Columbus beat Anaheim 4-2 on Friday night in big thanks to the line of Pierre-Luc Dubois, Artemi Panarin, and Josh Anderson. The three of them were involved in the team’s first three goals, with Panarin and Anderson managing one each. They dominated possession – each forward was above 65 percent – continuing their solid play. In a small sample this year going into Friday’s matchup, the trio was bordering at percent possession (72 minutes played), and nearly 70 adjusted shot attempts per 60 minutes. Those are monster numbers. I’m very interested to see how they perform over the long-term. This is only about six games’ worth of ice time, so no determinations should be made yet, but this is a great start for the trio.
Of course, we can’t forget about the inept Columbus power play. They did score tonight, but went 1-7 overall, and the one goal was a breakdown off the rush created by Dubois. It’s not like they were moving the puck with efficiency. Here’s a stat for you: in the 11 seasons of data we have since the start of 2007-2008, going into Friday’s action, this year’s Columbus team was last in goals per 60 minutes while on the power play. The gap between them (3.02) and fourth (the 2016-17 Avalanche at 4.35) was larger than the gap between 4th and 47th (the 2013-14 Jets at 5.67).
It might look like the Rangers blew out the Hurricanes at MSG on Friday, but it was a one-goal game with 135 seconds left in the third period. Michael Grabner scored two (yes, two) empty-net goals for the hat trick. Paul Carey added a late power-play goal to give us the 5-1 final.
We probably should have known early on we were in for weird things in this game: Scott Darling allowed an early second-period goal to David Desharnais while the diminutive centre was forechecking on the penalty kill. Well, “allowed” a goal might be generous:
— Michael Clifford (@SlimCliffy) December 2, 2017
Remember, it was just a little over a week ago the Carolina starter whiffed on the puck that was dumped in on him by Mika Zibanejad. Darling is probably just happy to get away from the Rangers.
Grabner is on pace for some history:
Six empty net goals his season for Grabner. Just three off Pavel Bure’s record of 9.
— Adam Herman (@AdamZHerman) December 2, 2017
Ryan McDonagh returned from his strain in this game and played just under 23 minutes, adding an assist and five blocked shots. He was back on the second PP unit, so it seems he’s going to be used as he ever has right out of the gate.
Aaron Dell faced 40 shots in San Jose’s game against Florida and stopped 39 of them for the win on Friday night. That’s his second win this week thanks to Martin Jones cropping up with a minor injury. Dell’s save percentage is now a stout .933 on the season, and .931 for his career in 30 games (24 starts). Should anything happen to Jones at any point, the Sharks seem to be in good hands. Small sample size alert, as always.
Jones may be ready to go Saturday night. If he’s healthy, he’ll get the bulk of the starts. However, if you picked up Dell for the week, the Sharks have another back-to-back next weekend. It’s prudent to hang on to him for now until we get more news on Jones, or if you need a likely home start next weekend in a winnable game (Minnesota and Ottawa are coming to town next Saturday and Sunday).
It was old-fashioned 1980’s night in Brooklyn as Ottawa skated away with a 6-5 win.
Don’t get too excited about Chabot just yet. Yes, great fantasy production in this one, but he played the least of any Ottawa blue liner (15:23). He could play his way up the lineup, but with Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf, and Cody Ceci all being clearly ahead of him on the coach’s depth chart, ice time will be sparse. The future is bright, just don’t get too hopeful for this year.
Mike Hoffman had a goal, his ninth of the year, and the fourth on the power play. He’s now fallen off a 300-shot pace (297 to be exact), but it appears he should get his usual 25-30 goals and 60-ish points.
Pittsburgh went into Buffalo and embarrassed the Sabres. Honestly, I’m just tired of talking about Buffalo. Their offence is horrific and there’s not much hope it’ll improve this year unless they go on a shooting binge. If this team is going to win some games, it’ll be grinding out 2-1 and 3-1 scores. Good luck with that.
Evgeni Malkin returned from injury and assisted on Jake Guentzel’s goal, his 12th of the year. Guentzel is back to shooting 18.5 percent, which is actually below his mark last year. Hopefully the trio of those two with Phil Kessel stick together; going back to last year, that specific three-man group has the highest expected goals of any Pittsburgh forward trio that doesn’t feature Crosby, meaning they do better than with Patric Hornqvist or Bryan Rust or whomever.
Tristan Jarry managed the 31-save shutout here. Does Pittsburgh ever not churn out a franchise goalie?
Winnipeg went idGod mode on Vegas in the third period of their game scoring five goals in the final frame to manage a 7-4 win over the Golden Knights.
At the morning skate, Patrik Laine talked about not having much confidence right now, which naturally translated to a one-goal, two-assist, five-shot night for the teenage Finn. I have more on him down below.
Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, and Kyle Connor had three goals and eight points. The broadcast intimated that Wheeler is closing in on Ilya Kovalchuk for the franchise lead in assists. I suppose it matters what iteration of the Jets franchise you mean.
Colin Miller continued his solid play for the Golden Knights, picking up a goal and an assist. Out of the four Vegas d-men who have been regulars most of the year, Miller leads them in adjusted on-ice possession, shot attempts against per minute, and expected goals against at five-on-five. I’ll give you one guess who led the Bruins blue line in all these categories from 2015-17.
Tyler Toffoli scored twice in Los Angeles’ 4-1 win over St. Louis. He now has 13 goals on the year. Not only is he rebounding, he might set a career-high. Hopefully you smart fantasy owners weren’t scared off by one bad year.
Here’s the concern: this is five straight games with less than 16 minutes in ice time. I would feel a lot better about Toffoli getting to 30 goals if he were playing 17 minutes a night rather than 15. They’re really trying to spread the scoring and ice time out. Good for the team but bad for fantasy.
There really wasn’t much to talk about in the New Jersey-Colorado game. As I finish this write-up, there’s 13 minutes left in the third and there are 38 combined shots. Nail Yakupov started the game on the top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen but JT Compher was eventually moved into his spot. I suspect that’ll just be a rotating opening until Gabriel Landeskog returns from his suspension.
The game finished with 44 combined shots.
By the time Monday rolls around, a lot of teams will be around the 26-28-game mark which puts us one-third of the way through the season. It seems like only yesterday we were cursing Vadim Shipachyov being sent down to the AHL for the first time.
There are some stories that have come to the forefront over the course of the season that are very pertinent to fantasy owners. Aside from “Edmonton: Bad?” and “Vegas: Good?”, here are some I’m monitoring from a fantasy aspect in both the short-term and over the rest of the year.
Going into Friday night’s game, Patrik Laine was on pace for 36 goals this year. He scored 36 last year. If he can get to 36 goals this season, he’ll be one of five NHLers ever to score at least 35 goals in each of their age-18 and age-19 seasons, and only he and Sidney Crosby will have done so outside of the 1980s.
Doesn’t feel like he’s having that kind of season, or start to his career, does it?
Two problems are cropping up here, and they’re related. First: he’s only seen 15:04 per game in ice time over the team’s previous 10 games. That’s not good for production. Second, since Mathieu Perreault’s return, the team is really spreading around power-play time:
file under: concerning
left pic, PP TOI/game with Perreault out, right pic PP TOI/game with Perreault back pic.twitter.com/dWsDiN6CgA
— Michael Clifford (@SlimCliffy) November 29, 2017
That affects everyone, but Laine in particular needs power-play time if he’s going to live up to fantasy expectations. He has six PP goals, and that’s good! But if the team really spreads out the PP TOI, him keeping up that goal-scoring pace will be hard, given he won’t be picking up five-on-five minutes, apparently. His future is extremely bright, but the concerns for full fantasy value this year are valid.
For a few years, the only thing that was really missing from the Hurricanes roster was a goalie who wouldn’t consistently lose them games; from 2014-17, the team was last in the NHL in five-on-five save percentage, but were 12th in adjusted corsifor percentage. Carolina was playing well, but the goaltending was bad, and the playoff drought continued.
Then, in the 2017 offseason, they signed Scott Darling. Hurrah! Everything’s fine! Unless, that is, Darling doesn’t perform to expectations, which he hasn’t.
He’s improved slightly over his previous 10 games, posting a .911 save percentage in November (it was .897 through October). However, the team is now nearly mid-pack in goals per game. They’re finally scoring enough to win games. If Darling can at least be average, with how good this team is defensively, those with suffering plus/minus ratings will (hopefully) right that stat for those in fantasy leagues using them. We’ll see.
Finally, I wonder if people are noticing Chicago’s resurgence. For those that follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed me talk about this. For anyone who hasn’t, this team is in the midst of a turnaround.
Remember, remember… November 5th was the first time this year Brent Seabrook played under 20 minutes in a game. He’s played under 20 minutes in 10 of 11 games since and including that day, averaging under 18 minutes. In the team’s first 14 games, when Seabrook was playing his typical workload, they were 28th in adjusted shot attempts allowed, with only Anaheim and New Jersey worse, and 16th in adjusted corsifor percentage. In the 11 games since his workload was reduced, and guys like Gustav Forsling and Jan Rutta were given a bigger role, the team is 20th in adjusted shot attempts allowed, and 1st in corsifor-percentage. That’s big.
Seabrook has been declining for a few years now, and his reduced role (obviously) is far from the only factor here. If the team can keep improving defensively, however it should only help Corey Crawford’s goals against average.
To the above point. Crawford’s numbers could only improve if he’s healthy, which…
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) December 1, 2017
‘Hawks fans and fantasy owners will remember a few years ago when Crawford “missed a step” at a Rise Against concert, and ended up missing a few weeks with foot injury. About that…
Oh my god pic.twitter.com/uhpd2x2LDU
— ABL Insider Dinger (@atf13atf) December 1, 2017
Now, Chicago was playing on Thursday night so he probably wasn’t at the concert. Still, the coincidence is phenomenal.
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