Giordano Suspension, Dubnyk Slumping, Opportunity on Ducks’ Top Line, plus more…
Mark Giordano has been suspended for two games for kneeing Mikko Koivu during Thursday’s game. Giordano will miss Saturday’s game against Nashville and Sunday’s game against Edmonton. So Giordano owners in weekly leagues will actually have him back in the lineup for next week. The Flames and fantasy owners will miss Giordano, who has been exceeding expectations in scoring at a point-per-game pace (29 points in 29 games) and leading all NHL defensemen with 26 assists.
— Tim and Sid (@timandsid) December 7, 2018
In the meantime, Noah Hanifin may be bumped up to the first power-play unit for the time being. Don’t forget about T.J. Brodie here as well, though. Brodie’s power-play time per game has dropped nearly two minutes per game from last season to this season (just 0:39) as the Flames appear to be using him in a more defensive role. In spite of the lack of power-play time, Brodie has also picked up his game offensively recently with eight points (3g-5a) and a plus-12 in 11 games. Brodie is also tied for the league lead in plus/minus with a plus-21. For those reasons, I have picked up Brodie for the short term in the league in which I own Giordano.
The league also suspended Flames’ forward Ryan Lomberg one game for starting an altercation with Matt Dumba immediately after stepping on the ice.
Back to Koivu now. He was not in the Wild’s lineup on Friday in their trip up Alberta Highway 2 to Edmonton. To adjust without their captain, Mikael Granlund was moved onto a line with Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle, while the struggling Nino Niederreiter was moved onto the Eric Staal/Jason Zucker unit. Niederreiter scored his first goal in six games, but the goal was only his fourth in 29 games played.
But the Wild player I’m most concerned about right now is Devan Dubnyk, who didn’t even last half of the first period. Dubnyk was pulled after allowing three goals on six shots. His replacement Alex Stalock was somewhat better but did not save the Wild in this game, allowing four goals on 26 shots. Dubnyk has posted just one quality start in his last seven games (his previous game against Vancouver) and has an atrocious 4.06 GAA and .847 SV% over that stretch, which dates back to November 17. Yep, I’m benching him until he shows signs of turning things around.
Food for thought on why Dubnyk is struggling:
Ever since that Tom Wilson hit, Dubnyk has been terrible. I wonder if there's some cobwebs still in his head that hasn't been reported.
Wouldn't be the first time a Wild goalie has not reported a concussion either.
Darcy Kuemper – 2014 Stanley Cup Qtr final, Game 7 vs Avs.
— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) December 8, 2018
That game with the Capitals, by the way, was November 13, shortly before Dubnyk’s slide.
This video-game goal from Connor McDavid was the final nail in the coffin for Dubnyk’s night.
McDavid was doing McDavid things to the Wild with this goal and three assists and a plus-4 ranking for the night. Leon Draisaitl was also doing damage on the McDavid line, scoring two goals and adding an assist of his own. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense, right Ken Hitchcock?
The lucky third man on the line was Alex Chiasson, who has played on top lines before while not pulling his weight (eg. Calgary). But now Chiasson has 12 goals (including one on Friday), which equaled his total in his one season with the Flames and is only one short of his career high. I’d only recommend Chiasson for as long as he’s on the Oilers’ top line and not for a second longer. I’ll also mention that he’s a prime Cy Young candidate with just two assists (12-2).
Another encouraging start for Cam Talbot, who stopped 31 of 33 shots. He has now won each of the Oilers’ last two games. The plan is for Mikko Koskinen to start on Sunday against the Flames, but I can’t help but thing that Talbot is inching his way back into the Oilers’ goaltending situation. Koskinen has posted some impressive numbers this season, but money (over $4 million for Talbot vs. $2.5 million for Koskinen) decides a lot of goaltending controversies. So as much as I’m still hanging on to Koskinen, I know that Talbot will probably receive a couple of starts during the Oilers’ four-game week next week.
Was that Jake Allen with a shutout on Friday? Against Winnipeg? Why yes it was! Allen stopped all 26 shots he faced in pitching his first shutout of the season. You should be less afraid to start Allen now than you would have been earlier in the season, as Allen has allowed two goals or fewer in each of his last three starts. In fact, he hasn’t been all that bad over his last ten games (see below).
Last 10 appearances for Jake Allen — #stlblues
3-3-3, 1.92 GAA, .934 SVP%
— Nick Alberga (@thegoldenmuzzy) December 8, 2018
Dustin Byfuglien returned to the Jets’ lineup on Friday after an absence of just over a week with a concussion. There was no ease-in period for Buff in this game, as he logged nearly 29 minutes. Unfortunately, Josh Morrissey wasn’t ready to return from his lower-body injury.
Ben Bishop made 41 saves in the Stars’ 3-2 win over the Sharks on Friday. He has now earned wins in four of his past five starts while not allowing more than two goals in any of those five games.
With Rickard Rakell out for Friday’s game with an ankle injury, Ryan Getzlaf’s linemates were Pontus Aberg and newly acquired Daniel Sprong. Although neither new Duck recorded a point in a 4-1 loss to Carolina, both are worth paying attention to in fantasy leagues. Aberg has hung around the Ducks’ top line a fair bit since being claimed off waivers from Edmonton and entered Friday’s game with seven points (3g-4a) over his last five games. Sprong, meanwhile, scored a goal in his first game with the Ducks on Wednesday.
If I’m choosing between a Ducks’ player and several other equally valued players off the waiver wire, I often go with the Ducks’ player. That’s not because I have a special affinity for the Ducks or that I believe they’re an overly strong team, but it’s because of the number of “off days” that they play. A total of 63 percent of the Ducks’ games are on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday, which tend to be lighter nights on the NHL schedule. No other NHL team has more than 52 percent of its games on off nights. This can be beneficial because you may end up with benched players on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, which isn’t efficient and can even be frustrating when said benched player has a monster game (those who benched Derrick Henry in fantasy football on Thursday night know the feeling).
However, if you’re considering adding Sprong and Aberg for next week based on the reasons listed above, bear in mind that the Ducks are the only team to play just two games next week. (For more on the upcoming schedule, see Looking Ahead.) Only one of those games is on an off night. But there will be plenty going forward if you wanted to take a flier on either Aberg (18 percent owned in Yahoo leagues) or Sprong (3 percent owned in Yahoo leagues).
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.