Ramblings: Jordan Staal Picking Up Steam, Hellebuyck Stumbling (Feb. 6)

by steve laidlaw on February 6, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Jordan Staal Picking Up Steam, Hellebuyck Stumbling (Feb. 6)

Ramblings: Jordan Staal picking up steam, Hellebuyck stumbling, Ehlers on the top line and more.

Oh goodness no! Connor Hellebuyck, what have you done to my goalie stats this week?

Three goals on six shots in less than five minutes for Hellebuyck. That’s one good way to throw away the goalie categories. Yikes. He is still a beauty but the wheels are starting to come off. That’s two straight coming out of the All-Star break where Hellebuyck has been lit up.

Hellebuyck and the Jets just went 1-5-0 on a six-game homestand. He has also lost seven of his last 10 starts. Probably time to start thinking about tank mode.

With all this happening I keep thinking about Ondrej Pavelec looming in the background. He is close to returning though the Jets haven’t set a date just yet. Hellebuyck should be done at the AHL level but he could still get bumped by Pavelec. This was always the worry and it’s why Hellebuyck needed to keep winning to force the coaches to keep him. Now the losing reopens the door.

Notice I’m not mentioning Michael Hutchinson who stopped 21 of 23 in relief and probably gets the start in Colorado tonight. This is not by accident. Hutchinson is far from fantasy relevant at this point.

The Jets have rolled with some intriguing lines the past couple of games:














Great spot for Nikolaj Ehlers who extended his scoring streak to six games. He has six goals and 10 points in the last nine games. Heating up again, while stealing Andrew Ladd’s top line/top power-play minutes. If he is going to stick as a top-liner, which given the Ladd trade rumours it certainly seems like he is, Ehlers would make an excellent addition for the stretch run. He might go for 20-25 in the final 31 games.

With the sort of deployment you see above, they may as well just trade Ladd already.

Another positive for the Jets: Dustin Byfuglien with two assists has extended his scoring streak to four games. He damn near helped to bring them back out of that early hole last night. It will almost certainly be a terrible contract if the Jets manage to extend him but Byfuglien is still a terror who should have another couple of good years left in him.


Jordan Staal is killing it! A three-point night gives him 15 points in his last 13 games. If you look at his deployment there is absolutely nothing special there:























The one thing worth noting is that the power-play minutes are really starting to swing Staal’s way. He has seen second unit PP time for the past month or so but last night he was third on the team behind Justin Faulk and Jeff Skinner with 4:08 with the man-advantage. If things keep going this way we’ll have to give Staal a real close look.

As things lean towards Staal they have been leaning away from Victor Rask. His minutes have been steadily falling. After being in the 17-20-minute range over the first couple of months, Rask dropped to the 15-17 range in December and now is in the dreaded 12-16 range we see third-liners fall into. He just hit 30 points last night but has just six points in 13 games since we flipped to 2016.


Tyler Johnson with a three-point effort in just 12:48 of ice time. I am still not convinced that Johnson is 100% and I won’t be until I see him killing penalties again. Johnson has nine points in 15 games since returning from injury but also has scored all nine of those in his last 11 games.

Some great stuff on the Lightning in Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts:

21. Spent some time last week in Tampa Bay. News is scarce, with Don Meehan, Steven Stamkos and Steve Yzerman not talking about it. As we’ve all speculated, this is about more than just the money. It’s also about fit. Just by watching, though, you can see how the Lightning are trying to address this. Stamkos is now leading all of the team’s forwards in ice-time, at 19:50 per game. (That is tied for 20th among forwards in the NHL.) While he is playing a lot of right wing, only Valtteri Filppula has taken more faceoffs and it’s clear Cooper wants Stamkos when it’s on his strong side. (Cooper also declined to comment specifically about Stamkos’s usage.)

He’s back in his one-timer spot on the power play, scoring the game’s only goal from there against Toronto. And, Cooper’s broken up The Triplets, something he wasn’t — understandably — willing to do last season while they were on a tear. As a result, Stamkos is playing a ton with Ondrej Palat, who is a great fit for him, and the improving Vladislav Namestnikov. I wondered about Nikita Kucherov going with Stamkos, too, but another coach said the terrific Russian was “too deferential. His game changed. Palat’s doesn’t.”

With info like that, you can count on Kucherov sticking with Johnson. Given how hot Kucherov has been that’s great news.

I have mentioned Stralman a few times in a few different places but he continues to be productive after a slow start. He scored seven in 13 in December, eight in 11 in January and now after a two-goal night he has two in two in February. That’s 17 in 26 over the last couple of months. He is owned in just 58% of leagues and no one is out there trying to acquire him. Wait for a day when he didn’t just score two goals the night before and make a pitch. You’ll probably get him cheap. I sat on him all season and it is paying off.


It turns out that not having Evgeni Malkin is a big problem for the Penguins. Matt Cullen took his place between Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel. That line got torched going a combined minus-nine though Cullen did score a goal. Consider them the prime offenders in getting Marc-Andre Fleury torched for four goals on 14 shots.


By golly, I think we can call this a hot streak for Jiri Hudler who has five points in his last five games, while back on the top line. He is making himself a heck of a trade deadline target for some team. The market is becoming saturated with down-on-their-luck stars headed to unrestricted free agency what with Ladd and Eric Staal already having been rumoured for some time now.

Micheal Ferland has been back for a couple of games now but has not produced. He is living third-line life presumably until Hudler is moved.

After an injury scare against Carolina the other night, TJ Brodie was back in the lineup skating over 25 minutes and notching an assist.


I assumed Shane Doan would calm down after scoring nine goals in a seven game span and to some degree he has. Since that torrid stretch he has four goals and nine points in 13 games. That’s still good enough to be relevant. At that rate, Doan would finish the season with another 21 points in the final 30 games, which would see him finish just shy of 50. That would be remarkable. I think we need another poll…


Anders Lindback was in goal for Arizona, which you just knew would be trouble with how hot the Ducks have been. Louis Domingue has been getting banged up lately so it probably wouldn’t have made a difference either way. But the Ducks did have their way. Despite scoring on just one of seven power-play chances they were able to put five past Lindback on 41 shots.

It was a big night for Patrick Maroon who scored three points in just 11:33. What gives with these low-minute guys going off last night? In any case, don’t look for Maroon for much production going forward, at least not with a lineup shuffle as he is well down the depth chart.

Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen are the two defensemen on the top PP unit but with all those PP chances, the second unit got a ton of play last night as well. Hampus Lindholm scored a goal for his third straight game. We’ve talked about this before but the Ducks are suddenly loaded on the blueline.


I mentioned yesterday having set a way too low line for Connor McDavid. I won’t even bother including the results. People love that dude. I’ve got four others worth checking out, however:

Kyle Palmieri

This looks like a pretty good number. Palmieri is on pace for 55 points. Slight favour to the under which is the safe move. Palmieri has an extensive injury history having never played more than 55 games and is shooting an explosive 15.7%, which may regress to his career average of 12.1%.

Laidlaw’s Pick: I am with the under crowd. Palmieri is scoreless in four straight as the Devils are feeling the absence of Mike Cammalleri. It would be all too easy for Palmieri to miss 10 games and fall short.

Rasmus Ristolainen

My typo aside, it is extremely informative to see how pessimistic folks are of Ristolainen’s chances of clearing 50. I suppose it is fair. Ristolainen, while tied for 12th in defenseman scoring, is on pace for exactly 50 points and has seen his pace slow with just seven points in 14 games since the calendar flipped to 2016.

Laidlaw’s Pick: You know I am taking the over. I have been hot on this guy since last season. He has blown the projections I had for him out of the water. I am banking on the talent and that Eichel’s emergence pushes the Sabres to another level down the stretch.

Erik Karlsson:

On pace for 87 points, Karlsson is arguably the single best player in the game. Strange that only half of you think he hangs on to his current pace to clear the 80-point mark for the first time. Karlsson does still have to score at least 28 in his final 30 games to get there, which will certainly be a challenge but considering how he has shown no signs of slowing down even as the Senators have gone into a funk it is interesting to see how split folks are on this.

Of course, there’s also the huge stir was created by this revelation:

We have yet to see the exact implications of this but if it comes anywhere close to the neutering that happened to Mike Green back in the day then we should all cringe. To be clear, Erik Karlsson is way better than Green ever was and part of Green’s decline was because of injuries but my point stands. Karlsson is a force on a team thin on talent. He is changing the game with his play and really doesn’t need to and shouldn’t change.

Laidlaw’s Pick: I am taking the over. Karlsson is too good to be changing his game in some attempt to make that haggard roster look good. The single best thing Karlsson can do is be Karlsson. He is making the Senators as good as he possibly can. Somehow he is a plus-two on a team with a minus-eight goal differential at 5v5.

Plus/minus is a problematic stat for some of you. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I do think that with context it can tell you a lot. In this case, we can see how Karlsson is a force for good on a team otherwise going in the opposite direction.

Gustav Nyquist

He was a popular pick to breakout this season. I believe I bet the over on him scoring something like 60 points. Look at this line. That sure as hell ain’t happening. The good news, most of you have caught on to the foul stench Nyquist is giving off. The bad news, the general public hasn’t yet. Nyquist is still owned in 70% of Yahoo! leagues. Those still hanging on, it’s time to let go.

Laidlaw’s Pick: He needs just 20 points in the final 31 games, which he could certainly pull off with the right bounces. That misses the point entirely, however. I don’t want to live in a world where Nyquist is 70% owned but Sasha Barkov remains below 50% owned. Oh, and yes I am taking the under.

Watch for more of these on my Twitter feed this weekend as I’ll be looking for stuff to chat about following Monday’s light schedule.


Sean Couturier, despite producing in his return, is now out four weeks with a lower-body injury. So that once again removes him as an intriguing waiver add. It will also clip the wings of Brayden Schenn a little bit but remember that Schenn is also on the Flyers’ top power-play unit and that that unit is rolling.


Yannick Weber was placed on waivers yesterday, which means the likely return of Dan Hamhuis.


Awesome piece demonstrating how teams on back-to-backs take more penalties than normal. I don’t think that this necessarily has huge implications for the season-long fantasy community other than perhaps when making day-to-day lineup choices like who to start or who to pick off the waiver wire for a spot start but it certainly has implications for those in the Daily Fantasy community. My assumption, however is that this info is also factored into the betting lines that so many DFS players already use so focusing on this one specific factor may be a bit too on the nose.


Some wonderful life advice/philosophy from Mike Babcock:

I wasn't good enough to play. I thought I was going to be a professor at McGill University for the rest of my life. I loved being on campus and I loved teaching. I thought that's what I was going to do. I went to play overseas one year, I ended up being a player-coach. That gave me the experience to apply for the job. I just wanted to go to the Calgary Stampede, applying to the job at Red Deer College gave me a free way to the Stampede. I had no interest in stopping playing when I got the job. I lost my way and I've been doing it ever since… You think, 'Oh this is my lifelong plan,' and all that. I've got college-aged kids and one a little older than that. I always say to young people, the job you're going to have hasn't been invented yet. To go through struggles and figure out what your career is going to be is an important thing to do. I think your parents sometimes, when you're an 18-year-old kid in high school, they want you to know what you want to do with the rest of your life, that's crazy. You don't even know who you are. Grow up, experience some ups, experience some downs, live a little. Then, if you're fortunate and you love what you do — if you love what you do you have a chance to be great at it. If you don't, you're never going to be great at it.

This here is right up my alley. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I’m 28 and I’m happy doing what I am doing. I am not convinced I am ever going to do any one thing for the rest of my life. I certainly never thought I’d be a writer or a firefighter. What really sticks out for me is his quote about the job you are going to have having not been invented yet. I love the way that is framed.

I recently read the book ‘Mindset’ by Carol Dweck after hearing Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy mention how much it has helped him with coaching younger players. After reading it I am so much more conscious about the way that we frame things in our mind and how that can set us up for future success or failure. As a coach myself, I am ever so cognizant of avoiding putting limitations on players or teaching them the wrong mindset. Babcock’s quote above really reminded me of this. It seems all too often that successful people are the ones who appreciate the process and understand that failure is a part of improvement.


Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw