The Capitals/Canucks game was a rollercoaster ride, to say the least. The Canucks jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the second period, led by two goals from fourth-liner Tim Schaller. The Capitals scored a goal with less than a second left in the second period, which at that point the boy went to bed happy thinking the Canucks would still hold on for a victory. Not quite, as the Capitals stormed back to tie the game at 5, led by two goals from Michal Kempny. The Capitals would eventually win 6-5 in the shootout.
This was a game in which the Capitals did not receive a single point from Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, or even NHL leading scorer John Carlson (whose nine-game point streak was snapped). Thanks to the efforts of Carlson and others, the Capitals have the highest goal total (49) of any team at the moment.
Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the Capitals’ first two goals while firing a team-high seven shots on goal.
More than anyone else, Jacob Markstrom would probably like to have this one back. In spite of the score appearing that the Capitals put extreme pressure on the Canucks in the third period, they only took seven shots on goal.
After Thatcher Demko held the fort extremely well for the week that Markstrom was on personal leave, Markstrom was given three consecutive starts. That may have been deserved based on Markstrom’s play alone, as he had not allowed more than three goals in any of his six previous starts. It seems as though Travis Green defaults to Marky, although Green may want to examine further what he has in Demko.
Markstrom is in a contract year, and the decision the Canucks are facing with his next contract won’t just hold the usual implications of whether he should be the starter. The Canucks also have to figure out which goalie they will protect in the 2021 Seattle expansion draft. Don’t automatically jump to the conclusion that it will be Demko, as Markstrom has had quite a solid run since December 1 of last year (2.48 GAA, .921 SV%). Markstrom’s quality start percentage (QS%) during that time is 70.2%, which is second to only Darcy Kuemper among goalies that have started at least 30 games during that time.
Cheer up Canucks’ fans, you have Quinn Hughes. Sit back and enjoy the ride for the next little while.
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) October 26, 2019
Whether the Canucks make the playoffs is one debate, but I believe they will at least finish with more points than they did last season (81). This team clearly has more talent now than they’ve had in recent seasons, and are simply more fun to watch.
All Jack Hughes needed was a move to the top line and first-unit power play. With a goal and two assists on Friday, Hughes now has five points over his last three games since being moved to the Taylor Hall/Kyle Palmieri unit. Of course, that move has come at the expense of Nico Hischier, who returned to the lineup on Friday after missing the past two games. Hischier’s value, at least for the time being, has taken a hit, as he’s been pushed down to the second power-play unit and is on the third line with Pavel Zacha and Nikita Gusev.
By the way, Gusev has averaged under 13 minutes of icetime so far. In case you’re wondering why, this might shed some light.
Holy smokes. I took a look at Nikita Gusev’s 5-on-5 possession stats for the first time, and…big yikes
32.35 Corsi% (worst in the league)
27.54 scoring chances% (worst)
25.72% expected goals% (second worst)
20.69% high-danger chances% (fourth-worst)
— Justin Emerson (@J15Emerson) October 24, 2019
It’s still early in Gusev’s NHL career, so there may an adjustment period here. I’ve taken a flier on Gusev in one league in which he was recently dropped in the hopes that he can turn it around.
In his third NHL game, Barrett Hayton scored his first NHL goal. Hayton has been playing on a line with Nick Schmaltz, who has been fairly hot himself with 11 points (4g-7a) over his last eight games.
The Colorado Avalanche struck for six goals in Vegas, but it wasn’t exactly the usual suspects. Fourth liner Matt Calvert scored two goals, while Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored a goal and added two assists, with both players also posting a plus-3 and four shots on goal.
Nazem Kadri also chipped in two goals and two penalty minutes. He now has a minor penalty in each of his last four games.
Nathan MacKinnon did record two assists, which means that he now has points in each of his first ten games. Even though Mikko Rantanen is week to week, MacKinnon should be just fine. In the meantime, fantasy owners should be adding J.T. Compher to their watch lists at the very least. Compher lined up with MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog on Friday, recording one assist. Compher is owned in just 6 percent of Yahoo leagues, but expect that ownership to rise now that he’s tagging along on one of the league’s top lines. For more on Compher, see this week’s Looking Ahead.
Marc-Andre Fleury allowed four goals on 26 shots before being yanked in the second period. Garret Sparks (remember him, Leafs’ fans?) entered in relief and allowed two more goals. This was the first time that Fleury had been pulled from a game in over a calendar year, as he had last been pulled on opening night last season. Just one rough day at the office.
Patrick Marleau’s return to Toronto and 1500th game in a Sharks’ uniform didn’t provide the result he wanted, as he was held without a point in nearly 17 minutes of icetime while the Sharks lost 4-1. Since rejoining the Sharks, Marleau has re-entered the fantasy conversation with six points (2g-4a) in seven games while lining up with Logan Couture and Timo Meier.
Nick Leddy almost posted a hat trick. You read that right. Leddy scored two first-period goals, including one on a penalty shot. Then in the second period Leddy took a shot from the point that went in, but was credited to Matt Martin because of a deflection. Leddy is holding a hot stick at the moment with five points over his last three games. In case you’re wondering where the Islanders’ power-play situation stands, Devon Toews is still running the first unit, with Leddy and Ryan Pulock on the second unit. Leddy has been mentioned in trade rumors recently, although Barry Trotz stated after this game that there is “no chance” Leddy would be traded anytime soon.
Thanks to their strong start, the Buffalo Sabres aren’t a wasteland anymore when it comes to owning goaltenders in fantasy. The question might be which goalie to own. Carter Hutton’s season numbers look spectacular, but he just allowed six goals on Thursday and three goals the game before. Enter Linus Ullmark, who posted a 41-save shutout against the Red Wings on Friday. That might be enough to give Ullmark another start on Monday against Arizona. Hutton probably still has the upper hand here and still has the better season numbers, but the mere fact we are seriously talking about owning a Sabres’ goalie hasn’t happened in a while.
The Ducks and Penguins agreed on a trade on Friday, with the Penguins sending Erik Gudbranson to the Ducks for Andreas Martinsen and a 2021 seventh-round pick. Gudbranson has no fantasy value in scoring leagues, although this trade was likely made because Josh Manson could be out for a while after leaving Thursday’s game.
Vitali Kravtsov has used his KHL out clause to sign with Traktor Chelyabinsk. He had played in the AHL for the entire season and has not played a single NHL regular-season game yet. He can be recalled at any point during the season, though.
Fantasy owners can be impatient, particularly during the first month of the season. With that in mind, here is a list of players with high shot totals (within the top 50) yet low goal totals. These might be players that you can buy low on or even find on the waiver wire in some leagues. Note the low 5-on-5 shooting percentages for some of these players.
Max Pacioretty (47 SOG, 2 G, 5.38 5-on-5 S%) – Patches has a top-5 SOG total at the moment, which explains the super low shooting percentage. He might not be a slam dunk for 30 goals anymore, but there’s some solid multicategory value here.
Jonathan Marchessault (41 SOG, 2 G, 4.71 5-on-5 S%) – As pointed out by my friend Grant in Frozen Tools Forensics, Vegas has the league’s second-worst PDO at 96.9. Watch Vegas win the Pacific Division because they haven’t been that bad even with poor puck luck.
Tyler Seguin (37 SOG, 2 G, 1.39 5-on-5 S%) – Dallas is in that range of teams below 100 in PDO, and Seguin’s 5-on-5 shooting percentage is super low. His owner might be lukewarm on him at this point.
Jeff Carter (37 SOG, 2 G, 7.41 5-on-5 S%) – LA is also mentioned in Frozen Tools Forensics as having one of the league’s lowest PDOs. It’s easy to assume that Carter’s ship has sailed, but I’m hanging on a bit longer in one league because the shot total is still there. The 5-on-5 shooting percentage is considered in line with his career averages, though.
James van Riemsdyk (37 SOG, 1 G, 2.94 5-on-5 S%) – JVR got kicked to the curb in a ton of leagues, as he was drafted in 74 percent of Yahoo leagues and now owned in just 35 percent. No goals or assists over his first seven games had a lot to do with that. But was he just snakebitten? Absolutely. He’s worth an add. Zig while the crowd zags.
Brady Tkachuk (38 SOG, 2 G, 3.33 5-on-5 S%) – After Friday’s game, it’s now no points in the last six games for Tkachuk. He’s still rostered in a lot of leagues, but why not make a pitch to his owner?
Justin Schultz (33 SOG, 0 G, 8.05 5-on-5 S%) – Because of the position they play, dmen usually have a lower shooting percentage than forwards. So don’t expect a flood of goals. However, Schultz has been on the Pens’ first-unit power play (along with Kris Letang), and his high shot total gives him value in multicat leagues.
John Klingberg (31 SOG, 1 G, 5.05 5-on-5 S%) – 5-on-5 shooting percentage isn’t necessarily a reason to buy low on Klingberg, but there are other reasons to. His PTS/60 is 0.6, while his IPP is 37.5. Even without the advanced stats, Klingberg still has the opportunity and the track record to turn it around.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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