Ramblings: Quinn Hughes Watch Begins, Thoughts on Namestnikov, Grubauer, Markstrom (March 10)

by Ian Gooding on March 10, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Quinn Hughes Watch Begins, Thoughts on Namestnikov, Grubauer, Markstrom (March 10)


Philipp Grubauer had a relatively easy time against the Sabres, stopping all 18 shots he faced in posting his second shutout as a member of the Avalanche. The shutout was also his second in his last three starts, with the last one coming on February 23. Although Jared Bednar continues to mainly give Semyon Varlamov the nod, the Avalanche need to make a goaltending decision this summer with Varlamov a pending UFA. The Avs are in a playoff battle, so Bednar may be more inclined to give the starts to the devil he knows. However, Grubauer’s recent strong play could result in an increased frequency of starts down the stretch.

Nathan MacKinnon did his thing for the Avs in the win, scoring a goal and adding two helpers.
 


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Vladimir Tarasenko missed Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury, which is considered day-to-day.  Jaden Schwartz moved up to the top line with Schenn and Ryan O’Reilly. He was held without a point in spite of playing nearly 21 minutes. Schwartz has now been held without a point in each of his last eight games. So if a move up to the top line doesn’t help, then nothing will this season.

Speaking of the top line: Since returning from injury, Schenn has five points (2g-3a) in three games, including a goal on Saturday.

In a winning cause, Timo Meier scored two goals, his 25th and 26th of the season. After a strong first half, Meier had cooled off in the new year with just three goals in 23 games in January and February. The switch has turned on in March with five goals over his last four games. Just in time for your fantasy playoffs.

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In front of many local Leafs’ fans who had saved their money for their team’s one trip to Edmonton (and at a time friendly to the Leafs’ fans back home), John Tavares scored a goal and added two assists in the Leafs’ 3-2 win. After being held without a point in a difficult return to Long Island, JT has scored eight points over his last four games, which he has heard many more cheers from (home game against Buffalo and road games in Calgary, Vancouver, and Edmonton). Tavares’ 38 goals this season now matches his career high.

Morgan Rielly also scored for the Leafs while firing six shots on goal. He’s on a four-game point streak and has goals in three of his last four games. With 65 points in 68 games, Rielly trails only Brent Burns in scoring among defensemen.

Nazem Kadri returned to the Leafs’ lineup on Saturday, recording an assist in 12:50 of icetime while returning to the first-unit power play.

Anthony Stolarz wasn’t bad in his first start as an Oiler, stopping 37 of 40 shots he faced in the loss. If I’m understanding this correctly, I believe Stolarz would need to play eight more games in order for the Oilers to be able to sign him as an RFA and not a UFA (he played 35 minutes in his only other appearance as an Oiler). For that to happen, Stolarz would need to play more minutes than Mikko Koskinen the rest of the way, which is something I don’t see happening unless Stolarz goes on a magical late-season run.

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As Flip mentioned in his Saturday’s NHL Picks piece, the Boston Bruins have not lost in regulation since before the All-Star break. With a win against the hapless Senators on Saturday, the Bruins are now 15-0-4 since January 29. That’s great news for Tuukka Rask owners, as he has won 10 of his last 11 games. Since the beginning of February, Rask has a 1.97 GAA and a .923 SV%. His ratios by quarter, taken from his player profile:
 

Quarter

GAA

SV%

1

2.78

0.912

2

2.40

0.921

3

2.15

0.924

4

1.50

0.929

 

By the way, the Senators have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs with the loss. Not that it was any surprise.

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Nikita Kucherov scored twice in the Lightning’s 3-2 win over Detroit. Kucherov is now up to 110 points, while no other player has reached 100 points yet (not that anyone should be expected to reach 100 points yet). The Lightning’s next-highest scorer (Brayden Point) has “just” 82 points, which is a full 28 points back. Then Steven Stamkos at 79, but then there’s a huge drop down to fourth with Victor Hedman at 43 points. Kucherov checks all of the boxes for the Hart Trophy for me.

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I thought I’d been seeing Vladislav Namestnikov’s name in the boxscore more often lately, and his recent numbers prove it. Over his last 12 games, Namestnikov has 11 points (6g-5a), including his three-point game on Saturday. I mentioned him last month when he began his run with another three-point game (2g-1a) after being held without a point in his previous ten games. A commenter who must have watched the game replied that “nothing has changed because both goals were gifts” – one an empty-netter, the other a giveaway by the goalie. Something has changed, though: his icetime. Namestnikov averaged just 13 minutes over the first quarter, while over the last half-dozen games he has averaged 18 minutes. The trades of Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes have likely had that effect. 

I might be cherry-picking stats here, but Ryan Strome has 12 points (6g-6a) over his last 14 games, including two goals and an assist on Saturday. Over his last six games he’s also been averaging 18 minutes per game. Looks like a midseason trade has helped not one, but two Strome brothers.

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At this time last month, we were worried that an Artemi Panarin trade would hurt Cam Atkinson’s value. That scenario looks like it will still play out – just not until after the season. For the moment, Atkinson continues to roll with another two goals on Saturday, which gives him a career high of 38 goals. As the Blue Jackets attempt to deliver on their all-in playoff push, expect them to ride their leading goal scorer. Atkinson has logged at least 20 minutes in each of his last four games.

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Don’t look now, but the Arizona Coyotes have won eight of their past nine games and are right outside the playoff bar. They’ve dealt with a ton of injuries, but are now getting players back that are helping. Christian Dvorak scored his first two goals of the season in just his sixth game, which Michael Grabner scored two goals of his own in his second game back from an eye injury suffered in early December. Then of course there’s Darcy Kuemper, who continues to get it done with his ninth win in his last ten games. In a league where I own Kuemper, I traded for David Rittich a few weeks ago. Now I’m thinking that I didn’t need to trade for Rittich the way that Kuemper has been playing.

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With another two goals on Saturday, Nino Niederreiter has 11 goals and 21 points in 22 games as a Hurricane. He’s fitting right in. Not that Wild fans need to be reminded, but Victor Rask has a goal and an assist in 10 games as a member of the Wild. Rask is currently on IR as well.

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Johnny Boychuk left Saturday’s game after taking a hit from Jakub Voracek, who might be looking at supplemental discipline.
 


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With a goal and an assist on Saturday, Mark Stone has set a career high with 66 points in 65 games. He’s produced at over a point per game in each of his last two seasons.

Alex Tuch scored a goal and added two assists, all in a first period in which the Golden Knights exploded for five goals. Tuch, the co-leading scorer for the Vegases, entered this game with just four points in his last 16 games. With the addition of Stone, Tuch has been bumped down from the Paul StastnyMax Pacioretty line to the Cody Eakin line. That’s a significant drop in value.

With a win on Saturday, Marc-Andre Fleury now has wins in each of his last five games. Over that stretch, Flower has an immaculate 0.86 GAA and .970 SV%. He’s now eighth all-time in goaltending wins, passing the great Jacques Plante with his 438th win.

After getting torched for those five goals, Jacob Markstrom was given the mercy pull in favor of Thatcher Demko. It was the first time that the much-improved Markstrom has been pulled this season. In case you’re looking at his season numbers compared to other seasons and thinking “I don’t notice anything,” look at Markstrom’s numbers in December and February in particular. Not enough is mentioned about the effect of goaltending coaches. The Canucks hired Ian Clark last summer, and his teaching has had a positive effect on Marky’s goaltending, just as it did for Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus. Just throw away Saturday’s stinker, which had much to do with the team in front of him.

Michigan has been eliminated from the NCAA playoffs, which means that the Quinn Hughes watch is on. Not that Canucks’ fans have anything else to get excited about while the regular season is still on. Assuming that Hughes signs with the Canucks in short order, I’d expect him to receive limited minutes to start, yet receive at least second-unit power-play duties. After that, he’s a perfect fit for fantasy with a clear path to quarterbacking the Canucks’ first-unit power play next season. You can check out the eldest Hughes brother’s Dobber Prospects profile here.

As mentioned on Hockey Night in Canada, Michigan forward William Lockwood (31 points in 35 games) is also a Canucks’ draft pick, so it’s possible that the Canucks receive two young Wolverines before the end of the season. You can check out Lockwood’s Dobber Prospects profile here.

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