Ramblings: Eating crow on Ferland, buying low on Pulock, Coach Q must be Joking, and what the Pionk? (Oct 22)
Let’s kick things off with my first crow-eating party of the year. I completely whiffed on Micheal Ferland and not only that, but looking at it closely now – I should not have. This situation was custom-built for a classic Dobber call: one where I hit it out of the park by going bold when everyone else goes meek. Of course Carolina is going to play the crap out of him – they want to add sandpaper to the forward corps. They went out and swung a big trade to land this guy (agitating Marchand-type who can play in the top six with big fellas). Instead, I got so focused on the Dougie Hamilton part of the deal that I lost sight of that. I even had him as the No.1 player that this trade would hurt. All I saw was a deep forward corps that still had Jeff Skinner, and had two prospects who needed to clear waivers (Valentin Zykov, Lucas Wallmark), another prospect who was probably sticking (Andrei Svechnikov), plus other rookies knocking on the door (even then, I really liked Warren Foegele). In my mind, Ferland would play an energy role and I didn’t give it a second thought. I’m kicking myself for that one and cost some of you a really good pick there. I am sorry.
As for what’s ahead – the 26-year-old is going to surprise us with 60-plus points this year and that is just how Brad Marchand surprised us when he was 27. I don’t think he can take the next step the way Marchand did, but while many poolies will be in full “sell high” mode for Ferland the way they were with Marchand back in 2016…I will be in “buy” mode. He’ll have another gear. I am very confident of this, I just wish I caught the obvious logic sooner.
Young defensemen Ryan Pulock and Brandon Montour each picked up a point in their first game of the season and haven’t done much since. A pointless run of six and seven games respectively heading into Sunday. Both players are trying to establish strong positions in terms of ice and PP time (at least their fantasy owners hope so), and this is a key year for each of them. In the case of Pulock, he has been leading his team in ice time and lately has been given more PP time over Nick Leddy. But it has come to nothing so far. As for Montour – he snapped out of his funk Sunday with an assist early in the game, plus a second one later. I believe in both of these players, just play the long game with these two. You can’t give up on your strong hunches in seven or eight games when everything else is lining up properly (steady, high ice time, PP time, etc.). Montour owners are already getting rewarded for their patience. Pulock owners will, too.
Despite playing mostly with Josh Bailey and Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier is pointless in six games. At this point I start looking into acquiring him. Perhaps his owner will drop him soon (in limited keepers with lots of transactions) or perhaps his owner is just getting impatient. I think he’ll figure it out eventually, though I wouldn’t give up a ton to get him.
Everything’s coming up Millhouse for David Rittich owners. Sunday’s 44-save performance gives him two strong games in two starts, while starter Mike Smith struggles and the next guy supposedly in line (at least I believe so) Jon Gillies is struggling in the AHL. No back-to-back games are coming up until eight days from now, but you have to think Rittich will get a start before then.
Elias Lindholm remains on the big line and that’s where he’ll stay, barring a 10-game pointless drought. The job was his to begin with and he’s gonna run with it. James Neal – pshaw. The Gaudreau line scored twice Sunday and Lindholm got zero points, but he had two on Friday so it’s not as if he’s slumping. It happens.
As someone who grabbed Auston Czarnik with the second last pick of one of my drafts, I was happy with his strong preseason and his decent start. I’m really looking for just 40 points this year and a firm footing in the NHL. But along comes Garnet Hathaway, who has come in strong and was rewarded with two goals Sunday. Hathaway has 14 hits in four games now, and four PIM. He’s not going to give up his spot anytime soon. I suspect that Czarnik will need an injury to James Neal or Michael Frolik before he can get into the lineup and be given a longer leash.
Speaking of Neal, he has one point in his last seven games.
I can’t believe Neal Pionk is leading the Rangers in ice time. He was a healthy scratch last week and now he’s the big minute-muncher. He has four points in two games now and three of them were on the power play. Last year five of his 14 points were on the power play. In all he has 18 points in 34 games and is starting to eat away at Kevin Shattenkirk’s PP time.
Shatty has two points all season and just one on the power play. He is still getting his legs back after missing the last three months of 2017-18. But still, generally speaking he is more of a first-half player. I remember at least two occasions where he was close to a point-per-game player at the 25-game mark, so this is concerning. Did knee surgery cause him to lose a step? Will he come to regret only signing for four years at higher salary when he could have signed for seven years at slightly less? Let’s just say I have concerns, as I start to buy in a little on the Neal Pionk hype. I’m comfortable with saying Pionk will hit 30 this year, and hopeful that he can hit 40 or even 42 or 43. There is a limit to what Rangers’ defensemen could possibly score this year, keep in mind.
After one point in seven games to start the season, Ryan Spooner was a healthy scratch for the Rangers. Good ol’ Spooner. He had it good, arriving in New York last year and posting 16 points in 20 games with a nice bump in ice time. But he takes his foot off the gas whenever he feels safe in terms of his job. Hopefully this scratch wakes him up again or Spooner owners will be in trouble.
Tampa Bay set an NHL record when they fired 33 shots on net last night. Not impressed? Oh yeah – it was in one period! Forgot that part. Just three power plays that period, too. Anthony Cirelli had nine shots on goal to lead the way.
So Cam Ward faced 54 shots and stopped 49 of them.
What can I say about Steven Stamkos? I keep opining here that he is a 35- or 40-goal, 65- or 70-point player who has the ability to mesh very well with superstars. When he had Martin St. Louis on his line, he was getting 97 points. When he had Nikita Kucherov on his line he was getting 86 points (last year). We all assumed that he would play with Kucherov again this year, but so far it hasn’t really happened. The offense is being spread out with Stamkos playing with Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde, while the Triplets (Kucherov, Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson) are reunited. J.T. Miller is playing with fourth-line players and still leading the team (tied) in points.
So how can Miller get points playing with Ryan Callahan and Cedric Paquette? While Stamkos can’t get a point playing with Gourde and Point, when Point had three points on Sunday? I wish I had an answer for you. I can explain why Miller still gets his points – the guy is entering his prime now and he was a 15th overall draft pick, and frankly I think he’s the third or fourth best offensive forward on the team and every bit as good as Point offensively. But Stammer? The loss of Kucherov on his line is hitting him hard. He’s also starting in the defensive zone more thanks to his responsible linemates. But why isn’t he getting in on their (Point and Gourde’s) production when they score? I’ll chalk it up to a run-of-the-mill slump until things get past 10 games.
By the way, I cringed writing the above almost as much as you cringed reading it. I mean: “point playing with Gourde and Point, when Point had three points”? Really? Why did a good NHL player have to be named “Point”?
From the NHL, the top game-winning-goal scorers in the league since Point made his debut:
Nathan MacKinnon 17
Brad Marchand 17
Filip Forsberg 16
Brayden Point 15 (tied with Atkinson, Monahan, Schenn and Matthews)
I hate it when coaches get impatient. Henri Jokiharju went three games without a point and immediately was dropped to the second PP unit. Yesterday Joel Quenneville took him right off the power play altogether and Chicago got their asses kicked. If Quenneville was happy with the results last year with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook running the power play, then he’s doing a great job of trying to repeat it. But if he wants an improvement, Jokiharju is the answer. Not only was he injecting new life into Keith, but he was a shots machine. After getting five points in three games to start the year (11 shots), he had 10 shots on goal in the next three games. Even without the PP time, Jokiharju had four shots in two games. I have him benched for this week, and he’ll have to stay there until Coach Q comes to his senses.
Martin Necas was sent to the minors a few days ago and it’s only a matter of time before another highly-touted rookie goes the same route. Casey Mittelstadt has had a miserable time in the NHL so far this year with one point in nine games. This is despite substantial power-play time and having pretty solid linemates (usually Jeff Skinner and Kyle Okposo, but Evan Rodrigues was in Skinner’s spot last night). I think both Necas and Mittelstadt could do well with 30 games in the AHL, get back the swagger and then return for a better NHL splash.
Jakob Silfverberg has a fracture at the top of his finger and he plans to play with the injury. His glove has been fitted to handle and absorb vibrations in his stick. From what I can guess, he is just taking a few days for the pain to go away completely and then he can play while the fracture heals.
Well, I guess it doesn’t matter who Max Comtois plays with, he’s still getting points. Another one for him Sunday with usual linemate Silfverberg out of the lineup.
The Ducks have now allowed an average of 37.9 shots on goal per game. They were outshot by 17 on Sunday and lost. But that's how it's been – getting outshot badly, win or lose, typical Carlyle-coached team. John Gibson is a great goalie, but you still have to get the feeling that the wins are a house of cards ready to topple. If they somehow get a team like this to 100 points, not only should Gibson get the Vezina but he should also get the Hart. I say this when, of course, Ryan Miller was in net Sunday. But the point remains – Gibson is giving the Ducks these wins.
The Oilers called up Cooper Marody from the AHL Sunday. While Kailer Yamamoto will likely get the sweet Connor McDavid spot, Marody could get a shift there too if Yamamoto fails to produce. Marody has six points in five games to lead Bakersfield in scoring early on. Keep an eye on this.
All this is happening, of course, because Ty Rattie is sidelined for “multiple” weeks with a mid-body injury. *cough*cough* Bochenski.
Remember Brandon Bochenski? Led the preseason in scoring with the Senators because he clicked so well with Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza. Then a game or two into the season he suffered an injury that cost him a big chunk of games – maybe 20? Anyway, he returned and couldn’t regain his mojo. The rest, we say, is history – he now dominates the KHL with eight consecutive years of being one of the top scorers there.
Is that Ty Rattie’s fate? Gawd I hope not. I paid to acquire him. I watched his last shift over and over again about 10 times, trying to see what was the matter. A mid-body injury makes the most sense, as it was more like he twisted around too quickly or at an odd angle when he picked up the puck. So is this pectoral muscle or a stomach muscle? Did it tear? What does “multi-week” mean? I will assume three weeks and assume he misses 11 games.
Check out Jeff Skinner at the 1:12 mark hopping in the air over players and landing wonderfully for a 9.8 from the Russian judge…
See you next Monday.
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