Ramblings: Arizona Attack, Eberle Opens the Floodgates (Jan 22)

by Ian Gooding on January 22, 2017
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Arizona Attack, Eberle Opens the Floodgates (Jan 22)

Arizona attack, Eberle opens the floodgates, what to do with Allen, plus more…

The Midseason Guide is here! 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 one of my personal faves in Troy Stecher, as well as Drake 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? Order it here.

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Two teams with goaltending issues hooked up on Saturday. Both Jake Allen and Connor Hellebuyck have been given some time off to refocus. So it was recent recall Ondrej Pavelec facing Pheonix Copley, who was making his first NHL start. A 5-3 game isn’t great for either goalie, but if you rolled the dice on Pavelec, you at least earned the win.

So if you’re an Allen owner, what should you do? You can certainly justify searching for other goaltending options through trades or the waiver wire. But for now, I’d move him to the bench and hope that the mental health break will do him some good. It’s not as if the Blues have Brian Elliott waiting in the wings like they’ve had in the past, so Allen will be given every opportunity to win the job back. Carter Hutton is a handcuff if you have room, but he’s not starter material.

My opponent in one of my leagues has Kevin Shattenkirk, who has just been killing me. With two goals on Saturday, Shattenkirk now has three goals and an assist over his last three games. He’s constantly been discussed in trade rumors, and the Blues look like they’re going to either trade him by the deadline or let him walk this offseason. But I have a feeling they’ll miss his consistent years of 40+ points and 25+ power-play points more than they know, even with Colton Parayko waiting in the wings.

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Bryan Little scored two goals on Saturday, giving him three goals and an assist over his last two games. A number of Jets scored two points in this game, including one player I picked up in a trade this week. With yet another injury to Kris Letang, Jacob Trouba’s goal and two assists over his last two games since the trade couldn’t have come at a better time for me.

Trouba has amassed at least 26 minutes of icetime in each of his last four games, which also helps me in this league. Tyler Myers’ injury has resulted in big minutes for Trouba, who I would think the Jets hang onto while Myers is sidelined. With 17 points in 34 games, Trouba is also on a 40-point pace, making the case for ownership in your league.

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From one end of the icetime spectrum to the other, Scott Hartnell scored two more goals on Saturday, giving him 13 on the season. His two goals were scored in just nine minutes of icetime. Low icetime totals are becoming an all-too-frequent occurrence for Hartnell, who is shooting at a 20 percent clip. His 2.87 points per 60 is currently in the top 30, placing him in similar standing to Brad Marchand and Patrik Laine in that category. Obviously we should expect a regression, but John Tortorella should also be finding a way to play him more.

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Carey Price is struggling so badly right now, he actually lost on a Saturday. That actually puts his record on Saturdays on 10-1-1. More importantly, Price has lost for the fifth time in his last six starts. Over the past two weeks the Habs’ goalie has an un-Price like 3.71 goals-against average and .880 save percentage. If you’re worried about him, though, at least he made this amazing save in overtime.
 


Not to be outdone, Robin Lehner came up with perhaps an even better save in overtime.



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Mike Hoffman has been putting the puck in lately.
 


Goals haven’t been a problem this season for Anders Lee, who scored two power-play goals to put his total up to 17 on the season. Lee is currently on a four-game point streak where he has recorded six points. Lee also fired seven shots on goal in this game, which is the second time he has done so in his past five games. Shooting at a 17 percent rate, Lee may have a tough time reaching the 30-goal pace he is on. But the fact that he is on the John Tavares line should mean that the slowdown won’t be significant.

Speaking of Tavares…
 


If you’re in a league deep enough to use Miles Wood (and that would have to be an extremely deep league), he filled the statsheet for you on Saturday. The Devils’ rookie scored two goals, including one on the power play, took five shots, and took nine penalty minutes. Just swap one of the goals for an assist and he would have had a Gordie Howe hat trick!

I don’t trust any Flyers’ goalie right now. At least four goals allowed in each of the last five games. Speaking of goalies…
 


Five goals allowed on 17 shots. Oof. It’s been that kind of season for the Bolts.

So who did the damage for the Coyotes? Mainly one line. Radim Vrbata four points. Martin Hanzal three points. Tobias Rieder three points. All with a plus-3. The point explosion was a long time coming for Rieder, who had not scored a point in seven games and had not scored a goal in ten games. Vrbata, on the other hand, has been strong over the past week with nine points over his last six games. The plus-3 “improved” Vrbata and Hanzal’s plus-minuses to a minus-15 each. Vrbata is currently the only Coyote who is on pace for over 50 points. Not surprisingly, only Colorado has scored fewer goals than Arizona.

Mike Smith was a whole lot better than Bishop in this one, making 45 saves for the win. But before you get excited about Smith, keep in mind that he has allowed at least three goals in each of his last seven starts. There isn’t a whole lot of fantasy good going on in the desert this season.

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With John Carlson out a third consecutive game with a lower-body injury, Matt Niskanen recorded two power-play assists and three assists overall on Saturday. Niskanen has been receiving the first-unit power-play minutes, which have been helping him cash in with eight points in 11 games this month. I’ve never been a huge fan of Niskanen’s offense, but he’s a must-start while Carlson is out.

Some Capitals' point streaks:

Philipp Grubauer: nine games without a regulation loss (7-0-2 after win on Saturday)  

Nicklas Backstrom: nine games (two assists on Saturday)

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Cam Fowler was such a pleasant surprise to start the season, you may not have noticed that he had recorded just one point in his last 15 games entering Saturday. So his goal and assist on Saturday were a welcome sight.

But John Gibson leaving on Saturday after taking a puck to the chest was not. Gibson seems to be finally settling in as the starter, having his best month with seven wins, two shutouts, a 1.39 goals-against average and .954 save percentage. With Gibson approaching his career high of 40 games in a season, you have to wonder how much wear and tear will factor for him down the stretch.

Back to Ducks’ defensemen. When I was shopping around for a defenseman this week, I was surprised at how poor Hampus Lindholm’s season has been (seven points in 35 games). But he has two goals over his past five games and has been receiving slightly more power-play time than Fowler this month. So there might be something there if you wanted to buy very low.

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Jason Zucker keeps on keepin’ on. With two more goals on Saturday, Zucker is up to five goals this month and 14 this season. In case you’re wondering if he’s due for a regression, his 15 percent shooting accuracy is not the highest of his career. He shot nearly 17 percent two seasons ago when he scored an unexpected 21 goals in just 51 games. He has a career 12 percent rate, so a bit of regression should be expected anyway.

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The one game that I had time to watch on Saturday was already 3-0 by the time I was able to watch it. So I focused on typing the Ramblings more than I focused on the game. But a lot happened for fantasy purposes, as the Oilers and Flames revisited the past, complete with 1980s-style uniforms and lots of scoring and even a heavyweight fight between Milan Lucic and Deryk Engelland.

That three-goal first period (actually six minutes) chased Chad Johnson out of the net, replacing him with Brian Elliott. The Flames have mainly been rolling with Johnson in January, although the seesaw could push back to Elliott soon. The Flames play three games in four nights next week (only four nights next week with the All-Star break looming), so Elliott could start one and possibly even two games as the Flames tour eastern Canada. Pay attention to your goalie starts over the shortened week. A start from a backup could stand out more!

Jordan Eberle is out of his slump and then some. Eberle led the Oilers’ onslaught, scoring two goals and added two assists with a plus-2 and six shots on goal. You may recall that Eberle had not scored a goal in 18 games and had also gone six games without a point. When a player is due, he’s due. The secret might already be out if you’re trying to buy low. But he’s already started to make up for lost time.

There was very little for the Flames to get excited about on Saturday, but they can at least enjoy the fact that Sean Monahan has scored goals in five consecutive games. Glen Gulutzan has split Monahan from Johnny Gaudreau and it seems to be working for Monahan.

Interestingly enough, Sam Bennett was moved back to the Gaudreau line after being a healthy scratch on Thursday. Bennett has not scored a point in (looks down the game log) 11 games. Who would have thought that Matthew Tkachuk would be ahead of Bennett already? By the way, darkhorse Calder candidate Tkachuk is this week’s Geek of the Week.

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Enjoy your Sunday. Follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding