Ramblings: The Wild get a win, Hudler is producing, Hossa to miss two weeks and more.
A little matinee hockey yesterday with Family/Presidents’ Day. I took in three games.
The Islanders played their typical boring style against the Red Wings but grinded out a 4-1 win.
John Tavares had an assist and nearly a highlight reel goal. He is hot with points in six straight and seven of eight since the All-Star break.
Ryan Strome is riding those coattails a little bit with five points in his last five games and six in eight since the All-Star break. I wouldn’t be itching to pick him up just yet but know that he has skated with Tavares at even strength the past couple of games.
Thomas Greiss got the start for the Islanders securing his fifth straight win. He has started three of the last five and continues to be a nuisance for Jaroslav Halak owners like myself who don’t have the handcuff. Mind you, Halak himself has been enough of a nuisance with his recent play.
Johnny Boychuk continues to produce. Since returning from injury he has five points in six games including points in three straight. His value typically comes from what he does in SOG, hits and blocked shots but it’s nice to see he is scoring a little again, although Nick Leddy continues to man the point on the top power-play unit.
Pavel Datsyuk scored the lone goal for Detroit. No real surprise there. He continued alongside Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader though it was Gustav Nyquist notching an assist on the Datsyuk goal due to a brief line change following an Abdelkader penalty.
The Ducks-Flames game was a wild 6-4 affair with very little defense played.
Jonas Hiller got the start but was forced from the game early in the second period thanks to an onslaught from the Ducks. Joni Ortio came on in relief and actually took the loss. That’s back-to-back games with four goals allowed by Hiller though the grander theme is one of the Flames just not playing much defense.
There was some brief trade excitement when it was announced that Kris Russell, David Jones and Matt Stajan were scratched for yesterday’s game but it turns out they were all nursing minor injuries. All the same, look for these names to be dealt before the trade deadline.
Another name on his way out: Jiri Hudler. Hudler has been great recently but I don’t want to buy in case he gets moved somewhere unfavourable. Right now he is back on the top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, as well as on the top power-play unit. There aren’t too many destinations where he’d get the same sort of opportunity.
Also enjoying a big opportunity is Dougie Hamilton who was the only Flame not on the top line to score yesterday. He had a goal and an assist, skating 21:42 with over four minutes on the top PP unit. He is taking full advantage of Dennis Wideman’s absence.
Cam Fowler led the way for the Ducks with three assists. That’s five assists in the last two games for Fowler. Now watch him go scoreless in 10 straight. He has been skating on the top power-play unit since returning from injury so this production was seemingly due but consistency has never been Fowler’s strong suit.
Two goals for Mike Santorelli in just 8:44 for ice time. That’s efficiency. Santorelli has seen time alongside Ryan Getzlaf and David Perron in Chris Stewart’s spot but it hasn’t come consistently enough to get excited about.
Freddie Andersen didn’t have the best outing for fantasy owners but still made some killer saves to prevent things from being worse.
Solid start to the Torchetti era in Minnesota as the Wild found some offense scoring five goals on the Canucks to end their losing skid.
There really were no line changes of note made but here were last night’s lines anyhow:
#1 23.1% COYLE,CHARLIE – KOIVU,MIKKO – PARISE,ZACH
#2 20.4% HAULA,ERIK – NIEDERREITER,NINO – POMINVILLE,JASON
#3 19.9% CARTER,RYAN – FONTAINE,JUSTIN – STOLL,JARRET
#4 18.8% GRANLUND,MIKAEL – VANEK,THOMAS – ZUCKER,JASON
All three members of the top line got in on the scoring, including a power-play goal from Charlie Coyle. That might be the most important note from this game. The Wild went 1/4 on the power play. Not bad. We’ll see if it continues.
Spurgeon had a goal and an assist despite next to no power-play time whatsoever.
No change in Ryan Suter’s role as he remained on the top power-play unit and led the team with over 27 minutes of ice time. Two assists for Suter last night.
The Penguins are now 3/3 sending all of their matchups to overtime. This one actually had to go to a shootout with Al Montoya continuing to impress by taking down the win.
These teams won’t play again this season unless we get a playoff matchup, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, especially as a first round matchup. Of course, if that happened we would be denied the Penguins-Capitals first round series that would cause Bettman to pass out from a rush of blood to his nether regions.
On this note, the Islanders’ win pushed them back into third in the Metro, which is where they need to stay so that we get the Rangers-Islanders series we all deserve.
A bit of line shuffling by the Panthers last night:
#1 24.2% JAGR,JAROMIR – SMITH,REILLY – TROCHECK,VINCENT
#2 21.3% BJUGSTAD,NICK – HUBERDEAU,JONATHAN – JOKINEN,JUSSI
#3 13.8% MACKENZIE,DEREK – MCFARLAND,JOHN – SHAW,LOGAN
#4 10.4% MCKEGG,GREG – THORNTON,SHAWN – WILSON,GARRETT
They really just swapped Jaromir Jagr and Jussi Jokinen from lines one and two but perhaps the move worked as Jagr, Vincent Trocheck and Reilly Smith were able to hold off the Crosby line until the final minutes, when Chris Kunitz finally put one past Montoya.
Meanwhile, Nick Bjugstad scored the lone goal for the Panthers.
Of course, Shaw went out and had a three-point game against the Leafs topped only by Patrick Kane’s four points.
You just knew the Blackhawks were going to bury the Leafs as they came into last night’s contest on a three-game losing streak. No messing around.
Even Teuvo Teravainen got in on the action with a power-play goal. Teravainen saw 17:02 of action but nearly four minutes of that was spent killing penalties as he filled in for Hossa. I find it funny that Teravainen isn’t getting run with Toews even while Hossa is out and his name doesn’t get mentioned despite the fact that most outlets discussing trade rumours indicate that the Blackhawks could use a top line LW to skate with Toews and Hossa.
For the record, I am good with Shaw on that line. Toews and Hossa are predominantly used as a shutdown line anyway so if they do get someone at the deadline, don’t expect him to produce much offense. Kane, Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin are the offensive engine.
Nazem Kadri was scoreless in his return to the lineup after missing a few games due to soreness
PA Parenteau managed to score a couple of points once the Blackhawks had built up a seven-goal lead.
Jake Gardiner, meanwhile, was held off the board for the first time since the Phaneuf deal.
Back-to-back starts for Carter Hutton after shutting out the Panthers over the weekend. He wasn’t as fortunate yesterday, succumbing to the Stars in overtime. Hutton did perform fairly well stopping 29 of 32. Not officially a quality start but he kept his save percentage above .900.
Given Pekka Rinne’s struggles I’m sure some are wondering if Hutton could lead the Predators down the stretch. It could happen but I am not hitching my ride to that notion. It’s not that Rinne is unimpeachable. Even with his fat contract he could be pushed aside if the other guy is winning. The Predators are desperate enough to win to make that happen. Hutton just does not seem to be the guy who would do it. He is a legit backup.
The Predators have some intriguing options on the farm. Marek Mazanec is their most ready option having come up to fill in for Rinne in the past. He has performed okay but doesn’t appear to have the ceiling to come in and pull a “Hammond”.
The guy I like in the Predators’ system is Juuse Saros but he is probably a couple of years from really making an impact. This is his first year in North America and while he did make his NHL debut earlier this year it didn’t go great. He is also a smaller goaltender at only 5’11” so he may cap out at Jhonas Enroth-like upside.
Like it or not, Rinne is the guy.
Don’t tell me the Patrick Eaves scoring streak is already over. It barely even got started. Eaves was still skating on the top line and top PP unit but his four-game scoring streak has come to an end.
The Coyotes smoked the Canadiens to hang in the Western playoff race a little longer. They sit four points back of the final Wild Card spot with three games in hand on the Avalanche. I don’t think they have all that legitimate of a chance of getting in but every win over the next couple of weeks could convince their management team otherwise, which decreases the likelihood of Mikkel Boedker getting dealt.
Boedker’s fantasy value has dried up of late though he did notch an assist last night. He has just one goal and seven points in 19 games since we flipped to 2016. Part of that is because his power-play time has been slipping. Boedker saw just 35 seconds of PP time last night. This after being one of the top PP skaters during the first half of the season.
Like with Hudler, Boedker’s landing spot needs to be ideal for him to produce. You could actually envision Boedker fitting in quite well with how the Canadiens were playing early in the season but if last night is any indication, they have all but quit.
I do think Boedker will probably be dealt but I don’t think he lands anywhere that really helps him get out of this funk.
Brendan Gallagher scored one of the two goals for the Canadiens. He has been modestly productive with 12 points in 18 games since returning from injury but not where he was before. My question is why Gallagher isn’t skating over 20 minutes a night as one of the few Canadiens still producing anything. It’s desperation time. Load up your top line, double-shift the crap out of them and see what happens.
To that end, where are the 30-minute games for PK Subban? He saw just over 23 minutes last night, which isn’t enough. Maybe they did some triage figuring this one was over before the third period so they decided to dial back his usage and save him for another game.
I did a poll over the weekend:
Will Carey Price return to play this season?— Stephen Laidlaw (@SteveLaidlaw) February 13, 2016
Seems most are out on Price. I get it. I hated the injury the moment that Price hurt it the second time and they said they still weren’t opting for surgery. But there is still nothing firm saying he won’t be back. With so many people out on Price you could get him for a song.
My other poll from the weekend:
Jaden Schwartz, over/under 26.5 points this season?— Stephen Laidlaw (@SteveLaidlaw) February 13, 2016
This one I disagree with. Schwartz is a beauty but he needs 21 points the rest of the way to clear this over and the Blues have just 24 games remaining – only the Avalanche and Blackhawks have fewer. With Schwartz not seeing PP time right now this looks like too great a challenge, even while skating alongside Vladimir Tarasenko.
The Blue Jackets have activated Curtis McElhinney off IR and sent Anton Forsberg to the minors. This shouldn’t affect much as Joonas Korpisalo has run with the starting gig of late and has performed admirably.
Evander Kane will not suit up against the Senators tonight as he slept through practice yesterday. This is a real shame as Kane has been awfully hot lately. Fantasy owners will always be tantalized by his prodigious skills but will he ever put it all together?
But most of all when we have this discussion, the argument boils down to the idea that defensemen shouldn't score as much as Karlsson do if they are to be taken seriously as defensemen. “Defense is right there in the name” and all that crap. But given that proactivity is often preferable to passivity in this sport — or, if you prefer, the best defense is a good offense — it must follow that it doesn't matter how you outscore your opponent, but whether you do, and by how much.
If Karlsson or Doughty were so good in their own zone that neither was scored-upon all season, then the guy who did the most to generate offense at the other end as well as be part of the defensive lockdown is clearly the better player, right? Well in all situations, Karlsson has a goal differential per 60 minutes that's about 50 percent better than Doughty's. Which is all that really ought to matter.
I’ve been saying it all season. Karlsson should have his name engraved on the Norris Trophy for the next 10 years.
Coyotes GM Don Maloney admitted to tanking at the end of last season. This isn’t surprising but it is refreshing to hear that honesty all the same.
In case you missed out, check out the top 20 thoughts from the ramblings last week.
Ian Gooding lets us know which goalies to start and sit this week.
If you are starting to look to next season, check out the new DobberProspects feature: the consensus top 30 fantasy hockey draft rankings for the 2016 entry draft.
I’ll be making another appearance on the In This League Fantasy Hockey Podcast later this week so watch out for that. They do great work so check in even when I am not making an appearance. I wouldn’t go on the show if I didn’t enjoy it. Subscribe to them on your favourite podcast provider so you don’t miss an episode.
Thanks for reading. You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.
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