Ramblings: Schwartz Returns, Hellebuyck Demoted, Price Out for the Season? (Feb. 13)

by steve laidlaw on February 13, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Schwartz Returns, Hellebuyck Demoted, Price Out for the Season? (Feb. 13)

Ramblings: Schwartz Returns, Hellebuyck Demoted, Price Out for the Season? And more.

Jaden Schwartz made his return for the Blues after missing like 50 games. He did great scoring his first goal of the season and adding an assist in just 13:31 of ice time. True to his word, Ken Hitchcock did not use Schwartz on special teams but of course Schwartz is so good he doesn’t need power-play time to boost his scoring. Skating with Vladimir Tarasenko helps as well:

23.23%

EV

BACKES,DAVID – BERGLUND,PATRIK – STEEN,ALEXANDER

22.83%

EV

LEHTERA,JORI – SCHWARTZ,JADEN – TARASENKO,VLADIMIR

15.35%

EV

BROUWER,TROY – FABBRI,ROBBY – STASTNY,PAUL

11.42%

EV

BRODZIAK,KYLE – REAVES,RYAN – UPSHALL,SCOTTIE

 

Also with a two-point night: David Backes. That line with Backes, Patrik Berglund and Alexander Steen has been skating together for a little while now but adding Schwartz to the mix along with Jori Lehtera and Tarasenko gives the Blues a line that can tilt the ice and make life easier for Backes and Co.

It’s only one game but my theory going in was that Schwartz’s presence would help everyone, even the guys who aren’t skating directly with him. One game in that theory looks good. We’ll see if it holds up.

*

The Blues chased Roberto Luongo after three goals on 13 shots in the first period. This makes four straight since the All-Star break where Lou has given up three goals or more.

Jaromir Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau each net two points last night and Nick Bjugstad gets in on none of it. In fact, Bjugstad goes a minus-two while his linemates stay even. He did get two assists in the last game centering the top line so this strikes me as some unfortunate line changing.

*

Anze Kopitar was a hat-trick hero for the Kings last night in New York scoring his third goal of the night with just 30 seconds remaining to force overtime. The Kings would later win on a goal from Tanner Pearson.

You don’t see Kopitar scoring goals too often so this was a real treat. With 16 goals thus far he has matched last year’s total. He used to score more but he also used to shoot the puck more. The good news is that he is at least shooting two SOG per game this season after falling below that bar last year. Kopitar is good for 40-50 assists a year but he becomes another animal when he can add 25-30 goals on top.

I do wonder if this summer is the time to deal Kopitar in a keeper league. He’ll be 29 when next season starts and he is locked into a massive long term extension. He has also won multiple Cups. Kopitar has bounced back after a down year but he is still shooting less than at his peak and the realities of his massive cap hit and an aging roster could leave the Kings with less depth each and every year.

Listen, I’ve no doubt Kopitar could be productive for years to come a la Joe Thornton. He has avoided major injuries throughout his career, and is by all accounts a highly cerebral player whose game should age well. I just wonder about this stuff. Kopitar is definitely one of those guys whose reputation outshines his fantasy production, especially now that he is shooting less.

Peter Budaj hung in there for an ugly win, his first in almost two years. I never thought we’d see him in action given Jhonas Enroth had played reasonably well this season but Enroth got beat up a bit on Thursday night. Here’s hoping Jonathan Quick has a speedy recovery.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Marian Gaborik left the game with a lower-body injury. He did score before vacating so that’s a nice parting gift. Gaborik just hasn’t had any consistency this season and has been mostly waiver fodder.

*

The Kings weren’t the only ones to pull off a miracle last night. The Lightning got a tying goal from Steven Stamkos with just 27 seconds left to force overtime. It came during a 6-on-4 advantage with just three seconds remaining in the power play. Desperate times.

The Lightning had Stamkos out there with the Triplets, Victor Hedman and alternatively Valtteri Filppula and JT Brown. It irks me that the Lightning have to wait until they are down one late in the game for them to use Stamkos and the Triplets with Hedman on the power play. If these are your best guys, you should use them together all the time. I mean, if that’s what you think is the best group to get you a goal when you “need it” then it should simply be your go-to power-play unit. Goals aren’t so plentiful in the NHL to pretend like every power play isn’t a desperation time.

We are seeing this play out in Boston this season. They finally loaded up one unit after years of doing what the Lightning do by dividing the talent and minutes evenly between two groups. Look at how the Bruins are killing it on the power-play this year. Don’t get cute. Use the five you trust the most for every power play like you desperately need a goal and give them as many minutes as possible.

All of this is a campaign to get Hedman more power-play time even though I own him in no leagues. As much as I enjoy seeing Anton Stralman as an undervalued option I’d prefer it if Hedman just owned the PP minutes like Erik Karlsson, Kris Letang, etc. He’d be a beast if given the chance. Of course, he does have 16 points in 16 games here in 2016 so that is exciting.

Matt Carle was a minus-two in 15:56 of ice time. There is a reason he has been such a frequent healthy scratch. Carle, ladies and gentleman, is the top paid defenseman on the Lightning and has another two years left on his deal after this one at $5.5M per. I’m pretty sure Steve Yzerman would cut off his leg to get out from that contract.

Carle + Jonathan Drouin for a seventh round pick in 2152. Are we sure the Lightning wouldn’t do that?

*

Fourth straight game skating above 22 minutes for Keith Yandle. He has three points in those four games. I’ve gushed plenty about how underutilized he has been until this recent Ryan McDonagh injury. I won’t gush any more. Instead, I’ll let Adam Gretz do the talking:

You can't win in today's NHL if you don't have defensemen that are capable of joining the play offensively and quickly moving the puck out of danger in the defensive zone. When you look at the Rangers' defense as it is currently constructed it is lacking anybody else that can pick up that role without Yandle. McDonagh is still the best all-around defenseman on the team, but he's not quite the puck-moving presence that Yandle is. Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein certainly don't possess that skill, while Girardi and Staal seem to be rapidly declining as they get older. Dan Boyle, the only other puck-moving presence on the team, is also a free agent after this season and not only turns 40 years old in July, but is a shell of his former self.

*

Buffalo scores six against the Canadiens and Rasmus Ristolainen doesn’t get in on any of it? He was a plus-three, which is a welcome change but I figured at least one assist considering how involved he typically is. No dice.

Ristolainen has two points in his last 10 games and is a minus-eight in that span, even after last night. His pace has fallen below the 50-point mark.

Some intriguing line combos for the Sabres:

23.26%

EV

KANE,EVANDER – O'REILLY,RYAN – REINHART,SAM

18.14%

EV

BAILEY,JUSTIN – EICHEL,JACK – MCGINN,JAMIE

7.44%

EV

FOLIGNO,MARCUS – GIONTA,BRIAN – VARONE,PHILIP

3.72%

EV

DESLAURIERS,NICOLAS – LEGWAND,DAVID – MOULSON,MATT

 

Rookie winger Justin Bailey with Jack Eichel – that’s an improvement on the likes of Brian Gionta and Matt Moulson, right?

*

Two goals apiece for Alex Galchenyuk and Sven Andrighetto. Both of Galchenyuk’s goals came on one-timers. This is an important shot as it can be the difference in getting 5-10 extra goals per season simply by setting up on one of the dots on the power play rearing to rip. It’s actually somewhat amazing how few players have this in their repertoire to the point where they have confidence shooting it regularly.

Galchenyuk has seven points in his last seven games. Too inconsistent for my liking and probably for the coaches as well considering he has been shifted back to the wing for this latest streak. Not sure it’s enough to get me to gather Galchenyuk off the waiver wire in your average league but he is getting there.

*

No Justin Faulk for the Hurricanes last night. He was a game time decision but ended up sitting out. Doesn’t sound like he will miss much time but we’ve heard this story before.

Without Faulk I am abandoning ship on all Hurricanes. Just not interested. That said, Noah Hanifin led all defensemen with 3:13 on the power play last night.

*

No surprise that Marc-Andre Fleury held off the Hurricanes ceding just one goal on 30 shots though the one he gave up came late blowing the shutout for all of us fantasy owners who were desperately counting on it!

*

Mike Green returned to the lineup for the Red Wings after missing a couple. Green led the team in power-play ice time with 5:03 but Brad Richards, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader were right behind him.

Two assists for Abdelkader who has five points in six games since the All-Star break. He could make for an intriguing add if he keeps riding shotgun with Datsyuk and Zetterberg. We’ve also seen Abdelkader with hot flashes before so I’m not going all in on him.

Also on his way back is Niklas Kronwall who practiced yesterday. It sounds like it will be another week before he returns to the lineup. Kronwall no longer has relevance in your average league. Deeper leagues may still find room for him however.

*

I didn’t catch this in yesterday’s ramblings as the Flames-Sharks game was too late for my brain. Anyhow, Karri Ramo went down with an injury late in the contest and has been placed on IR. He will be re-evaluated when the Flames return home.

Jonas Hiller took over and helped the Flames hold on for a shootout win against the Sharks. The Flames were depleted against the Coyotes last night as they gave a classic back-to-back on the road response. Hiller gave up four on 35 shots but I won’t judge him on that performance alone. He hasn’t been good this year but he could be worth sniffing since Ramo’s injury looks bad.

Joni Ortio has also been called up so he bears looking at as well.

*

Hands up if you had Shane Doan for over 20 goals this season? Lucky you as Doan has already cleared that total and has set his sights on 30. He has 17 goals and 26 points in his last 29 games. This is an astounding performance by the 39-year-old. If you’ve got him in a keeper league you need to be buttering people up and selling them on how good Doan might be for the playoff run.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson also had himself a three-point night. He doesn’t really require mentioning any more as most folks recognize he is a top-10 fantasy defenseman.

*

There are murmurs that Carey Price is done for the season but that the Canadiens won’t admit it for marketing purposes. For his part, Michel Therrien denies these reports saying that Price is still working towards a comeback.

I was able to land Price in a deal yesterday thanks to this news. It’s a gamble because Price may not play again but with Freddie Andersen, Jaroslav Halak, Connor Hellebuyck and Craig Anderson as my tenders I have no legit #1.

If John Gibson and Thomas Greiss would go away I could probably ride Andersen and Halak to a title but if Price comes back and is up to form I acquired a top-10 pick for the cost of Scott Hartnell and Brayden Schenn. Not bad.

Of course, this league counts hits and PIM and blocks, so Hartnell and Schenn are really good but the league is deep enough with waiver options that I could replace them easily enough.

What do you think: crazy move or worth the risk? This is in a one-year league, by the way.

*

To reinforce my goalie needs, Hellebuyck is headed back to the AHL as Ondrej Pavelec has been activated off IR. I would call this the Jets engaging in tank mode but Hellebuyck hasn’t performed well lately, he appears to have hit a wall, so Pavelec might actually be a short-term upgrade.

*

Stewart has really only been relevant in deeper leagues like my 24-team salary cap league. I am now shopping Stewart around. I’d almost have preferred if he had a concussion. Broken jaw means drinking through a straw for weeks, which means a loss of strength. Let’s say he misses three weeks (I don’t have a specific timeline, it could be more.) Three weeks has him returning just in time for my head-to-head playoffs but he will still be diminished upon his return. A big part of Stewart’s value comes from his PIM production. Not sure how willing he’ll be to trade punches coming off of a broken jaw.

The big news here is that the Ducks have recalled Nick Ritchie. He may even replace Stewart alongside David Perron and Ryan Getzlaf.

*

These are more impactful than the Stewart injury but the Brandon Sutter injury provides a sample timeline for how much time we might expect Stewart to miss.

Alexander Edler missing six weeks is a big deal. We saw Chris Tanev on the top power-play unit in his stead but I still wonder if Yannick Weber gets into that spot.

*

Jared Spurgeon is doubtful to play tonight, which means Matt Dumba time!

*

Thanks for reading. You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.

 

2 responses to “Ramblings: Schwartz Returns, Hellebuyck Demoted, Price Out for the Season? (Feb. 13)”

  1. Marc Tremblay says:

    Stick with Craig Anderson in nets. He will play alot down the stretch.

  2. Chris Liggio says:

    I kept Frederik Andersen for all those months he barely started and right when I deal him with Zibanejad for Rinne he starts taking the crease back. Someone please hit me with a car at high speed.