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Gopher Sports: News From the Bubbles

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Several former Gophers continue to stay alive in bubble action

Minnesota Lynx v Las Vegas Aces Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

While the non-bubbled sports continue to struggle—looking at you MLB and :tear: Big Ten, the bubbles sports leagues continue to thrive. The WNBA is still playing out its regular season while the NBA and NHL have moved past qualifying games and have now reached the traditional 16 team playoff format. With that we have said goodbye to some former Minnesota Golden Gophers athletes in their respective bubbles, but several continue to make waves. Here is a weekly update:

NBA:

Amir Coffey and the Los Angeles Clippers finished out their 8 game “seeding games” schedule last week and will now begin the playoffs as the #2 seed in the Western Conference. The Clippers will take on the Dallas Mavericks in a best-of -seven first round series beginning Monday night on ESPN.

With the actual playoffs beginning, expect the Clippers bench to shorten up and see Coffey’s playing time significantly diminish. But Amir showed what he can do when he got his first career NBA start in the Clippers final seeding game last Friday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The game would go to overtime and Coffey would play just over 49 of a possible 53 minutes of game play. He would end up with 21 points, four assists, two rebounds, and four steals before finally fouling out in overtime.

Coffey should have had two more points with an absolute posterization dunk on Andre Robertson, but the foul was called on the floor and the dunk did not count.

WNBA:

The WNBA season continues to roll on in the bubble at the IMG complex in Bradenton, Florida. The two former Gophers in the bubble, Rachel Banham of the Minnesota Lynx and Amanda Zahui B of the New York Liberty continue to have nice seasons—though one’s team is significantly more successful.

The Minnesota Lynx are 7-3 through ten games of the 22 game regular season schedule, but sit in fourth place in the Western Conference due to the west absolutely beating up on the east thus far. Banham has been one of the first Lynx players off of the bench and in nine games played she is averaging 5.8 points per game and 2.4 assists per game in just over 18 minutes of game action. The Lynx schedule will get significantly harder down the stretch as they have a game each remaining with the three teams ahead of them in the west and one more with east leader Chicago Sky.

Amanda Zahui B has been one constant for the New York Liberty who once again are struggling in the WNBA. The Liberty are just 1-9 on the season after losing #1 overall pick Sabrina Ionsecu to an ankle injury early in the season. Zahui B is averaging 10.1 points and 8.5 rebounds a game for the Liberty in just over 25 minutes of game action.

NHL:

The NHL has completed their qualifying round series and that saw several former Gophers head home from the bubble after their teams were eliminated. The New York Rangers were swept by the Carolina Hurricanes ending the season of Vinni Littieri and Ryan Lindgren. The New York Islanders knocked out Eric Haula’s Florida Panthers. Justin Holl’s Toronto Maple Leafs were knocked out in dramatic fashion by the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Vancouver Canucks ended the season of the Minnesota Wild’s Kyle Rau and Mat Robson. The Calgary Flames took out the most prominent Gopher left in the captain of the Winnipeg Jets Blake Wheeler.

Here are the Gophers who advanced to the first round of the NHL playoffs and their stats thus far:

Nate SchmidtVegas Golden Knights

Schmidt has his Vegas team up 3-1 in their opening series against the Chicago Blackhawks. In seven games this far, Schmidt has a goal and three assists for the Golden Knights.

Nick Seeler is in the Blackhawk’s bubble but has yet to see any game action.

Erik JohnsonColorado Avalanche

Johnson and the Avs have a 2-1 series lead on the Arizona Coyotes and several other former Gophers. In six games Johnson has one assist and is a +3 for Colorado.

Phil Kessel—Arizona Coyotes

Kessel helped his Coyotes team to an opening round series win over the Nashville Predators and has continued to play well against the Avs. Kessel has a goal and three assists in seven games for Arizona.

Alex Goligoski- Arizona Coyotes

Goligoski has played in all seven playoff games for Arizona thus far but has been held off the score sheet and is -2 for the playoffs.

Two other former Gophers in Hudson Fasching and Aaron Ness in the Coyotes bubble, but have yet to play in a game.

Nick Leddy-New York Islanders

Leddy and his #6 seed islanders knocked out the Florida Panthers before taking a surprising 3-0 lead on the Washington Capitols in the first round series Leddy has played all seven Islanders games and has one goal, but is a whopping +7 this far.

Travis Boyd-Washington Capitols

Boyd has played in four games thus far for the Capitols and has one goal in the postseason. He and his teammates will try and void elimination in game 4 vs the Islanders Tuesday night.

Brady Skjei—Carolina Hurricanes

Skjei helped his current team take out his firmer team the New York Rangers with a three game sweep in the opening round before matching up with the Boston Bruins in the first round. The Bruins hold a 2-1 edge in the series with Game 4 being Monday night. Skjei in six games has one assist for the Hurricanes, and is +4 for the postseason.

We will keep you updated on the former Gophers progress as the games continue on.