Ramblings: Stone hurt, Trocheck's season is done, the value of defensemen in playoff pools and more.
Oh boy did we ever get a beauty of a playoff preview from the Flyers and Capitals last night. It was a 2-1 shootout victory for Philadelphia, which puts them even more solidly into the final wild card spot in the East. At this point, SportsClubStats gives this series a 70% chance of happening. And what a dynamite series it will be. Even with the lack of scoring last night, the game was heated, intense and played in a playoff atmosphere.
Both teams got goals out of their top power-play units, which is what they are known for.
Steve Mason secured a win to continue his run for fantasy playoffs MVP. He now has an 8-2-2 record with a 1.87 goals-against average and a 0.933 save percentage. Killing it.
Braden Holtby remains two wins short of besting Martin Brodeur’s single-season record and at this rate he may not get there. The Caps have six games remaining and it’s a tough slate, with four playoff teams plus the Avalanche who might have Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon back. Plus, they have two back-to-backs and there’s no chance Holtby starts both halves of those so at most he has four more starts. This will be interesting nonetheless.
Really interesting piece from Arik Parnass asking who should play the point on the Capitals’ power play?
By dividing PSC by O-zone giveaways, we get a proxy for how effective players are with their touches in the offensive zone. We can use that to compare players who play similar roles on the power play, and obviously our two test subjects fall under that umbrella. I’ll tentatively call this metric Power play Effectiveness of Touches (P.E.T).
Not only is Carlson more than twice as effective with his touches than Niskanen by this metric, but he’s also second best (behind Philadelphia’s Michael Del Zotto) out of all players with at least a PSC of 50 amongst the six teams I’m tracking.
The conclusion is what you’d expect, John Carlson is the better option over Matt Niskanen on the Capitals’ power play but both have had success so it’s a question worth asking. More importantly, the methodology here is just really interesting. You have heard me lament the use of Nick Leddy on the Islanders’ power play for much of the season. This sort of work can help bear out some of the ideas folks get from watching the games. I wonder what the conclusions on Leddy vs. Johnny Boychuk would be.
So that happened…
Mark Stone tried to come back but eventually left the game for good. Word is that Stone has a chest injury:
Mark Stone is staying in Winnipeg for further examination. Coach Dave Cameron reiterated it's not a head injury. #Sens— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) March 31, 2016
Sounds like this will cost stone at least one game as the Senators are in action again tonight, which is unfortunate because he is tied for seventh in the league in points since the All-Star break with 28. A bonafide star. He was nice enough to chip in an assist before going down at least.
Andrew Hammond and Craig Anderson have been trading starts the past week or so. Have to assume Anderson goes tonight, which is a terrifying though considering the roll that the Minnesota Wild are currently on.
The offense for the Jets continues to run through Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler, and that’s pretty much it. I picked up Nikolaj Ehlers off waivers hoping he would get in on the magic they had been cooking up but just my luck Drew Stafford took his spot on the top line for half the game. The result, Stafford gets an assist on the lone Jet goal and Ehlers gets a bagel. Scheifele needs seven more points in the final six games to hit 60. He might get there at this rate. He fifth in the league in scoring since the All-Star break with 29 points.
Oh my goodness would you look at that outburst by the Ducks. Eight goals. Every single Duck forward got at least a point.
John Gibson had a shutout going mid-way through the second period when he was run over by a Duck defenseman causing him to leave the game. Freddie Andersen came on in relief and gave up three goals on five shots to close the second. Gibson then returned and shut the door the rest of the way.
Anyone else get burned by leaving Andersen in your lineup for that shit storm or was it just me?
I was kind of hoping that Gibson would be hurt just so we’d have an answer to who will be the Ducks’ starter come playoff time. Sadly, no luck yet. They will eventually have to make a choice as Matt Larkin explains in his recent article:
It’s a fun idea, adorable even, but history tells us a “hot hand” approach rarely if ever results in a Cup. Of the past 30 champions, 29 have had one goalie gain at least 13 of the wins en route to the Cup. The only team over that stretch that didn’t was the 1991 Pittsburgh Penguins, and that was only because Tom Barrasso missed some games due to injury. He was the full-time starter in spirit.
The Ducks are legit contenders. They have depth at every position, including in goal. Now they need to pick a guy. My lean is towards Andersen.
Last bit of Flames news: they signed Mark Jankowski to an entry-level deal yesterday, avoiding the situation the Predators are now in with Jimmy Vesey.
The plot has thickened in the Jimmy Vesey situation as there are now reports that the forward will sign with the Bruins once he becomes a free agent on August 15. These reports getting out add some ammunition to a potential tampering case that the Predators may bring forward.
Vesey’s camp also released a statement regarding his decision:
Jimmy Vesey's representation has released a statement: pic.twitter.com/HYn4CQxOK4— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) March 30, 2016
As I feared, this has devolved into a he-said-she-said situation but ultimately it doesn’t really matter. All we can do is deal with the situation at hand and that is that the Predators, a contender are down a contributor who may have made a difference come playoff time. Vesey would have been a big sleeper for me in playoff pools had he signed. Now, we look elsewhere.
Will Vesey wind up in Boston? I’m not sure. If we learned anything it’s to not count on anything until he has signed on the dotted line. If he does go to Boston, he will help shore up the near certain loss of Loui Eriksson in free agency. Whether or not Vesey takes all of Eriksson’s duties remains in question. Will he get the top unit PP time or will Brad Marchand continue his evolution? Or perhaps David Pastrnak grabs that spot to assist in a breakout season. It’s all open to speculation but I’m leaning towards Pastrnak.
Eriksson, by the way, is no Marian Hossa but I think he could have a similar impact on a young team trying to turn the corner as Hossa had for the Blackhawks. Solid veteran to teach the youngsters and an excellent two-way player.
Duncan Keith will have an in-person hearing for slashing Charlie Coyle in the face the other night. He isn’t officially a repeat offender since his last offense was long enough ago to not be taken into consideration. All the same, it was pretty vicious and my assumption is that Keith will be suspended for the remainder of the regular season.
If the NHL really wanted to send a message they’d suspend him for a playoff game or two as well. Instead, they’ll likely just be giving the Blackhawks’ first round opponent a rested Keith.
Brutal news for the Panthers:
#FlaPanthers coach Gerard Gallant says Vincent Trocheck out for rest of regular season; opportunity for Rocco Grimaldi to play big C mins— George Richards (@GeorgeRichards) March 30, 2016
Hopefully they can get Vincent Trocheck back for the start of playoffs, otherwise this team becomes more on-dimensional. They do have plenty of wing depth but Trocheck is really the key to what has become one of the best second lines in the league. Trocheck and Jussi Jokinen are one of four linemate pairs (along with Johnny Gaudreau/Sean Monahan, Joe Thornton/Joe Pavelski and Claude Giroux/Brayden Schenn) to rank in the top 20 in scoring since the All-Star break. It’ll be tough to replace that synergy.
Rocco Grimaldi gets a real opportunity with this call up. Read more on him here.
I am more interested to see if Nick Bjugstad steps up at all with Trocheck’s absence. There is a real scoring vacuum to be filled.
This is exciting news as Milano is a prospect with a lot of upside. His hands are great. It will be interesting to see where he fits in and who he’ll replace in the lineup. We have seen Tortorella give Oliver Bjorkstrand a good chunk of ice time since coming up so I am expecting the same treatment for Milano. Read more on Milano here.
I wonder if Lehner will come into next season ready to play. If he does he could be a real sleeper. He should be the undisputed #1 in Buffalo and he put up some strong numbers when he was healthy. The Sabres could also be improved simply because all their young talent will have a year’s worth of growth under their belt. We’ve also seen that starters are non-playoff teams can still have tremendous fantasy relevance. 30 wins with some decent percentages is possible.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Lehner’s but it was undeniable how good he was during his run from late-January to early-March.
In more positive goalie news:
Gus Katsaros takes a look at some defensemen who could be of interest in your playoff pool:
A Stanley Cup playoff pool strategy should value defensemen with primary minutes almost as high as a second line forward – and in some cases, even higher.
I tend to agree with this sentiment. I have some content coming, likely in Saturday morning’s ramblings on where playoff scoring tends to come from. One thing I found is that in the last 10 years of playoffs, from 2006 on, the makeup of the top-50 playoff scorers was, on average, 20% defensemen. Put another way, each year, 10 of the top-50 playoff scorers were defensemen. That’s incredible value. In my annual 10×10 league (10 teams, 10 players per) we don’t see that many defensemen in the first 50 picks, and yet the numbers say that we should.
My latest waiver wire column gives you options whether your league ends this weekend or next.
Steve Laidlaw is the Managing Editor of Dobber Hockey. Follow him @SteveLaidlaw.
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