December 11, 2015

steve laidlaw


Ristolainen nets a hat-trick, Vasilevskiy demoted, Monahan and the Flames defense heating up and more.

Ondrej Palat did indeed return for the Lightning and was right back with the Triplets. No points for Palat but Nikita Kucherov had a pair of goals and the line as a whole looked really good. No penalty killing for Palat so he isn’t likely at full strength yet as that is normally one of his duties.

Check out the Lightning lines:





JT Brown skating on the third line has been hot with nine points in the last 11 games. A ton of assists in that run however, and no power-play time so I’m not sure how sustainable this is. His one goal in this run, came last night and was an empty-netter.

Matt Carle was a healthy scratch for the third time this year. Look for more of this as the year goes on. I don’t know if he is hurt or what the situation is but Carle has been bad. He has gone from skating over 20 minutes a night and driving positive possession to skating about 18 per game and losing the possession battle. Thanks to our friends at Cap Friendly we can see that Carle is their highest paid defenseman at $5.5 million per and that he is locked up for another two seasons after this one. He is only 31. Defensemen are not supposed to drop off so precipitously.

I know that this isn’t the first time I have brought up Carle’s struggles but it bears repeating. He isn’t all that fantasy relevant but if you are looking for a reason why the Lightning have struggled part of it is that they’ve seen what was 20 minutes a night of strong play last season go sour on them.

Andrei Vasilevskiy is off to the minors with Kristers Gudlevskis being recalled. Don’t look at this as a huge negative. He was never surpassing Ben Bishop, anyhow. He is going down to get some action to stay fresh if he is needed. We probably won’t see Vasilevskiy really take over until 2017-18, when Bishop is off the books.


It sounds like Andrew Hammond will be back next week. The Senators just assigned him to the AHL for conditioning, which means he’ll be back soon. That should spell the end of what has been an extended string of starts for Craig Anderson. He has started 13 in a row after last night.

It’s been a rocky run for Anderson as well with a bunch of games with three or more goals allowed and what is just about a dead-even split with seven wins in those 13 starts. We have seen Anderson break down because of overuse in the past and it would be a shame if that was his fate once again.

Adam Gretz takes a great look at why Erik Karlsson is the most game-changing defenseman since Bobby Orr:

Karlsson's impact on the Senators' offense is the type of impact that is usually reserved for the best forwards. Crosby, for example, has had a hand in 39 percent of the Penguins' goals over that stretch. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, perhaps the two best offensive players in the NHL, have been around 34 percent. Ovechkin has been at 33 percent for the Capitals. Patrick Kane has contributed to 31 percent of the Blackhawks' goals.

Enough cannot be said about what a unique and brilliant talent Karlsson is. I took this guy second overall in the Dobber Experts League draft.


I have no idea what is going on with the Canadiens’ lines. This is what they went with last night:














At this point, I am pretty glad that I don’t own many Canadiens because I would be freaking out. It’s amazing how losing one guy (Brendan Gallagher) can throw things into disarray.

The eight-minute wonders, Sven Andrighetto and Charles Hudon, combined for one of the two Habs goals despite limited action. An assist for Hudon was his first career point.

PK Subban is a plug-and-play type so this doesn’t even really warrant mentioning but he has not scored in four straight and has just one point in his last seven. This is the Gallagher trickledown in effect. Subban will be fine. I do wonder when he is going to find his second goal of the season. This guy even scored double-digit goals during the lockout shortened season. Only a matter of time.

Dustin Tokarski got the start for Montreal. He just isn’t a guy worth owning in fantasy. Mike Condon is secure and even if Condon got hurt, we’d probably see Montreal make a trade because Tokarski isn’t the guy.


Pavel Datsyuk, four points in his last four games. Were you panicked? Please tell me you weren’t panicked.

Niklas Kronwall continues to wield a hot stick. He has two goals and five points in the last seven games. It is somewhat amazing how reliant he is on power-play scoring at this point. Seven of Kronwall’s 12 points have come on the power play.


Is Al Montoya becoming a thing? He has allowed two goals or less in five of his six starts. Roberto Luongo is the workhorse in Florida but for the random spot starts Montoya is looking pretty good. With the way the Panthers are playing defense Montoya might be worth considering next time he gets a start and you are in a pinch.

A bit of a scary moment for Brian Campbell as he was checked from behind by Tom Wilson and sent face-first into the boards. Campbell had to leave the game but did return after repairs to a bloody nose. Sometimes there isn’t an immediate impact with concussions so be on alert.

Campbell, despite an assist last night, has really slowed down after a hot start so odds are you don’t have him on your squad anyhow.

Instead, it’s Aaron Ekblad, who scored his sixth of the season, who has resumed his spot as the top offensive defenseman in Florida. Over the last month, Ekblad has five goals and 10 points in 15 games.

Jonathan Huberdeau is starting to look more comfortable out there. He had a pair of assists last night to give him 13 points in 18 games since the start of November. That’s still not the pace we hoped for. It certainly doesn’t appear that a breakout is in the cards for this season but at least he is relevant again after falling flat on his face to open the season.


Vladimir Tarasenko, Paul Stastny and Magnus Paajarvi were a combined minus-10 last night. Odds that that line sticks for another game are infinitesimally small.

Robby Fabbri, Jori Lehtera and Dmitri Jaskin combined for the first goal of the game and have the makings of an intriguing third line. The Blues are still struggling to find consistency with Jaden Schwartz out so there is no telling if this line has a future. I’d love it if it did. Lots of potential.

Brian Elliott got a rare start for St. Louis and while he didn’t play poorly, three goals against in a loss is not going to do anything to shake Jake Allen’s hold over the starting spot.


Michal Neuvirth has surpassed Steve Mason. He just has. No two ways about it. Mason has simply crapped the bed.

I don’t necessarily blame Mason. The Flyers’ situation is a tough one with their poor defense but it was bad last year and Mason really carried them. You can’t help but think back to October, when Mason missed time due to a family issue, and wonder if there isn’t still something distracting him.

Whatever the case, Neuvirth is the #1 and he is winning more than he is losing, which makes him an asset in any sort of fantasy league.

It’s nights like last night where last season the Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek combo would have been tremendously lucrative. But with Giroux’s three points all coming at even strength and Voracek not skating on the top line it’s another goose egg for Voracek.

On the other hand, Brayden Schenn seems to be benefiting with five points in his last five games.


It wasn’t pretty but Connor Hellebuyck is up to 4-0 in his young career. This game always had the smell of a shootout on it, with the Blue Jackets stuck start Curtis McElhinney with Sergei Bobrovsky hurt. Couple the way the Jets have been playing so loose with the fact the Blue Jackets would likely be chasing and you’ve got a goalie roast.

It was only a week ago that I was talking about Mr. Monsoon himself, Drew Stafford and here we go again. Another multi-point game for Stafford. This time, he chipped in with three points. He has more multi-point games (five) than he has single-point games (four). When it rains, it ****ing pours. But good luck guessing which games he is going to go off in.

Mathieu Perreault remains the most attractive second-liner on the Jets because of his spot on the top power-play unit. He led the way last night with four points. Mark Scheifele is the best player on that line but talent and opportunity have to lineup properly and Perreault has the better opportunity so in a one-year format he’s my guy.


I hate to say this but poor McElhinney probably shouldn’t be an NHL goalie. He remains winless on the year and if he is stuck starting for the next three weeks the Blue Jackets are taking a run at Auston Matthews. He might actually kill John Tortorella. Not actively, but just through the stress of goal horns. I do expect we see Joonas Korpisalo make his NHL debut.

And to be fair, McElhinney did carry a 0.914 save percentage across 32 appearances last season.

With Tortorella you just never know what the lines are going to look like. Last night, Brandon Saad was back on the top line. He was held scoreless but his linemates, Boone Jenner and Ryan Johansen, did combine for a goal.

Cam Atkinson, relegated to the second line, ended a five-game scoring slump with a pair of goals. Maybe this sparks another hot streak. The two points gets Atkinson back on pace for around 50 points. Is this the year he breaks free from his 40-point shackles? I remain unconvinced.

David Clarkson returned from injury but skated under 10 minutes.


Remember me trumpeting Rasmus Ristolainen for much of the season? Hat-trick baby. He becomes the eighth defenseman to record a hat-trick since 2009, joining some gaudy company. These were his first goals in exactly a month. Making up for lost time, evidently.

Ristolainen is now on pace for just short of 60 points. He won’t get there. Even 50 will be tough. But 50 is now possible. His story keeps getting better and better.

Sorry to pound my own chest on this one, but I have turned down a lot of offers hefty offers on Ristolainen in a bunch of leagues and it is great to see him paying such tremendous dividends.

Before I get too cocky, I’m also the guy who said Leon the Professional wouldn’t get to 40 points and he’s already halfway there. Win some, lose some.

As I type this, Ristolainen is owned in only 62% of Yahoo! pools. There is still room for condos on Risto Island.


Yep, the Flames’ defensemen people, they are back. Each of Dennis Wideman, Dougie Hamilton, TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano registered an assist. The hopes of having four 40-point defensemen again are probably out the window but these four can probably take a run at 30 each, which is still tremendous.

Sean Monahan has seven points in the last four games to get back on the path to 60 points.

No Jiri Hudler last night as he sat out with the flu. Apparently the flu is running through the locker room. Bob Hartley, always a good quote, had some good things to say about the Flames battling through illness.

The Flames also made a last-minute switcheroo by giving Karri Ramo the night off and starting Jonas Hiller. Hopefully you had Goalie Post email alerts to give you the heads up.


Patrick Kane is pulling out all of the tricks to extend his scoring streak. The last two games he stayed alive with an empty-netter. Last night he broke the Pekka Rinne shutout bid after what looks like some pretty blatant goaltender interference from Marcus Kruger. What do you guys think, does he dump it in tonight and let the Jets score on their own net to extend it tomorrow?

For what it’s worth, Wayne Gretzky thinks Kane could surpass his scoring streak record. I could care less either way. I have Kane in one pool and am thoroughly enjoying the spoils. I am just finding it entertaining tracking Kane’s good fortune recently.

Hell, with the way Michael Hutchinson is playing Kane probably scores a hat-trick.


The Predators absolutely worked the Blackhawks last night, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in a dominant first period before coasting to a 5-1 final.

For Rinne this ends a run of miserable starts where he had failed to record a quality start in seven out of eight starts. Hopefully this gets him back on track.

James Neal had a great night. Watch him turn Niklas Hjalmarsson inside out. He scored a pair.

Calle Jarnkrok notched an assist and has been centering Neal and Filip Forsberg while Mike Fisher has been out but the points have not come frequently enough to warrant a pickup.

Shea Weber has more points (10) than anyone else in December, thus far.

Colin Wilson being absent with a lower-body injury has opened up room for Viktor Arvidsson to skate in the top six. He can really break a team down with his speed. He chipped in an assist and has three points and 15 SOG in the last four games. Starting to look intriguing though there are much sexier options available on the waiver wire.


It sounds like well-known Band-Aid Boy, Joffrey Lupul, is due back from injury next week.


Travis Zajac has officially been placed on IR so we won’t see him for at least a couple of games yet.

Meanwhile, Adam Henrique is day-to-day but will definitely miss tonight’s game.


It looks like Dan Hamhuis will indeed miss time with his broken jaw. He is set to have surgery with a return date yet to be determined.


Check out Dobber’s latest studs and duds piece for some intriguing waiver wire options.


Pierre LeBrun wonders why we still allow fighting in hockey when we now know so much about concussions.

I wonder the same thing. Actually, I don’t really wonder, fighting is on its way out, like it or not. It will just take time. In the meantime, I will just continue to change the channel any time a hockey fight breaks out. It’s just boring to me.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for fighting. I enjoy me some mixed martial arts. I just don’t want fights interrupting my hockey. It’s the fastest game out there and gets completely derailed when a brawl breaks out.


Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.



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