Ramblings: Schneider Wins! Plus Thoughts on Schenn, Matthews, and more…

by Ian Gooding on February 16, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Schneider Wins! Plus Thoughts on Schenn, Matthews, and more…


Before we get into Friday’s games, some follow up from comments from Friday’s Ramblings:

After Auston Matthews scored his 100th goal, there were many mentions from various media about how few games he was able to complete that milestone in (187). However, does Matthews become a Band-Aid Boy Trainee this offseason? He lost 20 games to injury last season and 14 this season after playing a full 82 games in his first season. He’s got a long ways to go before he’s as notorious for injuries as Evgeni Malkin, but I’ll acknowledge that it’s something to keep an eye on.

Back to the other side of the coin: Since his rookie 2016-17 season, Matthews has the fifth-highest goal total (101) among all players. Among the four players ahead of him, only Alex Ovechkin has a higher goals-per-game total than Matthews, and the margin is miniscule. Matthews’ fantasy value will be elite if he can stay healthy.

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Brayden Schenn has zero shots on goal in his last four games. That may appear to be cause for concern when you consider who his linemates are. However, Schenn has four assists over his last four games, so he’s obviously passing the puck to Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly. As mentioned yesterday, Schenn has ten points in last eight games playing on the Tarasenko/O’Reilly line. Moreover, Tarasenko has nearly double the amount of shots (196) that Schenn has (103). Tarasenko averages nearly 300 shots per season while Schenn has taken over 200 shots in a season just once. The last four games might be an extreme example, but this might tell you what to expect from Schenn if he stays on that line.

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Good news about John Klingberg, after he left Thursday’s game against Tampa Bay after blocking a shot with his left leg:
 


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Jeff Skinner scored his 35th and 36th goals of the season, which turned out to be the Sabres’ only two goals in a 6-2 loss to the Rangers. In just 57 games played, Skinner is just one goal shy of his career high of 37 goals, and he figures to surpass that career high while in a Sabres’ uniform. According to Pierre LeBrun, the Sabres and Skinner are focused on agreeing to a contract extension. Skinner also has a full no-move, so at this point it seems unlikely that he is traded before the deadline.

In a winning cause, Vladislav Namestnikov scored two goals and added an assist with a plus-3 for the Blueshirts. Vlad was held without a point in his last 10 games and recorded just a single point (an assist) in his last 20 games. His fantasy value has taken a huge nosedive since being traded from Tampa Bay to New York, which are teams that are at opposite ends of the scale when it comes to offense. However, that could also change for the better if Namestnikov is traded again at the deadline. Speaking of which, you can check out our Trade Tracker for a list of trades made over the past month.

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Curtis McElhinney stopped 40 of 41 shots he faced in the Hurricanes’ 3-1 win over the Oilers. McElhinney has now won four consecutive games while allowing seven goals over that span (five in one game). Who knew that a 35-year-old career backup could be such a strong fantasy asset, but when he’s been healthy McElhinney has been a must-start in fantasy leagues. In limited action as Toronto’s backup (18 GP) last season, McElhinney posted standout numbers (2.14 GAA, .934 SV%), so maybe this is less of a surprise than we thought.

Nino Niederreiter scored another two goals on Friday, giving him eight goals and 12 points in 12 games since joining the Hurricanes. El Nino had scored just nine goals in 46 games for the Wild before that. A regression will come, but sometimes a trade can perform wonders for a player’s value. Having a playmaker as skilled as Sebastian Aho has helped, as Niederreiter’s shots-per-game total has doubled since the trade (3.83 SOG/GP in Carolina vs. 1.76 SOG/GP in Minnesota).  

Leon Draisaitl scored again, giving him 34 goals on the season. Only the aforementioned Skinner and Ovechkin have a higher goal total. He’s scored ten goals over his last nine games. In fact, he’s the only hot goal scorer on the Oilers at the moment.
 


The latest on Jesse Puljujarvi, who was held to less than 10 minutes of icetime on Friday:
 


My takeaway after reading this is that Puljujarvi will be playing in a city other than Edmonton very soon, one way or another. We know he could very well be traded soon, which would be a trade that the Oilers are destined to lose for a variety of reasons. So the Oilers’ better option would be to send him back down to their AHL team, which is performing amazingly well right now. Young players need playing time, and if the Oilers can’t trust him enough in their so-called push for the playoffs, then rebuild his confidence down on the farm.

BREAKING NEWS, at least as I type this: The Flyers and Oilers have made a goalie swap, with the Flyers acquiring Cam Talbot from the Oilers for Anthony Stolarz. You can read more about it in the Fantasy Take piece. Expect more moves from the Oilers in the coming days (or at least they better make more moves). 

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When two of my goalies face each other, my strategy is to start them both, even though I have an idea of which goalie is more likely to earn a win. I do this to hedge against making the wrong pick while usually guaranteeing myself a win. Usually. That didn’t happen on Friday, when I started both Devan Dubnyk and Keith Kinkaid (who lately I’ve been keeping on my bench, but started for this reason).

Sure enough, Kinkaid was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals on 17 shots. At that point, the Wild had a 4-1 lead, but they coughed up that lead and eventually lost in overtime. Cory Schneider, who came on in relief, stopped all 15 shots he faced to earn the win. Yes, this was his first win since December 27, 2017 (0-17-4 since then), and in a game that he didn’t even start. Good for Schneider, though. Maybe he’ll start to turn things around now that he’s got that monkey off his back. He’ll be given every opportunity to do that, since he’s the goalie with the long-term contract in Jersey.

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Could the Bruins’ goalie situation be a timeshare again? Well… they have played three back-to-backs in the past week and a half, but Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak have alternated over the last six games. Halak got the job done on Friday, stopping all 30 shots he faced on Friday against a lackluster Ducks’ squad. Not to worry, Rask owners, as there will be Tuukka time on Saturday night against the Kings. For more goalie starts, don’t forget to check out Goalie Post.  

Speaking of the Ducks, I forgot to mention this during my Randy Carlyle eulogy. One contract that Bob Murray probably wishes he could have back is Ryan Kesler. He’s got three more seasons after this one at nearly $7 million per, and he has put up an anemic six points in 49 games. Kesler already had a ton of wear and tear when he signed that extension with the Ducks, and they managed to get one good year out of that contract (two good years with the Ducks before that). I can’t see this contract lasting until the end.

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For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.