It didn’t take long for the Leafs to start laying the wood to Detroit. Nazem Kadri went short-side on Jimmy Howard less than six minutes into the game, and Zach Hyman had a puck deflect in off of him less than a minute later. Henrik Zetterberg would reply, but goals from Connor Brown and Auston Matthews late in the period gave the Leafs a 4-1 lead. Detroit would make things interesting by scoring a couple in the first half of the second period, but the Leafs offense was too much to overcome on this night, and Toronto would win 6-3.
Morgan Rielly finally got on the board with his first goal of the year, adding an assist along the way. The big night was from the line of Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Zach Hyman as each had a goal and an assist as well.
Not sure if it helped anyone in fantasy, but Detroit defenceman Nick Jensen assisted on all three Detroit goals.
The Blues got a scare in Wednesday’s game as Jaden Schwartz went head-first into the boards and left the game briefly:
Schwartz falls hard face-first into the boards pic.twitter.com/PDkugTGhlO— steph (@myregularface) October 19, 2017
He would return, however, which is very good news for he and the Blues. Schwartz has had his injury issues in the past, and the team has had theirs this year.
Upon his return, he did this (and shout out to Jake Allen for the pass):
Schwartz finished off the game with an empty-net goal, giving him the hat trick.
Speaking of injury news, Alex Steen returned to the lineup in this game. He played a shade over 18 minutes, including over three minutes on both the PP and PK. I’ll admit I didn’t watch this game closely – I was watching the Leafs-Red Wings game while doing a podcast with fellow Dobber writer Chris Wassel – but Steen didn’t seem any worse for the wear.
Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist on the night. That quietly gives him five goals and eight points on the season.
Jake Allen had a shutout going into the last half of the third period, but a pair of power-play goals from Chicago made for some tense moments before the Schwartz empty-netter.
Following a loss in San Jose, Montreal was in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. An early surprise came as Alex Galchenyuk joined the top line for the Habs, pushing Artturi Lehkonen down to Tomas Plekanec’s line, and Brendan Gallagher to the fourth line. Galchenyuk responded by taking two penalties in the first period.
The teams traded goals in the first period, one from Paul Byron and one from Michael Cammalleri, but more importantly, this happened:
#LAKings Jeff Carter suffered a lower body injury. Not expected to return.— Frozen Royalty (@frozenroyalty) October 19, 2017
There was no immediate word, but watching the game he took a hit into the boards and was looking down at his leg afterwards. Not like he broke something and went down in a heap, but almost looked like an equipment issue at first. Even the broadcast thought it could be a broken skate blade.
Watching the replay again, this made sense:
Video replay just shown appears to indicate that #LAKings Jeff Carter suffered a cut on his right leg. Don’t know for sure, however.— Frozen Royalty (@frozenroyalty) October 19, 2017
At time of writing (second intermission of the game), there was no further word as to the severity of the injury.
One guy I was very high on going into 2017-18 due to his ADP was Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher. Good shot rates and good production rates at five-on-five over the years, combined with top-line slotting and apparently top PP minutes, made him very appealing as a later round pick.
Gallagher was pushed down to the second line and virtually off the power-play completely: in Tuesday night’s game against San Jose, the team had seven power-play opportunities, and Gallagher played 33 seconds. Thirty. Three. Seconds.
There was also this:
PP TOI is the reason for that, but Gallagher's also played < 15 minutes in four of six games this year. That's very not good.— Michael Clifford (@SlimCliffy) October 18, 2017
Seeing as he’s now been demoted to the fourth line, anyone who drafted him in non-deep leagues can safely drop Gallagher.
So, uh, Tyler Seguin is averaging over six shots on goal per game! He has 37 shots in six games so far. In fact, he and Jamie Benn have 61 combined shots in six games, or over 10 per game just between the two of them. That is obscene.
Some people could be frustrated as they’re seeing these other players starting the season on huge tears, while neither Benn nor Seguin is at a point-per-game pace, yet. Keep two things in mind: both players are currently shooting with the lowest shot percentage of their careers (8.3 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively), while the team is shooting just 2.13 percent with those two and Alexander Radulov on the ice together.
If that trio can keep up the shooting that they are, once all those percentages start to normalize, they are going to nuclear offensively. If there was ever a buy-low window of any ort for any of the three, it’s right now, and it won’t last much longer.
Kyle Connor made his debut for the Jets on Tuesday, playing nearly 18 minutes, virtually the same amount as Bryan Little. He managed two shots, one leading to a goal. Winnipeg did not manage to draw a power play all game, so we don’t know where he’s going to slot with the man advantage just yet. Conventional wisdom would say that he slots on the second unit, but the team has been hesitant to use Nikolaj Ehlers in a prime PP role for much of his career, and the top quintet needs a left-handed shot to fill in for Mathieu Perreault.
It is likely prudent to take a wait-and-see approach here. Winnipeg has a game Friday night and then doesn’t play for six days, at which point they have a 4-in-6 stretch. There is no point adding Connor now in head-to-head leagues, and those in roto leagues better be sure they don’t need that bench spot. We’ll know where he stands with the coaching staff after Friday’s contest. He’ll have some pretty good line mates for Friday, I reckon:
#NHLJets line rushes: Connor-Scheifele-Wheeler, Ehlers-Little-Laine, Tanev-Copp-Armia, Matthias-Petan-Dano. Lemieux is the extra forward— Ken Wiebe (@WiebeSunSports) October 18, 2017
Speaking of power plays, something stuck out to me watching the Habs-Sharks game until the wee hours of the morning: San Jose is not really going with a heavily-used top PP unit anymore. Last year, the least-used forward on the top PP unit (Logan Couture) played a minute more than the next-most used forward not on the top PP unit (Tomas Hertl). In general, the forwards top unit played about a minute and a half more on the power play than forwards on the second unit. It was even more drastic two seasons ago. That’s not happening this year.
Thus far in 2017-18, forwards like Hertl, Joel Ward, and Mikkel Boedker (though he has seen some top-unit PP minutes) are all within 50 seconds of PP time per game from guys like Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. That is a significant deviation from the last couple campaigns.
This could just be a half-dozen game aberration, or a focused effort from the coaching staff recognizing the need to involve their depth scoring. Should the latter be the case – we will know fairly soon – that gives more value to someone like Hertl than he would have had even just 12 months ago.
Speaking of right wingers in prominent roles, Kailer Yamamoto played over 22 minutes in Edmonton’s 5-3 home loss to Carolina on Tuesday. Included in that 22 minutes was top power-play billing, and top-line duties alongside Connor McDavid. Whoa baby. It’s. All. Happening.
Of course, this is done with Leon Draisaitl out of the lineup. Leon The Professional is currently sidelined with a concussion, though he has been skating on his own. I suppose that’s a good sign, but as we all know, with concussions nothing is for certain with regards to a player’s return until he steps back on the ice for game day.
Yamamoto is playing well, skating with McDavid aside. He’s proving decisive with the puck, and that’s important when playing with someone who has McDavid’s speed. Even if Draisaitl returns in the near future and takes the top PP minutes away from Yamamoto, as we saw with Patrick Maroon last year, top PP minutes aren’t necessary to be fantasy viable if you have the best hockey player in the world as your centre.
Edmonton’s next three games are on the road, but against Chicago, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Not exactly a murderer’s row of defensively-stout squads. Those looking for a short-term fix (I already dropped Gallagher for Yamamoto in two leagues) should look to the rookie.
Just keep in mind it may be short-term:
We’ll have to wait and see how the lines shake out.
In a tangential note to hockey, The Tragically Hip’s frontman Gord Downie passed away late Tuesday night after a nearly two-year battle with terminal brain cancer. He was 53.
Mr. Downie was a big hockey fan, a passionate Boston Bruins fan, and even wrote a song about former Maple Leaf Bill Barilko, who won four Stanley Cups with the franchise, and died in a plane crash the summer following his final Cup victory. It’s a wonderful tune:
For millions of Canadians (and some Americans) between the ages of 20 and 60, his voice and the band’s music were an integral part of much of our lives. He is truly a Canadian icon, and will be greatly missed. Rest in peace, Gord.
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