Ramblings: The injured return…and made an impact. Breaking it down (Feb 1)
Lots of games, lots of players back from injury, some interesting repercussions so let’s get to it. Be forewarned that I won’t even get to half of what I’d like to – it would need to be a pretty huge Ramblings to do that…
John Carlson was back in the lineup for the Capitals. Though the Caps just had the one power play, we could see that Dmitry Orlov has hung onto the QB role. He’s performed so well lately that, at least for the time being, he has bumped Carlson. Orlov had six points in the six games that Carlson was out. He also has 17 points in his last 25 games!
Since his four-point game on January 3, Evgeny Kuznetsov has 20 points in his last 14 games. If he does that twice more then he reaches 79 points in 78 games. He started the year off with nine points in 23 games and many of his fantasy owners panicked.
The Islanders are undefeated in regulation under coach Doug Weight. One thing I’ve noticed under Weight is that he is rolling back the ice time of Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera. The ice time ‘seems’ to be going to younger players in their second year – Shane Prince and Alan Quine. Nothing major, just a couple of shifts. But you can tell that free rides thanks to a player’s historical production are over.
As I noted here last week – Thomas Greiss is now an elite fantasy goalie option. Overpay for him now while he’s still only kinda expensive. Because the price is only going to go up. All that three-year contract did to mindset was just re-enforce what I was already expecting. I tried to land him and had offered Craig Anderson and was ready to add Derick Brassard (keeper league) and more. But the dialogue never went beyond Anderson and before I could follow up – he had been traded. The return? Cam Ward. There were other assets involved, but those assets (in my opinion) cancel each other out. Basically it was just Cam Ward. The lesson I learn from this is that I need to be more aggressive and not so laid back. Competitors can often be vultures, just circling the GM you want to talk trade with and swooping in at Mach speed.
#1 21.2% BOYLE,BRIAN – DROUIN,JONATHAN – FILPPULA,VALTTERI
#2 20.3% BROWN,J.T. – DUMONT,GABRIEL – PAQUETTE,CEDRIC
#3 11.2% KUCHEROV,NIKITA – NAMESTNIKOV,VLADISLAV – PALAT,ONDREJ
#4 10.8% JOHNSON,TYLER – KILLORN,ALEX – POINT,BRAYDEN
As you can see, there was some mixing and matching among the top six, but these two line combos were used the most. It seems to have helped Johnson and Killorn, as they got two points each. If Vladislav Namestnikov can earn the right to stay on that line then he could be in for a big second half. This could be one of those career turning points, where a ‘fail’ could mean ‘depth player’ for good, but a success would possibly lead to a long and productive career. He’s only 24 years old, but how many more chances to play with Kucherov will he get? Remember, Stamkos will be back. So maybe Namestnikov gets four more chances? Five? Whatever the number is, it’s not a big one. He needs to start making them count.
If your league requires six active defensemen and counts hits and PIM, then there is a 22-year-old kid named Jake Dotchin who has a long track record of racking up the penalties in lower levels. So far he has six PIM in four NHL games.
With his third consecutive two-point game, Brad Marchand now has 13 in his last eight games and 20 in his last 13. He has 51 points already and with five more he’ll have the second best total of his career with a good 20-plus games to go. Thirteen PPPts is already a career high and he’ll still manage to keep his penalty minutes above 60 or 65 this year. By the way – he’s tied for fourth in NHL scoring as we enter February!
Still trying to find the right fit after the loss of Evgeni Malkin, coach Mike Sullivan shuffled the lines and moved Jake Guentzel back to the wing. Here is what they looked like:
#1 23.3% BONINO,NICK – GUENTZEL,JAKE – KESSEL,PHIL
#2 23% CROSBY,SIDNEY – HORNQVIST,PATRIC – SHEARY,CONOR
#3 18.5% FEHR,ERIC – KUNITZ,CHRIS – WILSON,SCOTT
#4 11.5% HAGELIN,CARL – ROWNEY,CARTER – RUST,BRYAN
As you can see, Bryan Rust is the big loser here. And given the fact that Horny picked up a pair of goals, it’s looking like he’s got his spot on the Crosby line back.
Kris Letang was back in the lineup and saw 2:55 of PP time. Justin Schultz saw 2:34. With Schultz now getting 50% of the available PP time instead of 75% (when Letang was hurt) it will be interesting to see just how much he slows down. Eleven of his 35 points this season have come via the power play.
Craig Anderson was back in practice for the Senators and says he needs about two weeks for conditioning. My guess on his return was February 2, so I may end up being wrong by a good 10 days. So at the present, he’s targeting February 14. But these guys get the itch. I can see him pushing it to Saturday the 11th, and sitting in as a backup on Thursday the 9th.
It won’t be a moment too soon because, even though Mike Condon has been solid as a replacement – he is now quite a volatile start in fantasy. If you started him four games ago, then you got rocked for seven goals on just 29 shots. If you then benched him because you weren’t confident in him – then you missed out on his shutout on 31 saves. And if you then had him active last night then you cringed as he coughed up five goals and took the loss. In short, those in daily leagues who own Condon are probably smashing something at work right now.
Ryan Dzingel has six points in his last eight games. In his first dozen games he was barely averaging a shot per game. Since then he’s averaged close to two. His track record at other levels, for shooting, is spotty as many of his leagues didn’t track shots on goal. So in cases like this I pay close attention to the earlier shot trends. In his final season in the AHL he averaged close to 2.5 shots per game and had increased that number each season he was there. He’ll never be a first liner, but I think he’s found a permanent home on a scoring line.
Between a couple of my leagues I own Buchnevich, Kreider, Zuccarello and Atkinson. So you’d think that in a game that featured 10 goals I’d come out of it smiling. Nope. You’ve all been there I’m sure.
A big reason was that these goals were scored at even strength. The Rangers knew that the Jackets are deadly on the power play so they stayed out of the box. And the Jackets only had one penalty (not counting the one with 20 seconds left in the game). So the key PP guys weren’t as potent as I wanted. Goaltending was shaky. Joonas Korpisalo was doing great before suddenly giving up four straight goals in the third – three of them in the first six minutes. And Henrik Lundqvist was pulled after giving up three goals on 16 shots. Antti Raanta was back in the lineup and he didn’t fare much better than Lundqvist.
After two points in nine games, Alexander Wennberg has seven in his last four thanks to three last night.
And after two points in 11 games, Zach Werenski has posted back-to-back two-point efforts. I don’t know if his recent slump (that he seems to be out of now) was related to a shift in coaching or not. Because his partner, Seth Jones, has been on a tear with eight points in his last eight games and has quickly closed the gap between himself and Werenski. Perhaps Torts identified the opposition keying in on Werenski and instructed the two of them to switch roles? At any rate it seems to be a nice little boost for Jones owners. What a phenomenal pair they will be over the years – combined they are just 41 years old.
So many things I want to touch upon, but running out of time and space to do it. The Habs welcomed David Desharnais and Andrei Markov back to the lineup (and Greg Pateryn). So the big question for me is – how would this impact Nathan Beaulieu? Well, he was still on the top PP unit, but the concern is at even strength. He had seen time with Jeff Petry and Shea Weber, but now he’s back with Pateryn which would likely hurt his ES production. Thankfully, 10 of his 19 points this season have come on the power play so the impact of the reduced even-strength numbers will be minimal.
Montreal’s line combos with Desharnais back:
#1 25.2% DANAULT,PHILLIP – PACIORETTY,MAX – RADULOV,ALEXANDER
#2 24% BYRON,PAUL – LEHKONEN,ARTTURI – PLEKANEC,TOMAS
#3 18.4% ANDRIGHETTO,SVEN – DESHARNAIS,DAVID – SHAW,ANDREW
#4 15.6% CARR,DANIEL – FLYNN,BRIAN – MITCHELL,TORREY
I’m kicking myself for taking Labanc over Phillip Danault at my midseason draft two weeks ago. It was down to those two and I went with Labanc for playoff value – I just felt the Sharks would go deeper. Damn. Two points last night for Danault on the Max Pacioretty hat trick. He has 18 points in his last 25 games.
Zach Bogosian was a minus-5 last night. Don’t see that often…
Ondrej Pavelec continues to be showcased and continues to let team management down, despite the win. At his salary, his 0.893 SV% this season wouldn’t even garner a bucket of pucks in a trade. No NHL team would give up even a balled-up piece of used hockey tape for him. Not even blackened and hard gum that was scraped off the underside of the bench.
Not even the Blues would look at him – and they just lost to him. Because as shitty as Jake Allen is doing, his save percentage (0.895) is actually somehow better than Pavelec’s. Another dog of a game for Allen, and here are his numbers since December 11: 3-9-0, 3.76 and 0.869.
Can you blame Allen for this Nik Ehlers goal though? Oh man…
With three points last night, Blake Wheeler has 22 in his last 21 games. Typical strong second half for Wheeler.
After six points in his first 41 games…Adam Larsson has seven in his last 10.
Jakob Silfverberg returned to the Anaheim lineup after missing three games. Turns out he really needed the break because he had been pointless in four games heading in. He picked up three points in his return. Eight points away from a career high and he has 30 games to do it. He’s still going to make a run at 55 points despite having missed time.
No update on the server move yet, other than the work that is being done to prepare is so that when the move is made – it will take an hour and have as little problems as possible. I’m in “any day now” mode, but all I can do is stand by on Skype with the programmer and wait for the go-ahead. When it happens, it will occur at night after the last game has started.
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