Ramblings: No Rust on Bryan, Rookie Goalies, Ehlers Turnaround (Dec 21)

by Ian Gooding on December 21, 2018
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: No Rust on Bryan, Rookie Goalies, Ehlers Turnaround (Dec 21)


Max Domi and Alex Galchenyuk faced their former teams for the first time since their offseason trade. So far the trade has been a big win for the Canadiens, but remember that trades shouldn’t be fully judged over a half season. After all, the Coyotes were widely considered the winner of this deal in the offseason, and Galchenyuk has been set back with injuries. It shouldn’t be lost that the trade has helped Domi considerably to the point where he was recently named one of the Top 10 Surprises of 2017-18.

So how did each perform in their “revenge game”? Meh, both were held without a point. The stars in this game were the goalies, most notably Carey Price. The day after being tagged with a loss against Colorado, the Williams Lake minor hockey product stopped 36 of 37 shots to pick up his first win in three games. One of those saves was an incredible toe save on former teammate Galchenyuk.

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This describes what Roberto Luongo has been up to for the past couple nights:
 


Lu was pulled early in the third period after allowing five goals on 22 shots. Even with the venerable Luongo, the Panthers have a bottom-5 team goals-against average (3.58 GAA), so it’s clear that the scorers can’t take too many off nights if they are to stay competitive.

Just another day at the office for the Leafs’ big guns, even if a couple of them were riding the emotion from performing The Nutcracker the night before. Auston Matthews and Morgan Rielly recorded four points each, while Mitch Marner recorded three and John Tavares scored two goals. So that’s 19 goals in 21 games for Matthews. Yes I said goals, not points. That’s a better goals-per-game average than Alex Ovechkin (29 goals in 33 games). But what about points, you ask? Matthews has 33 of those, which calculates to 1.57 P/GP. Only NHL scoring leader Mikko Rantanen has a higher total in that category.

With the announcement that Zach Hyman would be out for three weeks with an ankle sprain, Andreas Johnsson moved onto the Marner/Tavares line. In spite of also receiving playing time with Matthews, Johnsson has been held without a point in each of his last five games. The opportunity should continue to be there for the rookie, if you’re looking to stay ahead of the curve.

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Could the Flyers’ recent coaching change have helped Carter Hart? We’ll never know, because he never played a regular-season game under Dave Hakstol. It sounds like the Flyers are a revitalized bunch under new coach Scott Gordon, as quotes like the following weren’t being used to describe the Flyers a week ago:
 


In stopping 31 of 32 shots against Nashville, Hart has now won his first two games. And it is only two games, but the Flyers have suddenly turned into a nice story. Hart has allowed just three goals on 54 shots, posting a .930 SV% over those two games. He’s bound to hit that rookie wall at some point, but he’s absolutely worth a pickup if he’s still available. Hart is guaranteed at least one more start this week, against either the Blue Jackets on Saturday or the Rangers on Sunday.

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With less fanfare, another former Canadian World Junior goalie was playing in his second NHL game while making his first NHL start. Although he couldn’t earn a win, Mackenzie Blackwood had a solid game, stopping 36 of 38 Blue Jackets shots. With Cory Schneider on IR (and headed down the path of a possible buyout), Blackwood could very well prevent Keith Kinkaid from being overworked. You can check out Blackwood’s Dobber Prospects profile here.

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There’s no way you should be adding Bryan Rust if his linemates aren’t among the Penguins’ top scorers. Yet at this moment, not only are his linemates Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel, but he has also been scoring at an incredible pace recently. After a stretch of 21 games without a goal, Rust has now hit the twine eight times over his last six games. Between the scorching hot and ice cold streaks, Rust’s shooting percentage has averaged out to about its normal pace. Add him if you need scoring help, but watch the line combinations very closely. Rust won’t get anywhere near the first-unit power play, so his fantasy value will flatline if he’s not on a scoring line either.

Casey DeSmith stopped 40 of 41 shots in posting the win for the Penguins. Even though Matt Murray is now back and healthy, I’d expect DeSmith to at least alternate starts with the two-time Stanley Cup winner, especially considering that DeSmith’s 2018-19 numbers are still much better than Murray’s.

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Even though Louis Domingue has been relegated to backup duty with the return of Andrei Vasilevskiy, he posted his seventh consecutive win in Calgary on Thursday. Even though he’ll likely only play once a week at most, he’s still worth hanging onto if you are in a deep enough league that counts wins.

Mikhail Sergachev was a healthy scratch on Thursday. The young blueliner has not scored a goal in 35 games this season, although there are probably more reasons than simply his lack of goals. I’m wondering if the addition of Ryan McDonagh has in any way impeded Sergachev’s fantasy value. Sergachev’s power-play time per game is identical (1:51) to last season, and his total icetime has actually increased over two minutes from last season. So I’m thinking he’s just a young defenseman who has struggled with the opportunities that he’s been given.

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With a goal and two assists on Thursday, David Pastrnak has now recorded multiple points in back-to-back games and is hanging around the top 10 in NHL scoring. In the recent Dobber Sports Facebook question about keeper league untouchables, I noticed a few Pastrnak entries. He’s probably the closest thing I have to an untouchable keeper on my deepest keeper league roster. A significant reason I chose him over other players is his age (only 22), and of course production.

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John Klingberg returned to the Stars’ lineup on Thursday, playing in his first game in over a month. If you rushed to insert him back into your lineup, it didn’t quite work out as he was held without a point and ended the game with a minus-3. Klingberg’s return could cut into the value of both Miko Heiskanen and Esa Lindell, though the icetime for both on Thursday was comparable to Klingberg. Of the two, Heiskanen should be able to retain his fantasy value more, as Lindell is used more as an all-purpose option than purely for scoring.

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If you didn’t add Nikolaj Ehlers after he was dropped in many leagues after his slow start by now, you have definitely missed the boat. If you didn’t stay up late, you may have missed the fact that Ehlers earned a hat trick in San Jose. Blake Wheeler assisted on all three of Ehlers’ goals.

Here’s Ehlers’ season broken down into two parts:

October 4 – November 1: 13 GP, 1 G, 3 A, -7

Since: 22 GP, 14 G, 9 A, +15

Five of those goals have come in the last three games, while the hat trick was Ehlers’ second in less than a month. Obviously playing on a line with two of the league’s top scorers in Wheeler and Mark Scheifele will pad the point totals. This also shows why it’s not a good idea to give up on top-100 players on top teams so quickly, even after a rough month.

The Sharks may have lost to the Jets on Thursday, but it was from no lack of trying from Evander Kane. The former Jet fired ten shots on goal while scoring a goal and adding an assist. Kane has had better luck at staying healthy in recent seasons, which is proving to be beneficial to his value in multicategory leagues. Kane is a top-20 option in both penalty minutes (3rd in NHL with 63 PIM) and shots (12th in NHL with 130 SOG).

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Jacob Markstrom has pushed his way to 50 percent ownership in Yahoo leagues. That’s because he’s now posted six consecutive wins (stopped 29 of 30 shots on Thursday). Over that stretch, Marky has posted a 1.67 GAA and a .942 SV%. This observation is more based on watching Canucks’ games than actual research, but this is probably the best stretch Markstrom has had throughout his NHL career. With both Thatcher Demko and Michael DiPietro in the system, Markstrom’s days as the Canucks’ starting goalie might not be long. There’s also the possibility that the Canucks could try trading him while his value is high. But at the moment, there appear to be worse options for fantasy goalies than Markstrom.  

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For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.