It was easy for Robby Fabbri to be the forgotten man in St. Louis, especially after his lengthy injury absence. Yet in his Red Wings’ debut, Fabbri didn’t waste any time making an impact.
Fabbri scored two power-play goals to lead the Red Wings to a 4-2 win over Boston, which snapped a four-game losing streak for the Wings. Fabbri also benefitted from one familiar connection on the Wings, as former junior teammate Tyler Bertuzzi (Guelph, OHL) assisted on both of his goals.
In case you’re wondering, Fabbri and Bertuzzi did not play together at even strength in this game. Bertuzzi maintained his spot on the top line with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha, while Fabbri debuted with Andreas Athanasiou and Valtteri Filppula (two of the most difficult names to spell in hockey). It’s only one game, and the shine could wear off the new toy fairly quickly, but Fabbri’s fantasy value could improve just based on power-play time alone if he stays on PP1. And should that be the case, Fabbri might finally be worth a look again in deeper leagues.
Jonathan Bernier stopped 26 of 28 shots to earn the win. He also chipped in two assists, which provided you with bonus value if you a) play in a league that counts assists for goalies (I do!) and b) dared to start him against the Bruins (no one did in my league). He also made this beauty save on sharpshooter David Pastrnak.
You're a bad, bad man, Jonathan Bernier. pic.twitter.com/O3R6d9jQ2I
— NHL (@NHL) November 9, 2019
Pastrnak’s four-game goal streak ended on Friday. Yet with an assist, his point streak has been extended to 14 games.
In his native Sweden, Victor Hedman returned to the Lightning’s lineup after a two-game absence, chipping in an assist in the Lightning’s 3-2 win. Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn, and Yanni Gourde scored for the Bolts.
Sam Reinhart scored both Sabres’ goals while also firing a team-high seven shots. Playing on the Sabres’ top line, Reinhart is now averaging just over 20 minutes per game, an average that only 20 forwards in the league have reached.
Rasmus Ristolainen delivered nine hits in the game, which was a season high for him.
The Bryan Little injury forced the Jets to separate Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler, moving Wheeler to center on a line with Nikolaj Ehlers and Jack Roslovic. That didn’t seem to matter for the Jets, who were able to power a 4-1 win over Vancouver. Kyle Connor scored a goal and added an assist, while Schiefele, Roslovic, and Adam Lowry also scored. Wheeler chipped in an assist.
Earlier in the day, the Jets assigned Ville Heinola to Lukko Rauma in the Finnish Liiga. Although the 18-year-old Heinola showed promise with five points in his eight games with the Jets, the decimated Jets’ defense is probably not the best place for his on-the-job training.
With his goal on Friday, J.T. Miller now has goals in back-to-back games and points in eight of his last nine games. With 18 points (8g-10a) in 17 games, he is off to an even faster start than he was last season when his linemates were Kucherov and Stamkos. Once he was moved off that line in Tampa, his production tailed off. The Canucks have to be extremely happy with that production, so there shouldn’t be any immediate plans to move him off their top line. However, a dip in production should be expected should Travis Green decide to mix up the lines.
The Penguins have announced that Kris Letang will be week to week with a lower-body injury. Letang missed Thursday’s game after leaving Monday’s game with the injury. Justin Schultz (27 percent owned in Yahoo leagues) is virtually guaranteed first-unit power play minutes while Letang is sidelined. With all this discussion on load management in the NBA this week, I wonder if Letang would be a candidate for it should NHL teams begin to implement such a strategy. Maybe on back-to-backs? If Letang misses one game for rest purposes in order to avoid missing five or more later, then maybe it is worth it when his injuries are wear-and-tear related.
The 6’7” Mikko Koskinen stood tall to the task on Friday, earning a 29-save shutout against New Jersey. The win was Koskinen’s first in four games and the shutout was his first of the season. We might be expecting the bottom to fall out from the Oilers, due to the much-better-than-anticipated goaltending of Koskinen (2.18 GAA) and Mike Smith (2.22 GAA). Don’t expect those numbers to remain this low, but there could still be something said about new coach Dave Tippett’s system improving the team overall defensively.
Sami Vatanen left Friday’s game in the first period after taking a hit to the face. I was about to suggest adding Vatanen since he is off to a strong start (eight points in 15 games), but now we’ll have to wait and see if he misses any time. Vatanen also entered this game leading all Devils’ defensemen in power-play time, even over P.K. Subban. Yet in this game Will Butcher and Damon Severson (approx. 4:00) received more power-play time than Subban (2:50).
Sami Vatanen gets hurt and *checks notes* PK Subban still played the 3rd most PPTOI of any Devils d-man behind *raises eyebrow* Damon Severson and Will Butcher. Cool.. coolcoolcoolcoolcool cooooooooooool.
— Average Time on Ice (@avgtimeonice) November 9, 2019
For what it’s worth, Subban fired seven shots on goal during Friday’s game. Yet fantasy owners crossing their fingers hoping for a Subban bounceback haven’t found it yet, as he has just five points in his first 15 games as a Devil. In anticipation of the question “Should I drop him?” I’d say generally speaking no, as he is still shooting the puck, and the Devils' power play defense is still in a state of flux. Taylor Hall and Wayne Simmonds are the only Devils to have taken more shots than Subban. However, he has yet to establish himself as far and away the strongest PP1 option from the blueline in Jersey. Also don’t forget that because of his celebrity status, Subban is also an easy player to overvalue.
Since Friday features a light schedule, I’ve got some time to help you with some weekend pickups if you’re trying to maximize your games played in your head-to-head league. So for this segment I’ll be focusing on teams that play on both weekend dates (from which you could theoretically choose anyone), and solid waiver-wire options that play on Sunday. Listing my Sunday picks in the Sunday Ramblings won’t help those of you who need to add your Sunday players on Saturday due to league restrictions.
Teams that play both Saturday and Sunday:
Chicago, Florida, Philadelphia, Toronto, Vegas
Players to consider for Sunday:
Ryan Strome – The eldest Strome brother is already be owned in many mid-sized to deeper leagues. He’s worth mentioning here anyway because he’s a must-own while Mika Zibanejad is out. Dating back farther than Zibanejad’s injury, Strome has 14 points in last 12 games and 29 points in his last 34 games, so he’s not an automatic drop even when Z returns. At age 26, Strome is showing some real post-hype sleeper characteristics.
Tony DeAngelo – If you need blueline help, here’s another former blue-chip prospect that keeper owners might have moved on from. DeAngelo is second on the Rangers in power-play time to Jacob Trouba this season. He’s been making a strong case for first-unit minutes with four points (three on the power play) and nine shots over his last three games. If DeAngelo is unavailable, Adam Fox (five points in his last seven games) has also been in the power-play mix for the Blueshirts. This appears to be a volatile power-play situation, so if I had to pick one it would be DeAngelo.
Matt Niskanen – As mentioned above, the Flyers play on both Saturday and Sunday. While fantasy owners have been debating whether Shayne Gostisbehere or Ivan Provorov should receive PP1 minutes, Niskanen has been making the most of his second-unit power-play time with eight points in 15 games. Niskanen is especially worth targeting in bangers leagues, as his 29 hits is tied for second on the Flyers.
Jake Virtanen – Shotgun Jake has moved up to the Canucks’ second line (at least for now) alongside Bo Horvat. Over his past seven games, he has also been averaging over three shots per game. Virtanen was heavily criticized by Travis Green during the preseason and early in the season for lack of fitness and involvement in the play, but he is trending in the right direction with more goals (5 in his last 9 games) and hits. You might want to get your beer can ready.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.