October 23, 2015

by steve laidlaw on October 23, 2015

Johansen already in Tortorella's dog house, Vrbata, Lucic and Nash get off the schneid, and more…

New coach, same result, as the Blue Jackets lost 3-2 in Minnesota. That’s a tough game to be stepping into for Tortorella however.

It’s worth looking at what Tortorella did for line combos in his debut and for the most part he stayed on script:

21.76%

EV

13 ATKINSON,CAM – 43 HARTNELL,SCOTT – 41 WENNBERG,ALEXANDER

12.97%

EV

71 FOLIGNO,NICK – 19 JOHANSEN,RYAN – 20 SAAD,BRANDON

12.55%

EV

11 CALVERT,MATTHEW – 17 DUBINSKY,BRANDON – 38 JENNER,BOONE

9.62%

EV

17 DUBINSKY,BRANDON – 71 FOLIGNO,NICK – 20 SAAD,BRANDON

8.79%

EV

9 CAMPBELL,GREGORY – 23 CLARKSON,DAVID – 25 KARLSSON,WILLIAM

3.77%

EV

11 CALVERT,MATTHEW – 38 JENNER,BOONE – 19 JOHANSEN,RYAN

 

You can see that he did do some mucking about with the top line, eventually giving old faithful, Brandon Dubinsky, a crack with top line wingers Nick Foligno and Brandon Saad. This came at the end of the game when he sat Ryan Johansen for the final six minutes, despite the close score of the game, and so the shenanigans begin.

Johansen owners are going to reap rewards if this lights the fire I’m sure Tortorella hopes it does. But if this is a constant battle all season then Johansen owners are going to be the big losers. I’m already thinking about bailing. I just don’t think I can handle the volatility of the situation, positive or negative. I’ll give it a few games, though, because I firmly believe in not overreacting.

Another change worth noting: Ryan Murray was out with the second power play unit instead of the first. Those top unit duties went back to Jack Johnson. Murray did manage a power-play assist but ultimately he comes out a loser if these changes stick.

*

Pascal Dupuis made his return to the Penguin lineup skating just over 12 minutes. He looked good landing five SOG but his role was rather limited. Too many other forwards on this team for Dupuis to snag the key offensive role he once had.

Marc-Andre Fleury is not off to the same start he had last season but if it’s any consolation he won’t have to play the Stars again this season. Considering the Penguins lost both games to Dallas by an aggregate score of 7-1, I’d say that’s a positive. In general, Fleury’s numbers have been fine, the Penguins just aren’t clicking on offense, which means the wins aren’t there.

When will things start to click? Who knows but you have to assume that they will eventually. The Penguins are absolutely generating chances. They just aren’t finding twine. Pittsburgh’s shot-differential at even strength is top five thus far but their even-strength shooting percentage is sixth worst in the league. At some point things will swing in their favour.

*

You really must check out John Klingberg’s release on his goal last night. That’s not a defenseman’s release. That was like Phil Kessel. I realize that was a power-play goal, which afforded Klingberg the time and space to get that shot off but it’s still impressive. That was his first goal of the season but if it was any indication, he’ll have no issues reaching double-digits once again.

The Stars had Mattias Janmark and Valeri Nichushkin skating with Jason Spezza at even strength, a great opportunity for the two youngsters. They combined for a goal despite skating just 12:45 and 10:50 respectively. Check out all of the Stars’ lines from last night:

22.35%

EV

14 BENN,JAMIE – 91 SEGUIN,TYLER – 10 SHARP,PATRICK

16.47%

EV

12 FAKSA,RADEK – 38 FIDDLER,VERNON – 22 SCEVIOUR,COLTON

15.69%

EV

20 EAKIN,CODY – 83 HEMSKY,ALES – 21 ROUSSEL,ANTOINE

14.12%

EV

13 JANMARK,MATTIAS – 43 NICHUSHKIN,VALERI – 90 SPEZZA,JASON

 

Ales Hemsky is now on the third line and scoreless in his last three games. It seems like just yesterday he was one of the league’s hottest skaters. Such is life with the Windex Wonder.

*

He needed an empty-netter but Rick Nash finally secured his first goal of the season. Sometimes that’s all it takes. I bet we see a run of productivity from Nash.

TSN’s Travis Yost nominates Dan Girardi’s contract as one of the league’s worst. He makes a pretty good statistical case comparing Girardi to now demoted Flyer Andrew MacDonald, which is not favourable.

Girardi hasn’t been fantasy relevant in a while. Especially not now that the Rangers have acquired Keith Yandle, giving them two capable offensive defensemen. He’s still plenty valuable in leagues scoring hits and blocked shots but most leagues see him off the radar.

*

Great look at how Max Domi made the Coyotes this season from ESPN’s Scott Burnside.

Domi got elevated onto the top line with Anthony Duclair and Martin Hanzal, instead of just skating with those two on the power play. Domi and Hanzal drew assists on the lone Coyote goal to help extend Hanzal’s crazy run.

*

One game in Andrew Hammond doesn’t seem to have the same magic as last season. Losing 5-4 to the Devils in the shootout just isn’t a good look, and certainly it’s now how you oust Craig Anderson from the Ottawa goal.

*

It’s nice to see Mike Cammalleri finding a way to produce despite the dearth of talent in New Jersey. Three assists for him last night gives Cammalleri eight points on the season. I’d love to recommend snagging him as he’s likely on the waiver wire but I just don’t trust his health, his streakiness or his team situation. Just too many conflicting factors. Remember, Cammelleri has missed about 15 games a year, the past five full NHL seasons. Just not someone you can rely on and do you really want to try jumping on him AFTER the big three-point night. Seems like that’s too late.

*

For some odd reason the Ducks are really set on using Anton Khudobin on the regular, which is pretty confounding for us Freddie Andersen owners. You figure you’re safe with John Gibson toiling in the minors and they give Khudobin three spins in a week. So far he’s not doing so hot.

Mind you, the whole team is struggling and they just kicked off a tough road swing. This might just be the end for Bruce Boudreau.

*

The Predators, on the other hand, had a great night getting a ton of secondary scoring. They got two goals and seven points out of their defensemen and not a single one of those points was from Shea Weber or Roman Josi. It’s like the Predators are living the dream that the Flames thought they had created after acquiring Dougie Hamilton.

Ryan Ellis missed last game but put up three points in his return, while his partner Seth Jones added a pair of assists. I still think Josi and Weber are unimpeachable as the #1-2 fantasy options in Nashville but with the way they are sharing power play time, there’s room for Ellis and Jones to produce. In fact, Jones led all Predators with 3:26 on the power play last night. We may yet see four Predator defenders score 30 this season.

*

I’m going to give myself a little dap, after it was announced that Duncan Keith was injured I pegged Brent Seabrook as the guy to step up. Give him points on all three Blackhawk goals last night, including two on the power play. He’s owned in 84% of Yahoo! pools so there’s nothing to be jumped on here.

If you do happen to have Seabrook, however, the move is to try and sell high since you know that he is going to take a step back once Keith returns. Try moving in on someone underwhelming right now like Mark Giordano or Kevin Shattenkirk.

*

It certainly didn’t take Radim Vrbata long to rediscover his groove alongside the Sedins. Give him a goal and an assist in his first game back on their line at even strength. I contend that this swap didn’t need take place. Indeed, his assist, came on the power play where he was already skating with them. But his goal came at even-strength and it seems less likely that he’d have broken the seal still skating with Bo Horvat.

*

Excellent interview with Hall-of-Famer Paul Coffey from Sportsnet. He had some great tidbits on Connor McDavid:

Incredible. When he was a [major midget Toronto] Marlie—he is a couple years older than my [son] and the team that I coach—I used to tell our centreman: “Watch Connor McDavid. He’s always one step away from being full speed.” That’s hard to teach. Can’t teach it. One step, pew! Gone. His skating is probably the one thing that doesn’t get talked about. You just hear he’s a great player, but he can skate.

*

Ken Holland says that Pavel Datsyuk is out another two to four weeks yet. That’s not bad. I think most of us projected a January return for Datsyuk, instead it’s looking like some time in November. He could get 60 games in this season.

*

Hockey Graphs looks at some of the Blue Jackets’ underlying numbers in the wake of firing their head coach.

*

Both Sean Couturier and Michal Neuvirth are day-to-day after injuries on Wednesday night. I wish I had more info but teams are so tight-lipped these days it can be really hard to find anything definitive.

*

Karri Ramo did indeed clear waivers and was assigned to the AHL. This isn’t a death sentence. All it takes is an injury for Ramo to get called back up and if he finds his game he could still wind up the best goalie in Calgary. It was certainly going to be tough to find his way with the way the Flames have played thus far.

I wonder how long before Joni Ortio gets his crack at the Flames’ starting gig.

Are there any other Connor Hellebuyck owners hoping that this same situation would play out with the Jets?

*

The Avalanche have assigned rookie forward Mikko Rantanen to the AHL. It’s great that they have this option because they weren’t using him nearly enough to warrant his spot on the NHL roster. He’ll develop way better at the AHL level. This isn’t the end of Rantanen’s season either. He could be back up as an injury replacement or even if his game takes a leap at some point during the year.

*

The Hockey News discusses David Pastrnak’s growing pains:

Pastrnak has had the benefit of a good number of offensive-zone starts, taking more than 60 percent of his starts in the opposition end. That’s strong deployment, but the defensive pairing of McQuaid and Krug hasn’t been able to support the youngster when he makes mistakes.

Pastrnak’s raw ability to produce chances has been proven. At 5-on-5, Pastrnak has been on the ice for 33 scoring chances for, which is the fourth-most among all Bruins forwards. If those keep coming, it’s going to be just a matter of time before he starts finding the score sheet with regularity. His defense will struggle at times and he may turn the puck over, but if the Bruins can shelter Pastrnak through these growing pains, he can still be a huge factor on the offensive side of the puck.

I remain a staunch supporter of Pastrnak’s fantasy value. He may not erupt for points but he should score at least 40 and provide a bunch of SOG, at least 200, I figure. That he has upside for more is what makes him very intriguing though I have to admit, his “sleeper” status probably crested in July making him too well-known a commodity to actually provide value come draft day. His 42% ownership status in Yahoo! pools says that he’s still available in enough pools to be a steal for plenty of you.

*

Thanks for reading! You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.