Ramblings: New Injuries to Key Players, Thoughts on Zibanejad, Patrick, Marchessault (Jan 20)

by Ian Gooding on January 20, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: New Injuries to Key Players, Thoughts on Zibanejad, Patrick, Marchessault (Jan 20)


The Avalanche scored a pile of goals (seven, to be exact) on the combination of Jonathan Quick and Jack Campbell (mainly Quick). Mikko Rantanen scored two of the six goals in the second period, but he left Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury. The word is that Rantanen is expected to be back for Monday’s game and the decision to pull him was mainly precautionary.
 


The news isn’t so good for Erik Johnson, who also left Saturday’s game and expected to be out indefinitely.

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Another Erik was a surprise late scratch on Saturday, even though he hadn’t practiced in about a week. Erik Karlsson did not suit up for Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay with what could be an injury to his left side. The Sharks have two more games (Monday and Tuesday) before the All-Star Game, so keep an eye on Karlsson’s status, although the injury is not believed to be serious. Karlsson is on the Pacific Division roster for the All-Star Game, which will be held in San Jose.
 


Karlsson has also reportedly begun contract talks with the Sharks.

With two goals and an assist on Saturday, Steven Stamkos is on a six-game point streak. He also has 14 points (4g-10a) in nine games since the new year.

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Yet more injury news, unfortunately: Tuukka Rask had to be helped off the ice after a collision near the end of the first period with Filip Chytil immediately after the Ranger scored. This didn’t look good for Rask, who the Bruins have confirmed has a concussion. The Bruins will immediately start their bye week/All-Star break after this game, so it’s possible that Rask won’t miss any games because the Bruins play their next game in ten days.
 


Mika Zibanejad has been piling on the points lately. He’s on a five-game point streak, which includes five goals and seven points and a plus-4 over his last three games. This includes the two goals he scored on Saturday. If your league still counts game-winning goals (a stat I want no part of in my leagues), then Zibanejad has scored those in three consecutive games. If he stays healthy, he’s on pace for a 75-point season, which has to be considered a breakout for a player who has never scored more than 51 points in a season. The Rangers have him signed for three more years after this one, so he seems like a safe bet to stay put at the deadline. That will mean continued top-line minutes.  

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Part of the Ducks’ shakeup this week involved the recalls of prospects Max Jones and Troy Terry. It just so happened that Terry scored both his first NHL goal and added his first NHL assist on Saturday afternoon. The punchless Ducks (30th in the NHL with 2.35 GF/GP) could use Terry’s offense, as he now appears to be NHL ready (37 points in 32 AHL games). Terry lined up with Jones and recently reacquired Derek Grant (who scored the goal that Terry assisted on), giving the Ducks what is truly a brand new line. That might be what the Ducks have needed, as they have now won two games in a row after losing 12 in a row before that.

As is often the case with young goalies, Mackenzie Blackwood has started to struggle. Over his last three games he has a 3.76 GAA and .845 SV%. Keith Kinkaid probably isn’t going to run with the starting goaltending job, so expect Blackwood to continue to be given opportunities to find the form he displayed just after the holiday break. (Update: Blackwood has been reassigned to the AHL, as Cory Schneider has been activated from IR.)

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Jordan Binnington has literally come out of nowhere to be one of January’s hottest goalies. With a 28-save win against the Senators, Binnington now has wins in four of his last five games. He has now at least forced a timeshare with the struggling Jake Allen, although there is definitely a case where he should be the outright starter in the short term while the Blues try to climb back into the playoff race. Ville Husso was assumed to be the goalie-in-waiting for this team, but Binnington has posted better AHL numbers this season. He is deserving of this opportunity and making the most of it.

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Never mind a sophomore slump, Nolan Patrick was in a deep freeze. The 2017 second overall pick had gone 24 games – a span of two months – without even scoring a goal. Then Patrick smashed the ice block with a two-goal, two-assist effort on Monday, which he had followed up with another two goals on Saturday. Here is his talent on display on one of his goals:
 


There are two things to remember with Patrick:

  1. He was a strong second-half performer last season (21 points in 33 games post-All Star vs. 9 points in 40 games pre-All Star). If you believe in those splits, he’s a great second-half sleeper. I’ve already told people that who have asked me for a potential second-half sleeper.
  2. He is only 20 years old and is only in his second NHL season, so keeper leagues should not be thinking about bailing. Sure, the fifth overall pick in that draft (Elias Pettersson) appears to be further along, but if GMs could do that draft over again they’d no doubt have the gifted Pettersson as the first overall pick. That’s not to take anything away from Patrick, and if you believe in the magical fourth season he’s still two years away.

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The Wild didn’t go “wild” in the scoring department on Saturday, but they scored enough to defeat the Blue Jackets by a score of 2-1. One particular line of interest featured two new members of the Wild: Pontus Aberg and Victor Rask, the latter who was playing in his first game with the Wild. Both Aberg and Rask assisted on the game-winning goal scored by new linemate Zach Parise, who has now reached 20 goals. This line combination could be positive for Aberg and Rask while giving the Wild three solid scoring lines. Aberg is already on his fourth NHL team in three seasons, while Rask was a huge disappointment this season (6 points in 26 games in Carolina), so both players clearly have something to prove here.

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With a goal and an assist on Saturday, Johnny Gaudreau is riding an 11-game point streak in which he has 23 points (10g-13a). Johnny Hockey is now second in NHL scoring with 74 points (29g-45a) and at this point should be generating some Hart Trophy attention and a key reason that the Flames are at the top of the Western Conference. At least Brian Burke prefers Gaudreau over Connor McDavid for the Hart.

Another key reason for the Flames’ success: Mark Giordano, who scored another goal and assist. He’s on his own point streak at seven games with 12 points over that span. And yes, there’s serious Norris Trophy discussion, as there should be.

Milan Lucic, who had two goals in the entire calendar year of 2018, already has four goals in 2019 (over his last six games). Interested? Lucic entered the game with 165 hits, good for third in the entire NHL. So if he’s actually managed to find his scoring touch again, he could be of some value in leagues that count hits. He’s going to have to shoot the puck more – as in a lot more. Lucic entered this game with exactly one shot per game (47 shots in 47 games).

There was lots of discussion about Jesse Puljujarvi’s icetime during the Hockey Night broadcast tonight. The 2016 fourth overall pick ended up playing a strong game, recording two assists in just 10:43 of icetime. If the Oilers do in fact trade him, it seems clear given their trade history that they won’t recoup full value from him being a fourth overall pick. They’re desperate to make the playoffs, but trading away a 20-year-old power forward (who normally take even longer to develop) seems like an impulsive decision.

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I’ll admit I’d been a bit underwhelmed with Jonathan Marchessault’s production entering this game (31 points in 49 games), especially since I’d used a draft pick just outside the top 50 for his services. If you felt the same way, you’ll be relieved to see Marchessault score a hat trick against the Penguins on Saturday. Marchessault entered this game with just one point in his previous seven games, so you could argue that he was due. His 182 shots places him in the top 10 in that category, although even after his hat trick his 17 goals still doesn’t even place him in the top 50 in that category. Expect a stronger second half from him.

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