Ramblings: Backstrom Explodes, Injury Updates on Hall, Stamkos, Gaudreau (Nov 17)

by steve laidlaw on November 17, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Backstrom Explodes, Injury Updates on Hall, Stamkos, Gaudreau (Nov 17)

Backstrom Explodes, Injury updates on Hall, Stamkos and Gaudreau.

Nicklas Backstrom with a five-point night to jump from 10 points to 15. He’s right back on track for a point-per-game season. This is why we cannot write off star players who fall into a slump. They are all too capable of making it up in a hurry. Now, Backstrom is down almost a minute of playing time per game from last season, which may cost him a couple of points over the course of the full season. This is apparently part of the plan for the Capitals’ stars. Ultimately, he’s still a stud and he still sees big power play minutes.

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Perhaps not, but Trotz is on record indicating that he wants to reduce minutes for his stars in order to keep them fresh for the long haul. For what it’s worth, Ovechkin was back up to 18:38 last night and that includes needing to get checked out after banging his funny bone.

The scoring barrage was not limited to Backstrom as TJ Oshie put forth a four-point night to rocket back up to a 60-point pace. He’ll likely fall just shy of 60 when all is said and done.

Evgeny Kuznetsov managed to not get a point. Remember what I said about Backstrom above? Stars can scores in bunches. Nowhere near panic time yet.


Matt Murray was in for a dreadful night but got spared much of Backstrom’s wrath after taking a stick to the head and being placed in the concussion protocol. He passed so presumably there will be no long term effects but he did not return to the game. That meant Marc-Andre Fleury was on the hook for five of the seven goals allowed. This game changes literally nothing about my opinion regarding the Penguins’ goalie situation.

Silver lining for the Penguins? The HBK line has been back together for a little while and they scored the lone goal, with Nick Bonino drawing an assist. He should finish near 40 points considering his usage but he is definitely off that pace right now.


My latest piece for Puck Daddy touched on some of the superstar injuries from yesterday.

We now have confirmation that Johnny Gaudreau is out with a broken finger that will require surgery. No official timeline though it is speculated that he’ll be out 4-6 weeks. This could drown a team already hurting for offense.

Do you think Sean Monahan is getting to 60 points again after this slow start and then losing Gaudreau for a month? I don’t. I can’t rule it out, but I’d be betting against it.

Sam Bennett has indeed moved to LW to play alongside Monahan. There’s an opportunity for Bennett to pop. He looked dangerous last night and the reduced responsibility playing on the wing may free him up. He has been inconsistent thus far but this really is a big opportunity. Since Bennett is still only C eligible on Yahoo I might look elsewhere to replace Gaudreau in your pool. Robby Fabbri, for instance, is hot and available in many leagues.


Other confirmed injuries:

Hall is well known for his injuries. I mostly ignore that when considering him for my leagues, it’s worth risking it for the upside he does have. I want the best team come fantasy playoffs, which means gambling on higher upside guys.

I know some folks are high on Beau Bennett filling in for Hall. Be careful, every time you even start thinking about Bennett scoring point, the hockey gods start firing arrows at him. If you think Hall is brittle, get a load of Bennett’s injury history. His career high for games played is 49 and the injuries have been enough to stifle his growth as a player. I’d love it if this was his big break but we know the odds are that if something breaks with Bennett it’ll probably be one of his limbs.


The Lightning have not decided to do with Stamkos’ injury. Expect something firm in the coming days.


Not much fantasy impact with this one.



Both Mike Smith and Martin Hanzal returned to the Coyotes lineup last night. The Coyotes played terribly and were lucky to escape with a point. Actually, luck may not have had everything to do with it, Smith played really will. He did appears to be labouring by the end of the game, either due to continued difficulty with injury or perhaps he was just winded after being out for so long.

I cannot recommend Smith as a fantasy option because of how poor the Coyotes are.


Garth Snow gave Jack Capuano a vote of confidence yesterday. The reality is, coaches don’t get fired unless things go so poorly that they cannot help but rebound. It’s why new coaches usually look good, no matter how talented they are.

I loved what Bob Murray did with Bruce Boudreau last season. He refused to fire him despite a dreadful start. Guess what? The Ducks got better!

Of course, the Ducks moved on from Boudreau following the season but at least he got one last crack it and he made good on the bet. I’d like to see more of this. Sometimes a change really does need to be made. I’m not sure this is one of those times. The Islanders probably improve no matter what they do with the coach. Change for the sake of change isn’t really a solution. It’s the illusion of a solution.

The word is that the Islanders are looking to add some offense, which they could certainly use with all they lost this summer. It might cost them a pretty prospect or two but there is a lot hinging on this team remaining competitive while they still have John Tavares.


Great stuff in Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts:

19. Hard night on Tuesday for Philadelphia’s Steve Mason. Almost 59 terrific minutes before a rough game-tying goal as Ottawa beat the Flyers 3-2 in a shootout. Flyers GM Ron Hextall hasn’t entered into negotiations with either Mason or the injured Michal Neuvirth, both of whom are unrestricted free agents next summer. Some guys are built to bet on themselves, to handle the uncertainty, but people who’ve played/worked with them in the past say it will be harder for these two. Look at Mason’s contract history. His second deal was signed a year before it took effect. Traded to Philly on April 3, 2013 as a pending restricted free agent, he signed a one-year contract five days later. Eligible for something new on Jan. 1, 2014, he inked his current three-year extension 17 days after that date. Clearly, there was a plan when the Flyers got him. There’s much less of a plan for him this time around and it’s a challenge for him.

That’s an interesting angle on Mason’s struggles. He’s had to strong performances in his last two outings. Perhaps he’s turning the corner. You guys know I am in it with Mason long term, although I did end up dumping him in one league. He was my fourth goalie and no one was biting on trade offers. I still have him in another.

With the theory above, I wonder how Mason performs if he sees Anthony Stolarz perform well in some NHL games.


More on goalies in Corey Hirsch’s latest mailbag:

“Which goalies will suffer most from a crackdown on goalie equipment size based on their style of goaltending?” – Jeff From Marlboro

HIRSCH: It’s going to be the blocking style. Your Corey Crawfords, your Ryan Millers. I think Antti Niemi, for sure. He’s already leaky as it is. Now you put smaller equipment on him? [Groans]

There are some guys that are going to get better with smaller gear, too. Some of the athletic guys will be even quicker.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for Niemi. Something to watch for, whenever the NHL actually gets around to implementing the new gear.


The Canucks have once again assigned Jake Virtanen to their AHL affiliate. Seems like this time he’ll be down there longer.


Steve Laidlaw is the Managing Editor of DobberHockey. Follow him on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.