Ramblings: Bruins Banged Up, Pirri the Specialist (Oct. 27)

steve laidlaw


The Bruins injuries, Pirri’s specialization, Barzal’s immediate future and more.

The Bruins cannot get Tuukka Rask back soon enough. Their non-Rask goalie options have gotten shredded. Fortunately, it sounds like Rask may be back soon:

In other Bruin injury news:

Backes had bursitis and it has probably been nagging him for a while if they are opting for surgery. The recovery timelines I am reading suggest about six weeks for full recovery but athletes always surpass these timelines. I imagine he is back in four weeks. But this is all speculative. I am seeing it bandied about that Backes will miss only two more games but that’s based on the timeline of when the Bruins will update his condition.

Either way, there is a top power play spot available with Backes on the shelf. Danton Heinen filled this spot earlier in the week but more interesting was Brad Marchand getting top unit time last night. I don’t even know how many points Marchand might score with top PP minutes. This will likely be short lived but it could result in some dynamite results.

Austin Czarnik has been recalled.


Brandon Pirri is playing some excellent DH for the Rangers. While he is skating only 11 minutes per game, three of those are coming with the man advantage. He has four goals and six points in just seven games, half of those point coming on the power play.

Pirri has scored at about a 40-point pace for his entire career, except he’s never stuck around long enough to play 80 games and actually hit the 40-point mark. Barring injury, he looks like a decent bet to get there this season. I don’t see much more upside however. While he is seeing more PP time than ever before, the minutes are still too low to fall in love with this guy.

He’s also shooting 44.4%, which we know will come in closer to his career average of 13.7%. Over a full season, with say a 160 shot output, that makes for 22 goals. And he’s never been a big assist guy.

Chris Kreider missed out on a big night. He’s been absent the past couple of games due to neck spasms. He’s still up in the air for playing this weekend. The Rangers go Friday and Sunday, which makes them a good team to target if you need a streaming option for those off days.

If Kreider can’t go, JT Miller looks like a sexy option off the waiver wire. He’s proven he can score in bunches in the past and has stepped into Kreider’s spot alongside Mika Zibanejad. This proved fruitful as Miller had a pair of assists.

Jimmy Vesey is also looking intriguing as a pickup. He’s skating with Rick Nash and Derek Stepan, which is good company. I prefer the Miller option, though for the length of the season I wouldn’t expect more than 40 points from either one.

Oscar Lindberg made his season debut but he’s so buried in this loaded lineup that I wonder if he’ll have any fantasy relevance.

Ryan McDonagh skated over seven minutes with the man advantage last night. No one is benefitting more from the absence of Keith Yandle. Potential 50-point breakout season here. He will need to avoid the nagging injuries that have hampered him the past couple of seasons. It would also help if the Rangers can continue to score on the PP at a top-10 rate. McDonagh’s career high for PPP is just 13. He could go for 20 PPP with this kind of usage.


The Canadiens had only one power play opportunity last night and the unit they rolled out is a bit repulsive but they cashed in with a Shea Weber power play marker. Weber is off to a Brent Burns-esque beginning to the season with nine points through seven games.

Weber’s point shot makes any unit he is on an intriguing one but here’s what the Canadiens rolled out:

Andrew Shaw, David Desharnais, Max Pacioretty, Jeff Petry and Weber

Where’s my Alex Galchenyuk? My Brendan Gallagher? It’s also worth noting that Galchenyuk and Gallagher were without Pacioretty at even strength:



This development, I definitely do not like. Although it’s likely just a short-term deal and not worth getting overly concerned about. It’s not like I’m dropping either Galchenuyk or Gallagher right now.


Mathew Barzal skated his second game of the season and saw just 9:20 of ice time. This smells like a kid who is getting sent back to junior at some point. It’s awfully interesting to see how the Islanders are playing this with Barzal. They seem to be trying to extend his nine-game trial period as long as possible by not actually using him in games. I guess it is a good way to have him travel with the team and get a taste of professional life without having to use him in a serious role. At some point, however, the experience has to get old and he’ll need to play some games.

Contrast this with the situation of Anthony Beauvillier who has been productive enough in a small role to keep garnering usage. He has been used sparsely, with an average of 10:37 per game, with almost no PP time but has five points in six games. Last night he was rewarded with over 16 minutes of ice time skating with Anders Lee and Brock Nelson. No points for Beauvillier however. That he is playing more frequently than Barzal suggests he has a better chance of sticking around.

How many more scoreless outings from Andrew Ladd before someone else gets his prime minutes alongside John Tavares. Beauvillier would probably awesome here. Lee has had some success there in the past. Either one would benefit if bumped up.

Lee has also lost his spot on the top PP unit. At this point he is irrelevant outside of the deepest leagues.

Ryan Strome skated with Alan Quine and Barzal. Strome seeing just 12:33 but notched an assist. Strome will remain relevant so long as he sees top unit PP time but probably closer to the way Pirri is relevant if his minutes don’t increase. Strome has been surprisingly productive despite skating an average of just 12:30 per game. I don’t see how he gets to 50 points seeing so few minutes.


Tokarski isn’t really much of an option at this point and I hope you weren’t counting on Bernier for much. This just means more John Gibson, which isn’t a bad thing. Gibson shutdown the Predators last night for his third win in four nights.

The Ducks were without Ryan Getzlaf due to an upper-body injury. He was a game-time decision so do not expect much time to be missed here. The Ducks didn’t need him anyway, riding some hot special teams to a blowout win.

With Getzlaf out the loaded top line of Ryan Kesler, Jakob Silfverberg and Corey Perry put in serious work. Silfverberg’s two goals should help him get his mojo going. He really needs to solidify himself as an option for their top PP unit before Rickard Rakell returns to the lineup, which should be soon.

Shea Theodore notched an assist while shorthanded. He skated the second most PK time on the Ducks. He did see over two minutes of PP time but is firmly behind Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen right now. Theodore needs an injury to break through and could be back to the minors whenever Hampus Lindholm returns.


Some big changes made to positional eligibility in Yahoo’s database:

Matt Duchene – C/RW

Patrik Laine – LW/RW

Rick Nash – LW/RW

Jonathan Marchessault – C/LW

Travis Konecny – C/LW

Ryan Spooner – C/LW

Brandon Pirri – C/RW

Brayden Point – C/RW

Vladislav Namestnikov – C/LW

Mikael Granlund – C/LW

There were some others but these were the big ones. The guys who gained a wing eligibility after being center only is a huge game changer. It will be much easier to fit hot options like Marchessault or Konecny when you don’t have to use them at center. Also, Duchene goes from perhaps the 20th best center (I had him at 24 pre-season) to somewhere around the 15th best RW. He’d likely have gone a round or two higher in drafts had he had this wing eligibility from the start.

These changes really annoy me. It’s hardly fair to alter the eligibility for some players and not all of them. Certain teams gain an advantage over everyone else. And sure, experienced folks know to count on positional changes from Yahoo. But does this make them better fantasy hockey managers or simply better at gaming the system of the game provider? Fantasy hockey is an artificial construct. You don’t have to have the positions match what’s happening in the NHL. Fantasy managers should have to adapt to the positions that are initially provided in order to build the best team. Smart leagues opt for straight forwards rather than breaking things down further because it avoids the rigmarole but this eliminates some of the nuance of having to fit guys into more specialized slots.  You know what else eliminates the nuance? Granting every player multiple position eligibility, which is a level Yahoo has hit in the past.

But, as they say, you get what you pay for, and Yahoo’s free service is pretty darn good.


Some great stuff in Elliott Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts:

7. Don’t look now, but looming large over Winnipeg’s goalie situation is Ondrej Pavelec. The Jets have allowed 19 goals in five games. There are conflicting reports on how seriously they talked to Los Angeles, with some sources indicating they wanted to get rid of the contract and others saying they always intended to keep him as an insurance policy.

After scoring in the Heritage Classic, Edmonton’s Mark Letestu told Scott Oake it was the same move that worked for him in beating Connor Hellebuyck during an exhibition game. Hellebuyck’s going to be a stud but that shows the very steep learning curve. Can’t let a guy beat you the same way twice.

People are throwing lots of questions my way about Hellebuyck and wondering if it’s time to move on. I remain steadfast that he is the Jets’ best option and a really good fantasy own. However, I do have some questions about the viability of Winnipeg as a whole. Their team defense would be much better with Jacob Trouba in the fold and it seems likely we won’t see him until around December 1st, when the deadline for him to sign and be able to play this season is set.

We saw this play out with several trade requests last season. Teams have the leverage to wait out the season. The only way Trouba can flex his muscle is to show a willingness to not play in the NHL this season. Might be time to start shopping for a contract in Europe if he is willing to go that route. He will need to play somewhere at some point in order to keep developing his game. Ultimately, I see Trouba back in a Jet uniform and a trade coming in the offseason but we’re still a month away from that reality happening.

If you can wait out the storm with Hellebuyck, you should be rewarded but that can be tough. The player most cited in “should I drop Hellebuyck for” questions is Steve Mason. Why drop one for the other? Drop a skater and have both.

Mason, as I have repeatedly cited, has been average at worst and elite at best during his time in Philadelphia. I like the idea of having both and in fact do in a couple of leagues.


My latest for Puck Daddy looks at slow starters to drop and to hold.


Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.


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