December 13, 2015

by Ian Gooding on December 13, 2015

Rask is back, Penguin problems, Stars shut down, Johnny Hockey, plus more…

If you moved Tuukka Rask to your bench after his slow start, then you need to move him back into your starting lineup. With 26 saves in a 3-1 afternoon win over Florida, Rask has not lost a regulation game in eight starts. He has six wins over that stretch with a 1.53 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage and two shutouts. Of course you can figure out stuff like that over at the Dobber Player Profile by entering in a date range.

In that same game, Ryan Spooner scored two goals for the B’s. Spooner has points in three consecutive games in spite of his icetime not exceeding 14 minutes in any of those games. Spooner’s value has been helped by the fact that he plays on the Bruins’ first power-play unit, with 50 percent (8 of 16) of his points coming on the man advantage. If you’re thinking about adding him, he seems much more beneficial in leagues that count power-play points.

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If you live in Canada and love to channel surf, you may have been disappointed that there was only one early game on Hockey Night in Canada. (I couldn’t find another game. Could you?) But at least you got to see a ton of shots on goal from the Canadiens in the first period. The Habs took a team-record 27 shots on goal in the first period on poor Craig Anderson, who is used to facing a ton of shots on goal. By the way, the Habs took 15 more for the remainder of the game.

There was a weird moment in the second period of this game. Max Pacioretty almost got credit for his second goal of the game, but replays showed that he pushed the puck in with his hand.

The Senators, thinking the Habs would get credit for their fourth goal of the game, pulled Craig Anderson for backup Chris Driedger. Even with the goal not counting, Sens’ coach Dave Cameron decided to keep Anderson on the bench. At that point (6:25 of the second period), Anderson had already faced 31 shots, so his save percentage for this game is actually fairly respectable. Anderson had swung his stick at the net after allowing the second goal, which might give you an idea of where his head and the Sens’ mood is at the moment.

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What you need to know about the Mike Johnston firing fantasy-wise was covered today by Dobber here. Right now I’d have to think that fantasy owners that own at least one Penguin scorer believe that any coach is better suited to run the Penguins than Johnston. There are many ways to say how underachieving the Pens’ offense has been this season, but I’ll sum it all up with one stat: With 2.36 goals/game, the Penguins have the league’s fifth-worst offense.

So with Mike Sullivan taking over, I’d assume the usual short-term improvement that goes with trying to avoid the new coach’s doghouse. But one point that I don’t think is emphasized enough about Sullivan is the fact that he has been John Tortorella’s right-hand man for three teams: The Lightning, Rangers, and Canucks. Torts is not an offensive-minded coach, and Sullivan seems to be cut from the same cloth. That doesn’t bode well for fantasy owners, although Sullivan may realize what got the last coach fired and open things up.

Meet the new boss… same as the old boss? Penguins fans and fantasy owners of Sidney Crosby et al better hope that the famous The Who song doesn’t become the theme song of this coaching change.

To make matters worse for the Pens, Kris Letang will be out another two weeks with an undisclosed injury (NHL.com). Giving us an idea of what we might expect while Letang is sidelined, Olli Maatta skated 25:03 against the Kings on Friday. He has four points in four games, so he is probably not worth dropping at the moment, considering that he is already owned in 43 percent of Yahoo leagues.

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The Stars haven’t lost a lot this season, and they haven’t been shut out in a game until tonight. But it was Jake Allen who performed the deed on Saturday, stopping all 26 shots he faced in the Blues’ 3-0 win.

So for now, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin both sit at 40 points in 29 games – five points behind Patrick Kane for the league lead. Kane will attempt to make his scoring streak 26 games in a row today against the Canucks. Who says the NHL doesn’t have any offense anymore?

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There wasn’t much offense in the Sabres/Kings game. But with the Sabres’ only goal in regulation, Jamie McGinn now has eight points over his last eight games. McGinn seems to be another player like Spooner in that the even-strength icetime happens to be only between 9 and 11 minutes per game, yet the power-play time helps boost his value. McGinn has received first-unit power-play minutes in the absence of the injured Tyler Ennis. Three of McGinn’s points on his current run have been on the man advantage.

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If you’re worried about Nikita Kucherov, he scored another goal on Saturday to give him five goals over his last four games. I answered an interesting thread over in the Forum about trading Kucherov for Jack Eichel, although I’m surprised the thread hasn’t gained more traction.

It’s been a tough year for the Triplets. Ondrej Palat returned to the lineup on Thursday, but Tyler Johnson was out of the lineup again on Saturday after returning for two games. Johnson has re-aggravated his injury and will probably be out next week (Tampa Bay Lightning). With Steven Stamkos still unsigned, the situation with the Lightning seems to be almost as unsettled as the one with the Penguins – with not nearly as much attention.

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Kyle Okposo scored two goals, including the overtime winner, and added an assist in the Islanders’ win over Columbus. Okposo hasn’t been shooting the puck enough this season (63 shots in 30 games), considering that he has flirted with 200 shots on goal the previous two seasons. Yet he took a season-high six shots on goal in this game. The shot total will be key for his fantasy success, although 25 points in 30 games on the John Tavares line suggests that things are going well anyway.

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Early-season favorite Anthony Duclair was at it again on Saturday, scoring two goals and adding an assist. Viktor Tikhonov, who was claimed off waivers earlier in the week, recorded his first assist in his second stint as a Coyote on one of Duclair’s goals. Duclair and Tikhonov were centered by Max Domi, so it will be interesting to find out if this will be a line going forward.

From the same game: Break up the Hurricanes! Carolina has won on back-to-back nights on the road and has wins in four of its last five games. Elias Lindholm posted three helpers for the Canes in this one. On one of my teams, I was fortuitous enough to swap Lindholm in for the injured Tyler Johnson at the last minute. Terry has a lot more on Lindholm in today's Geek of the Week.

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With his assist on Saturday, Mikael Granlund has 13 points over his last 15 games. In spite of that, Granlund has been moved off the Wild’s top power-play unit. Granlund’s prospects might still be promising, though, with Zach Parise back from injury and settled in.

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It seems as if every time I watch the Flames, Johnny Gaudreau scores. There might be something to that, as with two goals on Saturday he’s up to 12 goals this season. It doesn’t matter how small he is if no one can catch him. Do the math and it’s ten points – including seven goals – over the Flames' five-game homestand that ended Saturday night. He also finds himself in the top 10 in NHL scoring with 31 points.

From Flames’ goalie prospect Jon Gillies:

From the same game: Like you, I’m of the opinion that Dan Boyle has nothing left fantasy-wise. Yet he’s had a mini-resurgence on what has been an otherwise frustrating Rangers’ road trip in Western Canada. Boyle has looked impressive, scoring two goals and added two assists over his last three games. Keep in mind that he still receives first-unit power-play minutes.

 

Thanks for reading, and enjoy your Sunday. Follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.