Ramblings: Matthews, Matthews, Matthews, Matthews (Oct. 13)

by steve laidlaw on October 13, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Matthews, Matthews, Matthews, Matthews (Oct. 13)

Matthews' big night, Quick and Eichel injured, Blues PP Hot, and more as hockey returns.

Hockey is back. Hockey is back! HOCKEY IS BACK!!!!!

I am so stoked about this, what a fun opening night of hockey.

Auston Matthews scoring four goals in his debut? Are you kidding me? That’s awesome.

Luongo had the line of the night on Matthews:

While this is probably the point for reminding folks not to get too high or low on anyone in the first couple of weeks but it’s fine if you want to bask in the joy of what Matthews accomplished. He should have been owned in 100% of leagues before last night so nothing that he could have accomplished should have changed anything. He’s really good, we all knew it going in. He had a great game, it’s what makes this stuff fun.

Enjoy:

William Nylander pairing with Matthews was a real hit on opening night. I cannot wait to see if this clicks long term.

Mitch Marner was held scoreless but looked dangerous on a line with Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk.

I know I just preached patience, but I may already be selling my Nazem Kadri stock if this continues:

20%        EV           HYMAN,ZACH – MATTHEWS,AUSTON – NYLANDER,WILLIAM

18.28%  EV           BROWN,CONNOR – HOLLAND,PETER – MARTIN,MATT

16.9%    EV           BOZAK,TYLER – MARNER,MITCHELL – VAN RIEMSDYK,JAMES

14.48%  EV           KADRI,NAZEM – KOMAROV,LEO – MICHALEK,MILAN

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It’s good to know that while Ottawa can change their coach they apparently cannot change their high-wire style of play. I love it. It’s far from perfect but it’s fun to watch. Especially because it means more of Erik Karlsson fully unleashed. The defenseman picked up where he left off last season with a three-point night. What a gem.

Derick Brassard looks like a hit in Ottawa as well. He scored a goal and an assist in his debut, centering Bobby Ryan and Zack Smith. He also took Kyle Turris’ spot on the top PP unit, which is huge for anyone hoping that he would continue his 60-point ways.

Turris, meanwhile, scored a pair of goals including the overtime winner but his stock takes a hit if he remains off the top PP unit. And that’s after factoring in that he has the good fortune of centering Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman.

Check out the Senators’ PP lines courtesy of Frozen Pool:

52.63%  PP           BRASSARD,DERICK – HOFFMAN,MIKE – RYAN,BOBBY – STONE,MARK

21.05%  PP           SMITH,ZACK – TURRIS,KYLE – VARONE,PHIL

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Jonathan Quick left the Sharks-Kings game early and it does not sound good:

This could be devastating for the Kings. Jeff Zatkoff came on to back up. I don’t see Zatkoff as a viable filler option. I’d probably look elsewhere if you need to patch up your goaltending. Last I checked, Connor Hellebuyck was still available in two-thirds of all Yahoo! leagues. There’s also Eddie Lack as an option, or one of the high-end backups like Thomas Greiss or James Reimer.

We may also see the return of the immortal Peter Budaj, who was excellent for the Kings’ AHL club last season. I don’t think he’s much of an option either, however. I wonder if there’s a trade to be made.

One plus for the Kings is that Tyler Toffoli scored a power-play goal. He should finally be a fixture on that top PP unit of the Kings, which makes him a real threat to reach new scoring heights. His goal is to win the Rocket Richard trophy. Seems unlikely in a league with Alexander Ovechkin but some added PP time should help him out. He did score nine of his 31 goals last season with the man advantage. I figure more PP time will net him more assists than goals but he should up his point total either way.

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There were some awfully ticky-tacky penalties called in the Blues-Blackhawks game with the Blues capitalizing for three power-play goals. Don’t be surprised if you see more power plays in these first few weeks as the players and officials get back into the swing of things. I haven’t done the research to prove that there is an uptick in penalties called in the first few weeks of every season but it seems intuitive that there would be. Sounds like a good research project.

The Blues power play saw many of the usual suspects with multi-point nights including a three-point evening for Kevin Shattenkirk. No surprise there, Shattenkirk is awesome. Can he finally stay healthy? It sounds crazy but his career high is still just 45 points. He should probably have a 50-point season or two under his belt by now, maybe even a 60-pointer. I have him for 50 points in 70 games this season.

With David Backes gone in free agency and Jaden Schwartz on the shelf, the Blues have a couple of openings on their top PP unit. So far, it’s Paul Stastny and Alex Pietrangelo who have grabbed those spots.

Pietrangelo had a PP assist. He is a threat to return to the 50-point mark if he remains in this role. I had him for 40 if he was stuck on the second PP unit.

Stastny, meanwhile, joined Shattenkirk and Vladimir Tarasenko in having a three-point night. My only issue with Stastny is right now he is not skating with Tarasenko at even strength. However, it’s not like his linemates are chopped liver:

24.1%    EV           LEHTERA,JORI – PERRON,DAVID – TARASENKO,VLADIMIR

20.51%  EV           BERGLUND,PATRIK – JASKIN,DMITRIJ – YAKUPOV,NAIL

17.44%  EV           BRODZIAK,KYLE – REAVES,RYAN – UPSHALL,SCOTTIE

14.87%  EV           FABBRI,ROBBY – STASTNY,PAUL – STEEN,ALEXANDER

Stastny is also an injury risk, which is a big reason he has yet to hit the 50-point mark in a St. Louis uniform.

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The Blackhawks got worked for much of last night, it’ll be interesting to see if this continues.

More interesting, will Jonathan Toews continue to skate on the second PP unit?

54.55%  PP           ANISIMOV,ARTEM – KANE,PATRICK – PANARIN,ARTEMI

31.82%  PP           HOSSA,MARIAN – PANIK,RICHARD – TOEWS,JONATHAN

4.55%    PP           KANE,PATRICK – PANARIN,ARTEMI – TOEWS,JONATHAN

4.55%    PP           ANISIMOV,ARTEM – HOSSA,MARIAN – PANIK,RICHARD

4.55%    PP           KANE,PATRICK – PANARIN,ARTEMI – SCHMALTZ,NICK

Toews scored just nine PPP last season, a big reason his scoring slipped below the 60-point mark. I suspect this will continue, which is no good for his fantasy stock.

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Not to be outdone by Matthews’ big night, Connor McDavid put on a show for the Oilers with a pair of goals, including this gem:

Jesse Puljujarvi scored his first career goal but he’s skating in more of a depth role on the third line and second PP unit. I like his future value but not looking for a ton this season.

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Some bad news on the injury front as Patrice Bergeron will not travel with the Bruins for their opening game against the Blue Jackets tonight. The Bruins kick off the season on a three-game road trip so it’s possible Bergeron doesn’t play until their home opener, next Thursday.

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Jack Eichel? More like Jacked Ankle:

This looks like it’ll be a long term injury. If you recall, Kyle Turris went down in similar fashion last season but was back in the lineup quickly. But he also slumped while dealing with that injury and eventually had to be shutdown for the season missing 25 games in all. There’s no telling if Eichel has the same injury or if he’ll respond in the same fashion but I have a hard time believing that he won’t miss significant time or be hindered by this injury.

Also Kyle Okposo will miss the Sabres’ opening game. He is day-to-day. Not looking for the Sabres.

I still expect that Okposo and Ryan O’Reilly will form an impeccable duo at even strength, whenever they finally skate together but removing Eichel as the centerpiece of the offense will have a trickle-down effect felt throughout this lineup, perhaps most importantly on the power play.

Eichel was set to be the big one-timer option at the top of the left circle in the mould of Alexander Ovechkin or Steven Stamkos. Removing that fulcrum reduces the overall potential of this unit. We could see Tyler Ennis gain some value here if he gets more top unit PP usage.

Sam Reinhart projects to be most hit by this injury but he’s a talented enough player that perhaps he can survive without his elite running mate.

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There’s no guaranteeing these groups stick together but this really bodes well for Tomas Tatar who is coming off a down year where his power play usage dropped. This could be the spark to get him back into the 55-60 -point range. Although it is worth questioning if anyone on the Red Wings will push that high this season.

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With Nikita Kucherov back at practice, check out their PP groups:

Yes, that’s Kucherov on the second unit. Big winners here are Vladislav Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point.

It’s also worth noting that they have Kucherov on line two with Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn, while Jonathan Drouin and Palat are on Steven Stamkos’ wings. Now, we wait to see how long these configurations last.

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Following the Teemu Pulkkinen acquisition, these are the new lines for Minnesota:

That’s great for Pulkkinen. Not so much for Jason Pominville, buried on the fourth line.

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Interesting read in the Globe and Mail regarding the financial implications of hockey in Canada and the World Cup.

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Thanks for reading. Follow me @SteveLaidlaw.