Reviewing my over/under bets thus far, and going over some buy low scenarios for Kuznetsov.
Oh, those poor goalies in the Ottawa-Pittsburgh game. Marc-Andre Fleury was chased halfway through allowing four goals on 16 shots. Most of the damage was done by the Senators’ power play. Matt Murray cleaned up the mess and got the win once the Penguins finally decided to start playing.
The Senators have rolled out a three-forward look on their top power play unit, which may account for their recent change in fortune. In the eight games since I reckon this began they have gone 8/27 with the man-advantage, a 29.6% success rate.
The team’s big guns all stand to benefit from this but no one more than Dion Phaneuf who has six points in these eight games, including three on the power play.
One guy shutout of the fun: Derick Brassard. While he is centering Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone at even strength, he has been dropped to the second power play unit. I thought Brassard might be a strong addition to their power play but it hasn’t worked out. Now he’s on the outside looking in.
The Penguins also shifted to the three-forward look on their power play, opting to give Conor Sheary and Justin Schultz a ton of power play run but the team was shutout with the man-advantage so we may not see that look again. I think it was born out of frustration with the team’s lack of power play production. They have scored on just one of their last 27 chances. The Penguins are tried and true, so it’s only a matter of time before they get back on track. Until then, funky combinations.
The Schultz – Ian Cole pairing is on fire right now. Schultz has six points in the last four games, while Cole has seven. Schultz is the better fantasy option but, honestly, I wouldn’t want either one. This is one of those nice flashes and that’s it. In a week, we’ll all have forgotten about it.
Same goes for Bryan Rust’s four-point performance. Stick tap to him for netting the hat-trick but let’s move on. We know who the Penguins worth owning are, and he isn’t one of them.
I am much more interested in Phil Kessel’s continued assault on goaltenders. Can he sustain this 85-point pace? I figured he was locked into 65-point mode after last season but he’s showing that he has more to offer. The right answer is probably somewhere in between.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, David Pastrnak is scoring 40 goals this season:
The hockey gods have no mercy, now Keith Yandle is hurt:
Florida Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle suffered a lower-body injury in the first period and will not return… https://t.co/v8qBDbkE4V— Joe McDonald (@ESPNJoeyMac) December 6, 2016
The positive to take out of this is that we finally got to see the Panthers roll out four forwards on their top power play unit, with Aaron Ekblad plus the following:
Malgin ended up leading the Panthers in PP time as he filled in for Jonathan Marchessault on the top line. Great spot for Malgin but he hasn’t scored in nine straight games now.
I am more excited about the possibility of Trocheck on the top PP unit. While the Panthers were held scoreless with the man-advantage, at least they are being forced to experiment. And Trocheck notched an assist! Baby steps.
Oshie (shoulder) says this was the best he's felt yet. He did not, however, put a timeframe on his return. Sounds closer but not imminent.— Tarik El-Bashir (@TarikCSN) December 5, 2016
And just when Justin Williams was starting to take advantage of his PP1 time. I made Williams one of my streamers for this week because of his recent PP1 usage and because of Washington’s favourable schedule this week. They are the only team to play all the off-nights with Wednesday/Friday/Sunday remaining on the slate. Williams could be a good pickup but only if TJ Oshie remains out. Keep your eye on this.
John Carlson has points in back-to-back games. We can’t call this a streak, and frankly we shouldn’t. I don’t know that defensemen are all that streaky, considering how much of their production relies on assists. In any case, he’s back in the saddle as their #1 defenseman. I’d buy low if you can.
Speaking of buy low. Get in on Evgeny Kuznetsov. I know he hasn’t been scoring, which is kind of the point. He wouldn’t be available if he were scoring.
Example of an offer that would probably get rejected:
Example of an offer that might get you there:
Speaking of Wennberg, his run of hot play continues. He is up to 22 points in 24 games. I would deal him for Kuznetsov in a heart beat. Wennberg is awesome and he’ll take a good run at 60-65 points. We know Kuznetsov has another level. Obviously, he won’t get there after this slow start, but if I had to bet on one to score more points for the rest of the season, I’d take Kuznetsov.
I am getting lots of questions from folks about what they should ask for in return for Zach Werenski. My answer, why in the #[email protected]% are you trying to trade Werenski? His pace has slowed, but he’s still on pace for 58 points and over 240 SOG. Those are unicorn numbers for defensemen. Hang onto your unicorns, people.
What John Tortorella has done, turning Sam Gagner into the best DH in the league, is perhaps his greatest coaching feat. Watching Gagner with the Oilers for years, I thought he could be rescued by some contender, who would insulate him so he couldn’t hurt you at even strength and then use his skills on the power play. Then I watched him in Arizona and thought he was headed for Europe. Kudos to Gagner and the Blue Jackets’ coaching staff for rescuing his NHL career.
Gagner is on pace for 35 goals and 60 points but this comes after a four-point effort, his best of the season. I’d bet he falls short of 30 goals and 50 points but this is still a fantastic story. He’s also quietly on pace for over 200 SOG. We’ll see how that holds up.
Anthony DeAngelo was sent to the minors over the weekend. What a puzzling move. I suppose they have nothing to play for this season, considering the way they have performed, so it doesn’t really matter if they keep DeAngelo around or not, no matter how productive he has been. But if they don’t care about this season, why is Jakob Chychrun being kept around? I suppose they have already burned a year off his entry-level deal but I think there are some arbitration factors that kick in if Chychrun plays in 40 games. I suppose that is a ways off.
Anthony Duclair has hit rock bottom. Scratched, as he suffers through a painful start to the season. His name has popped up in a few trade rumours. Remember, when the Rangers were foolish to have traded him? Now there’s a debate that his presence might have blocked them from adding Jimmy Vesey. No one would make that swap today. That’s all speculation but the point is that Duclair’s stock is in the toilet. If you’re in a keeper league and aren’t contending, make your pitch for Duclair.
Brendan Perlini was held scoreless in his NHL debut. With 16 points in 16 AHL games, he was probably ready for a call-up but skating him with Jordan Martinook and Jamie McGinn was maybe not the best circumstances for his debut. It’s tough because this is just a bad team.
Sad to report that Grabner's grandmother has passed. Will not be with team tomorrow. Is en route to Austria for funeral.— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) December 5, 2016
Doesn’t sound like he’ll be an option for you this week, unfortunately.
Could this be career-ending? I don’t see this type of surgery being something you get to continue playing very long with.
If you recall, I did Twitter polls for all the player over/under bets that Bodog was offering for this season, 104 in all. We compiled those polls into a post for your perusal. I bet on 17 of those. Let’s check in on how they are looking:
Rick Nash – OVER 46.5 points
Nash is looking great with 11 goals and 17 points through 26 games. That’s a 54-point pace, which isn’t even that good. That tells you how tantalizingly low a number that was set here. Nothing about Nash’s underlying numbers suggests he is due for some dramatic slide in the second half. Sure, his 15.1% shooting is a little high but not concerning. While many Rangers feature on-ice shooting percentages due for regression, Nash isn’t among them.
Brad Marchand – OVER 52.5 points
Another bet that is looking great. Marchand had a 61-point breakout season that not everyone thought was legitimate but his World Cup performance hinted that it was. A big reason for Marchand’s breakout was an increase in shot volume that was not met with a drop in shooting efficiency.
Marchand isn’t shooting as much as last season. He is on pace for about 200 SOG, still a respectable total but not the 250 he fired last season. Many of those shots have turned into passes to breakout star Pastrnak who has helped turn the Bruins’ top line with Marchand and Patrice Bergeron from dynamic duo to triumphant trio.
Marchand is skating more power play time than ever before. He is now up to 2:30 per game and is on pace for a career high 69 points. Even if his pace drops a little, I have plenty of wiggle room to hit the over.
Brandon Saad – OVER 52.5 points
Interesting line set here as Saad has basically straddled this number for years but has always had potential for more. So far, he is showing it with a breakout that has come despite having failed to produce a single power-play point all season.
The Blue Jackets’ power play is lethal but that is limited to the top unit, on which Saad does not skate. But he does see time on the top line, which has been among the league’s best. Even if there are some stumbles at even strength, the Blue Jackets’ second unit should help Saad pick up the slack and finally have his first 60-point season.
Henrik Zetterberg – UNDER 53.5 points
A recent hot streak has Zetterberg on pace for 60 points. He certainly has the talent to get there, even at his advanced age. My ace in the hole: injuries. Zetterberg has been injury prone his whole career. While he played all 82 games last season, he is unlikely to do so again. Also, the Red Wings stink so there should be some slippage going forward.
I don’t root for injuries but ~45 points in 70 games was where I had Zetterberg pegged coming into this season. Looks like he might be good for more than that, no matter how many games he plays. This one will be closer than anticipated.
Jaromir Jagr – UNDER 54.5 points
This one looks like it’s in the bag, as Jagr has just 13 points in 27 games, a 39-point pace. Even with a strong second half, the damage may be done and I’m not convinced a strong second half is in the cards.
Eric Staal – UNDER 49.5 points
Swing and a miss! Sure, there is still time for Staal to slow down, which has already happened to some degree. He hasn’t scored a goal since November 10 and has just four points in his last 10 games. This is a better reflection of the Staal we had grown used to in Carolina, where he put up great possession numbers but saw his on-ice shooting percentage slip below average.
His on-ice shooting percentage has slipped again, sitting at a mere 7.0%, right around where it was last season. Staal has displaced Mikko Koivu on the Wild top line and top power play unit, which puts him in a great spot to remain productive. Think low 50’s instead of around 60 for Staal. He should still hit the over after his hot start.
Alex Galchenyuk – OVER 53.5 points
Curse the hockey gods. This over was too easy from the moment they posted it until the moment Galchenyuk suffered a knee injury in Sunday’s matinee. Galchenyuk is out indefinitely. We will know more on Wednesday.
If there’s any consolation, it’s that Galchenyuk has played so well that he could miss 10 games and still hit this over. But let’s not play with that flame.
Brendan Gallagher – OVER 46.5 points
This one is going to be close. Gallagher is on pace for 46 points. He was supposed to breakout after showing flashes last season before getting derailed by injury last season. This season, he started hot but was quickly caught in the constant line shuffling of Michel Therrien. Now Alexander Radulov has passed Gallagher as the top RW on the Canadiens and rightfully so.
There may be room for only one of them to be a 60-point guy and Radulov is the winner. The question is whether Gallagher can stay relevant enough as a secondary guy to hit the 50-point mark for the first time in his career. I am dubious that he can.
Kyle Turris – OVER 49.5 points
On pace for around 57 points, Turris looks like a decent bet to hit this over. The only reason for concern is injury, as Turris lost 25 games and was hampered for much of last season due to injury. Otherwise he has been a stud since arriving in Ottawa. I did have some concern that Turris would be pushed out by Derick Brassard but that hasn’t really taken place.
Joe Thornton – UNDER 74.5 points
No celebrating yet. As I have mentioned before, Thornton started slow last season before scoring at better than a point-per-game pace in the second half. He may not do so this season, but I am not ruling it out. The good news is that he will need another stupendous second half to get back to 75 points. After this slower start, I’m guessing he finishes around 65.
Tyler Johnson – OVER 49.5 points
Johnson is having a second straight disappointing season, which is enough to make you consider if this is his new normal. His scoring picked up the night that Steven Stamkos was lost to injury and he has scored seven points in 11 games since. Not bad. At that rate, he’ll finish with 50 points and hit the over. He has another gear and should be able to hit it. Skating with Nikita Kucherov, who has emerged as a superstar, should get him there. I’m thinking he finishes closer in the 55-60- point range.
Patrik Laine – OVER 40.5 points
There was no easier bet that this one. He’s already over half of the way there. While Laine is unlikely to continue shooting 21.6%, even a pedestrian scoring rate would see him clear this total. My only regret was not putting more money on it.
Mark Scheifele – OVER 60.5 points
Peach and cake. Sure, Scheifele has missed the last two games due to injury but I don’t expect this to be a serious issue. He’s probably going to fall short of 80 points but somewhere in the 70’s looks attainable.
Bryan Little – UNDER 53.5 points
The hockey gods provided an assist when they knocked Little out of the very first game of the season, costing him 23 games. Lucky for me, because Little has produced at a point-per-game pace while in the lineup. Ultimately, Scheifele will return, grab the top line and top PP center duties and leave Little picking up secondary time. He needs 49 points in the final 54 games for the over. I can’t see it. Not if Scheifele is playing.
Sidney Crosby – UNDER 93.5 points
Running off the theory that no one is scoring big numbers any more, plus Crosby’s injury history, this felt like a safe under. WRONG. Crosby missed six games with a concussion and is still on pace for over 100 points. He has the eye of the tiger this season. It’s like he can sense the league morphing around him, with youngsters like Connor McDavid coming for his title as best in the game. He refuses to relinquish the title. More over, he wants another Cup before the youth movement takes over. Some nights he is single-handedly willing the Penguins to competency.
Brock Nelson – OVER 38.5 points
This total never made sense to me. Nelson’s a young player, hitting his fourth full season, after scoring 40 points in each of the past two seasons. The Islanders also lost a few of their top scorers so a bigger role was going to be available. Nelson’s role hasn’t expanded much, as his minutes are right on par with what they were last season. He has gotten some chances on the top line and the top power play unit and has basically been the only Islander with considering outside of John Tavares. He’s on pace for 51 points. I could see some slippage, but not enough to drop below 40 points.
Corey Perry – UNDER 65.5 points
Perry is on pace for 63 points while shooting just 5.1% and boasting an on-ice shooting percentage of 6.9%. He looks like a prime candidate for a second-half flourish, which would crush my bet but makes him a good player to deal for in your fantasy league. I suspect this one will go down to the wire.
I feel confident about 11 of these 17 picks, which is enough to turn a profit. I am sure there will be some shifts by the All-Star break when I pour over these again but I like where I stand at this juncture.
My latest for Sportsnet assesses some of the hottest options in the league.
Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.
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