Rambling about the Kid, Marchessault, Eriksson-Ek, Hall, Neuvirth vs. Mason and more …
Sidney Crosby returned to the Pittsburgh lineup and made his 2016-17 debut Tuesday. And if you didn’t know that, then you probably clicked on the wrong website by accident – only fantasy hockey owners come here.
So Crosby returned and he scored a goal, Matt Murray returned and was on the bench as Fleury’s backup. And Kris Letang looks as though he’ll be back on the weekend. That just leaves Conor Sheary for the Pens. Sheary is out with an eye injury and will be re-evaluated early next week. Best-case scenario, to me, is that Sheary misses just three more games. But my guess is he will miss five, for whatever that’s worth. Crosby played with Scott Wilson, who took Sheary’s place. The Pens only got two power plays and they scored on one of them.
Jonathan Marchessault has points in five of his six games this season, including one more last night. He has eight points on the year now, and this is thanks to the injuries to Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad (and now Jussi Jokinen, too). Imagine if they didn’t get hurt? Marchessault would be seeing third-line minutes, just as he was in Tampa, and producing at third-line production, just as he was in Tampa. This sort of thing happens all the time – over the years, hundreds of potential stars are buried and wind up in other leagues because the ‘right’ player never got injured at the ‘right’ time to open up an opportunity. I’m not saying Marchessault will be star – but I believe he’ll be a very good fantasy own if he can maintain this kind of ice time and PP time for most of the season going forward. That means, when Huberdeau gets back, Marchessault can’t be buried again.
Interesting to note that Keith Yandle was fourth among Florida defensemen in PP time (2:50) and that Michael Matheson was up to 3:30. Yandle makes too much money to ever have his PP minutes taken down completely. But seeing Matheson get some love is gratifying because I’ve been so high on him over the past year.
The Bruins gave Danton Heinen another shot on the David Krejci line last night, but it didn’t work out. Not only that, but the Bruins lost 5-0. I suspect Heinen will be sent down soon. I like him, I think he’ll be a pretty good player (whether that’s a second-line goal scorer who can get 60 points, or a third-line goal scorer who can get 40 points remains to be seen). But he’s had five real solid games to do something and in my experience, NHL coaches generally don’t push newbies too far beyond that. They’d much rather he gets some confidence in the AHL. So look for this to happen, if not soon then after another game or two of non-production.
The Wild chased Malcolm Subban after they scored three goals on 16 shots. The word on Tuukka Rask? “Overall soreness”. The word on Anton Khudobin? “Unspecified injury”. So once again, we fantasy owners get lots of help in terms of injury information…
The big story was Joel Eriksson Ek. The rookie played in just his third NHL game and he picked up three assists, really showing chemistry with Jason Zucker and Chris Stewart. He’s played pretty much all of his three games with Zucker, but Stewart is a new one. So perhaps Bruce Boudreau hit on some chemistry here. The situation is worth watching. Amazingly, Eriksson-Ek played under nine minutes!
For Zucker, his three points give him five in seven games now. His production is at a nice spot, despite averaging just 10 minutes per game this year.
Erik Haula is still sidelined, but rumor has it that he’s close. He could be back by the weekend, but I don’t think he could knock Eriksson-Ek’s ice time down any further than it already is. Instead, you’ll probably see Zach Dalpe or Teemu Pulkkinen get scratched.
I dispensed advice in the forum yesterday about which center to sit last night between Giroux, Malkin, Stamkos and Seguin. I advised Malkin, but I remember being seriously tempted to suggest Stamkos. Thank goodness I didn’t do that – the guy got four points last night. He’s off to a great start with nine points in six games on the campaign. Last night was a huge game with new linemates – Nikita Kucherov (four points) and Vladislav Namestnikov (two points)
#1 28.8% FILPPULA,VALTTERI – KILLORN,ALEX – POINT,BRAYDEN
#2 25.5% KUCHEROV,NIKITA – NAMESTNIKOV,VLADISLAV – STAMKOS,STEVEN
#3 23.1% DROUIN,JONATHAN – JOHNSON,TYLER – PALAT,ONDREJ
#4 14.6% BOYLE,BRIAN – BROWN,J.T. – PAQUETTE,CEDRIC
After a game like that, you know the line will stick. To me, Kucherov at this stage in his development, could finally be the missing Marty St. Louis that Stamkos has lacked. It’s what Stamkos needs to get back up over 80 or even 90 points. Without a superstar on his line, he was doomed to put up 70-point seasons forever. I’m real bullish on Stamkos right now.
That new-look Triplets line is pretty solid as well.
On a side note, when I wrote up these Ramblings I went to the Steven Stamkos profile page on here and his stats were already in place – the game had just ended. I went to NHL.com and found the stats on the Stamkos player page were not yet updated. We actually beat the NHL’s own page!
Frederik Andersen’s struggles continue. He was in net for all seven Tampa goals. He should be on all benches. And my hunch is that he won’t be such an anchor to your fantasy team as we approach Christmas, but he needs time. Apparently lots of it.
Wow! Ben Bishops somehow lost two teeth thanks to this play. A mask not protecting a goalie from losing teeth is not really a useful mask, in this man’s opinion…
According to this, Taylor Hall has been playing most of this season with PA Parenteau and Travis Zajac. That explains why he hadn’t been doing much. But last night Pavel Zacha was moved up in place of Zajac, and Kyle Palmieri was moved up in place of Parenteau. The shuffling worked, as Hall posted three points and Zacha posted two. It was Zacha’s third game with significant ice (and PP) time and all three of his points were in those games. Things are looking up for Zacha owners for the immediate future.
And now Parenteau’s window has likely closed.
Damon Severson has four points in six games. All four of his points have come on the power play. Understandably, his PP ice time is way up. I wonder why this wasn’t happening last year? David Schlemko was too good? Anyway, Severson owners are breathing a sigh of relief because John Hynes could easily repeat what he was doing last year and stick two pylons out there to run the power play and keep Severson on the bench.
With two more goals last night, Oliver Ekman-Larsson has an interesting stat line over the past 163 games. He has 48 goals and 54 assists for 102 points. You just don’t see defensemen with that high proportion of goals versus assists, but here we are.
Matt Moulson has four goals already. He had eight goals all of last season. I still don’t trust him though.
Anders Nilsson took the shootout loss, but he played a great game, stopping 38 of 41. Worth watching, if Robin Lehner continues to struggle. Lehner hasn’t been horrible, but he hasn’t been great either. So you may see Nilsson spot him a lot in the first half – similar to the way he spotted Talbot in the first half of last season.
Travis Konecny has an astonishing six points in seven games so far. He has slowed of late, as last night’s goal gives him just two points in his last four games. But he’s making a huge splash for the Flyers and has revitalized Philadelphia’s scoring depth. Here were the line combos for Philly last night, per Frozen Pool:
#1 20.7% COUTURIER,SEAN – KONECNY,TRAVIS – VORACEK,JAKUB
#2 17.8% BELLEMARE,PIERRE-EDOUARD – COUSINS,NICK – SCHENN,BRAYDEN
#3 16.6% GIROUX,CLAUDE – READ,MATT – SIMMONDS,WAYNE
#4 12.9% COUTURIER,SEAN – READ,MATT – SIMMONDS,WAYNE
As you can see, Konecny on that line working well has allowed Claude Giroux to be moved to another line. And Matt Read has been given the lucky slot on his wing. So for now, Read is off checking-line duty. He’s even getting power-play time. All five of Read’s points this season were goals. His SH% is normally around 11.7%, so his currently 26.3% will obviously slide. And his 5on5 SH% of 16.67% is also high, though playing with Giroux it could settle at around 10 to 12%.
Buffalo got three quick goals in the second and that chased Michal Neuvirth, who gave up three on 17 shots. He’s been roughed up twice in a row now, while Steve Mason has stopped 65 of his last 70 and is 2-0-1. The net is indeed Mason’s, and if the Flyers truly have found that secondary scoring – Mason will start getting the W’s that he’s been robbed of over the years.
The Red Wings have won five in a row and a big part of that is because they have turned the page. Gustav Nyquist is no longer in the shadow of Pavel Datsyuk. He’s also in his fourth full NHL season – and it looks like a breakout. He has eight points in seven games now, and all that potential that we saw three years ago is finally bursting free.
Troy Brouwer has points in four straight and is up to six in eight games. I had expected him to have a big season because of playing on the top line, but the fact is – he’s playing with Sam Bennett, who is wielding a hot stick right now.
It’s Alex Chiasson who for some reason has been holding down that sweet spot on the Johnny Gaudreau line. Hasn’t done him any good, he still has just the one point. Gaudreau managed two points last night, but until he gets a winger who can properly complete the line, his production is being dragged down.
Two straight wins for Brian Elliott, and last night’s was a big one – he stopped his former mates the Blues. Now riding a high, it will be interesting to see if the Flames take off. The Canadian teams have been wonderful to watch this year.
I mostly watched the late games Tuesday night, though I did catch the Pittsburgh game and skipped forward through big chunks of it. Jonathan Bernier got the start for the Ducks, but had to leave with a UBI. So it looks like the Ducks could be leaning heavily on John Gibson for the next little bit.
Keep an eye on Ryan Dzingel. Two goals last night gives him six points in six games for the Sens. He’s a potential second-line regular 55-plus points, though this year my expectations are closer to 40. But if you want a potential surprise the way Mike Hoffman surprised us in his first year, then Dzingel is a good candidate.
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