Ramblings: Varlamov Blanks Ducks, Vatanen Hurt, Gaudreau’s Home Cooking (Mar. 10)

by steve laidlaw on March 10, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Varlamov Blanks Ducks, Vatanen Hurt, Gaudreau’s Home Cooking (Mar. 10)

Ramblings: Varlamov blanks Ducks, Vatanen hurt, Gaudreau's home cooking and more.

Let’s start in Calgary where Johnny Gaudreau had a big night, scoring two goals quickly in the first period and then setup the game winner in overtime. I’m not sure there is a better player in the league once the game hits 3-on-3. This ended a four-game scoring slump for Gaudreau. Three of those games were on the road, which wasn’t at all surprising to see. Gaudreau’s home/road splits have grown so stark it’s laughable:

 

Games

Points

Plus/Minus

Home

32

45

Plus-22

Road

33

18

Minus-17

 

Gaudreau goes from being Patrick Kane on home ice to being Bo Horvat (who has a league-worst minus-33 rating) on the road. The overall product is a top-10 scorer but you can almost write off half of Gaudreau’s games. I certainly don’t even bother using Gaudreau in daily fantasy when I see that he is on the road. Crazy stuff. I wonder if it continues into the future.

For what it’s worth, Kane had a ridiculous split his first season scoring 51 points in 41 home games but just 21 points in 41 road games. He has since corrected that to become the most dominant scorer in the league today.

The Flames lost both Sam Bennett and TJ Brodie to upper-body injuries last night.

With Bennett out, Sean Monahan was back with Gaudreau registering a pair of assists. Good news for Monahan owners if Bennett misses more time. Bob Hartley has really looked to stretch Bennett giving him more minutes at center and plenty of chances with Gaudreau.

We also saw Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton skate over 27 minutes apiece to pick up the slack for Brodie. Both got on the board with assists.

Joni Ortio hung on for the overtime victory despite giving up two goals in the third to allow the Predators to extend their point streak to 14 games. Ortio has not been particularly good but he has claimed the Calgary crease and has given up exactly two goals in five of the last six contests, which isn’t half bad. He only has two wins in that span but his save percentage is trending towards respectability. He has four quality starts in those last six games.

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Carter Hutton got the start for Nashville and did enough to get them a point. Full marks to Hutton for settling down after those two quick goals by Gaudreau.

Mike Fisher played hero for the Predators scoring the tying goal late in the game, while also adding an assist earlier in the third. The guy I want to focus on is Viktor Arvidsson who has been a favourite sleeper of mine. I like Arvidsson because he has scored at a decent rate in the AHL but more importantly has been a big shooter of the puck.

I could see Arvidsson developing into a Cam Atkinson/Brendan Gallagher sort who uses his speed to generate offensive chances and uses his stature to gain leverage in tight spaces against bigger players. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen but Arvidsson has been a key component to the Predators’ third line as they have pushed to jump well ahead for that first wild card spot.

Since getting recalled after the All-Star break Arvidsson has 51 SOG in 18 games good for nearly three per game. He also has 10 points in those 18 games, which is right on track with the type of scoring we saw from Gallagher and Atkinson in their first seasons.

One thing that Arvidsson isn’t is an elite sniper. He’s all about producing that shot volume. Shot volume is good but as I have often criticized with guys like Atkinson and Jakob Silfverberg is that their shot volume winds up being something like empty calories since they just don’t convert on enough of their shots. Atkinson is finally getting over that hump, however, so there is hope.

Arvidsson is definitely a guy to look at in deep keeper formats but also keep him in mind in one-year settings if you need a filler for an injury.

Shea Weber had a four-game scoring streak busted last night. He might be on his way to having another dominant month like he did back in December. Certainly, Weber should be dominant if the Preds continue to play good hockey pushing the play forward. Six points in five games so far this month. It would do wonders for fantasy owners if he could stay above a point-per-game the rest of the way.

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The Kings wound up winning a thriller in overtime after jumping out 3-0 on the Capitals. The Caps game back with a fury in the third to force overtime but were ultimately undone by a goal from Jeff Carter.

Carter has been rejuvenated by a move to the wing alongside Anze Kopitar and Milan Lucic. They won’t keep him on that wing forever so enjoy this rush while you can Carter owners.

Two assists for Tanner Pearson gives him nine points in 15 games since the All-Star break. Of those nine points six have been goals. He has scored on nearly a third of his shots in this span so expect him to cool off. He still sees time with Tyler Toffoli on the second line and second power-play unit but Toffoli has been pretty cool himself, of late.

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Another subpar performance from Braden Holtby. Kudos to him for staying in after giving up three in the first period and helping the Capitals to earn a point but he still gets saddled with another non-quality start. Holtby has just eight quality starts in 16 appearances since the All-Star break, which is awfully inconsistent for a guy who was so good in the first half of the season.

Watch Dmitry Orlov tie the game for Washington:

Gross! What a backhand. I keep wanting to knock Orlov’s fantasy value because his 9.1% shooting percentage is crazy high for a defenseman but then you see him pull moves like that and his shooting percentage checks out.

This ends a six-game scoreless drought for Orlov. I would have expected him to score a little more with John Carlson out of the lineup. Orlov typically skates about 15 minutes a night but has been up around 20 with Carlson out. There’s more fantasy potential lurking in this guy though we may not see it for another year or two.

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Losing to the Leafs in a shootout was not the way I expected Thomas Greiss’ latest run as the Islanders’ starter to kick off but alas the Islanders were playing the second half of a back-to-back on the road, which is always a tough situation, even against the Leafs who have proven feisty of late.

With news that Jaroslav Halak will miss the next six weeks with a groin injury Greiss is the guy for the Islanders. He was mandatory insurance for Halak owners everywhere so hopefully you bought it, or were otherwise prepared because you had to know what you were getting into with Halak. He is a Band-Aid Boy.

Nick Leddy extended his scoring streak to four games. He has also had three straight multi-point efforts. His second half emergence has been stunning. He is now tied with Kris Letang for the most points by a defenseman since the All-Star break with 18 points in his last 18 games. You didn’t know it was this good, did you? Me neither. But that’s why Leddy is still available in 42% of Yahoo! leagues. People be sleeping on Leddy.

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I was getting prepared to talk about how impressed I have continually been with Nikita Soshnikov but I’ll just let Mike Babcock do it instead:

I don’t think you can get a more meaningful scouting report than that.

Soshnikov did not score but had five shots and two hits. He continues to be a stat-stuffer for those in rotisserie formats. The question is whether we are looking at the next Chris Kunitz who can mesh with a star and become an undeniable fantasy asset or if Soshnikov is more of a Cal Clutterbuck who has his charms but ultimately is a depth player with limited scoring upside? Or perhaps a middle ground like Matt Beleskey?

Nazem Kadri had a pair of assists to end a three-game scoreless run. He is up to nine points in 15 games since the All-Star break, which is sadly an improvement on his pre-All-Star rate of scoring although not by a lot. Kadri really did not emerge the way I figured he might but I am still impressed that he has kept his shot production above three per game. He’s a guy to target for next season as most will have written him off.

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Just when you thought Calvin Pickard made a good option in goal here comes Semyon Varlamov roaring back. He stopped 37 of 38 on Monday and followed it up by stopping all 37 against the Ducks on Wednesday for his first shutout since mid-December. Varlamov’s hold on the crease is still precarious given the dog fight that the Avalanche are in for the final playoff spot in the West but he is doing what it takes to hold it right now.

Mikkel Boedker with an assist last night. He has three points in five games with the Avalanche. He has just five shots in those five games, an unusually low number for him.

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The Ducks lost Sami Vatanen to an upper-body injury last night. This is not the end of the world for the Ducks considering the depth they have amassed at the position. In fact, this could be the big break that Shea Theodore needs to get back into the league and to fantasy relevance. I wouldn’t question a speculative add of Theodore until we find out more regarding Vatanen’s injury.

Back-to-back starts and back-to-back losses for John Gibson. Can Freddie Andersen maybe get some work this week? To be fair, Gibson was solid in the loss to Washington on Monday as he fell 2-1 in the shootout. Still, Andersen has been really good lately with a seven-game winning streak on the go.

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 Sergei Bobrovsky was activated off of IR. Is he ready for another dominant stretch run? The Blue Jackets have quietly been competent since January 1, owning a record of 14-9-5 that would have them in a playoff spot had they played this way all season. These late charges are becoming a real trend for Columbus

Joonas Korpisalo, who played very well as the #1 with Bobrovsky out, has been sent to the minors. There goes one excellent waiver wire option. Drop him immediately as there is no point in hanging on in one-year settings. He’s a good one for keepers though.

Bobrovsky is available in about a third of Yahoo! leagues so, if you can, go out and grab him. Just check out Bobrovsky’s monthly splits:

 

GP

W

L

GAA

Save%

SO

October

38

17

20

3.03

0.899

0

November

46

24

21

2.45

0.92

2

December

29

17

8

2.27

0.929

1

January

36

21

14

2.68

0.913

1

February

24

7

17

3.16

0.895

0

March

54

31

19

2.15

0.929

4

April

30

19

10

2.25

0.928

4

 

This dude is a killer come spring time. Ask me how happy I am that I get to face this guy in the head-to-head playoffs this week…

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Jason Pominville has been deemed day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Not a great time to own Pominville, anyhow. The Wild have yet to play in this head-to-head week and don’t play their first game until tonight. Pominville has 12 points in 12 games since Mike Yeo was fired, all of those have come in two three-game scoring streaks. So while Pominville has been productive he has still been sketchy to toss into the lineup.

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Some more positive injury news:

To spare you the struggle that means Jakub Voracek will return next Tuesday. The downside here is that Mark Streit is going to lose value again. We may also see one of Brayden Schenn or Wayne Simmonds bumped from the top line, though both are mainstays on the top power-play unit.

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We suspected as much but here’s your confirmation:

With Alex Edler out, there is an opportunity for Ben Hutton and/or Chris Tanev to establish themselves as a power-play quarterback of the future. Hasn’t gone too well thus far. Particularly not with Tanev having missed time with injury of late (including last night). Henrik Sedin being out of the lineup as well certainly hasn’t helped matters.

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Jarred Tinordi is the latest to get caught for PEDs by the NHL. He faces a 20-game suspension. Here’s what he had to say:

I find it entertaining how it’s never a big star who gets busted for PEDs. It allows us all to make the joke that those PEDs must not be working. Of course, I don’t buy for a second that Shawn Horcoff and Tinordi were the only guys using this season. Not that I have any proof, it’s just my understanding that the NHL’s drug testing is far too lax and thus it follows that it would be easy for someone to use and get away with it.

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Brooks Laich doesn’t want your pity after getting shipped to Toronto at the trade deadline.

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Check out my latest Waiver Wednesday column for some widely available players to scoop off the waiver wire.

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Doug Gilmour’s letter to his younger self is another great piece from The Players’ Tribune.

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Steve Laidlaw is the Managing Editor of Dobber Hockey. Follow him @SteveLaidlaw.