Ramblings: Mrazek Beasting, Lundqvist Back on Track and more (Feb. 11)

by steve laidlaw on February 11, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Mrazek Beasting, Lundqvist Back on Track and more (Feb. 11)

Ramblings: Mrazek Beasting, Lundqvist back on track, Phaneuf debuts for Sens and more.

The Sidney Crosby scoring streak is over but that’s okay, the end had to come eventually. More importantly, everyone knows he is good. What stinks is that the top line with Patric Hornqvist and Chris Kunitz was on for all three goals against and went a combined minus-nine. Hornqvist and Kunitz owners really aren’t looking for them to take anything off the table the way they did last night. That’s a good way to undo some good will that they had built up over the past month.

By the way, regarding Crosby, I posted this poll the other day:

This was mostly a lark but it was interesting to see how many folks actually think Crosby can surpass Patrick Kane.

The Penguins lost Trevor Daley during the first period. He did not return.

I’m sure more information will come available later today. Daley’s presence as a fantasy relevant defenseman is precarious enough that any injury turns him into waiver fodder, if he isn’t already at that point in your league.

Daley has seen second unit power-play time so that could be shuffled to Olli Maatta or Derrick Pouliot but with so many skaters and perhaps because they were losing for much of the game the Penguins used their top PP unit almost exclusively on their two chances last night. Right now, I’m not so sure there is much to be gained.

For Pouliot, his 18:58 marks a season high but that will happen when the team loses a defenseman so it isn’t necessarily indicative of a bigger role. I haven’t really noticed Pouliot in my recent viewings of the Penguins though he has two points in seven games.

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Shutout win for Henrik Lundqvist, just his second of the season and first in exactly three months. Naturally, this is the week I face the Lundqvist owner in multiple leagues. It seems every week lately I am encountering my opponent running at peak efficiency. Oh well, hopefully the luck changes come playoff time. That’s all that matters anyhow.

Four wins in a row for Lundqvist. Once again, the first time that he has pulled that feat since early November. Eight wins in the last 10, as well. Seems like Lundqvist is trending up at the right time.

I don’t put much weight at all into monthly splits in terms of career trends, it is interesting, however that Lundqvist’s career splits mirror this season’s very well with December historically being his worst month and it being his worst month this season.

The Rangers did skate eight of 13 on the road in December. Is it possible the Rangers annually go on long Western swings that could skew the December splits? Just a hypothesis to explain something random that probably doesn’t require explanation.

Keith Yandle should send Wayne Simmonds a gift basket because Ryan McDonagh being out has thrust Yandle back into the limelight. Last night was his third straight game seeing over 22 minutes of action. He’d played just six such games previously this season.

Now, Yandle doesn’t need the ego boost and he was producing well enough despite often being used as a third-pairing defenseman but when he hits free agency this summer this stretch will get him a lot of mileage at the bargaining table.

Basically everyone is analytically inclined at this point so it isn’t like he was going to fly under the radar. Teams were no doubt aware that he was still doing great work in limited minutes. And they certainly didn’t just forget what he had done in big minutes with the Coyotes but people still need reminders like this.

Yandle might very well be the biggest UFA to change hands his Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. Of course, his contract won’t be able to back-dive the way that theirs did but he is looking at similar type of dollars. I don’t envision a scenario where he signs for less than $7 million annually unless he gets a seven-year contract. A team is going to have to bend on term or dollars to land this fish. But you also have to figure he wants to go somewhere that he can win.

Every team could use a guy like Yandle but of those who could use him in a top pairing role and can afford him New Jersey jumps out at me. You have to figure the Bruins will factor in even if it doesn’t seem like they’d have the space with Zdeno Chara lingering as a fat contract.

Just tossing this out there, the Bruins have in the neighbourhood of $48M committed to 12 players with seven RFAs and three UFAs to sign.  Would they play the delay game with their RFAs to take a run at Yandle? And maybe that results in them spending big on Yandle and trading the rights to Torey Krug?

Assuming the cap stays flat, $48M for 12 guys gives the Bruins $23M to fill the remaining 10-11 spots on the main roster. Give Yandle $8M and you are scraping together the rest of the roster but it can be done especially if you get some more guys on entry-level deals to make the leap. This scenario also assumes you definitely prefer Yandle to Krug (which I do).  

This is all largely irrelevant speculation but I enjoy the exercise. For something of relevance to your pool, Yandle has six points in his last eight games.

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Dion Phaneuf made his Senators debut last night, skating 21:42, second on the team for ice time. A big reason for the standing in ice time was that Phaneuf was used on both sides of the special teams coin and there were nine power plays combined, including seven for the Senators.

Lots was made of Phaneuf practicing PP situations with Erik Karlsson, but of course he was, Karlsson skates on both units! This is still a positive but recognize that while Phaneuf saw over five minutes of PP time, he was still on the second unit. Karlsson, by contrast skated over 13 minutes with the man advantage. No other defensemen saw much of any PP time.

This is bad news for Phaneuf’s defense partner, Cody Ceci. Word was that the Senators were unwilling to part with Ceci in a hypothetical deal for Jonathan Drouin. Who knows the particulars but to some this was a joke and to others this was a validation of Ceci’s talent. Ceci IS good but the arrival of Phaneuf will not help his fantasy stock.

Patrick Wiercioch was a healthy scratch for the first time since early December. He hasn’t been relevant since Karlsson returned from his Achilles injury years ago but there was always hope he’d turn into that #2. Hasn’t happened yet.

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This also happened to Phaneuf in his debut:

Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have been punking fools for longer than I have been playing fantasy hockey.

Since I started bagging on Gustav Nyquist a couple of weeks ago he has shown flashes of turning the corner with five points in the last seven games. Not sure this is for real though. He has skated between 11 and 14 minutes in five of those seven games as he and Tomas Tatar have been reduced to a heavy third line role.

I have been harping on about how valuable Petr Mrazek has been in fantasy for the past month or so. A “top five fantasy goaltender” is the terminology I have specifically used. He has an argument for being the #1 fantasy goaltender as he is now your league leader in both goals-against average (1.94) and save percentage (0.934). He doesn’t have quite the win total as he is tied for ninth with 21 but now that he is Detroit’s bona fide top guy the wins are coming.

Oh, and Mrazek is still unowned in 18% of Yahoo! leagues somehow. I’d like to move that these leagues be closed because the owners are asleep at the wheel.

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I am convinced that Ryan Miller is using voodoo to stay relevant. How else do you explain how he managed to hang on for the win last night? This win halts a five-game losing streak. He had previously lost eight of his last 10 games. The numbers haven’t been all bad in those games, however, and my explanation is voodoo.

No Alexander Edler or Brandon Sutter for the Canucks last night as both were sent home with injuries:

Even without Edler in the lineup Yannick Weber didn’t get into the action, though I’d be lying if I said I looked into whether he was able to make it up from the minors in time.

The pairing of Dan Hamhuis and Ben Hutton led the Canucks defense in power-play time as the second unit continues to see plenty of action now that the youngsters like Bo Horvat are producing.

It was Chris Tanev skating with the Sedins on the top PP unit. Tanev even had an assist, though it didn’t come on the man-advantage.

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Martin Hanzal scored the lone Coyote goal last night, his first in over a month. He has just six points in his last 20 contests. As is so often the case, injuries have caught up to Hanzal in a bad way, costing him time and derailing what was looking like a breakout season.

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He’s finally back! The Blues have activated Jaden Schwartz off the IR and expect him to play on Friday.

Coach Ken Hitchcock has already said that Schwartz will slot into the left wing spot on the line with Paul Stastny and Tarasenko. That spot had been filled most recently by Scottie Upshall.

Oh $$$$ yes!

To cool the jets for a minute:

So we have conflicting reports about where Schwartz will line up. We’ll have to wait and see what happens at the next practice to see exactly how the lines will shake out.

Schwartz is one of those guys who can produce in all situations so adding some punch at even strength should still create a cascade of offensive chances. Will it be enough to solve the Blues’ offensive woes?

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The Oilers have sent Anders Nilsson down to the AHL recalling Laurent Brossoit. Recent play suggested that Cam Talbot was the #1 but here is your absolute confirmation. This will hopefully help Nilsson regain some confidence although he should have been dumped in just about every league months ago.

It will be interesting to see if Brossoit sees any action. The Oilers don’t play a back-to-back for a couple of weeks so he may not get in. Brossoit has played fairly well for two seasons down in the AHL. You can read more on Brossoit here.

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The Kings have placed Christian Ehrhoff on waivers. He might still help someone but the list of teams is growing thinner as teams become more receptive to bringing along young puck-movers. Ehrhoff certainly didn’t find much traction in LA as a third pairing/second PP defenseman. Just too many guys ahead of him on the pecking order and he needs real PP time to be effective.

With Edler out for the Canucks, would they look to Ehrhoff who quarterbacked the power play to the best numbers of his career during his time in Vancouver? Acquiring a vet would go against the Canucks’ M.O. but since Ehrhoff doesn’t have term his presence wouldn’t necessarily hinder the team, especially if they decide to move on from other veterans.

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Not as enlightening as Evgeny Kuznetsov’s piece but Victor Hedman shares with us how they play hockey in Sweden with his piece for the Players’ Tribune.

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Thanks for reading. You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.