November 28, 2015

by steve laidlaw on November 28, 2015

Hellebuyck debuts, Parise returns, Stepan hurt, Strome scores, Ovechkin double-dipping and more.

Brutal turn of events for Derek Stepan and the Rangers as Stepan is out indefinitely with broken ribs following a late hit by Matt Beleskey. The once durable Stepan will miss extended time for the second straight season. Crazy how he went his first four seasons without injury only to be derailed the past two.

It is going to be tough for folks to handle given the result of the play but word is that there will be no supplemental discipline for Beleskey on this one. Maybe that is the right call. You do not necessarily want to decide discipline based on outcome but rather based on the infraction. Still, it was a late hit and there was no penalty called on the play so where is the justice?

Dylan McIlrath went seeking justice of his own, fighting Beleskey and drawing the always controversial instigator penalty. This is where things get real salty for the Rangers as the Bruins scored on the subsequent power play.

I don’t know what the solution is but this situation stinks.

Rick Nash stayed hot scoring a goal in his fourth straight game. That Nash-Derick BrassardMats Zuccarello line is going to be leaned on even further with Stepan out.

It will be interesting to see who steps into Stepan’s spot in the lineup. Oscar Lindberg and Kevin Hayes have been grabbing a bigger chunk of power-play minutes recently and there is a decent chance one of those two steps up. I like Lindberg here.

Third game in the last four that Henrik Lundqvist has allowed at least four goals as his stats have a reached an almost human 2.05 goals-against average/.936 save percentage.

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Connor Hellebuyck made his NHL debut and it was a relatively quiet night as he recorded his first win stopping 14 of just 15 shots faced. This has to have been the best game the Jets have played in a month, holding the Wild to so few attempts and taking just one penalty. Great timing for Hellebuyck. A few more wins and he gets the keys to the car.

Big game for Michael Hutchinson, who I assume will get the start in Colorado tonight given the back-to-back situation. He will have to slow down the Avalanche’s scorching top line and snag a win to keep hold of the crease.

Working against Hellebuyck: the Jets’ schedule. They play just seven times in the next three weeks. They do have two separate back-to-backs so we will see both goalies but there really is not much of a chance for Hellebuyck to get a ton of action.

What a beauty Hellebuyck is in keeper leagues though. I have had any number of offers for players between good and star level that see me parting ways with Hellebuyck. One in particular would see me get Gaudreau for Hellebuyck plus some other nice assets. I cannot bring myself to do that and probably wouldn't even do it straight up. Gaudreau is great at scoring and does just about diddly in any other category. Hellebuyck is going to be a franchise goalie before we know it. Even now, having proven so little, Hellebuyck is worth more than Gaudreau.

This may be a unique situation though. It’s a deep salary cap keeper league, with lots of scoring categories, and lots of teams with huge farm rosters. It is of huge benefit to have a goalie making peanuts on an entry-level deal who you can shuttle up and down from your farm team who also happens to be putting up elite numbers. Not sure I could resist the allure of Gaudreau in a points-only setting.

The point being, I have the utmost confidence in Hellebuyck long term.

Nikolaj Ehlers finally scored a goal after a 15-game drought. He has been dropped to the third line for a while now so that partially explains the drought but with his speed game he shouldn’t need to play with elite talents to create opportunities.

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Zach Parise returned to the lineup for the Wild but they played so damned poorly that the lines were all over the place. For the most part, Parise was back on the top line and Thomas Vanek was dropped all the way down to the third line.

Jason Pominville started the game on the third line but was bumped back up with Parise. Two shots, no goals, minus-one in only 12:11 of action. I don’t see any end in sight. Thank goodness I don’t have him in any pools but I am not actively trying to acquire him either.

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John Gibson had the Blackhawks shutout for 58 minutes until a dumb penalty by Ryan Getzlaf gave Chicago a late power play. Less than four minutes of game action later, the Ducks had lost 3-2 in overtime. Wow! Is there a more dangerous team in the NHL with their goalie pulled? I always expect the Blackhawks to score with the extra attacker. All that talent with an added sense of urgency? It is like the perfect combination of skill and motivation.

Here’s a crazy idea that I’m not entirely serious about to increase scoring:

For the first period of the game the road team has to play with their goalie pulled. They stay at 6-on-5 until they score a goal. Only after scoring are they are allowed to use their goalie.

The home team then faces the same situation for the second period.

Both the first and the second period and played going the same direction so teams have an easy change. During the third period teams switch ends and have a long change. Same for overtime if it gets that far.

The third period and overtime are played straight up but by then the game is (hopefully) such a wide-open manic affair that teams just trade scoring chances.

Ludicrous idea. But fun to think about. I still don’t think scoring is a problem, mind you.

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Back to the action. Gibson is doing okay in goal for the Ducks but they still need a superhuman performance. Only Freddie Andersen is giving them superhuman so don’t think for a second that Gibson’s arrival muddies this situation. Andersen all the way. And if someone in your pool disagrees with that notion, kindly swindle them of Andersen’s services.

I get asked this at least once every two weeks, “Is Jakob Silfverberg good?” No. I’ll qualify that of course he is good, he’s a freaking NHLer but from the perspective of, “is he good for my fantasy team?” The answer is, unequivocally, NO.

Silfverberg may have grabbed the title of the king of empty calories away from Blake Comeau. What does it mean to be the king of empty calories? That is how I refer to guys who pile up huge shot totals with little chance of actually scoring. Jason Blake had to have been the original, although he did score 40 once.

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Artem Anisimov, can we get this guy above 36% owned in Yahoo! pools? He skates with a guy on an 18-game scoring streak. Until Patrick Kane cools off, Anisimov could be the worst player in the league and he’d still fall ass-backwards into points.

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Are injuries going to be an all-year thing for the Lightning? They got 48 seconds out of Tyler Johnson before he was lost for the night. No update on his status was provided so consider him questionable for tonight.

All of these injuries are enough to make you wonder if there isn’t such thing as a Cup hangover for the losing team in the Final. After all, it’s not like they are playing any fewer games than the winner.

Anton Stralman has turned into a pumpkin. After a surprise leap to fantasy relevance Stralman has cratered with just two points in the last 17 games. Tough to hold on here but I can’t get over his big minutes and role on the top PP unit. He is on pace for a career high 150 SOG. There is value here. He is one hot streak away from getting back on track for 35-40 points.

One guy who I am not surprised to see fall off so steeply is Ryan Callahan. He lived a charmed life last season, skating with Steven Stamkos at even strength and on the power play. He is still with Stamkos at evens but his PP chances have dropped significantly. This is a guy who scored 10 power-play goals last year. No way is he replicating that.

We talked earlier about Gibson not posing a huge threat in Anaheim. Same deal for Andrei Vasilevskiy in Tampa. This was a tough matchup but we all know Vasilevskiy isn’t ready to overtake Bishop just yet.

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You don’t need me to tell you that Alexander Ovechkin is good. What you do need to hear is how Barry Trotz has brought back the “Ovechkin plays the whole power-play” doctrine, which is AMAZING. We haven’t seen a coach roll with such an idea in years. Ovechkin is skating 4:26 on the power play per game, accounting for 87% of the Capitals’ power-play minutes. That is how you get Jason Chimera recording multiple PPP in one game.

Think about this for a second, Chimera already has five PPP this season, which ties his career high. Let’s not go so far as to suggest he will continue this pace and hit 20 PPP but might he make it to 10? 15? Chimera has thrown up some sneakily productive fantasy seasons in the past. Becoming a hit on the second PP unit would be a novel way of doing so once again.

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The Devils have finally signed Tyler Kennedy to a one-year deal. He even got into the lineup skating a whole 6:51 last night.

Who scores more points the rest of the season: Kennedy or Jiri Tlusty? That’s a joke, by the way.

Tlusty has been a flop in New Jersey and just got placed on injured reserve. The Devils have done alright with their offseason bargain shopping so Tlusty not working out so well is no big deal.

Patrik Elias got his first point of the season, snagging an assist on the PP. He skated 16:38 with 3:56 coming on the PP. He isn’t asked to do a lot but they sure like using him while up a man. I am not jumping on board yet but there is a chance this becomes relevant.

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No goals for Devante Smith-Pelly last night. Skated on the top line but only received 11:46 in ice time. I have little optimism regarding his fantasy potential.

Alex Galchenyuk, on the other hand, has hit another level with Brendan Gallagher out. The extra PP minutes should really pay off for Galchenyuk owners.

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It’s so strange, I have read a bunch of “a quarter of the way into the season” stories, talking about projected playoff teams and no one has the Blue Jackets making it in there. I know they started SLOW but just about everyone labelled this a playoff team going into the season.

They are 10-8-0 since hiring John Tortorella and seemingly headed in the right direction. The East is a mess. The only teams that are actually good are Montreal, the NY Rangers and Washington. Everyone else could easily drop out. Why not the Jackets?

Brandon Dubinsky will have a hearing regarding his cross-check to the back of Crosby’s neck. Or was it for the second one while Crosby was writhing on the ground and Dubinsky decided it was a good idea to break his stick over Crosby’s back? Extra style points for the way Dubinsky discarded his broken stick like a gun with an empty magazine.

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How brilliant was Marc-Andre Fleury? 41 saves on 43 shots, while the Blue Jackets laid siege to the Penguins’ crease. That should’ve been a 5-0 game for Columbus. Fleury was like the lone remaining army in a game of risk who just keeps rolling a freaking six.

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Three straight scoreless contests for Leon Draisaitl and Taylor Hall. But I thought these guys were reinventing the rules. Sorry, a third of Draisaitl’s shots couldn’t keep going in. Don’t worry, he is still shooting 25% so there is more market correction coming.

Cam Talbot played well for the Oilers but ultimately lost in overtime, giving up four goals in the process. Not sure that earns him another start.

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First goal of the season for Niklas Kronwall happens to be an overtime winner. Good timing. It’s no surprise that Kronwall is barely scoring, even after averaging just under 10 goals a season for the past few. Kronwall is not even getting a shot per game. It’s like he turned into timid Toby Enstrom.

Kronwall should start to see a few more assists with team starting to score a little more. Tomas Tatar is smoking hot, which gives the Red Wings a game-breaker on each of its top three lines:

17.86%

EV

ABDELKADER,JUSTIN – LARKIN,DYLAN – ZETTERBERG,HENRIK

16.96%

EV

DATSYUK,PAVEL – PULKKINEN,TEEMU – RICHARDS,BRAD

16.07%

EV

NYQUIST,GUSTAV – SHEAHAN,RILEY – TATAR,TOMAS

13.39%

EV

GLENDENING,LUKE – HELM,DARREN – MILLER,ANDREW

 

Hard to believe that’s a lineup that ranks in the bottom-10 in scoring but such is the nature of the league these days. You cannot score without mobile defense. Mike Green was supposed to be a solution for Detroit but my goodness has he ever not been one.

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Another overtime winner for Shayne Gostisbehere. Has he proven enough to make Mark Streit redundant and expendable for the Flyers? They aren’t going anywhere this season, anyhow, and with so many talented defense prospects knocking on the door, might they consider opening up some room by trading Streit?

It’s not like moving Streit would leave them devoid of veterans. They are still committed to Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz for next season. And they would probably like to bring back Evgeny Medvedev in some capacity.

With all those juicy names hitting free agency this summer, you can bet the Flyers would love to open up $5 million in cap room. The Flyers might also get more out of Streit from a team because of that year left on his deal. The fact that he is not a rental might make him more attractive.

Was throwing around some teams who might benefit from adding Streit with a Flyers fan, here’s what I came up with:

The top team is probably Pittsburgh but no chance that deal happens. New Jersey is another in-division team that might work. How about Detroit though? Grabbing Streit would allow them to push Kronwall to a less offensive role. Then again, wasn’t Green supposed to do that?

You have to figure Colorado will be in on any defenseman who comes available, regardless of if they are competitive or not.

The point is that Gostisbehere is making this a conversation, which means there is a chance he remains an asset for the remainder of the season.

The Flyers have swapped Taylor Leier for Nick Cousins with their minor league affiliate. I am not particularly interested in either one for fantasy purposes.

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Shane Doan has missed the last couple with a lower-body injury. Not sure that he is all that fantasy relevant any longer. The kids have taken over in Arizona.

Two of the only guys seeing more PP time that Ovechkin are on the Coyotes. Part of this is because the Coyotes have drawn more penalties than anyone but the Avalanche, falling just short of four power-play chances per game.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson leads the league in PP minutes with 5:55 per game, which accounts for 88% of the Coyotes’ minutes. Mikkel Boedker is a fair ways behind at “just” 4:46 per game, but he is starting to account for more now that he and OEL are pairing on the PP permanently.

Somehow, Boedker is only owned in 11% of Yahoo! leagues. An astounding number. It is as though people like losing.

Was asked about Hedman vs. OEL the other day. I said slight advantage Hedman because I have seen him produce at a huge level before. OEL has somehow never scored more than 44 in a season, despite boasting 20-goal potential. Obviously he should go for more if the Coyotes are scoring more but it remains to be seen if this will hold up. Hedman, on the other hand, remains in the race despite all the adversity we talked about earlier.

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Ryan Strome made his return to the Islander lineup scoring his second goal of the season. He skated 13:17 on the third line alongside Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin. What really excites me is that Strome scored a goal. All too often Strome deferred and passed the puck despite golden scoring chances in front of him. Scoring a goal is a great sign that he learned something from the demotion and a great way to get him shooting more.

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Some interesting news regarding one of my favourite breakout prospects this season. Jake Walman, a dual Canadian-American citizen has been denied eligibility to play for the US at this year’s World Junior tournament. He could still play for Canada, assuming he makes the club but he likely chose to try and play for the US to have a better chance of making the team.

Given Walman’s skills, I have little doubt he could make the Canadian team and make them better. Walman’s stats at the college level have been phenomenal as the defenseman has nine goals and 17 points in just 11 games. Oh and he is a Blues prospect, because you know how they need more help on the blueline.

If Walman happens to be floating out there in your keeper league snatch him up now because he has a really good shot of getting on everyone’s radar by New Year’s Eve. You can read more on Walman here.

You won’t find Walman on Dobber’s top prospects list, yet but give it a month. The World Juniors have a way of being a breeding ground for prospect hype. Waiting for a guy to emerge is waiting too late. The proactive move is to get in on these guys before they hit the big stage.

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Dobber opens up the mailbag to answer some of your fantasy hockey questions.

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Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.