There was a lot of injury and lineup information that came out Wednesday so let's not waste any time getting to it.
Brady Tkachuk is going to be out of Ottawa’s lineup for about a month with a leg injury. It was suffered on this hit, apparently:
Brady Tkachuk goes for a hit on Comeau and looks to go somewhat awkwardly into the boards. Tkachuk hobbles off but stays on the Senators bench. pic.twitter.com/DOJTKtvrQM
— Dylan Nadwodny (@dnadders) October 15, 2018
It’s a blow for Tkachuk, the Sens, fans, and fantasy owners. He had six points and 14 shots in four games, a great start for the rookie. If you were using him, he was probably a late-round pick so the waiver wire replacement value is low. Let’s hope he’s fine when he returns.
Jonathan Huberdeau has been demoted to the fourth line with Troy Brouwer taking his place. I assume this is just a temporary issue as the coach said he had been unhappy with the play of the second line. Don’t expect this to last long.
In other Red Wings news, Trevor Daley will return for Thursday’s game. Not sure there’s much fantasy relevance here directly, but it’ll be interesting to see how Dennis Cholowski’s ice time will be affected as the Red Wings blue line starts to get healthy.
In the same update, Mike Green will need at least another couple weeks so if Daley doesn’t take Cholowski’s spot on the power play, it should be safe to the end of the month. Beyond that, well, who knows what Blashill is thinking.
In a much-awaited return, Corey Crawford looks to be back on Thursday night against Arizona. He has missed months with post-concussion issues, so the first game back will be a nervous moment for Crawford and the fans. Getting through the game with no issue would bode well for the future. As always, concussion issues are a tricky thing so fantasy owners will have to take it game to game.
Sven Andrighetto also looks ready to return to the Colorado lineup, providing a much-needed boost to the depth scoring. He’s only valuable in deeper leagues but he has performed very well in an Avalanche uniform. This could be the year we see him break out.
Martin Necas was sent to the AHL by Carolina. Just two days ago, I was hoping against hope that a Necas-Svechnikov duo would become a regular thing. Now? Well now I’m just left with a cold coffee and another broken dream.
Ryan Callahan looks set to return soon though it’s doubtful he has much fantasy relevance. It’s more how it affects everyone else, namely Mathieu Joseph and even JT Miller. Not that Miller will be taken out of the lineup but he’s on the fourth line right now. Does he move up with the return of Callahan?
There was a really interesting piece at The Athletic yesterday from Corey Masisak discussing how the Devils could (and would) improve their five on five play.
Jaden Schwartz returned for the Blues on Wednesday night, slotting on the second line with Brayden Schenn. Patrick Maroon stayed on the third line with Jordan Kyrou on the top line alongside Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko.
Jordan Kyrou really impressed me in this game, a game that had very little impressiveness from the Blues at all. Seems to have instant chemistry with Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly. His speed and skill is a good addition to their wing. Hopefully he gets an extended look there.
It was another great game for Tomas Tatar. He poked the puck to Gallagher with 10 seconds left to push the Habs to a 3-2 win. His ability to make close-area plays is something the Habs have needed from their wingers for years. That top line for Montreal is fun to watch.
It was another banner night for the Washington power play. Alex Ovechkin picked up a pair of goals from his office with John Carlson having the primary assist on both. Not to be outdone, Chris Kreider and Jimmy Vesey also scored on the power play for the Rangers.
Carlson now has nine points on the season while skating 26 minutes a night. Heavy minutes like that on a team with this much talent, on that power play unit, means he should repeat as a 60-point blue liner.
Michael Frolik responded very well after being a healthy scratch for Calgary, potting two goals in 16 minutes of ice time skating in his usual second-line spot in the team's 5-2 win over Boston. Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and an assist while Mikael Backlund added a pair of helpers.
Just a small note here: Noah Hanifin led all Calgary blue liners in total ice time and finished second in even strength ice time. It appears as though Bill Peters really loves his guy. He's still third among their defencemen in ATOI on the season so it may just be a one-game blip. Something to keep an eye on.
Johnny Hockey left the game late because he was pulled by the concussion spotters. We will update when we know more.
Stop me if when you've heard this before: Anaheim got thoroughly outplayed by a team and still won.
John Gibson lost his shutout with a little over 30 seconds remaining but still stopped 34 of 35 shots in the 4-1 Anaheim win. Ryan Kesler scored a pair of goals for the Ducks with Adam Henrique and Hampus Lindholm scoring the others. Casey Cizikas scored the lone tally for the Islanders.
At this point it's fair to have a lot of concern for the Ducks. Were it not for Gibson playing absolutely out of his mind to date, this team might be winless. As it is, they lead the Pacific Division. Gibson is a great goaltender but relying on a .940 save percentage to win hockey games is not a recipe for long-term success. I'm not sure even the impending return of Ryan Getzlaf will make enough of a difference.
Let’s talk shot rates.
I don’t really start adjusting my season-long projections until November hits. The sample is just too small. That doesn’t mean there aren’t situations that are not worth monitoring, though.
The top of the shot rate board (five-on-five only) features a lot of names we’d expect. In terms of shot attempts per 60 minutes, Evander Kane, Brendan Gallagher, and Alex Ovechkin are all in the top-10. There are also a lot of surprise names worth keeping an eye on. Let’s go through some of them.
Data from Natural Stat Trick.
Maybe it’s not a huge surprise given his jump in shot rate last year, but as of Wednesday afternoon he’s fifth among forwards in shot attempt rate at five-on-five. In five games, he has 16 total shots on goal. That’s helped him start the season with three goals in those five contests.
But herein lies the rub: Anderson’s TOI/game is way down from last year. In fact, his TOI per game is nearly four minutes per game lower than 2017-18. That includes over two minutes per game lost at five-on-five and over a minute on the PP. In fact, he’s a complete non-factor when it comes to PP usage right now.
The silver lining: Torts gonna Tort. We’ve already seen significant changes to the top PP unit with Anthony Duclair and Zach Werenski getting time due to underperformance and injury. It’s conceivable that Anderson sees some time there eventually. It’s just that for now his upside is extremely limited due to the significant loss in ice time at all scoring strengths.
Remember that Pastrnak’s shot rate took a dive last year; it declined from 17.7 attempts per 60 minutes at five-on-five in 2016-17 to 14.8 in 2017-18. That was cause for concern. He’s allayed those concerns with a gigantic leap in shot rate this year, clocking in at 22.1, seventh among all forwards. That number would have led the league last season.
Like Anderson, though, Pastrnak’s ice time is way down as he’s dropped below the 16-minute threshold. At five-on-five, he’s down nearly a minute. He’s also lost over a minute of PP time as Bruce Cassidy has opted for a more balanced approach to the power play. Now, the top PP unit has been wildly successful so that is not a huge issue yet. It could become one when that top PP unit slows its scoring.
By no means is this meant to alarm Pastrnak owners. He’s still shooting a ton and has elite-level deployment. It’s just the usage that is a bit of a concern right now. Just something to monitor for the next few weeks.
So, the top line for the Blackhawks has been exceptional. Both DeBrincat and Jonathan Toews are off to fantastic starts, the former with six goals and nine points. DeBrincat is also third among the league’s forwards in shot rate at five on five and is skating nearly two more minutes at that strength per game. This has all led to his landing nearly four shots on goal per game.
The duo is absolutely flying, with the team generating nearly 80 shot attempts per 60 minutes so far this year with the two of them on the ice. For reference, a mark of 60 shots per 60 minutes would be good. That’s what gives me hope that DeBrincat can at least maintain close to this level of shot rate – if his line has exceptional shot generation rates as a whole, it stands to reason he’ll get a lot of those shots. Again, the line’s sample is small (a bit over 62 minutes) but it’s a good start.
Here are a couple names at the bottom of the shot rate board that should concern fantasy owners.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there are 280 forwards with at least 50 minutes played at five on five. Out of those 280 forwards, Bailey is 276th in shot rate. His shot rate this year (3.6) is worse than Henrik Sedin’s last year (4.7). Yeah, it’s bad.
Bailey wasn’t drafted for stout shot totals but being on pace to put up like 120-ish is incredibly poor. At that pace, he’d have to put up 60+ assists in roto leagues to have any relevance. The power play production is still fine so that will mitigate some extremely poor five on five play, but that shot rate needs to improve soon.
Starting the season on the top line and top PP unit provided a lot of hope for fantasy owners. But his shot rate at five on five has absolutely tanked of late; in 2016-17 it was 12.6 attempts per 60 minutes, dropping to 7.7 last year and just 5.9 so far this year. That rate has him in the bottom 20 percent of the league’s forwards. Not great.
His overall shot totals are fine (12 in 5 games) because of the power play, where he’s amassed 5 of his 12 shots. If that PP time should ever disappear, Maroon’s value will be hit even harder than just a loss in point production upside.
We’ve already seen Maroon moved down to the third line at even strength. Should the power play start to falter (it has been fine this year), it’ll be hard for owners to hang on to him.
Remember that these are still small samples. They are just a few situations to monitor for the next couple weeks so that fantasy owners aren’t surprised.
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