Ramblings: Hischier back – kind of; Compher’s new role; lucky starts – October 25

by Michael Clifford on October 25, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Hischier back – kind of; Compher’s new role; lucky starts – October 25

 

Maybe this vote of confidence is a kiss of death, but John Tortorella said officially that Joonas Korpisalo has solidified himself as the go-to starter for the Blue Jackets. I think Columbus has showed well here early in the season, the problem with wins will come from goal scoring, because they still haven’t figured out their power play and the even strength scoring won’t be elite. This is a year where Korpisalo could have solid peripheral stats but not the wins to match because of that anemic power play.

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In New Jersey practice yesterday, Nico Hischier was skating regularly with the team, but what on is effectively the third line with Travis Zajac and Nikita Gusev. Jack Hughes is on the top line with Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri.

Initially, I was repulsed by these line combinations, but they make sense. Hall and Palmieri can carry Hughes, and it gives Hughes top-end players from whom to learn. Hischier is rounding into an elite two-way centre, and that would work well with someone like Gusev in a lesser role. Let’s see how this goes.

Also, considering how I was talking about P.K. Subban and the New Jersey PP yesterday, it’s probably worth mentioning that Will Butcher was on the second PP unit in practice as well.

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Remember yesterday, when Joonas Donskoi was on the top line for the Avs? Well, in practice on Thursday, J.T. Compher was on the top line with MacKinnon/Landeskog and also on the top PP unit.

Whereas it seemed to be a coin flip between whether Donskoi or Andre Burakovsky would have the most to benefit from Mikko Rantanen’s absence, it looks like Compher will at least get first crack. He needs to be added immediately for the possible short-term upside.

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Morgan Rielly wasn’t at practice on Thursday, and according to Mark Masters at TSN, this is his second consecutive practice he’s missed. Missing two practices that bookend a pair of games tells me that Rielly is working through something and the coaching staff is trying to keep him as fresh as possible. I doubt we’ll find out what it is that’s nagging him – if it is indeed some sort of injury – until the end of the year.

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Okay, props to Tim Hortons. This commercial with Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon is absolutely adorable. And I say that as someone with a Grinch heart:

 

 

If we don’t get farting goalie pads at the All-Star Game, are we even a society?

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Vladimir Tarasenko left St. Louis’s game in the first period on Thursday night and did not return. We won’t get an update until Friday at the earliest, so fantasy owners just have to hold their breath for now.

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The Rangers have been off to a rough start this year but they absolutely smoked the Sabres by a 6-2 score. The newly-formed second line of Panarin-Strome-Buchnevich did the heavy lifting as the Breadman had one goal and was plus-3, Strome had a pair of goals, and Buchnevich had an assist with three shots.

Anthony DeAngelo had a goal and an assist in the victory, giving him six points in eight games this year.

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Josh Bailey back on the top line for the Islanders has paid dividends, particularly in their 4-2 win over Arizona last night. He had a goal and an assist, his second multi-point game in his last three contests. He now has eight points in nine matches on the year. Anders Lee also chipped in with his third goal of the year.

Jakob Chychrun had a pair of assists in the loss to New York while playing a season-high 22:39. He could be a big part of this team’s playoff push if he can stay healthy, and across-the-board contributions could make him valuable in roto leagues.

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San Jose’s second line had a big night in Montreal as Evander Kane had a pair of goals, Kevin Labanc had one, and Tomas Hertl assisted on all three in their 4-2 win over the Habs.

Both of Kane’s goals came on the power play, which give him five PP tallies on the year already. That’s as many as he had last year, and is one off his career-high of six back in 2011-12. He will need to start scoring at even strength to make up for when the PP tapers off, but fantasy owners will absolutely take this start to his season.

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Cam Atkinson ended a thrilling game between Carolina and Columbus, lifting the latter to a 4-3 overtime win. It was the depth that got them there, particularly on the blue line, as Ryan Murray scored his first of the year (adding a helper) while David Savard had two assists.

That was just Atkinson’s third goal on the year but he has 43 shots in 10 games after his six-shot performance in this one. It might be worth looking to acquire him. When the floodgates open, there are a pile of goals on the way.

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We had a wild game between Calgary and Florida, a 5-5 contest that went to a shootout. Aleksander Barkov had a big game on the helping side of things, posting four assists in nearly 20 minutes of ice time. Evgeni Dadonov had a goal while Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and an assist.

Matthew Tkachuk had a huge fantasy game in response with a pair of goals, three shots, and three hits to go along with it. He even had a breakaway in overtime with a chance to end it but couldn’t quite do it. He could very well be a top-10 fantasy skater by the end of the year.

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Connor McDavid did what Connor McDavid does and almost single-handedly lifted the Oilers to a 4-3 win over Washington. He had the primary assist on Leon Draisaitl’s first goal of the game, scored the game-tying goal with under 1:40 left in the third period, and then played a nice give-and-go with Draisaitl in overtime to have the lone assist on Dr. Drai’s overtime winner. It broke a three-game pointless streak for McDavid, who just might get to 150 points this year. It sounds absurd, but does it really?

Darnell Nurse continued his monster start to the year with a goal, six shots, and a pair of hits. In 11 games, he now has eight points, 23 shots, eight PIMs, 22 hits, and 22 blocks. That’ll work.

Small note: Ethan Bear led the Oilers blue line in TOI in this game. It seems he may have some work to do on the defensive end but he also looks very good in transition. This is a blue line that is rounding into form, especially once Evan Bouchard gets there.

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I read a lot of hockey writing, both team blogs and from mainstream media. It’s important to stay current on injuries, line combinations, and sometimes conjecture, if only for that one-a-season nugget that comes true. Staying current, clearly, also helps in the fantasy hockey realm, both daily and season-long.

One thing I’ve noticed a lot of people struggle with is simply saying, “this team/this player has gotten lucky.” We know hockey is a very random game, and the smaller the sample the more random it is. When we’re talking about a few days or even a few weeks of games, luck is the most important factor, and yet sometimes we try to make something out of nothing, chalking up hot starts or improvement to some sort of off-season workout, or team chemistry. It’s okay to say someone has been lucky! Everyone gets lucky sometimes! This is normal and it’s almost worrisome that so many corners of fandom and media refuse to accept its prevalence. It’s a sentiment that pervades almost every area of life, but that’s another topic for another day.

Anyway, I thought it would be worth discussing some players getting flat-out lucky right now, and whom fantasy owners should be looking to move ASAP.

 

T.J. Oshie

It seems weird to want to trade a guy skating in the top-6 for Washington while getting extended run on the top PP unit but bear with me here.

Oshie is shooting over 31 percent, which he obviously won’t sustain. Now, he’s a guy who typically has very high shooting percentages but even his rate right now is a bit ridiculous. The inflated shooting percentage has added roughly three goals to his total, and having four goals in 11 games is a far cry from seven goals in 11 games.

The other reason is his inability to stay in the lineup. Over the last three years, Oshie has averaged 70 games a season and he’s played at least 80 games in a season once since 2012. That doesn’t bode well for the rest of this year.

We have a guy who is shooting way above his norm and also has a problem staying healthy. I don’t own Oshie in any leagues, but if I did, I would be shopping him for a top-50 or top-75 player right now.

 

Matt Duchene

The number of secondary assists at five on five for Duchene so far this year? Four. The number of secondary assists at five on five for Duchene in 50 games with Ottawa last year? Also four. The number of secondary assists at five on five for Duchene two years ago in Ottawa and Colorado? Not four – six.

I think readers know where I’m going with this. To this point of the year, his individual shot rate is lower than it’s been at any point of his career and for a guy that isn’t really a volume shooter, this is a problem. Compounding this is the injury to Filip Forsberg, his frequent left winger in this early campaign.

We know secondary assists regress so there’s no way that Duchene ends up with 35-40. He won’t end up with 15-20, so his over-a-point-per-game pace will not sustain itself. Go find the owner in your league struggling with assists and make a pitch.

 

Ryan Ellis

This hurts because I said to draft Ellis this year in anticipation of him taking over for Roman Josi on the power play, and though that hasn’t happened yet, Ellis has been pretty good fantasy-wise! The problem is that the team is shooting 18 percent with him on the ice at five on five, and even if this were to end up being an outlier season for Ellis, it’s still about 50 percent too high. There’s a reason he has 11 assists in nine games.

This isn’t to say Ellis can’t be valuable this year, and maybe people are looking at those assists and understand what is coming down the pipe. All the same, it doesn’t hurt to poke around and see if he can return an actual top-20 defenceman right now.