Ramblings: The Price is Back, Ovie Calls His Goal (Nov 26)

by Ian Gooding on November 26, 2017
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: The Price is Back, Ovie Calls His Goal (Nov 26)

The Price is Back, Ovie Calls His Goal, Wild Bill Strikes Again, plus more…

Carey Price, the pride of Williams Lake (BC) minor hockey, finally returned to the Canadiens’ lineup on Saturday, and it couldn’t have gone any better. Price stopped all 36 shots he faced in the Canadiens’ 3-0 win over Buffalo. If the Habs happen to make the playoffs, Price’s return might be the season’s turning point.

The shutout bid appeared to have ended in the final minute of the game when Evander Kane scored, but the goal was waived off due to goaltender interference.

The time off appeared to give Price the mental health break that he needed, as he had struggled mightily before his lower-body injury (3-7-1, 3.77 GAA, .877 SV%). Your window to buy low on Price will have closed a little with this shutout, while current Price owners will be relieved that this start wasn’t a continuation of the first month of the season. Activate Price if you haven’t already.

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When a player promises a young cancer survivor a goal, you have to pull for that player. So when that player scores three goals, then it turns out to be a night to remember. Alex Ovechkin posted his third hat trick of the season, scoring goals 16, 17 and 18 to pull into the goal-scoring lead.

In one of my head-to-head leagues, I was facing a team with Ovechkin this week. This team passed me in goals because of the Ovie hat trick. Disappointed? Nah. What a great moment for both Alexes. This is a reminder that there are things more important in life than fantasy hockey. Like family. And your health.  
 


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Waiting is hard, but we knew it would eventually happen. Matt Duchene scored his first goal as a Senator on Saturday, which happened to be a power-play marker. Never mind not scoring a goal – Duchene had not even recorded a point in his first seven games as a Senator and was a minus-10 over that stretch to boot.

It’s not as though icetime was the problem, as Duchene is up an average of nearly two minutes per game since the trade, much of which is power-play time. And he had more shots on net (24) in seven games as a Senator than he had in 14 games as an Av (23) – up nearly two shots per game. These numbers suggest that Duchene’s early struggles with his new team won’t continue. There should still be an opportunity to buy low.

Still don’t agree with me? Here’s some analytics backing up a Duchene turnaround, from theScore.

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Petr Mrazek was removed due to concussion protocol during Saturday’s game. After the game he said he felt fine but had trouble breathing at one point (Detroit News). That doesn’t sound good.

I didn’t even know David Booth was still in the NHL. But he scored twice for the Red Wings on Saturday.

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Jonathan Toews scored a goal and added two assists with a plus-2 in over 20 minutes of icetime in the Hawks’ 4-1 win over Florida. This was Toews’ first three-point game of the season. He hasn’t scored many goals recently (just two goals in his last 16 games before Saturday), but neither have many of his teammates.
 


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Remember last month when the Lightning spanked the Penguins to the tune of 7-1? Well, the Penguins turned the tables on Saturday, scoring three power-play goals in a 5-2 win. Sidney Crosby scored two power-play goals and added an assist, while Phil Kessel scored two goals and added two assists. Crosby has six points in his last three games, while Kessel has seven goals in his last nine games. Overall the Penguins might be a tired team from back-to-back Stanley Cup runs, but so far these guys have been fine.

Tristan Jarry made 33 saves to earn his first NHL win in his fourth NHL start. The Penguins play more back-to-backs than any other team this season (19), so he should see plenty more spot starts.

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Jonathan Marchessault scored an empty-net goal and added two assists in yet another victory for the Vegas Golden Knights. Marchessault should be in the running for player of the week honors, as he has posted three consecutive games of a goal and two assists, along with a plus-5 over that span. And he’s scoring at over a point per game (21 points in 19 games). So Florida couldn’t find room for this guy?

Marchessault’s linemate Wild Bill, aka William Karlsson, scored his 13th goal of the season and added an assist. He’s also producing at a point-per-game pace (22 points in 22 games) and has – count ‘em – five consecutive two-point games, with seven of those ten points in the form of goals. In fact, only Ovechkin, Nikita Kucherov, John Tavares, and Sean Monahan have more goals than Karlsson in 2017-18 at the time of this writing.

Not trying to undermine all the fine work this site does, but the Dobber Fantasy Guide projected Karlsson for 29 points… all season. But I don’t think there was anyone on earth that thought he would be anywhere close to fantasy relevant, even with the possibility of greater opportunity with a new team. Just like no one thought the Vegas Golden Knights would be in first place in the Pacific Division in late November.

Is Karlsson for real? Well, he’s currently shooting at a 25.5 percent clip. This from a guy who shot at an average of 7 percent over his past two seasons in Columbus. To put that into perspective, no one who played at least 35 games last season shot higher than 23 percent. So you might think you know where this is going, but hold on a moment.

We can say that Karlsson is a far more dangerous player in his present situation than his past one, with better linemates (Marchessault and Reilly Smith compared to Matt Calvert and Josh Anderson in Columbus) and an increase in icetime of nearly five minutes per game, much of which is power-play time. So expect a minor dropoff sometime, but not to the point where he’ll fall off a cliff completely. Every season has its surprises, and Karlsson qualifies as one for the 2017-18 season.

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Steve Mason left Saturday’s game against the Sharks after the first period with an upper-body injury. Mason allowed two goals on 13 shots before departing.

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I found the players chosen in this week’s Cage Match to be particularly interesting. A red-hot Anders Lee faced a more proven option in Logan Couture. Even though Lee has picked up where he left off last season (12 goals in 23 games), it’s difficult not to pick Couture at the moment. Couture scored two goals of his own on Saturday, passing Lee with a Sharks-leading 13 on the season. With Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, and Joe Thornton all experiencing downturns in production, Couture also leads the Sharks in points (19 points in 22 games). Where would the Sharks be without Couture?

Martin Jones stopped all 38 shots he faced in the Sharks’ 4-0 win over Winnipeg. Keep an eye on Jones’ status, as multiple reports suggest that he was working through some kind of lower-body injury.

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With Eddie Lack waived earlier this week, David Rittich made – and won – his first NHL start for the Flames, stopping 24 of 26 shots. The Flames appeared ready to bring him up, as he had posted a 5-1 record with a 2.17 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in the AHL. Don’t expect him to make more than the odd spot start, though, as Mike Smith is on pace to start over 70 games. But there’s always the concern that Smith is overworked to the point that he gets injured.

With a goal and an assist on Saturday, Mikael Backlund has 10 points (2g-8a) over his last 10 games.

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Don’t mess with Kevin Bieksa. Part of me wishes he still plays for the Canucks.
 


If you didn’t stay up late, you may not have realized that Ryan Miller was a minute and a half away from a shutout in his return from an upper-body injury. As a John Gibson owner, I was relieved that Gibson wouldn’t be starting the second of back-to-back games. Gibson has been barraged with shots recently, averaging nearly 42 saves per game over his last four games.

In fact, no team has faced more shots than the Ducks this season (36.6 SA/GP). The Ducks were 10th last season in fewest shots allowed (29.6 SA/GP). There’s no doubt that the injuries have played a factor.

Speaking of which, I’m sure there have been countless tweets from the Anaheim Ducks’ account that have started with the words “INJURY UPDATE.” Including this recent one on Rickard Rakell:
 


The Ducks’ road trip is five more games, so prepare to be without Rakell next week and possibly the week after. So without Rakell in the lineup Saturday, Derek Grant and Chris Wagner both logged 22 minutes of icetime. With no Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, and now Rakell, Grant and Wagner are essentially top-6 forwards for the Ducks.

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