The only game in the NHL on Sunday was Vancouver heading into Detroit and handing the Red Wings a 4-1 loss. Derek Dorsett scored his fifth of the year (!) near the mid-point of the second period and that held up as the game-winner.
Jakob Markstrom saved 20 of 21 for the win. Anthony Mantha had the lone goal for the Wings.
Sven Baertschi had two goals for the Canucks, his first two of the season, and he now has 20 goals in his last 76 games for the Canucks. After his career was seemingly DOA in Calgary, he’s appeared to have righted the ship in Vancouver.
This was a close game through the first 20 minutes but Vancouver really stepped on the throat of Detroit over the final 40.
Highlights for Detroit were few and far between, but this goal from Mantha was a beauty:
Mantha is now up to four goals and eight points in nine games. Breakout season: engage.
Just three games after losing starting goaltender Marc-André Fleury to injury, Vegas is going to be without goaltender Malcolm Subban for about a month due to a lower-body injury. In the meantime, 23-year old Oscar Dansk looks to be in line for some starts.
This is unfortunate for Subban as he had a very strong start to his Golden Knights career, posting a .936 save percentage in his three contests. It’s fortunate in the sense that he avoided any long-term injury, but he may be relegated to backup duties by the time he returns should Fleury prove himself healthy over the next three or four weeks.
Vegas has just two games this week, and one of them is against Chicago. It’s not really necessary to head to the waiver wire to grab Dansk in head-to-head leagues unless fantasy owners are truly desperate for to get some games in goal.
Colorado got a bit thinner up front as the severity of the injuries to both JT Compher and Tyson Jost were revealed: the two Avalanche forwards will be out at least two, probably three weeks.
If anything, this would probably help the stud forwards remaining in the lineup. In Colorado’s last game, when Compher and Jost were both injured (the latter not until the third period), both Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen played over 20 minutes, while Sven Andrighetto was moved back with that duo for a handful of shifts.
We’ll have to see if they decide to change anything, but those with MacKinnon, Rantanen, or Matt Duchene should continue to start them, even with the talent on the injured reserve. Any forward playing in the neighbourhood of 20 minutes a night has fantasy relevance. Colorado has home games against Dallas and Chicago this week, bookending a game in Vegas.
One thing to keep an eye on, though it doesn’t appear to be too serious, is Kyle Palmieri’s availability later this week. He apparently took a hard spill into the boards in practice on Sunday. Again, it doesn’t seem like he’ll miss time, and New Jersey doesn’t play until Friday, so there will be lots of time for evaluation.
Seeing as there was one game on Sunday, I figured it would be a good time to go through a few stats from the early portion of the season. The caveat, as always, is that it’s still very early in the 2017-18 campaign, but it’s just some things to monitor in the coming weeks.
Patrik Laine is top-5 in shot attempt rate at five-on-five
This is pretty significant because the concern with Laine was that he shot over 17 percent in his rookie campaign, and though he was far from shot-bereft (about 2.8 on goal per game), were he not to raise his shot volume and that percentage crashed, it could have been hard for him to achieve his preseason ADP. As of today, Laine has 25 shots on goal in seven games, even though he’s inexplicably getting less ice time per game than last year.
If Laine can maintain this rate, and still come anywhere close to the conversion rate he had last year, this could be a monster goal-scoring season. With the rising shot and solid hit totals, the second-year player could be more than just a goal scorer for fantasy purposes. That would be great news for fantasy owners.
Speaking of shot rates, Artturi Lehkonen is second in the league in that regard at five-on-five. Montreal’s struggles to score are widely known, and the second-year Finn has yet to score this year himself. Shooting at the rate he is, though, while playing top-six and secondary PP minutes, it’s a matter of time before the floodgates open. The Habs have three home games this week, so fantasy owners needing a potential boost in scoring should at least consider rostering him.
There may be a good reason why Edmonton isn’t scoring
So, out of all Oilers skaters with at least 50 minutes played at five-on-five this year, the team has three defencemen in the top-5 in shot rate. They are Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, and Adam Larsson. Getting blue liners involved in the offence is one thing; having three of them leading the way in shots is another.
If you look around the league at successful offensive teams so far this year (Washington, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Chicago), they have, at most, one defenceman nearing the top of the shot charts. Edmonton is definitely crushing shot differentials as a team, but if they generate a disproportionate amount of their shots from the blue line, they’re unlikely to be successful at scoring regularly outside of Connor McDavid’s line.
Be patient with the John Tavares line
Anders Lee has five goals, but Jordan Eberle has zero goals and four assists, while Tavares is sitting at three and three. Outside of Eberle, it’s not an abysmal start to the season, but it could be better. And it should get better.
As always, early season line stats are wonky, and even full-season line stats can be wonky. They are, however, dominating possession, and have likely been a bit unlucky offensively.
One thing to keep a watch on: at times over the last couple of games, Eberle was moved down the lineup in favour of Josh Bailey. It may not be something permanent, but the team does have games against Arizona and a decimated Minnesota team this week. We’ll see what practice brings on Monday.
Hold on to Anze Kopitar
I know when a player is off to a hot start, the common practice is to “sell high” and get a superior player back in a trade. If you can do that with Kopitar, fine, but it better be a clearly superior player, because there’s good reason to think this line stays productive all year.
Los Angeles did have trouble scoring last year, and it’s true that there was a disconnect between the shots they’d create and the scoring chances they’d create. When Kopitar was skating with Dustin Brown, though, the Kings were expected to score a goal basically every 20 minutes at five-on-five. That rate has maintained this year (even if they are scoring at a far superior rate than they should be).
The start of the 2017-18 season should be season as kind of a counter-balance to the unluckiness Kopitar and Brown went through last year. They obviously won’t keep scoring over 7 goals every 60 minutes, but the rate at which they’re generating offence could keep them productive all season long. Again, unless you’re getting a far superior player in a trade, I’m not sure it’s worth trading the Kings captain.
It might, however, be prudent to see what Nick Foligno can fetch in a trade
It’s been a good start to the year, production-wise, for Foligno, as he has two goals and seven points in eight games. This start won’t continue, though, and maybe you can sell a league mate on the idea that he’ll repeat his 2014-15 season.
The issue is two-fold: he’s not shooting, and he’s leading the league in secondary assist rate.
As for shooting, Foligno was never known for volume in this regard, but he’s dead last among Columbus forwards in individual shot attempts per minute at five-on-five. League-wide, out of 233 forwards with at least 75 minutes played at five-on-five, he’s 224th, just behind Shawn Matthias. That is incredibly poor, and it will be fortunate if he can reach 20 goals this year.
With regards to the assists, it’s common knowledge that secondary assist are essentially random, and not repeatable. A player relying on them this heavily for production is bound to fall off.
Now, people might have Foligno on their roster, and think that if he can get 20 goals, 50 points, and 150 hits, they’re satisfied with that. It’s not like he had a heavy price on draft day, anyway. Even if you think he can be a 50-point player, maybe you can sell him on being a 60- or 70-point player. Maybe your league mates are smart cookies and you can’t sell him as such, but there’s no harm in asking.
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