Ramblings: Hart shines; Point possible to return; Shattenkirk; Keller – October 10

Michael Clifford



As it’s been for much of the start of the season in Buffalo, it was the Top Line Show on Wednesday night against the Habs. Jack Eichel combined for three points (2+1) while Victor Olofsson scored his fourth power-play goal of the season and Sam Reinhart picked up a PP assist.

Just as a general observation: I don’t see this as an aberration from Olofsson. Well, he won’t score 80 goals, but I mean his success isn’t an aberration. He loves to shoot and just carries the puck with a lot of confidence. That kind of player will find a lot of success skating next to a player like Eichel.

The third line from Montreal of Drouin-Kotkaniemi-Armia looked very good in this game, even without counting the three goals they scored. It’s really a good mix of Drouin’s puck skills, Armia’s willingness to shoot, and Kotkaniemi’s ability to navigate the offensive zone with fluidity.

(Note: I forgot to include Eichel's overtime point, so make that a four-point effort. Even better!) 


Carter Hart stopped all 25 shots he faced in a 4-0 win in Philadelphia’s home opener. He wasn’t peppered with shots all night but he did face a few quality chances, with this save on Taylor Hall being his best of the night:



If he really is the answer in net for this team, it will go a long way to getting them back into the postseason after missing last season.

To be honest, the Flyers should have had a lot more than four goals. Their expected goals in this game, per Corsica, was 3.8, but they hit multiple posts which kept this from a low football score.


One day after Los Angeles embarrassed Calgary at home, they in turn got embarrassed in Vancouver to the tune of a 8-2 loss. J.T. .Miller had a monster four-point night while Jacob Markstrom stopped 37 of 39 shots in the win. 

Brandon Sutter had two goals and an assist, giving him just his second three-point game in the last four years. 

Tyler Toffoli scored for the second game in a row but he's playing under 14 minutes a night. That's honestly embarrassing for the coaching staff. 


We got a great segment from Chance The Rapper and P.K. Subban, playing off Chance’s Saturday Night Live skit from last season:




Patrick Marleau signed with the San Jose Sharks and in Wednedsay’s practice he was skating on a line with Timo Meier and Logan Couture. That bumped Kevin Labanc down to the third line, which is pretty horrific for his fantasy value.

I’m not in any way convinced that Marleau will do much fantasy-wise. If he couldn’t succeed in the top-6 for the Leafs while getting PP time there, I don’t see why it would work in San Jose. Maybe if they give him 18 minutes a night. 


Conor Sheary is being considered week to week for the Buffalo Sabres. 


As if the injury news can’t get worse for Pittsburgh, both Alex Galchenyuk and Patric Hornqvist are now day to day with the former landing on the IR (so, less day-to-day-ish). This looked like a good roster, at least up front, coming into the season, but now they’re effectively without their entire second line (depending where you slot Hornqvist) and third line centre. With that defence corps behind them, it could be a large problem, specifically for Matt Murray and his fantasy owners.

In the meantime, Dominik Simon has jumped to the top PP unit and they have a home game against what should be a less-than-stellar Anaheim group on Thursday. I’m just saying.


Tampa Bay is still running a line of Stamkos-Point-Kucherov in practice. It’s a matter of when Point returns, but it certainly looks like that will be the direction Tampa Bay goes when he does come back. The return may be as early as Thursday so be sure to check for news to be able to get him back in seasonal lineups.


It looks like Colorado is settling in to what I thought their top-6 would be: their usual top line with a second line of Donskoi-Kadri-Burakovsky. That gives them a solid second scoring line while also sheltering a younger player like Tyson Jost. Hopefully they give that second line a few games to come together because that could be a very useful trio.


Two guys hit waivers on Wednesday: Jonny Brodzinski from San Jose and Michael McCarron from Montreal.

As a Habs fan, it’s sad to see it come to this for McCarron. I know this is just so he can go play in Laval and no team will probably claim him, but he was supposed to be part of the future for this team and it just hasn’t worked out. Maybe it can work out somewhere else.

As far as Brodzinski goes, I want to see him catch on somewhere and be given a real shot. He got some time once in a while on Los Angeles’s top line when he was with the Kings but he only got 54 games with the team over three years, averaging under 10 minutes a game. I think he can be a physical depth scorer but what do I know.


An interesting article from James Mirtle at The Athletic here. He does it every year, but it goes through each team’s average age, height, weight, and so on. The basic purpose is to track how the composition of teams change year after year, and how the players comprising the league change themselves. The youngest team in the NHL is Colorado, which should terrify the entire league for years to come. The oldest team? Nashville. I wouldn’t have guessed it (Detroit would have been my choice, but they’re second-oldest).


Not really fantasy related, but the Flyers are adding different experiences for the fans to enjoy during the game. One of them is a rage room, where fans can go in and break mirrors, televisions, and whatever else they want. Another is being able to get a custom makeover from Gritty, which sounds all sorts of terrifying. Either way, it’s nice to see initiatives like this across the league. I know it’ll rub some, let’s say, traditional hockey fans the wrong way, but if you don’t like it, just don’t go? I don’t know what else to say. Let people live, man.


If anyone needs a feel-good story, check out this video about two brothers originally born in Congo, now residing in Minnesota. It’s a shame they have to go through the uglier side of humanity with all the racist comments, but let’s hope to see them both on an NHL ice surface in the next 10 years. 


Just wanted to give myself a little plug here.

Like almost everyone else, I have a podcast. Rather, we have a podcast, as I’m co-host of the Tic Tac Tout podcast with fellow Dobber writer Adam Daly. The podcast mostly focuses on DFS, in particular DraftKings and FanDuel. Just look us up on Spotify or iTunes. We usually post either late Friday night or sometime Saturday morning for Saturday night’s slate. We’re not affiliated with Dobber or any other site either of us writes for, it’s just a couple guys that like DFS and want to talk about it. Come hang!


I’m seeing some people panic early about Nino Niederreiter, given that he has just one assist and seven shots through the teams first four games, and was pointless in the first three. Let’s talk about that for a minute.

As it stands, Niederreiter has seen his ice time decline in every single game so far. That’s not what we want to see, clearly. But you know who else has seen their ice time decline in every game so far this season? Sebastian Aho. He went from 22, to 20, to 19, to 14 in the team’s games to date. Are we dropping Aho? Of course not, that would be absurd.

It’s likely a question of where you stood on Niederreiter before the season. Those that weren’t high on him are seeing reasons to bail, and that’s understandable. On the flipside, I think this is easily just a blip from a very talented guy playing with other very talented guys. Buying shares of Niederreiter is the right idea at the moment.


I only caught bits of the Oilers-Islanders game from Tuesday night but outside of Calgary intentionally trading for Milan Lucic, the highlight for me was probably the play of Noah Dobson. Like last year’s crop of excellent young defencemen, it’s easy for Dobson to get lost in the mix of names like Cale Makar, Dante Fabbro, and Ville Heinola.

Dobson’s debut saw him post a Game Score of 1.93 – courtesy of the Tableau of Habermetrics – about 30 percent higher than the next-closest Islanders player. (For anyone unfamiliar with Game Score, it’s the same idea as in baseball, and users can read up on it here. It’s just an attempt to measure the single-game effectiveness of a player.) Watching parts of the game, Dobson seemed very assured with the puck, whether in the breakout or in transition. With Devon Toews and Ryan Pulock around, there is a nice defence corps forming in the wake of aging veterans like Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy.

(After writing this, I checked their actual ages and forgot Leddy isn't that old yet. It feels like he's been in the league for 15 years.) 


While on the topic of defencemen, Kevin Shattenkirk has 11 (!) shots on goal through three games so far this year. That’s a lot! I’m still not sure what to make of him in fantasy because I’m not sure about his ice time but he is playing 22 minutes a night so far in this very young season. If he can keep doing that, he’ll have a lot of value. I just don’t know if he keeps playing 22 minutes a night.


Speaking of way-too-early stats, the league leader in shot attempts per 60 minutes so far this year is Brendan Gallagher, and nothing should be less surprising. Right behind Gallagher is Ondrej Kase, which also shouldn’t be surprising. I know it feels like we haven’t been able to see Kase do is thing in a couple years but the guy is very good offensively. Third on that list? Clayton Keller. Yeah, I made the same face you did when I saw that.

It’s not to say I think Keller is bad, far from it. It’s just that he’s not a guy I ever really pegged to put up huge shot volume. Maybe hover around the 200 range. This is a lot more than that. 

Through just the two games, the top line of Keller-Stepan-Kessel has looked excellent and they’ve been on the road for one game and at home against Boston for the other, neither being ideal situations. If that line can keep up anywhere near this level of play, all three are going to have very good years, and we’re going to see the upside of Clayton Keller. Of course, there are 80 games left, so, let’s hold off on the celebrations for now.


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