It was just another Saturday in late fall, with winter creeping up, and 10 NHL games on tap offering solace.
Without further ado, let’s break down all the action from a busy Saturday night.
The Edmonton Oilers – who traded away defenseman Ladislav Smid for borderline prospects and the cap-space to allow them to gamble on Ilya Bryzgalov this weekend – continued to hobble along with a rather ugly 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
I’ll double back to the game in short order, but first a quick note on the Bryzgalov signing. If we’re judging goalies based on large sample even-strength save percentage – which is a prehistoric evaluation method but probably still the best thing we’ve got at the moment – Bryzgalov rates pretty well.
The philosopher king netminder has managed a .923 sv% at even strength over the past five years, which is right in the neighbourhood of what we’ve seen from pretty good and well paid goalies like Jonathan Quick, Corey Crawford and Carey Price.
In other words: Bryzgalov has been an above average starter over the past six years, and is a reasonable bet to provide the Oilers with solid goaltending this season. Of course, Dubnyk was a reasonable bet to provide the Oilers with solid goaltending this season too..
Ilya Bryzgalov legitimately does not exist in my current Yahoo! Fantasy League at the moment…
During the Sportsnet West broadcast of the Oilers v. Flyers game, Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish was interviewed during the second intermission. “Change really is a byproduct of where we find ourselves right now,” said the Oilers General Manager, addressing the Smid trade and Bryzgalov signing. “We haven’t had nearly the amount of success that we forecast. We can try to figure out reasons why but really change is going to be a byproduct of that until we get playing better.”
If you’re a fantasy manager and you hear or see a quote like that, you should know pretty quickly that there’s an angle to be played and an opportunity to take advantage of. The guy in Edmonton who looks like he might benefit from Edmonton’s “change byproduct” and could maybe have some surprise fantasy value going forward? How about Danish defenseman Philip Larsen.
Larsen played over twenty minutes on Saturday, including nearly five minutes with the man-advantage. Importantly: it was the third straight game that Larsen played over twenty minutes, and he played really well (both from a fantasy perspective and a hockey perspective).
From a hockey perspective: Larsen played nearly 15 minutes at five-on-five including almost 7 minutes against the Giroux line. The Oilers actually outshot the Flyers in Larsen’s 14 minutes, and outscored them too.
From a fantasy perspective: The Oilers defenseman managed an assist on Taylor Hall’s third period goal, recorded six shots, a couple of hits and finished +1. That’s a pretty nice fantasy line for a guy who is surely available in your league at the moment.
For those of you who took Flyers captain Claude Giroux with a top ten pick in your fantasy draft this past year: congratulations! Giroux finally had the type of game you’d been expecting with a goal, a power-play point, a +1 rating, four shots and a couple of hits.
I love the idea that some Giroux owners are pissed off this morning because they left the struggling superstar on the bench during a busy night of NHL action. Obviously Giroux is too good to continue to struggle to the extent he has in the early going, but I still have to ask as a public service to our loyal readers: is there a Claude Giroux fantasy owners support group?