November 3, 2014

steve laidlaw

2014-11-03

Why the Flames defense is legit and so is the Coyotes, buying low on Wheeler and more…

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Laidlaw here covering for Dobber. Excited to have a healthy slate of Sunday games to cover while I fill in. Especially since we've just got the Blues and Rangers going tonight. Let's check in on the action.

 

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The early slate featured a couple of games with our #1 and #2 contenders for Connor McDavid and also featured a couple of surprising upsets.

 

The Carolina Hurricanes took it to the visiting Los Angeles Kings. I mean they really won that game. Just outworked a team that doesn't often get outworked. But, you know, this was the third game in four nights on a road trip for the Kings. In NBA circles that's what's known as a "scheduled loss." I don't think you can as far as using that term in the NHL, simply because there is so much parity but in this case it feels right.

 

What's crazy is that the Kings had reinforcements with both Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik returning to the lineup for the first time yesterday. Their fresh legs didn't matter much as the rest of the team offered little jump.

 

Kopitar looked really good and jumped right back onto the top power play unit as well as skating some big minutes on the penalty kill. He was second only to Jeff Carter in overall ice time among forwards but his early scoring woes continued despite generating some solid chances.

 

Gaborik looked rusty. He wasn't skating with the usual fluidity that you normally expect. His groin might be good enough that he could play but he's clearly still hurting.

 

They had Gaborik back out on the top line with Kopitar and Justin Williams but they sheltered his minutes giving him just 48 seconds of power play time and just 13:49 overall. It might take a few games before Gaborik gets it going so there is a buy low window here. I do have concerns that he re-aggravates the injury though. Gaborik is like the #1 Band-Aid Boy and groin injuries have a habit of not going away. Since he is clearly not at 100% yet, I think that puts his risk of re-injury even higher.

 

It should be mentioned that Williams looked awesome. He notched an assist to go along with six SOG. His upside is going to be limited so long as he is skating on the second power play unit but I've yet to see a game where I haven't been impressed with Williams.

 

So what if Williams isn't going to score like he did in the playoffs? Williams is still averaging three shots per game, which is right where he should be so the scoring will come. He'll give you around 50 points with 240 SOG and a healthy plus/minus. That's going to be valuable in most fantasy leagues especially if you can get in now before he has a few hot streaks.

 

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Elias Lindholm had himself a game for the Hurricanes. He scored the game-winner and added an assist as well. That gives him his second multi-point game is as many contests and also his fourth straight game with four SOG.

 

I want to caution against getting too excited. Lindholm is a real