Ramblings: Gibson to return?
We all knew that after the Blackhawks got lit up by the Panthers 7-0 on Saturday that there would be a reckoning and that it would be Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Lightning who took the brunt of the punishment. Sure enough, the Blackhawks went out and chased Vasilevskiy with three goals on eight shots after some funky bounces. But then John Cooper audibled, put Vasilevskiy back in for the start of the second period and he buckled down stopping 25 of 29 on the night for an ugly overtime win.
That was the fourth time in five games that Vasilevskiy has allowed four goals in a game. Savvy fantasy owners avoided using him at all but some folks had no choice. The win was a pleasant surprise.
Same old song and dance for the Lightning skaters. Their top power play unit remains lethal clicking twice and their big guns continue to produce.
Nikita Kucherov notched another two assists. He is so dialed in right now. It seems like every shift he’s generating offensive chances. Just brilliant.
Two goals for Jonathan Drouin, bringing him to 20 on the season. The story with Drouin is how effective he’s been on the power play. He is so creative that he can score in all phases but his per-60 scoring at 5-on-5 has been a mediocre 1.49 this season. Nearly half (24) of Drouin’s 50 points on the season have come with the man-advantage. The way the Lightning are clicking this year really raises Drouin’s ceiling. Get that 5-on-5 scoring up to the near-2.00 per-60 that he averaged in his first season and he’s threatening for a point-per-game pace.
Anton Stralman notched a couple of points but he has just four points in 25 games since the All-Star break. He fell from fantasy-relevance quickly but it makes sense now that Victor Hedman has emerged.
More lineup shuffling for the Blackhawks:
#1 25.6% PANIK,RICHARD - SCHMALTZ,NICK - TOEWS,JONATHAN
#2 20.5% KANE,PATRICK - KERO,TANNER - PANARIN,ARTEMI
#3 19.5% HOSSA,MARIAN - JURCO,TOMAS - KRUGER,MARCUS
#4 9.8% DESJARDINS,ANDREW - HAYDEN,JOHN - TOOTOO,JORDIN
Ryan Hartman went from centering Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin to a healthy scratch. That’s a big drop. Tanner Kero jumped in and notched an assist. It doesn’t seem to matter who they play in that spot, Kane and Panarin keep producing.
Jonathan Marchessault continues to deliver despite being dropped down to the third line. He has six goals in the last three games and 10 in the last 10. Quite the run. He’s up to 29 goals on the year. What’s amazing is that only two of the 10 goals have come on the power play, because you’d assume if he was scoring big it would be from a continuation of his first half success where he saw all those minutes alongside Aleksander Barkov. This is a good sign for Marchessault going into next season, although I will still be putting him on regression lists.
There isn’t much of a window to take advantage of this but Dmitry Kulikov is filling Rasmus Ristolainen’s role on the Sabres’ lethal top PP unit. It’s a great spot. Kulikov has three points in the last two games, all of which coming on the PP.
Unfortunately, the Sabres’ schedule is unfavourable this week. After their game tonight they won’t play again until Sunday. Plus, Ristolainen will be back from his suspension. If you need a spot start for tonight, then take advantage of Kulikov or just use him as a cheap plug for DFS.
Buffalo’s schedule is why I’ll likely be dropping Jack Eichel tomorrow even though he has been a top-10 fantasy option since the All-Star break. Injuries have found a way from preventing me from making moves like this in the past so I’ll wait until the last minute but that’s the plan. Same goes for Evander Kane, although at least with Kane I’m dropping a cold player.
Kane has just one point in the last seven games and has lost his top unit PP time since Kyle Okposo returned.
Scary scene to close the Detroit-Carolina game as Eddie Lack had to be stretchered off:
He was hospitalized but eventually sent home, which Lack announced on his Twitter feed. It sounds like all is well, which is great news. Lack has been really good of late and had a brutal year with injuries, including concussions, which was my initial fear when I saw Lack go down. The Hurricanes have four more games this week so I imagine Lack will play in one of them if he’s okay.
Justin Faulk scored a pair to give him 16 goals on the season. There’s no sugar-coating what a disappointment Faulk’s fantasy performance has been. I had him projected as a 50-point threat, instead he might not get to 40. Injuries are always a factor with Faulk but even considering those I was bullish on Faulk. Last night, you can see why. With his big shot and the skills to create the lanes to use it, the package is so tantalizing. I think I’ll always be getting roped in by Faulk.
Jeff Skinner has goals in six straight games, and 11 in his last 11. This magnificent run has pushed him to 31 goals on the year. Can you imagine Skinner with a genuine playmaker? He’s spent most of his shifts skating with some combination of Victor Rask, Derek Ryan and Lee Stempniak. But then maybe that’s the brilliance of Skinner.
It was nice of Anthony Mantha to finally show up for the month of March. He came into last night’s game with just three points in his last 11 games. The Hurricanes were generous enough to concede a pair of breakaways in close succession. Mantha made no mistake:
This is how you breakaway.. Red Wings' Anthony Mantha lights the lamp TWICE in just over a minute ?? pic.twitter.com/lvuhPAQ87N— HockeyNightInCanada (@hockeynight) March 28, 2017
The Tatar-Zetterberg-Nyquist trio kept it rolling combining for a rare power-play goal. I’ve been itching to drop Tatar and Nyquist since I scooped them up but they’ve done enough to keep themselves in my lineups.
Until last night, the Blues’ top line really hadn’t been doing a ton of damage. 10 points for Alex Steen (4A), Vladimir Tarasenko (1G, 2A) and Jaden Schwartz (2G, 1A) and it’s safe to say that patience was rewarded. Each of these guys had been puttering along at a decent pace but it wasn’t the fireworks you’d expect from such a loaded line. There were your fireworks. Hope they arrived in time!
I’ve been batting around the idea that perhaps the Blues have been missing Shattenkirk’s PP skills but they’ve gone 7/37 with the man-advantage (18.9%) since Shattenkirk was dealt. That’s not quite to their season standard but it’s still a league-average mark. More importantly, the Blues are 10-3-1 since moving Shattenkirk.
You can credit Jake Allen who continues to play lights out. I imagine that Allen is helping a lot of teams to championships this week.
I made two pickups for this week keying on the Predators for their five-game slate. I grabbed Juuse Saros knowing that with a pair of back-to-backs I’d get at least two quality starts. As poorly as my Aaron Dell gambit went last week, I’ve double-down on Saros, even if I’m only competing for third because of the backup plan. So far, so good as Saros lived up to the hype stopping 24 of 25 for the win.
My other pickup was Ryan Ellis who is HOT. He has 16 points in the last 20 games, including six in the last five. Ellis had a goal waived off by an offsides but later added an assist.
I was also high on Colin Wilson coming into this week but he wound up being too far down the list of streaming options. He and Craig Smith came into last night playing great and generated some chances but were ultimately held scoreless. Wilson’s worth a look in deep leagues and keep him in mind for your playoff pools.
Josh Ho-Sang took his turn on the Islanders’ top PP unit. No points but he continues to impress. Andrew Ladd, shuffled to the second unit, was held scoreless for the third straight game.
Thomas Greiss started his second in a row and was solid but lost again. The Islanders play back-to-back on Thursday/Friday so you know that both he and Jaroslav Halak will get another shot at claiming the crease. There’s definitely a way that this breaks where Halak finishes the season as their #1. Only seven games remain – it’s desperation time.
Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan waited a long time to get their season’s going but it may have been worth the wait for fantasy owners. Monahan had a four-point night putting him on the cusp of another 30/60 season, which has essentially been his average for three years running.
Meanwhile, Gaudreau’s two-point night gives him 23 points in the last 17 games, putting him within spitting distance of a point-per-game season (58 in 66).
Micheal Ferland is along for the ride, although I would suggest that he is only a DEEP option as even with his linemates scoring at such a hot rate, Ferland is producing only modest numbers. He has seven goals and nine points in the last 15 games.
While the top line is up, the 3M line is down. Michael Frolik has remained modestly productive with eight points in the past 13 games but Mikael Backlund has just six points in that span, while Matthew Tkachuk has five and missed a couple of games due to suspension. Kris Versteeg has more points than the latter two have in the past month.
Sven Andrighetto is continuing his campaign as a key player for next season’s Avalanche team. While most of the lineup is checked out, Andrighetto has clicked with Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon. He has nine points in 12 games since joining the Avs, including four goals in the last five games.
We’re are tired of vague John Gibson updates but that’s all they are offering up, especially this time of year:
RC said John Gibson (lower body) will join the Ducks on road trip and is expected to be available to play at some point.— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) March 27, 2017
If you’re looking for promising signs that Gibson will indeed play, take note of the Ducks sending Jhonas Enroth to the minors yesterday. Jonathan Bernier has been great and I don’t suspect that the Ducks want to rush Gibson back but he is still their #1 option when push comes to shove so they need to get him back up to speed for playoffs.
This is my final week writing for this season. It’s been a blast! If you have any questions, make sure to hit me up on Twitter for the final mailbag of the season this Saturday.
Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.
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