November 29, 2015

by Ian Gooding on November 29, 2015

Stepan injury ramifications, Price update, Boedker hat trick, plus more…

Steve Mason stopped all 24 shots in the Flyers’ 3-0 win over the Rangers. The shutout is Mason’s first of the season, and he’s finally gotten his goals-against average down to a reasonable 2.78. The thing I like about owning Mason is that the Flyers give up a ton of shots. An average of 32.8 shots allowed/game, which is the second-highest total in the league. You ask why I would be okay with that? It’s because this league counts saves, although goals are subtracted from that saves total. I paid a premium for him during offseason bidding, so it better be worth it.

Wayne Simmonds ended his drought in a big way, scoring two goals and adding an assists. Since he had been held to six games without a point, a few fantasy owners probably moved him to the bench. Doesn’t that suck when that happens?

It might be time to put Jakub Voracek into bust territory. Last year’s 81-point scorer has been pushed down to the fourth line, where he played 15:40 on a line with Chris Vandevelde and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. I’m assuming that the demotion will be temporary. But with just one goal on the season, Voracek is going to have difficulty reaching 20 goals and 60 points.

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Since Derek Stepan is now sidelined with broken ribs, here are how the Rangers’ line combinations played out during Saturday’s only matinee game:

18.5%    EV           MOORE,DOMINIC – STALBERG,VIKTOR – STOLL,JARRET

16.14%  EV           BRASSARD,DERICK – NASH,RICK – ZUCCARELLO,MATS

11.42%  EV           FAST,JESPER – LINDBERG,OSCAR – MILLER,J.T.

10.24%  EV           ETEM,EMERSON – HAYES,KEVIN – KREIDER,CHRIS

The most notable move was Kevin Hayes shifting over to center between Emerson Etem and Chris Kreider. Oscar Lindberg may also benefit from increased icetime with a Stepan injury, although he played just 11:39 in this game. I’m not sold on Lindberg over the rest of the season unless he can find a way to move up to the top 6.

Speaking of Stepan, I’m a bit surprised that Matt Beleskey didn’t get a suspension for his hit on Stepan. Although the hit itself wasn’t dirty, Beleskey had Stepan in a somewhat vulnerable position when he delivered the hit. I’d say maybe a 1-2 game suspension. But you be the judge.

While I play the head of the department of player safety, I’ll agree with the decision to suspend Brandon Dubinsky a game for his hit on Sidney Crosby. The crosscheck is close to the head, and we know what Crosby’s concussion history is like. You also have to send a message that the league’s star players need to be protected. It might not seem fair, but it’s what sells tickets and generates interest.

Here’s another possible suspension-worthy hit for your review, from the Buffalo/Nashville tilt. You’ll have to look at the side of the screen on both the original play and the replay.

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So yeah, Jonathan Bernier allowed four goals on 23 shots in a 4-2 loss to the Capitals. If he wasn’t at the bottom of the rankings of goalie start/sits for Saturday, then I don’t know who is. He hasn’t done himself any favors in reclaiming the starting job back from James Reimer. I’d avoid him if you’re looking for a goalie. And just as I post this, I get a trade offer that includes Bernier. Uh, no.

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Teaser time: This week’s Geek of the Week article will focus on Lee Stempniak. Although he was held without a point in New Jersey’s come-from-behind 3-2 overtime win over Montreal, he played over 21 minutes in this game. Without attempting to steal Terry’s thunder, here’s my own observation: He’s the perfect example of a short-term add. I picked him up to replace the injured Brendan Gallagher, so I’m hoping he can keep it going for about another six weeks. Find out later today if Terry thinks he can.

Here’s another segue, followed by another teaser. As you know, Gallagher broke two of his fingers blocking a shot. The Contrarian will focus on whether shot blocking makes a difference for teams. From a fan’s perspective, I’ll say that it’s something I don’t like watching. As coaches have devised more intricate defensive schemes over the years, shot blocking has become an important part of the game. But the practice snuffs out too many scoring chances, which to me makes games less enjoyable.

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Carey Price will have further tests on his leg injury to determine about how long he will be sidelined (NHL.com). Earlier reports that suggested he’d be out for a month were premature, so we’ll have to wait and see again. Either way, Price owners should probably expect him to be out a few more weeks at least.

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The Penguins can’t even win a home game against the bottom-dwelling Oilers right now. But that wasn’t due to any lack of try from Evgeni Malkin, who scored two goals, including this beauty.

After watching the overtime in this game, something occurred to me. This isn’t scientific by any means, but more observed from the overtime games I’ve watched this season. There seem to be more penalties in 3-on-3 overtime than there were on 4-on-4 overtime. This new overtime includes a higher proportion of breakaways and odd-man rushes, which force players to take penalties in order to prevent high-danger scoring chances. The example in this game occurred when Crosby lost a puck battle with Oscar Klefbom in the offensive zone, then he took a holding penalty on Klefbom as he got away.

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One player that I cut this week was Jason Garrison. How’s this for a stat line: Garrison scored two goals and an assist over his first two games, but he has been without a point ever since. With no points against the Islanders on Saturday, that’s 23 games and counting without a point.

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The one thing that jumped out at me when looking at the Blue Jackets/Blues boxscore was icetime. In other words, when John Tortorella likes a player, he uses them. A lot. Jack Johnson played 27:25 in this game, while David Savard played 26:45. Usually I’d say that’s great for their fantasy prospects, but I can remember the season he coached in Vancouver when he was trying to play the Sedins over 20 minutes per game and nearly ran them to the ground in the process. Both battled injuries later in the season and experienced lengthy slumps when they were healthy. So I might be a little weary of injury if I own JJ or Savard.

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Another reason that the Stars have the best offense in the league: They can enter the third period trailing 3-0 and still win the game. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn now each have points in eight straight – just another day at the office. And as of this writing, John Klingberg is tied for the league lead in assists with 22. Not just the lead among defensemen, but the league lead. So tell me, where did Yahoo have Klingberg ranked again?

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With another goal on Saturday, Matt Duchene is up to 11 this month, setting an Avalanche team record. It’s been an amazing tale of two months for his season.

October: 10 games played, 2 points (1g-1a)

November: 13 games played, 20 points (11g-9a)

That averages out to 22 points in 23 games. Assuming that we can expect something between the October and November production for the rest of the season, Duchene is a 70-point player once again. There was some concern that he’d continue to toil around the 55-point area, but I think November’s production proves that he is better than that.

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Perhaps Mikkel Boedker should request a trade to an Atlantic Division team so he can play Ottawa more often. With three goals on Saturday, Boedker now has two hat tricks this season – both against the Senators. A total of nine goals and 18 points in 23 games. And as Steve said in Saturday’s Ramblings, this guy has 11 percent ownership in Yahoo leagues. I don’t know why either.

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Different goalie, same result for the Flames. Jonas Hiller returned to the lineup and allowed five goals on 29 shots in a 5-2 Flames’ loss to San Jose. Like Colorado last season, it’s uncanny how the gods of advanced stats are sticking it to the Flames this season. Or so it seems.

From that same game, Patrick Marleau scored again. He’s now scored a goal in three consecutive games and five in his last seven games. With the Sharks’ recent success, which included running the table on a six-game road trip, I wonder if Marleau would rather stay where he is than be traded.

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That’s 19 games and counting for Patrick Kane, which is now the longest point streak of any US-born player. Congratulations if you rolled the dice on him in your fantasy draft.

From the same game, we had a Marian Gaborik sighting. Gabby scored two goals, including the overtime winner for the Kings. Gaborik has posted points in only three of 13 games in November, so he’s been a particularly difficult player to own. Maybe he and linemate Anze Kopitar (two assists in this game) can help dig each other out of what has been a subpar season for both. Kopitar will simply need to shoot the puck more often – averaging less than two shots per game isn’t going to get it done.

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Sunday is Grey Cup day in Canada, which might be the reason that there’s only one game on the schedule (Florida at Detroit). So Dobber might not have a lot to write about in his Ramblings (but I’m sure he’ll find something). One bit of news from that game: Jaromir Jagr is expected to play despite an injury late in Friday’s game (NHL.com).

Thanks for reading, and enjoy your Sunday.