Ramblings: Evander Kane Pops Four; Kuznetsov Injured; Forsberg Friday – March 17

by Michael Clifford on March 17, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Evander Kane Pops Four; Kuznetsov Injured; Forsberg Friday – March 17

While the Sabres wouldn’t commit to it, Jack Eichel looks ready to make his return to the lineup Saturday for their afternoon tilt against Chicago. He has missed 15 games with an ankle injury.

For those on their way to the head-to-head semi-finals, this is huge. The team has four games next week including the Rangers, Canadiens, and Coyotes. If he was on your roster and you’re out of H2H playoffs… better luck next year?

Kyle Okposo also skated having been sidelined with concussion issues but he’s further away from suiting up.

*

James Neal returned to the Golden Knights but did so on the top line with Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson. The coach wanted to leave the second line of Perron-Haula-Tatar together. I suspect that once Reilly Smith is ready to go, however, Tatar returns back to the third line and the top-six returns to the iteration we have seen the majority of the season.

*

TJ Oshie has now scored in back-to-back games with his first-period power-play tally against the Islanders last night. It’s the first time since games 2 and 3 of the season that he scored in consecutive contests. For perspective, he did it six times last season in just 68 games played, including a stretch where he scored in four straight. He needs one more power-play point to tie a career-high in this regard.

Jakub Vrana had his first multi-point night since November 22nd with a goal and an assist. He did that in under nine minutes of ice time. He has six points in his last eight games while averaging under 11 minutes a game. Maybe give him some more ice time?

For fun: since time on ice started being kept 20 years ago, there have been 65 forwards to play at least 75 games and amass at least 25 points while totalling under 1000 minutes (he won’t reach 1000). Vrana, should he play the balance of the season, would make 66. Should he get to 30 points somehow, he’d be just the 29th player to do so.

Evgeny Kuznetsov assisted on Oshie’s PP goal and it was his 70th point of the year.

Things took a turn for the worse for Kuznetsov, though. Very late in the second period he was on a partial breakaway and after a slash from Jordan Eberle and what looked like getting tangled in the goaltender’s stick, he went crashing into the boards. He stayed down for a few minutes and looked to be holding his left wrist skating off. He did not return and we won’t get an update until Saturday afternoon at the earliest.

In the short-term, the Caps left their second and third lines together and just moved Travis Boyd up to play with Ovechkin. I’m fairly certain that won’t be a long-term solution should they need one.

*

Tyler Seguin set a career-high in goals with 38 with his own first-period power-play marker against the Senators. Alexander Radulov had an assist on the goal and now each of Dallas’s Big Four has at least 20 power-play points.

It was a pretty tic-tac-goal, too:

Mike Hoffman came up big for the Sens, assisting on Ottawa’s late third-period goal that would help push them to overtime (the Stars tied it up late) and then scoring the overtime winner. He had three shots total, giving him 225 on the year. He needs 18 more to set a career-best. The assist on the team’s second goal was his 50th point of the year.

Jamie Benn had a huge game for roto owners, racking two assists (one on the PP), five shots, a blocked shot, and a hit.

Erik Karlsson’s two assists puts him two points back of John Klingberg for the league lead among blue liners.

*

Evander Kane was a game-time decision for the Sharks. Luckily for them, he ended up in the lineup. Kane scored four of San Jose’s seven goals on the way to the win. He had seven shots total.

It was Kane’s first four-goal game of his career and the fourth in the NHL this season (Connor McDavid, Patrice Bergeron, Alex Ovechkin).

Oddly enough, on seven goals, Kane and Tomas Hertl (goal and assist) were the only players with multi-point games. Hertl needs one more tally to reach 20 on the season.

Mike Smith was pulled after the sixth goal.

Micheal Ferland had a solid night for himself with a goal, assists, one additional shot, two blocks, and three hits. That’s how you stuff the stat sheet.

*

Filip Forsberg had two goals on five shots to lead the Preds over the Avs and Forsberg has now reached 20 goals for the season.

PK Subban had a monster fantasy night with an assist, a plus-1 rating, five shots, one block, four penalty minutes, and two hits.

*

On the subject of monster fantasy nights: Zach Parise. In the Wild's 4-2 over Vegas, in Vegas, he scored the empty netter to help his fantasy owners out. Beyond that, though, he had six more shots on goal, one blocked shot, four penalty minutes, and a plus-1 rating. He now has five goals and a whopping 38 shots on target in eight March contests. He's coming through in the clutch when fantasy owners need him most. It's also nice to see him return to form a bit after struggling with injuries for a few years now.

Jason Zucker had a goal and an assist in the game. He now needs one more marker to reach 30 for the first time in his career. 

In his return to the lineup, James Neal played nearly 17 minutes with a minus-2 rating, no points, and three shots. He might need a few games to settle in. 

*

Jakob Silfverberg had two assists in Anaheim's win over Detroit and, believe it or not, it's his first two-assist game of the season. He had three in each of the previous two seasons. I know he's not typically counted on for assists, but his first multi-assist game of the year coming in the third week of March is a bit ridiculous. 

*

I know this is of interest to Dobber: the Professional Hockey Writers Association announced that after a vote of their members, they will be making ballots public. This is an effort to boost transparency.

Dobber already does this for his ballots, as do many others. But now we get to see which members voted for which players and that should help readers identify writers who, let’s say, lean favourably more towards certain teams.

*

It’s pretty cool to see Andreas Athanasiou having the season he’s having. He was a guy held down by the organization for a couple years and even when he was with the big club often found himself in the doghouse. He was jerked around at contract time and is making the team look foolish for doing so.

Here’s what’s impressive to me: he’s inside the top-30 forwards in individual shot attempts per 60 minutes this year at five-on-five, ahead of prolific shooters like Max Pacioretty and Nikita Kucherov. It’s at this point where it’s worth noting the Habs are seventh in the league in team shot attempts per 60 minutes and Tampa Bay is 11th. Detroit is a bottom-5 team in shot attempts, ranking just ahead of Vancouver. On a 15-minute basis, Pacioretty takes 6.9 percent of the team’s shots. Kucherov takes 6.8 percent. Athanasiou takes 7.8 percent.

Athanasiou is piling up the shots on a team that doesn’t pile up the shots.

I thought I would go through some other players doing the same, just to keep in mind for next season.

 

Tyler Toffoli

Despite a horrific streak from early January through late February that saw the sniper pocket just one goal, Toffoli has 23 tallies on the season, tying him for second-most of his career. He’s on pace for 27 goals and is doing so with a shooting percentage (10 percent) lower than his career average (11.6 percent). A big reason for that is shot volume. While we’re accustomed to Toffoli shooting a lot, he’s currently at a career-best 20.58 shot attempts per 60 minutes at five-on-five. He’s also taking 8.9 percent of the team’s shots per 15 minutes, which makes the numbers Pacioretty, Kucherov, and Athanasiou look like a pittance. He’s been a machine this year, but it’s as if Sutter is still behind the bench seeing as Toffoli is earning just 16 seconds more per game of five-on-five ice time than Trevor Lewis. C’est la vie.

 

Taylor Hall

I mean, what more needs to be said at this point. Hall is almost single-handedly dragging the Devils to a playoff spot and earning himself Hart Trophy conversation at the same time. It should come as no surprise, then, that he’s leading the Devils in market share of shot attempts. He’s currently taking 7.9 percent of the team’s shots per 15 minutes with Miles Wood not far behind at 7.3 percent.

Wood seems to have a pretty bright future. His on-ice speed is something to behold. I don’t want to put him in the Michael Grabner conversation, but it almost seems at times that the Devils have a set play when he’s on the ice and they’re in the defensive zone. The set play is “get the puck into the neutral zone and let Wood skate.” Not a bad plan.

The problem is I’m not sure how much consistent fantasy relevance he can have. The one spot this team is deep is left wing. Should they keep Patrick Maroon or Michael Grabner around in the offseason, and Marcus Johansson is healthy, Wood could be the team’s fourth-line left wing next year. Good for the team’s depth, bad for his fantasy value.

 

Jake Virtanen

Out of 331 forwards with at least 500 minutes of five-on-five ice time, Virtanen is in the top-50 of individual shot attempts per 60 minutes. Not as a percentage of his team, just overall in the league. That’s ahead of even Brock Boeser and Auston Matthews.

Now, I am absolutely not comparing Virtanen to Boeser or Matthews. All I’m saying is that following a season where he was stuck mostly in the AHL, he’s returned to being a pretty good shot-volume guy in a limited role as he showed in his rookie season. He’s even tied for the team lead in expected goals per 60 minutes with Daniel Sedin. Not bad!

When I asked fellow Dobber writer Cam Robinson for some thoughts on Virtanen, here’s what he had to say:

Virtanen got a look on the top line but they refuse to play him in Boeser’s usual spot on the PP despite him having a rocket for a shot. Travis Green just keeps throwing Sam Gagner out there and watching teams sag off him because he’s really not a threat at all in that area. The Canucks are a tire fire but they could be doing more to facilitate the team’s youngsters. This is the perfect time to wheel a guy like Virtanen out in all situations. Ah well, maybe they’ll score a goal again next season when Boeser rejoins the fold.

He would know better than I.

 

Jared McCann

The played acquired in the Erik Gudbranson trade is fifth among Panthers forwards in primary points per 60 minutes at five-on-five (1.25) behind Aleksander Barkov, Evgenii Dadonov, Nick Bjugstad, and Jonathan Huberdeau. Yes, McCann is well ahead of Vincent Trocheck (1.03) in this regard, and it’s despite McCann shooting just 4.9 percent at five-on-five. It’s been a revelatory season for the 21-year old centre.

He’s not been as prolific in his shot share of the team (6.6 percent) as some of the aforementioned players but he’s still shooting at a career-best rate by a wide margin and is settling in nicely into that third-line role for the team.

Of course, fantasy relevance is going to be hard to come by. He’s stuck behind Barkov and Trocheck for the next, oh, half-decade or so, and will likely not sniff the top PP unit in the meantime. Third-line players with minimal power-play time don’t often lead to a lot of fantasy production. He is, however, showing promise for deep league and dynasty owners, which gives hope he can be a Lars Eller-type player, posting 15-goal, 30-point seasons even in a minimal role.

*

Can I just repeat how enamoured I am with Tyler Toffoli? Is it getting a bit much? It’s getting a bit much. I’ll stop.

For now.

*

 

One response to “Ramblings: Evander Kane Pops Four; Kuznetsov Injured; Forsberg Friday – March 17”

  1. anonymouse says:

    Any news on Boeser? He was taken off of IR by the Canucks yesterday, and was on the ice skating on his own I believe. I can’t think of any reason why the ‘nucks would take him off IR if they’re not planning on playing him soon.