Rambling about the Gr8 Ovi; no goal support for Talbot; Mrazek vaulting the Wings,  and more …


Morning Updates –

My fantasy mailbag for Sportsnet last Friday can be found here.

Seth Jones was traded out of Nashville late last week. Prior to that, there was one game (on October 20) in which Mattias Ekholm had a sniff of power-play time. But in the last two games, in case you missed it, Ekholm saw 2:04 and 3:01 of power-play time. He picked up a PP assist and has two points in those two games overall. I didn't expect him to pick up the PP time right away, but thought it was possible. Now that it's happening, yes he makes a great pickup and very worthy risk for your lineup.

Jonathan Drouin update – after scoring twice in his first game with Syracuse (and five shots), he is pointless in his last two. So he hasn't been horrible by any stretch, but he hasn't gone down there and ripped it up either.

Mark Scheifele missed Sunday's contest with an LBI. He's expected back Tuesday. Here were Winnipeg's line combos in his absense: 



Thorburn? The Jets are in trouble if they lose a scoring-line guy and the best they can do to replace him is Thorburn… You can get line combos anytime right here.



If you took advantage of the Draft Kings deal back in the summer – yes, the Midseason Guide is included in that package. Go to ‘downloads’ and pick it up! One quick note – the Guide is not in your downloads in a nice, chronological order. For some reason you’ll need to scroll down past other guides that you purchased in order to get to this one. Thanks for your support!


Congrats to Justin Clark, Brad Robar and Massimo – you guys sit in the top three in the DobberHockey 10th Anniversary OfficePools League! Don’t forget, you have just five days left in this trade window to make a move. Top DobberHockey writer in this pool is Ian Gooding, who sits 23rd. Worst DobberHockey writer is, uh, yours truly. I’m 1083rd. And after they removed all the “doubles” and the teams that didn’t plug in players, we only had about 1200 entries! So yeah – near the bottom. I was doomed from the start though. Within three weeks it was clear that I needed about 15 trades right away. I had so many bad picks that I could waste a trade on replacing McDavid. Or Price. Or Kunitz. Or Derrick Pouliot who hasn’t even played a game yet. I had to sit on those guys and suffer while I made moves that would make more of an impact, like upgrading Couture for Turris, Fabbri for Panarin, Schwartz for Gaudreau, Semin for Hoffman. Ugh. Horrible, horrible performance that would take about 25 moves to fix, and even then I wouldn’t be able to close the 120-point gap.

At least you guys are enjoying it! That’s all that matters, I guess…


iPhone users have had a rough go of the Ramblings these past 10 days or so (with re-directs to the app store) and I apologize for that. We’ve been working hard to find the issue and thought we had it beat on Thursday, but it was back two days later. Finally, yesterday I just removed the ads altogether. I don’t know what else to do? We’ll work behind the scenes to fix. So these clown spammers have succeeded in costing me full ad revenue. Very nice. Do these boneheads actually get a few extra downloads for their dumb app when they trick/force people onto their app store page?


Alex Ovechkin, 500-goal scorer. He did it. And for a moment there, when I saw the 7-1 final, I wondered about just what kind of game he had. Just two goals though, nothing too nuts. But give him 501 goals now in 801 games. And isn’t Goal 500 your typical Ovechkin?


In typical Dave Cameron fashion, he left his goaltender in there to get shelled from start to finish. Usually, my Craig Anderson is on the receiving end of such a shellacking, but this time it was Andrew Hammond – seven goals on 36 shots.

So you’ve probably noticed that there is a new Joel Ward on the scene. And by that I mean – an older checking-line guy who is suddenly posting huge numbers. Remember that Ward had 20 points in his first 26 games. He’s up to just 25 points now. Ward’s last four games has seen ice time below 17:25 each – whereas the prior four games each of them was above that mark. Slowly fading into his checking ways. Market correction! But I digress. The ‘new’ Ward on the scene is…Jason Chimera. Don’t look now but Chimera has 25 points. And he has 21 of those points in the last 28 games, which is about the same pace that Ward was on to start the season. But much, much less fanfare about it. Funny how that works, eh?

Chimera is still on a checking line, but he’s getting PP time and he’s producing. These days he’s seeing about 40% of the available Washington PP time and he has 10 power-play points. So he’s a worthy pickup – it’s looking like his production will carry on far longer than Ward’s did.


Semyon Varlamov got the hook on Sunday after giving up four goals on 20 shots. It was the second time he was pulled in the last five games, although those two times sandwiched a string of three wins.

With three points Sunday, Matt Duchene has 35 in his last 33 games.

Artemi Panarin has eight points in his last seven games and just does not want to slow down. We’re all saying “sell high” and that’s probably wise…but it’s looking more and more as though he may make us look bad. In my Midseason Guide, I have him projected to finish with 70 points, which means 32 in his last 40 games. He picked up an assist Sunday in Chicago’s seventh win in a row.


And now for my weekly look: “Who did John Hynes put as PP QB?” And the answer is – a blast from the past. Not Larsson. Not Gelinas (scratched…again). Not Severson. Not even Moore (out with an injury) or Schlemko. Nope, this time it’s Marc-Andre Gragnani! Remember him? A high-scoring AHL defensemen who blew his NHL chance at age 24 and 25. Now he’s 28 and manning the Devils’ PP for a couple of games. Zero points in those two games though, so not exactly earning a lengthy stay. Funny how Hynes would rather turn to an AHLer than let Larsson or Severson get a chance.

So the Devils are traditionally the kings of supressing shots going back 20 years. And the Wild have been the kings of suppressing shots the past three or four years. Those two teams went head to head and I can only imagine the TV ratings for that snoozefest. Total shots on goal, combined: 35.

Disclosure – no, I didn’t see the game. Nor did I have any desire.


Since December 19…

Frederik Andersen: 1-1-1, 2.19, 0.915

John Gibson: 5-2-1, 1.78, 0.925


Shea Theodore is still drawing for the top power play for the Ducks, alongside Sami Vatanen. Lindholm and Bieksa man the second PP. Theodore is still without a point – so not exactly the instant impact of a Gostisbehere. I’m not sure how much rope he’ll get if he continues to put up goose eggs. I have him in one league, and I’ll keep him on my bench for another week. I need to see signs of life before activating him.


Make it four wins in a row for Petr Mrazek. From October 24th on (so ignore his first three outings), he is 14-6-3, 2.04 GAA and 0.931 SV%. And that’s the reason I have the Red Wings hanging in there and making the playoffs (in the Midseason Guide).


Cool stat on the Panthers:


The Panthers have won 12 in a row.


Nick Bjugstad is thrilled about the Panthers’ winning streak. It hides the fact that he has just three points during the run and just one point in 10 games. Owners were happy about his 17 PIM Sunday though.


Cam Talbot has started six games in a row for the Oilers so you know that the team would just love for him to seize the top job. But he’s not doing it. He’s not playing horrible, the way he did in the first month. But he’s not a game-stealer. And as a Talbot owner in one league, I’m not sure how much more time he’ll be given. In his defense, the team isn’t scoring when he’s in net. Just nine goals scored by the Oilers during those six games. McDavid can’t return soon enough…

The Oilers are doing a good job of holding down shots. Just 14 shots allowed Sunday. Now they need to get the power play going. Whoever is in net when the team finally gets scoring will be the main guy down the stretch and perhaps parlay that into a pretty good future with the team. I’m guessing that guy won’t be worth owning until Yakupov and McDavid get back in about two weeks.


Evander Kane returned to Winnipeg and emerged victorious, even picking up an assist in the process. Of course, that assist was on an empty-netter though…

It was Kane’s first point in seven games. Hey, I just figured it out. There are only 140 points or so that were to be allocated to a Kane for this season. And rather than split them evenly, the hockey gods decided that all the points should go to Patrick. Sorry Evander owners!

Sam Reinhart scored his first career hat trick. He has 12 points in his last 19 games.

Linus Ullmark stopped a career-high 42 shots for the win. It’s said that it was probably his last game in the NHL before being sent back down to the AHL. Robin Lehner is finally ready to return. Lehner played two AHL games on the weekend – a 5-4 win and a 2-1 loss. He’ll play one more AHL game before getting back to the NHL. So far as a Sabre, Lehner has played just 27 minutes.


This is a weird one. The Canucks announced, via a press release on their website, that they are trying to trade Chris Higgins. Not that he has any fantasy value left. But can you remember a team ever doing that? Higgins did not request a trade, and this is not a leaked rumor. The team just, without prompting, announced that they’re trading him. Can’t help but think there’s something going on there behind the scenes.

The Canucks just added Emerson Etem for a bit part. So maybe they can add another long shot for Higgins. Etem, while I hold out little hope for, could still pan out if the stars align. Certainly worth a shot. And my belief is if you take enough of those shots, you may fluke a hidden gem. Perhaps it will be Etem, perhaps it will be Baertschi (jury is still out) – or perhaps it will be whatever prospect they get for Higgins.