Ramblings: Jets Win Heritage Classic, Flyers Break Out Of Funk (Oct 27)
The weather outdoors at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan, was perfect for a Heritage Classic, as it was cold but not bitterly cold (-5 degrees Celsius, 23 degrees Fahrenheit) with some snow. Although outdoor games have lost some of their uniqueness over the years, I thought this was one of the more aesthetically pleasing ones to watch because of the weather, the non-altered retro jerseys of both teams, and the close score throughout.
In a location that is smack dab between Calgary and Winnipeg with plenty of supporters for both teams, the Jets were able to tie the game late in the third period before winning the game 2-1 in overtime.
The teams remained scoreless for over half of the game until Elias Lindholm scored a power-play goal that was challenged by the Jets on Matthew Tkachuk’s high stick that kept the puck in the Jets’ zone. After the review, the call on the ice stood. You be the judge.
After temporarily being demoted to the second power-play unit this week in favor of Neal Pionk, Josh Morrissey returned to the first unit on Saturday with a vengeance. With under five minutes in regulation, Morrissey tied the game with a shot from the point. Morrissey was a beast in this game, firing six shots on goal while logging 29 minutes of total icetime. Morrissey has averaged just under 25 minutes per game, which places him in the top 10 in that category.
The overtime winner went to Bryan Little, who recorded his second point in as many games.
David Rittich probably deserved better hockey karma in this one, not only for stopping 43 of 45 shots, but also for this play at the end of the second period. I know about standing up for your teammates and all, but shouldn’t jumping all over an offender while an injured player is lying nearby be considered a poor choice? (to borrow a phrase from my son’s elementary school teacher)
Adam Lowry drills Oliver Kylington head first into the boards as 2nd period ends.
AMAZING camera angle of David Rittich pulling Oliver out from the scrum to make sure he’s ok 🙏👏
— Kevin Smith (@Global_Smith) October 27, 2019
Petr Mrazek stopped all 32 shots he faced in a 4-0 shutout win over Chicago on Saturday. Start Mrazek whenever he’s playing at home, as he has now won 13 straight games at PNC Arena dating back to last season. In fact, Mrazek hasn’t lost much at all lately. Since February 12, Mrazek has a 16-3-1 record in regular-season games. That should be enough for universal ownership in fantasy leagues, particularly those that reward wins.
Andrei Svechnikov broke out of a five-game point drought by scoring two goals in this game. In spite of the slump, Svechnikov is now up to a near point-per-game pace again with 10 points (3g-7a) in 11 games. Svechnikov and Sebastian Aho are now being centered by Warren Foegele, who was held without a point in this game but has shown flashes of brilliance in the past. It’s best to take a wait-and-see approach on Foegele.
Speaking of Aho, he appears to be back on track with five points in his last five games, including two assists on Saturday. Make sure he’s back in your starting lineup if you moved him to your bench after his cold start.
Are you considering dropping Jonathan Toews right now? He’s been held without a point in four games and has just a goal and an assist in nine games. He’s still on the Patrick Kane – Alex DeBrincat line, so I guess you just have to be patient if you can.
In the rematch of last season’s Stanley Cup Final, Tuukka Rask earned a 26-save shutout against the Blues. It’s fair to say that Rask would have been named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner had the Bruins won the series, and he has continued his fine play into this season. After the shutout, Rask leads the league with a 1.48 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage. This was the first time this season that Rask has started two consecutive games, although the Bruins have a back-to-back on Sunday, which Jaroslav Halak should start. With the Bruins’ goalie situation likely a timeshare until the playoffs, Rask likely won’t be among the league leaders in wins.
David Pastrnak continues to roll. With a goal on Saturday, he now has goals in five consecutive games and nine goals over those five games. Not surprisingly, the fantasy team I own him on is my best fantasy team at the moment.
It might be too early to write off Jonathan Drouin as the impact player the Canadiens hoped they were acquiring. Drouin scored two goals against the Leafs on Saturday, which gives him 10 points (5g-5a) in 11 games. That ties him for the team lead. This start is encouraging, but keep in mind that Drouin is shooting at 18.5%, which is nearly double his career average. Regardless, expect Drouin to be given every opportunity to succeed with the Habs.
Max Domi’s point streak ended at seven games, during which he recorded eight points (2g-6a).
With a goal on Saturday, Nathan MacKinnon’s point streak has been extended to 11 games.
Hampus Lindholm recorded three assists in the Ducks’ win over Colorado, which gives him nine assists (no goals) in 12 games. The only defensemen that have more assists than Lindholm at the moment are John Carlson, Ryan Ellis, and Morgan Rielly.
Speaking of Ellis, he didn’t add any more assists on Saturday, but he scored the overtime winner against Tampa Bay. Ellis’ value stood to improve with the departure of P.K. Subban and the possibility that he could take on first-unit power-play time, but he’s produced even though Roman Josi handles PP1 duties. Mike covered off how Ellis has been a bit lucky in his Ramblings a few days ago.
Josi had a monster game of his own on Saturday, scoring a goal and adding two assists while taking six shots on goal in nearly 28 minutes of icetime. Josi and Ellis are two of four defensemen (John Carlson and Dougie Hamilton are the others) who are producing at over a point per game. Yes, we did identify Ellis, Josi, Mattias Ekholm, and Dante Fabbro as candidates for increased fantasy value in our Subban trade breakdown during the summer. Defense has always been a strength of the Nashville organization, and this season is no different.
In yesterday’s Ramblings I listed several players who had both high shot totals and low goal totals. Since these players are still taking their shots, you could find some possible buy-low or waiver-wire candidates from this group. One player from that group paid instant dividends on Saturday – a player that I’ve seen a few fantasy owners recently inquire as to whether they should pick up.
That player is James van Riemsdyk, who scored two goals and added an assist to help the Flyers score a converted touchdown against the Blue Jackets. JVR is suddenly hot now with five points over his last two games. You can read what I wrote, but you probably shouldn’t wait too long if you’re thinking about adding him. Other owners will soon clue into the fact that he was dropped after a slow start and is rebounding. The funny thing is that JVR took only two shots all game, which ties his season low. His puck luck simply changed, as he's far and away the Flyers' leader in SOG and sits in the top 15 in that category league-wise in spite of playing at least two fewer games than all the players above him.
Another Flyer whose found his way back to the boxscore on Saturday was Shayne Gostisbehere, who was held without a point over his first six games. Ghost scored a power-play goal and added an assist while taking four shots on goal. He now has three points in his past three games, which is more like what you were expecting from him. There should still be a buy-low opportunity for Ghost. Unless of course you’re not particularly fond of him, which some of you have already mentioned.
Joonas Korpisalo has played in all but two games for the Blue Jackets. We knew he had big shoes to fill with Sergei Bobrovsky leaving, but with a 3.00+ GAA and sub-.900 SV%, why are the Jackets leaning on him so much? Elvis Merzlikins might not be NHL ready in spite of being a solid goaltending prospect, so I wonder if the Jackets are shopping for a goalie.
If the Penguins are going to find their way back in the playoffs this season, they’ll need to count on Matt Murray remaining healthy for most of the season and resembling the goalie that has taken them to two Stanley Cups. Murray has been doing his part with wins in five of his last six games. His latest was a 25-save shutout of the Dallas Stars.
Speaking of the Stars, they are the only team that is averaging fewer than two goals per game. I mentioned yesterday that there’s reason to believe that players like Tyler Seguin and John Klingberg will improve on relatively slow starts. I’m genuinely concerned about Joe Pavelski, though, as his age (35) and a new system has resulted in a significant hit to his value. There might be an issue with fit, as the Stars simply don’t generate the number of shot attempts that Sharks do, which hurts Pavelski’s ability to score on tip-ins and rebounds.
Pavelski and Alexander Radulov were both moved to bottom-6 lines on Saturday, a move that didn’t help either player in particular or the Stars in general. As a result, Denis Gurianov was able to move up to the top 6 alongside Seguin. I’d normally say that Gurianov would benefit, but the Stars simply aren’t generating enough offense for that to matter right now.
With Devan Dubnyk still out of the lineup, Alex Stalock stopped 30 of 31 shots in earning a win over Los Angeles. Dubnyk may return next week, but don’t rule out the possibility of Bruce Boudreau giving Stalock a larger slice of the goaltending pie than he has received in recent seasons. Dubnyk has played 60+ games in each of the last four seasons, so he should at least receive more frequent rest breaks if he continues to struggle.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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