Ramblings: Ducks-Caps Postponed, Ekblad Returns, Getzlaf Slow (Jan. 23)

by steve laidlaw on January 23, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Ducks-Caps Postponed, Ekblad Returns, Getzlaf Slow (Jan. 23)

Ducks-Capitals game postponed, Ekblad makes his return, Getzlaf a step slow, and more.

UPDATE: The Capitals-Penguins game tomorrow has indeed been postponed, as has the Islanders-Flyers game this evening. Adjust your lineups accordingly.


The NHL decided to cancel the Capitals-Ducks contest schedule for 5 pm EST yesterday due to a storm set to hit the East Coast. No word on the makeup date yet. This throws some head-to-head matchups into a bit of disarray as it will certainly cost man-games this week. This being a cross-continental matchup won’t make it easy to reschedule either.

The Ducks do have a trip East in early February but their road trips are always tightly packed. No easy solution here. Monitor when this game is rescheduled for, however as it could add a game to the mix for these teams come head-to-head playoff time.

There is also some concern about the Capitals-Penguins game for Sunday. The NHL plans to make a decision on that game by this morning so I’ll have an afternoon update for you after that news breaks.

The biggest losers in this might be the Braden Holtby owners if they don’t get another start out of him this week.


All the narratives were in play against the Blackhawks last night on the back half of a back-to-back in which they had lost a close one to end a long winning streak so it was a classic letdown game. Plus the backup, Scott Darling was in. Plus they have struggled on the road. On top of that, the Panthers were getting back Aaron Ekblad and were well-rested having last played on Monday night.

4-0 loss for the Blackhawks. Not surprising at all.

I was excited to hear that the Blackhawks pulled the goalie with over eight minutes remaining in the game while down four goals. You need a miracle in that scenario regardless of strategy but the aggressive goalie pull is an exciting move. Stick tap to coach Quenneville for that one.

Tough game for Andrew Shaw, in particular as he took a puck to the face and was lost for a good chunk of the game. He only skated 7:56 overall but did finish the game.

Jiri Sekac snagged some of Shaw’s minutes on the top line while the latter was out of the game but he ultimately didn’t do much in his Blackhawk debut. Only 11:19 of ice time for Sekac.

Teuvo Teravainen took a huge hit from Erik Gudbranson but was no worse for wear. Teravainen has been largely irrelevant here in 2016, with just three points in 12 games thus far, despite the Blackhawks continuing to win.

It’s hard to see where Teravainen is going to get points. Top unit power-play time is out of the question, as are minutes anywhere near Artemi PanarinArtem AnisimovPatrick Kane with the way that line is rolling. Teravainen has gotten some run with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa but that line has turned into a full-blown shutdown line with Marcus Kruger out of the lineup. So it’s third line duties for Teravainen and they aren’t employing anyone of much interest outside of the previous names.

One intriguing name is Richard Panik, who got back into the lineup after sitting Thursday night for sleeping in. Panik has three points in six games with the Blackhawks. He probably doesn’t find relevance in most leagues but is out there as an intriguing developmental option.


As mentioned previously, Ekblad was back for the Panthers and it is impossible to understate his importance to the Panthers who lost four straight without the big defenseman. 20:31 of ice time for Ekblad with a plus-two rating and a goal. Not bad.

Roberto Luongo gets back in our good graces without a shutout win. If you were waiting all week for Luongo to finally make a start, he was worth the wait.

Brandon Pirri was scratched by the Panthers last night. This being trade season there is all sorts of speculation that Pirri is headed elsewhere. I don’t see the deal that gets the goal-starved Panthers to move on from their young sniper. Speculating is incredibly fun, however.

Panthers lines without Pirri:














Quinton Howden jumping onto the third line is intriguing. He has goals in back-to-back games. It’s unlikely he has much fantasy relevance but it’s good to see him finally contributing. It’s been six years since Howden was drafted, if you can believe it.


Second straight game without Kyle Turris or Mark Methot for the Senators. It did not end well as they lost 5-2.

Another Herculean effort from Erik Karlsson goes to waste. Two more points in 32 minutes of action. That pushes him to 51 points on the season, 10 points up on Brent Burns: the next best defenseman. I cannot overstate the value of Karlsson in fantasy leagues. Having a guy who scores as many as 20 more than anyone at his position is a huge advantage. I mean, he is fourth in overall scoring this season.

Mark Stone had one of his stronger offensive games in a while. He had three SOG, his most since December 30th. He isn’t a big shooter, mind you, but when he is shooting a lot you know he is getting involved. He got robbed on the doorstep by Jaroslav Halak after a really nice deke move. That’s just the way it is going for Stone right now. He is scoreless in six straight.

More injury trouble as Milan Michalek went down with a broken finger. He is out indefinitely. This will stretch an already thin forward group in Ottawa.


I have been waiting all week to get action from my Islanders players and they certainly delivered.

John Tavares, Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo and Travis Hamonic all had two-point efforts. The first three are easily your top three for fantasy value on this team as they are consistently seeing time with one another on the top power-play unit. They are constants. I have frequently used a Nielsen-Okposo stack as a cheap option in Daily Fantasy though I may be biased towards these two since I’ve had them on my dynasty roster for a couple of years now.

This was Tavares’ first multi-point effort of 2016. He will need a few more if he is going to get back to a point-per-game pace. Tavares has been held scoreless in half of his games so far, which just seems criminal for such a talent but this is where we are at.

Hamonic’s two-point effort comes as a bit of a surprise. He just isn’t known for his scoring production but this was particularly curious coming off an injury related absence. The Islanders aren’t scoffing at any offense from their blueline, however.

Nick Leddy is your defenseman of interest for points from the Islanders defense. He has turned it on with nine points in his last 11 games including his first three goals of the season, two of which have come of the power-play. I have been complaining about the use of Leddy as the point man on the power play given his inability to shoot one-timers but if he is going to be scoring goals I will rescind those complaints.


Petr Mrazek didn’t have to do much but he stopped all 19 shots he faced for a shutout victory. Mrazek is on fire having allowed two goals or fewer in eight straight starts and has quietly taken control of the Red Wings crease.

Jimmy Howard has been good this year but Mrazek is the reason this team is in a playoff spot. I’d look for Mrazek’s usage to increase in the second half as every game increases in importance.

Tomas Tatar got over his flu bug to get back into the lineup but was stricken with a whole new illness – poor linemates:














No points for Tatar, as you can imagine. Not that Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco are bad, they just aren’t Datsyuk.

Meanwhile, a two-point night for Dylan Larkin who was back on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader. The underlying stats suggest regression is coming for Larkin but he continues to blow the doors off.

I do like the idea of sticking the frigid cold Gustav Nyquist with Pavel Datsyuk to try and get him going. No luck so far. That’s just six points in the last 20 games for Nyquist.

I ran a Twitter poll the other day on who would be preferred for the rest of the season: Nyquist or Carl Soderberg? Soderberg won by a narrow margin, which speaks to the savviness of my Twitter followers. Stick tap to you guys.

The issue is that Soderberg is owned in just 33% of all Yahoo! leagues, while Nyquist remains owned in 74% of Yahoo! leagues. I don’t know which cognitive bias is at play here but whatever the one that makes people latch onto guys who start the season strong, while ignoring the guys who start slow but turn it on, is a bias we should all recognize and actively avoid falling into.

Here’s a whole list of cognitive biases that we should all try and avoid in fantasy leagues and in life in general. I probably go back and read that list at least once a year to remind myself of all the pitfalls I have been falling into as a fantasy owner.


There were concerns that Derick Brassard might miss last night’s game due to illness. He did play skating just over 15 minutes but had no points.

Chris Kreider did miss last night’s game due to neck spasms. That would have been a bigger deal but JT Miller is sizzling right now. Two goals for Miller last night to give him four in the last four games and eight in the last 17. Miller has seen over 15 minutes of action in many of those games while taking advantage of Kreider’s frequent absence.

Ryan McDonagh scored a goal last night to give him points in four straight and seven points in the last seven games. McDonagh has really been hot since the end of October. Just one point in 11 October games for McDonagh and 23 in 36 since. We are heading towards his best fantasy season yet.

Be warned, however, that McDonagh’s on-ice shooting percentage is far too high at 10.6%, especially for someone who sees as much ice as McDonagh does. The only big-minute defensemen with higher on-ice shooting percentages are Methot and TJ Brodie, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic is tied with McDonagh. We all know the company that those three keep.


Erik Johnson was not in the lineup last night but he is scheduled to get back in tonight. That’s a huge boost for the Avalanche who continue to linger in the playoff hunt, especially after a big comeback shootout win against St. Louis.

Johnson likely pushes Nick Holden out of a power-play slot. Holden wasn’t doing much with the minutes, anyhow, though the Avs broadcast team did have a great time comparing him to Rob Blake based on the peripheral numbers he has put up. To be fair to them, Holden having 140 hits at this point of the season is awfully impressive as he ranks 11th in the league.

Alex Tanguay was held off the board but not for lack of trying. He just floats into the soft spots in the defense as teams break their necks watching Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon race around. Tanguay had no less than three opportunities open in front of the goal only to have Brian Elliott rob him one way or another. Elliott is giving plenty of guys nightmares with how he has played lately.


Intriguing piece here on how Vladimir Tarasenko generates the most scoring chances of anyone in the league:

What’s most impressive about Tarasenko this year, though, is that he’s not leading these stats by a slim margin. Tarasenko makes 8.9 scoring chance-generating plays per 20 minutes at even strength, and the next best player in the entire league (a tie between Artemi Panarin, Patrick Kane, Evgeni Malkin, and Jason Spezza) makes 7.7. If you took the 1.2 event gap between Tarasenko and the players tied for second and looked at how many players fit in between 7.7 and 6.5 scoring chance-generating plays per minute, you’d be all the way down in the late-20s.

Plenty of these chances are getting shot by Tarasenko himself but you do wonder if the Blues’ desperate search for another scoring forward isn’t entirely unfounded. With another finisher maybe more of these scoring chances start finding the back of the net? For the record, I have really enjoyed Robby Fabbri alongside Tarasenko but I think the solution is getting Alex Steen back with Tarasenko when Jaden Schwartz returns.

Schwartz is a good enough two-way guy to replicate the line balance Steen has provided by dropping down in the lineup. Or maybe Schwartz teams up with Tarasenko!?!?!

Schwartz did begin skating with the team this week though it does feel like he is still a couple of weeks away. This is close enough to where you want to pick him up and stash him if he is available on the waiver wire.


Interesting stuff on Ryan Getzlaf from Elliotte Friedman:

“No. 1, I had a chance to have a long talk yesterday with a Western Conference coach. I was chatting with him on something. They’re a team that’s played Anaheim a couple of times this year. I just said, ‘What is it there?’

“He just goes, ‘Getzlaf is a step slow. He’s a step behind all the time.’

“I said, ‘Why?’

“He goes, ‘I don’t know. I don’t understand it.’

“We don’t know if he’s hurt. Or if this is a one-year thing. Or maybe he’s lost a step. I don’t know what it is.

A couple of notes:

This explains a lot. Getzlaf has picked it up but he is still on pace for just 50 points. Not cutting it. I haven’t noticed the lost step in my viewings but there’s no question that I am not watching as much hockey as an NHL coach so you have to concede to their authority.

Getzlaf has had a season like this one in the past, when he scored just 11 goals and 57 points back in 2011-12 and then came back with a vengeance the next two seasons. He was 26 at that time and he is 30 now so this is a different animal.

I don’t think there is a doubt that Getzlaf is past his prime but his is a game that should age gracefully as long as injuries don’t keep him out of the lineup. It is worth mentioning that injuries have been a greater factor for Getzlaf than say, Joe Thornton, who I often use as a comparable for how Getzlaf’s big-bodied, puck control/playmaking might age well.

I remain a believer in Getzlaf’s talent. I watch the Ducks and he continues to generate chances. Maybe he is a step slow and that’s the difference between a goal and a close chance but to me getting the chances is more important. Maybe you get out on Getzlaf this season and then jump back in for next year. Maybe that step slow notion is bang on and he simply needs to adjust to his new reality. An off-season of R+R+R (rest, relaxation and reflection) might be what is required here after a couple of seasons with long playoff runs tacked on at the end.

Think about it, with the 2014 Olympics added into the mix, plus playoff runs, Getzlaf has played 35 extra games the previous two season, on top of skating in 77 regular season games in each of those seasons. That is a lot of tough hockey at the highest level. 


No real update available regarding Sergei Bobrovsky. He is back on IR and out indefinitely.


John Moore is headed back on IR with a lower-body injury.

We talked yesterday about there not being a defenseman on the Devils worth owning in your average fantasy league. Moore threatened to become relevant for a few weeks there but it never took. Injuries have all but derailed that now.


The Leafs are the front-runners for Russian free agent Nikita Zaitsev. Zaitsev, a puck-moving 24-year-old defenseman has 18 goals and 54 points in his last 96 games in the lower scoring KHL. To give you a barometer, Yevgeni Medvedev, who has made a minor splash with the Flyers, scored six goals and 40 points in his last 93 games in the KHL. Zaitsev could certainly be fantasy relevant when he comes available this spring.


A collision with Rene Bourque has left John Tortorella with a couple of broken ribs. That has to be extremely satisfying for all the folks who lamented Tortorella for his treatment of Ryan Johansen during the first half of the season. If you aren’t a fan of Tortorella’s sound bites it’s safe to say you get a reprieve on that front as well.


Dobber answers your questions in his latest mailbag.


Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw. For more help in your fantasy league, pick up the Dobberhockey Mid-Season guide full with over 600 player projections for the second half of the season.