What To Do With Murray, Karlsson and Burns Not Helping Each Other
It was a wild game in Philly on Saturday. After the Lightning took a 5-1 lead, the Flyers stormed back to tie the game with four goals in the third period. Fortunately for the Bolts, they did not completely collapse as Anthony Cirelli scored the overtime winner.
Brayden Point scored another two goals, which gives him five goals over his last two games. That put him into a tie for second place in goal scoring with Jeff Skinner. Adam Erne chipped in a goal and two assists, which broke a four-game stretch without a point and eight games without a goal.
In his second game back from injury, James van Riemsdyk scored his first goal of the season on the power play and added two assists. JVR was in fact on the first-unit power play, which has meant that Wayne Simmonds has been moved down to the second unit. We kind of figured this might be coming. Simmonds did score his eighth goal of the season in this one, however.
Travis Konecny, who hasn’t shown signs of a breakout, scored two goals on Saturday. Time on the top line with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier will help, though.
With a goal on Saturday, rookie Michael Rasmussen has now scored goals in three consecutive games. That pulls him into the 2017 ninth overall pick into a tie for third in rookie goal scoring. His icetime and power-play time are still very limited, but he’s at least worth keeping an eye on, as he could easily take on an increased role as the season wears on. The signs are already there that the huge power forward (6’6”, 221 lbs.) has a future as a top-6 forward.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are on a seven-game unbeaten streak, and Cam Atkinson has been reaping the benefits. Atkinson scored three goals and added an assist on five shots on goal in the Jackets’ 4-1 win over Carolina. Atkinson has been on fire recently, with three consecutive multipoint games and a four-game point streak with six goals and three assists. He’s also been a plus-10 over his last six games, an indication of how much his line with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Artemi Panarin have been carrying the play recently. Dubois himself has seven points over his last four games.
Since January, Atkinson has basically been a point-per-game player. Dobber would approve of the below tweet.
With an assist on Saturday, Max Domi now has a nine-game point streak with 13 points (5g-8a) over that span.
It’s fair to say that the fantasy values of both Domi and Jonathan Drouin have increased since the start of the season. With the power-play game winner and an assist on Saturday, Drouin now has his own five-game point streak, and he also has nine points (4g-5a) over his last seven games. Maybe the Domi-for-Alex Galchenyuk and Drouin-for-Mikhail Sergachev trades aren’t looking so bad for Montreal now? This tweet sure generated a lot of reaction, as you might expect:
With another goal on Saturday, Tomas Tatar now has six goals over his last six games. Maybe, just maybe, we’ve been too quick to judge Marc Bergevin? Oh yeah, there’s still the Weber-for-Subban trade. But at least the Habs are better than we thought they were.
With a power-play goal on Saturday, Elias Pettersson snapped a four-game stretch without a point. No need to worry, but maybe we got a little too excited a couple weeks ago.
Matt Duchene is an every-day, every-week fantasy starter at this point (I’ve learned that the hard way). And never mind all the turmoil coming out of Ottawa – what matters are the numbers that you see on your team page. With two goals and an assist on Saturday, Duchene now has 12 points (4g-8a) over his last six games, including three games with three points each. Yes, his shooting percentage (17.8%) indicates a bit of a regression may be coming. But his point total is already assist-heavy, which you can certainly benefit from as long as goals aren’t worth a ton more than assists in your league.
Mark Stone also scored two goals, giving him 15 points (5g-10a) over his last nine games. Both Duchene and Stone are now at over a point per game for the season. What’s more interesting, of course, is what the Sens will do with both Duchene and Stone. The values for both have certainly increased since the start of the season, and they could be too expensive for the Sens to keep, even if they wanted to sign them.
My 9-year-old son, who probably checks the NHL standings more than I do: “The Penguins are really bad this year. They’re at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.” Yep, and they also lost to Ottawa on Saturday. No Sidney Crosby again, and what are you supposed to do if you’re a Matt Murray owner? Murray got yanked on Saturday after he allowed three goals on ten shots in the first period. Murray hasn’t posted a win since October 25. His .877 SV% is 51st and his 4.08 GAA is 52nd among the 53 goalies that have played in at least six games. You may recall that he struggled last season too. But not like this.
In yesterday’s Ramblings I mentioned how terrible Mike Smith has been and how you need to bench him. Murray’s save percentage is practically the same, and his goals-against average is even worse. I wouldn’t be doing you a service if I told you to keep throwing Murray out there and hoping for the best. He needs to be moved to your bench immediately if he’s still starting because he’s bleeding goals. Not dropped outright, as I wouldn’t expect the two-time Stanley Cup champion who is only 24 to crash and burn completely. But I’d expect to see more of Casey DeSmith in the near term while Murray attempts to sort things out.
Calle Jarnkrok scored three goals – one even-strength, one power-play, and one shorthanded – in the Predators’ 5-3 win over Los Angeles. Because of some line juggling, Jarnkrok benefitted from being moved up to a line with Kyle Turris and Kevin Fiala. With Viktor Arvidsson out for a while, Jarnkrok has an opportunity to move up into the top 6.
Chris Kreider scored a goal and two assists in the Rangers’ 4-2 win over Florida on Saturday. Kreider now has four goals and seven points over his last four games. Kreider appears to be gelling on a line with rookie Filip Chytil, who has received increased icetime over his last few games. By the way, Chytil now has goals in each of his past three games.
Ryan Strome’s Rangers’ debut: no points, four hits, 16:42 of icetime on a line with Brett Howden and Jimmy Vesey.
With a goal and an assist on Saturday, Mike Hoffman’s point streak is now at 15 games.
Ryan Spooner’s Edmonton debut: no points, minus-2, 10 minutes of icetime. But maybe he’ll follow a similar pattern that he did with the Bruins and Rangers:
With two goals on Saturday, Elias Lindholm has 21 points in 20 games. With no points (but six shots on goal) on Saturday, James Neal has 4 points in 19 games and has been held without a point in his previous six games. What a difference playing on the Flames’ top line makes. Imagine if Neal and not Lindholm had been placed there. I don’t think there’d be a complete reversal, but I think the numbers would be a lot different. By the way, Neal is droppable in many formats if you haven’t done so by now. I don’t see Neal getting on the top line anytime soon because the Flames’ problems have nothing to do with the top line.
Rejoice, Erik Karlsson owners. The namesake of the podcast that appears here once a week finally scored his first goal of the season in his 21st game and added an assist in the Sharks’ 4-0 win. I heard one of the hockey analysts on one of the Canadian major sports networks say that Karlsson hasn’t looked the same since being traded to San Jose. He cited the power play as an example, where both he and Brent Burns are right-handed shots and are often deferring to the other when playing together, which helps neither player nor the Sharks’ power play as a whole. The Sharks’ power play is middle of the pack with a 19.4% success rate, although you might think that it should be a lot better if both Karlsson and Burns are manning the point.
Well, it appears as though the Sharks have opted to use just one blueliner at times on the first-unit power play, particularly over the past three games. That chosen blueliner happens to be Karlsson at the moment.
This is for the Sharks’ last three games:
Line Freq PP – FORWARDS
#1 22.7% COUTURE,LOGAN – HERTL,TOMAS – LABANC,KEVIN – PAVELSKI,JOE
#2 16.7% COUTURE,LOGAN – LABANC,KEVIN – MEIER,TIMO – PAVELSKI,JOE
#3 10.6% COUTURE,LOGAN – KANE,EVANDER – LABANC,KEVIN – PAVELSKI,JOE
#4 9.1% DONSKOI,JOONAS – KANE,EVANDER – THORNTON,JOE
Line Freq PP – DEFENSE
#1 43.9% KARLSSON,ERIK
#2 25.8% BURNS,BRENT – KARLSSON,ERIK
#3 10.6% BURNS,BRENT – VLASIC,MARC-EDOUARD
But if I’m a Burns owner, I’m not that worried (at least not yet). Burns already has nearly twice as many points (22) as Karlsson (12), so I think this is a strategy that Peter DeBoer is using to kickstart Karlsson. So far it is working, as Karlsson has five points over his last three games. Burns, meanwhile, hasn’t scored a goal in nine games, even though he is firing the puck at what seems like at least his normal pace (30 SOG over his last 6 GP).
Maybe this is a Cadillac problem, but it makes me wonder whether it makes a whole lot of sense for the Sharks to hand over the vault of cash that Karlsson will no doubt command next summer. Burns is their first power-play guy, and his contract is set up so he will be for a while, so it would take a trade of massive proportions to prove otherwise. So far, it looks like there can be only one sheriff in the town of San Jose.
Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention that Aaron Dell earned a 30-save shutout of the Blues in this game. Dell is known as one of the league’s better backups, but he had allowed at least three goals in each of his previous four games.
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.