Ramblings: Hertl Done For Season, Gallagher Returns, Iafallo Hattie (Jan 31)
On Wednesday the Sharks announced that Tomas Hertl would be out for the season with a torn ACL and MCL. Already well below the Western Conference playoff bar, the Sharks will have to try to survive without arguably their two top forwards, as Logan Couture is also out of the lineup. If the Sharks didn’t consider themselves trade deadline sellers before the Hertl injury and subsequent 5-2 home loss to Vancouver on Wednesday, they have to be seriously considering it now.
Ouch 🥴 pic.twitter.com/tRjFYZOI0T
— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) January 30, 2020
Fantasy owners in single-season leagues should probably cut ties with Hertl, although keeper leaguers should probably find a way to retain him (depending on a number of factors, including number of keepers, of course). Keeper leaguers should also be aware that there’s no guarantee that Hertl will be ready for the start of next season.
So will any players receive an increase in responsibilities with Hertl now out of the lineup? The Sharks forward lines seem to be more fluid with more moving parts than a lot of other teams (at least when I’ve tracked them), so the answer might not be that cut and dry. Without centers Couture and Hertl, though, the Sharks will now feature 40-year-old Joe Thornton, Barclay Goodrow, Dylan Gambrell and Joel Kellman down the middle. The leading goal scorer in that group is not Thornton (2), but in fact Goodrow (8). Thornton, who has expressed his desire to finish his career in San Jose and only San Jose, could even be used as trade bait – maybe even back to Boston.
Since Hertl’s injury happened early in the game, we were able to get a look at what icetime would look like sans Hertl and Couture.
Evander Kane: 21:00 TOI
Timo Meier: 20:50 TOI
Kevin Labanc: 20:47 TOI
Thornton: 20:13 TOI
Goodrow: 19:40 TOI
The first four forwards on the list also formed the first-unit power play on Wednesday. Assuming he sticks around, the assist-heavy Thornton could provide one last short-term kick at the can for fantasy owners. Labanc has already seen a healthy dosage of power-play time this season, although it’s worth mentioning that his Wednesday icetime total was nearly five minutes higher than his season average. Over his last five games, Labanc has fired 18 shots, an average of over three per game. He and Thornton were linemates for much of Labanc’s “breakout” of 56 points last season, and they were back together on Wednesday.
Because of his age and reduced point totals with lack of goals at the deep center position, I’m not considering adding Thornton in any of my leagues. Yet for the reasons I listed above, I’d be okay with adding Labanc in a deeper league. Beyond that, am I allowed to say that I have a hunch that the Hertl injury will help Labanc, especially with all the stats out there nowadays?
Want one more reason that the Sharks are underachieving this season? Their home power-play conversion rate of just 12.7 percent, which is the worst in the NHL. That’s not exactly putting fear into teams whenever the Jaws theme plays. Meier, who overall was expected to be better than he has been, has just one home power-play point all season. That seems absurdly low for a player with his shot.
Over the past two months, Jake Virtanen has 22 points (9g-13a) over his last 26 games. Some regression might be expected with his 14.4 SH% overall, but the eye test shows a different Jake. One that has elevated his game as the Canucks have improved. With this run, Virtanen is already up to a career-high 31 points in 51 games, which is a 50-point pace. To boot, he’s been moved up to the top line with Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller, a place that has been normally held by Brock Boeser. Yet as long as the Canucks are winning, expect Virtanen to retain that spot, much to the chagrin of Boeser owners.
Yes, five of Tanner Pearson’s 15 goals are empty-netters, which leads the league. Yet it’s a certainty that the Pearson – Bo Horvat – Loui Eriksson line will be out there if the Canucks are protecting a lead. Sometimes you don’t ask how, you just pocket the points. Since November 12, Pearson has been a point-per-game player with 33 points over his last 33 games. Unlike Virtanen, Pearson hasn’t hit his career high yet, but he’s only five points shy of matching his career high of 44 points set in 2016-17.
Brendan Gallagher returned to the Montreal lineup on Thursday, scoring the game-winning goal with five shots on goal in 17 minutes of icetime. Gallagher suffered a concussion on New Year’s Eve, then returned on January 9 before being sidelined with headaches. I thought it was weird that the headaches were not concussion-related, but let’s hope he’s recovered no matter what the reason.
Gallagher’s return on Thursday didn’t present a production issue to Ilya Kovalchuk, who scored yet again. Kovy now has five goals and nine points in ten games as a Hab. However, Kovalchuk was bumped from the Tomas Tatar – Phillip Danault line in favor of Gallagher. Tatar has been rolling since the addition of Kovalchuk, scoring 11 points (2g-9a) over his last ten games. According to Frozen Tools, Kovalchuk was on a line with Nick Suzuki and Joel Armia.
Although there is a one-month gap due to injury, Jeff Skinner has just one point since December 7. That’s one point in his last 11 games, with a minus-10 to boot over that span. Buffalo, you sign him to the $9 million per season eight-year contract. Then you stick him on a line that isn’t scoring, which in Buffalo is any line that doesn’t include Jack Eichel. Then you wonder why he isn’t scoring. Hmmm. Hey, at least he’s used to it, as Carolina often gave him the same treatment.
Carter Hutton hasn’t won a game since October 22. Yet with Linus Ullmark out for the next few weeks, the Sabres will need to lean on him. Give him credit, though – he wasn’t bad on Thursday, stopping 27 of 29 shots.
Crazy game in Jersey, with the Predators and Devils combining for 10 goals. Even though the Devils eventually lost in the shootout, Pavel Zacha was the game’s scoring star, hitting the twine twice while adding an assist. Zacha had been held without a point in his previous six games and without a goal in his previous 12 games. He’s already had another three-point game this season, so consistency hasn’t been his thing. To save you the trouble, Zacha was one of those high first-round keepers that didn’t pan out for me.
In a winning cause, Filip Forsberg scored twice for the Preds. The goals were his first in five games, although he now has multiple points in back-to-back games.
Kyle Turris assisted on both of Forsberg’s goals. Turris has hardly been fantasy relevant over this season and last, but it is worth mentioning that he has four points (all assists) over his last four games. Being bumped up to a line with Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson could help the peripheral-poor Turris scrape together some value again. Even though Turris has averaged just 14 minutes and change in icetime this season, he’s averaged 20 minutes over his last two games.
Hats off to Alex Iafallo, who recorded the first three-goal game of his career on Thursday, the third goal serving as the overtime game-winner. Iafallo also fired five shots in 21 minutes of icetime and first-unit power-play time. Spending considerable time on the top line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, Iafallo has received at least 20 minutes in back-to-back games and four of his last eight games. The Kings are near the bottom of the league in terms of offense (Iafallo scored all three of their goals), yet Iafallo (4 percent owned in Yahoo leagues) could serve as a deeper-league add with this kind of opportunity.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson left Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury, which appeared to be from this play.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson injured after getting knee-on-knee by Dustin Brown pic.twitter.com/MOK9niiLfp
— Main Team (@MainTeamSports) January 31, 2020
I’ll throw this in about Taylor Hall as well. His value has been just fine in Arizona, but the Coyotes haven’t been fine since he’s been added.
Taylor Hall’s first 18 games with AZ:
• 7 goals
• 16 points
• 58 shots
• 3:14 PPTOI
• 84.2 IPP
But, the Coyotes are just 7-9-2 over that span.
They didn’t pay much for the former Hart trophy winner. But they haven’t benefitted all that much yet either.
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) January 31, 2020
I'll add this: On December 17, Hall made his Coyotes debut. On December 19, Darcy Kuemper was injured and hasn't returned to the lineup. Including that December 19 game, which was a "wild" game in which Kuemper allowed seven goals to Minnesota, the Coyotes have allowed an average of 3.41 goals per game. Before that date, the Coyotes allowed over one fewer goal per game at 2.33 goals per game. I'd consider a Kuemper return more essential to the Coyotes' fortunes than a Hall acquisition, given how defense is of critical importance to the Coyotes.
Talk to you tomorrow. For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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