Ramblings: Habs Put Up 10, Lightning and Blues Mixing Up Their Lines and more (Dec 3)

by steve laidlaw on December 3, 2017 | (0 Comments)
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Habs Put Up 10, Lightning and Blues Mixing Up Their Lines and more (Dec 3)

 

Laidlaw filling in for Ian after a loaded Saturday of action. Let’s get to it.

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The Montreal Canadiens obliterated the Red Wings 10-1, extending Carey Price’s winning streak to four games. Why does Price get the lead billing? Because the score sheet was dominated by Montreal’s third and fourth lines, which simply won’t help many fantasy owners.

Paul Byron led the way with a hat-trick, while Alex Galchenyuk notched four assists. They have heated up of late. Galchenyuk has eight points in the last five games, while Byron has six in the same stretch. I’m not sure Byron is seeing quite enough ice time to be relevant outside of deep leagues, but perhaps there’s a flyer to be taken here. Galchenyuk is interesting as regression seems to finally be setting in.

No Jonathan Drouin for the second straight game, but he is not expected to miss much time. He had been skating with Galchenyuk and Byron before getting hurt, so he may be coming back to good comfortable surroundings.

Some frustration to be had for Max Pacioretty owners as the top forward was somehow shutout despite the barrage of goals. Use it as buy-low fuel.

Shea Weber returned skating over 22 minutes, notching an assist. That spells the end of our flirtation with Jeff Petry.

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Jimmy Howard didn’t even start, but still got hung up for five goals on nine shots. He has been awful over the past couple of weeks as the Red Wings have lost seven in a row, falling towards what we expected of them. Don’t even ask about Petr Mrazek, he’s dead to me.

Check out Detroit’s scoring since November 1:

MANTHA,ANTHONY

14

12

LARKIN,DYLAN

14

11

ABDELKADER,JUSTIN

13

10

NIELSEN,FRANS

14

7

TATAR,TOMAS

14

7

GREEN,MIKE

14

7

ATHANASIOU,ANDREAS

14

6

ZETTERBERG,HENRIK

14

6

KRONVALL,NIKLAS

14

5

NYQUIST,GUSTAV

14

5

FRK,MARTIN

6

4

HELM,DARREN

13

4

OUELLET,XAVIER

14

4

GLENDENING,LUKE

14

4

BOOTH,DAVID

4

3

JENSEN,NICK

14

2

ERICSSON,JONATHAN

14

1

WILSON,SCOTT

12

0

LASHOFF,BRIAN

1

0

DALEY,TREVOR

12

0

WITKOWSKI,LUKE

2

0

DEKEYSER,DANNY

7

0

 

The Red Wings have only two games over the next eight days. Use this opportunity to divest yourself of all Detroit players not named Mantha, Larkin or Green.

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The Edmonton Oilers are trying to take years off my life, nearly blowing a 6-1 lead, allowing it to get to 6-5, before a TJ Brodie own-goal iced it. After Kris Russell’s own-goal on Thursday against the Leafs, this couldn’t have ended more karmically.

Jesse Puljujarvi was elevated to the top line alongside Connor McDavid and scored a pair of goals. He still isn’t close to demanding universal ownership. He skated only 14:35 and is only seeing use on the second power play unit. Give me a couple more games of production on the top line before I jump on board.

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The Lightning did some line shuffling before last night’s action:

#1           32.1%    JOHNSON,TYLER - NAMESTNIKOV,VLADISLAV - STAMKOS,STEVEN

#2           21.9%    KUCHEROV,NIKITA - PALAT,ONDREJ - POINT,BRAYDEN

#3           21.5%    BROWN,J.T. - CALLAHAN,RYAN - KUNITZ,CHRIS

#4           14.3%    CONACHER,CORY - GOURDE,YANNI - KILLORN,ALEX

The big winner was Tyler Johnson who scored a pair of goals to end a 15-game goalless drought. He’s been mostly irrelevant this season, drowning on the third line, so some time with the Stamkov group is a major boost.

I cannot help, but think that Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point also see small boosts getting time with Nikita Kucherov, although this duo has been fine on their own. Indeed, Palat and Point each notched assists.

No changes were made to the power play groupings, so there are no major changes in player value. If you have to have a loser, it’s Yanni Gourde who dropped onto the third line, but he still managed an assist last night. Bottom line, this team is loaded.

Fringe NHLer Cory Conacher has gotten into two games and has goals in each of them. I’m not ready to throw my lot in with him, but there could be room for him with a couple of injuries.

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The Blues, also did some line juggling splitting up one of the league’s best lines:

#1           24.7%    SCHENN,BRAYDEN - SCHWARTZ,JADEN - STEEN,ALEXANDER

#2           23.1%    SOBOTKA,VLADIMIR - STASTNY,PAUL - TARASENKO,VLADIMIR

#3           18.7%    BERGLUND,PATRIK - BLAIS,SAMMY - PAAJARVI,MAGNUS

#4           14.8%    BRODZIAK,KYLE - JASKIN,DMITRIJ - UPSHALL,SCOTTIE

They have gone through some offensive struggles over the past week, or as I like to call it, regression.

Brayden Schenn has been hit hardest with no points in the last five games. Getting split off from Vladimir Tarasenko at even strength will hurt a little, but much like with Tampa Bay there is enough offensive talent that a little juggling doesn’t hurt much. This is especially true because the power play formations were not messed with much. This is certainly not panic time. The Blues continue run over opponents on the shot counter, especially with their top forwards. Schenn just wasn’t going to produce at a 100-point pace all year.

The only big change for St. Louis was using Tarasenko on both power play units, giving him the full two minutes. It worked for Tarasenko as he notched an assist with the second unit for St. Louis’ only goal of the game.

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It’s been a yo-yo season for Devan Dubnyk, but he now has now won seven of his last nine games. I’m not confident in him yet. He has had some ludicrous bounces go against him this year, and another one could send his confidence spiralling, but things are trending positively.

Matt Dumba continues to be your go-to direct replacement for Jared Spurgeon. Back-to-back games with 26+ minutes for the defenseman, and points in three of the last four games.

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The Flyers were shutout by Tuukka Rask and the Bruins in the matinee. That’s 10 consecutive losses. You can smell the inevitable coaching change in the air. As I always say, things must hit unsustainable lows for a coach to get fired. I’d say we are in range:

Take the firing of Jack Capuano last season. The Islanders got off to a horrible start, but had played better for him for a month before they made the switch to Doug Weight. Weight may have helped, but the tide was already turning through sheer regression.

Philadelphia is a tricky situation because they are riding a PDO high of 1014 almost entirely driven by the success of their top line. The goaltending has been near average with a 0.904 save percentage (league average is 0.907), so you wouldn’t expect much change.

Where regression could set in for the Flyers is success in one-goal games where their record is 2-4-7, particularly in overtime and shootouts where their record is 1-7. They should finish closer to .500 in one-goal outings, which would help their goaltenders’ win totals the most.

Whether Dave Hakstol is fired or not, I am waiting for the Flyers to experiment with breaking up the top line to try and spread out the scoring. They are getting next to nothing from their other nine forwards despite boasting gifted players like Wayne Simmonds, Travis Konecny and Nolan Patrick. Most would like to see more minutes for Konecny who is averaging just over 14 minutes per game for the second consecutive season, but I am not certain that Konecny has yet reached the level of play-driving that warrants expanded usage on a nightly basis.

Simmonds is the easy guy to target as a buy-low option. He is on pace for 44 points, but could do more if he got anything going at 5-on-5. He remains one of the league’s best net-front men and offers a ton of multi-category value.

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Brad Marchand was briefly forced from yesterday’s game after a hit to the head from Ivan Provorov, but returned to score a goal and an assist. A few folks noted that Marchand has been taking big hits this season, something to watch for from a player who has already missed time.

David Krejci returned to the lineup skating 15:45 alongside Ryan Spooner and Anders Bjork, who was himself returning to the lineup. There’s potential for some genuine depth scoring on this second line, especially with Spooner also operation on the Bruins’ top PP unit. We’re talking like 50-point upside for Spooner though so don’t get crazy with it.

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On American Thanksgiving I discussed Sidney Crosby’s no-brainer bounce-back potential:

I’m not so bold as to put a ceiling on Crosby’s production. There will no doubt be a two-week period where he eviscerates the league, reminding everyone just how dominant he can be. I am simply tempering my expectations for the degree to which his scoring will recover.

A week and a half later and Crosby has strung together five straight multi-point games, good for 12 points in five games. My only regret is tempering expectations.

While I am back-patting, how about that Tristan Jarry? If anything, his performance this weekend was a disappointment for allowing the moribund Sabres to break their shutout streak. It will never get easier than that slate for Jarry, who is now staring down games against the Rangers, Islanders and Leafs (all top six offensive teams,) but this weekend was a huge confidence builder for a talented netminder playing behind one of the league’s scariest teams.

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Speaking of those Sabres, their power play is inching towards Blue Jacket levels of ineptitude at 11.4%. How Phil Housley took a power play from the top of the league to the bottom if beyond me, but it is sinking some typically stalwart fantasy options.

Jack Eichel has entered buy-low territory with 20 points in 27 games, a “mere” 61-point pace. In this season of jacked power plays and boosted scoring paces, he should be busting out for 80+ points. Instead, he has one PPP. His pace is still fantasy relevant in all formats, so NO ONE should be complaining and if anyone is, they are begging to have him poached off their team.

Also in buy-low territory: Rasmus Ristolainen, although his case is weaker. I know everyone is scared off. He has missed games, is minus-nine and doesn’t have a goal. Well, his plus/minus is always going to be bad, but I encourage punting that category in favour of dominance elsewhere. Despite missing nine games Ristolainen is still on pace for 200 SOG. He won’t continue to go without a goal. The power play should improve some.

What am I talking about for buy low on Ristolainen? I’m talking about offering up a way-too-fast starter. Assuming you aren’t in a league where points carry over, what has happened is no longer of relevance. Looking forward, Ristolainen should score roughly 0.5-points-per-game with lots of shot volume. Offer up someone you are projecting forward to be of less value. I’ve been floating Will Butcher for Ristolainen offers for the past month. No bites yet, but that’s the range you should be pushing for.

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Speaking of Butcher, Sami Vatanen hasn’t yet usurped the youngster, nor do I expect him to. The Devils are splitting PP time pretty evenly between their two units, but Butcher is skating on the unit with Taylor Hall that sees slight preference.

No points for Vatanen through two games with the Devils, a continuation of his offensive woes with Anaheim. He deserves a longer shake before passing judgement, though I am not expecting fantasy relevance in standard leagues.

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The other half of this week’s big trade, Adam Henrique, is making the expected immediate impact with two points in two games skating alongside Corey Perry.

I won’t post the line combos for Anaheim because it is truly horrific. Jakob Silfverberg is now out with an upper-body injury. No timeline for him.

Cam Fowler has points in three straight games. He and Brandon Montour are solidly the top fantasy options on the Ducks’ blue line and should both be in the mix for 40-point paces the rest of the way.

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Dylan Strome scores his first career NHL goal:

We may see Jakob Chychrun return for the Coyotes today. Stay tuned.

I wrote off Derek Stepan after a couple of weeks this season deeming him too slow to be a consistent producer at this stage. He continues to see huge minutes for Arizona (over 20 per game) and is starting to come around. He has 10 points in his last 11 games. I took a flyer on him in one league, banking on a dense schedule. Not sure he’ll stick on the roster past today, but I am happy with the short-term boost.

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Here’s an update on Corey Crawford:

Anton Forsberg started yesterday, but I am not certain he is all that appealing an option. Plus, this looks like more of a short-term situation.

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Radek Faksa has goals in three straight games, with six points and 14 SOG in this run. He has been up over 15 minutes in each of these three games and has even seen some marginal use on the second PP unit. I’m a fan of the talent, but he needs more usage, specifically PP time to have ubiquitous relevance.

Jamie Benn ended his five-game scoreless drought, so we are back on the horse!

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The Sharks put Tim Heed and Joonas Donskoi on IR yesterday. Heed’s production has fallen off over the past month with just two points in nine November games. Between missing time with injury and some healthy scratches, he hasn’t been nearly as valuable to fantasy owners.

Still, Heed is on pace for 10+ goals, 30+ points and 150 SOG. That doesn’t meet my benchmarks for 82-game usage in standard leagues, but keep him in mind. He definitely has the talent to be worthy of usage when on hot streaks.

Martin Jones returned from a brief injury and got lit up by the Lightning, though we cannot necessarily hold this against him.

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The latest guy to take a spin on the top line with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau is Nick Bjugstad. He scored a goal last night. Were the upcoming schedule for Florida more intriguing I’d definitely advocate a pick up. Bjugstad is also seeing top unit PP time. He is a serious shot-volume producer on pace for 231 SOG.

Radim Vrbata has been back in the lineup for two straight games skating an average of 13:45. I’m not sure I can support his ownership beyond super deep leagues. No exposure to Barkov, no value.

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Columbus’ top line continues to thump opponents on the shot-counter:

Pierre-Luc Dubois is gaining confidence and relevance. He now has points in four straight games. It’s still tough to buy Blue Jacket players with the power play performing so awfully, but the chemistry between Dubois, Artemi Panarin and Josh Anderson is real. Points will flow accordingly.

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Ryan Johansen was forced from last night’s game and he did not return. No update on his status. If he misses any time Kyle Turris jumps into that #1C role, while Nick Bonino might gain some relevance as the secondary guy. Stay tuned.

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Alexander Edler scored his first goal of the season continuing his hot run with five points in the last seven games. He’s the top defenseman on the Canucks for the time being, and with how they are currently rolling there is value to be mined.

The Sedins are also banking points with Daniel Sedin boasting eight in the last seven games and Henrik Sedin up to nine in the same stretch. Ever since they loaded up their top power play unit, with Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat joining the trio of Swedes it’s been a throwback. I’ve been making bank riding these undervalued options in daily fantasy.

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Tyler Bozak was out sick for the Leafs last night. After four points in the first three games of the season Bozak has scored just seven in the following 24. He hasn’t been remotely relevant in this stretch and is skating his fewest minutes in over five years at just 14:55 per game. He’s still a top unit PP guy and will no doubt see his shooting percentage climb up, but it likely won’t be enough to elevate him back onto fantasy teams for more than a flyer.

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Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.

 

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