Ramblings: Jordan Eberle Breaks the Drought! (Jan 19)

steve laidlaw

2017-01-19

Ramblings: Eberle finally scores, Bergeron downright hot and more.

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The Midseason Guide was released last weekend, what are you waiting for? Besides the second-half projections, this beauty will also have players on the trade block (and what it means), prospects ready to make the jump for a dozen games down the stretch, the lowdown on undrafted or unsigned free agents (both in college and in Europe) and much more. Last year’s Midseason Guide had Troy StecherDrake Caggiula, Nick Lappin, Brandon Tanev, Alexander Radulov and Anton Rodin, to give you a small sample. Imagine getting a heads up on players like that in January instead of finding out about them in April or even July? Order it here

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The Bruins blew it against the Wings last night, which has folks calling for Claude Julien’s head. I’d go the other direction. This team is over-performing expectations by remaining in the hunt. They’ve got a GREAT top-six, an exceptional goaltender and maybe two or three defensemen you’d really get excited about. They’ve hung in the playoff race despite down years from their top two centermen. No one was picking these guys to be a contender. They were supposed to be rebuilding on the fly but with Julien at the helm and their foundational pieces, I buy them as contenders. They just need to fill out the roster.

The Bruins have been linked to Gabriel Landeskog but what about Kevin Shattenkirk? He’s a pending UFA so he’d come cheaper but he went to Boston U so maybe there’s a chance he’d re-sign in Boston.

Ryan Spooner has been rumoured to be available for a while. Perhaps a Spooner+ package gets you Shattenkirk. If I were the GM, I’d be trying to upgrade the bottom-six forwards to help match the skating and skill of some of the East juggernauts but some blueline help would work too. Then you just hope that Matt Beleskey can return from injury and provide some bang for your buck.

There is some overlap in skillset between Kevin Shattenkirk and Torey Krug but you never turn down the chance to get a good player if that chance is there.

This is purely speculation on my part but if Shattenkirk really is available, I like the fit for Boston, purely because he might actually re-sign there. But it’s possible he just wants to hit free agency.

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Patrice Bergeron had his first three-point game of the season. That pushes him to five goals and 11 points in his last 11 games. Believe in this, folks!

Frank Vatrano and David Pastrnak swapped lines so Pastrnak was with David Krejci, while Vatrano got to feast on the big night from Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Two goals for Vatrano, who is a legit talent.

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Five goals for the Wings and miraculously no points for Anthony Mantha. Shit happens. Just ask Brandon Carlo who blew a tire, leading to Tomas Tatar’s breakaway goal. No one says Tatar is without talent but I’ve given up on him, three-point game and all.

I’m much more interested in Thomas Vanek. Check out this sweet pass to Andreas Athanasiou, who also warrants consideration in your fantasy league:

Jared Coreau was chased early and Petr Mrazek performed well in relief, eventually earning a win. We are nowhere near the point where we should be taking either of the Wings’ goaltenders seriously but Mrazek owners should hope that this is a building block, while keeping him firmly glued to their bench.

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Carey Price has now conceded three goals or more in eight of his last 10 games. It’s been a truly dismal run that has seen him stop just 88.3% of the shots he has faced. If you can find someone willing to panic-trade him, take that idiot to the cleaners.

Alex Galchenyuk has just one point in three games since returning from injury but his minutes have been up above his season average. He also continues to see top power play unit usage. It’s important to note that his minutes have been up because the Canadiens have had only four PP chances in the three games since his return. You’d expect he’ll be seeing something like 18 minutes per game if the start seeing multiple PP chances per game.

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Jake Guentzel continues to be a person of interest. Give him six points in seven games now. He has also piled on 24 hits in those seven games.

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Jordan Eberle finally broke the seal, ending an 18-game drought with a goal last night. As I’ve mentioned the past few weeks, he had been getting chances but could not finish. Now, I suspect, the floodgates will be open. Although it is worth noting that he missed on a chance to win it in overtime. No worries, Connor McDavid capped a three-point night with the winner instead:

His mitts looked like a rat running through a maze, my word.

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Vincent Trocheck has nine goals and 16 points in 12 games since Aleksander Barkov got hurt. Barkov can stay out forever as far as I’m concerned. That’s a selfish notion but Trocheck’s always going to be in Barkov’s long shadow, which is disappointing. I’m still waiting for the coach that figures out to just use them both extensively. Particularly, using them together on the power play. Load up one unit and enjoy!

Michael Sgarbossa scored his first career NHL goal. He warrants some consideration in deep leagues because he is seeing secondary PP time but the list of players of the Panthers I’d take ahead of him is long.

In shallower leagues, I’m only interested in Trocheck, Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad. Ekblad has four assists in the past three games but he’s most interesting because he is on pace for 269 SOG, a fantastic output for a defenseman. Sure, Ekblad’s got a minus-17 rating but my approach has been to punt plus/minus and win the rest of the categories.

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Logan Couture was out sick last night, opening up a coveted spot on the Sharks’ top PP unit. Timo Meier got a shot there but it didn’t last. Joel Ward took over later in the game and eventually added a PP assist. We’ve seen Ward produce while replacing Couture before so if he misses any more time be prepared to use Ward as a streaming option or in daily fantasy.

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Tanner Pearson has scored seven goals and 11 points in 13 games since Tyler Toffoli got hurt. He’s playing bigger minutes with Toffoli out, including filling in on the top PP unit but only one of his 11 points during this run has come with the man-advantage. He’s simply stepping his game up, which makes you wonder if he can continue it once Toffoli returns.

I am dubious that he can. Even without the power-play production, Pearson is shooting the puck way more with Toffoli out. He’s fired 38 SOG in these 13 games, nearly three per game. He was below two per game before the Toffoli injury.

Toffoli has been skating but has no time-table for his return. The initial prognosis was three to six weeks. We’re at four weeks now. My guess is we see him after the All-Star break.

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An important note from Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts:

17. One thing to note about Winnipeg’s goalie situation: Connor Hellebuyck is now waiver eligible. He hit 60 games last Friday in Arizona.

The Jets are pretty-well locked into a three-headed goalie monster now. They obviously aren’t getting rid of Hellebuyck, who is their future. Michael Hutchinson has value as the goalie they’ll expose in the expansion draft and now they’ve got Ondrej Pavelec back up as a shot in the dark to upgrade the position.

I don’t think Pavelec is an upgrade but strange things can happen over small sample sizes. As bad as Pavelec has been over his career he has strung together some hot runs of play. Any goalie good enough to crack an NHL roster can get hot for a few weeks and that can be enough to create fantasy relevance.

Pavelec did enough to win against the Coyotes, which these days isn’t much. He did have this highlight reel save:

You must also note the brutal rebound control, which forces the second effort. Pavelec himself would admit that this was bad. He also allowed a couple of softies early in the first but I won’t torch him yet. In fact, I picked up Pavelec in one league. It was mostly desperation but also because the Coyotes offered the potential for an easy win. Mission accomplished. Let’s see how Pavelec fairs in the games ahead. The Jets face the Blues, Ducks, Sharks and Blackhawks before the All-Star break. No more gimmies.

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This news isn’t really fantasy relevant because the Avalanche goalies shouldn’t be owned in any leagues.

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My latest for Puck Daddy looks at which teams are trending up and which are trending down from a scoring perspective.

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Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

  Players Team GP G A P
EVGENI MALKIN PIT 5 4 7 11
ADAM FOX NYR 4 1 6 7
JAKUB VORACEK PHI 6 0 10 10
NATHAN MACKINNON COL 5 2 6 8
MIKA ZIBANEJAD NYR 29 25 19 44
NIKITA KUCHEROV T.B 24 16 20 36
KEVIN FIALA MIN 11 9 7 16
EVANDER KANE S.J 7 5 5 10
KYLE CONNOR WPG 7 8 2 10
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS EDM 17 8 16 24

LINE COMBOS

  Frequency TOR Players
33.9% ZACH HYMAN AUSTON MATTHEWS WILLIAM NYLANDER
28.3% MITCHELL MARNER ILYA MIKHEYEV JOHN TAVARES
15.9% KASPERI KAPANEN ALEXANDER KERFOOT NICHOLAS ROBERTSON

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