Budaj, Pastrnak, Granlund, plus more…
You can buy all the Dobber draft guides (and other ones, just for comparison’s sake), conduct all your own independent research, ask all the experts… but sometimes there is absolutely no one that will correctly predict what will actually happen. Such is the case when you take a look at who currently leads the NHL in shutouts. No, don’t click on the heading field again. They are actually sorted from top to bottom. Yes, that is Peter Budaj who on February 4 leads the NHL with seven shutouts. Three of those shutouts have been in his last four games.
One commenter in last weekend’s Ramblings mentioned that he would be retaining Budaj once Jonathan Quick returns. That’s a great point because Budaj owners now have to find a way to keep Budaj once Quick is back in the lineup. With Budaj as effective as he has been, the Kings have the luxury of easing Quick back into regular duty and not risking re-aggravation of his injury. But that should also serve as a heads-up for all the Quick owners out there who might be expecting a normal Quick-like workload upon return.
When that return will be is not known, although it’s worth mentioning that Quick has been practicing in full equipment and is currently travelling with the Kings on their four-game road trip. An earlier report suggested Quick wouldn’t be back until March, so my guess is that there may be some AHL injury rehab starts for Quick later in the month.
Budaj’s goaltending opponent on Saturday was also 2:25 away from a shutout. Despite the loss, Michal Neuvirth appears to be gaining the upper hand in the Flyers’ goaltending situation, having allowed just one goal in each of his last three starts. Dave Hakstol doesn’t seem to mess with lineups that work (hence the Shayne Gostisbehere scratching again), so expect Neuvirth to receive the call again on Monday against St. Louis. As a Steve Mason owner, I’m sort of worried, but I’ve benched Mason in recent weeks anyway.
Jeff Carter has exceeded just about everyone’s expectations, and he’s not slowing down. With the lone goal on Saturday, Carter now has three goals over his past two games. Even better for Carter owners: eight shots on goal in back-to-back games. A shooting percentage of 16% is still a little high, but we don’t need to worry about regression as much if Carter is simply shooting the puck.
What’s this… a Colorado win? That snaps a nine-game streak without a win. With LA and Calgary playing better, and the Blues making a coaching change, Winnipeg is in even tougher to make the playoffs, especially if they can’t beat the easy teams.
You’d probably cast aside Jarome Iginla now that he’s on pace for 25 points. But if the crafty veteran really wants out of Colorado to have one last chance of winning a Stanley Cup, he sold his services effectively on Saturday with a goal and an assist. It’s highly unlikely that Iggy is anything more than a bottom-6 depth player on a contender, but a trade to a new team will at least help his plus/minus and give you a chance to add him in a deep playoff pool.
Three assists from Matt Duchene is a welcome sight for his owners. With the rough season that both he and the Avs have had, at least he now has eight points in his last eight games. Duchene has been a minus-18 combined over the last three months (November, December, January), so he’s not a must-start as long as he’s with the Avs. As a Duchene owner I kind of hope he’s traded from Colorado, but it can’t help his fantasy value much if he’s stuck on another team’s third line.
I haven’t recommended Ondrej Pavelec in any of my Sportsnet waiver wire reports, and I’m not planning to either. Since his callup he has allowed at least three goals in each of his seven starts. I know the Jets probably want to handle Connor Hellebuyck and his confidence with bubble wrap, but Pavelec is not the answer if the Jets have any playoff aspirations. But the Jets don’t make it easy on their goalies by giving up too many power plays (only Calgary has given up more).
William Nylander recorded his first career hat trick, while James van Riemsdyk scored two goals including the game-winner. In case you hadn’t noticed, JVR has been one of the league’s hottest players since January 1 with 18 points over his last 15 games.
David Pastrnak, who had scored just once since mid-December after racing out to 19 goals, found the twine twice and added an assist. The points haven’t been a problem, though, as Pastrnak also has 18 points since the new year. With his shooting percentage finally at a more normal 13 percent, Pasta should still be able to reach 30 goals. With an even number of assists, he should also be able to reach 60 points, particularly if he can remain with Brad Marchand.
As a team, what should also help is that the Bruins lead the NHL with 34.5 shots per game. Yet the team leader in shots is not Pastrnak nor Marchand, but Patrice Bergeron. With a low 6 percent shooting accuracy, Bergeron seems like a decent buy-low candidate post-All Star break. Personally, I’ve always thought he’s a better player in real life than in fantasy, but that’s just me.
In case you missed it, Vernon Fiddler was traded back to the Predators from the Devils, who receive a fourth-round pick. Between the Fiddler trade and waiving Mike Ribeiro, the Preds appear to be improving their grit quotient.
Oh, and I guess I was correct on my Ribeiro waiver prediction. For more on how it affects the Preds, check out yesterday’s Ramblings.
Robin Lehner recorded a 37-save shutout on Saturday, which was his first of the season. Lehner has had to work recently, facing an average of 39 shots over his last five games. The Sabres as a team allow more shots per game than any other team (33.6). But you can say that the goalies have done their part. Both Lehner and Anders Nilsson are currently in the top 10 in save percentage, which should make both underrated goaltending options.
Uh oh, if you’re a Sergei Bobrovsky owner… he’s now allowed four goals in each of his last four starts. Not surprisingly, he has not earned a win in any of them.
Sidney Crosby scored two goals and added an assist tonight. I put the question out a few nights ago that Brent Burns is the fantasy MVP, and somebody replied by saying it is Crosby. Connor McDavid is the league’s leading scorer, but Crosby is only one point behind and has a better points/game pace (1.31 for Crosby vs. 1.11 for McDavid). I’m predicting that Crosby comes away with the Art Ross, provided that he stays healthy.
#Pens Sidney Crosby records his 30th goal in his 45th game this season
He didn't score goal #30 last season until Game 69
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) February 5, 2017
And here’s one of Crosby’s goals, scored from one knee.
Robby Fabbri left Saturday’s game in the first period with a lower-body injury. He appeared to be in a ton of pain after taking the hit.
Fabbri injury pic.twitter.com/xsTzd3BV0k
— nope (@myregularface) February 5, 2017
Just when you think Mikael Granlund’s point streak can’t last any longer, he turned it up another notch on Saturday. Granlund earned a hat trick along with an assist to make his point streak an even dozen. So now he’ll smash his career highs in goals, assists, and points. In addition, this recent run now has him knocking on the door of the top 10 in NHL scoring and now even passing both Alex Ovechkin and Dobber favorite Cam Atkinson in points in the process.
So is Granlund the real deal? In his latest Frozen Pool Forensics, Cam Robinson has a solid breakdown of Granlund and some signs that the success won’t last.
One stat that stands out to me from Saturday’s explosion in Vancouver is Granlund’s power-play time. The Wild only received one power-play in this game, but Granlund only received eight seconds of power-play time total. One of his goals was shorthanded, where he seems to be used nearly as often. So Granlund only seems to be a second-unit power-play guy. He does have five power-play points during his point streak, but the big boys he’s keeping company with are usually on the first-unit power play.
Even though Granlund is in the midst of a breakout, it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to try to sell high in a single-season league. If nothing else, just to see what you might receive.
Alex Tuck, the Wild’s first-round pick in 2014, made his NHL debut on Saturday. The big (6’4”, 222 lbs.) forward was held without a point in 14 minutes of icetime.
Ryan Miller was one of the more vocal opponents of the discussed changes to goalie equipment, so getting used to the NHL’s new regulations on pants may have explained his rough night on Saturday (six goals allowed). Miller was one of the NHL’s best goalies in January, (1.76 GAA, .944 SV%), so it will be interesting to see if this midseason equipment change messes with his mind while the Canucks struggle to stay in the playoff race.
If your goalie struggled tonight, maybe the new equipment is your alibi. Goalies will never say that it is, but maybe it’s something to keep an eye on.
Enjoy your Sunday. Follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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