Ramblings: Marchand Avoids Suspension and Delivers Goals (Jan 27)

by steve laidlaw on January 27, 2017
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Marchand Avoids Suspension and Delivers Goals (Jan 27)

Marchand avoids suspension, Nesterov dealt to Montreal, Varlamov shutdown for the season and more.

 

Brad Marchand somehow avoided suspension drawing a mere $10K fine for his slew foot the other night. Good news for fantasy squads, I suppose. He helped to drive the Bruins’ win over the Penguins scoring a pair of goals, including a shorthanded marker.

And what do you know, Patrice Bergeron factored heavily into the scoring as well with a goal and an assist. That makes six goals and 14 points in the last 15 games. Bergeron heads into the break on a hot streak, one I think will extend until the last week of the season. He’s a star, capable of scoring at a point-per-game pace the rest of the way. I’m not sure the window to buy low is still open but do not sleep on what’s happening here.

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Interesting move from the Tampa Bay Lightning dealing defenseman Nikita Nesterov to Montreal (a division rival) for Jonathan Racine and a sixth-round pick.

It’s a low-bar to clear but Nesterov was one of the Lightning’s top four defensemen this season. I’m not convinced that the Lightning brass feels the same way as they have invested a lot of time and money into the Jason Garrison/Andrej Sustr pairing that would best be described as “dropping anchor”.

Nesterov is not so impactful that this signals that the Lightning are packing it in but he was fantasy relevant on the margins, picking up some secondary PP minutes. He was on a run of six points in eight games before being traded.

Nesterov isn’t necessarily an upgrade for the Canadiens. When healthy, the Canadiens have Shea Weber, Andrei Markov, Jeff Petry, Nathan Beaulieu and Alexei Emelin locking down spots 1-5. This is just a depth maneuver. Even then, Nesterov isn’t necessarily an upgrade on advanced stats darling Mark Barberio or even Zach Redmond.

Nesterov is added defensive depth, something every team is looking for.

For Tampa Bay, this may indicate that they’ve got a bigger deal looming to bring in a bigger name on defense or perhaps they like what they have seen from recent call-up Jake Dotchin, a 22-year-old defenseman you might want to consider if you are in a deep league that count hits, blocked shots and PIM. He has averaged over two PIM per game over three seasons in the AHL. He’s already up to six PIM and 10 hits, in just three NHL games. Potentially another Radko Gudas here?

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Kyle Brodziak will miss five weeks due to a foot injury. That injury isn’t particularly relevant except that it sparked the recall of top prospect Ivan Barbashev. Barbashev skated just 10 minutes, centering the fourth line. Doesn’t seem like he’s going to get a shot at fantasy relevance, which is a shame because he’s a top prospect who has scored 37 points in 44 AHL games. Perhaps next year, after some more seasoning. In the meantime, this is good experience for him.

Carter Hutton shuts out the Penguins and then gets the hook two nights later after getting shredded by the Wild. Hutton is not a starter. He’s never been able to consistently run with a starting gig. Maybe he could get to that level but he hasn’t demonstrated it yet. There’s more wrong in St. Louis than just their goaltending but if a goalie is going to turn this ship around, it’s most likely going to be Jake Allen.

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You already knew that this is where the Flames were at but here it is, straight from the horse’s mouth:

Elliott won, in overtime, stopping 25 of 27 shots. This was his first win since January 4. Most all of his wins have come against dregs like Arizona or Colorado so beating a playoff team is a big step. He’ll be sitting in the blazing saddle coming out of the All-Star break. Let’s see how long he lasts this time.

Subtle shift in the lines for the Flames last night:

#1 23.3% BENNETT,SAM – BROUWER,TROY – VERSTEEG,KRIS 

#2 21.5% FROLIK,MICHAEL – GAUDREAU,JOHNNY – MONAHAN,SEAN 

#3 20.6% BOUMA,LANCE – FERLAND,MICHEAL – STAJAN,MATTHEW 

#4 18.8% BACKLUND,MIKAEL – CHIASSON,ALEX – TKACHUK,MATTHEW 

Gaudreau had his first multi-point effort since December 27, which is a good sign but it’s not like he hasn’t been creating chances during his cold run. He just hasn’t been playing with finishers, seeing sparing minutes with Monahan at even strength.

Monahan, by the way, buried a beauty:

Monahan has scored six goals in the last eight games but Gaudreau hasn’t gotten points on enough of those.

Frolik is an interesting choice on the opposite wing. He’s not really an elite finisher. His skill is in helping to drive the play towards the offensive zone. It’s not that he can’t finish but he hasn’t been a 20-goal guy since his sophomore season back in 2009-10.

Part of the issue is that the Flames don’t really have a strong finisher on the wing to play with their big guns. Oh sure, Troy Brouwer is a goal-scoring threat but he does better work in a depth role with some power play time. I think the goal with moving Frolik to that line – aside from simply shaking things up – is to give Gaudreau a smart/talented player to work with and hope that they make it work. Not a terrible idea. All this said, the Flames, if they are looking to contend, should be calling Arizona on the daily trying to shake Radim Vrbata loose.

Even without an addition to the RW side, I’d still expect Gaudreau’s scoring rate to pick up. It might just mean literally bouncing pucks in off his linemates.

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Tommy Wingels made his Senator debut last night. He scored a goal but skated under eight minutes of action. Not a fantasy relevant contributor.

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A pair of goals for Andrew Ladd last night, ending a six-game scoreless drought. His shooting percentage has fully turned around, now up to 14% on the year. I’m not jumping on him, however as he’s still down the depth chart.

Josh Bailey and Anders Lee, each with a point last night, are the wingers you want as they are seeing all the minutes with John Tavares.

Tavares, by the way, has 13 points in the last eight games. Before you go crazy about Doug Weight – 4-1-0 as head coach – just keep in mind Tavares is providing the superstar scoring he simply wasn’t for Jack Capuano. Besides, it was Cap who eventually settled on this Lee-Tavares-Bailey trio.

Last year, Nick Leddy went on a torrid second half run scoring 28 points in the final 43 games. He’s got 12 points in 11 games since we flipped over to 2017. Powering up for another run? I think this is all dependant on Tavares staying hot, which we cannot rule out.

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I stumbled across this interesting tidbit:

Yup, Jeff Skinner is a stud.

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No TJ Oshie for the Capitals, as he left to deal with a family matter. No worries, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky simply shuffled up the lineup. Burakovsky is on fire. Another two points gives him 12 in the last eight games. I’m not sure he wants this All-Star break.

The latest on John Carlson:

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I have been trying to pick my spot to drop Evander Kane for my next flavour of the week but I haven’t been able to. He is producing at a crazy rate for a guy skating on the third line and second power play unit. Two goals and an assist gives Kane 14 goals and 21 points in 27 games since Jack Eichel returned but these two haven’t even been playing together consistently. It’s amazing what depth can do for you.

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Patrick Sharp also scored a pair of goals last night. He has been hit or miss for the Stars and you can understand why when looking at his deployment. Sharp skated with Devin Shore and Lauri Korpikoski last night. I like Shore’s offensive skills but he isn’t a play driver. Sharp’s best seasons have come with genuine superstars. It seems that Patrick Eaves is getting those minutes and he has earned them.

I’m not convinced that Sharp is even a better player than Eaves at this point but he has maintained those blazing wheels of his. Sharp is at the same point as Marleau where he just doesn’t have the same punch in his game but can still dazzle on occasion. Elite skating will keep these two around for a while longer too.

Sharp has nine points in 12 games since returning from injury, which is definitely good but that scoring has come in just five of those 12 games. Very unreliable.

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This is quite the run that Andrew Copp is on. He has jumped up the depth chart with Mathieu Perreault hurt. He skated on the top line with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler scoring his fourth goal in the last five games. He has scored in each game since this promotion, skating over 15 minutes in each of the past three games.

I wouldn’t count on this continuing since Perreault may return after the break. Still, Copp flashed skills in college and could one day fit onto a scoring line permanently.

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Check out the wicked passing from the Marleau, Logan Couture, Mikkel Boedker trio:

That was the Sharks’ best line last night, swarming the Oilers with speed. They only managed this one goal, however. It’s a good sign going forward for this trio that they are finally clicking.

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Andrej Sekera scored a pair of goals last night, a rare feat for him but it’s all part of an extended hot streak since he took over as the defenseman on the Oilers’ top PP unit. He has 17 points in 25 games since the start of December, including six PPP. Sekera is on pace for 39 points this season, but with this deployment he should be able to match or surpass his career high of 44.

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PK Subban notched his first point in four games since returning from injury. He has not taken advantage of the #1 opportunity since getting back. Roman Josi will get back from his concussion at some point, which will close the door for Subban to put up elite numbers. He should still be relevant but not top tier. I am loath to sell low but I do wonder about shopping his big name around.

Craig Smith scored a pair, ending an eight-game drought. He isn’t seeing power-play time regularly enough to be fantasy relevant. Still, getting the odd goal from Smith is important for the Preds to keep pushing towards the playoffs.

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Brandon Saad ended a seven-game drought with a goal last night. He has just two points in his last 12 games. This can happen to even the best players, but Saad is especially susceptible since he doesn’t receive top PP minutes. Still, he should produce a little more consistently than this as a supremely talented top line player. He is on pace for 60 points, and I would expect him to finish right in that ball park.

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Semyon Varlamov is done for the year requiring hip surgery. This has been an issue for Varlamov since he joined the league and will loom over his value in every draft. If the Avs can get their shit together this summer, he could be next year’s Bobrovsky. And if you think that’s ridiculous, don’t forget how down-and-out Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets were last season.

In any case, we now get the tandem of Calvin Pickard and Spencer Martin the rest of the way. You can only hope they aren’t ruining these goalies.

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Ian has graciously agreed to cover the next couple of Saturday’s for me so send him your fantasy hockey questions for the weekly mailbag @Ian_Gooding.

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Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.