Ramblings: Wild Coaching Change, Ghost Point Streak (Feb. 14)

by Ian Gooding on February 14, 2016
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Wild Coaching Change, Ghost Point Streak (Feb. 14)

Wild coaching change, Ghost record-setting point streak, no-name Leafs, plus more…

The major news of Saturday was the Minnesota Wild’s firing of Mike Yeo and hiring of Iowa Wild coach John Torchetti as interim head coach. That’s Torchetti, not Tortorella. Your eyes might have fooled you for a moment. I can’t wait for announcers to get tripped up by the classic Torchetti/Tortorella matchup.

Laidlaw wrote an in-depth fantasy take on the coaching change, which followed the Wild’s 4-2 loss to the Bruins on Saturday afternoon. The goal scorers for the Wild were players you might be interested in.

Thomas Vanek scored his first goal in a month (11 games and a healthy scratch). But at least he has four points in three games since the healthy scratch last weekend.

Mike Reilly scored his first NHL goal (and point) in his seventh NHL game. You may remember Reilly as the player who took the Justin Schultz career path, turning his back on the team that drafted him (Columbus) after a stellar NCAA career. Reilly played just 12:24 in this game, although he received second-unit power-play time. But remember that Ryan Suter, Matt Dumba, and the injured Jared Spurgeon are all still ahead of Reilly on the Wild power-play pecking order.

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In that same game, Brad Marchand scored his 27th goal of the season, one shy of his career high. Marchand was able to score in spite of his regular center Patrice Bergeron missing this game. Marchand’s shooting percentage is right around where it usually is (16.3%), so his success is due to him simply taking more shots. He appears primed to surpass 200 shots on goal for the first time in his career.

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In the other afternoon game, Shayne Gostisbehere scored the Flyers’ goal in their 2-1 loss. That’s points in 11 consecutive games – an NHL record for rookie defensemen. There’s not a lot that hasn’t already been said about the man we call the Ghost. A total of 30 points in 36 games, including 17 power-play points, means that he’s this season’s version of John Klingberg. Yes, Klingberg. To put it another way, Ghost’s 0.8333 points per game is just a hair under Klingberg’s 0.8392 points per game last season.

Here’s the record-setting blast:

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After having Dion Phaneuf and Nazem Kadri subtracted from the lineup this week, the Leafs seemed to resemble the Toronto Marlies heading into Saturday’s contest with the Canucks. The Dobber line combinations didn’t seem to be operational at the time of writing, but go take a look at them for this game if you can. The Leafs’ lines have the look and feel of an expansion team in its first season.

The well-travelled Mark Arcobello scored his first two goals of the season 17 seconds apart from each other. The Leafs’ lines are so devoid of top-level NHL talent right now that Arcobello was seeing first-unit power-play time!

Brendan Leipsic scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game. Even though he played less than ten minutes in this game, even he saw some power-play time. Dobber compared Leipsic to Kris Versteeg back when Leipsic was dealt to Toronto in the Cody Franson trade. Mike Babcock isn’t known for giving rookies key minutes, but in Toronto he won’t have much choice going forward.

All in all, these no-name Leafs took 38 shots on goal on a Canucks team that appeared to be admiring its new (old) jerseys. That total included six shots from temporary first-line center Peter Holland, who was not rewarded for his efforts with any points in this game. For a team that still has a chance to make the playoffs, the Canucks were badly outplayed, taking only 19 shots on goal.

My non-fantasy hockey rant of the day: Why is Toronto the only team that can come into Vancouver and be granted the 7 p.m. Eastern start? If it’s that important to appease the Eastern market, why can’t Ottawa and Montreal get an early start too? I understand that the Leafs get higher TV ratings and thus generate more dollars than any other Canadian team. But this is the kind of thing that makes other parts of Canada (particularly the West) resentful of Toronto, particularly when the Leafs are known more for having crummy teams than good ones.

But the Canucks seem to use the opportunity to take away from the event of the Leafs coming to town (with the building being half filled with Leafs’ sweaters). Last year it was the Pavel Bure jersey retirement. This season it was the return of the black skate logo jerseys. Don’t they look sharp?

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Saturday wasn’t without its share of injuries, and we’ve got a few to report.

Marian Hossa left in the second period of Saturday’s game against Anaheim with a possible leg injury. It sounds as if he will miss time, although Joel Quenneville hesitated to say that the time would be measured in “weeks” (Chicago Sun-Times). Here’s footage, if you want to see the hip check that laid him into the boards.

John Gibson left after the second period after taking a hit to the head late in the second period (CBS Sports). If Gibson misses any time, Frederik Andersen will have another opportunity to take the starting job and run with it.

Tyler Seguin was cut in the arm by Nicklas Backstrom’s skate late in the third period (Defending Big D). Fortunately, it sounds as if he’ll be okay. But given how serious skate cuts can be and how important Seguin is to fantasy teams, fantasy owners will no doubt want to confirm that he will be fine. Before the incident, Seguin scored two goals in the second period, so he has now reached 30 goals.

Cam Ward left Saturday’s game against the Islanders late in the second period with a lower-body injury (NHL.com).

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If your two goalies are Roberto Luongo and Pekka Rinne, then you gained absolutely nothing from the Panthers/Predators game. Luongo allowed five goals in a 5-0 Panthers’ loss – his fifth consecutive game of allowing at least three goals. Meanwhile, Rinne watched from the bench as Carter Hutton earned the 22-save shutout.

By the way, what do you do when your two fantasy goalies face each other in a game – start one, both, or possibly even neither? I will usually start both in order to almost guarantee myself a win – even if I think one goalie is much more likely to earn the win. I say “almost” because of the scenario of one goalie getting pulled, then his replacement eventually earning the win. That’s happened to me a few times through the years.

Calle Jarnkrok scored two goals for the Predators in this game. That’s four goals and five points over his last five games. Interestingly enough, he also led all Predators’ forwards in icetime with 19 minutes.

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Victor Rask scored two goals in the Hurricanes’ 6-3 win over the Islanders. A popular first-half waiver-wire pickup, Rask had scored just one goal since January 2 – a span of 14 games.

In the same game, Nick Leddy scored a goal for the Isles. After a slow first half to the season, Leddy has turned it up recently with seven points in his last seven games. However, the Hurricanes’ goal onslaught meant that Leddy was also tagged with a minus-4.

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With an assist on Saturday against Columbus, Dion Phaneuf now has three points in three games as a Senator. His 25:28 of icetime was also his highest since November 7. That still pales in comparison to Erik Karlsson’s 32 minutes, however. Karlsson has exceeded 30 minutes in each of his last three games. To put it in perspective, Mark Borowiecki took 12 shifts in comparison to Karlsson’s 28 and Phaneuf’s 34.

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It was easy to predict a high-scoring game between the Jets and the Oilers, since the two starting goalies were the inconsistent Ondrej Pavelec and rookie Laurent Brossoit. However, both goalies stood out, in particular the former WHL Oil King Brossoit (32 saves on 33 shots).

But it was Pavelec who earned the shootout win, stopping 21 of 22 shots he faced. That frustrated fantasy owners of two Connors. Of course, any strong start by Pavelec keeps Connor Hellebuyck in the AHL longer. And Connor McDavid was held pointless for the second consecutive Saturday, although he seems to score every other day of the week. I don’t think there’s any rhyme or reason for that.

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Finally, here’s some humor for you. Listen to this 20-minute interview of Matt Bartkowski’s mom on TSN 1040 in Vancouver. She’s definitely one of the more colorful hockey parents out there.

If you had to steal some time away from your significant other today to read the Ramblings, I hope it was worth your while. Follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.