What to do about Landeskog, Gallagher hurt, Elliott warming up and more.
Oh my goodness the Avalanche are terrible. They are “someone is gonna get fired” terrible. As I always say, things have to go unsustainably bad for someone to get fired, which means there is likely going to be a rebound at some point. They won’t play this poorly the rest of the way. Will someone need to hang for that rebound to come? Not necessarily but right now they are playing listlessly so you’d understand if they made a panic trade or fired someone.
When I say rebound, I don’t mean playoffs. Just that they won’t be getting blown out on a nightly basis. Not getting blown out would mean their top players producing a little more.
The Avalanche have five players worth owning: Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Barrie. Anyone else should be nowhere near your team. Rantanen is a questionable choice in one-year leagues and Landeskog is trending that way as well.
Of course, with Landeskog, the captain of this listless team, you could totally see him being the one to hang. Nothing would help his fantasy stock more than a trade. My advice is to hang on and see if you can't capitalize on the hype if he gets dealt. Hell, maybe you can even take advantage of the mere rumours of a trade.
Patrick Sharp decided to get into a fight last night. Not a great decision for a player dealing with concussion issues. You guys know that I am not a fan of fighting in hockey but this is just stupidity.
Obviously, every situation is different but if I’m Sharp, coming off a brain injury, I’m not inviting situations where others have free reign to wallop me in the skull.
Sharp skated on the top line with Seguin and Jason Spezza but the absence of Jamie Benn (day-to-day) calls this into question. Don’t count on Sharp being on the top line permanently. Moreover, even without Benn, Sharp was still on the second power play unit. Instead, Cody Eakin got that top PP billing.
Sharp notched an assist in the game but I am not treating him as someone to be had in fantasy leagues. Don’t like the reckless play or the current deployment.
Live look at Gallagher's hand. pic.twitter.com/YJ7BPW35kQ— Stephen Laidlaw (@SteveLaidlaw) January 5, 2017
Okay, so here’s what it actually looked like:
This might be sweet relief for Gallagher owners who have been suffering through his interminable cold streak. He has just one point in his last 11 games. While I love that he also put up 39 SOG in those 11 games, his ice time and line usage have fluctuated too much for my liking. Might be best to simply move to a better option.
Gallagher’s loss will certainly affect the Canadiens, as will the loss of Paul Byron, who was also hurt last night. Gallagher is a great possession player who tilts the ice for Montreal. The injuries are mounting high.
Great call by Dobber yesterday recommending Nathan Beaulieu. He’s been skating on the top PP unit in Andrei Markov’s spot for six games now. He finally popped last night scoring a goal and two assists. Two of those points came on the PP. He also has 18 SOG in those six games. He’s not a great option if you want someone from now until April but he can help you in the next couple of weeks.
Check out the mitts on Alexander Radulov:
More injury woes for the Panthers as Seth Griffith is now out with a concussion. Griffith isn’t a hugely important player but these guys are already rocking replacement-level talent in their lineup. Now their organization will be stretched even further.
Vincent Trocheck was called upon for over 24 minutes of action, leading the team. Not often you see that. He was held scoreless but the point remains that the opportunities are now there for him.
Gregg McKegg scored the lone goal for Florida in 15:22 of action. He skated mostly on the second line and second PP unit but you could see him get a bump in usage. The Panthers are desperate for scoring.
Rare start for Connor Hellebuyck in a back-to-back situation, especially after giving up four goals on Tuesday night but the Jets are off until Saturday so this is a prime spot in the schedule for such a move.
The Jets are finally healthy and looking to make moves towards a playoff spot. I think they dug themselves too deep of a hole but I wouldn’t be shocked if they put the pedal to the metal and clawed out a playoff spot.
There are a number of teams in that borderline playoff range who will be making a desperate push down the stretch and at least a couple of them are going to go on a crazy run of wins. The goalies off those teams will be the ones you want to own come head-to-head playoffs. I would be eyeing up goaltenders on Tampa Bay, Toronto, Boston and Philadelphia in the East.
Out West it’s a little bit harder because outside of Minnesota, no teams are running away with things, and even the Wild aren’t leading their division (mostly due to games played.) Unless things spread out a little more, there will be a lot of Western teams playing desperate hockey. Winnipeg being one of them.
Hellebuyck has been horribly inconsistent posting a quality start in just 50% of his outings. I’m a huge fan but he doesn’t seem able to string more than a couple of good games together. This team seems incapable of it. I’d bet against them being one of the hot stretch-run teams but I can’t rule it out either.
Hayes’ goals were his first since December 8, a run of 12 straight donuts. He has seven points in the last five games. Refuses to go away entirely.
Grabner has been much more quiet with four goals and seven points in 15 games since the start of December but with his speed he can always score in a flash. His 19.8% shooting should still keep tumbling and prevent him from getting to a 30-goal season but 25 seems inevitable at this point.
Brian Elliott has started five of the last seven games and won all of them. Sure, all five of these have come against the likes of Vancouver, Colorado and Arizona but these are the opponents he needed to help rebuild his confidence. Next up, a home-and-home with the Canucks on Friday/Saturday.
I continue to be amazed by how strong the Flames second line of Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik and Matthew Tkachuk are playing. This is an elite, ice tilting second unit. Backlund is scorching hot with goals in five straight and nine points in this run.
Meanwhile, Tkachuk has seven points in his last six games and is making me jealous as an Oiler fan. I know there is a ton of development yet to take place but I would much rather have Tkachuk in the lineup than Jesse Puljujarvi right now.
Chayka said keeping Hanzal is still an option for the Coyotes but acknowledged a "transaction could be made," even though he isn't actively engaged in trade discussions currently.
"To date, I wouldn't say I've received a serious offer," he said.
Rumours earlier in the season had the Coyotes asking for a young NHL player in return for Hanzal so you can understand why no one has made a “serious offer”. What team is looking to subtract a young player from their roster (one likely with team control beyond this season) for a pending UFA? Teams are going to wait it out until the prices become more palatable.
All this said, NHL teams should be pushing to make their additions sooner than later because it takes time to incorporate new players into a lineup, especially if they’ll be expected to play special teams.
Maybe I’m just biased because Hanzal has been miserable this season and is unlikely to improve without a trade.
I haven’t heard any trade buzz surrounding Michael Stone, either. I am a bit perplexed as he seems to be the odd man out and headed towards unrestricted free agency.
Bo Horvat, on fire!
Horvat hits the nitro! pic.twitter.com/rD3gqwV2j6— Stephen Laidlaw (@SteveLaidlaw) January 5, 2017
First shutout of the season for Ryan Miller. We can’t go ape shit over it because it came against the Coyotes but he has won four in a row, all of which were quality starts.
No Ryan Getzlaf last night but it doesn’t sound like he’ll miss much time.
The third line picked up the slack scoring both Duck goals, including this gem:
Kase goal pic.twitter.com/QmmSLAB02i— GIF Grand Maester (@myregularface) January 5, 2017
Neither of those guys are impact players but the difference between them and replacement-level is palpable enough that this could get bad quickly. On the other hand, Petr Mrazek put in his first quality start since December 1 so I suppose progress is being made.
Things are going so sour for the Wings that they tried using Steve Ott on the top PP unit. This is like using bottomless bucket to try and bail out your sinking ship. Ott did make an impact, taking a goaltender interference penalty to nullify a Wing power play with 11 minutes to go in a one-goal hockey game.
The Hurricanes claimed Ty Rattie on waivers. Their previous waiver claims this season (Klas Dahlbeck and Jakub Nakladal) have not really worked out but that’s hardly the point. Even if you only hit on five percent of your waiver claims, that is still a five percent better chance at another NHL player than you had before. The point is to keep firing darts, which not enough teams do.
As fate would have it, the Hurricanes will face the Blues tonight, which led to this great line from Kevin Shattenkirk:
Shattenkirk on Rattie: "If he's in that lineup tomorrow, we're going to be dealing w/a pretty angry guy with something to prove." #stlblues— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) January 4, 2017
Some good news on the injury front:
"Very likely" that Marian Hossa will play tomorrow, per Quenneville. #Blackhawks— Eric Lear (@BHTVeric) January 4, 2017
Check our weekly IR update for more injury news.
My latest for Puck Daddy looks at the top scorers in the 2016 calendar year.
Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.
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