Ramblings: Panarin Hat-Trick, Iginla scoring, Wideman suspension upheld and more.
People have been getting far too cute with whole storyline that Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel or Shayne Gostisbehere has a shot at the Calder Trophy. Sorry folks, this race was over weeks ago. Artemi Panarin is the top rookie. He just is.
I don’t care that Panarin has had help from the top scorer in the league. I don’t think Patrick Kane would be the league’s leading scorer without Panarin helping him out. They are meshing exquisitely.
And you also shouldn’t dock points just because Panarin is older. The stipulation is that he has to be a rookie, not that he has to be 18 to win the award. Let the age of Eichel and McDavid be your reasoning why they will be better long term pros, not why they should win an award for who has been better this year.
Hat-trick for Panarin last night, by the way. His production seems to be coming in bunches. He is producing multi-point games like crazy, rather than being an every night type of producer. He has 15 multi-point games on the season, 20 single-point games and 23 bagels. That’s kind of a nightmare for daily fantasy, especially when you consider that Panarin’s splits actually have him being more productive on the road with 33 of his 57 coming in away games. That’s counter to what you would normally expect.
Corey Crawford, on the other hand, shows such conventional home/road splits that it is cliché. I’ve broken down the splits a number of times so I won’t put the numbers up today but he is basically vintage Dominic Hasek at home and post-Universe Bryzgalov on the road. It’s that stark a difference. Last night he got the win but he still gave up three goals on 34 shots for a remarkably decent 0.912 save percentage.
Ryan McDonagh returned from a concussion last night skating 24:06. But good news Keith Yandle owners, Yandle still led the team in ice time overall with 25:45 and was the lone defenseman on the top power-play unit. Yandle notched a power-play assist.
We can’t fully celebrate yet as the Rangers were absent Marc Staal due to the birth of his latest child. We’ll have to wait for the Rangers to really reach full strength to see if Alain Vigneault will use Yandle the way the fantasy gods intended, which is to say, a lot.
Derick Brassard has set a new career high for goals after scoring his 20th of the season last night. This is his ninth year and only now has he finally reached 20 goals. Some of this is Brassard shooting above his weight at 14.7% but his career average is 11.3% so this isn’t completely unreasonable.
Brassard has been particularly good lately with 15 points 18 games in 2016 but a lot of that comes from his five-point outing against the Sabres before the All-Star break. There were six games that night so it is entirely possible that you couldn’t get Brassard into your lineup that night because you had other centermen going. Perhaps you had Patrice Bergeron and John Tavares and you only had two slots. Five points out the window. And so you really just got 10 points in 17 games from Brassard, which would be hard to justify for some folks.
I’m not saying you should ditch Brassard, I am just pointing out how schedule “luck” can play a huge factor in this stuff. That’s why I highly recommend you snag the free “Same Night Tool” that our former writer Bob Fisher cooks up every year. You can download it – again, FOR FREE – in this thread here. The way to use the tool is to input the team with your best player(s) at any given position and then the dates of the upcoming schedule or (if you are planning for playoffs) the dates of your H2H playoffs. The tool will spit out the number of games each team plays in a given time period and how often those games overlap with those of your best players.
This is the best way to optimize the bottom half of your roster. Obviously, you aren’t trading away Tyler Seguin just because he might have a bad playoff schedule but maybe you drop a guy like Brassard because you find out his games overlap with Seguin’s and you can only use Brassard for four of 10 games he might play during a given playoff period. Instead, maybe you pick up Rickard Rakell who would be a weaker option if all things were equal but all things may not be equal. Rakell may play 12 games during your H2H playoffs and those games may overlap with Seguin’s only twice. So you are looking at 10 games of Rakell or four of Brassard. Now this decision becomes easier.
Of course, that’s all hypothetical but you can see where this would come in handy. I’ve been planning for H2H playoffs since Christmas for some of my leagues. There’s no sense it not trying to give yourself an added edge.
Another loss for Montreal. Now the fans are all over PK Subban for the turnover he committed late in the game that led to Jarome Iginla’s game winner. I don’t have an issue with it at all. Yeah it’s a bad turnover because of how costly it was but Subban gets paid $9 million a year because he can walk the line like that and make shit happen and more often than not he keeps the puck in and makes a play that helps win hockey games. On occasion bad things will happen but you can’t put a guy like this in a straightjacket. Subban is still a plus player playing huge minutes for a team with a negative goal differential. He is not the problem.
It’s the same nonsense scrutiny that Erik Karlsson receives. Can’t we just let our best players be special? Everyone whines about how there isn’t enough scoring in the league until a player takes a chance, turns it over and the puck winds up in the wrong net. You do realize that that chance Subban just took did actually lead to a goal, even if it wasn’t for your team?
Iginla goaltender interference penalty. pic.twitter.com/jQUChzRyPB— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) February 18, 2016
Take note of how Patrick Roy can taste it all the way from the bench.
Iginla, by the way, is up to nine points in eight games since the All-Star break. Rejuvenated?
Roy has had the Avalanche lines in the blender nonstop the past few weeks so you can’t really get a handle on Iginla’s usage. He was skating with Matt Duchene last night but on any given night he might be on the fourth line. Iginla has seen a ton of power-play time the past few games however, and given he has three power-play goals in the past four games we should look for more PP production.
Our suspicions have been confirmed as it was announced that Karri Ramo will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL and some meniscus damage as well. Look for Jonas Hiller to get the bulk of the starts the rest of the way and he’ll be motivated to produce as an upcoming UFA. I probably wouldn’t use Hiller for more than spot starts, however. At least not until we see him getting on a roll. The way Hiller has played since taking over, you can’t use him right now.
Ramo is also hitting free agency this summer so the timing of this injury stinks. He’ll have no ability to show teams that he is healthy and ready to go come July 1st. The flip side is that he likely becomes a bargain for some goalie needy team. Perhaps he even returns to the Flames. He had been playing well after some early struggles got him briefly demoted to the AHL.
More Flames news:
The word on Dennis Wideman finally came down as Gary Bettman decided to uphold the 20-game suspension. This can still go to an independent arbitrator but with how long Bettman took in issuing his ruling, Wideman has already missed eight games. There is speculation, from Bryan Burke and others that the delay was done intentionally to help ensure a lengthy suspension no matter what the arbitrator ruled. We could certainly see a scenario where the arbitrator back tracks against the NHL and awards Wideman five games, which Calgary cannot get back but the NHL would have to refund Wideman’s missed salary. As far as the NHLPA is concerned, recouping lost salary would be a victory. This of course assumes the arbitrator goes against the NHL’s ruling at all, which may not happen. As I said from the beginning, play it like Wideman is done for the year.
And the Flames played a game last night too losing to the suddenly streaking Minnesota Wild.
Flames keep dropping like flies. Seldom used defenseman Ladislav Smid had to leave last night’s contest due to injury. This with Kris Russell still listed as day-to-day. For a team supposed to be loaded on defense they are remarkably thin.
Nothing really positive coming for the Flames right now.
As mentioned the Wild are streaking, a whole two wins in a row under new head coach John Torchetti. You’ll take it however you can get it if you are a Wild fan, as the playoffs are still a real possibility. The question is how to get their schedule changed to have them only play Canadian teams the rest of the season.
Bad news for my Matt Dumba to improve theory: he was dropped to just 15:35 last night and was used on the second power-play unit while Thomas Vanek was dumped to the top unit. Vanek didn’t score, mind you but the damage is done, in my eyes. He gave Dumba a chance in game one, Dumba didn’t produce and now he has moved on. Wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Jason Pominville in Vanek’s slot next game out, especially with Pominville scoring a goal and an assist last night.
As I speculated when we first heard the news of Justin Faulk’s injury, he is missing extended time having already lost three games. The Hurricanes just announced he’ll miss at least another three as he won’t be travelling with the team on their road trip.
John-Michael Liles has been seeing the most minutes with Faulk out but this is a situation where I’m just avoiding it altogether.
The Oilers have recalled Anders Nilsson sending Laurent Brossoit back to the AHL. That’s probably best for Brossoit’s development. Nilsson won both of his contests during his AHL stint so perhaps he sees a confidence boost. Ultimately, this move is likely irrelevant as the Oilers have already indicated they plan on playing Cam Talbot a lot in the near future.
The Ducks have sent Anton Khudobin back to the minors. There’s your indication that John Gibson is ready to go after sitting a couple with an upper-body injury. Freddie Andersen got a couple of tough wins allowing seven goals combined to the Oilers and Flames while Gibson was out but Andersen has had the edge in the crease recently.
Don’t ask me to handicap the situation though. It’s entirely possible Khudobin is the starter by April given the way these guys have struggled with injuries and inconsistency. Not to mention Bruce Boudreau has a checkered past with goalie situations.
Check out my latest Waiver Wednesday column for six players to snag off the waiver wire.
And if you don’t like my list, Ian Gooding has his own piece for your consideration.
I was pumped to hear that Bill Simmons is officially going ahead with a new website. It has an unfortunate name, “The Ringer” but if it’s anywhere near the quality of Grantland it will be a real hoot. I wasn’t sure we’d see Simmons in print anymore as he has struck a deal for a TV show with HBO but it sounds like the website and his podcasts will fall outside that umbrella (though HBO is a sponsor of his podcast in its current version).
I recorded a podcast with Tony Healy from the In This League Fantasy Hockey show last night. It should go online at some point later today, if not Friday. I’ll tweet it out and post a link in Saturday’s ramblings so look for it in one of those locations.
Thanks for reading. You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.
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