

The Leafs are loaded with wingers, but that hasn’t stopped them from entering conversations with teams about forwards. The Leafs moved winger Nikita Soshnikov to the Blues. This was most likely to clear a roster spot for a trade.

Many people believe that they are setting up to land a defenseman such as Erik Karlsson potentially, so they probably have a shallow value on Evander Kane, but that does not mean they won’t throw an offer the Sabres way.

There is no reason for the Sabres to keep Kane. He is going to leave after this season, so it is ludicrous for them to think a team will come in breaking the bank for him. Toronto has the cap space to take on Kane’s contract outright, and they also have a plethora of prospects to work with.

Dmytro Timashov and a third-round pick for Evander Kane

The Leafs already have an incredibly large amount of young wingers so the trading of Timashov would not hurt their prospect pool that much. The Leafs most likely don’t value Kane that high, so this would be one of the lowest prices to pay. The Sabres would accept this deal if they get to the deadline and don’t have any offers available.

Buffalo also needs a playmaker, and Timashov could bring that to their lineup whenever he is ready for the NHL. This trade would benefit the Leafs for a run this year and then the Sabres for the future.

Nashville Predators

The Predators are in a battle for first place in the Central Division against the Winnipeg Jets. They could be looking to add a bigtime player to their roster for a playoff push.

There have not been many trade rumors buzzing around Nashville, but I could see them trying to acquire a substantial player like Kane. A change of scenery is needed for Kane. Going to a place that is hockey crazy like the Nashville could make all the difference in his attitude.

Scott Hartnell and a second-round pick for Evander Kane

At 35-years old Hartnell is expendable, especially in a trade for a guy like Evander Kane. Hartnell this season has been far less productive than Kane. Kane has 39 points on the season to Hartnell’s 16 points.

If the Predators make this deal happen, it could be the added boost they need. They are already a very good teae but add in a two-way player like Kane; it could put them over the top. I think that this move would be worth the steep price of a second-round pick.

Evander Kane

Sabres forward Evander Kane has known he was on the trading block for a while now. Kane is quoted at the start of the year saying that he knows it is going to happen, it is just a matter of when. His most recent quote solidifies that Kane knows he will be dealt. “There’s so many things that can happen, but it looks like we know what is going to happen.”We are four days off from the trade deadline now. It is inevitable that Kane will be on the move. It seems that he has already turned on the locker and it has done the same to him. A trade will be good for both teams to get a fresh start and move forward.

 

Featured image by: Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

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Eichel

What does the Jack Eichel injury mean for the Buffalo Sabres?

The Sabres will be without superstar Jack Eichel after he sustained a high-ankle sprain Saturday night in Boston. He went for the puck behind the Bruins net and lost an edge. His legs/knees bent awkwardly underneath him as Bruins’ defender Matt Grzelcyk piled on top of him. Watch the video of the injury here.

In Eichel’s third season he was leading the Sabres in goals (22) and assists (31) for a total of 53 points in 55 games. While the team has severely underachieved this season he was on pace for the best season of his career. He was only two goals and two assists short of tying his career-highs. With 27 games left he was surely going to set career-highs in goals, assists, and points.

The timetable for his return is projected to be four to six weeks barring setbacks.

Even Less Scoring

The Sabres sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference in not only points, but also in the goals-for category. They’ve scored 132 goals, which is a league worst, three less than the Arizona Coyotes (135). The Coyotes, experiencing a similar underachieving season, sit at the bottom of the Western Conference.

Eichel

Sabres’ leading goalscorer Jack Eichel. Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

Buffalo averages only 2.4 goals per game and that number is only expected to decline without Eichel on the ice. He’s accounted for 22 of the teams 132 goals scored, four more than teammate Evander Kane (18). Eichel has scored or assisted on 40 percent of the Sabres’ goals this season, which is an astounding stat.

Not only will they miss his scoring, but they’ll also miss his incredible playmaking abilities. He led the team in assists (31) when he went down on Saturday night. Teammate Kyle Okposo is the next most on the team with 24 assists on the season. Eichel has unbelievable stick skills and is known for making crazy plays/passes that give his teammates chances to score. Without him on the ice expect the playmaking ability of the team to take a significant step back.

Embrace the tank

The team has finished at the bottom or very close the bottom of the NHL over the past few seasons but hasn’t been lucky enough win the draft lottery to secure the first overall pick in the draft. Right now they sit second last in the league with 42 points, ahead of the Coyotes by four points. With Eichel not expected to return until somewhere between March 10th and March 24th, he’ll miss around 14-20 games. Missing their best player on the ice for that many games should help the Sabres lose more games and cement their spot as last in the league. Being dead last in the league gives them the highest percentage to win the draft lottery and secure the number one overall pick.

With the first overall pick the Sabres can draft the unquestioned number one player, defenseman Rasmus Dahlin from Sweden. The team needs a lot of work on defense and by adding another Rasmus to the defensive core, alongside Rasmus Ristolainen, they’ll greatly be improving their team on the back end.

Dahlin took home a silver medal in the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo, NY just a few months ago. He impressed throughout the tournament and the Sabres and their fans would be love to see him return to Buffalo for the long-term.

Trade Kane to a contender

Evander Kane has put together a decent season with 18 goals and 20 assists for 38 points through 56 games. Kane says he’s focused on the Sabres and not the trade deadline as it’s now less than two weeks away. But he has stated that he desires to get his first taste of playoff hockey in the NHL. He isn’t likely to experience it in Buffalo for at least a few more years.

Eichel

Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

The Sabres should be proactive in regards to embracing the tank, as much as fans hate it, and move Kane to a contender for a decent pick in the upcoming draft. By getting rid of their second best offensive piece behind Eichel, they’re further ensuring they reach the bottom of the NHL standings behind the Coyotes. Plus with getting a pick or two for Kane they can add another young player though the draft that will continue to help the rebuild in Buffalo.

Shut Eichel down for the season

There’s no reason to rush Eichel back this season and risk a set back or even another injury. The team has no chance of making the playoffs, they’ll be mathematically eliminated over the next few games. In the best case scenario he returns with 14 games to play, but in all likelihood he won’t be ready until there’s only 10 or less games to play. With the team missing the playoffs and wanting to be in the best position moving forward in regard to the draft and Eichel’s long-term health, they should shut him down for the season.

The longer off-season will ensure that he returns to full health for next season. Without him on the ice for the remaining 27 games they’ll almost certainly finish last in the league.

The 2017-2018 season is already a lost cause and they need to be looking ahead to the 2018-2019 season.

Give the young guns a chance

With the season having already gotten away from them, the Sabres need to give their future talent a chance to shine on the big stage. C.J. Smith, Nick Baptiste, Hudson Fasching, Alexander Nylander, and most notably Casey Mittelstadt, are all names that come to mind.

Eichel

Casey Mittelstadt playing for Team USA. Photo from tipofthetower.com

The group is all current Rochester Americans’ players except Mittelstadt. The Americans’ currently sit in the playoff picture as the season nears the 3/4 mark largely due to these players. While Rochester will want them down the stretch for the playoff push, the Sabres should give them a chance in Buffalo to show off their talent with the chance to continue to play up next season. Mittelstadt mightily impressed in Buffalo during the 2018 World Junior Championships, in college with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and in the USHL.

 

 

Featured image courtesy of Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

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