Ramblings: Caps get Kaned, Lowdown on Lehner, Cholo Scratched, Johnsson Hurt and More (Jan 21)


I released the 11th annual Midseason Fantasy Guide just 10 days ago – still very relevant. It has deeper, more-ready prospect info, plus KHL/Euro/NCAA free agents, trade block musings and of course second-half projections. It’s a great way to step back and take a look at your team, take a look at your league, and figure out a strategy for the second half. It also supports the site and damn if it isn’t a great read. It’s also my longest ever at 231 (!) pages. Pick it up here!


I had my own midseason draft on the weekend, in my 28-year keeper league. It’s the basic keeper, of the three that I’m in, so it is strictly points, and strictly your 12 best (of your 20) players. Points carry over and playoffs count with your same roster. I’ve started to fade out of the picture for first place and while taking a run at second is doable – to me that’s always been the first-place loser. So, as two-time defending champ of the playoffs, I figured I’d beef up my roster with the best playoff players. First I traded Mikael Granlund, Eeli Tolvanen, Vitali Kravtsov for Patrik Laine, Jack Roslovic, Yanni Gourde. Yes, I lost the deal. I lost points, and gave up the two best prospects in hockey. But I removed two players who won’t help my playoffs, and gave myself two Jets and a Bolt. Then I traded Ryan Donato and a first rounder for Jakub Vrana and Alexander Wennberg. I took the latter player because he needed to shed points so he could preserve his draft pick (Jack Hughes). Vrana is not worth a first-rounder, but I had an extra one and again – playoffs. Then I flipped Wennberg and Jason Zucker for Roman Josi. Then I drafted Andreas Johnsson ninth overall and Josh Morrissey 22nd overall.

My two-time defending playoff-champ team?

WAS – Backstrom, Ovechkin, Vrana

TBL – Johnson, Palat, Gourde, Killorn

NSH – Arvidsson, Josi

CBJ – Atkinson, Panarin

WPG – Laine, Roslovic, Morrissey

SJS – Couture, Labanc

TOR – Johnsson, Marleau

Misc. – Marchand, Marchessault

All 20 in the playoffs, most with strong contenders. No other team in our league will have more than 12 or 13 in.


Shocked to see Chicago score eight goals and Erik Gustafsson get zero points. That guy has seemingly been a part of every goal for the last month.

Who got the points? Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews had five each, Dylan Strome had three. Kane already has 70 now after just 75 all of last year. His points-per-game pace (1.43) is a career-high by a wide margin. He has 31 points in his last 14 games, and 19 shots on goal in the last three.

Kane before Strome: 27 points in 23 games (1.17)

Kane after Strome: 43 points in 26 games (1.65)

So far, that acquisition has paid huge dividends. But I would also credit the aforementioned Gustafsson as well. It was around late November when he started getting the respect (and PP time) he deserved and the points started rolling in for everyone on that top unit.

Strome has 13 points in his last 12 games. He was only with Kane on the power play, as unfortunately he was taken off that big line. Oddly enough, the top line was Toews at center with Kane and Drake Caggiula. The latter tallied zero points because he didn’t see time on the PP.

As for Toews, as part of that top PP unit he has really cashed in. In fact, he has eight PP points in his last 15 contests. He had just 17 PPPts in his prior 109 games.


Collin Delia allowed five goals for the first time this season, but still got the win. His SV% after 10 games is still a nice 0.923 and is running a 60% Quality Start number. Corey Crawford is back skating, but not yet with the team, and seems to be intending to return to the team this season. He could be one to two weeks away.


All five goals by the Caps were scored by defensemen. The D combined for seven points while the forwards combined for eight.


With two points Sunday against the Leafs, Jordan Oesterle has six in his last seven contests (three on the power play).


John Tavares’ former team has 62 points and his current team has 60 points.

The aforementioned Johnsson, the player I just picked up, left the game with a concussion. Here is the play:

He is definitely out for Wednesday, and then the All-Star break followed by the bye week. Hopefully enough time to recover.


Tampa Bay has scored six or more goals 12 different times this season. They already have 199 goals as the team enters their bye week. I outline the bye weeks in the Midseason Guide, but it basically breaks down into two parts – leading into the All-Star Break or coming out of it. Half the teams fall into each category.


The panicking Ducks were starting to show signs of coming out of it when they had the door slammed in their face again on Sunday. The bottom half of the forward group has been pretty much replaced, in hopes that it would shake things up. But I said this the very day Randy Carlyle was hired – he wins games with inspiration and basic coaching, but in the second or third year he loses the room and his lack of analytics and possession style will catch up to him. And this year it has, but John Gibson’s stellar play hid it from the casual fan for the first half. We’ve seen it in his first go-round with the Ducks (took five years to lose the room, but the team was better), and with the Leafs (less than three years).

Ryan Getzlaf has three points in his last 14 games. Have we seen that happen at all in the last five years?

Anaheim’s four most-used line combos Sunday, after all the changes to the roster:










Welp, if those are the lines I guess we can expect zero points from Getzlaf over the next little while yet. And Derek Grant 2.0 seems to be getting the royal treatment. Must have left a huge impression last year.


It was Robin Lehner who slammed the door in Anaheim’s face, thanks to a 19-shot shutout. Barry Trotz took over this team in the summer and anyone reading me knew that they were going to keep it close to a playoff spot – and they were going to do it the way he did it back in his Nashville days. That’s right – tight defense. So his goalies are going to have stellar numbers. If Lehner can stay healthy (okay, my plan falls apart right there but stay with me) and re-sign with the Isles, he makes a Top 10 fantasy keeper goalie. Ongoing.

This is coaching style, these aren’t elite goalies. Thomas Greiss didn’t suddenly become a 0.920 SV% goaltender and Lehner a 0.930 guy. Coaching, in this case, adds 20 points to those numbers. The team gave up 19 shots for the second consecutive game (both shutouts, ahem).

Lehner since December 18: 11-1-0, 1.30 and 0.953 with two shutouts. Ten of those 12 games were Quality Starts.


Mat Barzal has seen his ice time get reduced for six consecutive games, with a nearly-season-low 15:30 on Sunday (his season-low is 14:53). Perhaps Barry Trotz is winding him down before the All-Star Break. I would keep my expectations low for him when it comes to Tuesday’s game.


Elias Pettersson was back in the lineup for the Canucks and promptly picked up another two points on Vancouver’s three goals.

The Canucks gave up 29 shots in the first two periods but Jakub Markstrom stole the game.


Dennis Cholowski was made a healthy scratch Sunday after going minus-3 on Friday. It was his second minus-3 in four games. Cholowski has two points in his last 14 games.

I’ve been pretty bullish on Filip Hronek (see the Midseason Guide for more), and although he was pointless Sunday, he has five points in his last six games. It’s his play that has allowed Coach Jeff Blashill to bench Cholowski.


It’s as if the Oilers hear their coach say “Cam Talbot is starting” and then they immediately huddle together and outline plans to give up 15 or 20 shots in the first period. Sure enough, within 11 minutes Sunday they had given up 15 shots and Talbot lets in three of them, getting the hook. Talbot won his prior start against the Panthers, but in that game the Oilers were outshot 12-5 in the first period before settling down. The start before that? The team gave up a 12-7 shot deficit in the first and 17 shots in 27 minutes before Talbot got the hook again (four goals). The one before that? The Oilers gave up 31 shots in two periods (Talbot wound up with a 39-save shutout). Edmonton needs to throw Cammy a life preserver at some point. At least give the guy an ice cube’s chance in hell that he can turn things around. Unlike Markstrom above, Talbot doesn’t have the confidence right now to steal these games.

Alex Chiasson, 15 goals in 30 games followed by one goal in 10 games.


The arrival of Nino Niederreiter has split up the Sebastian AhoTeuvo Teravainen duo. Niederreiter played with Aho and Justin Williams, while TT lined up with…well, he kind of floated around. Initially it was supposed to be TT with Micheal Ferland and Lucas Wallmark, but Ferland was a late scratch due to either illness or a UBI. Niederreiter had two goals, Aho three points.

Wallmark also had three points against the Oilers and has 15 in his last 35 games. He clicked with Andrei Svechnikov, who also had three points and in doing so snapped a nine-game pointless drought.

Another guy with three points is defenseman Jaccob Slavin, who now has eight points in his last nine games.


Great news (again) regarding Frozen Tools. Eric Daoust has now added Goalie Post’s starting goalie information. It is on the home page of FT, and it also appears on the individual goaltender’s profile page. Handy. Saves you another click.

He also fixed a problem that slowed the profile page load time by three seconds. So now they load quickly again.


As with every Monday, Goalie Post has another Goalie Ramblings up.


See you next Monday.