Ramblings: Kucherov on a Tear (Mar 10)

by steve laidlaw on March 10, 2017 | (5 Comments)

Ramblings: Kucherov on a tear.

 

The Lightning took down the Wild 4-1 to continue their hot run since the trade deadline but it wasn’t without cost. They lost Tyler Johnson, Vladislav Namestnikov and Cedric Paquette to injury. Johnson at least extended his hot run with an assist before being forced from the game. We’ll know more about their injury status tomorrow.

The Johnson loss is the most important one but Namestnikov was a candidate to replace him had he not gone down as well. There isn’t much to glean from the Lightning lines after all those injuries but it seems likely that one of Brayden Point or Jonathan Drouin will jump up with Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov if the injured centermen can’t play this weekend.

That top line center spot is coveted because there is no one hotter than Kucherov who hit 30 goals for what is essentially the third straight season, after hitting 30 and 29 in the previous two. He also matched last season’s 66-point output but did it in 18 less games. Presumably, Kucherov will cool off having scored 17 points in the last eight games but you never know.

For whatever reason, Palat has not taken advantage of Kucherov’s hot run. His assist last night was just his third point in the last seven games. You can cherry pick to create a narrative of hot play or cold play depending on which sample of games you pick from the past month or so but since the All-Star break Palat has nine points in 14 games. That’s probably not good enough considering he’s been playing alongside the equivalent of Wayne Gretzky for the past few weeks.

*

Devan Dubnyk’s numbers since the All-Star break: 8-6-0, 2.44 GAA, 0.922 SV%

Those numbers are still very good. You can win your league with that type of production from your goaltender. You had to assume that Dubnyk would see some pull back after how insanely unbeatable he was in the first half and this is it. More specifically, Dubnyk has been inconsistent with just six of his 13 starts (for those scoring at home, he got a win in a relief appearance) being quality starts. On the whole, if you’ve rode Dubnyk you have come out ahead but he hasn’t been the tentpole that he was in the first half. Poor timing for this slowdown.

I think that this is more a symptom of Minnesota’s overall play that just Dubnyk’s. Check out the Wild’s top scorers since the All-Star break:

Name

GP

Points

GRANLUND,MIKAEL

17

18

KOIVU,MIKKO

17

15

POMINVILLE,JASON

14

14

NIEDERREITER,NINO

17

10

ZUCKER,JASON

17

10

SPURGEON,JARED

17

8

PARISE,ZACH

14

7

STAAL,ERIC

17

7

SCANDELLA,MARCO

17

6

COYLE,CHARLIE

17

6

HAULA,ERIK

17

5

SUTER,RYAN

17

5

GRAOVAC,TYLER

10

4

STEWART,CHRIS

17

4

HANZAL,MARTIN

6

3

DUMBA,MATT

11

3

SCHROEDER,JORDAN

11

3

WHITE,RYAN

6

3

FOLIN,CHRISTIAN

10

2

PROSSER,NATE

9

2

OLOFSSON,GUSTAV

9

2

REILLY,MIKE

4

1

BRODIN,JONAS

8

1

TUCH,ALEX

6

0

MITCHELL,ZACK

1

0

 

Granlund, Koivu and Pominville are bringing it, but that’s about it. The once dazzling Niederreiter-Staal-Coyle trio is no more and fading at the worst time. Hell, Coyle was skating on the fourth line last night. Coyle has just two goals and 14 points in 29 games since New Year’s.

*

The streaky Freddie Andersen has it going again. His numbers since the All-Star break are trash as he got beat up for 19 goals in four games on that road swing immediately coming out of the break but he has since settled down with a 2.34 GAA and a 0.927 SV% in his last 11 appearances. Because Andersen is so streaky, this is an awfully good sign with fantasy playoffs already here or starting soon.

There were concerns that a finger injury may keep Tyler Bozak out of the lineup last night but he played and scored a goal, and an assist. He has six points in the last four games. If he can stave off the injury bug he’s a lock for his first 50-point season. Injuries have derailed almost all of his previous attempts despite scoring at a 55-point rate for most of his career.

*

The Flyers’ lines last night:

 

#1           27.4%    FILPPULA,VALTTERI - SCHENN,BRAYDEN - VORACEK,JAKUB

#2           25.2%    GIROUX,CLAUDE - SIMMONDS,WAYNE - WEAL,JORDAN

#3           13.7%    COUSINS,NICK - COUTURIER,SEAN - READ,MATT

#4           8.5%      BELLEMARE,PIERRE-EDOUARD - KONECNY,TRAVIS - VANDEVELDE,CHRIS

Poor Travis Konecny. He’s only been the Flyers’ best 5-on-5 scorer this season and he gets the blackhole treatment skating alongside Bellemare.

Shayne Gostisbehere is finally showing positive signs. He scored a goal and an assist last night giving him seven points in the last eight games. His goal was his first even-strength marker since late November and just his second goal since then overall. This is huge since the Flyers have struggled so mightily at even strength.

Michal Neuvirth got the start after Steve Mason had gone 3-0-1 in the previous four games. Controversial decision that did not pay off. Expect to see Mason in the next game, although perhaps they’ll put Ivan Provorov in net:

*

Injury update on John Gibson:

Jonathan Bernier started his fourth in a row, shutting out the red-hot Blackhawks making 43 saves. Bernier has been fantastic over these four games. I don’t know too many folks willing to ride with Bernier in their fantasy league, especially against the Blackhawks but if you did you were rewarded.

I’d hold off on using Berner tonight in St. Louis, however. Back-to-backs are a scary proposition. And Vladimir Tarasenko just ended a five-game scoring drought.

Corey Perry delivered a rare goal, the only one of the game. He has not been the same star player we are used to and has slid down the lineup. Last night he skated with Ondrej Kase with either Logan Shaw, or Nate Thompson at center. Yikes. Perry has just eight points in 16 games since the All-Star break.

Normally, I’d look at Perry’s shooting percentage getting cut in half (to just 6.7%) and I’d peg him for regression. He should shoot at a higher rate next season but perhaps not up to his career 13.8%. Perry is 31 years old shooting the puck at a similar rate but from farther out, driving his percentages down. He’s also lost his top PP unit spot. I wonder if we are seeing signs of serious decline. His 5-on-5 scoring has dropped each of the past four seasons:

 

Points/60

2016/2017

1.52

2015/2016

1.78

2014/2015

2.36

2013/2014

3.04

 

That’s not a pretty sight.

Cam Fowler has 10 points in the last 34 games. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!

*

Nick Schmaltz returned to the lineup for Chicago skating 14:52. He was back in his spot alongside Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik but obviously no one was beating Bernier last night.

*

The Rangers were significantly shorthanded last night with both Rick Nash and Henrik Lundqvist day-to-day. Antti Raanta saw more action but got beat up by the Hurricanes.

The Rangers’ PP found some rare success going 3/6 against Carolina of all teams. They have climbed out of the basement for PP% since January 1, up to 29th.

The five-man unit with Mika Zibanejad, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider and Ryan McDonagh finally rediscovered some of the chemistry they had flashed early in the season. Zibanejad scored a pair, while Kreider and Stepan got two points apiece. The fantasy outlook, which had been trending downward is on the upswing if they can carry this PP momentum forward. Something to watch for.

*

The Hurricanes also had some PP success getting a pair of goals from Sebastian Aho. He had just three points in his previous 10 games so Aho’s three-point effort will go a long way for those still clinging to him in fantasy.

Aho skated on a line with Jordan Staal and Valentin Zykov, the latter of whom scored his first career goal in his first career game.

More intriguing: Victor Rask has six points in his last eight games. He might be worth a flyer for next week given the Hurricanes have five games. He is especially interesting with Jeff Skinner back in the lineup. Skinner has three points in four games since returning from injury. Rounding out that line is Elias Lindholm who has 23 points in his last 27 games.  

But it’s worth mentioning that Lindholm has scored just five points in his last 11. The bulk of his scoring from that 27-game stretch referenced came back in January. Lindholm certainly has merit but don’t force him into your lineup just because Carolina has five games next week.

*

Sven Andrighetto has two points in three games since joining the Avalanche and is skating with Matt Duchene and Mikko Rantanen. That deployment would be more enticing were Duchene not mired in a horrible slump with no points in is last nine games and just one goal in the last 23 games.

Rookie JT Compher is skating alongside John Mitchell and Blake Comeau at even strength but is also seeing some big PP minutes. Anywhere but Colorado and this would be intriguing, although I suppose Compher probably isn’t getting this opportunity on a better team. He has put up some good numbers at the AHL level in his first season of pro hockey. Read more about Compher here.

Calvin Pickard continues to be an intriguing option for desperate fantasy owners. He has posted a quality start in seven of his last eight games, and has even won three of them.

*

I suppose the Kings have gotten their money’s worth out of Jarome Iginla. A pair of power-play goals for the veteran, including the overtime winner. That’s a big two points to help the Kings move one point back of the Blues for the final spot in the West. The Iginla – Anze KopitarMarian Gaborik line was also on the ice for both Predators goals against, however, so you tell me if the math is working out.

The Kings’ most dangerous line was That 70’s Line once again, but Tyler Toffoli is mired in such a bad slump that he cannot even get secondary PP time on this Kings team. You didn’t think it would happen, but indeed, the acquisition of Iginla has hurt Toffoli’s fantasy value. Mind you, if Toffoli was producing he’d have a spot somewhere so this is circumstantial but nonetheless, it is happening.

*

Brian Elliott continues to be one of the best goalies since the All-Star break. He’s on a league-bending run. The Flames have won eight in a row. We’ll see how he does once that streak ends. We’ve seen lots of teams crash after lengthy winning streaks, so it’ll be interesting to see how the team responds to that setback. I think that it is working in their favour that the finish line is so close. That will help to keep them focused.

I was highly critical of the Michael Stone acquisition but so far, he has fit in well. Unfortunately, both he and Dougie Hamilton were lost to injury last night. At least here’s some optimism regarding Hamilton:

TJ Brodie is finally taking advantage of his prime opportunity skating as the lone defenseman on the Flames top PP unit. He’s been in that spot for MONTHS now but hasn’t cashed in. He now has six points on a five-game scoring streak.

I wouldn’t get carried away with Brodie. As I mentioned with regard to Elliott, let’s see what happens with the Flames when their winning streak ends. It’s awfully tempting to jump on board with Brodie, however, as the Flames have the coveted Monday/Wednesday/Friday/Sunday slate next week.

Whether it’s correlation or causation, Johnny Gaudreau has 13 points on this eight-game winning streak. Folks have been waiting all year for the real Gaudreau to show up. What’s crazy is that not one of those points has come on the power play.

Micheal Ferland is benefitting with six goals in the past eight games. There is even some talk of using him in Troy Brouwer’s spot on the top PP unit. Considering what a dud Brouwer has been, we can all support this choice.

*

Carey Price sat out last night due to illness. Good call, Al Montoya got taken to the cleaners.

*

Hey look, three more assists for Josh Bailey. I’ve been singing his praises for months now but his ownership sits at just 22% on Yahoo. He is tied for 21st in the league in assists with 37. He moves up to a tie for 13th if you count only since December 1, when the Islanders’ turnaround began.

*

Bo Horvat and Sven Baertshi continue to deliver, with a point apiece last night. Baertschi has four points in five games since returning from injury, while Horvat has six points in the same stretch. A couple of under-the-radar options for you there.

*

Kyle Turris was once again absent, it’s now sounding like he will return next Tuesday.

Other injury news for the Senators:

CRIPES!

*

Jannik Hansen made his Shark debut skating 15 minutes on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. He even notched an assist! This is intriguing. I figured Kevin Labanc had that spot locked up but in a shocking turn of events, Labanc was sent to the minors.

Colour me skeptical of Hansen’s fantasy value but anything can happen in a short span of games. The opportunity is there for some scoring.

*

What an about face by the NHL! Good for them. The expansion draft is a big deal. I don’t care if the entire process is going to be mundane, it’s still something for fans to engage with. I have done SEVERAL mock drafts already. I will be tuning in for whatever this televised event is, even if it is a bit silly. Play it up!

There is still some uncertainty about whether or not teams will release their protection lists before the draft but it sounds like they will have to, contrary to the desire of the league’s cowardly GMs. I’m sorry that they chose to work in the entertainment industry and that this makes their job harder but they need to suck it up.

*

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

 

  • SUR GANG

    There is no world where Labanc had that spot locked up with the Joes… As a Sharks fan, I’m surprised Hansen got the immediate treatment though!

  • Ace

    any news on who’s playing with kucherov???

  • Keep Calm and Bergeron

    Not like there’s an expansion draft every year. I assumed they would televise it. It’s a huge deal.

  • estarr31

    Brian Elliott was oddly dropped at the beginning of the week and I was able to scoop him up. Currently I have Talbot and Schneider as my main goalies but Cory has been a big negative recently. With playoffs and crunch time upon us, any point to hold onto Cory over Elliott? No rush yet, I still have an extra spot to use for waiver pickups but if things get dicey in middle of playoffs I don’t think I’ll hesitate to drop Cory. He also doesn’t have a great championship round schedule (2 games and they’re back to back).

    • Rhys Stephens

      Cory is on the block for me. Am tempted to just ride Price for my playoffs and focus on maximising my skating starts.