Ramblings: Raising Hellebuyck, Linemate-Proof MacKinnon, Rinne Breaks Slump (Nov 30)
There was lots of daytime hockey on Friday, even though some of us still had to go to work (like me!)
Connor Hellebuyck might be the Jets’ MVP this season. On Friday he stopped all 24 shots he faced in the Jets’ 3-0 win over Anaheim. Given Winnipeg’s broken-down defense, there was some worry about Hellebuyck’s ability to earn wins and decent ratios this season. Well guess what? Hellebuyck leads the league in wins with 13 (including five wins in his past six games), and his ratios (2.23 GAA, .933 SV%) are helping your team. In terms of quality starts on Frozen Tools, only Darcy Kuemper (16) has more than Hellebuyck's 15. To think, my head-to-head opponent this week nearly caught up to me on Friday with stellar starts from both Hellebuyck and Kuemper.
With his goal, Nikolaj Ehlers now has his fifth goal over his past seven games. He seems to be gelling with Blake Wheeler lately, which is a positive sign for frustrated Wheeler owners. With two assists on Friday, Wheeler now has two points in each of his last three games with a plus-5 over that span. Grant Campbell wrote a great Frozen Tools Forensics piece on forwards with cold starts, which includes some info on Wheeler. Summary: Wheeler should rebound (he already is), but don’t expect him to catch up to his 91-point total over each of the previous two seasons.
Wheeler has set the bar high in terms of expectations with quite an assist run over these past few seasons.
#GoJetsGo Blake Wheeler's 150 assists are 3rd most in the NHL since 2017-18
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) November 29, 2019
J.T. Compher scored a goal and added two assists on Friday. Yeah, I bet you saw that coming after Compher was held without a point in his past three games and without a goal in his past nine.
Another day, another strong game for Nathan MacKinnon (a goal and three assists). The Avalanche have soldiered on without both Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog for the past month. During that stretch you may have wondered whether MacKinnon’s numbers would suffer. Well, this is just like Evgeni Malkin right now without Sidney Crosby. Over that stretch minus Rantanen and Landeskog (since October 30), MacKinnon has ten goals and 24 points in just 14 games. In other words, MacKinnon is linemate-proof. Stick him on the checking line with Tommy Stonehands and Jimmy Lunchpail (as Dobber calls them) and he’ll still score at least a point per game. Oh and by the way, Rantanen is expected to return to the Avs’ lineup tonight (Saturday).
Since you’re probably wondering after I mentioned it, Malkin has 15 points in the nine games that Crosby has been out of the lineup. Not that they’re ever linemates except on the power play, but it’s still astonishing how much Malkin picks up his game when Crosby is out of the lineup.
With a goal in Friday’s loss to Colorado, Patrick Kane extended his point streak to 14 games.
Just like your tummy might have been filled on Thursday (if you live south of the 49th parallel), Jack Eichel filled your roto categories on Friday. Eichel finished the game with two goals, an assist, a plus-4, and eight shots on goal. Eichel is one of the league’s hottest players with an eight-game point streak in which he has eight goals and 15 points. Even if the Sabres are fading during November, Eichel hasn’t been fazed. Tell me, was Eichel quadruple-teamed, or quintuple-teamed on his assist?
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) November 29, 2019
Another player mentioned in Grant’s article about struggling forwards was John Tavares. However, the Leafs captain scored twice in a losing cause, which gives him points in back-to-back games. Read the article for more.
If you need a spot start from a backup goalie, don’t reach for a Leafs backup.
#Leafs backup goalies this season
SOG per Start 36.9
Save % .871
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) November 30, 2019
The day after I suggested to add Juuse Saros, Pekka Rinne pitches a shutout against Carolina. Why? Because that’s the way it works. Rinne entered this game with one quality start over his last six games, posting a frightening 5.34 GAA and .806 SV% since Halloween night. My exact words yesterday. As far as top goalies of the past decade go, Rinne deserves serious consideration. His win on Friday was number 350 in his career, and he has the most shutouts of any goalie (58) since 2008-09. Saros should start the second of back-to-backs on Saturday, but maybe we shouldn’t rush to assume that Rinne will give up his reign as the long-time Nashville starter.
Calle Jarnkrok is getting some time on a scoring line with Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen, and he’s taking full advantage. With a goal on Friday, Jarnkrok has three goals and five points over his past five games. And he’s only 12 percent owned in Yahoo leagues.
Remember Shayne Gostisbehere? I joke because it helps me cope with the kind of season he’s had. Not only did he return to the lineup on Friday after being a healthy scratch for the past three games, but he also scored a power-play goal in the Flyers’ 6-1 win over the Wings. It was a bit of a lucky goal (off a Detroit player's skate), but at this point he'll take them any way he can get them.
Ivan Provorov has taken over on the Flyers’ first-unit power play, adding those duties to an already full workload as a minute-munching blueliner. With Provorov fitting in nicely with an already-career high 4 PPG and 10 PPP, I wonder if the trade talks are heating up again with Gostisbehere. Trading a player when his value is low isn’t the best idea, yet having one 65-point season under his belt might make Ghost hard to resist for a team looking to breathe some life into its power play. At this point, his fantasy owners can only hope he will receive that fresh start somewhere new.
Barring injury, David Pastrnak is well on his way to scoring 50 goals and maybe more. Those are quite the names.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) November 29, 2019
Jared Spurgeon scored a goal and added two assists with a plus-5 and six blocked shots in the Wild’s 7-2 crushing of the Senators. Yes, a plus-5 from a Wild player. He wasn’t the only one, either. Ryan Suter also achieved a plus-5 in spite of not earning any points. That might be one of the lowest single-game IPPs of the season. For the record, Suter has a 41 IPP, which is about normal for him.
Gustav Nyquist recorded his second career hat trick on seven shots on goal in the Blue Jackets’ 5-2 win over Pittsburgh. The goals were power-play, even-strength, and empty-net. I’d like to know the percentage of hat-trick-clinching goals that are empty netters. In today’s information age, someone has to have that recorded somewhere. I bet the percentage is quite high. It’s like a carnival game: Hit the empty net, win a lifetime supply of hats! In all seriousness, Nyquist has turned it up a notch over his last 10 games with five goals and 11 points.
Speaking of Jackets who are finding their way onto the scoresheet, Nyquist’s linemate Oliver Bjorkstrand has a six-game point streak with nine points (2g-7a) over that span. Bjorkstrand’s icetime is up over four minutes per game over last season, with the power-play time alone a minute higher. We knew Columbus wouldn’t be as deep in scoring as last season, which benefits a player like Bjorkstrand, who had been hovering between 12 to 15 minutes per game prior to this season. By the way, Bjorkstrand is owned in just 9 percent of Yahoo leagues.
After being held without a goal in 17 games, Nick Foligno now has three goals over his past two games (two goals on Friday).
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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