Ramblings: On the Flyers’ Offensive Woes and the Islanders’ Offensive Highs

steve laidlaw


Ramblings: Flyers offensive woes, Islanders offensive highs and more.


Freddie Andersen has come out of the All-Star break in a tailspin having conceded five goals or more in three of his four starts. The only reason he didn’t give up five in the fourth start was because he got yanked before things could spiral out of control. I’m not particularly worried, but I’m also not using Andersen right now.

What’s crazy is that Andersen went into the break sizzling with back-to-back shutouts but overall Andersen has been sliding over the past month. Since January 1, Andersen has a 7-3-3 record with a 3.53 GAA and a .888 SV%. He has made only five quality starts in that span, including the two shutouts. That’s inconsistency at it’s finest.

The key is to be selective about which games you use Andersen in. Whether or not you believe the Islanders are any good, you cannot deny that their offense is rolling. Combine that with the Leafs’ propensity for playing high-event hockey and I left him on my bench. I’ll be more confident about using him at home against the Blues and Sabres later this week, although the Blues did crush the Leafs last week.

Morgan Rielly notched a pair of assists, his first points since returning from injury. Only three seconds of power play time for Rielly though. He’s owned in 34% of leagues but doesn’t meet my standards for someone I’d hang onto. Full on droppable for flavour-of-the-week options.


Anders Lee and Josh Bailey each notched a pair of assists. Bailey added a goal for good measure. I keep preaching that these two are worthwhile pickups. When I checked this weekend, Lee’s ownership was down in the single-digits – it’s up to 21% on Yahoo! while Bailey’s is at 15%. Still three games left for the Islanders this week, although it’s a Thursday/Saturday/Sunday slate that isn’t particularly favourable.

But I wouldn’t be too worried with scheduling for these guys. They are just plain hot. Since the start of December they are tied for 32nd in league scoring with 25 points in 28 games. Nevermind the Doug Weight narrative, the Islanders offense had been clicking for weeks before Jack Capuano got fired. Weight is just rolling out the line combos that Capuano spent weeks juggling to figure out.

Bailey and Lee, skating on John Tavares’ wings at even strength and on the PP have been downright good. You can lump Nick Leddy into that mix as well, although his turnaround has been much more recent, with 13 points in 15 games since their bye week.

Less interesting but also hot: Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome. They each have six points in the last four games, teaming up with Anthony Beauvillier on the second line. Strome sees top PP minutes but he’s also less consistent than Nelson so I don’t give him much credit. Strome might have to score a point in every game the rest of the way before I start taking him seriously. I’m twice burned, thus extremely shy with him.


Carter Hutton shutout the Flyers last night. That’s his third shutout in the past three weeks but I’m stealing preaching buyer beware. His .902 SV% is better than Jake Allen’s but it speaks for itself, as does his career mark of .908. No thank you. He has made eight quality starts in 23 appearances. That’s not inconsistent, that’s consistently bad.

With Robby Fabbri done for the year, the Blues called up Kenny Agostino, sticking him right onto the second line and second PP unit. He scored his first career NHL goal in 14 minutes of action. He’s put up huge numbers at the AHL level so I am mildly intrigued but I run down a long list of widely available options to consider before Agostino in my latest for Sportsnet, which includes the Islanders I discussed above.

You can find more on Agostino here. I’ll give Agostino this, he’s gotten more of an opportunity than top prospect Ivan Barbashev has gotten since the latter’s call up.

Barbashev has been deemed worthy of only fourth-line minutes. Maybe he’ll climb the depth chart at some point but right now he is below Agostino.


Shayne Gostisbehere sat out his third straight game as a healthy scratch. The time to buy low is now. I can’t guarantee that he’ll return to the lineup and start scoring but I would bet on it. If you can get Gostisbehere at a reduced price and you should do it.

The Flyers have averaged just 22.3 SOG in their three games without Gostisbehere and were shutout twice. They have also only allowed an average of 20. I suppose that math works in their favour but I still don’t get it. I’m all for the occasional scratching of a young player for motivation but at a certain point rolling out replacement level talent like Andrew MacDonald and Nick Schultz isn’t the move.

Also, asking Ivan Provorov to carry MacDonald on a nightly basis is a crime not dissimilar from the abuse Jacob Trouba took dragging Mark Stuart around for nearly half his shifts last season. The future is bright in Philly but they are making the present unnecessarily harded.

Gostisbehere is an elite offensive defenseman. He should eventually break out of his goal-scoring funk and then the coaching staff can put this scratching nonsense to rest. Or he won’t and the scratches will continue and the Flyers will eventually miss the playoffs. It took Torey Krug until the second last game of the season to score his first power-play goal of the season last year. Sometimes shit happens.

Gostisbehere isn’t the only Flyer in a funk. Since their winning streak ended back on December 14 they have scored more than three goals in a game just three times and have averaged less than two goals per game over this 22-game stretch. Their leading scorers over this stretch:




Brayden Schenn



Jakub Voracek



Claude Giroux



Wayne Simmonds



Ivan Provorov



Sean Couturier



Travis Konecny



Shayne Gostisbehere



Nick Cousins



Radko Gudas



Mark Streit




So it’s not just Gostisbehere you should be making pitches for. Start banging on the door of the Simmonds, Voracek and Giroux owners as well. Philly has a nice slate of games for H2H playoffs. Should they roll through a hot March, these Flyer studs could power your championship run.


The Devils’ second line of Mike Cammalleri, Adam Henrique and Miles Wood is on a bit of a hot streak but they are now headed into their bye week so nuts to any bright ideas you had there.

Cammalleri has eight assists in the past nine games, while Henrique has four goals and seven points in the last five games.

Random thought: the Devils are a team with the cap space and the need for help on defense. I wonder if that puts them in the running for Kevin Shattenkirk. I’m not pegging New Jersey as a trade destination for him but I would think that if there was a team that had the room to give Shattenkirk all the money it would be them. They could promise him a big role as well.

Not sure that’s the direction the Devils are headed but I would have to consider them to be in the running. I suppose it would depend on how much of a discount Shattenkirk would be willing to take to play for a genuine contender because there are better teams with similar needs but not similar cap space.

I wonder all of this because Damon Severson is in the midst of a career year and heading towards restricted free agency. I imagine that Severson’s plus/minus figure will help to keep his next contract down but I don’t give two shits about plus/minus. I care more that Severson’s relative possession numbers look good on a bad team whose elite starter is having the worst year of his career. I also care more that Severson is 22, trending up and should be able to provide 90% of what Shattenkirk does at perhaps a third of the price.

I’d be trying to get Severson on one of those long-term $4M contracts that teams have been locking young defensemen into the past few seasons.

The Devils could probably add both but only one of them would be available to run the top PP unit. Something to watch out for if you’re a Severson keeper league owner.

Of course, I spend all this time on the Devils’ defense and this is still a team using Ben Lovejoy for 20+ minutes a night while leaving Yohann Auvitu in the minors. I am a BIG Auvitu fan and not really for fantasy hockey reasons. I just think he’s a really good creative player.

The Devils won two of three with Andy Greene back in the lineup. Now he gets another break to rehab some more. He’s the Devils’ best defenseman and should help Cory Schneider. Not sure he can revive Schneider’s fantasy value but he will help.


Cody Franson was one of my top waiver wire pickups for this week. The Sabres had five games on the schedule. They are down to four now, which is still as many as any team. Franson was coming in hot with six points in his last seven games. Make that six in eight now. He’s also been skating more minutes with Zach Bogosian out.

I’m a Franson fan. Not necessarily for fantasy purposes, although he can be useful in the right role, but just in general. I think a team headed for the playoffs could add him to provide defensive depth come playoff time.


Mike Ribeiro has reported to the AHL. I thought he might refuse the assignment but he has accepted it. He has also demanded a trade so we may yet see him again.

I can see a team talking themselves into Ribeiro when the asking prices from sellers like the Avalanche and Coyotes have been too steep. The Blue Jackets turned Sam Gagner into an effective DH. Maybe someone can do the same with Ribeiro. They won’t have the benefit of a full training camp, however.

The problem with Ribeiro, and other former stars is that they need a really sheltered role to offer anything. There aren’t too many contenders this season who also need power play help. The worst teams by power play percentage currently holding down playoff spots are the Kings, Sharks and Senators. I don’t really see the fit for any of those teams, although I’m sure the Sens would take Ribeiro if Nashville agreed to eat half of his remaining salary.


Andrew Berkshire looks at three players who should see their scoring fall off in the second half:

With an on-ice shooting percentage of 13.78 per cent, Zucker has been the luckiest player in the NHL in terms of goals going in while he’s on the ice, and is a full percentage point ahead of Kevin Hayes, who has the second-highest on-ice shooting percentage among forwards.

I have been hammering the line of Zucker, Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund for their high on-ice shooting percentage for weeks now. They haven’t slowed down and maybe they won’t. I never advocate not using hot options but I do advocate trying to sell high when those options have underlying numbers that seem unsustainable. I would trade any of this trio for any of the trio of cold Flyers I mentioned above.


Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.


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