December 5, 2015

by Ian Gooding on December 5, 2015

E-Kane and Domi score twice, Johnny Hockey hat trick, Nilsson impresses, plus more…

Ian here filling in for Steve, who will be taking over for me for this Sunday’s Ramblings.

Evander Kane scored two goals – one shorthanded and the other an empty netter – in the Sabres’ 5-2 win over Arizona on Friday. So that’s four goals over his last two games, and six points over his last three. If you’ve been patient with Kane, you’ve been rewarded with more points over his last three games than over his first 13 games. He is finally showing why you needed a top-100 pick for him.

If you’re looking for a reason for Kane’s recent success, he has formed an effective trio with Ryan O’Reilly and Sam Reinhart. By the way, Reinhart has scored three goals over his last three games. Reinhart is just three percent owned in Yahoo leagues, so deep leagues might want to take note.

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From the same game, Max Domi scored two goals himself. We’ve been waiting for Domi to hit that rookie wall, but it still hasn’t really happened points-wise. Domi has points in five of his last six, although he had been held without a goal in his previous nine games. Still, as a Domi keeper league owner, 23 points in his first 26 games is a lot more than I expected in his first season. But I’d be willing to bet he wouldn’t have that same level of success playing for a team that already had a true first-line center entering the season.

In an expert’s league where I’m struggling mightily, Oliver Ekman-Larsson took a poop on my boxscore with a -4 in that game. So that’s a -8 over his last three games. But as bad a week as it’s been to be using OEL in leagues that count plus/minus, it’s probably been an even worse week for Mike Smith. The Coyotes have yielded five goals in each of their last three games, all with Smith in net.

Yet somehow the Yotes are still holding down a playoff spot in a weak Pacific Division.  This should give you an idea of how much that division has crashed over the last few years. Of the six teams that had single-digit win totals entering Friday’s play, four were from the Pacific Division. But three of those teams won their tenth game on Friday (Edmonton, Calgary, Anaheim).

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Jakub Voracek owners didn’t have to worry that his linemates were Chris Vandevelde and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare again on Friday. Voracek reunited with Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds on the power play to record two assists on goals from Giroux and Simmonds.

On that same power play, Shane Gostisbehere recorded another assist. The Ghost Train continues to chug along with points in seven of his first ten games. Five of those seven points have been with the man advantage, no less. But you’ve been hearing the fine folks at Dobber sing the praises of Gostisbehere well before his November callup.

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There weren’t many goals in the Panthers/Blue Jackets game. That was in part due to the continued hot play of Sergei Bobrovsky. Hopefully you weren’t impulsive enough to drop him or sell low on him after his nightmarish October. Bob has allowed no more than two goals in each of his last five starts. But because he plays for the hard-luck Blue Jackets, only two of those strong efforts have resulted in wins.

The news that jumped out at me from this game, though, was Scott Hartnell being announced as a healthy scratch. Obviously this is John Tortorella message sending, as he benched Hartnell for taking a penalty in the third period that led to the Jackets allowing a game-winning goal to the Canadiens earlier in the week. Maybe Torts has Hartnell on his fantasy team too, since Hartnell has only one goal and one assist over his past eight games. I’d bet on Hartnell being back in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Flyers.

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The scare of the night, if you’re a Blues’ fan or a Colton Parayko owner…

Surprisingly and fortunately, Parayko was able to return to this game. He must have amazing flexibility.

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Sportsnet (at least where I live) did not carry any NHL games tonight. So I ended up watching some of the CHL game of the week, which featured the London Knights and Windsor Spitfires. The Knights rolled all over the Spits, thanks to Mitch Marner and his fifth career OHL hat trick.

I found an interesting debate over at Sportsnet on the potential career path of Marner. If you don’t feel like reading the article, it showed two differing takes of Marner from two unidentified scouts. The first scout compares Marner to Nazem Kadri, while the other scout sees Marner on a Patrick Kane path. Hmmm, I wonder which player Leafs’ fans would prefer as a comparable.

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Johnny Gaudreau scored three goals, including the overtime winner, and added an assist against Boston on Friday. You’d think that with Gaudreau’s continued success from last season would mean more of the same from Jiri Hudler. Yet Hudler (one last-second game-tying goal and one assist in this game) is well behind his linemate in the point race.

Shots on goal have always been an Achilles’ heel for Hudler, yet he took a career-high 158 shots on goal last season (just over two shots per game). He has dropped off slightly in that department this season (just under two shots per game). But it’s his shooting percentage that has fallen nearly 10 percent from his outlier 19.6 percent of last season, which means that the 31-goal scorer last season could struggle to reach 20 this season.

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Brad Marchand scored two more goals on Friday, including a shorthanded penalty shot. The super pest now has 12 goals on the season, which puts him in the top 10 among goal scorers. Despite his rep, Marchand is capable of scoring 25, which he could easily reach this season. His first 30-goal season is also a possibility.  

Zdeno Chara now has goals in back-to-back games. With 14 points in 22 games, perhaps he’s not declining as fast as we thought. But if I own him, I might try to deal him simply because his name still carries some weight.

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Well, what do you know. I added Anders Nilsson yesterday to a team that badly needed goaltending help. He rewarded me by stopping 42 of 43 shots in the Oilers’ win over Dallas on Friday. That’s pretty impressive considering who the opposition was. Nilsson is clearly pulling away from Cam Talbot as the Oilers’ starting goalie. I know the Oilers’ position in the standings hasn’t changed much from where it usually is, but I’d think Nilsson would be owned in more than 12 percent of Yahoo leagues.

By the way, the player I dropped to add Nilsson was Garret Sparks. Timing being the way it is, I added him after his 3-0 shutout of the Oilers on Monday and exposed my team to his six goals allowed to the Jets on Wednesday. But with James Reimer injured again and Jonathan Bernier making a rehab start in the AHL on Friday, we’re probably not finished with Sparks just yet.

By the way, Bernier’s 22-save shutout for the Marlies in that rehab start could go a long way in helping his confidence. As a motivational technique, he was told before the game that he’d be replaced by the Zamboni driver if he let in too many goals. No really, he was.

 

 

That’s Antoine Bibeau who the Leafs recalled for Saturday’s game against St. Louis. Bernier is expected to start one more game for the Marlies on Sunday.

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Here we go again with Kris Letang. He’s considered questionable for today’s game against the Kings (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). I’ve learned that questionable is usually okay if you’re playing fantasy football, but not if you’re playing fantasy hockey. But hey, Olli Maatta is expected to return. I’d be interested to find out how often these two are in the lineup at the same time. It can’t be all that often.

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Finally, that’s two shutouts this week for John Gibson. On Friday, he turned in a 23-save performance against the Sharks. With a 1.55 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage in the six games since his callup, I don’t know how the Ducks can think about sending him back to the AHL, especially when they’ve had as few positives as they’ve had this season. And I say this as a Frederik Andersen owner who is now getting nervous.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy your weekend. You can follow me on Twitter.