Ramblings: Crawford a Play-in Threat? Larkin Still Top 100? (May 24)

Ian Gooding

2020-05-24

On the new website, you may have noticed that the Dobber 2020 Playoff Draft List is now available. Go ahead and preorder yours. It will be available for download once playoff dates are announced. So if Dobber has the Playoff Draft List for sale, the playoffs must be a go. Right?

We still don't know when those playoff dates will be, and it could be a while before we know. As well, I don't know whether playoff brackets will include the "play-in tournament" with 24 teams, or just the 16 teams that will be technically be in the playoffs. (I'm guessing there will be room for the play-in tourney, because it would be more fun that way.) Getting into semantics here, we're not supposed to call it a 24-team playoff, just a play-in tournament before the actual 16-team playoffs start?

Also, what happened to the idea of a five-game round-robin tournament to determine seeding? If that doesn't happen, will teams just hit the ground running with a meaningful game immediately? Or even a pretournament game or two? Sounds like there are a whole lot more details to be worked out.

LeBrun clarified in a reply to this tweet that the play-in round is a best-of-5. Between the possibility for shortened series and teams getting back into action after a long layoff, there's the real potential for teams below the playoff bar at the time of the pause to win not one, but two series. Before you call a system like this unfair to higher-seeded teams, remember what happened to higher-seeded teams in the first round of last season's playoffs.

Carey Price has been discussed as having the ability to steal a five-game series from the Penguins, who finished 15 points ahead of the Canadiens. But what about the possibility of Corey Crawford stealing a series from the Oilers, who finished 11 points ahead of the Blackhawks? Remember that Crawford has his two Stanley Cups, but something else I haven't seen discussed is the quality of his play prior to the pause.

Since February 1, no goalie had posted more quality starts than Crawford, who along with Connor Hellebuyck had posted 13 QS (Hellebuyck played one more game over that span). Over that span, Crawford posted a 2.46 GAA and an impressive .927 SV%, although his 7-7-1 record over that span doesn't make the team playing in front of him a huge threat for a deep playoff run.

The Robin Lehner trade to Vegas was a surprise and left many people scratching their heads, both from the Chicago and Vegas side. Yet the Blackhawks can justify the trade from a goalie performance standpoint. Since the Lehner trade, Crawford had one six-goal stinker against the Blues, followed by a seven-game stretch that has him on the Frozen Tools list of hot goalies.

Hot goalies before the pause:

PlayerGPWLOTLGAASV%SOQSQS%
CARTER HART87101.760.9410788
JONATHAN QUICK75111.530.9511686
COREY CRAWFORD75202.150.9340686
CONNOR HELLEBUYCK75201.440.9532686
IGOR SHESTERKIN76102.440.9380686
LINUS ULLMARK64201.860.9400583

Yes, there's Crawford on that list with a 2.15 GAA and .934 SV%. Maybe we forget about Crawford when discussing goalies with fantasy value because of the injuries he's battled over the past few seasons. He is a UFA after the season, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Hawks bring their 35-year-old goalie back for another year or two. Then let Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia battle it out for the backup job.

Fantasy Take: Robin Lehner to Vegas for Malcolm Subban

By the way: When the NHL was considering a 24-team playoff tournament along with other options to restart the season, I believe the business reasons for including Chicago and Montreal were strongly considered. Just in case you're wondering why a 24-team playoff tournament would include one team that was a trade deadline seller and another that was 10 points out of a playoff spot. The NHL is facing the possibility of losing up to $1 billion in revenue from a cancelled season (CBC), and the Habs and the Hawks have the third- and fourth-highest net worths among NHL clubs (Forbes). The NHL needs super-strong television numbers if there won’t be fans in the stands for a while.

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Before responding to some recent feedback on the Top 100 Roto Rankings, I will say that I very much appreciate any comments, whether complimentary or critical. Your feedback represents an opportunity to make our rankings better, as you may notice something that I may not have considered.

Dylan Larkin has been terrible and below average at C position this year. How does he make top-100?

After a career high 32 goals and 73 points in 76 games, Larkin has regressed to just 53 points (19g-34a) in 71 games. Moreover, because the Red Wings have hit rock bottom this season, Larkin has further damaged fantasy teams in leagues that count plus-minus with a minus-21 ranking (which is hardly the worst ranking on the team, as I'll discuss later).

At a center position that is usually the deepest in terms of scoring, Larkin has certainly provided less than expected. But has it been below average? It depends on your league, but in terms of overall centers in roto leagues, here's how he stacks up against center-eligible players:

GPRankOwnedTOIGA+/-PPPSOGHITBLK
Jonathan Toews7011873%19:461842-281725635
Pierre-Luc Dubois7011965%17:551831-2101588550
Dylan Larkin7112771%21:141934-21142235245

These rankings (from one of my leagues) includes blocked shots, although they're technically not a category of the Roto Rankings. I don't see how Larkin's blocked shots total will boost his ranking, though.

Toews is not in the top 100 Roto Rankings, while Dubois is just inside the top 100. So initially, an argument on whether Larkin should be ranked in the top 100 could go either way.

Back in late November, Geek of the Week author Ben Burnett mentioned that with 16 points in his first 25 games, Larkin was on pace for only 20 goals and 52 points. In 71 games played, Larkin had just reached that 52-point mark (pulling in at 53 points). Suffice to say if the Wings played their final 11 games, Larkin would have well surpassed that, but likely wouldn't come close to his 73 points from last season.

Burnett suggested buying low on Larkin at the time, and it turns out he was on to something if you were okay with delayed gratification. Before the pause, Larkin had been on a hot streak, scoring 13 points over his last 10 games. Over that stretch, Larkin's 1.3 PTS/GP made him the 11th-hottest scorer in points per game over that span among players who had played at least nine games. I don't usually like to move players down the rankings if they are hot.  

If you're still surprised that Larkin is actually ranked this high, one area that he continues to shine in is his shot total. Even in a down season, Larkin has taken 223 shots, which ranks him 18th in the entire league. This is an area of strength for Larkin, whose 287 shots in 2018-19 placed him ninth in that category.

For earlier correction purposes, I'm willing to move Larkin down from 83 to about where Dubois is (between 90 and 100). But because of the recent hot streak and the potential for a rebound, I don't think I should move him out of the top 100 completely.

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In any rumored playoff format save for one that includes every single team, we can all agree that the once-great Detroit Red Wings franchise should not be invited. If this is in fact curtains for the 2019-20 edition of the Red Wings, how historically bad have they been? They were by far the league's worst team and the only team to have a point percentage below .400 (and .300, for that matter).

According to records.nhl.com, the 2019-20 Red Wings have the 37th-worst points percentage of any team in the entire history of the NHL. The 1974-75 expansion Washington Capitals (.131 P%) are safe for another season. However, the 2019-20 Wings are the NHL's worst team (point percentage-wise) going back 20 years, all the way to the expansion 1999-00 Atlanta Thrashers and their .238 P%. In the now-parity driven NHL, that's pretty bad.

The four worst plus-minuses of the season are for current or former Red Wings. At the top of the list is a now-former Wing that Dobber was following all season with great interest.

Andreas Athanasiou (-46)

Valtteri Filppula (-42)

Filip Hronek (-38)

Mike Green (-34)

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For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

  Players Team GP G A P
EVGENI MALKIN PIT 5 4 7 11
ADAM FOX NYR 4 1 6 7
JAKUB VORACEK PHI 6 0 10 10
NATHAN MACKINNON COL 5 2 6 8
MIKA ZIBANEJAD NYR 29 25 19 44
NIKITA KUCHEROV T.B 24 16 20 36
KEVIN FIALA MIN 11 9 7 16
EVANDER KANE S.J 7 5 5 10
KYLE CONNOR WPG 7 8 2 10
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS EDM 17 8 16 24

LINE COMBOS

  Frequency PIT Players
21.5% SIDNEY CROSBY CONOR SHEARY JASON ZUCKER
20.5% EVGENI MALKIN PATRICK MARLEAU BRYAN RUST
18.5% TEDDY BLUEGER SAM LAFFERTY BRANDON TANEV

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