November 17, 2013

Dobber Sports

2013-11-17

There were nine NHL games on the slate on Saturday night, and most of them were kind of underwhelming from a match up perspective. Not that we care, we’re just glad to watch hockey in the fall again.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

 

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On Saturday morning the Toronto maple Leafs completed a deal with the Anaheim Ducks – Jesse Blacker, a conditional third round pick and a seventh rounder went to Anaheim, while Peter Holland and Brad Staubitz’s two-year, one-way contract went to Toronto.

 

It’s a good deal for both sides, I figure. The Leafs get the best player in the deal in Holland – a skilled centre with pedigree who has managed .87 points per game in the AHL during his young professional career. At the same time, the Leafs paid a good deal to acquire Holland: they took on a 1.2 million dollar liability in Staubitz and sent the Ducks a conditional pick which could become a second rounder if Holland plays 25 games this season.

 

I really like the deal for Toronto, but I don’t think it’s a slam dunk for the Leafs: it’s an intelligent, calculated gamble. Anaheim meanwhile managed to shed some payroll and maximize the return for an asset who was falling down their depth chart, was likely to fall further next season when William Karlsson comes to North America, and was probably going to end up on waivers after training camp next season if he’d remained in the Ducks organization.

 

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Peter Holland made his debut on Saturday night in Toronto’s 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. He started immediately on a line with James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel and while he didn’t get power-play time, he did spend the entire evening on that top-line. With Bozak at least another 10 days away, I’d say Holland’s a reasonable bet if you need a player in a matchup league this week.

 

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Holland’s biggest fantasy impact, however, won’t be one he personally makes. Rather, it’ll be in his freeing up of van Riemsdyk, who has been playing centre in Bozak and Bolland’s absence. JVR is not a natural centreman and while he’s okay there, it neuters his offensive output, his actual effectiveness and his fantasy value. In his first game back as a winger van Riemsdyk scored on two identical tip goals, and managed four shots. Ho-hum.

 

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Speaking of Toronto Maple Leafs wingers: David Clarkson hasn’t scored a goal in his first ten games and is beginning to hear about it. Clarkson hasn’t been that bad, in my view, and a lot of what’s going on is just bad luck.

 

To wit, at five-on-five with David Clarkson on the ice the Maple Leafs are shooting 2.6% meaning he’s been outrageously unlucky in the offensive end of the rink. Clarkson isn’t a guy who drives the percentages, he’s more of a shot volume than a shot quality guy, but that 2.6% won’t continue obviously. Meanwhile he’s at least taking a couple of shots per game and he’s the only Toronto Maple Leafs skater this season – really, the only one – who is coming out ahead in terms of the underlying numbers at evens.

 

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Tough night for the Montreal Canadiens who were mauled and shut out at home by the New York Rangers. PK Subban managed zero shots, while the much ballyhooed Brendan Gallagher, Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk line generated a combined two shots on net. Yikes.

 

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You want to know why Montreal was so godawful offensively on Saturday night? Look no further than the clinic put on by New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonaugh. McDonaugh led all Rangers players in ice-time on Saturday night, and the team outshot their opponents 14-4 in those minutes.

 

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Here’s an odd note, the most frequent match up for McDonaugh – in a game on the road, mind you – was a defenseman in Montreal’s Subban. It’s pretty rare to see a club’s best defensive defenseman is soft-matched against an opposing defenseman, but I suspect that’s how Alain Vigneault and the Rangers game-planned against Montreal and Subban on Saturday night.

 

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It was tough to imagine saying this when they were in the midst of their early season nose dive but the New York R