Ramblings: On Forsberg, Greiss, Shattenkirk, Vasilevskiy and more.
Remember early on when Filip Forsberg couldn’t score a goal to save his life? He wasn’t even shooting much, averaging barely over two shots per game. He had just two goals and 48 SOG in 22 games through the first couple months of the season. You can now erase that terribleness from your mind.
Forsberg has scored hat-tricks in back-to-back games. Now he’s on pace for 30 goals, 57 points and 230 SOG. This is why you bet on talent. I know that he’s not had the breakout season you hoped for but a repeat of last season isn’t that bad.
It’s also worth noting how Forsberg has done all this damage without much impact on the power play. Last season he scored eight goals and 23 points with the man-advantage. This season he has just two goals and seven points while up a man. He is averaging the exact same number of minutes on the PP as he did last season, skating 2:39 per game on the Predators’ top unit.
For whatever reason, when the Preds score a power-play goal, Forsberg hasn’t gotten in on the action. He has registered a point on just 36% of the power-play goals scored with him on the ice. Last season that rate was at 72%. He has lost literally half his power-play production and is still on pace to finish within seven points of last season’s total. File this nugget away when prepping for next season, especially because the Preds as a whole were a nightmare early on.
It took time for Nashville to gel after the big trade this off-season. No team stays the same from one year to the next but we should expect more continuity and better consistency from their top guys next year.
As great as Thomas Greiss has been this season and as well as the Islanders have done under Doug Weight, it should be mentioned that Greiss’ performance has slipped since the new coach took over and that's including last night's shutout. Greiss’ numbers in that span: 9-4-1, 2.45 GAA, 0.913 SV%, 8 quality starts.
That’s a small sample but it’s been about a 50/50 proposition whether or not Greiss is giving you good numbers. His quality start percentage is 62.9% on the year, which is much better odds. It’ll be interesting to see if Greiss continues to slide. This is his first year as a starter. He is just five starts away from matching the career high of 38 he set last season. His job is safe but his performance may not be. Again, small sample size here. Greiss has been above-average for most of his career and is worth betting on. But it hasn’t been all roses and we should keep a close eye so that we are making the right choices on who to start come fantasy playoffs or in daily fantasy.
Consider the example of Freddie Andersen who appears to be broken. His numbers since January 1: 9-5-5 record, 3.20 GAA, 0.899 SV%, 8 quality starts. He’s batting under 50% on quality starts over that stretch. That’s not a goaltender, that’s a damned soup strainer.
Andersen had a great game last night, allowing just one goal before losing in the shootout but he just has not been consistent. Tough to trust a guy like that going into the fantasy playoffs. He’s been glued to my bench for the past several weeks. Now watch him rob Michael Grabner with a beauty toe save:
I feel bad talking about the same guys all the time but then I see Josh Bailey is only owned in 19% of Yahoo leagues and I am reminded that I need to keep hyping these guys up. His ownership is higher on ESPN (34%) and Fantrax (54%) so it’s clear that some folks have taken notice but Bailey is tied for 38th in the league in scoring since December 1. We’re talking a top-50 scorer for the past THREE MONTHS. That’s not flavour of the week nonsense. That’s half a season of being awesome.
So you’ll have to excuse me while I bang the drum for these guys again. I might be doing it until the end of the season. You never know who it might help. All I know is that John Tavares is a superstar, Leddy is a legit #1, Lee is one of the best net-front men in the league and Bailey has developed into a nice playmaker who gets exposure to all of them!
When will Montreal get their new coach bump? Or is it safe to say that this is only sometimes effective? Carey Price has been on his game in the three games Montreal has played, which is a good sign. They’ve got a shot as long as he is playing up to his high standard.
Discussions between the Blues and another club fell apart about six weeks ago on a trade that would have given Shattenkirk a seven-year, $42 million contract ($6 million AAV), as first reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie. League sources have independently confirmed that the 28-year-old pending unrestricted free agent turned down the offer.
That team is believed to be Tampa Bay who had and to a lesser extent still have a big need for a defenseman. Jake Dotchin’s arrival and efficacy alongside Victor Hedman have gone a long way to helping the Lightning stick around and to build two effective pairings with a now-healthy Anton Stralman heading up the second pair.
Do the Lightning unearth Dotchin if that Shattenkirk deal goes down? Who goes the other way? Is Ken Hitchcock still the Blues’ head coach. Huge ramifications here.
It was also reported that Shattenkirk turned down an extension in a possible deal to Edmonton:
This is believed to be at least the second trade proposal the Blues have had within the last year that Shattenkirk has vetoed. He also turned down a potential deal to Edmonton last June that would have yielded forward Taylor Hall, according to league sources. Hall was eventually dealt to New Jersey for defenseman Adam Larsson.
Please excuse me while I leap into oncoming traffic. Not to kick up the hornet’s nest that is the Hall-Larsson deal but I don’t think you’ll find too many folks who would argue Shattenkirk wouldn’t have been a better return.
Now, I can understand Shattenkirk not wanting to sign in Edmonton but not signing in Tampa Bay? Now there’s an interesting one. Does he want a big market? Does he simply want to be wooed in free agency? He’d certainly get bigger offers if he hit free agency but with no state tax in Florida will any of those offers actually put more money in his pocket?
It’s pretty clear that he’ll be hitting free agency this summer and all the power to Shattenkirk if that is his wish but this news, along with St. Louis’ asking price make it less likely that Shattenkirk is getting moved. We may have to wait until next season for the big Colton Parayko breakout.
The Lightning gave Andrei Vasilevskiy the start last night, which is a mind-boggler. Vasilevskiy has been terrible for two months now. His last win came literally a month ago. Meanwhile, Ben Bishop has won five in a row.
Supposedly Vasilevskiy’s start was schedule and they want to keep him active. That’s fine, except you’re battling for a playoff spot and cannot afford to lose. It’s all-in time on Bishop. Not to mention, the Lightning don’t play again until next Monday. So it’s okay for Bishop to have nearly a week off but apparently not for Vasilevskiy.
Reading the tea leaves, maybe the Lightning are looking at Bishop trade options. I don’t think it makes sense to move him unless you are waving the white flag, and maybe they are but if that’s the case, then why do you care if Vasilevskiy is active – he’ll be starting all the games soon enough.
I’ll say this, if the Lightning do wave the white flag, the trade market could explode in a hurry. They’ve got dudes like Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin and Ondrej Palat looking to get paid in restricted free agency, on top of Brian Boyle and Bishop hitting unrestricted free agency.
The Flames have the right idea: win and you’re in. Brian Elliott has started four in a row and the Flames have gotten seven of eight possible points from those games. I’ll bet Chad Johnson starts tonight because of the back-to-back situation, otherwise, Elliott appears to be trending upward.
Dougie Hamilton recorded points on all three Flames goals last night. He is tied for sixth in defenseman scoring and is trending upward. He has eight goals and 27 points in his last 33 games after scoring two and 12 in the first 27.
As I discussed earlier in the week, we haven’t reached the point of dumping Anze Kopitar and Tyler Toffoli yet. You’ve got a couple of weeks before fantasy playoffs. Stick it out and if they are still performing terribly then cut the cord.
Kopitar has six goals on the year. He’s a 12.0% career shooter shooting 5.4%.
Since Toffoli returned he has two goals and no assists in nine games. Kopitar has no goals and two assists. As a team the Kings have scored 15 goals in those nine games so it’s not just these two. This is a team primed for a panic trade, but I don’t think that the Blue Jackets are going to bail them out this time.
Patrick Kane’s hat-trick last night vaulted him into a tie with Nicklas Backstrom for fourth in league scoring with 63 points. Kane has eight goals and 14 points in the last nine games. It’s not just Jonathan Toews on a hot streak for the Blackhawks.
Toews and Richard Panik extended their scoring streaks to five games and both have over nine points in the last six games. Meanwhile, Nick Schmaltz has only a three-game scoring streak but has seven points in the past six games. This is the hottest line in the league.
Two games without Michael Stone, and two goals for Jakob Chychrun. I don’t think there’s a causation here but I like seeing these flashes from Chychrun, even if I’m not a big believer in his long-term potential.
More intriguing to me is Anthony DeAngelo who skated 19:48 in his return from the AHL. He went scoreless with three SOG and a bunch of usage on the second PP unit. DeAngelo has big upside even though Oliver Ekman-Larsson is entrenched as the Coyotes’ #1. They have shown a willingness to use two defensemen on the top PP unit, even as the league trends towards the one-defenseman look.
Whether or not there’s top unit PP time for DeAngelo long-term will certainly affect his upside but his ability to click with Alex Goligoski will be key in determining what he can do at even strength. Goligoski was a big factor in unleashing John Klingberg in Dallas. He could have a similar impact on DeAngelo.
The latest on Matt Niskanen:
Niskanen is day-to-day with a lower body injury, MacLellan said. Team will be cautious with him, however.— Tarik El-Bashir (@TarikCSN) February 23, 2017
Time to jump back on John Carlson.
Sullivan: "Letang is day-to-day with an upper body injury."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 23, 2017
Of course he is. It sounds like Justin Schultz is returning from his concussion, and has a chance to get back into that top power play role.
The Penguins dealt for Ron Hainsey yesterday – you can find my breakdown of that deal here – word is that they aren’t done dealing yet. Letang is constantly in and out of the lineup and both Trevor Daley and Olli Maatta are out until right around playoffs.
Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.
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