Ramblings: Brent Burnt, No Longer! (Dec 8)

by steve laidlaw on December 8, 2017

 

I’d be more concerned if the Blues weren’t running over people, but we should probably discuss the changing situation on the St. Louis power play. After a couple of games of running Vladimir Tarasenko on both units, he was pushed exclusively to the second unit last night. Except, whichever unit Tank is on is the first unit. These guys also got the lion’s share of the power play chances. That means your top PP unit in St. Louis is now:

Tarasenko – Paul StastnyPatrik BerglundVladimir SobotkaColton Parayko

There’s a short-term boost for the latter four. However, it should be mentioned that Tarasenko needed an empty-netter to end a six-game goalless draught. He has just two points in the past five games. Not even enough to call it a slump.

Meanwhile, despite having their usage cut, the now second unit still combined for a power-play goal, from who other than Brayden Schenn. It certainly helped that the Stars gave the Blues seven power play chances. There were minutes for everyone in this one. That now second unit, by the way:

Schenn – Alex SteenJaden SchwartzDmitrij JaskinAlex Pietrangelo

What a windfall for Jaskin who has been an anonymous third-liner skating 11 minutes a night. He does have five points in the last eight games, and has some value in deep leagues if these combos stick.

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Three-game assist streak has come to an end for Jamie Benn. His goalless streak is now up to nine games, which is a rather fancy achievement for a player who was almost universally a first rounder. As such, you know not to panic. Guys that talented are too good not to figure it out. It’s a good time to test the will of the Benn owner in your league.

Radek Faksa’s hot run is dwindling. He has gone back-to-back games without a point. His minutes are up to over 15 per game in each of his last six, but almost none of those minutes have come on the power play. It’s simply going to be difficult for him to be a consistent producer without even regular use on the second PP unit. However, rumour on the street is that Faksa will be flanked by Benn and Alexander Radulov in upcoming action, which could vault his stock even without PP time.

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After going up 3-0 on the Sharks after one period, I am pretty sure the Hurricanes were visited by C-3PO during the first intermission as they eventually coughed up the lead before falling in overtime:

Two-point night for Brent Burns, who has seven points in his last eight games. Paul Martin did indeed return to the Sharks’ lineup and was paired with Burns, but neither of Burns’ points came with Martin on the ice so I am not chalking this up as a victory for my theory that Martin would open up Burns’ game.

Interesting nugget demonstrating San Jose’s PP struggles:

The outlook for their star players changes if this gets sorted out.

Joe Thornton had a three-point night, giving him nine points in the last eight games. Five of those nine points have come with the man-advantage. This is a positive trend.

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New line combos for Carolina:

#1           25.6%    SKINNER,JEFF – STAAL,JORDAN – WILLIAMS,JUSTIN

#2           23.2%    AHO,SEBASTIAN – RYAN,DEREK – TERAVAINEN,TEUVO

#3           21.2%    LINDHOLM,ELIAS – MCGINN,BROCK – RASK,VICTOR

#4           15.6%    DI GIUSEPPE,PHILLIP – KRUGER,MARCUS – NORDSTROM,JOAKIM

This is a good spot for Jeff Skinner and Justin Williams, although Skinner is going to put up 30 goals no matter who they skate him with.

Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen were handed the Derek Ryan ball-and-chain. They faired well with Aho scoring two goals on six shots. I dumped Aho in one of my shallow leagues for a hotter option, as his scoring pace has teetered right on that edge where he isn’t quite worth universal ownership during his slumps. His 240-SOG pace is awfully intriguing, however. Definitely not a guy to cut in leagues with 12+ teams. That shot volume gives him a high floor.

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Breakout night for Matt Duchene with a goal and an assist. Both of his goals since joining the Senators have come on the power play. They are giving him every opportunity to succeed using him on the top unit instead of Derick Brassard whose hot start is fading in the rear-view mirror. Mind you, Brassard’s success hadn’t come on the PP anyhow, but he has joined in on the time-wide funk with just two points in 11 games since the team got back from Sweden.

Has Duchene turned the corner. I’m not there yet. I need another strong showing before jumping in here.

Erik Karlsson’s 10-game scoring streak came to an end. Did you make a pitch to buy low? In two leagues I offered up Shayne Gostisbehere and in one I offered up Kris Letang. No bites, but you can’t force these things to happen. All you can do is try.

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Alex Galchenyuk is back in the dog house. He skated just 9:18 last night and I didn’t see him all third period. Apparently, he got one shift, which I must have missed. All the momentum of that hot run with eight points in five games seems to be lost. Maybe there was no momentum to begin with.

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Sam Bennett has put together a hot run with seven points in his last six games. He has even scrounged some power play time, although not consistently. He got some run on the second unit last night with Jaromir Jagr out again with injury and Matthew Tkachuk suspended for one game. I am not prepared to buy any Bennett stock. If I’m grabbing anyone off the third line it’s Jagr, who sees regular use on the second PP unit, but if I have to roll with one of the kids on that line Mark Jankowski is a better player.

I was intrigued by Alex MacLean’s note on Dougie Hamilton in his latest Capped piece, highlighting that his career numbers have jumped from below a point-per-game in October-November to above a point-per-game December-March. Will he have the same second half surge? I remain confident. Hamilton is skating 2:16 per game on the second PP unit, which is exactly how much PP time he was seeing last season.

It is worth discussing expectations for Hamilton. After a couple of seasons in the low 40’s, he broke out with 50 points last season. Low 40’s is the floor. He should get back there, barring injury. A slower start puts him behind the eight ball for another run at 50, especially with his usage, but that second unit will perform better. Hamilton has ranked out at least 10 goals, 14 PPP, 185 SOG, and 40 PIM for three years running. His floor is real and it is spectacular.

 

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Bo Horvat is out for six weeks with a broken foot. It’s worth diving into their line combos from last night to see who is getting that coveted exposure to Brock Boeser:

 

#1           27.4%    GAUNCE,BRENDAN – GRANLUND,MARKUS – VIRTANEN,JAKE

#2           22.6%    ERIKSSON,LOUI – SEDIN,DANIEL – SEDIN,HENRIK

#3           22.6%    BAERTSCHI,SVEN – GAGNER,SAM – VANEK,THOMAS

#4           12.9%    BOESER,BROCK – BURMISTROV,ALEXANDER – GOLDOBIN,NIKOLAY

 

Those combos made me crinkle my nose like I smelt a fart, but guess what? The Brock Boes Monster cannot be contained. He scored his 14th goal of the season anyway.

More intriguing than Alexander Burmistrov is Markus Granlund taking Horvat’s minutes on the top power play unit. He probably isn’t good enough for a pickup in most leagues, but there’s some daily fantasy potential here. It’s also worth mentioning that the Canucks have next week’s most favourable schedule with four games on the Monday-Wednesday-Friday-Sunday track.

Strange move by the Canucks recalling Thatcher Demko yesterday. No reason was given for the move, and the team has no upcoming back-to-backs where they might want to squeeze him in for a start. It’s not much of a stretch to jump to the conclusion that there may be a trade brewing. Demko is a top-notch goalie prospect, excelling in his second season of pro hockey. I’d hate to see him rushed into a backup spot, but he is a threat to take over should an injury pop up.

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The Canucks did actually swing a deal last night, but it's not one of much fantasy relevance:

 

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No information on Johnny Boychuk’s exact injury, but he was out of the lineup last night. He has faded from relevance outside of deeper multi-category leagues, but his absence opened up 20 minutes a night on the top pairing alongside Nick Leddy. Up steps Ryan Pulock, who folks have been waiting on for a breakout for some time. He skated 20:42 last night with his usual usage on the second power play unit. He notched an assist ending an 11-game draught. I am intrigued in deep leagues if Boychuk misses extended time.

Nothing came of it, but scary collision between the Islanders’ two best players:

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The Penguins recalled Frank Corrado yesterday to replace the injured Justin Schultz. I don’t know how they pulled off the Schultz-Letang body swap, but I am all for it.

I enjoyed this snipe by Phil Kessel:

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Gabriel Landeskog jumped right back into his slot alongside Nathan MacKinnon after returning from suspension. He scored his 10th goal of the season, putting him on pace for a career-high 34. Even if Landeskog fails to crack the 30-goal plateau he is primed for a bounce-back with MacKinnon emerging as a superstar.

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Tyler Johnson has run up five points in three games since being elevated to Steven Stamkos’ wing.

Yanni Gourde was supposed to take a hit dropping to the third line, but he has four points in three games despite his ice time falling below 14 minutes per game. If this team weren’t absurdly loaded perhaps he would suffer, but right now they can do no wrong.

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David Krejci is flying under the radar because of the injuries he has been battling through, but he has six points in the last five games and 12 in 14 overall. Not bad for a guy not even seeing time on the Bruins’ top PP unit. I’d be more interested if he was getting regular usage with that top unit, but there’s enough talent with Krejci and Charlie McAvoy to get some value out of those second unit guys.

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Clayton Keller last scored a goal on November 6. He has now run up 15 straight games without a goal. He has only six points in that stretch. His shot volume has also fallen off with just 30 SOG in those 15 games. 2.0 SOG per game is a fine pace, but he had thrown up over 3.0 SOG per game over the first month of the season. Scoring woes, reduced shot volume, horrible plus/minus – that’s a trend for waiver fodder in one-year leagues.

Keller is still on pace for 60 points and has a good chance of getting there, but he’s not even on the short list for Calder candidates any more.

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Eric Comrie’s first start of the season did not go well ceding five goals on 35 shots. He has now given up nine goals in two career NHL starts, which is not very inspiring. He remains an intriguing prospect, but he doesn’t appear close to unseating Connor Hellebuyck.

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Given how terrible the Panthers are defensively James Reimer is a woefully unsatisfying option in goal, but in a league where simply getting starts has merit Reimer is an option. It’s a shame the timing of this Roberto Luongo injury. I’d surely like to be riding a fill-in like Tristan Jarry instead of Reimer, but I was forced into the Reimer option with the waiver wire already picked over.

Nick Bjugstad has been dropped from the top PP unit in favour of Denis Malgin. Bjugstad is still skating on the top line, but is less enticing an option without the top unit minutes. Malgin, skating with Vincent Trocheck on the second line and top unit is suddenly the juicy option. Both have scored a pair of goals in the past three games. I prefer Malgin’s situation, but you have to note what a rubber slinger Bjugstad is averaging over 3.0 SOG per game.

Of course, all this chatter goes out the window if Sasha Barkov misses any time. The Panthers' top centerman is a perennial Band-Aid Boy missing around 20 games a year. He left last night's game after this hit and did not return:

 

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Tyler Toffoli bakes up a tasty apple pie served on a silver platter for Tanner Pearson:

You can tell he used those real hand-picked, organic apples. YUM!

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Not that he is of universal fantasy relevance, but the Ducks placed Hampus Lindholm on IR. Just when you thought they were getting healthy.

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Both David Perron and Marc-Andre Fleury are nearing their returns from injury.

Perron had been great before his concussion, headed towards a 60-point season. He may fall a bit short, especially if he loses effectiveness.

Fleury seems like a good bet in goal, especially with so many top-flight options out with injury. We’re all still expecting Vegas to come crashing back to earth at some point, but there are wins to be banked in the mean time.

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For more World Junior coverage check out Cam Robinson’s latest prospect ramblings. I don’t want to speak for the Dobber Prospects gang, but with the World Juniors approach I’d expect a lot of heavy coverage over the next month.

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I hopped on the Roto Hockey Show on Wednesday night to discuss some of this seasons surprises, both positive and negative. Give that a listen when you get a chance, those gents host a great podcast. I always have a blast chatting with them.

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Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.