We had ourselves a good old-fashioned goaltending battle in Columbus on Friday night as Henrik Lundqvist and Sergei Bobrovsky combined to stop 76 of 78 shots they faced, but it was Constable Bobrovsky who managed a shutout en route to a 2-0 win. This pushes Bobrovsky up a .933 save percentage on the year thanks to his second shutout.
The game-winner was sniped home by Zach Werenski in the second period which gives him a half-dozen goals and assists on the year. He looks primed to push close to 50 points again, though if the Columbus power play doesn’t pick up, or he stays off the top unit has he was on Friday, then maybe not.
Speaking of the Columbus power play, they scored a goal tonight! It was their sixth of the year, moving the team into a tie with TJ Oshie for power-play goals. It was scored by Artemi Panarin, a nice snipe in his own right.
Seth Jones played over 26 minutes in this one – Werenski under 20 for the second game in a row, by the way – and he managed six shots with three blocked shots.
Ryan McDonagh had a decent peripheral night in this one with three shots, five blocks, and a hit. Jimmy Vesey, Michael Grabner, and Kevin Shattenkirk all had four shots, and Shattenkirk added a block in there.
Pavel Buchnevich was taken off the top line a few minutes into the third period and had one 20-second shift in the final 13 minutes of the game. There didn’t appear to be an injury, this was just a demotion. I mean, he only had three goals and six points in four games heading into Friday and the whole team was shutout.
Detroit beat Buffalo 3-1 last night, pushing the team’s record to 5-2-1 this month. Remember, through the first 36 days of the season, the Red Wings only had five home games. That they’re 10-8-1 right now isn’t too shabby.
Buffalo’s lone goal came from Ryan O’Reilly on a controversial goaltender interference play. Though, who really knows what goaltender interference is anymore. It’s the NHL’s version of the NFL’s catch rule.
Jimmy Howard stopped 19 of 20 in the win. That pushes his save percentage on the season to .931. Not a bad start.
Robin Lehner faced 33 shots and allowed three goals in the loss.
Other than O’Reilly’s goal, and Kyle Okposo and Viktor Antipin assists, not much happened fantasy-wise for the Sabres; no one had more than two shots on goal, and only Josh Gorges had more than one blocked shot.
Larkin and Gustav Nyquist both had six shots on goal for the Red Wings. Tatar had a fine fantasy night on top of the goal, with two more shots, a block, and a hit.
There was a nervous moment for the Sabres as Jack Eichel took a hip-check from Glendenning – on a delayed offside, no less – and got up slowly. We got this quote after the game:
Eichel said he got through third period fine. Just a bit of a "leg burn" on the hit. #Sabres— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) November 18, 2017
Whatever that means, he finished the game. A good sign at least.
With only two games in the NHL, I thought it’d be worth going over some goal scorers who either may be due for a turnaround over the final 75 percent or so of the season, and others who may decline.
This data is mostly taken from Corsica Hockey and some from Dobber’s tools as well.
This is a straightforward methodology: individual goals for per 60 minutes at five-on-five this year less expected individual goals for per 60 minutes at five-on-five this year. For those wanting to read up on Corsica’s expected goals, start here.
Low negative numbers indicate players who may improve, high positive numbers those who may decline. These are some players who should improve:
Let’s go through a few of these players.
At his current pace, Nylander would fall short of last year’s goal, point, and power-play point totals. Even with falling short, he’s on pace for 16 goals, 57 points, 16 power-play points, and over 240 shots. That’s a pretty good season. Expectations are a hell of a thing.
Of course, the main issue is shooting percentage. He shot 11.3 percent through his first 103 regular season games and is shooting just 6.8 percent for now. The curious thing is that his expected goals through those 103 games was just 0.66, this year is 1.09.
Part of this depends, of course, on the health of Auston Matthews. Nylander can still be productive without him, but those two, along with Zach Hyman, have been among the most productive lines since the start of the 2016-17 campaign. Playing with Nazem Kadri or Patrick Marleau is fine, but Matthews is clearly the superior option. Hopefully what’s been nagging him for the last two weeks doesn’t last.
It’s worth mentioning that Nylander is only at 7.7 percent shooting on the power play as well. All this is to say that if you think Matthews can come back and be healthy, maybe now is the time to make some inquiries as to nabbing Nylander in a trade. He is too talented, and the line is too talented, for this to continue much longer.
Over the previous three seasons, Kreider and Nino Niederreiter are the only players in the league to crack 20 goals while playing under 1300 total minutes in each campaign. That’s remarkable consistency in a non-feature role.
Kreider is on pace for 20 goals again this year but he may be underperforming. He’s a guy who shot 13.1 percent over his first five seasons but he’s under 9 percent this season. He’s also averaging nearly three shots a game. Were he shooting 13.1 all year at 2.95 shots per game, he’d crack 30 goals, a career-best.
The kicker here is that he’s on pace for a career-high in power-play goals and power-play points. His five-on-five shooting, though, is below three percent. In his career, he’s never shot under nine percent. Needless to say that 20 goals should be viewed as his floor for this year. There could be a lot more to come beyond that.
I’m not going to go into this at length, but I would be a lot more optimistic about Domi’s production if we knew that he, Derek Stepan, and Clayton Keller were to remain a line. Of late, the three have been split across three lines, and Domi’s centre last game was, and I kid you not, Zac Rinaldo. I don’t care what Domi’s expected goals are, if he’s skating at five-on-five with Rinaldo, he’s droppable in all redraft formats.
Now, for the other side of things, some players that may see their goal scoring decline over the rest of the campaign.
Before digging into he players, you’ll notice there are several players on this list that are, or will be, annual 30-plus goal scorers. Vladimir Tarasenko is on pace for 40 goals this year after averaging 39 goals a season over the previous three years. I wouldn’t worry too much about him or others like him. I just want to talk about a few unusual names that stand out.
It’s probably worth discussing a 30-year old on pace for career-bests in goals and assists, yes?
Right now, Kopitar is on his way to a 39-goal season and he hasn’t cracked 30 since 2009-10. Sure, he’s shooting 18.4 percent, but he’s only shot below 10 percent once in his career (last year, as it happens) and has cracked 14 percent twice since the most recent lockout. He will come down from 18.4 percent, but it might not be by much.
Worth noting here is that he’s averaging a six-year high in shots per game at 2.58. He hasn’t been a volume shooter since early in his career, and 2.58 still isn’t high as far as volume is concerned, but it’s nice to see.
His goal scoring will fall off; there has only been one player this century to score at least 39 goals while averaging under 2.6 shots per game. However, even if he only shoots 12 percent the rest of the way, at this shot rate, he can still finish with a 30-goal campaign. I wrote a month ago when his line was off to a hot start to hold on to him, and I maintain that. Unless the return is a sure-fire top-25 player, just enjoy the ride.
After averaging just 14 goals a season over his first two full years, Teravainen is on pace for 29. That is a gigantic increase. The thing is, three years ago, if someone were to say, “Teravainen will push for 30 goals in a few years,” most people would have nodded their head in agreement. He was highly thought of when he was making his way up Chicago’s system once upon a time. It was tenuous at best, however, whether he’d achieve the levels projected for him after an underwhelming start to his career.
Of course, he’s shooting 18.2 percent and still averaging under a 30-goal pace. That’s obviously a huge concern, particularly for a guy who averaged 8.5 percent over his first 196 NHL regular season games.
The caveat is his slotting in the lineup. Though Carolina’s top-9 has fluctuated often this year, he’s found himself on the top line with Jordan Staal and Sebastian Aho of late. That line leads the Hurricanes in expected goals, and is among the leaders in the league. It’s worth pointing out, of course, that the sample is limited to about five games’ worth of ice time. So, take those numbers with a fist-sized grain of salt.
Teravainen is an easy sell for me. He’s taking fewer than two shots per game and is far from a lock to stay on the top line. With eight points in his last four games, including a hat trick, maybe a fantasy owner in your league thinks he’s starting to live up to the hype he had three or four years ago. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
It isn’t worth going over Rakell too much given all the injuries the Ducks have had this year. Basically, it’s hard to evaluate any player on the roster to this point. Even with those injuries, though, Rakell is pacing to a 27-goal, 68-point season. With what this team has had to go through, his moving all around the lineup, and expected regression from his shooting percentage last year, he still should have himself a fine season. That’s impressive.
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