Saros a Must-Start, Power-Play Options on D, plus much more…
Jeff Skinner entered Saturday afternoon’s game against LA with just one goal in his first seven games as a Sabre, mainly playing on a line with rookie Casey Mittelstadt and veteran Kyle Okposo. But on Saturday, Skinner found himself on a line with Jack Eichel and Jason Pominville and produced exactly what the Sabres hoped he would when they acquired him from Carolina, scoring three goals in a 5-1 win. In fact, his entire line combined for nine points in this game. Eichel recorded three assists, while Pominville scored a goal and added two assists.
Eichel’s previous linemates Sam Reinhart and Conor Sheary found themselves centered by Vladimir Sobotka, which is obviously a significant downgrade from Eichel. Reinhart has yet to score a goal in eight games, while both Reinhart and Sheary have been held without points in their last three games. Obviously lines are constantly in a state of flux, but as an owner of both Reinhart and Sheary in separate leagues, I’m not thrilled about the deployment at least in the short term.
How quickly things can change. In my last Ramblings I mentioned the solid recent play of Semyon Varlamov. Since then, Jared Bednar has decided to turn to Philipp Grubauer not once, but twice. Grubauer made Bednar’s decision look smart on Saturday, making 42 saves in a 3-1 win. This is shaping up to be an all-out competition in the Colorado net, with both goalies playing extremely well. In spite of facing an average of 35 shots per game (one of the highest in the league), the Avalanche hold one of the league’s highest team save percentages.
So even with Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko available, you may be surprised to learn that Vince Dunn has been receiving first-unit power-play minutes for the Blues. This won’t help Pietrangelo, who finally recorded his first point of the season in his seventh game (shoutout to Dobber’s theory on Pietrangelo’s new triple