Ramblings: Allen Imploding, Wideman Hurt, Flyers Streaking (Mar. 17)

by steve laidlaw on March 17, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Allen Imploding, Wideman Hurt, Flyers Streaking (Mar. 17)

Ramblings: Jake Allen Imploding, Wideman Hurt, Flyers Streaking and more.

Happy St. Paddy's Day to all my Irish brethren, even if you are only Irish for the day.

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Jake Allen has not enjoyed his trip to Alberta. Owners were licking their chops looking at visits to Calgary and Edmonton to kick off their head-to-head playoffs but instead they’ve got a tire fire on their hands. Fantasy hockey, you fickle beast. My condolences to everyone who started Allen this week. You never would have predicted it and the timing is the worst.

As I predicted on Tuesday, the Blues were not going to let Anders Nilsson see the ice again and thus left Allen out there as the Oilers’ power play punctured the Blues time and time again. The Oilers had the league’s 27th ranked power play in terms of efficiency but went 4/6 last night. More on them in a bit.

The Blues don’t play again until Saturday and Brian Elliott is eligible to return off injured reserve and has been skating with the team. Don’t be shocked if he returns for a start this weekend but he may fare much better than Allen considering the recent undisciplined play of the Blues. Elliott is the current league leader in save percentage, however. Golden opportunity for him to take the reins.

The Blues did get a pair of goals out of David Backes who has six goals and nine points in the last 12 games. Is the big man turning around a tough season? Probably not. Backes does have a history of upping production a bit in the final couple of months of the season but there isn’t some definitive trend that I’d want to hang my hat on the idea. He is helping to turn the tide on his low shooting percentage so it’s nice to see some regression working in his favour. Backes, a career 12.4% shooter was shooting just 9.9% prior to his recent hot streak.

Paul Stastny’s scoring streak was put to a halt at four games but he saw a ton of minutes, particularly down the stretch. The Blues are really starting to lean on him like a #1 centerman.

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As mentioned, Edmonton’s power play was rolling, which helped lead Mark Letestu to a two-goal/three-point night. Well done.

Why is Letestu a key figure on the Oilers’ power play? Faceoffs. For the most part, faceoff percentage does not correlate with winning. Puck possession matters but on your average faceoff there isn’t a huge advantage gained by having the puck, you still have to regroup and gain entry to the offensive zone. Faceoffs on the power play are key, however, because you start in the offensive zone and to a certain extent you can diagram some plays to take advantage of an opponent that is down a man and hemmed into their own end.

There is a reason that so many teams have moved to fielding multiple centermen on a single line, frequently with those centermen being of opposite handedness. When it comes to draws in either the offensive, or defensive zone, teams are really buckling down and trying to gain that possession. You often hear of guys throwing a neutral zone faceoff just to plant a seed in a guy’s mind and then busting something different out later on a draw that is a lot more meaningful.

Letestu is a veteran faceoff man, on a team stocked with young centermen. He wins over half his draws and is also the Oilers’ only right-handed centerman. He provides a lot of advantages for gaining that offensive zone possession. Of his 21 points on the year, 10 have come on the power play. What a specialist!

More importantly, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored a pair of goals, his first points since returning from injury. Whomever of the Oilers’ three young centermen develops as the best faceoff man is going to have some serious inroads to getting some points because if they ever figure out how to turn all their talent loose they are going to get a lot of PP chances, and the guy who can win draws will have top unit minutes on lockdown.

Jordan Oesterle led the Oilers in power-play time with 5:57 last night. He had a pair of assists. Mildly intriguing. I still favour Andrej Sekera, who had an assist of his own. The Oilers have two more games this week but just nine left overall, fewer than any other team.

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Long live Michael Frolik! The Flames winger continued his charge with a second straight three-point night. He has seven points in the last three games as the Flames second line has been unstoppable. Mikael Backlund had a pair of assists as well. Meanwhile, they were joined by Joe Colborne who had a goal and an assist. All three are under 10% owned on Yahoo! and could be helping you to eviscerate opponents if you were savvy (lucky) enough to have grabbed them for this week. Colborne was my big call for the week and I’m not going to let any of you forget about it.

Sean Monahan was a game-time decision for last night’s action but ended up playing and even scored a goal. Watch for any changes to his condition over the next couple of days.

Joni Ortio has wins in four of his last six games after going winless in his first eight decisions. I’m not advising anyone to pick him up but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it.

Dennis Wideman left the game with an upper-body injury:

No quicker had he returned than he is back on the shelf. All of the minutes go to Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton.

Both TJ Brodie and Sam Bennett missed action as well.

Excellent profile on Johnny Gaudreau from Sports Illustrated:

Along the way he sought spots where his stature would be embraced and his ingenuity let loose. His juniors coach, Jim Montgomery, played more than 100 NHL games at 5' 10". Gaudreau chose Boston College partially because the program had a history of producing pint-sized NHL-ready players: Cam Atkinson (5' 8"), Nathan Gerbe (5' 5") and the Gionta brothers (Brian and Stephen, both 5' 7"). He signed with Lewis Gross, the agent who represented Martin St. Louis (5' 8"), a future Hall of Famer and one of Gaudreau’s idols. During his Hobey Baker speech, he thanked “those who believed that someone my size could actually play and contribute at such a high level.”

Gaudreau sits seventh in NHL scoring something I never would have predicted for him, let alone so soon.

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Dustin Byfuglien returned after a one-game absence for the Jets skating 25 minutes and going minus-two. Status quo with Byfuglien.

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The Flyers continue to be the hottest team in the NHL knocking off the Blackhawks in Chicago playing in a back-to-back after a huge win over Detroit on Tuesday.

This is unreal.

They still didn’t have Jakub Voracek in the lineup. He has been skating and should be ready soon. Their next game isn’t until Saturday against the Penguins so hopefully he is back for that one. By the way, that game against a visiting Penguins team will be mayhem and they’ll play twice more this season after that. Sometimes the schedule gods smile on us.

Sean Couturier led the way with a pair of assists. He has six assists in the last six games. Depth scoring is absolutely fueling this run.

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With Corey Crawford having lost three in a row, the Blackhawks turned to Scott Darling last night but the backup couldn’t do enough against the surging Flyers so the losing streak hits four for Chicago.

Last night also saw a serious line shakeup that we all knew was coming eventually. No coach can avoid tinkering but especially not Joel Quenneville. He isn’t the worst in the league, mind you but he is up there. Check out the lines:

20.91%

EV

ANISIMOV,ARTEM – HOSSA,MARIAN – PANARIN,ARTEMI

17.73%

EV

FLEISCHMANN,TOMAS – KANE,PATRICK – TOEWS,JONATHAN

15.91%

EV

LADD,ANDREW – SHAW,ANDREW – TERAVAINEN,TEUVO

10.45%

EV

DESJARDINS,ANDREW – MASHINTER,BRANDON – WEISE,DALE

3.18%

PP

KANE,PATRICK – PANARIN,ARTEMI – TOEWS,JONATHAN

 

The goal here was obviously to get the big guns in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews going. Kane did manage an assist to push him to 90 points for the first time in his career but he has still been awfully quiet with just two points in the last six games. I’m calling this quiet run an aberration, however. He does still have 17 points in 18 games since the All-Star break, a step down from his crazy numbers this season but still awesome.

I loathe the idea of separating Kane from Artemi Panarin though. Even if they were still skating together on the power play, one of my greatest joys is watching them punk the opposition with a dazzling array of stickhandling, passing and purposeful puck possession. Stylistically, there just isn’t another pair of linemates who do what they do. The Sedin twins have their own level of artistry but the way that Kane and Panarin do it is so much more frenetic. They thrive in chaos.

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Ben Scrivens with a 41-save performance to help the Canadiens to an overtime victory as the week of unsung heroes continues!

Mark Barberio had been picking up the slack with PK Subban out but he left last night with an injury and did not return. So scratch him off as an intriguing waiver wire option.

Greg Pateryn scored his first NHL goal with a big blast from the point. He picked up some of the slack on defense with Barberio hurt.

Nathan Beaulieu returned and flashed some decent puck skills and also his multi-category upside with 12 penalty minutes. But just about everyone got a misconduct last night. It was a chippy game.

Hopefully Subban simply makes his way back to the lineup to solve all this nonsense.

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Ryan O’Reilly made his return for Buffalo after an 11-game absence. He immediately made his presence felt skating 22 minutes and notching a power-play assist. His return should help goose the offense for the Sabres as he helps give them two legitimate lines as well as perking about what has been a struggling power play.

Rasmus Ristolainen also notched an assist for just his seventh point in 21 games since the All-Star break. He could use the boost as much as anyone.

Zach Bogosian scored a goal and had eight SOG. He continues to be an intriguing waiver wire option. He even saw time on the top PP unit. That’s 10 points in the last 12 games for Bogosian. 38 SOG in that span too.

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Mikkel Boedker scored a couple to help boost the Avalanche back into a playoff spot. Check out this sick bit of passing from Matt Duchene and particularly Jarome Iginla:

Boedker is up to five points in seven games with the Avalanche, which is reasonably productive though he has been hit and miss.

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With all the injuries on the Canucks’ blueline they were forced to turn to hulking rookie defenseman Nikita Tryamkin. He registered his first NHL point (an assist) in just 11 minutes of action.

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Rick Nash is now scoreless in three games since returning to the lineup. He’s treading in Dany Heatley waters.

Some concerns about Ryan McDonagh after taking a puck to the head late in this one but word is that he is fine.

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Brandon Pirri made his much awaited Ducks debut skating 15:30 on the top line with Ryan Getzlaf and David Perron. It was not their night as they were held scoreless. I still really like the fit, especially for Pirri as he’ll have ample opportunities to shoot.

Still no Sami Vatanen or Kevin Bieksa for the Ducks.

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Jack Johnson is officially done for the year after shoulder surgery. I had written him off a few weeks ago. Seth Jones and Ryan Murray are leading the charge for the Blue Jackets anyhow.

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For all you prospect hounds:

Read more on Aho here.

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Lots of goodies in Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts:

24. One coach watches Jaromir Jagr and sees the future of the Sedins.

“If the players around them take care of the speed, they can take advantage of their skills and smarts for years,” he said. “That’s how it works in Florida. They get Jagr the puck in the offensive zone and he does the rest.”

The twins are 35 and have two more years left on their contracts. They’re in good enough shape to play longer than that if they wish to.

That should embolden you to hang onto the Sedins if you have one or both in a keeper league or better yet to try and pursue them on the cheap. I’ve looked at guys like Jagr, Teemu Selanne, Martin St. Louis, Joe Thornton and Pavel Datsyuk producing through their late thirties as a road map for how some the NHL’s more cerebral scorers could sustain their success for long after traditional expiry dates.

Want a couple more who we are starting to see diminishing returns from but we could be talking about like we are the Sedins right now? Jason Spezza and Ryan Getzlaf. I really enjoy the vision with which they play the game. Claude Giroux is another one, he might be quarterbacking power plays at an elite level until he turns from ginger to silverback.

As for guys who probably won’t age as well, a la Dany Heatley or Vinny Lecavalier? Eric Staal has hit that point but only as a fantasy asset, he is still playing a dominant possession game just without scoring. I also don’t like what the future may hold for Ryan Kesler and Jeff Carter in the next couple of years. Once the legs go on those two it might be caput.

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The Blue Jackets have recalled Oliver Bjorkstrand along with Michael Chaput and John Ramage. Bjorkstrand is the big name to consider. I’m lukewarm on Bjorkstrand, myself. His AHL numbers just don’t do it for me yet but it’s only his first year as a pro. Read more on Bjorkstrand here.

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Frank Vatrano was sent back to the minors after being an emergency call up earlier this week. He didn’t see a game of action.

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My latest Waiver Wednesday column gives you an option off of each team with three games between tonight and Sunday.

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One other waiver wire name to consider is Antoine Vermette. I wrote off his recent hot streak as a bit of a fluke but he has continued to produce. Dave Holcomb suggests that it’s reasonable to ride Vermette while he is hot.

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Lots of expansion draft news coming out yesterday but this stuff is still so far off that it doesn’t seem all that relevant for fantasy owners.

We also got word that the cap will either remain flat or jump to $74 million if the players opt to use the escalator. They have threatened to not use it in the past but always eventually opt for escalation so barring anything dramatic we should plan for a nice bump in the salary cap.

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Check out Sean Avery’s recent interview with ESPN:

ESPN.com: Whenever a tell-all sports book is released, the author opens himself up to criticism and comparisons to Jose Canseco. Does this concern you?

Avery: I've read a lot of sports memoirs over the last year. I read [Andre] Agassi's book, I read Canseco's book. They were uncomfortable books to read because Canseco's book was like a vengeance book — this isn't going to be that. The thing with Agassi's book was I read it, but I just didn't get it. Agassi's book, I couldn't enjoy it. I didn't enjoy anything about it. This was a grown man that kept talking about how much he hated tennis and his dad. That's the furthest thing from something I feel. I don't hate hockey and I didn't hate playing it. I loved playing it. I didn't like a lot of the things around it. I'm more talking about everything that's ever happened. All of the stuff that people do not know.

The big news is that he’s writing a book to reflect on his time as an NHLer, which will no doubt be awesome, but I always have time for listening to what Avery has to say, even if I don’t agree with it. So get excited for that upcoming book! He also has some thoughts on John Tortorella and Mike Babcock in that interview.

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Sean McIndoe looks at five games that swung the lottery odds and shaped hockey history.

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Steve Laidlaw is the Managing Editor of Dobber Hockey. Follow him @SteveLaidlaw.

 

 

8 responses to “Ramblings: Allen Imploding, Wideman Hurt, Flyers Streaking (Mar. 17)”

  1. Chris Liggio says:

    As a Rangers fan I have no problem stating that Rick Nash is no longer elite. He is still a very effective player and I commend him for morphing his game with age but he is not an elite goal scorer anymore. Last season was a treat with forty plus but he is in 25-30 range now for me like Perry. Good call on Sedins I think they will def produce for years still because of their brains; Carter and Kesler will def be toast when the legs are gone but Jeff still has serious wheels so it may be a bit. Gotta commend the Flyers doing this without Scoracek, I am interested to see how the lines change upon his return for I own both him and Giroux and I drafted them with pair intentions but Schenn has been playing great hockey with G and Simmonds so nobpdy could call Hakstol crazy to not break that up and put Jake on second line to create matchup issues for opposing team.

    • steve laidlaw says:

      Nash and Staal might be one of the most effective tandems in the league that can’t score.

      I don’t believe anything is imminent regarding Carter.

      The Flyers had been dabbling with Voracek on L2 before he got hurt so I would imagine when he returns it won’t be on L1. Hell, at one point this season Voracek was on L4.

      • Chris Liggio says:

        Carter still has many productive years left albeit not elite as far as production but still solid. Yeah they can’t score but Rangers can hang with anyone because of their dominant possession game and immense depth both offensively and defensively and than if you get through that you have to beat Henrik. All these years of playoff experience also come into play I would love to see the King get one for goodness sake. Voracek def won’t be on Line 4 that was punishment when he started off cold as the North Pole but if he is on Line 2 I will not be surprised but if he is not on PP1 with Giroux I will drive to Philly and slap Hakstol myself……I have a title to defend and I need my powerplay behemoth pair back!

      • Stu Campaigne says:

        The Rangers’ quickly-closing window will be sped up by the fact that Lundquist will have to wear human-sized equipment next season.

      • Chris Liggio says:

        No denying the window is quintessentially shut at this point; the Staal acquisition was an “all in” move and it was the right thing to do to hopefully get that man what he so rightfully deserves. The core is aging and I shall never deny that but management has given me a competitive team for a decade so none of us NYR fans can gripe. If anything I want the cup for him more than for myself as a devout fan, he absolutely deserves a ring.

      • Stu Campaigne says:

        Not a Rangers fan, but have managed to load up on them in playoff pools at the right time. They are victim to the era in which they play. Not one recent Rangers squad can compare to either the Kings or Hawks. Even the notion floated that the Western powers would beat up on one another, making for a smooth run to the Cup for the Eastern representative had been disproved.

      • Chris Liggio says:

        The west was ahead of the trend on building a present era contender; if I’m building a cup winning team my first selection is Kopitar, in my opinion the leagues most complete player. It is also a fault of their own (Rangers) for although they are great at drafting D and goaltending they constantly wiff on offense (cough cough Giroux 2006). To win a cup in today’s NHL you have to be bad for several years at the right time to draft elite talent (Keith, Kane, Toews). The Rangers fan base as a whole shall never allow a basement dweller team therefore all the trades throughout the past twenty or so years. If they do not win this year I beg them to bite the bullet and rebuild via the draft.

      • steve laidlaw says:

        Keith was a 2nd round pick for the record.

        The Rangers have actually done fairly well with drafting/developing their players getting guys like Kreider, Stepan, and Miller. But they’ve also cashed a bunch of chips in recent years so have taken just one pick in the top 50 in the last three drafts. Most of their forwards have been landed via other means though they actually skew fairly young up front.