Ramblings: Johnny Hockey returns…and so does 2006 Cam Ward…
I think at this point there are no more naysayers when it comes to declaring Alexander Radulov a superstar and that what we’re seeing is no longer a mirage? With three points Sunday, Radulov is up to 21 in 23 contests. Here were Montreal’s line combos yesterday:
#1 21% GALCHENYUK,ALEX – PACIORETTY,MAX – RADULOV,ALEXANDER
#2 17.5% DANAULT,PHILLIP – DESHARNAIS,DAVID – SHAW,ANDREW
#3 12.2% GALLAGHER,BRENDAN – LEHKONEN,ARTTURI – PLEKANEC,TOMAS
#4 7.9% BYRON,PAUL – FLYNN,BRIAN – MITCHELL,TORREY
The return to health of Artturi Lehkonen has allowed for this loading up of that first line again. So although Lehkonen has just one point in four games since returning, his presence has a positive impact on the team’s offense. He also has at least two shots in each of those four games so I think something will give soon. The guy has 37 shots on goal in 16 games, but just three goals to show for it. His 5on5 SH% is 4.55% which again suggests something is about to give.
After nine points in 18 games, Anze Kopitar has five in the last two. In two games his overall pace jumped from 41 to 54. Still horrible, but he’s clearly on the prowl – and right on cue. He does this every year at around this time.
That being said, two of Kopitar’s three points Sunday came on the power play. Which is about what you can expect from him as long as he plays with a past-his-best-before-date Marian Gaborik and fourth-liner Trevor Lewis.
Speaking of Lewis, he’s played the last five games on the Kopitar line and has four points to show for it. His ice time is up (of course) and he’s taken 13 SOG, which is a definite uptick for him. In leagues that count hits, he’s currently quite valuable (13 hits in those five games).
The shine is coming off of Peter Budaj’s luster. In his last three games he’s 0-1-1 with a 3.74 GAA and 0.847 SV%. The Kings’ system is amazing for goaltenders, and kudos to Budaj for keeping them in the hunt and delaying a decision on acquiring another goalie. But Nashville will get back into the playoffs and it will be Los Angeles they knock out to do it. Prove me wrong, Los Angeles! Prove me wrong…
Teddy Purcell cleared waivers and has been sent to the AHL. He’s the perfect poster boy for the pro- “24 is a player’s prime” people. And another poster boy for that, Devin Setoguchi, was a healthy scratch. But regardless of how much their stats drag down the overall average, a player’s prime is 27 for a forward and 28 for a defenseman. There are exceptions, and here are two of them, but if you analyze only players who play 500 career games, are still in the league at the age of 32, and are players of offensive skill (meaning they’ve had more than 55 points in a season before) my claims will prove to be correct. Other studies use different criteria and may find a different result, but this is fantasy hockey and I don’t care when a 25-point grinder’s prime is. Nor do I care when a mainly-AHL player’s prime NHL season is.
Since his six-game point streak ended, Tyler Johnson has just one point in five games.
Ben Bishop is 1-1-1 with a 1.11 GAA and 0.960 SV% in his last three games. Since Andrei Vasilevskiy got the hook on December 1, Bishop started back-to-back games on Saturday/Sunday. It’s a situation worth keeping an eye on, as many poolies had Bishop dead and buried already. Vasilevskiy’s last two starts saw him allow nine goals on 54 shots and get the hook once.
Speaking of back from the dead… Cam Ward. His first three starts were terrible, but since then he’s actually been fantastic. Better than fantastic: amazing. In his last 16 games he’s 8-5-3, with a 1.73 GAA and a 0.937 SV%. Talk about reviving his career! He’s making a believer out of me. For this year, that is. I don’t think he can ever make a long-term believer out of me after what I saw from him the last few years.
Viktor Stalberg still isn’t playing with anyone worth writing home about (Joakim Nordstrom and Jay McClement), but he does have four points in his last four games. He’s taken 17 shots in his last five games and his ice time is up about two minutes per contest due to the Jordan Staal injury.
Juuse Saros got his third start of the season for the Predators on Sunday and allowed more than one goal for the first time. Pekka Rinne, who gave up five goals on 22 shots Saturday, can rest easy. The imminent threat that the stud prospect poses is still a ways off.
Perhaps Steve Mason just needs nobody challenging him? In the 11 games that Michael Neuvirth has been injured, Mason started 10 of them and has a 6-3-1 record with a 2.18 GAA and a 0.925 SV%.
Reid Boucher was claimed by the Nashville Predators over the weekend to inject some much-needed goal scoring into the lineup. It’s clear that’s why they claimed him because they gave him a whole seven minutes of ice time on Sunday and zero minutes on the power play. In a shocking development, he was unable to score.
Henrik Zetterberg has seven points in his last six games, still in large part because of playing with Anthony Mantha. Although Mantha’s points haven’t been great, he’s a huge body (6-5, 221) who shoots like a sunovagun. Mantha has 28 SOG in his last eight games (3.5/game) and five points.
Much like with Mason above, Petr Mrazek is doing much better with his competition sidelined by an injury. Jimmy Howard is nursing his groin and Mrazek is solidifying the No.1 job again. He’s 3-0-2 in his last five starts with a 2.21 GAA and 0.921 SV%.
Among the many things to be disappointed about the Islanders this year, Alan Quine not getting a shot with John Tavares has to be up there. He looked good there in the playoffs but hasn’t had a sniff this season. Meanwhile, Jack Capuano still rewards Andrew Ladd with a plum line spots. Ladd deservers a few games on the fourth line until he snaps out of it, so that Quine and Anders Lee and others can get a crack on a top line. Quine took five shots on goal on Sunday and before that he had not taken three in a game this year. Perhaps that inspires a shakeup.
Bryan Little has been back for four games now and he has four points. But more importantly, he’s gotten Blake Wheeler going. Wheeler has five points in that span and is climbing back up the scoring charts.
I was able to pull off a small trade to clear a roster spot that allowed me to claim Lars Johansson. Hey, why not? If Scott Darling gets injured then perhaps I get a week or two of greatness that builds his value enough to flip him.
Nick Schmaltz was sent down to the AHL to make room for Johansson.
Johnny Gaudreau returned to the Calgary lineup early on Sunday and it took him all of two minutes to score. I don’t have to tell you what this does for the Calgary offense or to his linemates (which for some reason were Sam Bennett and Alex Chiasson). Those linemates tallied three points each in their romp over the Ducks.
Since returning from injury, Kris Versteeg has points in five of six games. Sunday he had two points and saw a season-high 18:23 of ice time. He’s the reason Gaudreau was put on this other line – it provides the Flames with three decent scoring lines (and actually makes Chiasson somewhat relevant):
#1 20.3% BROUWER,TROY – MONAHAN,SEAN – VERSTEEG,KRIS
#2 18.8% BACKLUND,MIKAEL – FROLIK,MICHAEL – TKACHUK,MATTHEW
#3 17.8% BENNETT,SAM – CHIASSON,ALEX – GAUDREAU,JOHNNY
#4 4.1% HATHAWAY,GARNET – STAJAN,MATTHEW – VERSTEEG,KRIS
Calgary is 8-3-1 in their past 12.
Oddly enough, Jonathan Bernier was left between the pipes for all eight goals. Surprised that a switch wasn’t made after two periods when the Ducks were down 6-1. John Gibson had been playing well for the past six games and he played on Saturday. So I guess Randy Carlyle didn’t want to toss him to the wolves, and instead will keep his confidence high.
Ryan Kesler has 17 points in his last 17 games. New coach and a healthy body combine to work out really well for him.
Arizona prospect Brendan Perlini (scouting report on Perlini – from a fantasy hockey standpoint – can be found here) was AHL Rookie of the Month last month and the Coyotes called him up. He had 12 points in nine games, including a seven-game points streak. The team sent down Laurent Dauphin to make room. And with Michael Stone in the lineup and healthy, Anthony DeAngelo was sent to the AHL for most ice time. I really thought he’d earned a stay, but the coach says that he needed to work on the defensive aspect of the game and there was no sense keeping him up when he’d be getting minimal ice time.
Kevin Labanc had three points in his last five games, but the Sharks have a few days off so he was sent down to get some ice time. And there…he continued to dominate. Three points in two games for the San Jose Barracuda over the weekend gives him 13 points in eight career AHL games.
Mikko Koivu has seven points in his last seven games. Just a short spurt I’m guessing, because I don’t see him as a big point producer anymore.
The Midseason Guide is on pre-sale now. I moved the date of release back three days to January 15 because of the late start to the season. I felt that waiting a few more days would help me get a better feel for how the second half will go. You can pre-order it here.
We’re taking steps to speed up load times on the site. The sluggishness is due to the growing popularity of the Frozen Pool research tools, as well as the forum. Some tweaks have already been made to how Frozen Pool is setup (in the background), and I will be moving to a new server within a few days. The server will really speed things up, I can’t wait.
UPDATE: Alex Galchenyuk left the game last night after taking this knee-on-knee collision. No word on the severity but he has a 'lower-body injury'
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