Ramblings: DeBrusk and Maroon; Timo Meier Returns; Game Recaps – December 6

by Michael Clifford on December 6, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: DeBrusk and Maroon; Timo Meier Returns; Game Recaps – December 6

 

The Red Wings announced that Danny DeKeyser would be out 4-6 weeks with a hand injury. I’m not sure how many people have him rostered but it is a good time to point out (as someone else did) that Filip Hronek has 14 points in his last 10 games in Grand Rapids. Would be nice to see him get another crack in the NHL this year. 

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A couple days ago I remarked that Matthew Barzal was moving back to the top PP unit. That’s the good news. He was also given Tom Kuhnackl as an even-strength winger in practice yesterday. That’s not the best news.

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Jaden Schwartz did not play Wednesday night for the Blues but he did skate in the morning and is apparently very close to returning. Those in weekly leagues get ready to activate him for next week.

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Connor McDavid’s illness is behind him and he suited up Wednesday night. Fear not, Dobber heads. All is right in the world.

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Timo Meier returned to the lineup for the Sharks on Wednesday night following a three-game absence. He started the game lined up with Marcus Sorensen and Joe Thornton. Not exactly where fantasy owners were hoping for him to be, I’m sure.

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St. Louis looked poised to post a home win against Edmonton Wednesday night in a 2-1 snoozer until a late goal by Oscar Klefbom with the empty net tied the game at 2 and pushed us first to overtime and eventually the shootout. Ivan Barbashev and Brayden Schenn tallied for the Blues while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had the other for the Oilers.

Klefbom had over 30 minutes in ice time, by the way. 

Cam Talbot stopped 28 of 30 in the win. 

The lineup blender was out for St. Louis all game long. Hopefully that’s stabilized with the impending return of Jaden Schwartz.

Something to keep an eye on: Vladimir Tarasenko took a hard hit in the second period and looked to be labouring afterwards. He finished the game but just keep an eye out to see if there’s a lingering issue.

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It didn’t take long for Timo Meier to make his impact upon his return to the Sharks lineup. The dynamic young Sharks winger had a goal and two assists in the team’s 5-1 win over Carolina. Line up with Joe Thornton (0-3) and Marcus Sorensen (1-0), the line combined for two goals and five assists. Joe Pavelski scored his 18th of the year while Tomas Hertl scored his 7th.

Lucas Wallmark had the lone goal for Carolina, a power play tally, late in the second period.

Martin Jones saved 39 of 40 in the win, and those saves brought his season save percentage to an even .900.

Sebastian Aho failed to score even with six shots on goal. He’s now goal-less in six straight though it’s not for lack of trying as he has 18 shots in that span.

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The Chicago slide continues as the Blackhawks lost 4-2 in Anaheim on Wednesday night. In the month since Joel Quenneville’s firing, the team is 26th in adjusted five-on-five shot share and has gone 3-9-2. This team is worse in every conceivable way now. Good work, Stan.

John Gibson stopped 25 of 27 shots to the win, his fourth straight decision with a victory.

Daniel Sprong scored his first in an Anaheim uniform, a near-impossible shot short side shelf from just in front of the goal line off the rush. Ondrej Kase scored the game-winner early in the third period with Jakob Silfverberg marking an empty-net goal late.

Small note: Brendan Perlini was booted off the Toews line in the third period in favour of Dominik Kahun. We’ll see what practice looks like Thursday.

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We’re about one-third of the way through the season. Time flies, right. Doesn’t seem like it, right? I wanted to take this time to pause and reflect a little bit. These are some players I was high on going into the season who’ve not had a good start and whether or not they’re showing any signs of turning it around. I will exclude players who’ve sustained significant injuries so far like Alex Galchenyuk and Ondrej Kase. I will also not be including deep league targets like Charles Hudon or Sam Steel.

Data from Natural Stat Trick.

 

Jake DeBrusk

Anyone who read my Ramblings and articles over the summer knows how high I was on DeBrusk heading into the season. Things cooled for me once it became evident DeBrusk wouldn’t be the fourth forward on the top PP unit for the Bruins, but his power-play production was never a huge factor for me anyway – I had him down for 11.1 PPPs this year and he’s on pace for 12.2.

DeBrusk is also on pace for a 30-goal season, which is good! He’s also on pace for 36 points, which is not good. No matter if he gets to 30 goals, if he can’t get to double-digit assists, without monster peripherals, he won’t be a very good fantasy asset outside of certain scoring leagues. What’s going on here?

Well, the team isn’t scoring at nearly the same rate at five-on-five with DeBrusk on the ice this year (7.1%) as they were last year (10.4%). But that doesn’t tell the whole story; the Oilers are scoring on 2.1 percent of the shots they take at five-on-five with Milan Lucic on the ice, the worst in the league, and Lucic has two assists, double DeBrusk.

DeBrusk’s individual points percentage (IPP), or the rate at which he garners a point when he’s on the ice for a goal scored, is just over 46 percent. Last year it was an even 68 percent. The number of 46.15 percent this year puts him 190th among 203 forwards with at least 300 minutes at five-on-five. The majority of the names on the last around him are not very good players:

There are guys like Tyler Johnson and Elias Lindholm, but most of that list is of players we’d never confuse with producers. Now, it’s entirely possible for productive players to have very low IPPs – Tomas Tatar and Mikko Koivu were in the bottom 20 forwards from 2015-18 in this regard – but even 46% is far too low for DeBrusk. That will rebound, it’s just a matter of how much.

It’s entirely possible DeBrusk finishes this season with 30 goals, it’s a matter of how much the assists will catch up. All Bruins not on the top line or not named DeBrusk are currently sitting with an on-ice shooting percentage under 6.5 percent. Once they start scoring more, and DeBrusk’s IPP turns around, expect him to push for 20 assists rather than 10. He could have a very nice 30-20 season.

  

Jesse Puljujarvi

This has just been a waste of a draft pick all around. No goal-scoring like DeBrusk, and no peripherals like another player we’ll get to. It’s just been a disaster.

The first thing to note is that his shot rate is down from over 16 shot attempts per 60 minutes at five-on-five last year to 13.7 this year. That number in and of itself isn’t bad – it ties him with Chris Kreider and he’s in the top-third of the league’s forwards. We’ve also seen young guys have their shot rate drop only for it to rebound a season later (David Pastrnak comes to mind). It’s still a concern, though.

It’s also a question of usage. Going into the season, the top line was RNH-McDavid-Rattie and Leon Draisaitl was the second-line centre. This team had no right wing depth to speak of. It was time for a pool party!!!

Unless… it wasn’t.

Consistency is a problem, and not only for Pulju. He’s already been to the AHL, he has yet to play 40 minutes with any one line combination, and until recently had been stuck in the bottom-6 even when in the NHL. On a team this devoid of offensive talent outside of two or three players, that’s a death sentence.

Anyway, it won’t get better this year. It’ll be very, very interesting to see what Peter Chiarelli does with him in the off season (or earlier), assuming Chiarelli still has his job.

 

Kevin Fiala

This is a case where I’m not wondering whether Fiala or someone else on his line wasn’t playing through an injury all year. That Kyle Turris recently went on the injured reserve with an undisclosed injury tells me it may be him. Consider how the line of Fiala-Turris-Smith performed last year compared to this year by shot metrics at five-on-five (data from Corsica):

  • 2017-18: 73.1 shot attempts for/60, 52.2 shot attempts against, 58.3% shot share
  • 2018-19: 56.5 shot attempts for/60, 53.8 shot attempts against, 51.2% shot share

The expected goals metrics are worse:

  • 2017-18: 3.3 expected goals for/60, 2.1 expected goals against, 61.3% expected goal share
  • 2018-19: 2.1 expected goals for/60, 2.7 expected goals against, 43.4% expected goal share

Given that it’s the same line, with largely the same defence corps behind them, it’s weird that a line that performed so well last year has been largely underwhelming this year. Maybe Turris was injured all along.

More on the Turris thing: in the five games since Turris left the lineup, Fiala’s shot attempt rate at five-on-five is 17.87 per 60 minutes, up from 14.74 before the injury. That’s just five games and he’s also been playing with Ryan Johansen, but that Fiala is starting to shoot more is a good sign.

I’m not ready to bury Fiala’s season yet. He’s starting to show signs of turning it around and maybe whatever was ailing Turris will be better when he returns. It at least gives us hope that Fiala can break 50 points this year as many of us expected.

 

Patrick Maroon

The Blues are, in a word, a complete disaster. This is a team that can run O’Reilly/Schenn/Bozak down the middle, has wingers like Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko, and David Perron, has Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko on the blue line, and they’ve been awful this season. It’s not just goaltending, either, as the team’s adjusted shot share at five-on-five is currently sandwiched between the Kings and Islanders. Yeah, they’re bad, and there’s no reason for them to be (though recent injuries will make things worse).

There are some percentages that will turn around for Maroon. He has yet to score a five-on-five goal, has just one goal on the season (shooting 3.7 percent despite being nearly a 12 percent career shooter) and his IPP is hilariously low (second-lowest in the league at 12.5 percent). Those will help him bounce back.

One caution: Maroon’s shot attempt rate at five-on-five is about a third of what it was last year and is the lowest of his career. His percentages will turn around, but if his shot volume doesn’t the volume of goals won’t be what we’d expect.

In leagues that count hits and PIMs (or either), Maroon will carry value. The percentages will bounce back but unless that roster bounces back entirely as well, he won’t achieve the heights we’ve seen from him the last couple seasons.