Ramblings: Bjorkstrand, Schmaltz, the Flames are scoring again, AA’s quest and more (Dec 23)

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We are wrapping up the decade pretty soon and DobberHockey and is running a series of special end-of-decade fantasy hockey articles. Top 10s all, Cliffy, Ian, Cam, Mario, Rick, Tom and myself will each be posting content on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Watch for it! I know you love Top 10 lists.

And supplemental to all that, who better to kick things off than Mr. Top 10 himself – Tom Collins. His regular column today will look at the Top 10 overrated players of the past decade in fantasy hockey. In all, we’ll have nine Top 10 lists coming up to end the decade. So…one more list and we could have a Top 10 Top 10 lists list.

(You’re saying that slowly in your head right now, aren’t you?)

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So we have the word on Oliver Bjorkstrand’s injury and it’s not good. A rib contusion/oblique strain that will take him out of the lineup for four to six weeks. Probably my favorite sleeper pick and breakout player for this year was finally doing my projection justice by posting 17 points in his last 17 games. And now this, which likely takes him out through the All-Star Break, but hopefully not a moment beyond that. Add in the fact that Cam Atkinson is out until after Christmas, when he’ll be re-evaluated, and Columbus is in trouble offensively. They had a tough time scoring to begin with.

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What do you think of Acciari-ander Noel-vechkin? I kicked around a bunch of ideas incorporating that name, but that was the best I could do. Six goals last year, has a career high of 10 and he’s 28 years old…suddenly gets seven goals in three games. That probably helped a total of zero hockey pools, and it’s a shame. As Gooding said Sunday, Noel Acciari is playing with Jonathan Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck and the Panthers have caught lightning in a bottle there. And I’m all in. Of course it’s unsustainable, but I’ll take it while I can get it. Perhaps he can be another Chris Clark. Remember him? A solid and proven 20- or 25-point player for the Capitals and a career checking-line guy. He was put on Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin’s line midway through 2005-06 and he finished the season with 39 points. Next season he played on that line the entire year and tallied 54 points. Injuries took away whatever he may have done after that. But I wonder if Acciari has something like that in him? In the meantime, in my one league that has waivers I made sure I won the bid on him. And I will ride it until he is off that line.

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Interesting stat – Joe Pavelski played his 1000th NHL game on the weekend and he sits ninth all time in scoring among players who were drafted in the seventh round (or later). Steve Sullivan is 10th with 747 points, Pavelski has 777. Gary Suter (844), Cliff Ronning (869), Special Agent Peter Bondra (892) are 8th, 7th and 6th. The Top 5:

1. Doug Gilmour (1414)

2. Luc Robitaille (1394)

3. Theo Fleury (1088)

4. Dave Taylor (1069)

5. Henrik Zetterberg (960)

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Alex Ovechkin recently ended a goal drought of four games and it was just the 10th time in his entire career that he went so long without a goal. I then saw a list of players who played 1000 games who also did that just 10 times (or fewer). Only six players. Mats Sundin did it just 10 times. Marcel Dionne and Dale Hawerchuk just eight times, Gilbert Perreault just five. Amazingly, and the reason for this blurb – The Great One did it only once. Can you imagine? In Gretzky’s career he went four games without a goal just one time.

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Name the five active players who lead their franchise in points.

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Daniel Sprong – drafted in the second round, 46th overall, as an offensive winger by a team with elite centers just looking for a cheap option for the wing. He looks good as a 20-year-old during a cup of coffee with the Penguins, but at 21 he didn’t look all that great before getting traded to Anaheim. With the Ducks he was weak defensively and mediocre offensively last year. This year, now 22, the Ducks waived him, rightfully feeling that he would clear waivers and get to play in the minors for more development. He has been doing okay down in San Diego with 18 points in 24 games, but his minus-9 is by far a team low and it indicates that he has a ways to go defensively. The Ducks called him up and he played his first NHL game of the season Sunday. He promptly went pointless and minus-3. D’oh!

Sam Steel saw the third highest ice time in his entire career Sunday with 18:28. He snapped his nine-game pointless drought with a goal while playing with Ondrej Kase and Max Jones. Two Ducks – Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg – have the flu right now, thus explaining the available ice time.

Mika Zibanejad, with two points Sunday, has points in five straight. And he has two points in four of those five games.

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Nick Schmaltz continues to roll since the Taylor Hall trade. While the Hall line (with Phil Kessel and Christian Dvorak) chips in a solid point each game, it’s been Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz (along with Carl Soderberg) who are getting the time and space to put the biscuit in the basket. Keller and Schmaltz have a combined 11 points in those three games with Hall in the lineup. Soderberg has three.

I think that Schmaltz line looks set, but Hall’s line could use some fine-tuning. They will be reluctant to pull Kessel off of it because those big names get a long leash. But I think moving him to the third line and putting Conor Garland on the Hall – Dvorak line would work best. I just don’t see it happening in, say, the next month. Coaches don’t see what fans and analysts see. They play the reputation. The history. The track record. And, of course, the contract. So it will be Kessel and Hall for the next while. And that’s a shame because Garland still leads this team in goals with 12 despite averaging 13 minutes per game (just 12:13 Sunday). And having him play with Michael Grabner and Brad Richardson is almost insulting. Garland is too good to hold down forever, but that’s of little comfort to his fantasy owners who have to sit through the next month or so while Coach Tocchet worships at the altar of Kessel.

The fact that the Coyotes keep winning doesn’t help matters. Things will not change anytime soon.

Antti Raanta, who is a must-own while Darcy Kuemper is out, was 10 minutes shy of getting a shutout.

For those keeping track, the player I said would benefit the most from the Taylor Hall trade, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, now has five points in three games. He had 11 in 35 before that.

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Andreas Athanasiou: Quest to Reach Minus-100 (A DobberHockey Feature)

Last week: minus-35

Since: minus-1

Season: minus-36

Pace: minus-84

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The Flames are now 8-2-1 with Geoff Ward behind the bench. What’s more, they’ve scored 37 goals in those 11 games (3.36). Under Bill Peters they had scored 2.38 goals per game. So poolies are definitely rejoicing. The scoring leaders under Ward:

Name

GP

G

A

PTS

PTS/GP

PPP

PPTOI

%PP

TOI

SOG

SEAN MONAHAN

11

5

6

11

1.00

3

02:40

61.8

16:42

28

MATTHEW TKACHUK

10

4

7

11

1.10

6

02:47

65.7

18:12

26

ELIAS LINDHOLM

11

4

6

10

0.91

5

02:46

64.3

19:34

21

 JOHNNY GAUDREAU

11

5

4

9

0.82

3

02:41

62.2

17:16

34

 DEREK RYAN

11

2

6

8

0.73

2

01:29

34.6

15:52

19

MIKAEL BACKLUND

11

1

6

7

0.64

2

01:33

36.1

17:24

19

TOBIAS RIEDER

11

1

5

6

0.55

0

00:00

0.1

11:27

17

 

Tobias Rieder? Tobias Rieder. Seven points on the season and six of them under the new coach.

As you can see, a few players are waking up now. On Sunday it was Lindholm and Tkachuk, who tallied three points each. Just off the list is Mark Giordano, who has five points in 11 games but we were hoping to see more. No other defenseman is contributing. This is a top-heavy offense, more so now than before. A four-forward PP unit will do that. So if Giordano has lost a step (finally) and is now a 40-point guy, then this is what you’re going to see going forward. Because Giordano is not coming off that top unit no matter what.

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Dallas line combos on Sunday:

17.6%

COGLIANO,ANDREW – COMEAU,BLAKE – FAKSA,RADEK

14.6%

BENN,JAMIE – DICKINSON,JASON – PERRY,COREY

14.6%

HINTZ,ROOPE – PAVELSKI,JOE – SEGUIN,TYLER

4.5%

BENN,JAMIE – GURIANOV,DENIS – SEGUIN,TYLER

 

Gurianov has points in three straight games and now he’s seeing time on that top line. He was on a checking line, but the Stars were struggling and he had scored in the first period. So he spent the third frame on the big line.

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See you…Christmas Day! Lots of killer content on a day in which, while very busy for most people, there are still plenty of windows where you’re standing around waiting for someone. We got you covered for those moments with some Top 10 of the decade articles.