Ramblings: Goalie Competition in Pittsburgh, Devil of a Time (Dec 7)
If you were looking for a flashback to the dead puck era, Friday’s action contained many low-scoring games. So this version of the Ramblings will concentrate heavily on the goalies.
Tristan Jarry stopped all 33 shots he faced in recording his second consecutive shutout, a 2-0 win over Arizona. Regardless of Jarry’s previous shutout on Wednesday against St. Louis, the plan might have been for Jarry to start two consecutive games anyway. The Pens play again today (Saturday), which will probably be Matt Murray’s start. Still, the recent numbers validate Jarry receiving a larger share of the workload recently over Murray. Since November 16:
Jarry: 6-1-0, 1.57 GAA, .950 SV%, 2 SO, 5 QS
Murray: 0-1-2, 4.80 GAA, .832 SV%, 0 SO, 0 QS
Yes, Jarry has received more work than Murray over that span. In fact, he’s started five of the past seven games for the Pens. Does that mean that Murray owners should panic? Well, you may recall that around this time last season, Casey DeSmith also had better numbers than Murray. Much of that had to do with the team playing better in front of DeSmith. Then in mid-December, Murray started to turn things around to make his overall season numbers more respectable. Like last season, Murray will also receive every opportunity to rebound because of salary ($3.75 million for Murray, $675,000 for Jarry).
That doesn’t mean Jarry (Dobber Prospects profile) will fade away like DeSmith (although I think DeSmith could still be a decent backup goalie for some team – ahem Toronto). For one, both Jarry and Murray are RFAs beyond this season. So aside from the equity that Murray has built as a two-time Stanley Cup winner, the Pens might not be any more tied to him than they are Jarry. So not only are they competing for a job, but also potentially protection in the Seattle expansion draft in 2021.
Let’s not go too far down the keeper status rabbit hole yet, since we still have over half a season to play and much can happen. In the near term, simply consider this to be the coach riding the hot hand because the team needs wins. Hang on to Murray if you can.
One other fact: Although it seems as though Murray has been in the league a lot longer than Jarry has, he’s actually only one year older (25 to 24).
Phil Kessel returned to Pittsburgh for the first time since his offseason trade to Arizona. And of course he received a tribute video. One of the better ones that I’ve seen, I might add.
Kessel recorded three shots on goal, but of course no points. I wrote more about Kessel in yesterday’s Ramblings.
Both Justin Schultz and Bryan Rust returned to the Penguins’ lineup on Friday, with neither recording a point. Schultz was sharing PP1 duties with Kris Letang, while Rust was one of the three forwards on said first power play. Rust also played on the Pens’ first even-strength line with Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel.
With no Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the Oilers at the moment, Alex Chiasson has moved up to the first-unit power play. He managed to cash in on Friday, scoring a power-play goal while adding a power-play assist on Leon Draisaitl’s goal. This matters because the Oilers possess the league’s top power play, firing at a 32.2 percent success rate. Since the Nuge has been out, Chiasson has five points in six games, with four of those points coming on the man advantage. You may remember Chiasson riding shotgun with Draisaitl and Connor McDavid for a time at even strength last season, although Zack Kassian has that plum role at the moment.
Speaking of Kassian, he missed his third consecutive game on Friday because of a back injury. While he has been sidelined, the Oilers have split up McDavid and Draisaitl, so we’ll have to wait and see if that line is reunited once Kassian returns. Draisaitl and McDavid are nine and eight points respectively ahead of the league’s third-place scorers at the moment and haven’t been greatly affected by being split up.
Mikko Koskinen stopped 35 of 36 shots he faced in the 2-1 win for the Oilers over LA. Koskinen now has quality starts in three of his last four games, although the start that wasn’t was considered a “really bad starts” (three goals on 12 shots against Ottawa). According to his Frozen Tools profile, that really bad start (RBS) was his first of the season, so he’s been better than advertised this season. Many scoffed when he signed his three-year extension at $4.5 million per season, but so far it’s been a worthwhile investment.
With a goal and an assist on Friday, Ryan Getzlaf now has at least one point in eight of his past nine games. In fact, he has 11 points (3g-8a) over those nine games. Don’t stick a fork in him yet.
Jakub Vrana also scored a goal and added an assist on Friday. Over his past nine games, Vrana has six goals and ten points.
Multiple Devils fans that I know had called for the Devils to replace John Hynes as coach. Yet far the firing hasn’t provided the Devils with the short-term jolt that teams hope for when replacing their bench boss. (I think Steve Laidlaw used to call this the “dead cat bounce.”) New Jersey hasn’t won either of its first two games under new coach Alain Nasreddine (Fantasy Take here). The promising offseason is now a distant memory, with the Devils posting both the league’s second-lowest point total and the second-worst goal differential (minus-33).
Even with the new coach, all of Sami Vatanen, Damon Severson, and Will Butcher received more power-play minutes than P.K. Subban. Vatanen did leave the game after being hit in the face by a puck, which could possibly help Subban. Yet even a new coach isn’t helping Subban. So it’s been an entire month (November 2, to be exact) since Subban has even recorded a POINT. Maybe Nasreddine needs a little more time to assess the situation, but there hasn’t been a positive anything on the Subban file in quite a while. Do what you have to do.
The Canadiens/Rangers matchup on Friday was a true goaltending matchup. Carey Price stopped 29 of 30 shots he faced in the 2-1 win, while Alexandar Georgiev made 31 saves on 33 shots. Price has now won back-to-back games after failing to win any of his previous six starts. You should be safe to put Price back into your starting lineup.
Brendan Gallagher has now scored goals in three consecutive games, the second time he has done so this season. He scores because he shoots the puck, a stat that he currently sits fourth in (115 SOG).
Confirmed Saturday goalie starts, according to Goalie Post:
Carter Hart (vs. Ottawa): It’s a home game against the Senators, who are just coming off a western Canada road trip. After a slow start, Hart has quality starts in nine of his last ten games. Start him with confidence.
Sergei Bobrovsky (vs. Columbus): Bob received a mental health break this week as Chris Driedger received two consecutive starts. It’s been reunion week for the Blue Jackets, who faced Artemi Panarin for the first time this season earlier this week. Bob has dominated his other former team (the Flyers) since leaving (15-3-1, 2.13 GAA, .928 SV%), and the Jackets’ offense is in the bottom 5 at the moment. So this is as good a spot as any to use the expensive yet struggling goalie.
Frederik Andersen (@ St. Louis): Andersen lost both games of a back-to-back earlier this week, although he was stronger in the second start. A win might be difficult to come by against the defending Stanley Cup champions, who also sit atop the Western Conference.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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