Ramblings: A Cup Final Preview, B. Schenn and J. Staal are on Fire (Feb. 17)

by steve laidlaw on February 17, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: A Cup Final Preview, B. Schenn and J. Staal are on Fire (Feb. 17)

Ramblings: Caps-Kings a Cup Final Preview, B. Schenn and J. Staal are on fire and more.

Laidlaw here: ramblings swap to announce. I’ve got today and Dobber is picking up mine for Friday morning as I’ll be on the road coaching all day. Well, possibly all day. It’s the one-day championship even and my boys have to play in the semis in the morning for a chance to compete for the league title in the afternoon. We have some momentum having won three of our last four coming into the playoffs after an 0-4 start. No guarantee we make it past that first game but we’ve got a good shot. Anyhow, that’s my explanation for the swap. Sorry if you were looking forward to a Dobber appearance. Hope you enjoy the ramblings!

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We saw our Stanley Cup Final preview last night as the Kings visited Washington.

Jonathan Quick was back in the lineup for the Kings after missing a couple of games. He was solid stopping 29 of 31 so no concerns about wear and tear.

Ultimately, it was Philipp Grubauer who stole the show stopping 39 of 40 shots en route to a Capitals victory. True to his word, Barry Trotz has given Grubauer more time since the All-Star break. This was already his third appearance in just over two weeks, though just his second start.

The Capitals got a couple of goals out of their second line of Andre Burakovsky, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Justin Williams, who are arguably the #1 line these days. I have a list of top scorers since January 1st listed later in the ramblings and you’ll find both Burakovsky and Kuznetsov high atop that list. Kuznetsov is unattainable but Burakovsky remains widely available.

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Patrice Bergeron returned after missing a couple for the Bruins. It took him little time to get on the board skating with Brad Marchand and Brett Connolly.

The Bruins activated Adam McQuaid off IR and sent Colin Miller to the minors. Remember that McQuaid has some serious value in leagues scoring hits and blocked shots. Miller really hasn’t seen much action since early in the season so getting some more run in the minors probably works out best for him. No doubt Miller’s ability to pass freely without waivers was a factor as well.

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Alexander Wennberg hadn’t scored a goal in over a month when he was awarded this penalty shot:

Wennberg has points in three straight games though this comes after slowing down for much of late January and early February.

Joonas Korpisalo, despite the loss, is on a tear. He has won eight of his last 13 and has allowed just 24 goals in that span. That’s not just good. That’s some great play.

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Radko Gudas continues to cost the Flyers with his undisciplined play. He got a game misconduct for a hit to the head last night, and the Devils scored on the resulting five-minute power play. In fact, they scored twice but one was waved off. The Flyers don’t really have other options on defense, especially with Michael Del Zotto injured but at a certain point the coach has to stop playing this guy.

Of course, the Flyers eventually won with five defensemen, despite needing Andrew MacDonald and Nick Schultz to skate over 22 minutes apiece. That’s impressive. The much maligned MacDonald even had a plus-three rating for the night.

Tough luck for the Flyers as Jordan Weal is set to miss at least three weeks with an upper-body injury. Weal hasn’t really clicked as a replacement for Sean Couturier anyhow so this isn’t a huge loss but having options is nice. Nick Cousins will continue to fill that #2 center void for now – he scored a goal last night.

Check out the Flyers’ lines actually:

23.56%

EV

GIROUX,CLAUDE – SCHENN,BRAYDEN – SIMMONDS,WAYNE

11.56%

EV

GAGNER,SAM – RAFFL,MICHAEL – READ,MATT

11.11%

EV

COUSINS,NICK – UMBERGER,R.J. – VORACEK,JAKUB

11.11%

EV

BELLEMARE,PIERRE-EDOUARD – VANDEVELDE,CHRIS – WHITE,RYAN

Note Brayden Schenn replacing Jakub Voracek on the top line. Three points for Schenn as he continues quietly be one of the hottest players in the league. Here’s the list of top scorers since January 1st:

1

CROSBY,SIDNEY

C

28

9

PIT

26

18

18

8

0

1.44

26

2

KANE,PATRICK

R

27

7

CHI

22

21

18

8

0

1.24

26

3

THORNTON,JOE

C

36

16

S.J

27

19

15

9

0

1.26

24

4

KUZNETSOV,EVGENY

C

23

0

WSH

25

18

18

6

0

1.33

24

5

KOPITAR,ANZE

C

28

8

L.A

26

19

14

8

1

1.21

23

6

KARLSSON,ERIK

D

25

0

OTT

24

20

14

8

0

1.10

22

7

VORACEK,JAKUB

R

26

6

PHI

25

20

13

8

0

1.05

21

8

GETZLAF,RYAN

C

30

9

ANA

25

20

16

4

1

1.05

21

9

LETANG,KRISTOPHER

D

28

8

PIT

26

17

12

8

1

1.24

21

10

BACKSTROM,NICKLAS

C

28

7

WSH

25

18

12

8

0

1.11

20

11

PANARIN,ARTEMI

C

24

0

CHI

22

19

17

3

0

1.05

20

12

GIROUX,CLAUDE

R

28

7

PHI

25

20

11

9

0

1.00

20

13

KUCHEROV,NIKITA

R

22

1

T.B

26

18

13

6

0

1.06

19

14

DATSYUK,PAVEL

C

37

12

DET

25

19

11

8

0

1.00

19

15

SCHENN,BRAYDEN

C

24

5

PHI

25

20

8

11

0

0.95

19

16

EBERLE,JORDAN

C

25

4

EDM

24

19

12

7

0

1.00

19

17

SUBBAN,P.K.

D

26

5

MTL

25

18

9

9

0

1.00

18

18

BURAKOVSKY,ANDRE

L

21

0

WSH

25

18

17

1

0

1.00

18

19

STAAL,JORDAN

C

27

8

CAR

25

19

12

5

1

0.95

18

20

TAVARES,JOHN

C

25

5

NYI

26

17

13

5

0

1.06

18

21

SIMMONDS,WAYNE

R

27

6

PHI

25

20

7

11

0

0.90

18

22

EKMAN-LARSSON,OLIVER

D

24

4

ARI

26

19

4

14

0

0.95

18

23

GOSTISBEHERE,SHAYNE

D

22

0

PHI

25

18

7

11

0

1.00

18

24

POULIOT,BENOIT

L

29

8

EDM

24

19

11

5

1

0.89

17

25

HEDMAN,VICTOR

D

25

5

T.B

26

18

11

6

0

0.94

17

26

TOEWS,JONATHAN

C

27

7

CHI

22

20

14

1

2

0.85

17

27

OKPOSO,KYLE

R

27

7

NYI

26

17

7

10

0

1.00

17

28

JOHANSEN,RYAN

C

23

3

NSH

25

19

9

8

0

0.89

17

29

KESLER,RYAN

C

31

10

ANA

25

20

11

6

0

0.85

17

 

There’s Schenn, tied with Nikita Kucherov, Pavel Datsyuk and Jordan Eberle for 13th.

Voracek, even higher on this list being bumped down to line two hurts but he still gets PP time on the top unit.

Oh, and Shayne Gostisbehere has extended his point streak to 13 games. I’m running out of things to say, however. If you don’t know he’s legit by now, it’s too late. Ghost is owned in most leagues by now.

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The refs only gave him two but I am giving Joseph Bladisi a 10 for his dive last night.

Cory Schneider had his string of seven straight quality starts (starts with a 0.917 save percentage or better) snapped last night. He continues to be a reliable option keeping the Devils in the playoff hunt.

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For all the crap he gets (and I am one of the top crappers), Ondrej Pavelec has done well in two games since returning from injury. Those games have come against weaker competition in the Oilers and the Hurricanes but still, Pavelec has stopped 48 of 51 shots in two games including this wicked sequence:

And I did suggest that Pavelec could be an upgrade over Connor Hellebuyck despite all of those who suggested that the rookie’s demotion was an outright tanking move, so I don’t only throw shade at Pavelec. I also wouldn’t be in a hurry to rely on him as more than a spot starter.

I have been pursuing Bryan Little in a couple of leagues. I like his shot volume and his status as a #1 centerman, even if it is on one of the league’s weaker teams. Blake Wheeler is an awesome running-mate and Nikolaj Ehlers is looking good as well. All that said, Little has scored just 10 points in 19 games since we flipped to 2016. Not exactly blossoming but that makes him a decent candidate to try to acquire because you can never get these guys when they are rolling.

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Did you guys make note of Jordan Staal on that list of top scorers above? He scored another goal last night as he continues to be one of the league’s most productive players of the second half.

His brother Eric Staal, on the other hand, hasn’t scored in six games since the All-Star break and hasn’t even landed a shot on net in the last two games. It’s times like these when I start thinking that it’s time to call up the proverbial glue factory.

Justin Faulk missed another game, his third straight, despite being a game-time decision before that first one he missed. This is the second time I have been duped. The last one was John Carlson, and he wound up missing a month. Similar fate for Faulk?

John-Michael Liles led the Hurricanes in ice time and power-play time but was held scoreless. Noah Hanifin notched a power-play assist skating on the second unit but saw just 14:44 overall.

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Someone is going to have to explain to me the match penalty that Victor Hedman was assessed last night because having watched the replays multiple times I just don’t get. He slides the puck along the ice in the direction of the ref and we’re calling that “shooting the puck at an official”? Obviously they had words after the official inadvertently assisted Joe Thornton in getting the puck in the corner, which led to the goal and no doubt so bad words were uttered but this seems weak. Are the officials suddenly thin skinned after what happened with Dennis Wideman?

Anyhow, I suspect that Hedman has this one wiped away by the league to cleanse his record. That was soft.

The call didn’t really affect the outcome of the game as the Melker Karlsson goal pretty well salted the game away pushing the Shark lead to two with under two minutes remaining. You can totally understand Hedman’s frustration given the game situation.

By the way, the Lightning had the Triplets back together last night. Check out the lines:

 

21.4%

EV

CALLAHAN,RYAN – KILLORN,ALEX – STAMKOS,STEVEN

 

18.34%

EV

BROWN,J.T. – FILPPULA,VALTTERI – PAQUETTE,CEDRIC

 

17.9%

EV

JOHNSON,TYLER – KUCHEROV,NIKITA – PALAT,ONDREJ

 

3.06%

EV

BOYLE,BRIAN – KILLORN,ALEX – MARCHESSAULT,JONATHAN

1.75%

PP

JOHNSON,TYLER – KUCHEROV,NIKITA – PALAT,ONDREJ – STAMKOS,STEVEN

             

You’ll note that they also had the Triplets skating with Steven Stamkos on the power play. They had Victor Hedman manning the point with that group as well. That’s an alignment that I can dig, even if it didn’t produce last night.

Slater Koekkoek made an appearance for the Lightning but was limited to under eight minutes of action. Just not ready for the big time.

Matt Carle, meanwhile, forced into action because of injuries, was a minus-three in 11 minutes of action. He can join Eric Staal at the glue factory any time now.

Vladislav Namestnikov, once a hot waiver pickup was a healthy scratch last night.

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I think that when Tomas Hertl had that four-goal game in his rookie season it might have been one of the worst things that could happen to him because it put a bullseye on him and placed all these undue expectations on him. Then injuries came and inconsistency as he was still adapting to the NHL game.

Hertl is only 22 and making strides in his third season but he hasn’t been the instant star that was suspected of him with that auspicious beginning. He is on pace for a 40-point season, which would progress but inconsistencies continue to be a factor. Hertl had a great month of January with 11 points in 12 games but has just two in eight here in February.

The big question, at least for keeper leagues, is what happens if/when Patrick Marleau is dealt this summer. That would be a big 18-20 minutes with top unit PP time that need to be filled. Joel Ward has thrown his hat into the ring as the #1 contender given how well he performed as Logan Couture’s replacement. Might Hertl be ready to make a leap in his fourth season?

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David Desharnais will miss tonight’s contest against the Avalanche after blocking a shot against Arizona. Word is that Lars Eller will center Max Pacioretty in Desharnais’ stead.

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No fantasy relevance here but Rob Scuderi has been placed on waivers by the Blackhawks. Do not be surprised when he clears and gets sent to the minors.

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As always, some great stuff inn Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts:

4. Funny how two weeks changes things. Fourteen days ago, Jordan Eberle was part of the acquisition conversation. Not now. The Oilers pulled him off the market, as he developed into a dangerous finisher alongside Connor McDavid. As one coach said, “When you find two players who work well together, you keep them together.” Edmonton wants to see how this progresses.

That’s music to the ears of Eberle owners everywhere. Of course, Nail Yakupov flashed chemistry with McDavid as well. It raises the question that perhaps McDavid is capable of elevating the play of all his wingers regardless of who they are.

We have seen with Sidney Crosby that finding a fit for a superstar isn’t always easy so let’s not take that idea too far but consider this piece from the Edmonton journal that shows how McDavid has improved the performance of Eberle, Yakupov and Benoit Pouliot:

Here’s the breakdown for Oilers wingers with and without McDavid (based on their games played with and without him). Eberle has gone from a lame +1.3 scoring chances per game to a monster +4.5 per game. Yakupov is a lame +1.1 without McDavid, but an All-Star +3.1 with him. Pouliot is a mediocre +1.2 without, but a good +2.2 with.

It’s possible that both Yakupov and Eberle are good fits for McDavid but that Eberle is the best fit. No guarantee they stick with that duo going forward but Eberle has legitimate 85-point upside if they can stick together for 80 games next season.

Apparently the Oilers had Hall on the McDavid line with Eberle last night, which should terrify everyone. Hall scored a goal too.

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Check out Rick Roos’ latest buy low/sell high column.

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Thanks for reading. You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.