Couture down, Hoffman likely to be suspended, Hedman's brilliance and more.
Vicious cross-check from Mike Hoffman to the back of Logan Couture's head. Five-minute major. Brutal. pic.twitter.com/phwAuVNY7D— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) December 15, 2016
Couture was forced from the game and it would not surprise if he missed some time. Hoffman will most certainly be hearing from the Department of Player Safety on this one. Don’t expect to have Hoffman’s services for next week’s matchup.
With Couture out, the Sharks went with Mikkel Boekder on their top power play unit. Boedker skated huge minutes on the power play in Arizona, so we know that he can be productive in this spot, however the Sharks’ power play has not been operating at an elite level. It is also hard to believe that an ice cold Boedker could the factor that cranks them up another level.
Joel Ward was exceptional filling in for Couture last season. It was surprising to see that they didn’t give him a crack last night. Mind you, Ward hasn’t been particularly productive either.
We’ll wait and see if Couture misses much time before recommending any additions. The Sharks have been struggling to find depth scoring and they may drown if Couture misses a good chunk. He has been hot.
The latest gem from Brent Burns:
If/when Hoffman gets suspended, we might see one of Ryan Dzingel or Zack Smith jump onto the top line but I am more interested with who gets Hoffman’s PP time. My money is on Bobby Ryan, although Derick Brassard is in the running as well.
Remember, the Senators have been going with two defensemen on their top PP unit, with Dion Phaneuf jumping into a prominent role. Two points for Phaneuf gives him eight in the last 11 games. He is now on pace for 33 points but I could see 40 if this deployment continues.
Mike Condon is now seeing extended time in goal and it is exposing him. He has allowed three goals or more in each of his past three appearances. We’ve seen Condon do well in sporadic action but I wonder if he wears out easily if he has to play a lot. I also wonder if we’ll see Andrew Hammond get some action or if this bridge is burned. Hammond has a decent track record and not nearly a large enough sample size of poor play this season.
David Pastrnak is a gem, and he creates the turnover with his speed but it doesn’t get much easier:
Teams just giving Precious Angel Child goals at this point pic.twitter.com/WArwJm7HIc— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 15, 2016
Matt Murray got an assist last night, but I am told that it was not for this play. A shame really, because he made a great pass.
10 bloody SOG for Brad Marchand last night. Probably a one-off but interesting to see this explosion after Pastrnak was pulled off his line. Marchand’s shot production has been solid but last season it was outstanding. I will be watching to see if Marchand’s shots go up with Pastrnak on the David Krejci line.
Justin Schultz’s hot run continues. Three more points for the depth defenseman. He’s skating just 17 minutes per game, but it seems that less is more for Schultz, who now has 17 points. Certainly, the fresh start has been good for Schultz, as the Penguins have been able to insulate him and there is no pressure to be a #1 guy.
Obviously, I don’t believe that Schultz is going to score 40 points skating as few minutes as he is. He is unlikely to continue to shoot 8.9%. Defensemen rarely sustain that rate of goal conversion, although he has done it before. What is interesting is that Schultz is shooting nearly 2.0 SOG per game. He is shooting at a pace we haven’t seen since his rookie year, and he’s doing it, with four fewer minutes of play per game.
Last Schultz thought: next time Kris Letang gets hurt, do we see Schultz jump up to the #1 PP unit?
Trevor Daley has points in three straight games and continues to see time as a second defenseman on the Penguins’ top PP unit. It’s very interesting to see teams transitioning back to two-defenseman looks on their power plays. I don’t know if it is a response to too many shorthanded goals allowed or just a random blip.
The Penguins have allowed just three shorthanded goals against, while the Senators have allowed just two so that seems an unlikely excuse. Whatever the reason, we should take note if it continues.
If I had to grab one of Daley or Schultz, I would take Daley because he skates more minutes and sees the top PP exposure.
After one game off due to a hand injury, Shayne Gostisbehere got back into the lineup. He scored no points in just 16:37 of action. We shouldn’t be too surprised by the lower total. The Flyers are deep on defense, even without Mark Streit. Bottom line: Gostisbehere was back on the top PP unit and showed no ill-effects of his injury.
We all know that Claude Giroux is awesome, one of the best playmakers in the game but here’s a brilliant example of why:
Giroux goes skate to stick so smoothly before setting up Del Zotto: pic.twitter.com/R42YOvw8Gj— Stephen Laidlaw (@SteveLaidlaw) December 15, 2016
Never mind the pass he threads, how about how smoothly he corals the puck from skate to stick, without losing speed or fumbling for a second? The skill to control that puck at speed is what enables him to make plays for others. 90% of the league winds up having to battle for a loose puck in the corner there.
Voracek has always been a solid contributor of shots but this season he has taken it to another level. He is skating more minutes than ever, up to 19:48 per game, and is filling those minutes with shot volume. There are plenty of reasons why Voracek is one of the hottest players in the league, but being a top-five shooter is helping.
I was asked about Roberto Luongo vs. Steve Mason for the rest of the season. Slight advantage to Luongo, who is the better goalie. Philadelphia is probably the better team, at least so long as the Panthers are banged up.
With two straight losses, including being involved in the 10-1 drubbing at the hands of the Canadiens, Calvin Pickard has gone from intriguing to bumbling. The Avalanche are bad so it would seem that there isn’t much value to be had from their goaltending. Pickard needed to go on a hot run like Chad Johnson did for the Flames. That hasn’t happened.
Speaking of Johnson, he got yanked after two periods under a barrage from the shorthanded Lightning. The door is open a crack for Brian Elliott. This may not be where Elliott gets back in but I remain firm that he will be heard from at some point.
TJ Brodie ended a seven-game drought with a pair of points, both coming with the man-advantage. Brodie has been used on the top unit in four of the past five games, and it finally paid dividends. What’s really interesting is that he was the lone defenseman on that top unit, despite the bevy of other options at the Flames’ disposal. The Flames typically use two defensemen on their top unit but last night it was only Brodie. Yet another team tinkering.
The Flames have had a power-play goal in six straight games. The common denominator is that Johnny Gaudreau has been back for five of those so don’t fall in love with Brodie.
Brodie is a fine player but Dougie Hamilton and Mark Giordano remain the top blueline options in Calgary. If in two weeks, Brodie is still skating those #1 minutes AND producing, then we can talk about adjustments.
Sean Monahan turning things around:
Of note, Monahan’s assist in the first period extended his point streak to 8 games. Extends the longest streak in his career. #Flames— Pat Steinberg (@Fan960Steinberg) December 15, 2016
#tblightning Cooper on Kucherov status. "I don't know." Same with Palat. Referenced callups like Vermin/Conacher having to step up— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) December 15, 2016
Indeed, Cory Conacher was called up and skated 13:32 with 3:37 on the PP. He recorded four SOG. Interesting spot.
Bryan Boyle led all Lightning players with 5:25 in power play time. He also scored a pair of goals. I can’t advocate picking him up. Not without knowing for certain he is going to continue seeing that kind of deployment.
No one is talking about the wonderful fantasy season that Victor Hedman is having. After a three-point night, it warrants discussion. Hedman now ranks third in defensemen scoring behind only Burns and Erik Karlsson. In terms of defensemen who actually play like defensemen, Hedman is having the best year out of anyone.
It is great to see Hedman finally meeting our expectations. He’s had two disappointing seasons relative to his 55-point breakout back in 2013-14. We can certainly thank the power play for this. Ever since Steven Stamkos went down, more attention has been paid to the “second unit” with Kucherov and Hedman. Also, the Lightning power play has been vastly improved this season.
Hedman is up to nine PPP on the year after scoring 11, 11 and 14 in each of the past three seasons respectively. He could go for 20 PPP for the first time in his career.
According to Dean Lombardi, Quick is out until March. Lombardi not ready "to throw the kitchen sink" at team's goaltending problem.— Helene Elliott (@helenenothelen) December 14, 2016
I am still not certain that we will see Jonathan Quick at all this season. Then again, the Kings are hanging tough without him and as long as they are lingering in the hunt, he and the Kings should have all the motivation to get him back.
In the meantime, the subtext to the tweet above is MORE BUDAJ.
Awesome breakdown of the Leafs’ defensive system from Jack Han that you should check out. It includes the sort of game clips, discussion of strategy and has some advanced stats peppered in for flavour. This is exactly the sort of article completely missing from hockey discourse. Stuff like this will make fans smarter, which helps to grow the sport.
I am somewhat disappointed that Han’s work is going to be appearing in The Athletic. The article linked above is available free but my understanding is that they intend on putting their content behind a paywall. I am not averse to the idea of paying for content. The tradeoff for “free” content is either dealing with ads, which most people block thus nullifying support of the product or websites collect your info and sell it to advertisers to help them advertise to you better. I’d just as soon pay for the content.
BUT (and it’s a huge but) I do not want to pay for a whole bunch of content I won’t use. The Athletic’s subscription options are like that of a magazine. You can pay monthly or annually. I’d like to pay by the article, because I am probably only going to read the hockey stuff. And even then, The Athletic’s model is to cover local sports, and right now they just have coverage in Toronto and Chicago? $40 a year for Leafs and Blackhawks coverage? I’m not gonna be able to do it.
It’s the same reason I won’t sign up for ESPN’s Insider stuff. I won’t read over half of it and I am not convinced that the stuff I would read will be worth the cost of the full subscription. I am really concerned about the future of online content becoming less available as it goes behind paywalls.
What’s great about the Internet is how it has made information ubiquitous. Anyone can access this stuff. It has given writers a larger platform than ever before but it has also made it more difficult for writers to actually make a living. Putting content behind paywalls puts money back in the writers’ pockets but does so at the expense of the ubiquity of information.
As more and more of these paywall sites pop up, it’s not going to be feasible for people to pay monthly/yearly subscriptions. Suddenly you might find yourself paying $600 a year to subscribe to a dozen different websites but you’ll also have to keep track of all that. And no doubt you’ll forget one or two of these and it’ll be a hassle to unsubscribe whenever you do remember so you’ll keep putting it off and you’ll wind up paying way too much money for a bunch of products you aren’t actually using.
The system of my dreams, is one with “pay by the article” functionality. If implemented correctly, it could revolutionize the way we disseminate information. Any pay model is going to turn some folks off, unless everyone gets on board with utilizing pay models so it becomes unavoidable. An easy to use “pay by the article” model where you can pay say five cents an article, which would come quickly and easily out of a PayPal account, would make everything still conceivably accessible. It wouldn’t be like it is now with the monthly/yearly subscriptions, where someone can send you an article and you’ll think “I’m not paying $40 to read this one thing.” Instead, you’ll have the more reasonable choice of deciding if one article is worth a nickel or a dime, or whatever a reasonable price for one article actually is.
Maybe, the hockey content available on The Athletic will be worth the $40 annual subscription and the rest of the stuff should be considered “free” but that’s not how I look at it. I see the paywall and think that I am being asked to buy things I don’t want to gain access to stuff that I do and that this is taking place in a world where most people are giving it away for free.
Maybe, I would find having to click and pay for each article to be a nuisance and would ultimately rather have a subscription to avoid that hassle. But that could remain an option for me to consider after I have been given the chance to try paying by the article. I want flexibility, not a commitment. And I want ubiquitous access to information. Subscription paywalls, as currently constructed, run counter to those notions, which is why I don’t support them.
Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.
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