Ramblings: A Return to Health for Bishop, Murray, Getzlaf and Benn (Jan 13)

by steve laidlaw on January 13, 2017
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: A Return to Health for Bishop, Murray, Getzlaf and Benn (Jan 13)

Murray, Bishop, Getzlaf and Benn return to their respective lineups and other


TODAY! The Midseason Guide will be released later this afternoon, in time for your weekend midseason drafts or just for you to look things over and evaluate the second-half outlook. Besides the second-half projections, this beauty will also have players on the trade block (and what it means), prospects ready to make the jump for a dozen games down the stretch, the lowdown on undrafted or unsigned free agents (both in college and in Europe) and much more. Last year’s Midseason Guide, for example, had Troy StecherDrake Caggiula, Nick Lappin, Brandon Tanev, Alexander Radulov and Anton Rodin, to give you a small sample. Imagine getting a heads up on players like that in January instead of finding out about them in April or even July? Pre-order it here.


Bye week notice: the Flyers are the only team in the league with a bye week next week. They’ll be off from the 16th to the 20th. Don’t bail on them yet, as they’ve got a back-to-back this weekend but come Monday syphon out some of your streaming options like Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny and Sean Couturier.

The Flyers are the only team with a bye week between now and February but we also have that meddling All-Star break to contend with at the end of the month.

The break can’t come soon enough for Steve Mason who has allowed three goals or more in four of his last five appearances. Michal Neuvirth came on in relief, stopped all 14 shots he faced and got a win. With the upcoming back-to-back we should expect to see both goalies but if Neuvirth has a stellar start on Saturday maybe he gets both halves. On the other hand, Neuvirth hasn’t played very well this season so I wouldn’t count on that.

Radko Gudas was a healthy scratch last night. The Flyers have decisions to make on defense with Mark Streit ready to return they’ll have eight active defensemen. The correct choice is likely to send Andrew MacDonald back to the minors but that doesn’t help their cap situation much. MacDonald, the gift that keeps taking.


Somehow, Eriksson didn’t miss a shift. Did the concussion spotter call in sick?


Josi took a high hit from Anton Blidh, who received a major penalty. Josi has had concussions before so I am not optimistic about this situation.

Were PK Subban healthy he’d be the one to lap up the top unit power play minutes. Since he isn’t it fell to Mattias Ekholm, who skated a team high 29:11 with 3:03 on the PP. Ekholm notched an assist though not on the PP.

Juuse Saros made another excellent start stopping 35 of 36 shots. It’s a small sample but Saros has allowed only 10 goals in his eight appearances. Seven of those eight games have been quality starts. He’s money in the bank any time you can scoop him up for a spot start.

Saros is the better goalie in Nashville but politics dictate Pekka Rinne remains the starter. Also, Rinne hasn’t been that bad so there’s no point in doing irreversible damage to the team dynamic by going to Saros too soon. I don’t doubt that Saros’ numbers would suffer were he the regular starter. The Predators just aren’t playing consistent enough hockey. Enjoy the spot starts when you can and be ready to pounce if Rinne gets hurt.


Ben Bishop returned for the Lightning and turned in a nice win stopping 24 of 26. He did himself no favours taking two penalties but the Lightning silenced the Sabres’ lethal power play on all four chances they allowed.

I recommend buying Bishop stock. Even though I hate the state of the Lightning defense outside of Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman, I still have confidence in them figuring things out and Bishop reaping the rewards.

Ondrej Palat put together a three-point night but continues to be an inconsistent fantasy disappointment. I can’t recommend him yet. Palat’s struggles are coming with the best rate of power-play production of his career, which isn’t a good sign. He has matched last season’s seven PPP and is on pace for a career high 14 PPP. If you told me Palat was going to score 14 PPP, I’d have guaranteed you a 60-point season but the even-strength scoring hasn’t been there.


Matt Murray also returned but got lit up by the Senators for four goals on 33 shots. The second half of a back-to-back wasn’t a great spot for Murray to return to.


Actual conversation I had with a friend last week:

Friend: Why have Stone and Hoffman cooled off? Should I think about picking them?

Me: Well they have been on their bye week.

Friend: Gotcha! Either of them a stud in your mind?

Me: BOTH ARE!!! Hoffman is a 55-60 -point, goal-heavy guy. Stone is good for 60+ but won’t shoot as much.

Friend: I’m looking for shots, mostly.

Me: Hoffman is your man.

As the conversation continued I tried to convince him to drop both Thomas Vanek and David Backes to pick up Hoffman and Stone. I am big on both of those guys. Stone has 27 points in his last 25 games, while Hoffman has 21 points in 21 games over the same span. They’ve be on fire for almost two months now.

Conversations like the above are why the ramblings sometimes have to be obvious. Many fantasy players, like my friend, only pay attention to their team favourite NHL team and just have mainstream influences so guys like Stone and Hoffman can go under the radar despite being two great fantasy assets for three years running.

Derick Brassard has eight points in the last 10 games. A good uptick but he spoiled his chance to team up with Hoffman and Stone on the Senators’ top PP unit. It’ll be tough for him to beat out Kyle Turris now. That limits just how hot he can get as we head into the second half.


Since Jack Eichel returned from injury Evander Kane has 11 goals and 14 points in 20 games. That’s basically his entire scoring output for the season. He was irrelevant until Eichel showed up. Suddenly, he’s a high-efficiency scorer. Hell, Kane’s shooting percentage is 11.8% for the season, which would be a career high.


Sometimes you’re the hammer and other times you’re the nail. The Canadiens go from scoring seven goals on the Jets to giving up to the unrelenting Wild. Carey Price stayed in for all seven goals because the last time he got yanked in a blowout he had some words for Michel Therrien. Price’s save percentage fell six points after last night.


I keep feeling like the Wild bubble is going to burst at some point but I can’t help but be reminded of the Panthers last season. How many fantasy relevant forwards did that team have? At least six, if not more. The same thing is happening here. It took until this season for the Panthers’ bubble to burst but it finally did. Now they maybe have two fantasy relevant forwards.

We also saw this from the New York Rangers earlier in the season and their secondary scoring has mostly tailed off, although injuries to Rick Nash and Mika Zibanejad have had as much to do with this as any regression.

The injury factor is one to keep in mind, because the Wild haven’t had to deal with that much. Maybe they’ll remain healthy and the buzz saw will continue unabated but I have my doubts. I’ve mentioned this before but the secondary guys like Jason Zucker, Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter have the usage of 50-point guys, not 60-point guys.

I have more confidence in the likes of Eric Staal, Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle and it’s mostly because of usage.

I saw on Insider Trading that the Wild have the option to bring Joel Eriksson Ek back from Sweden but that the window is closing. I fully expect to see him back. He’d be better than any trade deadline pickup they could make. The trade market is trash. Loaded with guys like Jarome Iginla who are all name and little substance. Young players with speed are where the NHL is at and Eriksson Ek can provide them that.

I wouldn’t expect Eriksson Ek to be fantasy relevant this season but he could be an option for those in the deepest of leagues. Also, worth filing his name away for consideration in playoff pools.


Jamie Benn was back in the lineup for the Stars. Check out their lines:





That’s bad news for Spezza and Hudler who were recently skating with Seguin. Eaves, meanwhile, is back in the money. Spezza will still see top unit PP time so his goose isn’t cooked but he’s been his most productive this season while paired with Seguin.

Antti Niemi isn’t great but he still has some tricks up his sleeve:


The Avalanche are in a sordid state but every now and then there’s a ray of sunshine through the clouds:

It’s too bad that Nathan MacKinnon has emerged as volume shooter but not a volume scorer. Maybe one day things will click but it seems that while he can generate chances he isn’t a great finisher. He might be better served using his skills to make plays for others, if he has that in his bag of tricks. His speed and skill is a zone-entry cheat code, much the way it is for McDavid, Taylor Hall and other brilliant young players but he doesn’t score goals at the same rate. This is the hurdle he needs to clear in order to get into the 70-point range or higher.


It’s been going this way for Allen all season. He’s put up a quality start in just under half of his appearances, which puts him into the same zone as Connor Hellebuyck, whom we discussed yesterday. Just like Hellebuyck, we see the classic Home/Road split:




















I have more faith in the Blues as a team than I do of the Jets so I’d rather have Allen than Hellebuyck but I’m also not paying any price to make the swap. At this stage in the season I am wary of paying to make goalie upgrades, especially when the price is almost certainly going to be a superstar forward. I’d rather find a way to make the goalie I do have work, which is where goalie splits come in.

Also, I think of the example of Tuukka Rask last season. He was trash for the first month or so. After that he was league average but no one noticed because that first month dragged down his full-year averages.


Speaking of Rask. He took a shot to the cage last night and it knocked him from the game:

It sounds like Rask will be okay, so breathe a sigh of relief. The Bruins are in trouble if Rask misses time. They have not found capable backup goaltending.


Anze Kopitar has five points in his last five games. Believe in the turnaround folks!


Ryan Getzlaf returns to the lineup and Rickard Rakell scores his first goal in six games. Coincidence? I think not. The Duck lines are back to normal with Getzlaf back:






Great piece from Travis Yost on penalty differential and its value:

Gaudreau and McDavid are still the cream of the crop. Outside of their wondrous skills and scoring abilities, the math on this is pretty simple. If you assume you both score and concede on 20 per cent of opportunities, then 20 additional power plays gained means just their penalty drawing prowess has added four goals over the course of the year. That’s worth about a win already this season, and again, we are just talking about penalty minutes – not the millions of other things they do well.

In my opinion, one of the stupidest things we do in fantasy hockey is reward penalty takers, when it’s so obviously a negative stat. This is compounded by the reality that drawing penalties is one of the best things a player can do. I don’t see why in this day and age we can’t turn penalty differential into the stat used for fantasy hockey rather than something we all know to be a negative.

I’ve reached out to the fantasy hockey providers that I use to see if I can get the ball rolling on this. Fingers crossed.


An excerpt here from a Craig Custance Insider article on changing the scoring system for the NHL standings:

We’ll never see the change because Gary Bettman and many of the NHL higher ups think their fans were born yesterday and believe the fake parity they’ve constructed. Maybe one day they’ll stop patronizing us. Dare to dream, my friends. Dare to dream.


Not too many takers for the Ovechkin 50-goal bet:


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