There were just three games in the NHL on Sunday so let’s get right to it.
Winnipeg absolutely laid the wood to Pittsburgh, toppling the defending Cup champs 7-1. Leading the way was Blake Wheeler, who had just one goal in his first nine games but managed a first-period hat trick yesterday, and added an assist on a third-period Mark Scheifele power-play tally. Connor Hellebuyck saved 31 of 32 shots he faced for the win.
Evgeni Malkin scored a power-play goal for the Penguins that ended up being their only marker of the night.
On top of his goal, Scheifele added two assists, and Kyle Connor had two helpers of his own. Dustin Byfuglien stuffed the stat sheet with an assist, a plus-3 rating, two shots on goal, a blocked shot, and four penalty minutes.
Brendan Lemieux scored his first career NHL goal in the third period, but played less than six minutes total. I wouldn’t expect any sort of breakout coming.
It’s worth noting that for the third game in a row, Connor was featured on the top power-play unit for the Jets. At times this year it had gone to Nic Petan, Adam Lowry, or Mathieu Perreault. It’s kind of worrisome that even with the top-line slotting both at five-on-five and now on the power play that Connor has just six shots on goal in five games. Until he’s moved out of that spot, though, he should be rostered in most fantasy leagues regardless of the shot rate.
Anaheim defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 via the shootout on Sunday. Jakob Silfverberg picked a good time to get his first goal of the season, as he scored in the final five minutes of the third period to tie the game at three.
Ryan Miller saved 34 shots for his first win of the season in his first game for the Ducks.
The big news out of this game, though, was Ryan Getzlaf being injured:
Just 23 seconds in, Getzlaf gets struck in the face by a puck that ramps up off the stick of a Cane. Heads to room.— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) October 29, 2017
He left the game after the first period and did not return. Coach Randy Carlyle said he would be re-evaluated when the team got home.
Hopefully it’s nothing serious, but at this point, it’s a wonder what else can go wrong for this Ducks team. Just as they were starting to get healthy, the team could now be without it’s top two centres, and Cam Fowler.
For Carolina, Jeff Skinner scored his seventh goal this year, this one coming on the power play. Justin Faulk also scored his first of the campaign, with Jordan Staal rounding out the goals. Justin Williams had two assists as well.
In Getzlaf’s absence, Grant was initially moved up to play with Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry but it was Nick Ritchie who finished the game on that line. Should the Ducks captain be injured for any length of time, I suppose Ritchie would be the pickup to make, though it’s far from a sure thing that he would remain in that role.
Calgary beat Washington 2-1 on Sunday night in large part thanks to Mike Smith’s 30-save performance. He now has six wins on the season, and has more wins in October than he did in any single month last year with Arizona. His overall save percentage on the year now sits at .931.
Sean Monahan and Micheal Ferland both tallied for the Flames with the former scoring his sixth of the year. Monahan didn’t score his sixth goal last year until November 28th, and he’s managing nearly three shots on goal per game (35 in 12). It’s not as if his shooting percentage is outrageous, either, as he’s shooting 17.1 percent and he was a career 14.7 percent shooter heading into this campaign. There’s obviously still a lot of time left in the season, but he looks primed for a huge fantasy campaign.
Also, if he can keep getting passes like this from Johnny Gaudreau, 30 goals seems a foregone conclusion:
Jakub Vrana scored the lone goal for Washington, his third of the year. He’s still not getting a crack on the top PP unit, though, so I’m not sure how much fantasy value he actually has, even if he’s skating in the top-six.
Devante Smith-Pelly was skating alongside Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin for the second game in a row, but didn’t finish the game there. Eventually, Alex Chiasson was moved back with the dynamic Russian duo where he had been before DSP moved up on Saturday night.
Washington now heads home and is off until Thursday, giving them just two games this week.
It’s almost Halloween and we had a light schedule on Sunday so I thought it’d be fun to go through some scary-yet-true early-season stats. It’s just a reason for me to look up stats. I will not apologize for this.
Reminder: this is all as of Sunday night, not including the day’s games.
As expected, Brent Burns leads all d-men in shot attempts per 60 minutes at five-on-five. Second place? Yohann Auvitu. Yes, he’s played just four games, but he has 11 shots on goal in those four games in just over 14 minutes of ice time per game. Oddly enough, the Oilers have six defencemen in the top-30 in shot attempt rate, and four in the top-10. I mentioned that a few Ramblings ago, but that’s a problem for Edmonton. Their goal-scoring issues won’t go away if defencemen are taking shots at this rate.
A special mention goes to Mikhail Sergachev as he comes just inside the top-15 as a rookie. He’s still not getting a lot of ice time – 13:20 per game and hasn’t cracked 17 minutes in any contest yet – so he’s definitely a guy to be shopping in one-year leagues. All the same, what a wonderful start for the teenager.
Brock Boeser has cracked the top-10 for shot attempts per minute by a forward, and has 23 shots on goal in his eight games played. The line of he, Bo Horvat, and Sven Baertschi is easily the best Vancouver has despite Derek Dorsett’s start to the season. I was basically uninterested in Boeser in 12-team leagues this year, and am eating mouthfuls of crow right now.
Speaking of lines, the forward trio on the ice for the most adjusted shot attempts generated at five-on-five, non-Connor McDavid division? Nashville’s top line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, and Filip Forsberg. They’ve been excellent, as expected, early on in the season, and have the production to back it up. Forward depth is probably going to be a problem for the Predators all season long, but there are few top lines in hockey as dangerous in the offensive zone as Nashville’s.
One more forward combination worth discussing: Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, and Pavel Buchnevich. No, they aren’t a combination right now, but they probably should be as they’re fifth in the league in expected goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five. The four lines ahead of them are the top lines from Edmonton (two of them), Chicago, and Toronto. Of course, hockey is a results-oriented business, and that trio had a 926 PDO, which is probably why they’re no longer a trio. It does, however, give an indication that maybe Buchnevich should be given more ice time than 15 minutes a game, and 10th-most among Rangers forwards in five-on-five ice time per game.
On the topic of five-on-five ice time, the league-leader in this regard among forwards is Artemi Panarin. I know some fantasy owners may be frustrated by the fact that he has just one goal, and maybe he won’t shoot 15 percent again, but patience needs to be exercised. He’s playing over 20 minutes a game at all strengths and averaging nearly three shots on goal per game. The goals will come.
Again, remember this was going into Sunday night’s action, but the league leader in goaltending expected save percentage at five-on-five? Connor Hellebuyck. It’s just a six-game sample of course so the wheels can fall off at anytime, as can happen with net-minders. It is, however, a great start to the year for the 24-year old, and he’s a big reason why the Jets are staying afloat through the first month of the season.
I get that Dallas looks every bit of an improved defensive team and all, but Ben Bishop’s save percentage with his team on the penalty kill this year is .953. For reference, John Gibson led the league last year in this regard at .907, and he and Frederik Andersen were the only two goalies above .900. When that starts to correct, it will make Bishop’s .911 save percentage at all strengths decline, and perhaps significantly.
Conversely, both Devan Dubnyk (.793) and Brian Elliott (.762) are under an .800 save percentage while on the PK, both near the bottom of the league. For a reference point on those numbers, Kari Lehtonen was last in the league last year .803 and he was the only goaltender under .830. Once those numbers start to correct, both goalies should improve their current save percentages. Have faith, fantasy owners.
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