Everyone knows scoring is up in the league compared to last year. It’s been just over a week, so we’ll have to see where things stand probably three months from now. Remember that scoring started high last year because they were trying to crack down on slashing/hooking around the hands, then once PP opportunities declined, so did scoring. PP opps are up again this year compared to last year, but again, we’ll have to wait and see where that settles once we get hundreds of more games in the sample.
Another thing to keep an eye on: PP efficiency. Last year, PPs averaged 20.18% efficiency, the highest mark since 1990. After Wednesday night’s games, PPs were clicking along just over 22%. Were that to maintain, it would be the highest conversion rate since the mid-80s. It would be one reason for the increase in scoring and would put even more importance on those heavily-used PP guys.
One final note from the Hockey Reference seasonal pages: shots per game so far this year are down compared to last year. Were that to maintain, the shot-volume guys because a little more important in your fantasy leagues.
It's certainly looking like Ryan Donato will be joining us in the press box tonight as a healthy scratch.
— Amalie Benjamin (@AmalieBenjamin) October 11, 2018
Joakim Nordstrom took his spot on the second line while Anders Bjork to his spot on the power play.
This is about as good news as possible. Patrick left Wednesday night’s game after taking a hard hit in the first period. The concern from the broadcast was that it could be a concussion. That the team put a firm timeline on this makes me think it’s not.
Johnson was healthy last year and that helped him set three-year highs in goals (21), points (50), and shots (186).
Whether skating with Gourde or Ondrej Palat, the duo of Johnson and Point were very good together last year, controlling about 53 percent of the shots. Now, it’s fair to say Point was a bigger reason than Johnson, but as long as they’re playing together, that point (pun 100% intended) is moot.
We’ll see how long this lasts. They did play over 480 minutes together at five-on-five last year, but we’ve also seen JT Miller demoted, Nikita Kucherov skate on the second line at times last year, and Palat get moved up and down as needed. Just keep an eye on his usage for the next week or so before running to the waiver wire.
Nic Petan looks set to join the Jets here shortly, likely at the start of next week. He didn’t play Thursday night and the team is off until a home game Sunday. That would be the earliest he’s likely to be on the roster. There’s no word about where he’ll slot in the lineup, but I suspect it’ll be the bottom-6. We’ll let you know when there is something concrete to go with.
The Islanders should be welcoming back Andrew Ladd fairly soon. He was put on the IR to start the year with an undisclosed injury (thanks, Lou) and was skating on the team’s third line in practice on Thursday.
Unless there are some changing roles on the horizon, Ladd won’t have fantasy value playing in that awful bottom-6 with limited PP time. Yes, even in leagues that count hits.
As stated in a prior Ramblings both Neal Pionk and Kevin Shattenkirk were healthy scratches on Thursday for the Rangers. Consider this a message sent to the younger guys. Shattenkirk will be back in the lineup on Saturday. TBD on Pionk.
Also on the Rangers front, they completely jumbled their lines in practice Wednesday (I had missed that, my mistake). David Quinn seems like he’s going to be a nightmare for fantasy owners.
Not fantasy related (yet), but apparently Jeremy Jacobs, owner of the Bruins and chairman of the Board of NHL Governors, seems to really, really think that the NHL will have a team in Houston.
As it sits right now, the league is at 31 teams, but the impending inclusion of a Seattle would give us 32. We would have exactly 16 teams per Conference, and once a team moves to the Central (Arizona?), it would give us four divisions of eight teams. Balance!
What the balance sheets of NHL franchises look like is difficult to surmise. We (the collective ‘we’) use the Forbes list of valuable teams but even they’re working with incomplete information and use many assumptions. There are probably a lot of teams losing money, but which ones in particular and how much exactly is closely guarded.
That said, if a team were to appear in Houston, relocation rather than further expansion would make sense. Which team? I’ll leave that up to you guys. Or maybe the owners are just greedy for that expansion paycheck.
We had a loaded 12-game Thursday slate so let’s not waste time getting going.
Boston trailed early but scored three straight tallies in the first period, cruising to a win over the Oilers on Thursday night. Boston goals were highlighted by this exceptional effort from David Pastrnak:
— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) October 11, 2018
It was a pretty good night for Phil Kessel as he scored a natural hat trick in Pittsburgh’s win over Vegas. After the team’s fourth goal, scored by Jake Guentzel, the Pittsburgh crowd starting chanting for Marc-Andre Fleury. I kind of felt bad for Malcolm Subban, the Vegas starting goalie.
Believe it or not, that was Kessel’s first hat trick with the Penguins.
Pittsburgh free agent signing Juuso Riikola made his debut on Thursday night. The 24-year old had played several years in the Finnish Elite League and signed with the Penguins in May. I’m going to be completely honest here and say I had never heard of him other than to see his name in training camp lineups.
By my eyes he looked pretty good. When you see someone step into their first NHL game, especially a non-highly touted signee, you expect them to play what would colloquially be described as a simple game. But he wasn’t looking to just bang it off the glass and out. Or hammer the puck from the point. He was looking for outlet passes, for lanes, or carrying the puck when needed. It was impressive.
San Jose was throttling the Rangers all game Thursday night, had a 2-1 lead with under three minutes left in the game… and lost in overtime.
Henrik Lundqivst made 41 saves on 43 shots for the win. He was the reason the Rangers even had a chance to skate out of MSG with a victory.
Auston Matthews scored his eighth of the season, Morgan Rielly had a goal and an assist (he has 12 points now), and John Tavares even notched his first assist of the season (he ended up with four) as they Leafs rolled past the Red Wings 5-3. Oh, and Mitch Marner had three points. Ho hum.
Toronto’s next game: in Washington on Saturday night. That will be worth the price of admission.
It was quite the night in Nashville.
First, Austin Watson’s 27-game suspension for pleading no contest to a domestic violence charge was reduced to 18 games by an independent arbitrator. This should be a big issue in the coming CBA.
For the actual game, the second period’s penalty summary was as follows:
- Wheeler – roughing
- Ehlers – Interference
- Trouba – cross-checking
- Wheeler – fighting
- Ekholm – fighting
- Ehlers – fighting
- Sissons – fighting
- Byfuglien – interference
- Trouba – slashing
- Myers – 10-minute misconduct
So, yeah. Preds won 3-0.
Brayden Point scored in the first period for Tampa Bay but that was the only goal the Lightning would get. Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser scored third-period goals for the Canucks and Jake Virtanen salted the game away with an empty netter. Markus Granlund would also score an empty-net goal in the waning seconds to make it a 4-1 final.
This was only Tampa’s second game of the season so there’s no need to panic. But they haven’t looked good in either game. This wasn’t a “their goalie stood on his head” type of loss. This was an “it looks like these two teams are even” kind of loss. And they got shelled by Florida in their first game of the season, only being bailed out by Andrei Vasilevskiy to win in a shootout.
Tampa’s next two games are against Columbus and Carolina, both at home. Let’s hope they start showing some signs of life.
Speaking of Florida, they blew a 4-3 third period lead to lose 5-4 in regulation. This was a really fun game to watch from start to finish, even if Florida did carry the play for some stretches.
Just for the record, Florida maintained their five-forward power play.
Speaking of power plays, the Sabres went 0-for-7 in their 6-1 home loss to Colorado. Not great!
Montreal was shut out 3-0 in their home opener. The Habs actually looked pretty good in this one. They grossly outshot the Kings and while they weren’t always high-quality chances, Kings goaltender Jack Campbell was up to the task when he needed to be, stopping all 40 shots he faced. Those kinds of nights happen.
Jeff Carter had a goal and two assists, figuring in all three goals for the Kings. They were his first three points of the season. It’s nice to seem him get things going.
David Perron scored a hat trick for the Blues in their 5-3 win over Calgary. He had been slotted on the second line of late with Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn, and it seems like it’s paying instant dividends. Schenn had three assists while Schwartz had one.
The Flames were down 5-1 at one point and made it 5-3. Jake Allen made a very nice reaction save late by reaching back to his left when sliding right on a deflected puck. Had that gone in, it would have been a 5-4 game with a couple minutes left. He stopped 31 of 34 in total.
We had an, ahem, Wild game in Minnesota last night. The Blackhawks had a 3-2 lead late in the game, and were on the power play to finish the third. Minnesota pulled the goalie and Ryan Suter banged home a rebound to tie the game 3-3 with his team down a man.
Jason Zucker finished the game in overtime on a nice backhand five-hole deke.
Apologies for all the stats but there were so many games to get through. Hope everyone enjoyed the NHL action Thursday night because there are no games tonight.
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