As far as the regular season is concerned, the Bruins have all but wrapped up a playoff spot and it’s just a matter of jockeying for home ice. They will have to do so without McAvoy.
McAvoy had been very solid in roto leagues to this point, which is rare for a 20-year old rookie defenceman. He was on pace for 40-plus point, a monster plus rating, 60-plus penalty minutes, triple-digits in both blocked shots and hits. Outside of strictly points leagues, he’s likely a top-20 defenceman. That’s an excellent rookie fantasy campaign. Of course, he won’t reach those numbers now, but it’s a good sign for the future.
Just as a small aside, Zdeno Chara’s numbers have been considerably worse this year when he hasn’t been paired with McAvoy: the Bruins allow just shy of 30 percent more shots when Chara is on the ice with any other defence partner aside from the rookie. Of all players, I do wonder if this affects Tuukka Rask the most. Patrice Bergeron still isn’t back and with McAvoy out of the lineup now, that is a lot missing from the team when it comes to driving the play.
It looks as if Brock Boeser avoided serious injury after he went into an open door back-first late in Vancouver’s game Tuesday night. The team updated and said he would be out 4-6 weeks. You can read their update here.
I assume they’ll just shut him down for the season.
Again, it appears this could have been a lot worse and 4-6 weeks with a full recovery is great news for Boeser. This fantasy owner is excited to see what he can do next year.
We didn’t get much of an update on Ben Bishop from Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock. Bishop left Monday night’s game with what appeared to be a lower-body injury. The update is that he will miss at least a couple of games and the team hopes to know more when Thursday rolls around.
That doesn’t help fantasy owners much. Bishop won’t be hitting the IR yet and we don’t know exactly how long he’ll be out. If you can spare it, go and grab Kari Lehtonen. Dropping Bishop is another question entirely. Maybe he’s out two weeks, maybe he’s back by the weekend (the team starts a six-game road trip on Sunday). We just don’t know.
Mark Scheifele left the Jets game late in the second period and did not return. Word from the team was an upper-body injury. All we learned after the game was that it happened in a collision with Blake Wheeler and he was a bit stiff during the second period. He’ll be re-evaluated. When we know more, we’ll pass along the updates.
Stop me if this sounds like a recording but… Patrik Laine scored. Not once, not twice, but thrice for his first hat trick of the season, and a natural one at that. That gives him 38 goals on the campaign, tying Ilya Kovalchuk for 12th all-time for goals in an age-19 season. Should he reach 40 goals (when he reaches 40 goals), he’d be just the 12th 19-year old to do so in league history, and just the fourth outside of the 1980s.
Steve Mason made just his second start in 2018 and saved all 31 shots the Rangers launched for the shutout.
Pavel Buchnevich was replaced on the top line for a couple shifts in the third period and was also on the bench when it was 2-0 and fewer than two minutes to play with the goalie pulled. I only bring this up because later in these Ramblings I touch on Buchnevich’s season and wrote about him before the game started. It was unintentional but worked out spectacularly regardless.
To the surprise of no one, Taylor Hall extended his point streak to 26 games with two assists in New Jersey’s 6-4 win over the Habs.
This game broke streaks for a couple Devils: Will Butcher (0-2) registered his first multi-point game since before Christmas while Travis Zajac had his first multi-power-play point night of the season. It was a good offensive performance for New Jersey.
Brendan Gallagher scored a goal for the Habs and it tied his career-best for a single season with 24.
Brayden Point was the hero for the Lightning, scoring the overtime goal to lift Tampa Bay 5-4 over Florida. The goal was nothing short of spectacular:
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) March 7, 2018
It capped off a monster night for the second line as Yanni Gourde had two goals and an assist, JT Miller had a goal and an assist, and then Point’s overtime winner. They have been lethal since Miller made his way over in the trade with Ryan McDonagh. Sure, it’s driven by percentages, but it’s fun to watch for now.
Nick Bjugstad was a driving force behind Florida’s comeback to scratch a point (seriously, no pun intended) out of this game, registering a hat trick. It’s quite the heater he’s on with five goals and 16 points in 16 games since the start of February.
Small aside here: Anton Stralman was plus-5 in this game. It was the first time a Lightning player has been plus-5 in a regular season game since… Matt Carle went plus-6 in a 6-3 win over four years ago. Stralman added two assists, two shots, and two blocks for a pretty nice roto performance.
Minnesota/Carolina was a decent game with the Wild up 1-0 going into the second period. Then Minnesota scored four goals in 208 seconds to go up 5-0 before the second period was four minutes old. It was cruise control after that.
Eric Staal scored twice to give him 36 goals on the season. He’s still a ways away from his career-high 45 in 2005-06 but with 67 points he’s well on his way to his first 70-point season since 2011-12. His goal-scoring is largely driven by a sky-high shooting percentage – he’s up to 19.3 percent now, by far the highest of his career – but it’s been quite the resurgence in Minnesota even if he was shooting 10 percent.
Not that it means much fantasy-wise, I just found it cool: Daniel Winnik had seven shots on goal in this game, the second such game of his career and his first seven-shot performance since March of 2011. This is a guy with 784 career games under his belt. One even found the twine.
Brad Marchand registered a hat trick for the Bruins, his third goal being the overtime game-winner for Boston. He added a couple of assists to give himself a monster fantasy night.
While not as prolific, Torey Krug had two goals and two assists for himself in the Boston win. He now has 13 goals on the season, leaving him one shy of his career-best 14 goals in 2013-14.
Lost in all this was the performance of Anthony Mantha who had two goals and two assists of his own. That puts him over 40 points for the first time in his career.
Mike Green had a goal and an assist to go along with two PIMs, two hits, and two additional shots. I had to laugh as I was watching the Bruins broadcast and immediately after Green’s goal, the colour commentator, to paraphrase, asked why Green wasn’t traded by the Red Wings at the deadline. We’re all wondering the same thing.
Both Pierre-Luc Dubois and Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists in the team’s 4-1 win over Vegas. That’s four goals and four assists for Panarin in his last five contests, up to 58 points on the season. It’s a longshot but he’s given himself a chance to crack 70; he’d need 12 points over the team’s remaining 15 games.
Reilly Smith left the game after the second period after taking a hard hit late in the frame. It looked clean but he was apparently favouring one arm as he went to the bench. There are no further updates as of now.
With the 2-0 shutout of the Dallas Stars, Pekka Rinne has tied his single-season high for shutouts with seven. It was also his second in five games. His save percentage now sits at .928 and he has 36 wins in 49 starts. Pretty good fantasy season, I would say. Though I guess it could all fall apart for the fantasy playoffs.
Ryan Hartman had the game-winner, his second goal since joining the Predators.
Speaking of shutouts, John Gibson managed one against Washington, stopping all 36 shots he faced. He has now saved 107 of 112 shots faced since returning from injury. With a .927 save percentage, he's well on his way to his fourth straight season with a .920 or better. Pretty good for a 24-year old.
Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Pavel Buchnevich has a primary points/60 minutes rate at five-on-five of 1.49. For reference among wingers, it’s the same rate as Matthew Tkachuk, and higher than Blake Wheeler (1.46), Sebastian Aho (1.45), and William Nylander (1.42). For this season, he’s second among remaining Rangers in individual shot attempts per minute at five-on-five and first in total points per 60 minutes at five-on-five. That’s all really good.
So what do we make of him?
Keep in mind, this is a guy who has regularly been in Alain Vigneault’s dog house, finding his way to the fourth line or the bench in several games (as was on display Tuesday night). Despite leading the team in points per 60 minutes at five-on-five, he’s last in time on ice per game at five-on-five. I repeat: the forward who leads the team in per-minute production has received the least amount of ice time per game at five-on-five.
If we want to talk about his issues defensively, fine. His numbers aren’t very good when playing away from Mika Zibanejad, the majority of which are on the fourth line with David Desharnais. Though a second-year player having poor play-driving numbers on the fourth line of a defensively-inept non-playoff team isn’t really grounds for sounding the alarms.
Buchnevich doesn’t have great zone exit/entry numbers, but no one on the Rangers top line really does; Chris Kreider hasn’t been stellar and Zibanejad’s zone exits are nearly as poor as Buchnevich. Without digging further – that’s a much longer project for another day – my instinct would be this is a team whose defencemen have struggled moving the puck. At least Marc Staal and Nick Holden have (until the Holden trade, of course). This image from from CJ Turtoro’s 3-zones Tableau tool:
I don’t even know what to say.
Again, though Buchnevich has struggled in some regards, I wouldn’t lay it all at his feet. This team is in rebuild mode so it might not get considerably better anytime soon, but Kevin Shattenkirk returning should help a bit. Until he’s trusted by his coach, though, production will be inconsistent.
About a month ago, Elliotte Friedman mentioned in his ’31 Thoughts’ column that opponents can see Ryan Kesler playing through injury. He has nine points in 28 games as of early Tuesday night and though points aren’t what the Ducks need from him, fantasy owners do.
Expected goals for per 60 minutes at five-on-five for Kesler, Jakob Silfverberg, and Andrew Cogliano has plummeted from last year (2.83) to this year (2.23). Their shots generated have declined, their shots allowed have increased, and this is all despite the fact they’re starting more in the offensive zone and less in the defensive zone this season.
Beyond what his line has done – or not done – is his individual performance. He lost his top power-play spot when Adam Henrique was traded to the team from New Jersey and he has never really regained it for a meaningful length of time. That has hurt his production on top of his line’s shooting percentage coming in under 6 percent. His personal shot rates are a career-low as well.
I don’t know for certain that Kesler is playing injured, but Friedman has mentioned it, his line’s numbers are in the tank despite not a whole lot changing from one year to the next (and his deployment is even a bit more favourable), and his shot rates are the lowest they’ve been in a decade. So, yeah, we don’t know it for certain, but it’s a pretty good guess. I suppose it’ll depress his ADP come September, though.
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