Ramblings for Sunday Oct 26 2014

by Dobber on October 26, 2014 | (0 Comments)

Thoughts on Saturday's relatively injury-free slate of NHL action

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For the first time this season we won't spend too much time breaking down the latest Saturday night injury news, which is always welcome.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Dan Carcillo left his game on Saturday night with an apparent knee injury, and Alex Ovechkin sustained some damage to his hand when he blocked a shot, but he stayed in the game and is a Russian Machine that Never Breaks so he'll be okay we hope.

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We'll start with the matinee game where the Buffalo Sabres beat the San Jose Sharks 2-1. The Sharks are reeling having lost four games in a row and are looking brutal frankly. This isn't a streak of bad luck, this is just extraordinarily permissive defensive play...

You know what they could probably use - how about a stud first line power forward whose shot rates and corsi for percentage compare favorably with the likes of Max Pacioretty and Alex Ovechkin? Because they've got a player like that languishing on their second defense pair (though in fairness Burns did score a goal from the back-end today)...

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Zemgus Girgensons isn't quite the multi-cat beast I'm convinced he will be, but he's just 20-years-old so he'll get there. Anyway he was on the ice to kill the last few minutes of Saturday afternoon's game and finished with five hits, two shots on goal, an assist and a +1 rating.

Again he's not quite there, but man, at some point in the not-too-distant future I'm convinced that this guy is going to be a David Backes/Ryan Kesler/Dustin Brown quality fantasy asset.

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I forgot to start Patrick Marleau (because I was drafting my NBA fantasy team) today and it didn't matter. Like, his line in my league was 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 PPPs, 0 hits, 0 shots on goal and an even plus/minus rating. I was kicking myself all the way to the final buzzer, but it didn't matter at all. Kind of funny when that happens.

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Sharks forward Tommy Wingels didn't put up any points on Saturday night, but his peripherals remain slick: two PIMs, four shots on goal, three hits and a blocked shot.

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In Toronto, the Maple Leafs looked flat and were flattened in a 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins. Dougie Hamilton came to play in a major way as he put together a three point night (a goal, two assists), including 1 PPP, four shots on goal, two PIMs, and three hits. Obviously he's not going to make anyone forget about Zdeno Chara any time soon, but that's something of a statement game for the young Bruins blue-liner.

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Speaking of good young Bruins blue-liners, Torey Krug had five shots on goal and while he didn't put together any power play points, he did log over 20 minutes of time on ice. He'll get more burn with Chara out of the lineup, it would seem.

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Interesting new tactical wrinkle and worth paying attention to in leagues that count face-off wins: the Bruins appear to be using Milan Lucic to take offensive zone draws on his strong side, particularly with the man-advantage. Lucic won all four draws he took on Saturday night and took all of them in the offensive end of the ice.

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Carey Price did Carey Price things as he stopped 34 of 35 shots to power the Canadiens past the New York Rangers. Max Pacioretty had a ho hum four shot, two point evening while Tomas Plekanec stayed hot with a goal, five shots, and a hit. Oddly enough P.K. Subban had an uncharacteristically quite night, registering nearly no peripheral stats (0 SOG, 0 PIM, 0 hits). He did have an assist and was +2 though.

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It won't show up in the boxscore, but man, watching Montreal's game I'm struck by how frequently Alex Galchenyuk is looking straight up dominant. He only had a two shot, two hit night, but seemed a bounce away from creating offense in bunches all evening long.

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Tough night for most Rangers skaters, though it's pretty cool that Anthony Duclair managed a point in his Montreal debut. Ryan McDonagh gave fantasy owners five shots, and an even rating, though he didn't manage any points on Saturday.

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The 2-on-0 that the Rangers surrendered to Plekanec and Pacioretty was... yeah... not a good look.

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Damon Severson continues to be hilariously valuable and on Saturday night logged 27 minutes of time on ice, scored a goal, managed an assist, tacked on a PPP and fired two shots on net. Also sound the "time to consider picking up Eric Gelinas again klaxon", as the defender has appeared in two consecutive games, has points in each of those contests, and logged nearly 19 minutes on Saturday (including over 4 power play minutes).

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Bobby Ryan had a pretty tremendous game fantasy-wise on Saturday night, scoring a goal, notching an assist (both PPPs), while firing four shots on goal and throwing three hits. Meanwhile Alex Chiasson managed five shots on goal, which, yeah if he did that with any regularity he'd be a super valuable fantasy asset. As is, he's only at 11 shots all season - so he nearly doubled his shot output in one game on Saturday...

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The New York Islanders scored seven goals and John Tavares didn't have a single point (he only registered a single shot on goal). His running-mate Kyle Okposo was similarly uninvolved in the offensive barrage.

Instead it was the Frans Nielsen show as the Islanders two-way ace managed three goals on six shots. His running mates Mikhail Grabovski (two assists) and Nikolay Kulemin (one goal, one assist, two hits) similarly had productive outings.

Perhaps the most notable takeaway though is the play of Lubomir Visnovsky who already appears to have earned his way onto the Islanders top power-play unit, and managed a two point evening (a goal and an assist) while also posting a +2 rating in over 20 minutes of ice-time.

Visnovsky had dealt with health issues in recent seasons, but man, he's so so good and well worth your time as a waiver pick up - particularly if he continues to get first power play unit minutes ahead of Nick Leddy. Also, that Leddy played roughly a third of the PP TOI that Visnovsky logged on Saturday is probably worth paying attention to for Leddy owners also...

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Jason Spezza with the rare two point (one goal, one assist) -4 evening. Tyler Seguin similarly had a goal, an assist, and finished the game a -3. That's sooo Anders Lindback.

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The Stars are going to need to trade for a Jeff Zatkoff or something at some point this season, I suspect. Lindback just isn't an NHL caliber puck stopper in my opinion, and it's seriously in Dallas' best interests to manage Kari Lehtonen's workload. In the loaded west I'm not sure they can afford 22 Lindback starts this season...

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Mike Smith finally found his form on Saturday, stopping 23 of 24 shots in a Phoenix Coyotes overtime victory over the Florida Panthers. Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored the game winner in overtime for the 'Yotes, and peppered Roberto Luongo with eight shots on net in the contest (which is pretty valuable output from a defenders slot). Keith Yandle meanwhile had two points (both assists) and seven shots on net, but was a -1 and it was richly deserved as he gave the puck away to Jussi Jokinen on Brandon Pirri's goal...

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Luongo stopped 39 of 41 shots and had an excellent fantasy outing in a losing effort. Nick Bjugstad meanwhile managed five shots on goal, while Willie Mitchell blocked nine shots and threw three hits while logging 20 seconds shy of nine minutes of short-handed time on ice on Saturday. Now you know why the first iteration of the Alain Vigneault Vancouver Canucks - pre-Mike Gillis era - was so difficult to score on...

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Philadelphia Flyers forward Michael Raffl had a two goal, one assist, +2 evening which is pretty funny as he led the Flyers past the Detroit Red Wings in a 4-2 win. Meanwhile Michael Del Zotto had two assists and logged over 22 minutes of time on ice, which, yeah he'll have to do often now that Braydon Coburn and Andrew MacDonald are both out long-term with injuries. Could be worth a desperation look on waivers, though with Visnovsky almost surely still available in your league, you better be real desperate.

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How about Claude Giroux with the assist, five shots on goal, 2 penalty minutes, two blocked shots, one hit and 19(!) face-off win performance? That's just sick.

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Pavel Datsyuk scored his first of the season and remains a complete freak. Also Riley Sheahan capped off a lovely goal in which he combined impressively with line-mates Andrej Nestrasil and Tomas Jurco to open the scoring. All three of those guys look like serious players.

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This week we're calling them the St. Louis Flues, but they got back to their usual winning ways by holding off the Chicago Blackhawks in a thrilling 3-2 victory on Saturday night. Jaden Schwartz scored his fifth of the season, while T.J. Oshie finally got on the board with his first point of the season, and Dmitrij Jaskin - who I think very highly of as a prospect - scored the game winner and added three hits and three shots on goal. Pietrangelo had a monster fantasy outing with two assists, a +2 rating, 2 PIM, three shots on goal and three hits.

For the Blackhawks Patrick Sharp had a multi-point game, but no one really had a particularly good fantasy night. Even Jonathan Toews - who managed four shots - didn't do much else, and finished the game with a -2 rating.

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In the Pittsburgh Penguins' 3-0 victory over the Nashville Predators Sidney Crosby had a three point evening (a goal and two assists) that is all too familiar for hockey fans and Crosby fantasy owners. He also threw three hits and took a couple of shots.

Meanwhile his line mate Patric Hornqvist has had a bit of a rough week in terms of generating shot volume. After regularly hitting 7+ shots in the first two weeks of the season, Hornqvist's volume shooting game has fallen off a bit (which, fair enough). He only managed two shots though he did record an assist on Saturday night.

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Christian Ehrhoff has been awesome on a pairing with Paul Martin for the Penguins, but he's been a huge fantasy bust in the early going. Obviously it doesn't help that he's not playing on the first power play unit, but he's pretty regularly putting up lines like he did again on Saturday night: no goals, no points, one shot, no hits.

He's playing well, but he's an odd example of a guy whose hockey value is enormous, but it isn't showing up in the boxscore. The Penguins will take it, but I'd imagine Ehrhoff owners are getting a wee bit frustrated.

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The Predators trailed the Penguins for nearly 54 minutes on Saturday night and still got outshot. This is why I'm skeptical about the Predators in general, and certainly don't think they're in the same class as the Dallas Stars or the Minnesota Wild.

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I'm starting to think that Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis might be worth owning in deeper leagues. He had another three shot outing on Saturday, the fourth game of the season in which he's done that.

That's worthwhile from a blue-line slot, and he has a goal and three assists just this week, which I don't think is a completely unsustainable level of production. If you're looking for a Chara replacement, I'd honestly go with him or Visnovsky (and then maybe, maybe Del Zotto).

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Evgeni Nabokov is, yeah.

The veterean netminder got chased after allowing four goals against on eight shots faced against the Wild on Saturday night, which enabled big fantasy nights for the likes of Zach Parise (a goal, an assist, five shots on goal), Marco Scandella (a goal, an assist, five PIM), Jason Zucker (2 goals, 2 shots, plus-2), and Ryan Suter (assist, plus-4).

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So Thomas Vanek still hasn't scored a goal as a Minnesota Wild player yet, and hasn't recorded a single shot on goal since he appeared to injure his thumb last weekend against the Los Angeles Kings. As a Vanek fantasy owner I'll admit: I'm enormously worried. At least he had two assists on Saturday...

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Quiet night for Jonathan Drouin after his coming out party against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night. He didn't record a point, a shot, or a hit on Saturday in Tampa Bay's loss to the Wild. Not uncommon for consistency to be the last thing a great young player learns at the NHL level. Perhaps Saturday's performance from Drouin just emphasizes that (or maybe it's nothing who knows, he's had a pretty impressive first week in the NHL).

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Dennis Wideman crushed me in my fantasy matchup this week with three goals (including another one on Saturday night - he has five on the season now). Overall though the Flames began to regress in a 3-1 loss to the Washington Capitals in which they got rather thoroughly outclassed in my opinion.

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Brooks Orpik had a pretty amazing fantasy outing on Saturday night with 10 hits (only one of which was really cheap!), while Joel Ward scored two goals and managed four shots on goal. Alex Ovechkin went without a point, and only managed one shots which is pretty amazing. He now has a total of five shots in his past three games, which is less than the number he averaged in his first four games of the season.

Thomas Drance is a news editor at theScore.

 

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