Ramblings: NHL Betting; Lightning Injuries; Offensive Pairs; Game Recaps – October 30

Michael Clifford



It leaked a few days ago that the NHL would have a big announcement on Monday, and that this announcement was likely to be related to sports betting. This was indeed the case as Gary Bettman publicised that the NHL had entered into a multi-year agreement with MGM Resorts, wherein MGM would become the official betting partner of the NHL. This includes, apparently, the NHL providing the casinos with proprietary NHL data for the casinos’ use, and this presumably means the long-awaited player tracking technology.

Personally, none of this changes anything for me other than the likelihood of NHL finally having player tracking technology. The NHL stats community has developed a lot of useful statistics, tools, and models over the last decade or so. Consider where we are now in the stats conversation compared to just five years ago, and the comparison is night and day. Player tracking, though, will help identify player movement which can help in any number of ways like proper spacing, pass sequencing, goaltender depth, pre-shot movement, and so on. It won’t be some sort of magic bullet, but the opportunities for continued understanding of the game will be plentiful. Let’s just hope this stuff is made public. 


A little bit of a shameless plug here.

This season I’m doing a hockey podcast called Tic-Tac-Tout with Adam Daly from here at Dobber and Andy MacNeil from the Vegas Stats and Information Network. While it’s a hockey podcast, we don’t really touch on season-long fantasy hockey. For that type of information, you should be listening to the Keeping Karlsson podcast.

Rather than season-long, myself and Adam will be discussing daily fantasy hockey (DraftKings, specifically) with Andy contributing his knowledge from a betting perspective. It is available on both SoundCloud and iTunes, dropping every Saturday morning for now, discussing Saturday afternoon’s and night’s games.


Word came down that Auston Matthews will miss a month with his shoulder injury. It’s the opposite shoulder from last year so that is a little bit of good news.

In the wake of this news, Kasperi Kapanen moved alongside John Tavares while Nazem Kadri is now the centre for Mitch Marner. Look for Kasperi Kapanen to replace Matthews on the top PP unit, at least for now.

This has to be a little bit concerning for Leafs fans and fantasy owners. This is back-to-back seasons with a serious shoulder injury, to each shoulder, on top of Matthews’s well-known back issues going back to Switzerland. At this point, he’s one of the truly elite players in the game and we all hope that injuries don’t begin to derail what was starting to look like a Hall of Fame career. Let’s hope that these are just a couple bumps in the road rather than a sign of things to come.


The New Jersey Devils are welcoming back Cory Schneider now that he’s finished his conditioning stint in the AHL. Keith Kinkaid is still slated to start for the Devils on Tuesday.

We have a 32-year old goalie coming off back-to-back disappointing seasons and a hip injury. It’s far from a death-knell for his career – just look at Pekka Rinne – but Kinkaid has at least shown to be competent enough to not cost the Devils games consistently. I wouldn’t assume it’s any sort of given that Schneider gets the net most of the way out from here.


Mark Borowiecki had his hearing with the Department of Player Safety Monday afternoon for his head-check of Cody Eakin and received three games for it. Remember that Borowiecki had just returned from another suspension.


Robby Fabbri is back in the St. Louis lineup, skating on the third line with Tyler Bozak and Patrick Maroon. Alex Steen was not at practice for the Blues on Monday, by the way, so it’s not a guarantee that the lineup they had yesterday is the lineup they’ll have in the near future. All Mike Yeo would say is that Fabbri could be back Thursday and Steen missed practice with neck tightness.

Now would be the time to check your waiver wires for Fabbri.


Updates on Victor Hedman and Ondrej Palat:



With Palat out of the lineup, Tampa coach Jon Cooper went back to a top line of Miller-Stamkos-Kucherov with the second line looking like Gourde-Point-Johnson. Everyone that hung on to JT Miller after his demotion has been rewarded, though let’s be honest, he has been just fine for fantasy owners even when skating on the fourth line.


Charlie McAvoy was sent to the injured reserve by the Bruins. Not that it’s a surprise, just keep in mind that IR is only for seven days. He’ll be ready to return when he’s ready to return.


Speaking of the Bruins, David Backes was on the ice for Boston on Monday.


Frans Nielsen and Andreas Athanasiou are both injured for the Red Wings. The latter’s injury doesn’t seem serious, whatever it is, as he may just miss one game. Nielsen may be a bit longer but we have no real firm timeline for him other than missing at least the next couple games.


Only two games in the NHL on Monday night so the recap will be quick.

Hosting Calgary in their first full game without Auston Matthews, the Leafs and Flames treated fans to a pretty bad performance. Not that low-scoring games are inherently bad, but these two teams played with all the crispness and consistency of a split-squad game from mid-September. They were tied 0-0 with 40 total shots through 40 minutes.

Sean Monahan scored about five minutes into the third period with Elias Lindholm adding the insurance marker a minute later. Mike Smith stopped 24 of 25 shots in the 3-1 win. 

With two points in the contest, Lindholm now has 12 points in 12 games on the season. 


Jakob Markstrom stood tall for the Canucks, saving 37 of 39 shots en route to a 5-2 win.

Elias Pettersson netted a pair of goals, giving him 10 points in 7 games on the season. Brandon Sutter left the game with an injury in the second period and did not return.

Of note here is that late in the game with the Wild needing a couple of goals, Nino Niederreiter was moved down the lineup and Charlie Coyle was moved up to skate with Eric Staal and Jason Zucker. That trio has historically been a good one for the Wild, albeit in a small sample. It’ll be interesting to see if that line sticks together because the team needs to start scoring goals – as of Tuesday morning, they’re in the bottom-third of the league in goals/game (despite the team’s 6-3-2 record).


There are a lot of magnificent starts to the season all around the league: the Colorado top line, Evgeni Malkin, Connor McDavid, Filip Forsberg, Sebastian Aho, Patrick Kane, and the list goes on.

There are a lot of magnificent starts to the year that are going a little under the radar, at least in the media. I thought it’d be worth reviewing some of them to see if they are “for real” or not. I’m going touch on two pairs of forwards that have all had excellent starts to the year and remember that none of them were top-100 draft picks, at least by ADP.


Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl

The pair of San Jose wingers have been stellar so far as Meier has 8 goals and 12 points while Hertl has 4 goals and 12 points.

We’ve been waiting for a true breakout from Hertl ever since his rookie year. For a long time, he had excellent expected goal numbers but never lived up to them – from 2014-2018, he had an expected individual goals/60 minutes at five-on-five of 0.91. That mark of 0.91 ranked 16th among 214 forwards with 3000+ minutes in that span, and just behind names like Anders Lee and James van Riemsdyk. His actual goals scored per 60 minutes at 5v5 was 0.67, however, and he was kind of a perennial disappointment. While his goal scoring has not been otherworldly, he is on pace right now for 30 goals, shooting a very reasonable 13.3 percent.

Meier was a guy pegged for a breakout this year by myself (and many others) and he’s living up to that breakout status. Sure, he’s shooting 22.9 percent and that’s a big reason why he’s on pace for about 60 goals. That will taper off, but the fact he’s among the league leaders in shot rate at 5v5 means the volume should help soften the blow of a declining percentage.

Hertl won’t post 60 assists and Meier won’t post 60 goals. Now that we have the obvious out of the way, Hertl seems more or less locked into the top PP unit. Also, Meier is earning about 1 minute extra of PP time this year compared to last as the team has enough talent to run two units, especially with their blue line.

The Sharks are one of the top teams in the league and they’re doing it by playing a very high tempo. It seems like both players are locked in the top-6 and each are getting good PP exposure, Hertl more than Meier. The only percentages at 5v5 that is out of line Meier’s shooting percentage and on-ice shooting percentage (the team’s SH% with him on the ice). Again, Meier’s shot rate will cushion the blow from a declining shooting percentage and his IPP (the rate he garners a point when the Sharks score a goal with him on the ice) is low enough (58.3 percent) that when the team’s SH% with him on the ice goes down, it might not be so bad for fantasy owners as he registers points at a higher rate on the fewer goals.  

Given the team they play for, their line mates, Hertl’s deployment, and Meier’s shot rate, I don’t see why both of these guys can’t be “for real.” Probably not a point-per-game for real, but I would be disappointed if both players don’t crack 60 points this year.


Josh Bailey and Anders Lee

Remember when John Tavares left and this pair of Islander wingers saw their respective ADPs plummet despite posting 50 assists and 40 goals, respectively? Good times.

Let’s be clear here: the Islanders are a bad team. Their shot share at five-on-five is about 43 percent, which is abysmal. However, both players are still managing over 17 minutes a game, over three of which come on the power play. The PP is where they’re making their living, as Bailey has six PPPs with Lee coming in at 5.

As of right now, Lee is on pace for a 30-goal season despite a 13.3 shooting percentage. His last two seasons, most of which were alongside Tavares, saw him shoot 18.5 percent. Maybe his shooting percentage doesn’t reach those heights, but he’s shooting a lot more on the PP this year compared to any season he’s had, and his 5v5 shot rate is a 3-year high. He doesn’t need to shoot 18 percent to score 30 goals. He can do that landing three shots per game on target, which is what he’s doing.

Now the downside: both on-ice shooting percentages are high. Like, career-best high, with Bailey over 12 percent and Lee coming in over 13 percent. Once those come down, their limited 5v5 scoring will decline, particularly in the assist department. Their power play isn’t generating a lot of shots but the on-ice goals aren’t far off from the expected goals, so I’ll just ignore that for now.

Were I a Bailey owner, particularly in roto leagues, I would be looking to trade him now. If those assists dry up, which they should, his value dries up because he doesn’t shoot and he doesn’t hit. Lee, however, doesn’t have those problems. He should be able to return value on where he was drafted, provided his plus/minus doesn’t crater, which is a genuine concern. I would trade Bailey and hold Lee.



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