Ramblings: Thoughts on Allen, Tarasenko, Kahun, Vatrano, the Floundering Avs and More (Feb 11)

by Dobber on February 10, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Thoughts on Allen, Tarasenko, Kahun, Vatrano, the Floundering Avs and More (Feb 11)

Ramblings: Thoughts on Allen, Tarasenko, Kahun, Vatrano, the Floundering Avs and More (Feb 11)

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It’s as if, when GM Bob Murray told the media that Randy Carlyle’s job was safe (on January 14), the entire roster decided to step up their game and become even shittier. Since that statement, the Ducks went 2-8-0 and in their last six losses they allowed 34 (!) goals, which is nearly six per game. This is why a GM should never say that. I like what he did when he immediately traded players and promoted /demoted/waived players. It sends a message to the team

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St. Louis has won six in a row and are now 10-2-1 in the last 13. Jordan Binnington, of course, has been spearheading that effort and he has nine Quality Starts out of his last 11. Now that the rest of the team has some swagger, I wonder if now is the time they turn back to their Golden Boy. Binnington has been great, but Jake Allen is their $4.35 million (per year) guy and a former 34th overall pick. Allen was given his first start in nearly a month (January 17) on Sunday and pulled off a win despite facing 44 shots against the Preds. The team, defensively, really let him down. The most shots Binnington has faced was 32, but first game back in weeks and Allen has to face 44? Seems like the Blues are doing to Allen what the Oilers have been doing to Talbot. If they continue to buckle whenever Allen is between the pipes, Binnington could actually steal the job. Especially with the playoffs at stake. But Allen just got the win and was solid, so he’ll be given his chance to take the job back. And it’s early days to be talking about things like that, I just didn’t like the way the team gave up so many chances as soon as the shaky goalie was in net for them.

Another three goals for the white-hot Vladimir Tarasenko. His training camp must have ended (in his mind) on January 8. Before that date he had 12 goals 12 assists and 24 points in 40 contests. Since then he has 10 goals, seven assists and 17 points in 13 games. Once Jaden Schwartz was swapped off of his line and Ryan O’Reilly added in, things really took off. Of note:

Tarasenko, Schwartz and Brayden Schenn have played together 30.3% of the time at even strength, but just 14.3% of Tarasenko’s points have occurred. But Tarasenko, O’Reilly and Schenn have played together 12.9% of Tarasenko’s ES shifts and have helped him get 28.6% of his points. That’s huge.

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Viktor Arvidsson is shooting for a Cy Young Award with 24 goals and eight assists. Generally speaking he’s a 50/50 goal/assist distribution player and while his goals are a tad high, his assists are far too low. I think he has another gear that can push him above 80 points if he can play a full season.

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The Blackhawks have now won seven games in a row and I actually haven’t seen any of those seven games, so this is entirely a stats-based assessment as to why. Cam Ward seems to have found his mojo with four consecutive wins and four consecutive quality starts, including 45 saves on Sunday. But the top line is flying and the Hawks have also found some secondary scoring. Here are the top scorers for the team over those seven contests:

 

Name

G

A

PTS

GWG

PPP

PPTOI

TOI

SOG

PIM

 PATRICK KANE

6

10

16

0

4

03:53

23:26

30

2

 ALEX DEBRINCAT

4

10

14

0

5

03:28

16:36

19

2

 JONATHAN TOEWS

7

7

14

3

5

03:30

22:21

29

6

 DYLAN STROME

4

10

14

1

4

03:24

16:10

11

0

DOMINIK KAHUN

3

4

7

1

1

01:02

13:34

14

0

 BRANDON SAAD

4

2

6

1

2

01:26

16:23

13

0

 ERIK GUSTAFSSON

3

2

5

1

2

03:44

20:45

14

4

BRENT SEABROOK

0

5

5

0

2

01:05

20:24

14

2

DRAKE CAGGIULA

2

2

4

0

0

00:03

16:55

16

2

 

Line combos last night:

 

31%

CAGGIULA,DRAKEKANE,PATRICKTOEWS,JONATHAN

22.2%

KRUGER,MARCUSPERLINI,BRENDANSAAD,BRANDON

18.5%

DEBRINCAT,ALEXKAHUN,DOMINIKSTROME,DYLAN

10.1%

ANISIMOV,ARTEMHAYDEN,JOHNKUNITZ,CHRIS

 

I don’t think the goaltending has stepped up its game too much – Collin Delia has slipped a little, and although Ward has had four tremendous outings, it’s easier to do that if the offense is humming. I think this all stems from Caggiula being moved to the Kane line. It has had the following domino effect:

  • Toews and Caggiula have seen a production bump
  • Kahun and DeBrincat have moved to play with Strome on some sort of Kid Line, to the benefit of all three. Even Strome’s production hasn’t suffered despite losing Kane.
  • With two great scoring lines, Chicago has become lethal. And despite getting the redheaded stepchild treatment, Saad is giving the team a threat on the third line.

 

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Jeremy Colliton has done an excellent job with Strome. He put him on a depth line early on in order to ease him in and ease the pressure. Then he joined Strome at the hip with Kane, allowing him to flourish offensively. And now that Strome is full of swagger and confidence, he’s back with his talented buddy DeBrincat and another peer his age.

Kahun has also been brought along beautifully, being given steady ice time. Not on the top line, but always with talent and without really being put in the doghouse despite stretches of lesser production. And now it’s really paying off. He has seven points in the last four games.

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Jeff Blashill should take a page out of that book. For the third time in five games, rookie Michael Rasmussen saw less than 10 minutes of ice time. Kahun hasn’t been under 10 minutes of ice time all season. A young player with top six upside should never see ice time like that. Ever. Send him down, if it ever gets to that point.

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The Avalanche are really flailing, with a 3-12-5 record over the last 20 games and it’s only been getting worse. This has been a one-line team all season long, except that line has been the best line in the entire league for half a season. It was a crazy, unsustainable pace and now Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen have come down to earth. In the last 11 games, MacKinnon has eight points, Rantanen has seven and Landeskog has six. Previously, those numbers would have been 16, 17 and 14. You can see how this results in a losing streak.

In the last 11 games, Carl Soderberg has actually led the team in scoring (nine points).

I was offered Semyon Varlamov in one of my leagues Sunday and I don’t know if I can even give up three middling draft picks for him. That’s how confident I am in how quickly this will turn around for him and the team (i.e. not very). I’m still thinking about it.

It’s not for lack of effort on the part of Landeskog – he fired 10 shots on goal in their 2-1 loss yesterday.

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Brad Marchand has had four consecutive two-point games. He has 18 points in his last eight games. He’s closed the gap on David Pastrnak and is now at 65 points to Pasta’s 66 to lead the team.

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Dustin Byfuglien has been back for three games now and has been given almost exclusive PP time as the QB. He doesn’t have any PPPts. Meanwhile, the heir apparent Josh Morrissey still picked up a point and so did Jacob Trouba. The torch hasn’t been passed yet, but Morrissey is probably going to take that torch before it’s given to him. It may not be this year (probably not, unless Buffy is injured again), but I think it will happen.

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With two assists Sunday, Nino Niederreiter is up to nine points in 10 games with his new team.

Circling back to my point about young players with upside getting poor ice time and having their development suffer as a result, Pavel Zacha is another prime example of this. Now 21, Zacha is actually getting reasonable ice time this season and still has a shot at a future. He has four points in his last seven games. I’d like to see a big step next season from him, to the tune of 50 points. If it doesn’t happen then I fear his treatment of the last two seasons will indeed have cost him. I’m pulling for him.

Nico Hischier has seven points in his last six games and 18 in his last 22. This is a direct result of Taylor Hall being sidelined and Hischier becoming the man.

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Bruce Boudreau and the Wild are starting to see what any statistical analyst (like myself) has seen for a couple of years now, and that is that Victor Rask isn’t very good anymore. His ice time has been slashed. He’s been down to seven minutes per game. He’s been demoted to the fourth line with Eric Fehr and Kyle Rau.

With another one last night, defenseman Ryan Pulock has seven points in his last four games. Pulock is a future elite defenseman and frankly I had figured that this would be the year he took that step. But Nick Leddy has still been given the PP time. But as with Morrissey (noted above), Pulock will have to seize that respect and opportunity. He’s more talented, but has to make it happen. Right now he’s doing just that.

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Evgenii Dadonov, who had been one of the most consistent players in the entire league through much of the first half, was held pointless Sunday and is now at just nine points in his last 22.

Another goal Sunday and Frank Vatrano has 19 on the season. He has 13 points in his last 13 games. He’s on a line with Vincent Trocheck and Jonathan Huberdeau so strike while the iron is hot. Provided he stays healthy, which is a big drawback with him, he has enough talent to continue putting up decent points. The Panthers have a nice distribution of offense now thanks to Derrick Brassard up on the top line with Aleksander Barkov and Dadonov, and a third line of Henrik Borgstrom, Mike Hoffman and Riley Sheahan. The situation really helps Vatrano and Brassard, and honestly hurts Hoffman.

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I guess the star of the night should be Alexandar Georgiev, who absolutely stole the game for the Rangers. He stopped 55 of 56 shots! Since giving up seven goals on January 13, Georgiev has put up three very good starts. By the way, Sunday was his birthday.

Nazem Kadri had 12 of those shots. He is pointless in six games and is clearly stepping up his game to make something happen.

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See you next Monday.