The Big Blue Line, Talbot Troubles, plus more…
Usually Tuesday is one of the busy nights on the NHL schedule. However, there were just three games on the schedule for Tuesday, which I’ll dive into in a moment.
But a bit more on this week’s schedule, which doesn’t follow the normal pattern of a weekly NHL schedule. Wednesday features 15 games with only St. Louis not in action. This busy Wednesday sets up a Thursday in which the NHL goes completely dark for American Thanksgiving and its usual dose of NFL games. Then there’s Black Friday and 14 games, 6 of which start before the usual 7 pm ET start time for NHL games. So there’s your public service announcement about setting your roster early on Friday.
You can’t stop the St. Louis Blues right now; you can only hope to contain them. The Edmonton Oilers found out on Tuesday, as the Blues scored early and often and to the tune of eight goals once all was said and done. In other words, that bell that rings the total number of Blues’ goals after every goal rang 36 times in all on Tuesday. Okay, I’ll get into the stats that you really care about.
Once the final bookkeeping was completed, the Brayden Schenn – Jaden Schwartz – Vladimir Tarasenko line combined for 12 points (5g-7a) – four points each. Schenn and Tarasenko each scored twice, while Tarasenko fired eight shots on goal. All were a plus-4 in this game. Schenn’s point streak now stands at eight games. I wrote more about Schenn in the Sunday Ramblings.
If the Steven Stamkos – Nikita Kucherov – Vladislav Namestnikov line is the best in the NHL, then this Blues’ top line is second and closing in. The Bolts’ top line has combined for 88 points this season, but with this offensive outburst the Blues’ top line checks in at 86 points. In fact, five of the league’s top six scorers at the moment are from one of these two teams.
We know that Tarasenko is one of the game’s elite offensive weapons. But will this run continue for Schenn and Schwartz, who we have never witnessed producing at this level? Schenn’s 16% shooting accuracy is only slightly higher than his 14% rate over the last two seasons, and I am hesitant to part with him in multicategory leagues because of his all-around ability in categories such as hits and blocked shots. But what if you could obtain an elite option for him in a pure points league? Sure, I’d do the deal.
If there’s someone from this line I’d be tempted to sell high on, it’s Schwartz. An injury risk in past seasons, Schwartz has been good for between 55 and 65 points when healthy for a full season. Yet his nearly 24% shooting accuracy stands out for a player that normally shoots at around 14%. Certainly there is the potential for plenty more points should he stay in his current situation. But those points are more likely to come in the form of assists, given that he has averaged only around two shots per game this season, which isn’t far off from his season-by-season averages.
Since we enjoy Simpsons references here at Dobber Hockey:
Cam Talbot tonight vs the Blues... pic.twitter.com/h5YHSCIysE
— Tim and Sid (@timandsid) November 22, 2017
If you’re a Cam Talbot owner, at least the damage could have been a lot worse. Talbot was pulled at 7:35 of the first period after allowing two goals on the first three shots he faced. And yes, they were softies in which Talbot went down too early. Watch the second goal and see for yourself.
Just when we thought Talbot was turning a corner earlier this month, he has now allowed 12 goals in just under six and a half periods. So his season ratios continue to be where you don’t want them to be.
Sometimes it just takes a while for a team and its players to wake up (think that season where Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay and Anaheim all slept in until around Christmas), so your best bet as a Talbot owner is to just be patient. But I’d be choosier with the matchups – in other words, don’t start him against teams on fire like St. Louis.
Assuming one reason he was pulled was to rest him for the second of back-to-backs, you might have better luck with him Wednesday in Detroit. Or Friday in Buffalo. Or Sunday in Boston. All three of these teams are in the bottom half of the league in goals scored, with Buffalo holding the league’s worst offense (2.29 goals/game). All are road games but worth a shot.
More Brock Boeser on Tuesday. The Canucks’ rookie scored twice, which gives him goals in three consecutive games. I know there seem to be more super rookies this season than in seasons past, but if this guy isn’t on your Calder Trophy short list right now, please at least read the next paragraph.
Boeser is just one point behind the rookie scoring leader (Clayton Keller) in spite of playing five fewer games. His 1.06 points per game leads all rookies, and his points-per-game total is 0.889 if you include his brief stint last season. I know it’s a small sample size and the shooting percentage has been rather high (18 percent). But with the amazing shot that he has, you probably shouldn’t worry. To think, the Canucks thought he was deserving of a healthy scratch earlier this season.
If you’ve picked up Derek Dorsett, you now have a reason to drop him. Dorsett missed Tuesday’s game because of neck and back stiffness, which is related to the injury that cost him much of last season. Hopefully he’ll be back this season, as he’s been a great story for the Canucks.
The most popular topic on Vancouver sports radio during the past few days has been the icetime (or lack thereof) of Jake Virtanen. Playing on a line with the Sedins, Virtanen recorded an assist but played just 10 minutes. As long as the Canucks are playing above expectations and Virtanen is with Daniel and Henrik (who receive much lower even-strength icetime these days), I wouldn’t expect Virtanen to assume an increased role. But if the Canucks hit a wall on their current Eastern road trip, there’s a chance we could see more of him, particularly if he shows more as a power forward.
After opening the season with six goals in his first eight games, Wayne Simmonds has cooled off considerably. He hasn’t scored a goal in 13 games and counting. He has taken only 22 shots during that stretch, which averages under two per game. That’s not going to get it done if he’s going to score around 30 goals as we’ve come to expect over the last few seasons.
Ivan Provorov is becoming that true minute muncher on the Flyers’ blueline. After averaging 22 minutes last season, Provorov is up to 25 minutes per game, which leads the Flyers and places him in the top 20 among NHL blueliners. He logged nearly 27 minutes on Tuesday as well as scoring a goal for the second consecutive game.
Another goalie that has struggled over the first month and a half of the season (but not to the extent of Talbot) is Ben Bishop. The Stars’ starter posted an impressive victory on Tuesday, stopping 29 of 30 shots he faced. With Kari Lehtonen on leave for a personal matter, it’s possible that we see a lot of Bishop this week, including today against Colorado and Friday against Calgary.
Evgeni Malkin won’t play on Wednesday because of an upper-body injury. According to NHL.com, Jake Guentzel shifted over to center at practice, while Bryan Rust was promoted to the second line. If Carter Rowney returns to the Penguins’ lineup, Riley Sheahan could be bumped up to second-line center and Guentzel would stay on the wing.
Jimmy Howard (vs. Edmonton)
Roberto Luongo (vs. Toronto)
Jonathan Bernier (vs. Dallas)
For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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