Ramblings: Early Concerns; Updates on Jones and Pettersson; Game Recaps – October 23

by Michael Clifford on October 23, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Early Concerns; Updates on Jones and Pettersson; Game Recaps – October 23

 

We have a few lineup and injury notes to get through so let’s start there.

Seth Jones should be in the lineup for Columbus on Tuesday. He skated in a full practice (again) on Monday and coach John Tortorella said after practice he’s likely to return for the team’s home game against Arizona.

Where Jones slots with the power play is uncertain. The beat writers that I saw intimated that he was practicing with the PP units, but not which specific PP units.

Which PP unit is important if only for ice time. While the forward mix has changed since the start of the season, it’s still Artemi Panarin earning 4:30 of PP ice time per game. That’s over a minute more than other regular forwards. An extra minute per game for 75(ish) games could be 6-7 PPPs. I guess we’ll know for sure once Columbus takes the ice for their game.

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Cody Ceci looks ready to return to the lineup after skating with the team on Monday. He said after practice that the official decision would come sometime Tuesday, but it should be sooner rather than later.

With the production from Max Lajoie and the superlative play of Thomas Chabot, not to mention good days from Chris Wideman, Ceci may never see the power play. On the other hand, he’s not drafted in fantasy leagues for point production anyway. All this does is limit his upside. As long as the even strength and PK minutes are there, so too will his peripherals.

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The Kings have sent rookie Jaret Anderson-Dolan to the AHL. The second-round pick from 2017 had one assist and six shots in five games.

Los Angeles needs their young players to pan out soon because their depth is horrid. All the same, this is likely the right move. He had his chance playing higher in the lineup and nothing materialized. Let him go get some big minutes in the minors and try again next year.

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Boo Nieves was skating in a non-contact jersey with his teammates on Monday. He looks close to returning after suffering a concussion a month ago.

Not that there’s much fantasy relevance here immediately but he could take the spot of a Rangers forward who is fantasy relevant right now. Keep an eye out for line combinations.

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It appears as though Elias Pettersson could be back very soon for the Canucks. He took part in the game-day skate on Monday and is expected to talk to the media on Tuesday. That’s a very good sign for him, his team, and fantasy owners. And just fans of hockey in general; the game is at its best when its young stars are flourishing.

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The Coyotes should have Alex Galchenyuk back very soon, maybe as early as Tuesday, as he skated on the top line with Clayton Keller in practice on Monday and the coach said he is a game-time decision. Lawson Crouse was on the left wing.

This is big news for Arizona. It’s no secret the team has had trouble scoring in the early going and that’s definitely an area where Galchenyuk can help. It’ll be fun to watch he and Keller develop chemistry.

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Sometimes, the puck just doesn’t want to seem to settle for you. The Philadelphia Flyers had their chances in a home matchup with Colorado, but mostly couldn’t finish. Nolan Patrick redirected one shot past Semyon Varlamov but the Avalanche netminder stopped 37 others in Colorado’s 4-1 win.

Naturally, it was Colorado’s top line that did nearly all the damage. Mikko Rantanen had two goals, Gabriel Landeskog had another, and Matt Nieto scored the fourth.

Jakub Voracek once again skated on the second line and assisted on Patrick’s goal. Voracek now has 12 points in 9 games this season.

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The Red Wings got dragged up and down the ice by Carolina in their home game Monday. At one point in the first period, the shots were 13-0 Hurricanes and they were 36-12 after the second. Thankfully, Carolina slowed down in the third period. Unlike previous iterations of the Hurricanes, this team managed to score and win 3-1.

Ironically, after the team managed just two power play goals in their first eight games, their first two goals in this contest came with the man advantage. The first from Justin Faulk and the second from Micheal Ferland (look for a bit on Ferland in Cam Metz’s Eastern Edge posted Tuesday morning). Andreas Athanasiou replied for the Wings while Jordan Martinook put away the empty netter.

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Those hoping this would be the year for Jack Roslovic’s breakout, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news:

Winnipeg came back from a 3-1 third-period deficit to win 5-4 in overtime largely thanks to their number-1 centre (and a guy I’ll discuss later). Mark Scheifele assisted and scored the two goals necessary to tie the game 3-3 and then assisted on Jacob Trouba’s overtime winner for the 5-4 win. Scheifele had two goals and two assists on the night.

The ice time allocation for the Jets was really lopsided in this one. Brendan Lemieux played under two minutes, Jack Roslovic just over three, and Joe Morrow skated for 6:17. Meanwhile, Dustin Byfuglien cracked the 28-minute mark with every forward in the top-6 save for Nikolaj Ehlers (who was eventually moved down the lineup) managed over 20 minutes.

Ryan O’Reilly had a goal and two assists in reply for the Blues with Vince Dunn and David Perron each adding one and one.

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A game between Washington and Vancouver went just about how one would expect a game between Washington and Vancouver to go. Alex Ovechkin had two goals and two assists, John Carlson had one and two, TJ Oshie had one and one, Nicklas Backstrom had three helpers, and Evgeny Kuznetsov has a solo tally to all lead the Caps to a 5-2 win.

Brock Boeser had an assist and two shots on goal in the loss. On the season, he has 23 shots in 10 games, nowhere near enough for him to flirt with the 40-goal mark like some of us thought he could, and even 30 goals would be tough. He needs to start shooting more.

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Last week in these Ramblings I covered a few early stats that fantasy owners should keep an eye on, specifically focusing on line stats and individual shot rates. Again, this is still very early in the NHL season. For evaluation purposes, I don’t touch my fantasy rosters until October, with exceptions being injury or demotion. It’s a delicate balance in fantasy leagues; owners need to wait until we have a decent sample to work with before making decisions, but wait too long and someone else in your fantasy league will get the first bite at the apple. In general, I favour aggressiveness over passivity, but I would wait until we have a few more games of data to work with for each team.

Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, I had to make a decision today, whether on a team or a specific player. Maybe I had a waiver move to make or a trade offer to consider. Maybe there’s a close race developing at the top of my league and aggressive moves need to be made to separate myself.

Regardless the reason, there are some emerging storylines that, at the very least, should be monitored. Here are some that stick out for me. Data via Corsica as of Monday afternoon. 

 

There’s something wrong with the Jets

The line of Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele, and Blake Wheeler has been absolutely torched by the opposition to start the season. In nearly 110 minutes together, the trio has controlled 45.9 percent of the adjusted shot share at five on five, their expected goal share is under 43 percent, and their actual goal share is abysmal. That last part doesn’t matter too much for evaluation purposes but the first two points sure do.

This is a deviation from last year. The line was over 52 percent and 54 percent, respectively, in those first two categories in 2017-18. For fantasy purposes, having such a poor shot share is not in and of itself a significant issue. There are players from bad teams or skating on bad lines aren’t automatically disqualified from fantasy relevance; just think of the Tavares or Eichel line from last year. The problem for Connor-Wheeler-Scheifele is they are generating absolutely no offence, clocking in at 45.1 shot attempts per 60 minutes. Among the top-12 most-used lines in the NHL this year, they’re last in this regard, and a distant last at that as no other team is below 50 shot attempts per 60 minutes.

It’s not as if they’ve had a brutal schedule to start the year, either. Their eight games have been in STL, in DAL, vs. LAK, at NSH, vs. CAR, vs. EDM, vs. VAN, and vs. ARI. It’s possible we see one playoff team emerge from that group, and the Jets are basically mid-pack in adjusted shot share, coming in below 50 percent as a team.

If the Winnipeg top line can fix their woes, this team can turn around things in a hurry. But it’s been a brutal start to their year for the top line, even if Connor has seven points to lead the way. Fantasy owners need to decide whether this start portends things to come or is just a 100-minute blip, because now would be the time to either trade them away or trade for them, depending on your view.

 

The Ducks are terrible

Injuries played a factor early in the Anaheim season undoubtedly. They lost Corey Perry, Ondrej Kase, and Ryan Getzlaf early on. They recently got Getzlaf back but lost Jakob Silfverberg. I was thinking to myself, “ok things are bad, but once Getzlaf is back, they’ll start to turn things around.”

Not quite.

They got Getzlaf back on the weekend and got absolutely thrashed by the Golden Knights on Saturday. The score was just 3-1 but Anaheim’s shot share came in just over 42 percent at five on five in that game. Not to mention that Vegas has their own significant injuries and suspensions they’re dealing with.

Sunday wasn’t much better as the Ducks lost 4-2 to Buffalo and the Sabres scorched them to the tune of a shot share over 60 percent. So yes, they got Getzlaf back, and then they got dominated on the road to a team missing Paul Stastny and Nate Schmidt, then got dominated at home by the Sabres, at best a middle-of-the-road team.

Sure, they’ll be a bit better once they get their wingers back but adding a couple second-line wingers won’t turn a 40 percent shot share team into a 50 percent shot share team. John Gibson owners will need him to play out of his mind in order to put up respectable win and goals against totals.

 

Tampa Bay lines will be an issue

We’ve already seen it so far this year: JT Miller has been moved to the fourth line, Brayden Point is skating with Steven Stamkos, the Triplets line has been reunited, and Yanni Gourde is skating top line minutes. We’ve also seen Alex Killorn take the top PP spot away from Point. All this and we’re still over a week away from Halloween.

A lot of fantasy owners like to draft pairs or entire lines. This can work out very well if a line stays together most of the year. Many people probably targeted JT Miller to pair with Stamkos or Kucherov for this exact purpose. The power play correlation is still there, at least. For now, anyway.

This is a team facing significant pressure. It’s a team built for a Stanley Cup. Not a playoff appearance, not win a round. It’s Stanley Cup or bust. As we’ve seen already, if the smallest thing starts to go wrong, we will see changes, some of them being significant. I wager we’ll see this all year long.

 

What do you fantasy owners and readers say? Are these situations where you agree or disagree? Even though it’s still very early in the season, what situations are raising a concern for you? Let us know in the comments.

 

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