Ramblings: Fowler and Schneider Injured; Ducks Crush Habs; Ovi Scores (Again) – October 21

by Michael Clifford on October 21, 2017 | (0 Comments)
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Fowler and Schneider Injured; Ducks Crush Habs; Ovi Scores (Again) – October 21

Jacob Markstrom made 20 saves in the 4-2 Canucks win in Buffalo a night after the team was shelled by Boston. Derek Dorsett had two goals and an assist. Markus Granlund had a one-and-one night. Vancouver had 40 shots on goal. There’s a lot more to this game than the score, though.

Something to keep an eye on: Kyle Okposo had basically one shift (on the power play) in the entire second half of the game. He played under 10 minutes overall. We know he’s been injured already this year, but it appears it was a benching:

I don’t know how many Dobber readers watched the entire Canucks-Sabres game last night, but for those who did, I feel like we should get a medal or a t-shirt for sticking it out until the end. Buffalo played easily the worst game of hockey I’ve seen from any team this year, and it’s not particularly close (and I watched Boston-Vegas last weekend).

Here is where things stood after the second period by adjusted shot attempts at five-on-five via Hockey Stats. Reminder: Vancouver is likely a lottery team that was playing their second game in as many nights on the road:

And it was worse to watch than that. It starts with the coach, too. This is hyperbolic, but I’m not sure anyone not named Jack Eichel carried the puck into the offensive zone for Buffalo. It seemed like whenever the Sabres got the puck in their end, they’d flip it into the neutral zone – whether the Canucks were already set up in the neutral zone or not – and they’d chip it into the zone. This is stunning from a Phil Housley-coached team. You’d think one of the most productive defencemen in NHL history would know the importance of, you know, actually having the puck, but here we are. I would like to say this game was an aberration, but considering this team went into Friday night’s game 27th in adjusted corsi-for percentage and dead last in expected goals-for percentage, I would assume it’s not.

Actually, now that I think about it, Benoit Pouliot had a carry-in in the last few minutes of the second period, if I remember correctly. Congratulations, Mr. Pouliot.

This is related to fantasy in that if the Sabres keep playing the way they have been for most of the year, very few skaters will live up to their ADPs. There is no creativity or aggressiveness to this team. In this game at least, it was chip-out, chip-in almost every possession. That’s a great way to get caved in night after night. This game was embarrassing in every facet for every player outside of Chad Johnson, and unless something changes soon, the Sabres are well on their way to another lottery pick.

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The Florida Panthers may have lost one of their goalies as Roberto Luongo was ran into by Conor Sheary early in the third period. He appeared to injure his hand. James Reimer came in relief, and Luongo did not return.

There was no update on Luongo after the game, so it’s a wait-and-see for now.

Pittsburgh won the game 4-3 thanks to a late third period power-play goal from Sheary. Evgeni Malkin (1-1) and Phil Kessel (0-2) were the only multi-point players in the game.

There was some line-shuffling for the Penguins in this game. The line of Sheary, Sidney Crosby, and Jake Guentzel lasted all of about three shifts together. By the middle of the first period, Patric Hornqvist and Carl Hagelin joined Crosby on the top line, and Sheary/Guentzel were kicked down to the third line with Greg McKegg.

This is a very concerning development in the fantasy game, namely for Guentzel owners. Those people (present company included), likely spent a top-100 pick on him. If he sticks on the third line with mop-up duties on the PP, he’s essentially worthless in most leagues. His value was tied to his lineup position. I’m sure things will change often over the course of the season, but there’s nothing owners can do now except bench him.

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San Jose shutout the New Jersey Devils 3-0 on Friday night. Martin Jones saved all 28 shots he faced for the clean sheet. Melker Karlsson scored the first goal, which proved the game-winner, and did so skating on the second line with Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture. Justin Braun had a couple apples.

Both teams went 0-for-5 with the man advantage.

Of particular interest in this game was Joonas Donskoi joining Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski on the top line in the third period, pushing Kevin Labanc down the lineup. We’ll see if that lasts for any meaningful stretch of games, but the Sharks have four games left on this road trip and it’s a pretty soft schedule outside of Boston (Islanders, Rangers, Sabres). Keep an eye on Saturday night’s game to see how that top line shakes out.

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There was an exciting early game in the NHL! Detroit and Washington went to overtime before Trevor Daley took a tripping penalty on Alex Ovechkin, and the Great 8 made them pay from his office with the man advantage. That was after TJ Oshie tied the game in the first place by scoring on the power play with a minute left in the third period.

I’m not sure how many goalies would have saved this Ovechkin shot. It’s not many:

Braden Holtby made 34 saves for the win.

There were a lot of shots on goal in this game - 78 to be exact. John Carlson had 10 (!), while Ovechkin had seven. Tomas Tatar led the way for the Wings in this regard with six, including two goals.

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Winnipeg’s top-six had a huge game in their 4-3 win over Minnesota. Patrik Laine had two goals (both on the power play), Nikolaj Ehlers had one, Blake Wheeler had one (the game-winner) and an assist, while Mark Scheifele had two assists. Even Kyle Connor chipped in an assist, a beautiful backhand pass to Wheeler that led to the GWG. Bryan Little was the only forward in the top-six to go pointless.

Dustin Byfuglien had two assists, a shot, a blocked shot, and two hits along the way. Connor Hellebuyck saved 24 of 27 en route to the victory.

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One team that cannot afford more injuries is the Anaheim Ducks; the Anaheim Ducks will have to endure at least one more injury.

In the first period, while pulling up with the puck, Cam Fowler appeared to slide on Phillip Danault’s stick, sliding his left leg out, and buckling his right knee under him. He required assistance off the ice. There was no further word, just that he was undergoing further evaluation.

Anaheim jumped out to a 3-0 lead it the first period, but Montreal scored two in the second, a frame wildly tilted by score effects (and fun, depending on your perspective):

Anaheim, a team without Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, and Cam Fowler for most of this game, destroyed Montreal 6-2. The score clock was close, but it’s worth noting again of the score effects, given the Habs did nothing until they were down 3-0.

Derek Grant, goalless for his NHL career, scored two goals in this one. Brandon Montour had a goal and an assist, and John Gibson saved 49 for the win.

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Cory Schneider left Thursday night’s game after the second period, did not return, and we found out he is enduring a lower-body injury. The 31-year-old had a good start to the season until his last three games where he was shelled for 13 goals in eight-plus periods. Perhaps he had been playing through the injury and it became too much against Ottawa.

Luckily for New Jersey, after playing San Jose on Friday night, they’re off for a week. At that point, they have back-to-back home games against Ottawa and Arizona, and then have three more days off (great scheduling, NHL). In that sense, if he’s healthy in a week’s time and can return next Friday, fantasy owners will probably only get one start from him in the next 11 days.

I suppose if it’s a lingering issue, Schneider owners may want to grab Keith Kinkaid. The problem, as mentioned, is that it doesn’t really do much to help in the short-term. New Jersey just doesn’t have the schedule over the next two weeks that lends itself to Kinkaid being very helpful. Just playing the waiver wire is probably the better approach here.

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Word came down Friday afternoon that despite some speculation he would return on Saturday, Leon Draisaitl would miss another game while recovering from his concussion. He appears to be close to getting back in the lineup, but it will be his fourth missed game.

The assumption should be that Kailer Yamamoto keeps skating alongside Connor McDavid both at five-on-five and on the power play. In three games on the top line, Yamo has three assists, 16 shots on goal (!) and over 19:30 in ice time per contest.

Edmonton is going to have a couple of decisions to make. Assuming Draisaitl is back for Tuesday’s game in Pittsburgh, do they leave Yamo on the top line? And do they keep him around longer than the nine-game mark, burning a year of his entry-level contract. All this has huge implications for fantasy owners. If he sticks around the team, and they decide to leave him on the top line while using Leon The Professional to carry a second scoring line, that gives the rookie meaningful fantasy value. There’s no telling what the team will do, but Yamamoto’s ninth game is a week from today. It won’t take long to clear things up.

Just my opinion, but they should leave him in the NHL. He has looked very good with McDavid (I know, who can’t, right), and the team is paper-thin at right wing if Draisaitl returns to centre. Yes, it burns a year of his ELC, but the issue when they did that with Draisaitl is that he was playing a minimal role on a bad team. Yamamoto could play a prominent role on what should be a Cup contender. Maybe I’m just a greedy fantasy player.

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Clayton Keller is off to a great start this year with seven points in seven games. He was a somewhat-popular pick for the Calder Trophy (including yours truly), and this is a good start to getting that hardware.

This should go without saying, but it should be said anyway – he won’t be a point-per-game player. A 60-point season should be considered a resounding success. The team is shooting over 11 percent at five-on-five when he’s on the ice, and that’ll come down. With it, his five-on-five production. He is also personally shooting over 17 percent at five-on-five, and that’ll obviously come down as well. What is nice to see, though, is that he’s shooting a lot; his shot attempt rate is higher than guys like Vladimir Tarasenko, Tyler Seguin, and Joe Pavelski.

Where he could make up for the impending drop in five-on-five production is the power play, as he has just one PPP through seven games. Arizona needs to draw more opportunities – they’re below the league average in this regard – but Keller being on pace for 11 PPPs this year would be a big disappointment considering he’s averaging over 3:30 per game with the man advantage. I think he finishes closer to 20 PPPs than 10, and that’ll help mitigate his even-strength production, or lack thereof.

All told, it’s a very good start to Keller’s career, even if he’s been a bit lucky at five-on-five. He’s shooting the puck, playing a lot of minutes, and has not looked out of place at all (in the games I’ve watched, anyway). He may end up with the Calder Trophy after all.