Ramblings: Bernier, Stone, Athanasiou and more (Mar.16)

by Dobber on March 16, 2016

Rambling about Mark Stone, Andreas Athanasiou, Jonathan Bernier, J-F Berube and more

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I remember when there were a ton of questions about Mark Stone in the forum a few weeks ago. He was pointless in eight games and had two points in 14 games. Hopefully you took advantage of a panicking owner because with his assist last night he has 25 points in his last 21 games. He needs 13 points in 13 games to officially become a ’70-point guy’. I know I said this last year but it’s worth repeating – I think he’ll be an 80-point guy. Next year, if healthy.

Stone’s hot streak is pushing his linemates Zack Smith and J-G Pageau to great heights too (though Smith and Pageau were held off the score sheet last night). Smith is becoming the newest incarnation of Chris Clark (a plugger playing with a star and becoming a 55-point guy). He has 13 points in his last 13 games.

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Jonathan Bernier has allowed just one goal on the last 65 shots faced. Still trying to salvage that next contract and my gut tells me he’ll be successful. I just have a hunch that he’s going to have a strong final 10 or 12 games. His SV% sits at 0.904 right now, his career SV% is 0.914. If he starts 10 more games and faces 30 shots per game, he’d need to stop 285 out of 300 shots to push his SV% up to his career average. And then the horrible 75% of the season that he’s had will be forgotten. Even though the games at this point are meaningless. Will it stop the Leafs from looking to upgrade goaltending in the summer? Probably. Because either he rebounds next season, thus salvaging his career. Or he flops, thus helping the Leafs get another good lottery pick. Either way, the team wins. So they’ll sign him if he can keep pushing his numbers in the right direction.

Will the Leafs keep William Nylander beyond the nine games? I think they will. But I don’t think they should. All the details you want about the situation there can be found here. One thing to consider is that he’s not exactly lighting it up in the NHL right now, so that’s the perfect ‘out’ for the Leafs if and when they make a decision. Regardless, he’ll be a regular on the team next year out of training camp and I think he’ll be a 45-point player as a rookie. But, I do have concerns about his ability to stay healthy at this level.

Another youngster who will be on the team next season is Zach Hyman. I think he can develop into a steady 55-point guy, though I’d pencil him in for 25 to 30 next season. He had his first career two-point game last night and has four in his last five. Remember how they got him? They acquired his rights for Gregg McKegg. I remember being at Darien Lake with the family last summer when I caught the news of the deal, and was mightily impressed.

Leo Komarov has just one point in his last 12 games. So I’m guessing this is the market correction that we waited forever on…

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The game I needed to be 9-7 finished 1-1 (who cares about the shootout). So my spirits are crushed. If the Islanders and the Penguins are going to chip away at points in the standings with low-scoring games, then I guess I’m sunk in two of my leagues. The end.

Sidney Crosby still picked up a point though, which gives him 14 in the last nine games. He’s now tied for fifth in league scoring.

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J-F Berube got a rare start and was strong, stopping 33 of 34. He’s been impressive over his four career starts. I wish I know what the Isles are gonna do with him this summer. The Isles are the deepest team in the league when it comes to goaltending, with the stud prospects that are on the way. He’s an RFA this summer, but would the Isles carry three goaltenders again? On a side note – did they know that Jaroslav Halak wasn’t 100% back in October when they claimed Berube off waivers? I wonder if we should have read more into that. Almost like they knew that Halak would have trouble all season and would miss stretches of time…

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It’s the “Reduce Goalie Equipment” song again. The NHL GMs have voted to reduce goaltending equipment. And unlike the other hundred times they agreed to this, it sounds like it’s going to have teeth. This time the goaltenders are actually behind the idea. At least, the ones who want to prove they can still be the best in the league with smaller equipment. It sounds like they’re looking to expose the weaker goalies who rely on giant equipment. Working throughout the process on this – Cory Schneider, Devan Dubnyk and Braden Holtby. The article singles out Ryan Miller, Frederik Andersen, Henrik Lundqvist and Jaroslav Halak as the netminders who could be in trouble from this. And it suggests that Jonathan Quick, Pekka Rinne and Marc-Andre Fleury could benefit.

The GM’s also brainstormed ideas to increase scoring. But at this point, if they truly reduce goalie equipment in terms of size, extra flaps, etc. – then that will increase scoring more than you’d think.

Ideas that were kicked around:

– If a power play ends a period, start the next period in the offensive zone

– Give power plays the full two minutes (I endorse this). This was a rule up until 1956.

– Prohibit short-handed teams from icing the puck.

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Justin Williams scored his 21st goal of the season last night. Two more goals would give him 23 (duh), which would be his most since 2007 (when he was 26 years old).

Jordan Staal scored last night and that gives him two points in six Eric-less games.

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Brent Burns gets credit for this goal, is club-record 26th goal by a defenseman, but it was Ryan Spooner who tipped this in:

 

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Philadelphia’s win over Detroit – in regulation, at that – was huge. It pulled them just one point back of that very same Detroit team and they have two games in hand. Even as recently as the Midseason Guide I thought that it would be Montreal that would see to it the Red Wings missed the playoffs. The Flyers are a real surprise.

Philly’s numbers with and without Shayne Gostisbehere (another GWG last night) in the lineup this season:

26-15-9

7-8-3

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Michael Raffl has seven points in his last five games. He’s not playing with Giroux, he’s just hot right now for whatever reason. Philly’s line combos last night:

 

#1           29.6%    GIROUX,CLAUDE – SCHENN,BRAYDEN – SIMMONDS,WAYNE

#2           22.9%    BELLEMARE,PIERRE-EDOUARD – VANDEVELDE,CHRIS – WHITE,RYAN

#3           17.5%    COUTURIER,SEAN – GAGNER,SAM – RAFFL,MICHAEL

#4           12.5%    COUSINS,NICK – LAUGHTON,SCOTT – READ,MATT

 

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Detroit fans – are you happy with your coach? I’m starting to wonder about him. They have star (though declining) vets and potential star youngsters. Is the transition just not going well? I’d always thought that the conveyor belt was running smoothly, bringing in one or two quality youngsters each year as needed. The Flyers came out really wanting this game – it was 23-3 in shots at one point.

One rookie who has my attention is Andreas Athanasiou. I’ve followed his career since before he was drafted, I get the lowdown for all draftees when I put together my annual Prospects Report. Back then, and ever since, he was always a player with high-end upside but a ton of question marks in terms of how well he can transition to the next level, his consistency, etc. But so far so good, the 21-year-old has a ton of talent and it shows even at this level. Read more on Athanasiou here.

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Vincent Trocheck has 12 points in his last 11 games. At the rate he’s flying right now, he’ll get Jiri Hudler going too now that they’re linemates. Here were Florida’s line combos last night, with Teddy Purcell back in the lineup:

#1           29.4%    HUDLER,JIRI – SMITH,REILLY – TROCHECK,VINCENT

#2           23.8%    BJUGSTAD,NICK – PURCELL,TEDDY – SHAW,LOGAN

#3           20.6%    BARKOV,ALEKSANDER – HUBERDEAU,JONATHAN – JAGR,JAROMIR

#4           10.3%    MCKEGG,GREG – THORNTON,SHAWN – WILSON,GARRETT

 

A leg for an arm and an arm for a leg.

Sorry, I can never get that Simpson’s quote out of my head when I see McKegg’s name.

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Jaromir Jagr has 13 points in his last 13 games. With 53 points on the year he’s already exceeded my projection/expectations. He’s playing way, way, way over his head right now, but with that team around him scoring like gangbusters he’s bound to be a part of the scoring onslaught. Florida has scored 20 goals in the last five games. These days, that’s considered a lot.

Nobody is going to be targeting Panthers in the playoff pools this year, so I’ll be loading up on them after I secure players on my two key teams (whichever two those happen to be). Since getting quality Panthers in the later rounds of the draft is doable, I think that’s what I’ll do.

By the way, you can pre-order my Interactive NHL Playoff Draft List (11th annual) here.

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I’m still waiting for the bubble to burst on Vincent Lecavalier, but 14 points in 30 games with the Kings is not that bad. I wonder if it’s because of the fact that he announced that he would retire after this season? All that weight off his shoulders, he can just go out there and enjoy himself, relax…

Kris Versteeg has three points in the last two games for the Kings, his first three points with the team. In large part because of these line combinations:

#1           24.7%    KOPITAR,ANZE – LUCIC,MILAN – VERSTEEG,KRIS

#2           21.1%    BROWN,DUSTIN – CARTER,JEFF – CLIFFORD,KYLE

#3           17.5%    KING,DWIGHT – SHORE,NICK – TOFFOLI,TYLER

#4           16.1%    LECAVALIER,VINCENT – LEWIS,TREVOR – PEARSON,TANNER

 

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Matt Dumba in a fight last night vs. Ryan Dzingel: