When we talk about teams who have already been eliminated from Stanley Cup contention, we tend to focus on the bad: what went wrong for this team to lead to their demise, what went right for the winning squad and how they managed the challenge that the losing team posed.
Ultimately, that losing team’s season did end — and that should be the point of discussion. But we can still highlight bright spots in their playoff runs. Specifically, we can highlight the players that stood out among the rest.
Rather than looking at veterans that we know come to play in the post-season, or pretend to be shocked at elite players who were elite come playoff time, we’re focusing on some newer faces around the league who rose to the occasion on the biggest stage the NHL has to offer.
Let’s dive in.
Jake Oettinger, Dallas Stars
The Flames were heavy favourites in Round 1, and rightfully so. While they came away as winners in that series, maybe the biggest winner of all was Oettinger. The fact that it took Calgary seven games to advance is a massive credit to the Stars’ goalie, who held his team in this round longer than most probably anticipated.
In all situations in Round 1, based on the shot quality Calgary generated, Oettinger faced 24.4 expected goals. But thanks to his outstanding play between the pipes, he saved 11.4 more goals than expected. Goals saved above expected is a counting stat that just accumulates over time as play goes on, increasing with positing outstanding and dipping with negative.
That’s what makes it all the more impressive that the netminder still sits second in playoff GSAx despite only playing seven games. The only goaltender higher is Igor Shesterkin at 17.7.