Jonathan Drouin, Dougie Hamilton, Michel Therrien, and the East playoff push.
The big news from Thursday morning, naturally, was that Jonathan Drouin had been recalled by the Tampa Bay Lightning. This was in obvious response to the injuries that had piled up, and Drouin’s fairly solid goal-scoring pace in the American Hockey League this year. He did manage to score last night, by the way, and it just so happened to be the game-winner. The goal was pretty nice, too, as he forced the turnover, got the puck to a teammate, trailed behind, and snapped the drop-pass home.
It will be a very small sample to work from, but the regular season plus whatever he gets in the playoffs will certainly be interesting to watch. He won’t be playing with any of the Triplets, it appears, and that doesn’t leave a whole lot left for Drouin to play with. He was skating with Alex Killorn and Vladislav Namestnikov last night, two guys with a total of zero 20-goal seasons to their names. Drouin has not been a shooter at all in his NHL time thus far, ranking 346th out of 382 forwards since the start of last season in shots per minute at five-on-five. Without Stamkos to feed, I would like to see if Drouin shoots more or not. We may get under 10 games in this stint, which is an unreliable sample, but at the least, a deviation from his low shot rates would be a welcome sight for keeper league owners moving forward. Shots lead to goals, and both are pretty important for fantasy. Without them, Drouin will have a tough time fulfilling the fantasy potential many – myself included – saw when he was originally drafted.
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The following chart was taken from Hockey Stats, a wonderful website for easy real-time graphs of each night’s games. It shows five-on-five shot attempts, adjusted for score effects. It was downloaded shortly after Pittsburgh scored to go up 3-0 on Washington. Considering the Penguins were on the road, without Evgeni Malkin, without Olli Maatta, and facing the team that ran away with the East, this is pretty darn impressive:
The Caps eventually came back to tie the game, which is a fair reminder of why they are where they are, and forced overtime. In all, it was a pretty fun game to watch.
Yesterday’s Ramblings dealt with, in part, how the Capitals have been on cruise control for months now. These two teams seem to be on a collision course in the postseason. This is a scary, scary Penguins team when they finally get healthy.
We have ourselves a real race in the East. With the Bruins sitting at 93 points, tied with the Red Wings, and Philadelphia at 92 but with a game in hand on each, this is going down to the final few days of the regular season.
Philadelphia looks to be a dangerous team, given their performance over the last couple of months. Detroit has the intrigue, considering their completely absurd string of playoff appearances. Boston could get on a roll if Tuukka Rask plays like Tuukka Rask of a couple of years ago. For a season where a lot has been decided for a couple weeks now, it’s nice to have this race as the season winds down.
I’m a Habs fan (nobody’s perfect). This… this is awful.
As suggested on TSN's Insider Trading, expect Marc Bergevin to confirm Michel Therrien's return as Habs coach either on wknd or next week.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) April 8, 2016
Even when the Habs were completely healthy early in the season, their high-danger scoring chance differential at five-on-five was middling. Since then, it’s been a disaster. It took an injury to David Desharnais for Alex Galchenyuk to actually get prime minutes, as Galchenyuk averaged under 15 minutes a game through the first three months.
Saying, “well Carey Price was hurt” is a cop-out. Henrik Lundqvist missed close to 20 starts last year, and the Rangers were a game away from another Stanley Cup appearance. Dallas would have probably been better off this year going six skaters at all times, and they’re challenging for the first seed in the West. Nashville’s goaltending at five-on-five this year, as of Thursday night, was a .922; Montreal’s was .919. Nashville could be in the Cup Final. Montreal… well they showed Carolina what's what.
Injuries eventually caught up with this team, but the season was lost before that. It is hard to argue this coach makes this team better, and that is the only job of any professional coach.
There is a lot of time between now and free agency, but one team I would like to see make a run at Keith Yandle is the Detroit Red Wings.
Their d-men are spent. Niklas Kronwall is barely an NHLer anymore, Mike Green is certainly not the Mike Green of five years ago, there are a couple of nice options – Brendan Smith being one – but no one that can handle big, top pairing minutes, night in and night out.
The cupboard is pretty bare for unrestricted free agent defencemen this summer. After Yandle, there will be a 37-year old Brian Campbell, a 33-year old Dan Hamhuis, and then a bunch of fill-ins. Hamhuis would be a nice option, too, but at this point, I think he’s more of a complementary option to a top defenceman, rather than a top defenceman himself.
Detroit needs blue liners, and badly. Sure, the aging Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk won’t help matters, but with guys like Tatar, Nyquist, Larkin, Mantha, and others, the forward crop should be fine. The best way to build a blue line, or a team in general, is through the draft, and they have time to do that with the younger core. If they want to stay competitive while they do that, though, that blue line needs some help immediately. Yandle would go a long way in this regard. I know there are a lot of bad contracts on that team with a few years left on them, but they need to figure this out.
Bad news for Islanders fans, and Anders Lee as well. We'll see what comes of it, but a reporter wouldn't report this unless there was serious concern:
Hearing it's very bad news for Anders Lee — possible fractured leg. #Isles planning further tests tomorrow.
— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) April 8, 2016
Lee took a step back in the goal scoring department this year, but is a nice depth piece that contributes offensively. Add another Islander name to the infirmary.
Over the last 19 seasons, outside of Erik Karlsson, a comprehensive list of defencemen that have posted at least 81 points in a campaign:
[SPACE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK]
The Norris Trophy voting should be interesting.
I suppose due to the nature of their season, it has gone by pretty quietly, but Marko Dano has looked very good in a Winnipeg Jets uniform. Acquired in the Andrew Ladd trade, as of early Thursday night, Dano had seven points in 19 games. That wouldn’t seem impressive, but in just 262 minutes of total ice time, that’s a points per 60 minutes mark of 1.60. That is about the rate of a third liner. He has also been shown great possession stats when playing Alex Burmistrov, albeit in a small sample (maybe 10 games’ worth or so).
Who knows what the future brings for Dano in fantasy, but given that he has looked stellar in his limited Winnipeg sample, it’s kind of nice to seem him doing well. If he can crack the top-six next year, and get some power play time, deep leaguers should take notice.
With a goal and an assist last night, Dougie Hamilton surpassed his offensive output from last year with 43 points. It has been in nine more games than last year, but given that his ice time dropped by over a minute and a half from last year, the point per minute output is pretty similar.
Not sure how many people – and I put myself in that category – thought he would crack 40 points after posting just five points in his first 24 games. Here is the big thing with Hamilton: when he was on the ice with Kris Russell, Calgary was a 45-percent possession team, which is abysmal. When Hamilton played with literally anyone else on the Flames, the team averaged 52-percent possession, which is very impressive considering the Flames are 48-percent as a team.
Being sheltered by Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie helps a bit, but it's hard to hide a player on a bad possession team in the Western Conference. Hamilton, by all accounts, has had an excellent season for the Flames. And the first person to bring up his plus/minus gets a poke in the eye.
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