It’s April 16 and the Greater Toronto Area is covered in snow. Icy snow, as the temperature is hovering around zero degrees or minus-1 (Celsius, for you Americans). Very depressing because we were sure winter was over!
The increased scoring from the regular season has carried on into the playoffs…
Ty Rattie was signed to a one-year contract worth a rumoured $800,000. I can’t dig up if it’s a one-way deal, but since he would have been an unrestricted free agent this summer my guess is that it’s a one-way deal. But that’s not a detriment to the Oilers sending him down in the fall if warranted, because the amount is low enough to bury in the minors anyway. This is an interesting one from a fantasy standpoint. From a ‘real hockey’ standpoint I think the Edmonton Sun has it right – it’s a low-cost, low-risk signing and he deserves a chance, but he should only be an option not the option. So in fantasy hockey, we owners have a decision to make: swing for the fences and risk falling on our face, or let someone else do that. Off the cuff, I’d put this at a 20% chance that this works out for the season ahead. Like a Conor Sheary circa 2016-17. And also like Sheary, he could still fall flat in his second full year. The Oilers need to take a page out of Pittsburgh’s book here and give a one-dimensional AHL player a shot on the superstar’s line – the only place where he can be effective – and save some cash.
I wish I had an answer for you about the Leafs. I know Boston is amazing and a better team, but the Leafs are far better than this. Even without Nazem Kadri. But this has been the result of just one line. That line – Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – and some minor piece who is just tagging along – has been amazing. As in…this is as good a line as I’ve seen in 20 years, harkening back to the Legion of Doom line.
I kid, of course, about David Pastrnak being a minor piece. I mean – holy shit. Six points? Nine points in two games? I don’t think anyone has done that all season.
The fact that the Leafs now have home ice advantage means that they can line match, which will go a long way towards shutting that big line down. So the Bruins need an answer from their other lines or Toronto will just take two games right back. I say that because on paper it’s true. But after watching those first two games, it’s hard to believe in any other outcome but one that involves a broom.
Phil Kessel saw 9:27 in PP time Sunday. Shayne Gostisbehere, Nolan Patrick, Jake Voracek and Claude Giroux did him one better with 9:29 of PP time (9:39 for Giroux). That’s the story of the Pittsburgh – Philadelphia game. Half of it was on the power play for one team or the other, which screwed up the ice time and line combos of pretty much everybody. The superstar forwards were of course taken care of. They’ll get their premium ice time regardless. But Derek Brassard seeing just 11 minutes of action, or Conor Sheary just 7:38 were the victims. Also Kris Letang was killing penalties for six minutes, leaving him fresh for just 3:30 of PP time. The domino effect on that was Justin Schultz getting eight minutes on the power play.
All the penalties cut Jamie Oleksiak’s ice time down to 9:42. He had been a surprise multi-cat fantasy stud since coming to the Penguins midseason.
For the Flyers – Ivan Provorov killed penalties for 8:11
One suggestion I have for the Penguins is to not have Carl Hagelin on the Evgeni Malkin – Phil Kessel line. As I said about Rattie earlier, Sheary is useless in the bottom six. He needs to be in Hagelin’s spot or else the press box. I mean, what’s the worst Sheary can do, miss a shot? Well that’s Hagelin’s calling card!
Brian Dumoulin has four points already. In the regular season he got his fourth point on December 29.
Wild rookie Jordan Greenway scored his first career NHL goal. He has two points in three games these playoffs despite playing on the third line and not seeing much PP time. His arrival reminds me of when Chris Kreider joined the Rangers several years ago. And I think you can expect his production ascension to be similar. Big men tend to take a little while longer to reach their peak. On a side note, I’ve said this before but watch for Kreider (if healthy) next season. That’ll be his big one.
With two points Sunday, Matt Dumba has 21 in his last 27 regular season and playoff games. He has stepped up production significantly with Ryan Suter out of the lineup and it’s going to leave a lasting impression on Coach Bruce Boudreau heading into next season even when Suter returns. Dumba was 19th among defensemen in scoring this season and I’m calling Top 10 next year – and that means 59 points or more. Lock it in!
Mikael Granlund, this pass is disgusting!
Tyler Myers was injured on this play and left the game…
It’s an injury to his leg, and he’s had a history there. Last season was his hip (66 games), but he’s also had a broken leg and a knee injury over the last few years.
With Myers out for an unknown length of time, look for one of Josh Morrissey or Jacob Trouba to fill in on that second PP unit. In the regular season, Trouba saw more than Morrissey so he’s the odds-on favorite.
Kyle Connor ended the campaign with six points in four games but he is pointless so far in three playoff games. The Wild have done a great job of shutting down the Connor – Mark Scheifele – Blake Wheeler line so far. Wheeler (two) and Scheifele’s (one) points have come on the power play.
Connor Hellebuyck had won 11 games in a row before Sunday’s loss. He was pulled after giving up that sixth goal to the Wild.
Artemi Panarin has tallied at least two points in each of his last seven games. He has 34 points in his last 18 regular season and playoff games. He’s making Nikita Kucherov’s start-of-season production look like a slump.
It sure helps Panarin to have a Cam Atkinson on his line when Atkinson is back to his 2016-17 self. He has 28 points in his last 27 games – and yes, much of that is thanks to playing with Panarin. But he’s getting the bounces now and the Columbus power play is finally rolling. I’d said all along during his lengthy slump that his even-strength numbers were on par, but the team wasn’t scoring on the PP and that is his bread and butter. Ten of those 28 points came on the power play. If the power play wasn’t rolling, then he would have 18 points in 27 games, right? That’s how things were from October through his injury in January.
Sergei Bobrovsky set a career high when he stopped 54 of 58 shots.
I feel bad for Washington and their fans. They had such good teams over the last decade, and a couple of times just had bad luck with hot goaltenders. Now they don’t have quite as good of a team, so their odds are obviously worsened. Alex Ovechkin deserves a Stanley Cup and it would be a shame if he retired without one. But this team is on the downside of the cycle, so it will be several years before they’re back on the upswing again.
Ovechkin really showed up for Game 2, firing 10 shots and scoring twice.
Andre Burakovsky suffered an upper-body injury early in the game and did not return. He will be re-evaluated, but I get the sense that Shane Gersich or Jakub Vrana will draw back into the lineup for Game 3.
The Blue Jackets scored three goals in the final 11 minutes of the second period so Braden Holtby came out to start the third. He gave up one goal on eight shots in a period and a half – the Caps really dominated the third thanks to a hundred power plays. It was 21-5 in shots that period. Bobrovsky stole it.
Weird that the Kings scratched Paul Ladue when he scored their only goal on Friday.
I watched most of the Knights-Kings game (as I write this Karlsson just scored to make it 3-1 late in the third) and I don’t really have a lot to add. The Kings just don’t have an answer for Vegas’ depth (did I just say that?). I just really like Vegas’ lines from one through four.
Alex Iafallo was still playing with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, and he scored. With a year of pro experience under his belt and likely first dibs on that spot next year, I think he’ll build on the 25-point season and forego the sophomore jinx. But his upside is capped. He’s a responsible player and a hustler, but he’s really just Los Angeles’ version of Zach Hyman.
Easiest road to the Final Four is a toss-up between the Sharks and the Golden Knights. While a team like the Leafs would have to get through the Bruins, Penguins and Lightning to get to the Final, these teams get to go through the Ducks and then each other? Just a thought, off the cuff. A “Ramble”, if you will. They get to the Final Four without facing a Nashville or a Winnipeg – whereas Nashville or Winnipeg will eliminate the other. Reminds me of the Habs back in the early 90s when they waltzed through easy teams to win a Cup.
The AHL finished their regular season Sunday. Impressive to see Carolina prospect Valentin Zykov lead the league in goals with 33. He’s a boom-or-bust prospect who I had figured was leaning towards “bust”. But this breakthrough combined with his impressive finish in the NHL (seven points in 10 games) leads me to believe that maybe there’s something there. Read more on Zykov here.
Oh man, I’ve seen Eric Daoust’s work on the new Frozen Tools and I have to say – I’m pretty pumped. Beautiful, clean look with amazing navigation and nice, quick loading. You’ve seen, bit by bit, some of the tools switch over to the new look. But when these profiles are ready you’ll fall out of your chair. Truly the best fantasy hockey player pages on the Internet, hands down, no question. Look for that soon!
Here are the latest 20 Fantasy Hockey Thoughts. As you can see, it’s back off Sportsnet and on DobberHockey for the offseason. See you next week!
- Ramblings: Olofsson's Potential, Kessel, Heiskanen, Kakko, & What's Wrong With Dumba? (Dec. 11)
- Ramblings: Konecny injured; Kyrou called up; Line scrambling; Hronek - December 10
- Forum Buzz: Malkin's Trade Value, Goalie Starts, When to Rebuild, & Top Young Defenders
- Fantasy Take: Jim Montgomery fired as Stars coach
- Lining Up: Surprise lines to this point of the season
- Eastern Edge: Flying Penguins and thunder-less Lightning
- Injury Ward: Crosby, Dahlin, Makar, Werenski, Grubauer, & Kadri
- Ramblings: Kadri returns; Dahlin and Werenski updates; elite players; Laine's season - December 12