Ramblings: Hellebuyck Heating Up, Bruins Find Depth Scoring (Nov 11)

by steve laidlaw on November 11, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Hellebuyck Heating Up, Bruins Find Depth Scoring (Nov 11)

Hellebuyck heating up, Bruins find depth scoring, Fabbri scratched and more.

*

Connor Hellebuyck with another solid outing! He has started four in a row for Winnipeg and has wins in three of those games. He still isn’t blowing you away with his numbers but he is getting there. Also, Jacob Trouba isn’t yet back in the lineup so it can only get better. You can bet on seeing Michael Hutchinson tonight given the back-to-back situation.

Nikolaj Ehlers is hot with eight points in his last four games having replaced Blake Wheeler on the top line. Before the season I’d have said whatever line Wheeler is on is Winnipeg’s top line but Mark Scheifele is their best player now.

Wheeler scored his first goal in 11 games. I have zero worries about his fantasy stock so long as he is seeing top PP minutes. He’ll find a way to score enough at even strength with whomever he plays with.

*

The Bruins got their depth scoring going last night. Both Torey Krug and Matt Beleskey scored their first goals of the season. Beleskey is waiver fodder at this point but Krug is a fantasy asset in most leagues and he has been quiet in the goal column dating back to last season.

The second and third lines were huge with Beleskey, Austin Czarnik, David Backes and David Krejci contributing two points apiece. It was a matter of time for the latter two. They won’t get to play a team without a top pairing defenseman on the back half of a back-to-back every night but the ability to take advantage of these opportunities is huge for fantasy owners.

*

One goal and one assist for Nino Niederreiter who saw some intriguing usage last night alternating with Mikko Koivu on the top power play unit:

#1           47.6%    COYLE,CHARLIE – KOIVU,MIKKO – STAAL,ERIC

#2           38.1%    COYLE,CHARLIE – NIEDERREITER,NINO – STAAL,ERIC

Niederreiter is already skating a bunch with Charlie Coyle and Eric Staal at even strength. If I knew he would see continued usage on the top PP unit, I’d be much higher on Niederreiter. His minutes fluctuate too much to go in on him. Seems like he’s headed for another 45-point season.

Staal and Coyle were also tremendously productive. These two have a better shot at clearing 50 points and perhaps even take a run at 60 points. Probably not enough offense in Minnesota for 60 to happen though.

Joel Eriksson Ek hasn’t scored in four games. In fact, he hasn’t even landed a shot on goal in the last four games. Safe to return him to the waiver wire, even in the deepest leagues.

*

Believe it or not, Cam Ward went into last night’s game on a bit of a hot streak. Enter Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg who each scored a pair of goals. It was a four-point night for Silfverberg, who is off to a pretty nice start to this season. Like Niederreiter above, I’d be much more interested if he got consistent top PP minutes. He doesn’t, which is probably going to keep his point total below 50. Still, even clearing the 40-point bar would make for a career year.

Kesler, on the other hand, is seeing much more PP time and usage on the top unit. He is skating over three minutes per game on the PP for the first time since 2013-14. Half of his 12 points have come with the man advantage. There’s a potential 60-point year here. Like Staal and Coyle above, we’re probably looking at mid-50’s but still, this is fantasy relevance. Kesler’s contract is horrible, but it isn’t making him less of a fantasy asset.

Hampus Lindholm is scoreless through two games, skating under 20 minutes a night with secondary PP usage.

*

I went to the Oilers vs. Red Wings game on Sunday with my buddy who is a diehard Wings fan. He knows that I like Tomas Tatar for fantasy but he loathes him. He pointed out to me every single time that Tatar gave the puck away under the slightest amount of pressure. I’ll tell you, Tatar came off looking softer than baby shit and I’m not sure I can un-see this. Does it mean I’m giving up on Tatar in fantasy? Not yet, but it isn’t helping.

Right now the trio of Henrik Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist and Dylan Larkin looks like the trio to be on. These guys saw the bulk of the PP time last night. If Tatar isn’t on the top PP unit, I’m bailing on him.

Zetterberg is hot right now, with six points in the last five games. I thought Frans Nielsen would surpass him as the Red Wings’ #1 centerman but so far Zetterberg is holding him off. The season is a long 82 games, however and Zetterberg has been susceptible to wear and tear.

Another win with some sexy numbers for Jimmy Howard. I still don’t see him as more than a minor threat to Petr Mrazek’s emergence. Mrazek’s inconsistency is more of a hindrance but ultimately he is the #1.

*

Not a great night for the Canucks but they did put together some highlights:

The Canucks’ lone goal, from the Sedins of course.

And then you have Ryan Miller showing off:

In not-so-pleasant news, Jannik Hansen is out 4-6 weeks with broken ribs.

*

This has certainly been a trying season for Fabbri owners. He’s droppable in shallower leagues. I do think he’ll have a moment where he’s fantasy relevant. Perhaps this will spark him to greater production. Fabbri has been getting chances and has been robbed on multiple occasions. That’s all you can really ask for but apparently the Blues’ coaches want more. I’m not watching the Blues every night so I’ll take their word for it.

Fabbri isn’t the only one struggling right now:

*

Mike Fisher made his return after three games off and immediately made an impact with an assist. He also skated 5:00 with the man advantage, resuming his role as net-front man.

Not much to report on in terms of line combinations as the Predators jumbled their lines all game.

Pontus Aberg has been up to replace Kevin Fiala. He notched his first NHL point in 11:53 of ice time. He’s an intriguing long term option but I wouldn’t jump on him for this season.

Calle Jarnkrok scored a pair of goals. He is extremely streaky. Perhaps this gets him going. I’d bet it doesn’t as he is not seeing any PP time. Just too many talented options in the lineup ahead of him.

*

Travis Yost explores how the Kings’ system has led them to post below-average shooting percentages that are made up for by sheer shot volume:

Could it be merely coincidence that Los Angeles has run out six straight seasons of poor shooting percentage? Possibly, though the chance of that happening is about 1.6 per cent. Could it be that Los Angeles’ system, which punishes teams through a heavy dump-and-chase style of hockey, lends itself to controlling the run of play and also poorer-than-expected shooting talent? After almost six years of observing as much, I think it’s time we really start giving this theory some credence.

I wouldn’t go around applying this logic to Anze Kopitar, though. Kopitar is off to yet another slow start and is only shooting 6.3%. He is a career 12.3% shooter and has never seen his shooting percentage dip below 10%. He’ll be fine, just as soon as he gets over the nightmares he is sure to have of Carey Price:

Price is so blatantly the best goalie in the league it’s not even funny.

*

David Desharnais was a healthy scratch for Montreal. Here were their lines:

23.24%EVDANAULT,PHILLIP – PACIORETTY,MAX – SHAW,ANDREW

18.66%EVBYRON,PAUL – GALCHENYUK,ALEX – RADULOV,ALEXANDER

18.66%EVANDRIGHETTO,SVEN – GALLAGHER,BRENDAN – PLEKANEC,TOMAS

10.92%EVCARR,DANIEL – FLYNN,BRIAN – MITCHELL,TORREY

They got offense from every line but Tomas Plekanec’s. He is ice cold, and entirely droppable now that Alex Galchenyuk has emerged as a #1 centerman. Sure, Galchenyuk isn’t quite seeing top C minutes but he sees most of the top unit PP time and always has one good linemate. Plekanec is now firmly in more of a defensive role.

*

Some interesting tidbits in this Sharks mailbag:

Coach Pete DeBoer pointed out last week that fatigue shouldn’t be a factor with Jones this early in the season. After all, the Sharks have only played one of their 16 back-to-backs on the schedule, and Aaron Dell got the back end of that against the Islanders on Oct. 18.

Still, Jones got the bulk of the work in the first half of last season when Alex Stalock became unreliable, and his numbers declined fairly significantly month-over-month. He went from a 1.74 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in October to a 2.45 GAA and .914 SP in November, and a 3.06 GAA and .889 SP in December. Jones saw at least some playing time in 34 of the first 40 games. It’s fair to wonder if he suffers from playing too often.

There are rumours that the Sharks are after a backup goaltender to help spell Jones more reliably. So far Jones has been a workhorse but if they can bring someone in, perhaps we see him limited to 60 starts instead of the 65 he saw last season.

*

Jussi Jokinen was back for the Panthers skating in his usual spot beside Vincent Trochek and Reilly Smith. These guys got beat up, however, going scoreless and combining for a minus-seven rating. Jokinen’s return is a net positive for this group. Hopefully they can get going soon. I am growing antsy with Trocheck as there are plenty of juicy options on the waiver wire at the center position. He gets a couple of more weeks from me, I think.

*

Some good Stars injury news for a change:

Word is that Patrick Sharp may be ready to play on Sunday.

The Stars beat up on Calgary with the following lineup:

26.95%EVBENN,JAMIE – FAKSA,RADEK – KORPIKOSKI,LAURI

20.36%EVEAVES,PATRICK – ROUSSEL,ANTOINE – SEGUIN,TYLER

11.38%EVMCKENZIE,CURTIS – RITCHIE,BRETT – SHORE,DEVIN

10.78%EVCRACKNELL,ADAM – DOWLING,JUSTIN – SMITH,GEMEL

They had to split up the offense but it worked as Jamie Benn scored a pair, while Radek Faksa chipped in with two assists. Antoine Roussel is seeing top unit PP time somehow and he put together a Gordie Howe hat-trick.

If Sharp is due back soon, I am not certain Roussel hangs onto his spot in the lineup. I made him a pickup for this weekend in one league. Paying dividends so far.

The Stars may be onto something with Justin Dowling. Two assists in three games so far. He’s been a scoring star at the lower levels. Probably won’t turn into anything but every now and then one of these guys is a hit.

*

Johnny Gaudreau scored a pair last night. Of course, it was in the Saddledome. Hopefully this can get him going.

More interesting was Brett Kulak registering a pair of assists. He skated over 20 minutes for the second time in three games. He hasn’t reached the sort of usage where I’d consider him fantasy relevant, especially not with the defensemen ahead of him on the depth chart but he has rendered Dennis Wideman a healthy scratch so he is definitely leaving an impact.

Matthew Tkachuk missed last night with a wrist injury. He is day-to-day.

*

At this point, you have to ask if Ennis can stay healthy for a full season.

*

Artem Anisimov is questionable for tonight’s game. I’m sure we’ll know more later in the day.

*

Ilya Kovalchuk is talking like he might return to the NHL at some point. He is a free agent this summer, so maybe this is just posturing for a better deal. He’s worth stashing in leagues where you have lots of flexibility to do so.

*

Tomorrow night is the weekly Q+A in the ramblings, fire me your questions on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.

Thanks for reading. Lest we forget.