Ramblings: The Best Duos in the NHL, Parise’s Hat-Trick, Myers Done for the Year (Mar. 25)

by steve laidlaw on March 25, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: The Best Duos in the NHL, Parise’s Hat-Trick, Myers Done for the Year (Mar. 25)

Ramblings: The best duos in the NHL, Parise's hat-trick, Myers done for the year and more.

Oh boy, Zach Parise was saving that one up for some time. He scored a hat-trick in the first period, and later added an assist. A four-point night after having scored just two goals and 15 points in the previous 23 games since the All-Star break. Not a great look.

The Wild didn’t necessarily need Parise to get going. They’ve been getting by with smoke, mirrors, team defense and some shootout success. They have now won four in a row to move three points up on the Avalanche.

Back to Parise though. Remember when he opened the season with seven goals and nine points in the first eight games? Me neither. It wasn’t long before he was caught by the injury bug and has his season derailed. After those first eight games he has scored just 15 goals and 38 points in 53 games, a mere 59-point pace.

Is Parise a 59-point guy now? That’s actually his average for the past couple of seasons in Minnesota. Seasons that have been injury riddled. After the 11 he missed this season, Parise has missed 34 in the past three years and before that he was a lineup rock. Outside of the 2010-11 season when he blew out his knee missing all but 13 games, Parise only missed three games in seven seasons. But it does seem that Parise’s body is starting to catch up to him. He turns 32 this summer. He’s at an age where shaking stuff off isn’t so easy.

Going forward, I’m counting on Parise for 55 points in 70 games and will be pleased if I can get anything more.

Matt Dumba is no longer a guy to pursue in one-year settings. He has been ushered to the second power-play unit in lieu of Jared Spurgeon. Dumba is scoreless in six straight games now and has skated above 15 minutes in just two of those. The last time Dumba saw more than 20 minutes in a game was March 1st. He did have a goal waved off last night.

Spurgeon, meanwhile, scored a pair of goals to end a three-game scoring streak. He is up to 10 goals in a season for the first time in his career. He also looks like a good bet to hit 30 points for the first time in his career. He needs two points in the final seven games to reach that milestone. This is Spurgeon’s sixth season in the NHL if you can believe it.

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Was a Niklas Backstrom a double-agent planted by the Wild to help them reach the playoffs? Obviously not, but Backstrom got smacked around by his former team giving up six goals on 29 shots. That had a lot to do with the team in front of him though.

Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan are looking to sign contract extensions that will keep them together for a long time:

“I could see us playing together for the next 10 years,” Gaudreau said this week. “That’s how much I like playing with that guy.”

They have been one of the most dangerous duos in the league for the past two seasons so the Flames would do well to lock them up for as long as possible.

Duo

Points

Benn/Seguin

319

Ovechkin/Backstrom

285

Thornton/Pavelski

274

Giroux/Voracek

264

Sedin/Sedin

257

Gaudreau/Monahan

252

Tavares/Okposo

251

Steen/Tarasenko

247

Crosby/Kunitz

237

Getzlaf/Perry

234

Johnson/Kucherov

232

Plekanec/Pacioretty

229

Forsberg/Ribeiro

227

Kane/Panarin

220

Wheeler/Little

219

Duchene/Landeskog

218

 

That chart does not include last night’s action.

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The Avalanche were unable to keep pace with the Wild, blowing a 2-1 lead to the Flyers with less than five minutes to go.

Colorado has a pretty good excuse. They are down their top two centermen with both Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene nursing knee injuries. Carl Soderberg stepped into the top power-play unit minutes but was scoreless on the night.

Erik Johnson stepped up with nine SOG but was still scoreless and minus-two.

Mikko Rantanen got into the game but skated fewer than eight minutes on the fourth line. He just doesn’t have Patrick Roy’s trust this season. Next year though, I have confidence he’ll make an impact.

The Wild visit Colorado tomorrow in a very important matinee game. Hopefully the Avalanche get their big dogs back for that one.

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Radko Gudas continues to be an impact performer for the Flyers. He scored the tying goal to kick-start the comeback and later added an assist. He only has 14 points on the season but 11 of those 14 have come in the last 16 cames. An incredible run for a player normally known as a hits/blocks/PIM contributor. He might wind up being a H2H playoff MVP. He is owned in 26% of Yahoo! leagues so it’s not like he’s doing this all for the waiver wire.

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With the Flyers winning the Red Wings needed to beat the Canadiens to remain tied for the final playoff spot in the East. They were able to hold on for a 4-3 win after going up 4-0 through two periods.

This ended a three-game losing streak for Petr Mrazek but he was still a bit of a dud finishing with a mere 0.897 save percentage on the game. He has a sub-0.900 save percentage for the month of March. Bad timing for a goalie who was looking like an MVP for a while.

The Red Wings offense came from some unlikely sources. Anthony Mantha scored the first goal of his NHL career.  Pretty good spot for him skating with Pavel Datsyuk on the second line and on the second power-play unit.

A pair of assists for Mike Green and Brendan Smith. That ends a 15-game scoreless run for Smith. Remember when he was a coveted prospect? Sometimes these guys don’t pan out, which is why I always encourage folks to avoid rebuilds.

Green hit 30 points on the season with his two assists. He hasn’t been the hit that I expected him to be in Detroit but he also hasn’t seen much use as the defenseman on the top power-play unit. Green does have eight points in 11 games this month with four of those coming on the PP. If the Red Wings could get away from Niklas Kronwall, I could see Green taking a run at 50 points. He’d have to stay healthy though, which is always the catch with him.

Henrik Zetterberg has just four points in the last 16 games. You gotta cut the cord here.

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 With Detroit and Philadelphia winning, the Bruins are suddenly in Jeopardy. They are just one point up on each of those teams but have played more games than both. They have also lost five straight after last night’s 4-1 loss to Florida.

It would be a bit disappointing to see the Bruins’ season slip away. I have really enjoyed how they reinvented themselves as an offensive juggernaut going from 22nd in league scoring to fourth, despite trading away their third, fifth and seventh leading scorers while also losing their fourth leading scorer in free agency. That’s the kind of identity change that fantasy hockey fanatics can get behind.

And even with the change Tuukka Rask (the past week or so notwithstanding) has been good after struggling out of the gate. For the first few weeks of the season it felt like Dobber and I were alone on Rask Island. He’s basically been a league-average goaltender for the season, rocking a 0.500 record with a 2.53 goals-against average and a 0.917 save percentage.

How about this about Loui Eriksson?

That sounds promising…

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One of those leading scorers from last year came back to bite the Bruins last night. Reilly Smith, member of the league’s hottest second line scored a goal against his former team. Everyone on that line got a goal with both Vincent Trocheck and Jussi Jokinen scoring a goal and an assist. If any member of that line is available in your league, you should move to pick them up. They are outdoing the Sasha Barkov-Jonathan HuberdeauJaromir Jagr line, who did combine for one goal last night.

Solid profile on Smith and how he is fitting in with the Panthers this season:

In 73 games this season, playing mostly with Vincent Trocheck and Jussi Jokinen, Smith has 23 goals and 23 assists. Meanwhile, Hayes has 13 goals and 16 assists in 70 games for the Bruins. Smith is "infinitely better than Hayes," one NHL evaluator said.

Smith, by the way, is the brother of Brendan who we mentioned above as having failed to develop for the Red Wings as many expected despite being the more hyped of the two before they arrived in the NHL. Funny how these things work out sometimes.

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Injuries are starting to catch up to the Ducks:

I’ve read conflicting reports on Kesler. He’s either hurt or has a personal issue to attend to. Either way, a big loss for Anaheim.

The Ducks also lost Kevin Bieksa early in last night’s contest. Forcing them to roll with five defensemen for much of the game.

Shea Theodore was recalled but did not get into the action last night due to the travel involved. Look for him to play on Saturday though.

The Ducks also got Chris Stewart off of IR though he didn’t play last night either. Maybe Saturday.

With all those injuries it was the defense that suffered. They did outshoot the Leafs 33-26 but Freddie Andersen got torched for six goals in an overtime loss. That might be the only start that us Andersen owners get from him this week and if so; ouch.

One bit of positive news, Brandon Pirri got off the schneid with his first goal and first three points in a Duck uniform. I guess those first four games were just warm ups. They had Pirri and Jamie McGinn (who scored a pair of goals) skating with Ryan Getzlaf. No big change for them, mind you but still a really good spot.

Corey Perry, meanwhile, was with Rickard Rakell and Nick Ritchie on a second line that was held scoreless.

No points for Cam Fowler in 29 minutes of action. He has just one point in the last nine games, after a run of 11 points in 11 games. Very hit or miss. He needs a running mate to help him on the power play. Either Sami Vatanen needs to get back or Theodore needs to get into the lineup.

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Two goals for Tyler Bozak in his return to the lineup. He skated just 12:42 but 3:27 of it came on the top power-play unit. I told you guys they’d find a spot for him on the power play. His high percentage shooting could add a little spark to the Leafs’ power-play going forward, which is good news for Nazem Kadri, Morgan Rielly, Milan Michalek and Connor Brown who all joined Bozak on the top PP unit. All five of those guys had a multi-point game.

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Tyler Myers is done for the year:

I am interested to see what Jacob Trouba does these last few weeks. Toby Enstrom is out. Myers is out. Lots of minutes to be sopped up behind Dustin Byfuglien. This could go a long way in determining how things shake out with Trouba’s next contract. He is an RFA this summer. My sense is that we may wind up with a holdout situation but that he is ultimately going to wind up with a one- or two-year bridge deal.

Trouba skated 22:06, second only to Byfuglien in ice time last night. He notched an assist too.

Nikolaj Ehlers returned to the lineup after missing a couple of weeks with an eye injury. He was right back on the top line with Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele as well as on the top PP unit. Watch to see if he is tentative at all. He was in a full face shield last night but he may still have concerns about going into traffic.

No points for Ehlers last night but he was plus-two as Wheeler and Scheifele setup a pair of goals. I was trumpeting Scheifele for a breakout next season but Bryan Little’s broken back opened up the opportunity for him to emerge right now. He has 20 points in the last 16 games. Don’t be shocked if it’s Scheifele, not Little who gets the minutes with Wheeler next season and is the better fantasy asset.

Of course, I can’t be the only one thinking that so watch for Little to be undervalued going into next season.

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John Klingberg has yet to score in three games since returning from injury but his role has slowly been expanding. He was up over 21 minutes last night. Also of note: he put up 11 SOG. WOW! There have been only 19 other double-digit shot games this season and only three were accomplished by defensemen.

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On the other side, Oliver Ekman-Larsson skated over 25 minutes, of which more than 10 came on the power-play.

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Interesting piece suggesting that the absence of Andrej Nestrasil has really hindered Jordan Staal’s production of late:

From New Year’s Eve to February 25, Staal recorded 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) in 24 games; from that time on, he’s tallied just four points (three goals, one assist) in 12 games.

Those are some illuminating numbers. The exodus of Eric Staal and John-Michael Liles haven’t helped any, nor has the absence of Justin Faulk.

Good news on that last front as Faulk returned for the Hurricanes last night. Though he did not score.

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No Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the Oilers last night as he sat out with a concussion. It was specifically referred to as a “minor concussion” but I don’t for a second believe they really know what they are talking about in that regard.

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Thomas Drance examines how Bo Horvat has been used like an elite two-way centerman even though he isn’t one just yet:

This season the cohort that Horvat should be grouped with is significantly more imposing. We’re talking about NHL centremen who play top-six minutes, see a significant defensive orientation to their deployment and spent a lot of time killing penalties. To identify this group, I sought out players who meet the following criteria:

1. The player must average at least 12:30 even-strength minutes per game and at least 1:45 shorthanded minutes per game.

2. The player must have appeared in a minimum of 50 games so far this season.

3. The player has to average at least 15 faceoffs taken per game.

4. The player must face the toughest or second toughest matchups among centremen on their team based on Behindthenet.ca’s Corsi-relative quality of competition metric.

5. The player must have a 5-on-5 offensive-zone start rate below 45 per cent.

Sorting NHL centremen by this criteria leaves us with eight names. Horvat is among them and the list also includes: Patrice Bergeron, Sean Couturier, Jordan Staal, Ryan Kesler, Brandon Dubinsky, David Backes and Travis Zajac.

This isn’t necessarily damning as many of the players on this list are fantasy relevant but it’s possible we are seeing Horvat turned into more of a defensive stalwart than an offensive force. It will be interesting to see if this deployment continues when Brandon Sutter is healthy next season. We rarely see young players deployed in such a fashion but he may come out the other side better for it. Unfortunately, that might mean having an upside in the range of Couturier or even Sutter, which reduces his fantasy value.

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Jared Boll has been suspended four games. If you need penalty minutes, look elsewhere.

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Willie Mitchell’s NHL future is in doubt due to concussion issues. Not particularly fantasy relevant but there’s no denying the impact he had in helping Aaron Ekblad acclimate to the NHL.

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No Vincent Lecavalier for the Kings last night as he sat out with some nagging injury. Sounds like it was just a maintenance day.

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Shane Doan is leaning towards playing next season. You never really know with a player this age until he has to start prepping for the next season. Once they start feeling like the off-season training isn’t worth it is when they really start thinking about hanging it up.

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Here’s a nice reminder why you don’t want to trade up in the draft:

There are certainly exceptions where trading up is worth it but as a general rule it is better to have more bullets. Unless we are talking about moving up for the #1 pick, odds are you don’t value the guy you are trading up for more than you value two guys a little further down your board.

The above example is extreme as the Ducks hit with two quality players while the Leafs wound up with none but just going by the odds, the Leafs weren’t much more likely to hit an NHLer at 22 than they would have been at either 30 or 39. That pretty much removes all the time, money and effort that you have put into scouting but it highlights just how bad teams can be at this stuff once they get outside the top few picks. No wonder NHL teams want to push the draft age upward.

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Pierre LeBrun discusses the potential absence of a 50-goal scorer this season and the difficulty of scoring goals with Corey Perry and Steven Stamkos:

"It's definitely tougher," said Stamkos, fourth in the NHL with 34 goals. "There's a few factors. The goalies are so good. I know there's this big equipment debate, but I just think the goalies are that much better. And look at the size of them now, the quickness, they're some of the best athletes in the sport. That plays a big role in it with how technical and athletic they are, it's tough to score on them."

The number of goals per game has been pretty well flat for going on five years now. What has changed is where those goals come from. While we see fewer forwards scoring big numbers of goals, we are seeing more defensemen pile up goals. We are also seeing teams start going three lines deep with scoring talent so the pack is thickening and taking goals from the top guys.

That does lead to something of an endless supply of intriguing waiver wire options for folks, especially in shallow leagues but that’s ultimately a negative because if everyone has a stable of middling scorers its really hard for one to emerge from the pack.

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Rob Vollman handicaps the race between the Flyers and Red Wings for the final playoff spot in the East.

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If you were holding onto hope that Ilya Kovalchuk would make an NHL return that hope will dwindle a little bit with news that his intent is to join a KHL expansion team in China.

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Sean McIndoe has some intriguing ideas to spice up the potential expansion draft.

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Want to get freaked out about how easy it is to get brain trauma?

Oh.

My.

Goodness.

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Steve Laidlaw is the Managing Editor of Dobber Hockey. Follow him @SteveLaidlaw.