The big news from Monday, at least from a fantasy perspective, was the decision made by Philadelphia to have Carter Hart called up. Anthony Stolarz was put on the injured reserve in response to this. Hart, a second round pick in 2016, had a .901 save percentage in 17 games this season in the AHL.
Many Flyers fans (and I’m sure dynasty fantasy owners) had been clamouring for Hart to be on the roster since basically the offseason. With all the injuries sustained by the Flyers’ goaltending this year, they were out of options.
The list of goalies to be anywhere near full-time in the NHL at the age of 20 is short. Since the turn of the century, only two (Carey Price and Steve Mason) have played at least 30 games at the age of 20 (from Hockey Reference). In fact, they are the only two goalies to play 30 games at the age of 20 in the last 30 years. Both Mason and Price fared well in their rookie seasons, which means it’s at least possible that Hart is just fine.
As for what to expect, your guess is as good as mine. Philadelphia has a very bad penalty kill but whether that was the goaltending or the penalty kill itself is unclear. All the same, goals against on the penalty kill is a good way to crush a goaltender’s ratios. If the penalty kill’s goals allowed doesn’t decline, it’ll be difficult for Hart to sustain good numbers for fantasy owners.
All the same, we’re at the point of the season where beggars can’t be choosers. There are leagues where I’ve sustained injuries in net and I ran to the waiver wire to grab Hart. A starting goalie is a starting goalie.
In other Flyers news, after a weekend of conflicting reports, it turns out the initial report was correct and coach Dave Hakstol has been fired. You can read the fantasy take on his firing here.
As expected, the Blackhawks placed Corey Crawford on the injured reserve for concussion protocol and called up Colin Delia. I guess it's Cam Ward's net now. Let's hope this is nothing too serious with Crawford and it's just more caution than anything.
The Wild announced Matt Dumba will be out at least a week with an upper-body injury. The team has three games this week and then is off for the Christmas break. Realistically, the team could give nearly two weeks to rest and recover with him taking this week off.
Wings fans, junior fans, and fantasy hockey owners can exhale a sigh of relief as it appears that Filip Zadina should be just fine for the World Juniors. His injury is minor and the short-term plans haven’t changed for him.
Conor Timmins, the second-round pick from 2017 for Colorado who has been battling a head injury since the off season, was at Avalanche practice on Monday. He was in a non-contact jersey, but just to see him on the ice with the team was a good sign. He has a ways to go, but skating at all is better than not.
John Klingberg was skating in practice for the Stars on Monday morning. The last time line we had for Klingberg was five weeks from the middle of November, and the four-week mark was this past weekend. The team has four games this week including a back-to-back on the weekend. It appears the plan is for him to at least get in a game or two before the Christmas break, and he could be back as early as Thursday.
It has really been a descent from the highest highs for Schneider. A few years ago, he was likely considered among a handful of the top goaltenders on the planet. Now, it’s a wonder if he’s even an NHL-calibre goalie anymore. He has a .905 save percentage in his last 107 games going back to and a half seasons, has an injury history, and turns 33 years old in March. Expect a lot of Keith Kinkaid for the foreseeable future with MacKenzie Blackwood getting the call to serve as backup.
Max Pacioretty left Vegas’s 1-0 win over Columbus early with what appeared to be a lower-body injury. When we have an update, we’ll let you know.
Artemi Panarin was a late scratch for Columbus. He practiced with the team so it was unexpected. There wasn’t much information available but it will be passed on when we get it.
In a nice change of pace, the Ducks were wildly outshooting their opponent for most of their 4-2 win over Pittsburgh. Ryan Getzlaf and Ondrej Kase each scored for Anaheim, both continuing their respective hot streaks which happened to largely coincide with skating together at five-on-five (don’t dare break them up, Randy). Getzlaf is now just short of a point-per-game pace with 28 in 29 contests thanks to the goal and assist from this game.
Evgeni Malkin scored just his second goal in the last three and a half weeks but more importantly he played over 21 minutes tonight. He had played fewer than 18 minutes in three straight games.
David Krejci and Brad Marchand both scored for Boston, with David Pastrnak chipping in a couple of assists, in the team’s 4-0 shutout of Montreal. Colby Cave had a goal and assist with Joakim Nordstrom scoring the final tally.
Thomas Chabot was the overtime hero for Ottawa in their 4-3 win over Nashville. Fortunate, too, as the team blew a 3-0 lead as Nashville got two goals from Roman Josi and one from Craig Smith to even things at 3 in the third period. All three goals were assisted by Ryan Johansen.
Pekka Rinne was pulled after the first period.
Chabot’s goal was his 10th of the season, surpassing the nine goals he had last year in 63 games. He also has 94 shots now after his four-shot game, equalling the 94 he had in those 63 games. For the record, Dion Phaneuf has the most goals in a season by a defenceman age-22 or younger since the 2005 lockout with 20 in 2005-06. Chabot is halfway there.
The New York Islanders got a very good game from Thomas Greiss, stopping 30 of 31 shots in Colorado in the team’s 4-1 win over the Avalanche. Jordan Eberle and Anders Lee each had a goal and an assist to help lead the Islanders.
Gabriel Landeskog had the lone goal for the Avs, his 22nd of the season. Landeskog needs four more goals to tie his career-high of 26 and it’s still a week until Christmas.
Last week, in the spirit of the holiday season, I made a fantasy hockey Christmas wish list. In the spirit of the holiday season again, I wanted to make a naughty and nice list. Today I will start with the naughty (under-performing) list. My next Ramblings will have the nice (over-performing) list. This will be for standard Yahoo! leagues, assuming 12 teams.
It seemed inevitable that we would see at least one Los Angeles Kings player on the naughty list. Basically everyone from the goalie on out has been a disappointment. However, Kopitar was likely drafted in the second or third round and he’s not close to be even a top-100 player, let alone returning draft day value.
Where do we begin? Kopitar has zero power play goals and five power-play assists on the season. Last year, he had 7 and 20 with 5 and 14 the year before. His plus/minus is even where had had been a +21 last year and generally a plus player for his career. With the goaltending problems, though, and the team’s issues scoring in general, it’s a surprise his plus/minus isn’t worse than it is. His shot rate is down a bit from 2017-18 but well within norms for him, at least at five-on-five.
There are hopes for a turnaround, though. Kopitar’s individual points percentage (IPP) is just over 56 percent at five-on-five, the lowest of his career having never been below 66 percent in any season. His secondary assist rate is 0.11 per 60 minutes, having never been below 0.4 per 60 minutes since 2008-2009. Once those normalize, his production should pick up. All the same, he’s not an across-the-board contributor so expecting much more than a top-100 player from here on out is a mistake.
Barry Trotz being brought in as the Islanders coach inevitably meant a team that would tighten up defensively, or at least play at a much slower pace than 2017-18’s Islanders team. That’s exactly what has happened and everyone’s offensive production has suffered as a result (losing John Tavares hasn’t helped, obviously). Though it feels like Barzal has been a disappointment, keep in mind he’s on pace to crack 70 points. Even in today’s higher-scoring environment, that’s still a really good season.
What jumps out, of course, is the fact that Barzal is shooting 5.8 percent. Though we don’t have a big enough sample to what kind of shooter he is, I feel comfortable saying he’s not a 5.8 percent shooter. If that were doubled – and double that percentage would still be worse than last year – he’d be a point-per-game guy.
Here’s the concern: Barzal’s IPP is 93.3 percent. That’s extraordinarily high. Even for a guy as involved in the offence as he is, anything over 80 percent is high. Over 90 percent is extreme. Even if he starts scoring more personally, if he finds himself assisting fewer goals as his IPP comes down, it could just kind of balance itself.
Given we know that Barzal isn’t a high-volume shooter (yet), and the team is focused more on defence than offence, I’m not sure if we can realistically expect a big turnaround for Barzal. Fantasy owners should make peace with the fact that he could just be a 15-goal, 70-point guy this year. Of course, that doesn’t mean people should be down on his prospects for the next 4-5 years. It’s just a blip.
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