Laine Breaks Slump in Finland, Fabbri’s Long-Awaited Return, plus more…
This was the odd weekday where you had to set your roster early, as the Jets and Panthers faced off in Helsinki. Patrik Laine put on a show in his home country, recording a hat trick on seven shots on goal in the Jets’ 4-2 win. The goals snapped Laine’s five-game pointless drought, providing much-needed reassurance to Laine owners who have been largely disappointed with just three goals and five points from their sniper entering Thursday’s game. Two of the goals were on the power play, which is where his production will need to come from while he is lined up with Adam Lowry and Brandon Tanev. The other goal was an empty-netter, so neither Lowry nor Tanev got in on the scoring in this one.
With an assist in this game, Mike Hoffman now has an eight-game point streak with exactly one point in each of those eight games. Hoffman has taken 23 shots over his last four games and leads the Panthers with 38 shots. His fantasy stock may have fallen because of the circumstances surrounding his departure from Ottawa and concern over a reduced role in Florida, but so far he has thrived in Florida with five goals and eight points in ten games.
Playing on a line with Tyler Seguin, Devin Shore scored for the second consecutive game. He’s been on a roll recently, scoring eight points over his last six games. He’s eligible at all three forward positions and is a one percenter in terms of ownership, so he might be an option if you’re in a deep league.
In case you picked Ryan Donato as a sleeper, he’s been officially demoted to the AHL. Those of you in single-season formats may have already moved on anyway, considering that Donato had just a goal and no assists in 11 games. He’ll come back stronger once he receives more playing time in the AHL, so you’ll still want to retain him in your keeper league.
I promise I won’t forget about the Islanders this time, especially since they have now swept the Penguins in a home-and-home. The Josh Bailey – Anders Lee – Brock Nelson line is on a roll, with all three recording at least a point in this game. Bailey is riding a seven-game point streak and is scoring at a point-per-game pace (13 points in 12 games). Without John Tavares, no less! Bet you never thought that would happen. Lee is also on a point-per-game pace (12 points in 12 games), while Nelson has points in five of his last six games.
I mentioned this on Twitter over the weekend, but I think Nelson’s value receives a boost with Tavares gone. His icetime is up nearly four minutes per game, and he’s consistently playing with better quality linemates, in particular Lee. In fact, I have enough faith in him that I’ve added him in one of my leagues.
Although Robin Lehner’s injury only seems to be day-to-day (at least at the moment), Thomas Greiss is worth at least a short-term add if you have a struggling goalie that you need to bench. Greiss is only 20 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, so he’s a good bet to be available in yours.
Brendan Gallagher and Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored two goals each in the Habs’ 6-4 win over Washington, which had an unusual final minute. Watch this strange sequence. From 4-4 and probably heading to overtime to 6-4 and game over in a matter of seconds.
Kotkaniemi’s goals were the first two of his career, while Gallagher scored numbers eight and nine while taking seven shots on goal. Gallagher is a true Cy Young candidate over the first month of the season with just one assist to go with those nine goals.
With that game-winning goal, Max Domi is now up to 12 points (6g-6a) in 12 games. He looks like a new man in a Habs’ uniform and has paid off as a late-round pick in my single-season league. Even though he is now only three goals shy of his total from each of the last two seasons, beware of the shooting percentage. Domi, who has shot between 6 and 8 percent over the past two seasons as a Yote, is shooting at an amazing 22.2 percent clip as a Hab.
Welcome back, Robby Fabbri. In his first game since the 2016-17 season, Fabbri recorded an assist on the first of Oskar Sundqvist’s two goals. Fabbri played just 8:45 on a line with Sundqvist and rookie Robert Thomas, and he did not receive any power-play time. That icetime is understandable since he hasn’t played in 20 months. Expect that icetime to rise, although it’s yet to be seen how the Blues plan to deploy him going forward. Given his upside before the long layoff, he’s worth an add in deeper leagues if the best remaining options aren’t that appealing.
Mike Smith may have earned a win on Thursday, but it covered up another poor outing. Smith allowed five goals on 26 shots, but if not for a five-goal outburst by the Flames in the third period, fantasy owners who started Smith would have come home completely empty-handed. I think we see some more of David Rittich, at least in the short term. Smith: .871 SV%. Rittich: .939 SV%. I’d be willing to bet that Rittich at least starts Saturday’s game against Chicago. Move Smith to your bench until he figures it out. This has to be a full-blown goalie controversy in Cowtown.
With a goal and two assists on Thursday, Mark Giordano now has seven points over his last four games. Gio is averaging 25 minutes of icetime a game, which is his highest total in four seasons.
Drake Caggiula, come on down. You’re the next lucky winner on the Connor McDavid line. Caggiula made good on that promotion, scoring two goals – one assisted by McDavid himself and the other while killing a penalty. This might seem like a reason to pick up Caggiula, right? Not so fast. According to the Edmonton Journal, Ty Rattie is nearly ready to return to the lineup.
In case you’re wondering what happened to Kailer Yamamoto after he took a turn on the McDavid line, he was a healthy scratch on Thursday. But once Rattie returns, the spot beside McDavid is his to lose anyway.
Mikko Koskinen, who I believe is the only NHL goalie I’ve ever seen with a number in the teens, posted a 40-save shutout. This is yet another situation in which the backup now has better numbers than the starter. Cam Talbot has played at least 65 games over the past two seasons, but of concern to fantasy owners is the fact that his struggles from last season have carried over to this season. In fact, his save percentage has gotten even worse. Talbot shouldn’t lose the starting job outright. But if Koskinen is the answer as a solid backup, I wonder if Talbot’s games played total drops to somewhere in the 50s.
I like the poll questions on the Dobber Facebook page and try to answer them whenever I can. One of the more thought-provoking questions was which player is better: Bo Horvat or Dylan Larkin. Although I chose Horvat (my Canucks bias, of course), Larkin’s recent production should grab your attention. With two assists on Thursday, Larkin now has seven points (2g-5a) and a plus-3 over his last three games. And with 14 points (6g-8a) in 13 games, he is easily the Red Wings’ leading scorer. Larkin may have to carry the Wings on his back as they continue along their rebuild.
In his return from injury, Pekka Rinne stopped 42 of 43 shots he faced in earning a 4-1 win over the Lightning. Rinne’s IR stint was perhaps shorter than expected, as he was only there for two weeks. Juuse Saros will be relegated to backup duties, although his owners should try to find a way to keep him in spite of the reduced workload. But given Rinne’s status as a pending UFA, I’d expect Saros to start a little more often than he has over the previous two seasons.
Finally… what's this? The Ducks gave up only 24 shots on Thursday? But John Gibson still couldn't buy a win, losing 3-2 in a shootout. If there's one game for Gibson to win, that would be the one. That's seven losses in a row for the Ducks and five starts in a row without a win for Gibson.
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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