Ramblings: Are Matthews – Brown – Hyman the new ‘Triplets’?
The Midseason Guide was released last weekend, what are you waiting for? Besides the second-half projections, this beauty will also have players on the trade block (and what it means), prospects ready to make the jump for a dozen games down the stretch, the lowdown on undrafted or unsigned free agents (both in college and in Europe) and much more. Last year’s Midseason Guide had Troy Stecher, Drake Caggiula, Nick Lappin, Brandon Tanev, Alexander Radulov and Anton Rodin, to give you a small sample. Imagine getting a heads up on players like that in January instead of finding out about them in April or even July? Order it here
SERVER UPDATE! The move is still on hold. Details to come as I get some.
I missed the entertaining Washington-Pittsburgh game the other night. I watched the first period when the Caps were up 2-0 and then went to hang out with the wife. But I left the game feeling pretty pissed. I have a lot of Penguins in two of my leagues (that I’m winning) and my main competitor has Holtby. And he’s been gaining ground. So to see so many of my top guys get shut out – by the enemy, no less – left a bad taste in my mouth and I didn’t have any problem at all walking away from that game. So my eyes popped out of my head when I sat back down at 10:30 to watch a late game and review the scores. An 8-7 final! I actually cheered. And then cheered again as I scrolled through all the point-getters. I have Schultz (four points) in two leagues, Sheary (three points) in all three leagues, Malkin (three), Crosby (four) and even Guentzel (one point) as well. That brought on another cheer. Some much-needed breathing room now…
And today I’m still on a high because the Rangers scored six goals. Yeah, it was in a loss – Henrik Lundqvist gave up seven – but I don’t care about NHL standings, I care about my fantasy team. Even more breathing room. And as I noted on Monday, my recently-drafted player Pavel Buchnevich picked up three more points. He now has 13 in 13, but he also has five points in the three games since returning. Not a bad NHL debut. In fact, dating back to before the injury, Buchnevich is on a seven-game points streak (11 points).
When Pavel Buchnevich returned, I immediately thought that the Rangers would start scoring more as a team. Remember when they were scoring like gangbusters back in October? That was because they had such a deep team with a potent offensive dynamo or three on each line. And when Mika Zibanejad returned last night, that thought resurfaced in my brain. They did indeed score six goals, but the not-as-reliable Henrik Lundqvist gave up seven. We’ll get to that in a minute. First, here were the line combos:
#1 29.3% BUCHNEVICH,PAVEL - NASH,RICK - ZIBANEJAD,MIKA
#2 20.5% KREIDER,CHRIS - STEPAN,DEREK - ZUCCARELLO,MATS
#3 19.4% GRABNER,MICHAEL - HAYES,KEVIN - MILLER,J.T.
#4 10.6% FAST,JESPER - PIRRI,BRANDON - VESEY,JIMMY
Jimmy Vesey is stuck on the fourth line, and they were pretty much benched in the second half thanks to a couple of goals that they were on the ice for. Ideally, Vesey would swap with Michael Grabner and then you’d have three very potent offensive lines and then a fourth line with a very fast trio who are each have decent offensive seasons. For now though, plant Vesey on your bench.
Three losses in a row for Lundqvist. His SV% has sunk all the way to 0.902. What I see is a goaltender who is aging a little quicker than most star goaltenders. The best goalies – Hasek, Brodeur, Roy, Luongo, Joseph – play well until they’re 38 or 39, then start to fade in their 40s. Lundqvist is 34. I thought he was fading two years ago and again last year – but each time, he had a tremendous second half and pulled his numbers back up to among the top netminders. But now, we see him starting seven straight games because Antti Raanta is injured. He won three of the first four…but the fourth game gave up four goals in the win on 37 shots. Then he allowed 16 goals over three losses (75 shots). Too tired? Unable to handle seven straight starts even with a five-day break thrown in there? A sign of an aging player and I don’t like it. If he starts turning it around next week, then that’s about par for his last few seasons. But if this drags out into February, then Lundy owners are in trouble.
I was asked on Twitter if I’d trade Lundqvist for Crawford, Bobrovsky or Jones? My answer – yes, yes, and yes.
Jiri Hudler is on a three-game point streak and has five points in six games. He’s stuck on the fourth line though (with Korpikoski and Cracknell).
Cody Eakin tallied two points, including his first goal of the season. Now that the monkey is off his back, look for him to get back to his point-every-two-games ways.
Radek Faksa is on a four-game point streak and he has nine points in his last seven contests. A worthy short-term add. He’s getting scoring-line ice time and playing with Patrick Sharp and Devin Shore.
How has Patrick Eaves stayed healthy? Three points last night, now with 16 goals – the most since he was a rookie 11 years ago. His career high for games played is 74. And it’s been eight years since he last played 65 games in a season.
Not to obsess, but a certain Dobber Darling who plays for the Blue Jackets now has 43 points in 43 games. You can keep doubting if this season is for real, but he’s running out of time to hit that proverbial wall. A 40-point pace from here on out would still see him breeze past the 60 mark. If Cam Atkinson reverts back to productivity from prior years, then he still makes it to 70.
The Leafs continue their great season, making a case for playoff hockey. Auston Matthews is looking like he’ll bump Connor Brown and Zach Hyman up long-term when it comes to production. I don’t mean just for this year, but these guys are part of the core and they really complement each other. Brown would be a 55-point player (just my guess) under normal circumstances. But with Matthews – he could easily get to 70. Maybe not next year, but within a couple of seasons. And Hyman is probably a 35-point player, but Matthews would make him 55 or perhaps even 60! I’m thinking, if I could use the Triplets as comparables – Matthews is the driver, so he’s the Kucherov. Brown is the overachieving clutch talent, so he’s the Johnson. And Hyman is the two-way responsible digger, so he’s the Palat.
I think Robin Lehner was pulled after giving his coach the impression that a goal was let in because his head wasn’t in the game. He waves to a female fan for a picture…and then later gives up the goal:
Every forward on the Senators picked up a point last night except for the three guys on the fourth line.
Did the Sens ruin Curtis Lazar? Did they give him the ‘Gilbert Brule’? Pointless in 22 games now.
Nail Yakupov lined up with Tarasenko and Lehtera. Still couldn’t put up a point. KHL bound? Would St. Louis even qualify him when he makes $2.5 million?
Carter Hutton’s SV% is now 0.898. Jake Allen sits at 0.900. Forget about the coach’s ability to get them deep into the postseason…will the Blues even make the postseason? Ken Hitchcock is retiring just in time. Looks like the Blues have a mess similar to the Dallas Stars and Philadelphia Flyers. What is saving St. Louis is the playoff format – top three teams in their division get in. Only Nashville has the talent to catch them (I doubt Dallas will). If Nashville does catch them (four points behind but two games in hand), there are three wild card teams that could take them out – the Kings, Stars and Flames. Two spots and four teams. But if they can stave off Nashville, then it’s a moot point. But .900 goaltending isn’t going to stave off Nashville.
In his last 1.5 seasons (123 games), Jarome Iginla has 58 points (prorated 38-points) and is minus-33. I can see another team wanting him at the trade deadline for marginal return, but he’d be a depth player, dressing room guy and frequent healthy scratch on any Cup contender that lands him.
Tyson Barrie has had a tough season, but he does have 10 points in his last 10 games.
Holy crap. Slaps the puck in the air to his stick, then bats it into the net:
Further to my Monday Ramblings, Midseason draft second round (of two):
Tyler Bozak – I didn’t understand why he was dropped in the first round, as his 28 points ranked him third or fourth among the available players. He was dropped when the GM drafted Connor Brown. I understand Brown over Bozak in a keeper, but why Bozak when he could have dropped Vrbata or Faulk (points-only, playoffs count, positions do not matter so D are less valuable)? If he wanted to drop Bozak, why not do it in September? He wanted to wait and see how he did first? Well, he’s having the second-best season of his career and also a rare healthy one. And that’s still not good enough? His 56-point pace would beat his career high of 49. I did project him to slow in the second half to match that career high of 49, but that also includes another two games of injury (yes, I project the GP column too in the Midseason Guide, factoring in injury history). Anyway, Bozak was taken by the last-place team who grabbed Backlund first overall. So now that last-place team jumped from 13th to 10th.
Adam Mascherin – A fine prospect who does get a blurb in the Midseason Guide, but is years away from helping a fantasy league like this one. He could be dropped in September, drafted again in 2018, dropped again in 2019, and then finally drafted in 2020 when he should be drafted. A player of his size on a deep team like Florida has little chance of forcing his way in the mix before his time.
Brayden Point – Currently injured and so not much help this year, nor can he really help in the playoffs as I have the Lightning missing. So this is a pick for next year and as much as I love point – I don’t see him getting on a pro team in this league next season. A worthy pro team in this league would need at least 45 points from their lowest player. He’ll get around there. Long-term I think he has great upside, so this isn’t a bad pick considering when he was selected.
Paul Byron – On pace for a career-high…actually, he already has a career-high. His 27 points helps out right now and I do think he has the talent to be a 50-point player (his pace). But his upside is fairly limited. Yes, I was high on him about four years ago, but he’s 27 now and strikes me as a placeholder until younger guys like Lehkonen, Hudon or Scherbak can take over. Push comes to shove, I like Philip Danault better – he’s 23 and I think he has sneaky upside.
Mike Fisher – Limited upside and almost no future in a pool like this, even if he makes it to 50 points. He was drafted by the defending champion, who has an aging team that includes the Sedins, Jagr, Stempniak, Thornton and Ribeiro. He also has Gagner. A rebuild is needed here, and so Fisher was a bad call in my opinion.
Frank Vatrano – I can’t fault this pick because Vatrano has been nothing but excellent, if not a little injury prone. He’s dominated the AHL, is only 22, and he’s shown 40-point ability already at the NHL level. He could turn out to be a good one, though I do have concerns about injuries.
Kevin Labanc – My pick. I went with upside, zero waiting time, and playoffs here. Labanc has everything Vatrano has, except a year younger and he was actually drafted (not signed). Labanc dominated the AHL with 13 points in eight games so far, after posting 234 points in his last 133 OHL games. He’s playing on a line with Logan Couture. There was nobody in this draft who could really help me this year, but a couple of players who could make a dent next season as well as contribute to playoffs. And upside. And with Buchnevich and Labanc I achieved this.
Can you explain this call to me?
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