Ramblings: Fabbri Bringing Heat, Jump On Horvat and the Canucks

by steve laidlaw on January 3, 2017
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Fabbri Bringing Heat, Jump On Horvat and the Canucks

Fabbri sizzling, Schneider stones the Bruins, Horvat and Baertschi on a roll.

I am loathe to read into anything from an outdoor game but the Blackhawks were outshot for the 22nd time this season. That’s over half of their games. The goaltending has bailed them out as both Corey Crawford and Scott Darling have been excellent but I wonder if it will catch up to them at some point. Specifically, I wonder if we’ll start to see Crawford’s numbers crumble.

This has been Crawford’s greatest test and he has met it with the best save percentage of his career, currently at .928. He has been especially good at home:

 

 

Wins

Losses

GAA

Save%

Shutouts

Home

7

5

1.99

0.938

2

Road

6

5

2.61

0.917

0

 

Why fret about the splits? Because the Blackhawks have 22 of their remaining 41 on the road. Including nine of their last 14, which is during head-to-head playoffs.

Crawford’s splits haven’t been as noticeable throughout his career but it makes sense that a team with as many youngsters as the Blackhawks might struggle on the road.

The Blackhawks are a proven brand, as is Crawford so it is tough to see a full collapse coming. On the other hand, I can’t shake these signs of impending doom. Consider shopping Crawford for a different high-end option in goal.

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On the flipside of the doom spectrum is Vladimir Tarasenko. He hadn’t scored a goal in four straight and then proceeded to score two against the Blackhawks, ring another off the post, peppering Crawford for nine SOG. He did it all in just 15:49 of action.

Tarasenko is averaging 18:06 per game, a slight decline from last season’s 18:38. Can you imagine if he was used to the same extent as stars like Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin, Jakub Voracek or Taylor Hall were? Those guys all skate at least two minutes more than Tarasenko and not because of penalty killing as none of them are used in that role. There’s probably another level that Tarasenko could hit with superstar usage and he’s on pace for 88 points.

Robby Fabbri has 22 points in his last 25 games. He hasn’t been skating with Tarasenko lately but he finds the odd shift where there’s an overlap in the change, like he does when making this great feed to Tarasenko:

Alex Steen scored the empty-netter to end a 12-game goal drought. Maybe this sparks him but I just think Steen is damaged goods this year.

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Cory Schneider registered his second shutout in his last four games and had to pull a Houdini act on Brad Marchand to do it:

How that didn’t fully cross the line, I’ll never know.

Before getting too excited about Schneider, it is worth pointing out that he has allowed three goals or more in 12 of his last 15 contests. I do believe that he should turn the corner at some point but this shutout doesn’t mean we are there yet. Baby steps.

Part of the problem with Schneider is that his team isn’t very good, or rather the division that he is in, is loaded. Schneider has worked wonders for bad teams before but in the Metro division he is going to be under fire all of the time. The Devils have 14 games remaining against the Rangers, Penguins, Blue Jackets, Flyers and Capitals. That’s a third of the remaining schedule.

However, the Devils won’t see any of those teams in the next three weeks. Their next battle against one of the Metro five comes on January 21 against the Flyers. Perhaps this is a chance to get into a groove.

Taylor Hall scored an empty-net goal to end a nine-game goal-scoring drought. He’s been productive when healthy but this could spark a genuine hot streak, something that he and his linemates can benefit from.

Pavel Zacha was scratched the past couple of games but with Travis Zajac out sick Zacha drew back in, skating alongside Hall and PA Parenteau. I would love to see the Zacha-Hall combination made permanent. They have shown flashes together. Perhaps next season when Zacha is better ready to contribute. He hasn’t scored in 10 straight.

Steve Santini scored his first career NHL point. He’s intriguing in deep keeper leagues but no more than that. He skated only 12 minutes and is just filling in while John Moore is out hurt.

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Boston was held off the board, which means that David Pastrnak’s scoring drought is up to seven games. He has 21 SOG in those games – I am not worried about this slump.

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The Canucks were my favourite target for streaming this week thanks to their four-game slate including games on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, all off-nights. They’re schedule also included games against Colorado (last night), Arizona and Calgary twice. It’s a favourable run.

I scooped up Bo Horvat and Troy Stecher in various leagues but there are a few intriguing options on this team. Horvat scored a goal last night and has 10 points in his last 10 games. He is centering a line with Sven Baertschi and Anton Rodin.

Rodin played in just his second game of the season and notched an assist. He has scored a ton in other leagues. We’ll see what he can do.

Baertschi, meanwhile, scored a pair of goals and has 11 points in the last 10 games. He is particularly interesting because he skates on the top PP unit alongside the Sedins, Stecher and Brandon Sutter. Baertschi also has 28 SOG in the last 10 games.

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A few injury updates:

Marc-Edouard Vlasic has been placed on IR and will miss a couple of games after taking a puck to the face. Mirco Mueller has been recalled.

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The hype machine has officially gotten a hold of Nico Hischier, the Swiss 2017 NHL draft prospect. Expect him to be in the running for the #1 pick the rest of the year.

Hischier finished the World Junior tournament with seven points in five games and damn near led the Swiss to an upset of the US in the quarterfinals. He scored two goals yesterday and came close to tying it late with a third.

Hischier has been great for Halifax all season so he was on the radar. He could have done little in this tournament and there would still be tremendous buzz about him. Five games, does not a prospect make. But to be as dominant as he was on this stage will have a lasting effect. It was a legend-making performance, the type that will stick in the mind of scouts and front office people for months to come.

For fantasy owners this is great. We finally have a mainstream prospect that people are excited about. Sure, Nolan Patrick is still the #1 draft prospect but he has barely played and couldn’t get healthy in time for the tournament. Now he has company. Now there is someone that rebuilding teams are going to want to tank for. That means your draft picks just got a boost in value, which will help you to acquire talent that can help you right now.

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I had an interesting Twitter discussion with our friend Neil Parker regarding Jordan Greenway, the Minnesota prospect having a great tournament as the net-front guy for the US:

Patience can be worth it but I’d just as soon cash in the chips following a great tournament for all but a select few prospects. And of course, there is always the downside that your prospect goes bust:

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Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.