I love these two, but I do believe now is the time to try and sell high in one-year leagues. It’s not a talent thing, it’s a schedule thing.
I’ve mentioned this before, but the Leafs play the fewest games over the standard head-to-head playoff schedule with just eight games over those three weeks. Furthermore, from now until March 25 (the end of standard H2H playoffs) they have the fewest games, with only 16 remaining. Only the St. Louis Blues play as few. If you are pushing for playoff seeding and looking to make noise, these teams will offer you the least in terms of volume.
Of course, star players are worth keeping around even on shorter schedules. A five-point night from a guy can change your week even if he only plays two games that week. I’m not suggesting you go peddling Kadri/Marner for any old player. I’m simply pointing out that their value is really high right now, and could perhaps be leveraged into landing you a similar player with a more favourable schedule in the coming weeks.
Jake Gardiner went down in the first period and did not return. Word is that he had a muscle spasm and was not cleared to return. That doesn’t sound serious, but I suppose we’ll have to stay tuned. In the meantime, with Gardiner out Morgan Rielly put up an assist. Only one of these two has been productive at once. Could a Gardiner injury put the ball back in Rielly’s court?
Herculean effort by Frederik Andersen stopping 54 of 57 shots. The Leafs have leaned heavily on him all season and he has been up to the task. You wonder if this won’t catch up to him at some point? The good news, they’ve got the kind of offense that can overcome poor defense.
Andersen’s 54 saves puts him second on the year for most saves in a game, behind Semyon Varlamov’s 57 against Chicago back in November. In the last 10 years, no goalie has more 50+ save performances than Varlamov’s three. Never forget how wildly unbeatable Varlamov can be at times. For instance, last night’s 43-save shutout of the Montreal Canadiens.
Those 57 SOG marked the third straight 50-shot game for the Blue Jackets, making them the first team in recorded history to pull off that feat. What a bunch of rubber chuckers. In that three-game stretch David Savard led the team with 15 SOG (not ideal).
Nick Foligno led the Blue Jackets with two goals and an assist. He has been firing the puck way more in February with 26 SOG in seven games, and has been rewarded with four goals in those seven games. I can’t quite buy in on Foligno. He just hasn’t been very consistent outside of his ludicrous 70-point season.
I streamed in JT Compher this week looking to capitalize on Colorado’s Wednesday/Friday/Sunday slate and also take advantage of his exposure to Mikko Rantanen at even strength and on the power play. Compher was held off the board in 18 minutes of action, but has seven points in the last 10 games while skating a pile of minutes in Nathan MacKinnon’s stead.
MacKinnon, by the way, was placed on IR retroactive to January 30, so he is eligible to return at any time. He’s been back skating, so I would assume a return in short order.
That return could squash this mini run from Compher, but doesn’t quell my long-term interest. Compher’s had some struggles with injury and inconsistency this season and has also been sunk by a brutal 5.79% on-ice shooting percentage. Get this guy some puck luck. Maybe 25% shooter Alex Kerfoot could lend him some.
Roberto Luongo came off IR last night to backup James Reimer. This means Harri Sateri was sent to the minors despite a hot run. This was inevitable with the crease finally healthy for the Panthers. And they may have been pushing their luck trying to get more out of Sateri. Reimer’s numbers haven’t been great but he has back-to-back wins. Probably not enough to hold off Luongo.
It took last night’s three-point effort to get him back on track, but Bo Horvat now has nine points in 12 games since returning from injury. That’s on par with the ~60-point pace we should expect.
It doesn’t sound like Tomas Hertl’s injury will keep him out for very long. We may still see another game with Brent Burns at forward, but I’d prefer to see that squashed. Even with Joe Thornton out, the Sharks’ power play has been highly productive, clicking on 26% of their chances since the start of January. Burns has 41 points in the last 39 games. Status quo please!
With Brian Elliott on the shelf for 5-6 weeks following core surgery Michal Neuvirth becomes the primary option in Philadelphia. We know that he is capable of going on world-beating runs and it cannot be ruled out for a Flyers team that has been awfully competitive in the second half.
The Flyers don’t have a back-to-back until early March, so Neuvirth is in line to get all the starts up to the trade deadline. That means five more games, which probably isn’t enough of a sample size with which the Flyers front office can really assess things. They may also want to get one more look at backup Alex Lyon before the deadline, just to be sure they are comfortable with this tandem.
They should be looking to add a goaltender for insurance, especially because of Neuvirth’s own injury woes. However, the Flyers have been very patient with their rebuild and likely are unwilling to throw major assets at this issue. How expensive could a rental goalie like Petr Mrazek be though?
In other goalie news, Jeff Glass was placed on waivers yesterday. I can’t imagine he’ll get picked up. This is expected to clear the way for JF Berube, who is also unlikely to be a solution for the Blackhawks.
Chris DiDomenico was also placed on waivers. This provides some indication that the Senators intend to use Marian Gaborik, rather than keeping him on ice before a buyout this summer.
Who this really affects is Colin White, who will be sticking around until Bobby Ryan returns in a couple of weeks. By then, the Senators may have made more moves opening up the space to keep White around until season’s end. White hasn’t produced much in limited action, and I don’t expect him to be a major contributor this season, but if he can gain reps and build chemistry that help him next season this is a step in the right direction.
I wish I had a link to reference this, but Elliotte Friedman mentioned on last night’s broadcast that Vladislav Namestnikov’s name has emerged on the trade market. I’d put the likelihood on him getting dealt on the low end of the spectrum, but what a whirlwind for a guy who was one of the hottest options through the first three months. Since then he has bounced around the lineup, seen his minutes drop from 18+ per game to the 16-minute range and has just eight points in the last 19 games. Even if not traded, we have serious cause for concern here.
Eeli Tolvanen’s dazzling season continues with a four-point performance for Finland at the Olympics. There’s a reasonable argument to be made that instead of pushing more future assets into a rental at the deadline that the Predators should just try to bring Tolvanen over once his KHL season is done.
Maybe, but I think that this runs counter to how the Predators like to bring along their prospects. The learning curve for Tolvanen wouldn’t be as heavy coming over from the pros in Russia, as well as having played in North America last season, but I do still suspect there would be some teaching required. I’d suggest that you don’t count on him offering anything this season and maybe not even next if the Predators really take their time. Eventually though, this is another shot-generation monster they have coming.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.