Ramblings: Habs Goal Avalanche, Flyers and Flames Flying High (Dec 11)

by Ian Gooding on December 11, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Habs Goal Avalanche, Flyers and Flames Flying High (Dec 11)

Habs goal avalanche, Flyers and Flames flying high, plus more…

We complain about the lack of offense in today’s NHL. But for at least a period, the Montreal Canadiens made us feel like we were at the All-Star Game.

Six goals are more goals than most teams score in an entire game, but it took less than 14 minutes for the Canadiens to reach that total. Here’s all six of those goals.
 


 

Once this nightmare was said and done for the Avalanche, the Habs totaled ten, including four goals from Max Pacioretty and two from Brian Flynn. The final line from Patches’ night to remember: four goals, one assist, plus-4, and eight shots on goal.

I’m going to gloat the same way that Don Cherry did tonight when he told us a year ago that Brandon Manning’s hit on Connor McDavid was intentional. Because of the injuries to Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais, Tomas Plekanec was elevated to the first line with Pacioretty and Alexander Radulov. If you took my advice from the Sportsnet waiver wire report, you would have been rewarded with four assists and a plus-3. Of course, don’t expect this to happen every game, but you’ve got the opportunity here to add a first-line center that is available in most leagues.

Avalanche starter Calvin Pickard was replaced after first three Habs’ goals. But it was Semyon Varlamov who suffered even greater damage, allowing six goals on 16 shots. Pickard eventually returned to start the third period to add one more goal allowed to his total. Despite getting yanked early in this game, Pickard might actually receive the start for the Avs’ next game Sunday (today!) against the Leafs.

If you’re a Varlamov owner, looking at his numbers will make you cringe. Among goalies that have played at least eight games (of which there are 49), Varly is 44th in save percentage (.897) and 47th goals-against average (3.34). That’s to go along with just five wins and a league-leading 12 losses. Bench him, bench him, bench him.

The goal barrage overshadowed two notable events for the Avalanche: Captain Gabriel Landeskog’s return to the lineup and Jarome Iginla’s 1500th game. With just six points in 26 games, Iginla has passed his usefulness date for fantasy rosters. For what it’s worth, he will consider waiving his no-trade clause to go to a contender.

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Steve Mason’s early-season struggles seem like an eternity away. Mason won his seventh straight game on Saturday, and he may even get the chance to make it nine in a row on Sunday against Detroit. To give you an idea about how things have improved:

October: 2-4-1, 3.46 GAA, .878 SV%

December: 6-0-0, 2.30 GAA, .922 SV%

That’s why you don’t press the panic button after the first month, kids. Maybe there is something to having the starting job all to himself now that Michal Neuvirth is on IR as opposed to having to split starts with him.

That’s two consecutive four-point games for Jakub Voracek, who as of the end of his game vaulted to second in NHL scoring behind only Connor McDavid. Now with 32 points in just 30 games, the Voracek from two seasons ago seems to be back. Things are lining up for Voracek’s second 80-point season over the past three seasons. He’s shooting at a similar percentage that he was two seasons ago (10 percent), and he’s playing on Claude Giroux’s line. At least he’s a better player than the 55 points he managed last season.

Brayden Schenn does not play on the same line as Voracek at the moment. But he recorded a hat trick in the Flyers’ 4-2 win. How did that happen? All three goals were on the power-play. With a second-period fight against Stephen Johns and seven minutes in penalties total, Schenn filled your statsheet on Saturday.

Wayne Simmonds recorded just one point (an assist), but he piled up 15 minutes in penalties thanks to a slash-off/fight with Antoine Roussel near the end of the game. Very power forward-like for a team with a history of strong power forwards.

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Aleksander Barkov owners know that he can go cold for stretches, as he had earlier this season. But he’s been producing for fantasy rosters lately, scoring goals in three of his past four games. He scored a goal and added an assist with a plus-3 on Saturday, playing in his usual spot on the top line with Jaromir Jagr.

The third member of that line might grab your attention. That player was Seth Griffith, who has been on waivers twice this season and has received limited minutes as a Panther. Not only was Griffith on the top line, but he was also receiving first-unit power-play time. Griffith ended the game with one assist and a plus-2 in what turned out to be 17:21 of icetime. Keep an eye on him to find out if he stays there. I’m guessing the Panthers are in a state of flux as new coach Tom Rowe experiments with what works.

Troy Stecher ended this game as a minus-3, but he recorded one power-play assist and eight shots on goal. Canuck fans who watch this team regularly have loved this guy since preseason, and he’s starting to deliver with four assists over his last six games. He’s seeing increased icetime and first-unit power-play time due to the extended injury absences of Alexander Edler and Chris Tanev. Since the Canucks lack a true offensive-minded defenseman (which drove the team to add Philip Larsen last offseason), the power-play QB job might be Stecher’s to keep even when the defense gets back to full strength.

In case you didn’t noticed, the Canucks recalled Thatcher Demko on Saturday because of Ryan Miller’s injury. Jacob Markstrom started on Saturday, and the Canucks play again today (Sunday). My guess is that Markstrom will be back between the pipes on Sunday in spite of facing 41 shots on Saturday. But the possibility of the highly-touted Demko making his first regular-season NHL start looms.

Looking for more goalie starts? Check out Goalie Post.

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With Max Domi on IR as a result of a fight earlier this week, here are your Coyotes’ line combinations for Saturday’s game against Nashville.

20.65%

EV

HANZAL,MARTIN

RIEDER,TOBIAS

VRBATA,RADIM

16.67%

EV

CROUSE,LAWSON

MARTINOOK,JORDAN

MCGINN,JAMIE

15.94%

EV

DOAN,SHANE

DVORAK,CHRISTIAN

PERLINI,BRENDAN

11.23%

EV

DAUPHIN,LAURENT

GAUDET,TYLER

WHITE,RYAN

 

Did anyone stand out on these lines? No, not really. All but three forwards earned a point, but no forwards earned more than a point. Probably not much to get excited about here, other than former first-round pick Brendan Perlini scoring his first NHL goal.

On the blueline, though, Anthony DeAngelo has returned from the AHL, called up as a result of the Domi injury. He didn’t earn a point in 17:52 in icetime, but he did play on the first-unit power play. I’ve re-added him in my experts league. With seven points in 12 games, DeAngelo is worth taking a flier on if you need more scoring from your defense.

You probably weren’t daring enough to start Mike Smith against the Predators. But if you did, he rewarded you with 44 saves and a win. The win was his first in his last six starts.

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More awesomeness from Sidney Crosby, who also survived an injury scare in the first period that was enough to require concussion protocol.
 


 

With two more goals, Sid the Kid is the first player to reach 20 goals in spite of missing his first six games.  


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Is Sergei Bobrovsky Vezina Trophy material? He’s currently tied with Carey Price for the league lead in wins (16), while holding a goals-against average (1.98) and save percentage (.932) that are both top 10 in the league. He’s also been extremely hot over his last six games, where he has a sparkling 1.32 GAA and .947 SV% and wins in his last five games. Both he and the Blue Jackets were a gamble before the season, but they are both paying off in spades. By the way, the Jackets have the top goal differential (+31) in the league this season.

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Maybe Dougie Hamilton can put those trade rumors to rest. The Flames’ rearguard scored two goals and added an assist with a plus-3 and seven shots on goal on Saturday. After struggling to find points for much of October and November, Hamilton now has four goals over his last four games. The fact that he receives less than 20 minutes of icetime per game when the Flames have invested so much in him is a bit concerning. But there’s solid fantasy value to be had, as he was profiled in a Geek of the Week article before the season. Hamilton is currently third among defensemen in shots on goal with 92, only behind Brent Burns (who you’d expect) and this week’s Geek of the Week, Aaron Ekblad.   

How about Matthew Tkachuk as a single-season fantasy asset? By chipping in three assists, Tkachuk has 15 points (6g-9a) in just 27 games. He also channels his father Keith by adding 49 penalty minutes. The fact that he is already producing in his rookie season bodes very well for his future prospects. He has sleeper potential in next season’s drafts.  

According to the Report Generator, the top four goals-against averages over the past month are held by the following four goalies:
 

Rank

Goalie

Team

GP

GAA

1

RAANTA, ANTTI

NYR

6

1.47

2

JOHNSON, CHAD

CGY

12

1.57

3

WARD, CAM

CAR

13

1.68

4

DARLING, SCOTT

CHI

8

1.76


In other words, you could have dominated your league’s goaltending over the past month with goalies you found on the waiver wire. With goaltending being the most difficult position to fill from a league’s waiver wire, you have to either do some real digging (in the case of Johnson) or take a leap of faith (in the case of Ward). Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.

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Marko Dano has given us reason to believe in his fantasy value at times during his career, but he has come up short when it comes to sustained production. But it’s worth mentioning that he has been bumped up to the Jets’ top line with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. Like the Jets, he fell short on Saturday, not scoring a point in just under 15 minutes of icetime. He is worth adding to your watch list for the time being.

Nikolaj Ehlers, welcome back to the goal column. Ehlers scored his first goal in 16 games in Saturday’s loss, although he’s still piling up the assists (19 assists, which leads the Jets).

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Enjoy your Sunday. Follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.