Ramblings: Blackwood Leaves Game, Murray Continues Hot Play, Pirri Sent to AHL (Jan 5)

by Ian Gooding on January 5, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Blackwood Leaves Game, Murray Continues Hot Play, Pirri Sent to AHL (Jan 5)


Just six more days until the Midseason Guide finally becomes available for download! Inside you’ll find second-half projections, sleepers, advanced stats, historical trends, prospects you need to know, and more. Preorder yours today! 

As I mentioned more than once, I’m writing about the second-half goaltending situations for all 31 teams. There’s been a lot that’s happened goaltending-wise recently, and Friday night was no different.

Rookie sensation Mackenzie Blackwood left Friday’s game in the first period with a possible groin injury. Keith Kinkaid took over and eventually led the Devils to a shootout victory. Before the game, Kinkaid was announced as Sunday’s starter, so Blackwood will rest until at least Tuesday.

Here’s a hot take for you: The way goalies have been dropping like flies, not only will Flyers’ recent waiver-wire acquisition Mike McKenna suit up again in the NHL this season, but he’ll become somewhat fantasy relevant at some point. It may be with the Flyers, but it could just as well be with another team. If you don’t believe me, then I bet the injury-ravaged (at least in net) Leafs would have picked him up off waivers had the Flyers passed on him. And if you haven’t already, take a peek at McKenna’s Hockey DB page. It is truly a journey through the ECHL, AHL, and NHL. The 35-year-old netminder is a hockey lifer. His wife’s recent Twitter thread may even pull at your heartstrings.

Speaking of the Leafs, it’ll be Michael Hutchinson again on Saturday. The good news is that Frederik Andersen participated in a full practice; the bad news, Garret Sparks has a concussion. For more goalie starts, don’t forget to check out Goalie Post.

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I guess six goals and nine points in seven games isn’t enough to keep you on an NHL roster anymore. At least it wasn’t for Brandon Pirri, who was sent to the AHL on Friday. No, it doesn’t make sense on the surface. But Max Pacioretty returned from injured reserve on Friday, and Pirri was waiver-exempt (had not been on an NHL roster for 10 games or 30 consecutive days) while other options for demotion weren’t. That’s the cap world for you, and maybe even an example of the difference between how an NHL roster and your fantasy team are constructed.
 


Golden Knights assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon has said “he’ll be back.” Yes, Pirri will be back in the NHL, but I wonder if he’ll be traded by the deadline. Pirri has 66 goals in 235 career games, which averages out to 23 goals over a full 82-game season. In spite of his recall, he’s also the AHL’s leading scorer with 41 points (17g-24a) in 28 games. Over six AHL seasons he has averaged nearly a point per game (293 points in 323 games). He’s not just a quadruple-A player (to use a baseball expression), he’s a bona fide NHLer. He just has to find a place to happen.

For now, you’re probably safe to drop Pirri, unless you have generous bench space. It sounds like he’ll be the first player recalled in the event of another injury, so we might not have to wait very long to see him again. Must be nice to be the Vegas Golden Knights and accumulate this much depth. Oh yeah, they’re at the top of the Western Conference again (tied with Calgary, who has two games in hand).

In Patches’ return to the lineup, he was named the player of the game by the Anaheim broadcast. He scored the game-winning goal with a plus-1 and six shots on goal while reuniting with Paul Stastny and Alex Tuch, who both assisted on the goal.

My nine year old wanted to pick Nate Schmidt off the waiver wire for his team, and he wanted me to tell you why. With a goal on Friday, Schmidt now has 15 points in 24 games, including nine points over his last eight games. He thought for a minute between Schmidt and Ryan Pulock, then decided to go with Schmidt. Tell the kid he’s wrong.

Schmidt, by the way, received second-unit power play time in this game, conceding first-unit duties to part-timer Brad Hunt. With an assist on Friday, Hunt is also scoring at over a half-point-per-game pace (7 points in 13 games). Maybe there’s an expansion team out there that can add him… wait, never mind. Too bad Seattle is still a few years away. All kidding aside, Hunt would be fantasy relevant if he could find a full-time job on a team’s first-unit power play. He won’t see the light of day on the Golden Knights going forward, though. Not with Shea Theodore and Colin Miller (who both missed Friday’s game) in the mix and World Junior star Erik Brannstrom on his way up. Again, embarrassment of riches in Vegas.

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For over a season after his second Stanley Cup, Matt Murray has battled injury and inconsistent play. He might finally be living up to his draft-day rank, though. In posting a 33-save shutout against Winnipeg on Friday, Murray has now reeled off seven consecutive wins. Since returning from injury on December 15, Murray has provided everything you’ve needed from a fantasy goalie, sporting a 1.27 GAA and .962 SV%. Not good news for those who plucked Casey DeSmith off the waiver wire, as he’s started only once over the past six games.  

To add injury to defeat for the Jets, Nikolaj Ehlers left that game with a possible shoulder injury. The hot-and-cold Ehlers (at least this season) is cold again, as he’s now been held without a point in five consecutive games.

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Not so fast, Kucherov. Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon each recorded three points in the Avalanche’s 6-1 win over the Rangers. MacKinnon was able to extend his point streak to six games with points in 13 of his last 14 games, while Rantanen has points in five of his last six games. The two Avs continue to sit second and third in the NHL scoring race. Tyson Barrie recorded three assists to extend his point streak to four games.

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Tyler Seguin scored both Stars’ goals in their 2-1 overtime win over Washington. Seguin now has goals in back-to-back games and points in four consecutive games for a total of six points since the CEO’s abrasive comments one week ago. Maybe the comments have lit a fire under Seguin.

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No Blue Jackets’ player seems to be thrown under the bus more often by John Tortorella than Sergei Bobrovsky. Torts yanked his starting goalie midway through the second period after he allowed three goals on 16 shots. Joonas Korpisalo shut the door after that, stopping all 14 shots. Here’s another Torts post-game interview for your entertainment:

I know that Torts isn’t the only coach that is prickly after a loss, but I’m seriously beginning to wonder whether Bob has any desire to sign a long-term contract with a team coached by Torts.  

In case you’re wondering whether Bobrovsky will start tomorrow, Keeping Karlsson tried to dig some info from a Blue Jackets’ beat writer:
 


If I had to wager money, I’ll go with the latter part of that statement. Korpisalo started just two games in the entire month of December. And as Torts mentioned, the team hasn’t played that bad recently. Bob had won six of his previous eight games prior to Friday’s game.

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Finally, you make the call. Is this a goal? It was called one.

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For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.