We here at DobberHockey have been trumpeting several breakout targets for this season. And to a man, Anthony Mantha was on all of our lists and the tips of our writing fingers. Personally, I felt he would take another step forward this season. However, I wondered if the true breakout was still a year or so out. Which is saying something. Mantha clicked at a 31 goal, 60-point pace last season. I felt he could hit those markers and then some this year.
Well, he dropped a four-spot on the Stars on Sunday evening and currently sits with five goals and seven points in just two contests. The power foward is off to a rocket start.
The top line is the only line of interest in Detroit, but they are deliciously dangerous on a nightly basis. The trio has combined for eight goals and 16 points through the first week of action. That leads all the first line combos by a healthy margin. This is as one-line a team as I've seen in some time. That said, Filip Hronek has been good despite being banished to the second power-play unit. Dennis Cholowski is skating on the top unit and being very sheltered at evens.
One of these guys is going to make some dough with that trio of forwards on the ice. I'm sticking with my bet that its Hronek.
Roope Hintz has been the Stars best player through two games, and frankly, it hasn't been all that close. Dallas is off to a rocky start to the season, but the young forward has been their bright spot. He potted two more goals on Sunday to give him three on the year. The rest of the Dallas lineup has three goals combined.
Hintz was another breakout candidate we have been yelling about all summer.
Curtis McElhinney got the start in Sunday's game against the Hurricanes. Mac is a sneaky add this season. The Bolts will once again be the best regular-season team and he's going to get some starts. Injuries forced the club to start Andrei Vasilevksiy's just 53 games last season. However, the year before that it was 65. They'll likely follow suit with the league-wide trend and give him a bit of a rest to save him for the post-season.
If you're in a daily lineup league, you could do worse as a roller.
That said, McElhinney and Bolts were dealt a comeback defeat at the hands of the Canes despite a strong performance by the netminder.
The Carolina Hurricanes had 44 shots on goal.
The Tampa Bay Lightning had 29 total shot attempts..
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) October 6, 2019
Mat Barzal did something.
You won’t catch me on The Fan590 touting Auston Matthews as the best player in the world. I will, however, go out and say he is the best even-strength goal scorer in the world. It won’t be long before we hand the entire goal-scoring mantle to him either.
Since stepping into the league in October 2016, no one has outscored him at even-strength on a per-game basis. Matthews 86 EVGs trail only Connor McDavid’s 92 over that span. However, Matthews netted his total in 215 games compared to 244 for McDavid.
This leads us right to the medical clinic door. It’s vital for a player to be healthy and the Leafs’ superstar has missed 34 games over the last two seasons. He needs to once again prove he’s capable of skating a full campaign. However, in any league that values goals over assists, I’m targetting Matthews as the top asset.
One of the things that Matthews has going for him is his unbelievable wrist shot. It’s his most lethal weapon and is arguably the best one in the league (I’m arguing on the pro side of this debate). On a per game average, only Vladimir Tarasenko has scored more goals via the wrist shot than Matthews in the past three seasons. And that trend is running once again this year.
Early on, Matthews is the runaway leader for wrist shot goals (4). The way he can adjust the angle on his release before absolutely blasting it into a tight hole is breathtaking.
AUSTON MATTHEWS! That shot is just not fair. 4-1 Leafs. pic.twitter.com/tdS43ite05
— Flintor (@TheFlintor) October 5, 2019
I was conservative in my expectations for Cody Glass this season. This is a player that fell victim to the dreaded CHL-NHL agreement and was forced to play a fourth WHL campaign when the American League would've been more beneficial. Because of his lack of professional experience, I expected the Golden Knights coaching staff would've slid him down the lineup for large chunks of the season.
Boy was I wrong early.
Through two games, the 20-year-old has lived beside Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty. He's missed a defensive zone starting shift here and there, but his 2:33 on the power-play with those same mates have been as juicy as you could hope for. He was skating on that line once again during line rushes at Sunday's practice.
A couple of concerns for him holding that spot is his brutally poor faceoff results – something to be expected by a rookie pivot, but also a department that coaches love to win more than losing. The other thing is his deferment to his mates. This is another expected result from a young player, especially one who is skating with such elite finishers. But just three shots in two games isn't ideal.
Paul Stastny – whose job Glass stole, is certainly not a volume-shooter either. But he is a vet who knows how to play in all three zones. Just watch out for that swap at some point. Because the winger options decrease substantially outside the top-six. The flip side of this being that Stastny should be one to watch on the waiver wire for if/when that swap does occur.
Here’s a look at Managing Editor, Ian Gooding’s draft results in the NFHC league.
— Ian Gooding (@Ian_Gooding) October 6, 2019
Mika Zibanejad is off to a fiery start. The breakout predictions for the Rangers’ centre were warranted, but it was his sneaky value last season that really moved the needle for fantasy squads. This offseason, everyone and their dog were lining up to acquire assets from Broadway and down the Turn Pike from Newark.
I don’t really need to say this, but before we start putting the former Senators’ name up with the Hart Trophy finalists, let's be sure and pump those brakes just a tad. Of course, this guy is not going to roll along at four points per game. It's a perfect first-week smash-up and will set the tone for his year (and yours), but I’m not sure we can expect too much more than a point-per-game from the 26-year-old.
Zibanejad is a proven and consistent 12ish percentage finisher. His shot rate has climbed in four of the last five seasons, culminating with a career-high 2.88 per game last season. I’m going to buy-in on him living in the meat of his statistical prime and now being insulated with (far) superior talent, and predict another uptick. Let’s call it somewhere around 3.0-3.25 per game. That gives him somewhere between 30-33 goals. Again, giving credence to the surrounding talents and natural development, perhaps we can uptick him six more assists to 50.
I’m a big fan of Zibanejad and feel he’s capable of being a top-15 point-producer this season. But the conservative side of me is shouting to watch out for the troubles that come along with a young team. And of course health.
FYI, I put him down for 30 goals and 76 points in 80 games in my Projections.
Speaking of the projections, thank you to those who contributed!
I'm happy to share that we were able to donate 450.00 USD to @RnfrstAlliance!
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) October 4, 2019
The Vancouver Canucks have more too-many men penalties (3) than they have goals this season (2). Their power-play is 0-10. Elias Pettersson is scoreless. But perhaps the most egregious part to their first two games has been Quinn Hughes’ exclusion from the top man-advantage unit.
The dynamic first-year defender has been seeing his fair share of ice – skating 22:27 per night while averaging 3:48 on the PP. He’s made that second unit appear dangerous. But let’s face it, his talents are being wasted if they’re not opening up space for Pettersson and Brock Boeser.
Here’s head coach, Travis Green’s quote on the issue via Jeff Paterson:
A quick reminder that I love Andrei Svechnikov and see him ending up as Tarasenko on steroids. Not actual steroids, that would be bad. Although a small part me wouldn’t mind seeing some roided out monsters out there scoring six per game.
Follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson
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- The Journey: Projecting WJC Outcomes