Ramblings: Fabbri Update, Bailey Returns, Game Recaps; Early PK Save Percentages – October 25

by Michael Clifford on October 25, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Fabbri Update, Bailey Returns, Game Recaps; Early PK Save Percentages – October 25

 

Considering some of the news-heavy days we've had in the last week or so, Wednesday's news updates were fairly light. 

The Blues sent Sam Blais to the minors a couple days ago. This is likely in anticipation of the return of Robby Fabbri, who was sent on a conditioning assignment in San Antonio.

It’s been a long road for Fabbri. Injuries limited his 2016-17 season to 51 games and then he missed all last year. He looked ready for the 2018-19 season and then he had this minor groin issue flare up.

That it’s been so long since Fabbri was in the NHL makes it easy to forget how good he was. Though his raw numbers were just 29 goals in 123 regular season games, his goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five was 0.85, tied with names like Alex Galchenyuk, Corey Perry, and Jordan Eberle for the 2015-17 seasons. He also had that great postseason in 2016 where he posted 15 points in 20 games. This was a budding top-line forward before the injuries hit.

The question is what player we get back. Is he going to be the same guy right out of the gate once his conditioning stint is over? Probably not. Can he get there in a couple months? Maybe. There’s a left wing spot next to Ryan O’Reilly with Fabrri’s name written all over it, though.

*

The league has handed a one-game suspension to Senators defenceman Mark Borowiecki for his elbow on Urho Vaakanainen on Tuesday night.

Fantasy-wise, this isn’t a huge deal. Borowiecki is only used for peripherals in deeper leagues. Players will have to make-do without him for one night.

*

Matt Beleskey was placed on waivers by the New York Rangers.

He may still see some time with the Rangers. He’ll clear waivers and needs some time to get his feet under him after recovering from a shoulder injury. That he’s struggled to stay in the lineup with two different teams isn’t a good sign for his future, though.

*

Josh Bailey was back in the lineup for the Islanders Wednesday night on the top line with Mat Barzal and Anders Lee.

It didn’t take long for Bailey to leave a mark on the game, assisting on Brock Nelson’s first period goal. Jordan Eberle scored his first goal on the season on a very nice passing play:

 

 

The story of this game, though, was Robin Lehner. He held the Panthers scoreless on 26 shots through two periods, and that allowed his team to build the lead they would need. Florida scored twice in the second to push this game to overtime, a game in which the Islanders did not deserve a point.

Florida’s regulation goals were scored by Frank Vatrano (his third of the year, by the way) and Evgenii Dadonov. The overtime winner was scored on the power play by Mike Hoffman.

*

We had ourselves quite the Wednesday night tilt in Winnipeg as they hosted Toronto. The Leafs got out to a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Kasperi Kapanen, Tyler Ennis, and Nazem Kadri, the latter two scoring their first goals of the season. Winnipeg responded early in the third period with goals from Nikolaj Ehlers (his first of the year) and Mark Scheifele. Things were looking great for the Jets until… well just look:

 

 

The Leafs would skate away with a 4-2 win.

Not for nothing, but after Patrik Laine started the game on the top line, Ehlers moved up alongside Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. Ehlers finished the game with a season-high eight shots. He looked great, generally.

*

What was supposed to be a matchup of elite talents leading to lots of offence actually turned out to be a 1-0 game that was largely… not exciting? That may be harsh because there were some pretty good saves but I guess I’m just used to an… avalanche… of goals in every game now. Nikita Kucherov scored the lone tally on a third-period power play while Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 22 shots he faced for the shutout.

Semyon Varlamov stopped 23 of 24. It was the first time Colorado has been shut out in the regular season since February 3rd of last year.

*

No Brock Boeser, no Elias Pettersson, no problem? The Canucks took a 3-2 shootout win from Vegas, in Vegas, on Wednesday night. Bo Horvat scored a pair of goals about a minute apart in the second period and the team held on to get to a 2-2 shootout where Markus Granlund scored the lone marker in the fourth round.

Max Pacioretty and Ryan Reaves had the reply scores for the Golden Knights.

Of note was all three of Chris Tanev, Alex Edler, and Sven Baertschi left this game at different points and did not return. That’s what made this win even more miraculous. We’ll update when we get more news.

*

A thought-provoking read from Sean McIndoe (Down Goes Brown) on The Athletic yesterday. He discusses general managers, their changing role over the last decade or so, and what it could mean for the way they conduct business. The Coles Notes version is that general managers rarely get a second chance anymore in the NHL which could make them more gun-shy making significant trades. If a bad trade is made by a GM that sinks a team for the next half-decade, it could be the last trade he ever makes in the NHL (unless you’re Peter Chiarelli). The hesitance to re-hire general managers has a cooling effect on the magnitude of trades.

That’s a natural reaction for most people. Think of yourself at your own job. Chances are you can make a mistake and while it would be embarrassing at the time, and likely earn a word from your boss, you probably won’t be fired. But if the implicit understanding with your boss is that any significant mistake made means your career is over, I’d wager you’d be very, very careful about everything you do.

While that’s an interesting read in itself, to bring this to fantasy hockey: don’t be afraid to make mistakes managing your team. Sometimes you’ll be too aggressive on the waiver wire and dump a player too early. Sometimes you’ll make a bad trade and lose value. Those things will happen. But you’re not getting fired from managing your fantasy team(s). Mistakes will happen and you can’t win every league. Make the bold moves and gun for first place. Don’t be passive and settle for fifth. I’d rather be aggressive and finish 9th than be passive and finish 4th

 

*

It’s been quite the anomalous start to the season in the NHL league-wide. Goals per game per team, as of Wednesday afternoon, sits at 3.11, the highest since the mid-90s and 4.7 percent higher than last year. Power play opportunities per game sit at 3.41, the highest since 2010-11 (though that will come down as it did last year). Power play efficiency sits at 21.3 percent, the highest since the mid-80s. This has all led to the league average save percentage coming in at .908, the lowest in a decade.

Last year, we had 31 goalies finish with a save percentage of at least .910. As of Wednesday afternoon, that number sits at 21. It’s time to adjust expectations for your goaltender. If you have Craig Anderson or Anders Nilsson, their respective save percentages are likely in the top half of owned goaltenders in a 12-team league.

That doesn’t mean there haven’t been goaltenders to worry about early on. Sergei Bobrovsky (.872), Braden Holtby (.885), and Matt Murray (.893) all sitting under .900 is a concern. But which goalies can turn it around?

One thing I like to look at is save percentage while on the penalty kill. This early in the season, there are going to be outliers to identify via short handed save percentage. These are some of those outliers. Data via Natural Stat Trick.

 

Braden Holtby

The worst PK save percentage of Holtby’s career, in any of his full seasons, was .848 back in 2016-17. So far this year, he’s last in the league (minimum of 20 minutes short handed) at .720. A save percentage on the PK this season of just .840 would remove three goals from his season, bringing his save percentage up from .885 to .901 and his goals against average from 3.46 to 2.98. Those still aren’t numbers we’d expect from Holtby, but it does show how much better he’ll be once that PK save percentage rights itself.

We’re only three weeks into the season but the Caps are actually allowing the lowest rate of shots against on the PK in the league. That’s a good indicator that they have a pretty good penalty kill. I would thus likely chalk up Holtby’s poor start to some bad luck on the penalty kill. Now would be the time to message your league’s resident Holtby owner to see if they’re panicking yet. My bet is they are.

 

Sergei Bobrovsky

The same could probably be said for Bobrovsky owners. Seeing him sit at .872 after his first six starts is now that fantasy owners were hoping for from their (likely) third-round pick. The lowest save percentage of his career on the PK was last year at .831, a far cry from the .778 he’s managed so far this year. Even with the increased efficiency in save percentage, .778 is not anywhere near where he’ll finish by the end of the season. There are a lot of other things that need to turn around for Bobrovsky, but Seth Jones returning from injury and the PK save percentage righting itself will help. Just check in on the Bobrovsky owner. My guess is he or she is willing to trade him for much less than third-round value.

 

Andrei Vasilevskiy

At the other end of the saves spectrum, the Lightning netminder hasn’t allowed a goal on the penalty kill yet. He’s a clean 38 for 38 on saves. That’s great! It also won’t come close to lasting. Had he allowed four goals by now, his save percentage on the PK would come in just under .900 (assuming constant shot levels). That would be much more reasonable, and it would also lower his overall save percentage to .909. That’s not great.

It’s a dilemma for Vasilevskiy fantasy owners right now. When that PK save percentage corrects itself, his overall save percentage could absolutely crash. His goals saved above average right now sits in the bottom-half of the league at five-on-five, giving you an indication of how he’s really performed this year. His entire season has been propped up by a perfect PK save percentage. But maybe he improves at five-on-five?

One thing is for sure: his PK save percentage is going to come down a lot and that will have a huge impact on his overall save percentage. The question is whether he can improve enough at five-on-five to make up the difference. Vasilevskiy owners have a decision to make.