Ramblings: Thoughts on Montour/Dahlin, Bailey, Montembeault, Quality Starts, more goalie talk and more
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Travis Zajac had been having himself a great season, not only becoming one of the best defensive forwards in the game but also managing to put up decent points while doing so. A month ago his points-per-game average was higher than it’s been since 2010. But with all the injuries to the Devils Zajac no longer has a supporting cast and everything is falling apart in terms of fantasy numbers. His Hits are up and his PP time is up, but in the last 12 games he’s a minus-10 with five points. On Sunday I counted eight forwards in the lineup who have had AHL time this year plus Drew Stafford who is a regular healthy scratch.
Cory Schneider is getting regular work every second game now. The pattern has continued for 11 games and no matter how spaced apart each game is, Schneider and Mackenzie Blackwood are straight up rotating. Schneider has four consecutive Quality Starts, so this system is working well for him as he moves further down the road to recovery.
Since starting off his rookie season with 18 points in 23 games (0.78), Will Butcher has 54 points in 129 games (0.42). That’s a 34-point pace.
The Avalanche are really trying to squeeze value, any value, out of the third-round draft pick they gave up to get Derick Brassard. He has seen 21 minutes of PP time over the last six games (3.5 minutes per game!) and has come up empty. This is while on that power play with two of the league’s leading scorers. And to make matter’s worse, he is minus-7 in that span. He is winning faceoffs though (at least 60% FOW in each of the last five games), I’ll give that much.
Since picking up Brassard, Carl Soderberg’s great season has come to end. Now he’s back to mediocre season. Soderberg has two points in his last 10 games and is minus-6 in that span.
Philipp Grubauer has posted five consecutive Quality Starts and three shutouts, including one Sunday. With Semyon Varlamov coming off four consecutive non-Quality Starts and the Avs scratching for wins here, Grubauer is going to get more starts than we would have guessed two weeks ago.
Alexander Nylander was riding a four-game points streak (six points) for Rochester when he was called up by the Sabres last week. It took him four games but he finally got on the board for the big club, notching two assists Sunday. He was on a line with Conor Sheary and Evan Rodrigues.
Brandon Montour has six points in the 10 games since joining the Sabres, and just one of those via the power play. He is getting mostly second-unit PP time and yet is still producing offense. He hasn’t impacted Rasmus Dahlin in terms of PP time, but because Dahlin is paired up with Montour at even strength, he seems to be tied down. As the better player defensively, Dahlin is stuck being responsible while Montour gets free rein. Dahlin did get an ES point Sunday, but including that one he has just two points in those 10 games that he’s been paired up with Montour. He’s also a minus-7. This pairing is something to watch and could influence projections for 2018-19.
It’s still early, just five games in, but it looks like the Blues are leaning towards an every-other-game goalie rotation for the time being. Allen has four consecutive Quality Starts. Last five games:
Jake Allen – 1-2-2, 2.17, 0.920, 1 SO, 4 QS
Jordan Winnington – 3-2-0, 2.04, 0.922, 1 SO, 2 QS
The numbers have been comparable, but the team is still coming together better in front of “Winnington”.
Ryan Suter picked up an assist Sunday but he has had a tough run of late, managing five points in his last 15 games. Suter had 26 points in 31 games to start the year. Then his partner Matt Dumba suffered an injury early in Game 32. Suter has 19 points in 42 games with Jared Spurgeon by his side.
Mathew Barzal’s two assists Sunday gives him six points in six games. This is on the heels of a big slump that saw just nine points in 21 games. He’s playing with Jordan Eberle and Anders Lee now after playing most of the season with Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier.
I’m disappointed in Beauvillier given his golden opportunity this year. But I’m guessing it came about one year too soon. I’ll be still interested in landing him as a depth guy for next season and see what happens, but man – he’s had every chance this year. From linemates to ice time to prime zone starts to pretty good secondary PP time. All for maybe 30 points in the end?
Just five points in his last 13 games for Josh Bailey. And now he’s not only without John Tavares on his line, but both Anders Lee and Barzal are on another line. His linemates? Tom Kuhnhackl and Valtteri Filppula. I had enough room on my bench in my one league to hang onto him, but I certainly have no qualms about dropping him. He won’t be one of my 12 keepers and frankly if I can keep 18 I doubt he’d make that list either. We all saw this decline coming once Tavares left, but he had been hanging in there pretty well with 45 points in 59 games before this slump.
Evgeni Malkin was honored on Saturday for getting his 1000th point last week. Later that game he suffered a shoulder injury and is considered “week to week”. To me, that puts him out for the season or at best he’s back for the last game or two. With him out of the lineup, the Sidney Crosby line remained intact (Jared McCann, Jake Guentzel). Teddy Blueger shifted to center in Malkin’s spot and Bryan Rust moved up to Blueger’s wing slot.
If you missed the Battle of Pennsylvania Sunday, the Flyers tied the game at one with 19 seconds left. Then they won the game with four seconds left in OT. The Flyers did a ton of line juggling, and that’s been the case a lot lately thanks to Jakub Voracek’s recent suspension and the team desperate for wins. But whatever line gets Sean Couturier does just fine. Couturier has become the driver, and not the passenger. He has 64 points in his last 56 games.
After losing his first start since being called back up from the AHL, Carter Hart had a hell of a second game Sunday. He stopped 42 of 43 for the OT win.
Jacob Markstrom has Quality Starts in seven of his last eight games, and he stopped 44 of 46 on Sunday for the win. Since November 24 Markstrom is 19-12-7, 2.39 and 0.923 with 28 Quality Starts (73.7% QS is pretty spectacular).
Sam Montembeault started his fifth consecutive game Saturday. He had one game of NHL experience prior to that. After three straight Quality Starts, his fourth game wasn’t a QS but he still got the win. And on Sunday, Game 5, it was a loss (three goals on 22 shots). I think, with the momentum petering out for Monty, the Panthers will return to the James Reimer – Roberto Luongo duo again, now that they’re both apparently healthy. But I’ve been a fan of Montembeault and I’m impressed with his start in the NHL. What I like most is that he’s Florida’s top goalie prospect, and at this point is their goalie of the future by default. Not by talent, but by timing. Not that he’s a terrible goalie, he’s a decent prospect, but the timing is lining up right for him. He’s 22 right now, and Reimer – Luongo are paired up for two more years. When he’s 25, he’ll step right in and in the meantime he’ll fill in for injuries (which happen a lot with these two).
Last week the Leafs signed undrafted free agent defenseman Joseph Duszak. He had a massive junior year in the NCAA with 47 points in 37 games, plus 42 PIM. He’s 21, a little on the small side (5-10) but can move the puck. His next two season will likely see him in the AHL but I think he has potential if developed properly. You can read our scouting report and PNHLe graph on Duszak here.
Detroit signed LW Taro Hirose, a shifty winger for Michigan State, as a free agent. Hirose had 50 points in 36 games in his junior year. I included Hirose as a player to watch in the NCAA free agent section of my Midseason Guide. The Wings also signed another player I had in the MSG as a free agent to watch – Ryan Kuffner. He was Max Veronneau’s linemate and ended up outscoring the more highly-touted Veronneau 44 points to 37 (in 31 games).
Veronneau, as you know, signed with Ottawa and promptly picked up an assist in his second NHL game. He picked the right team to sign with, even if he wasn’t already from Ottawa. This team is going to be young next year and he has a reasonable shot of making it.
The Canucks signed another guy I listed in the MSG (so I had four out of the five big names last week in the Midseason Guide) – defenseman Josh Teves. The NHL squad isn’t exactly flush with prime puck-moving defensemen so I’ll be interested in seeing his impact. It’s a shame he’s not a right shooter, or I’d like him even more.
Brendan Perlini has had his share of struggles since joining the Blackhawks, culminating in healthy scratches littered throughout February. But since getting back into the lineup March 2 he has 10 points in seven games. This is thanks to being put on the Dylan Strome/Alex DeBrincat line, supplanting Dominik Kahun. The 22-year-old Perlini was the 12th overall draft pick in 2014 so giving up on him for the long term would have been premature.
Frozen Tools update: We added a new stat RBS (Really Bad Start…yeah, I know): If a goalie has a SV% of less than 0.850 in a game he gets an RBS. This is in the goalie profiles and game logs. We also increased the reports in the line combos section so that “Last Game Lines” now has five most common lines (up from four) and “Last 3 Game Lines” now has the six most common line combos (up from four).
Fantasy Geek update: Running reports currently gives an error. The sheer size of the data this late in the season is at the heart of this. We will shut down the site (or we did, if you’re reading this later) from 3am to 6am EST to make our fixes live. Hopefully you can run reports better after this.
See you next Monday.
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