November 17, 2015

by Ian Gooding on November 17, 2015

Collapsing Canucks; reuniting linemates in Florida, Washington and Brooklyn; plus more…

Ian here, filling in for Steve on his normal night. I’m going to start out sounding like a disgruntled fan, but I promise there’s a few fantasy tidbits below.

I don’t know where to begin with the Canucks. Another game, another blown lead, and another overtime loss. The Canuckleheads have won just seven of a possible 19 games… and currently sit in second place in the Pacific Division. Why? How about a league-leading six loser points!

But after I think about it some more, this is supposed to be a transition year for the Canucks. One in which missing the playoffs wouldn’t be so bad if the youngsters took a step forward. But you’d think a 3-0 lead would give you an excellent chance at a win.

If I were the coach of the Canucks (and there’s a lot of things I would do differently if I were as an armchair coach), Jacob Markstrom would receive more playing time. In fact, I would assign Ryan Miller no more than two-thirds of the starts. Miller started 14 of the Canucks’ first 15 games of the season while Markstrom was sidelined with a groin injury. From all that work, he appears tired and cranky defending his game and the size of his equipment right now. And he’s a 35-year-old goalie coming off an injury. And he’s lost six starts in a row.

Markstrom stopped 32 of 36 shots in the loss to Montreal, which was by no means his fault. The Habs teed off with 15 shots in the second period, where at one point the Canucks led 3-0. But the Canucks are committed to Miller as the starter (as evidenced by the Eddie Lack trade), so Miller would really have to crap the bed before Markstrom would earn at least a 50-50 split.

One bit of prospect news for the Canucks: After scoring 10 goals in 12 games in the A, Hunter Shinkaruk played his first regular-season NHL game on Monday. He did not score a point and received only 9:35 of icetime. Coach Willie won’t take the training wheels off his youngsters too quickly, as Jake Virtanen played just 9:48 in this game. Jared McCann scored a power-play goal in this game, but he’s too far down the depth chart at center to make a difference fantasy-wise in 2015-16.

So the only Canuck rookie that I would say is worth owning in a non-keeper format at the moment is blueliner Ben Hutton, who has impressed with eight assists and second-unit power-play time. I’ve said this before in the Forums and I’ll say this again: You should be on to him in keeper formats.

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Gee, I miss Roberto Luongo already. By the way, he earned a 39-save shutout against the Lightning on Monday. That’s good news for his owners, since Lu has allowed at least three goals in each of his last four starts.

Some injury news from that game: Tyler Johnson missed the game after taking a hit to the head from Dave Bolland during Saturday’s game. Jon Cooper is saying Johnson’s injury is not a concussion, but I’m still kind of wondering whether it is. Jonathan Drouin also missed this game for the Bolts due to injury.

After scoring two goals on Saturday, Vladislav Namestnikov earned 20 minutes of icetime on Monday. But the spike in icetime should be at least somewhat injury-related, given the Bolts’ deep offense. So unless Namestnikov goes on a little run, it probably won’t last.

Aleksander Barkov returned to the Panthers’ lineup after missing 10 games with a broken right hand. Good news for his owners, as well as Jaromir Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau owners: Barkov was reunited with his old linemates for this game. This could be perceived as bad news for Nick Bjugstad, although his production has been roughly the same with or without Huberdeau and Jagr.  

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Speaking of linemates reuniting, here’s some potential good news for Nicklas Backstrom owners. He and Alex Ovechkin were reunited during Monday’s practice (NHL.com), so Barry Trotz is at least thinking about pairing them up once again. That could be a bit of a blow to Evgeny Kuznetsov owners, however. Although Kuznetsov doesn’t score goals with the frequency of fellow young countryman Vladimir Tarasenko, I predicted a Tarasenko-like breakout for him this season. I think 17 points in 16 games so far would qualify.

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Speaking of Tarasenko, he scored another one on Monday to put his total to 11. And in case you were worried about a lack of offense from David Backes, he scored two goals and added an assist in the game against Winnipeg. There has been some worry that Backes would be the odd man out on the St. Louis depth chart, but a bunch of injuries have put his season average at close to 20 minutes. He skated 23:47 on Monday.

Although sites like Yahoo have overvalued Backes the last few years, I think there’s still a lot to like here. Backes is especially valuable in leagues that count hits, as he is currently a top-10 option in that category with 59.

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More of the same for Alexander Semin on Monday: no points, 6:48 of icetime. Did anyone out there really take a chance on him in a fantasy draft this season? Just curious.

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Anton Khudobin started his second consecutive game, earning a 4-1 win. Thankfully I put him in my lineup when the Goalie Post email I received this morning told me he’d be starting. So yeah, it does work. Try it and thank me (or blame me) later. Just make sure you’re registered at Dobber Hockey first. Then log into Goalie Post with your Dobber username and password. Then check off the Email Updates box, and then don’t forget to select the teams that you want updates for.

The Ducks do play back-to-backs, however, so Frederik Andersen should start Tuesday against Nashville. But with the Ducks struggling the way they have this season, and with Andersen allowing four goals on low shot totals in each of his past two games, I wonder how interesting this goaltending battle could get. As a guy who invested in Andersen in a salary cap keeper league, I’m a little worried but far from ready to press the panic button.

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Enjoy this Bobby Ryan goal. He now has points in six straight and 10 of his last 11.

Apparently sticking Kyle Okposo back with John Tavares has some amazing results. Each were good for three points on Monday against Arizona. Also, Brock Nelson has resurfaced as the third member of that line, scoring two points of his own on Monday.

Nelson has points in four consecutive games and should be considered a player of interest in fantasy as long as he’s in that role. That could depend on how long Ryan Strome stays in the AHL. So far Strome has two assists in four games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

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Some other news quick hits:

Zach Parise has started skating again, although he is still considered week-to-week with an MCL injury (NHL.com).

Potential 2016 first overall pick Auston Matthews is expected to be sidelined for the next 7-10 days with an upper-body injury (NHL.com).

Thanks for reading, and enjoy your Tuesday.