Mailbag: level of intensity of qualification of the cup, choice of goalkeeper for the Blue Jackets


Do you think we will see teams coming out of the door hitting the bodies and playing with high intensity because everyone is rested and feeling good? – @ SIickRick23

Without a doubt, and not just because everyone is healthy and rested.

I’m writing this based on what I’ve heard from players over the past two days of training camp and what I’ve seen while watching the New York Rangers train in person. There is already an intensity that suggests that players and coaches understand that they need to quickly become aware and test their limits. Rangers coach David Quinn said, “This is not a training camp,” and he meant it; this is not at all like a traditional training camp, when there are around 65 players divided into groups over several ice caps and veterans who skate with players who have no realistic chance of being part of the team that season.

I think specifically that the level of intensity among the teams playing in the best of the 5 Stanley Cup qualifying games will be at the level of the playoffs. While technically not considered the Stanley Cup playoffs, it is a series between two teams with the winner on the run and the loser returning home. You’ll see what we know about playoff hockey in these games.

Round robin games played by the top four teams in each conference may not have the same feeling. These could be more like the regular season because they do not have the final potential; these teams advance to the first round of the playoffs, no matter what.

Because of the contrast between the round robin and the Top 5 streak, people think that the teams that win each series will have the advantage in the first round, having already played with the intensity required to win in the playoffs. This cannot be made even in turn play for sowing. And because they had just been stopped for four months, no one should be tired after playing a maximum of five games with zero displacement.

I believe in this argument and I think these teams will have an advantage, but through a series of seven games, the best team usually comes out on top, and I don’t think it will be any different. But without a doubt, we will see the intensity that we normally see in the playoffs. If you don’t bring it, you will go home.

In your opinion, are the Columbus Blue Jackets advantaged compared to their goalkeeper situation or is it a complication? Have there really been playoffs recently where the goalies have been reversed? And no more Elvis Merzlikins ni Joonas Korpisalo has NHL playoff experience. – @moonlighthaley

I do not think it is prejudice. Competition is good. But my preference would be to have a goalkeeper I know I can count on, the closest thing to something sure in my mind, with a backup that I trust if my sure thing fails.

Each coach will try to make the most of the situation at hand, and for Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, it sounds like a win-win; each goalkeeper is good and comes out of a quality season. But neither, as you mentioned, played in the NHL playoffs, which makes them a pressure-filled choice. Choose wisely and I think the Blue Jackets will defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs in qualifying and move on. Choose poorly and my feeling is that Columbus will be quickly eliminated by Toronto. But how do you choose when you don’t have a story or recent games to base your decision on? Instead, you are counting on practice, maybe a scrum or two intrasquad scrums, and an exhibition game that will not have the intensity of the games the Blue Jackets will play against the Maple Leafs. It is a difficult call. This is why I prefer a goalkeeper who I trust. That doesn’t mean you have to start it, but at least you know you can fall back on it, like the Washington Capitals did in 2018. Philipp Grubauer started Games 1 and 2 for Washington against Columbus in the first round of the Eastern Conference; the Capitals lost twice and turned to Braden Holtby, who took the Capitals to the Stanley Cup.

Video: DET @ CBJ: Merzlikins denies Filppula with a blocker

Regarding the second part of your question, in 2016 the Pittsburgh Penguins moved to Marc-Andre Fleury for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was his first start since he suffered a concussion before the end of the regular season. The Penguins lost 4-3 in overtime and returned to Matt Murray for Game 6. He started the rest of the course and Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup.

Usually, however, you will see a coach make a change and respect it. It will work or it will run out of time to make the second change. For example, there was the switch from Grubauer to Holtby in 2018. It also worked in 2017, when Fleury played the first two rounds for Pittsburgh because Murray was injured in match 1 warm-ups against Columbus at the first tower. Fleury allowed the Penguins to complete two rounds and two games in the conference finals against the Ottawa Senators before Murray replaced him at 7:08 of the first period of Game 3, after Fleury allowed four goals on nine shots . Murray helped Pittsburgh until his second consecutive Stanley Cup championship. Fleury has never played for the Penguins again.

Is this the last hurray for Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and business? Should Penguins coach Mike Sullivan take the opportunity now while the nucleus is still intact? – @theashcity

Pittsburgh must take advantage of this opportunity now, as it is unknown how long its talented core will remain intact, but you will not hear me say that this is its last hurray.

Crosby has scored 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists) in 41 games this season. The 32-year-old Penguins captain overcame basic muscle surgery and remained one of the top players in the game. I think he still has a few years left at the top of his game, because he adapts to changing times and maintains his elite level of concentration, conditioning, preparation and ability. In addition, it is not a player who relies on an elite skill, such as speed or a shot. His overall game is still the best in the NHL and will stay that way for a while.

Malkin had a great rebound season, scoring 74 points (25 goals, 49 assists) in 55 games after scoring 72 points (21 goals, 51 assists) in 68 games last season. Nothing tells me that the center, which will be 34 years old on July 31, is coming to an end. And Letang, despite all his injuries and health concerns, remains one of the most dynamic defenders in the League. The 33-year-old scored 44 points (15 goals, 29 assists) in 61 games. Few players rush and skate like Letang. It is far from over.

Last hurray? No chance. No matter what is going on this season, the Penguins will be a competitor again next season because of Crosby, Malkin and Letang.

Video: ANA @ PIT: Letang defines Crosby’s power play goal

Brock BoeserThe name is constantly quoted in commercial rumors. We are used to this with our superstars. is Jack Eichel for Boeser even deserves to be debated? – @ daveyboy604

It is not for several reasons; most importantly, the Vancouver Canucks are not even exploring the idea of ​​negotiating Boeser, general manager Jim Benning said on Monday. Benning crushed these rumors by saying, “I have no plans to trade Brock Boeser. The 23-year-old forward said he was upset that the rumors even started because he was focused on returning to play with the Canucks and had never thought of a potential trade since the trade deadline of the NHL.

But if Vancouver is focused on exploring Boeser’s market, the impetus would likely be due to the constraints of the NHL’s salary cap, and this almost eliminates the idea of ​​a trade for Eichel, who is six years old remaining on a eight-year contract with an annual cap of $ 10 million. Boeser still has two years on his three-year contract which carries a ceiling charge of $ 5.875 million. The math doesn’t add up, and the Canucks should do a lot more to get the Buffalo Sabers to swap their captain.

The challenge for Vancouver is that the salary cap will remain stable at $ 81.5 million next season and could not reach $ 82.5 million the following season, when the center Elias Pettersson and defender Quinn Hughes will each need a new contract. Canucks also want to reconnect with goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who can become an unrestricted free agent after this season. The uniform salary cap will create difficult decisions for many teams, with Vancouver likely being one of them.


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