Ramblings: Ranking Young Defenders, Bolts Third Line, Solving RoR & MacKinnon (Aug. 18)

Cam Robinson

2020-08-18

I believe it was in the middle of the 17th overtime frame in Game 1 of the Bolts – Jackets series that I said whoever won that game would win the series. Well, that prediction is looking clean at this point. On Monday morning, Tampa Bay grabbed a commanding 3-1 series lead over the club that swept them a year ago.

The 2-1 victory was won on the backs of some timely goals and solid goaltending. Brayden Point has been a beast in this series – especially with Steven Stamkos remaining on the shelf. But I want to talk about the Lightning's third line. Blake Coleman, Yanne Gourde and Barclay Goodrow have been a force at even-strength. 

That trio has controlled a ridiculous 74 percent of the shots on goal while on the ice and 82 percent of the high-danger chances (14-3). They also chipped in for five points in the massive game four victory.

Those aren't the types of players who win you fantasy leagues. But they sure as shit help a team push deep into the playoffs and allow your big gunners more games to hit the high notes. 

 

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Very quickly on Point, he saw his pace fall from 95 to 80 points this past season. That drop came almost exclusively via a dip in secondary assists. In 2018-19 he had 23 A2s in 79 games. This year in 66 contests he had just 12. On the flip side, he matched his 27 primary assists in 13 fewer games.

Secondary helpers are the most volatile stat to replicate year-over-year. Primary assist rates trending upwards are another story altogether. Playing alongside Nikita Kucherov should help keep him A1’s up. If he can ride a little luck on the secondary wave, I don’t see a reason he can’t get back into the 90-point realm next season.

He’s one of the quietest elite assets out there.

 

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We still don’t have any official word on the severity of injury to Andrei Svechnikov. However, as the Canes took on the Bruins in a crucial game 4, Svech was up in the stands with a boot on his leg. We all could’ve guessed it’ll be a bit.

Carolina sure could have used him in this one too.

The Canes jumped out to a 2-0 lead that held until midway through the third period. That is until the Bruins flipped the switch. Four goals in less than seven minutes. The end result was a 4-3 Boston victory and a 3-1 series lead.

In the middle of that run of goals, Jordan Staal was blown up by Charlie McAvoy. He went to the room.

 

It was Jordan Martinook that took Svechnikov’s place on the top line. My how the mighty (re: Nino Niederreiter) have fallen.

 

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For the Bruins, they’re now just one win away from punching their ticket to the second round. And they’re doing it without the league-leading goalscorer in David Pastrnak. These damn Bruins know how to get it done.

Oh, it was Anders Bjork skating in Pasta’s place again on Monday. Maybe some tiny glimpse into how he’s viewed going forward? If you really want to look for some longterm scope.

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The Avalanche are too much for the Coyotes. We knew this before the series began, but now it’s official. Colorado thumped AZ from tip to tail on Monday winning 7-1 and outshooting them 30-15. 

Nate MacKinnon is a cheat code. 

 

This Avs team looks like a wrecking ball, and that’s with Cale Makar being somewhat average so far this summer. I mean, the dude still pulled this off on Monday so…

 

Despite that, I think the hierarchy for young defenders in fantasy has shifted a tad. I see them as:

To be fair though, Dahlin is the youngest of the bunch and pacing to be the most prolific. It’s just he’s stuck in Buffalo. But don’t fall asleep on him. He just put up a 56-point pace as a 19-year-old. When Makar and Hughes were 19 they were playing college hockey.

All five of these backs have the ability to put up gaudy point totals. The first four own all the juicy power-play time they can handle. The top two are in elite positions. Capable of flirting with point-per-game numbers. Chabot and Dahlin are hoping more talent is coming soon to help them out.

Heiskanen is in the worst place and as such, is at the bottom of the pile. Get him on the top PP and away from all that PK time and we’re cooking with fire.

 

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When it all boils down, the Blues-Canucks series has been a tale of two top lines. Sure, Jacob Markstrom has been good while posting a 0.932 save percentage heading into Game Four. Conversely, Jordan Binnington underwhelmed (as a certain writer predicted ahead of this series) and has now fully be supplemented by Jake Allen. Bo Horvat has been a wrecking ball. Vladimir Tarasenko has been a non-factor.

It's come down to the Ryan O'Reilly line versus the Elias Pettersson unit.

The Blues have shell-shocked the Canucks while RoR, David Perron and Jaden Schwartz are on the ice. That trio has controlled a ridiculous 83 percent of the shot share while on the ice. The Blues are controlling 51 percent when they're on the bench.

Meanwhile, the Canucks, who suffered through the last change in games one and two, tried to get Pettersson, J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser away from the Selke winner and his mates in Game three and four. The result was the Lotto line had a 76 percent of the shot share, but the Horvat line was caved in trying to handle shutdown duties.

Game 4 was similar to Game 3 with the Blues dictating much of the play at even-strength but the real difference was the St Louis power-play has come to life while the Canucks looked like garbage. The Blues boasted the third-ranked unit during the regular season, so it’s unsurprising that they’ve found their legs finally.

And sure enough, it was O’Reilly scoring two PP goals and leading the Blues to the 3-1 victory to knot the series at two games apiece.

This one sure has the makings of a seven-game marathon.

 

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@Hockey_Robinson

UPCOMING GAMES

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HOT PLAYERS

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LINE COMBOS

  Frequency BOS Players
19.9% ANDERS BJORK CHARLIE COYLE JACK STUDNICKA
15.1% JAKE DEBRUSK DAVID KREJCI DAVID PASTRNAK
12.3% KARSON KUHLMAN PAR LINDHOLM JOAKIM NORDSTROM

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