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Did someone forget to remind the Calgary Flames to suck this season? They stormed out of the gates to take a 3-0 lead on the Capitals chasing starter Braden Holtby just 16:22 into the game.
Holtby allowed three goals on 11 shots giving way to Michal Neuvirth who played splendidly the rest of the way stopping 27 of 28 shots as the Capitals came back for the shootout victory. Is this the start of another Caps goaltending controversy? It’s not like Holtby as a long track record. Hopefully you have the Neuvirth handcuff if you are a Holtby owner and if not now may be a good time to search the waiver wire. I still believe in Holtby this season but you can’t be too careful.
Back to Calgary – rookie center Sean Monahan registered his first career NHL point in just 11:40 of ice time. I think that he will literally have to score a point every game to stick with the big club this season.
David Jones scored a goal and saw over five minutes of power play time. Jones isn’t a first-liner but if he continues to get first unit power play time he can be productive, at least until his next injury. Could be a smart pick up for the short-term however.
Mikael Backlund also saw nearly five minutes of power play time and notched an assist. This is a very positive development. I don’t think Backlund has too much upside but he could sneak out a 60-point season if the minutes remain high.
Lee Stempniak is a first-liner on this team but only skated second unit power play minutes. He scored a goal and fired eight shots on goal Thursday night. Very solid depth guy for leagues that count SOG.
Not all was positive for Calgary as Sven Baertschi, a DobberHockey favourite, saw just 11:24 and went scoreless. Flames President Brian Burke blasted Baertschi in the media earlier this week for his effort and commitment, which is certainly not a positive sign for the youngster.
On the Capitals side, rookie Tom Wilson tried to justify his existence fighting Flames tough guy Lance Bouma. Wilson skated just 5:52 for the game and is almost certainly on his way back to junior.
Another Caps rookie had a much better night as defenseman Connor Carrick scored his first NHL goal with a nifty move on a breakaway. Carrick skated only 17:26 with no power play time but he looks like a keeper for sure, though he doesn’t have much fantasy upside.
I swore I wouldn’t mention the stars much but Alex Ovechkin had a monster evening with two goals and an assist along with 11 SOG and five hits helping to lead the Capitals’ comeback.
Caps left-winger Marcus Johansson notched three assists on Thursday. He is clearly the third banana on the Caps top line but so long as he’s on the top line there will be points to be had for him. He could be this year’s Jiri Tlusty.
On a down note, Martin Erat continues to be buried skating just 6:30 on the Caps fourth line. He is waiver wire fodder until this trend changes.
Brendan Ross here: Check out my Friday "Twitter" Prospect Ramblings over at Dobber Prospects, I am sure you will enjoy it.
Definitely a confidence boosting performance by Marc-Andre Fleury on Thursday night. His shutout was exactly what the doctor ordered. I maintained throughout the summer that Fleury was still a top netminder in fantasy pools because his struggles have mostly been confined to the playoffs. Of course, Fleury won’t face the punchless Devils every night so we shall see where he goes from here.
I shouldn’t be so critical of the Devils either. With all their off-season additions they were bound to have some hiccups coming out of the gate and the Penguins certainly aren’t a great opponent to draw right off the bat.
You definitely get the sense that Devils head coach Peter DeBoer is still feeling out his lines as no Devils forward skated more than Travis Zajac’s 16:44 or fewer than Ryan Carter’s 10:55. Here are the Devils’ most frequent line combinations courtesy of FrozenPool:
I feel like it’s worth mentioning that Damien Brunner managed eight shots on goal on Thursday, which is a very positive sign in a game where the team was shutout.
And hey, how about Chuck Kobasew scoring the opening goal for the Penguins? Kobasew was mostly a third-liner but did see some minutes with Evgeni Malkin on the second line.
James Neal left the game with an upper-body injury, will update when news comes available.
Also, it wasn’t the greatest debut for Cory Schneider and a Devils win tomorrow night with Martin Brodeur between the pipes would certainly be a blow to Schneider’s chances of stealing the starting job outright but I think that over the long haul we will see more Schneider than Brodeur.
Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund both saw over four minutes of power play time for the Wild on Thursday night. Try not to get too excited by this however, as they were both still just on the second power play unit.
For whatever reason the Wild remain intent on forcing the worn-out square peg that is Dany Heatley into that beautiful round hole that is top unit power play time. The Wild went 1/5 on the power play with Jonas Brodin scoring for the second unit with assists from Granlund and Nino Niederreiter.
Here are Minnesota’s lines courtesy of FrozenPool:
It could certainly be worse for Coyle as he is centering the second line with Heatley and Niederreiter but how about pool Granlund being reduced to the third line with Brodziak and Cooke? Dobber has a favourite line about Ferraris and plowing fields. I will spare you that analogy and instead offer you a different one – putting Granlund on the third line is a lot like putting expensive rims on your ’98 Toyota Tercel.
How about Drew Doughty notching a power play goal last night? Doughty scored nine power play markers and 31 total PPP in his breakout sophomore season but has seen that production cut in half in each of the past three seasons. The key to a return to prominence for Doughty is that power play production and this is a great start. Without at least 20 PPP Doughty won’t get you more than 40 points this season.
Strangely enough it was Jake Muzzin leading all Kings in power play time last night though. Muzzin skated 3:10 as the lone defenseman on the Kings’ top power play unit. The Kings were mixing up the personnel on their power play units quite a bit despite receiving just three chances so it will bear watching who comes out ahead over the long haul.
Matt Frattin notched an assist and spent a lot of time with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter both at even strength and on the power play. If this continues Frattin has to be considered a real threat to break out this season.
The Boston Bruins scored two shorthanded goals on their way to a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning messed around with five-forward power play units, which no doubt led to the shorthanded opportunities for the Bruins. This just underscores how terrible the Lightning defensemen are as they can’t even find one guy reliable enough to play on the power play. I am afraid it will be another long season in Tampa Bay (well technically a short season when they miss the playoffs).
Matt Carle led all Lightning defensemen in minutes and he’s the only guy they even tried out there on the power play for much time.
Rookie Andrej Sustr was second in ice time among Lightning defensemen with 20:03 though he didn’t see any power play time. He’s the much ballyhooed 6’8” Czech defenseman that everyone wants to call the next Chara. I’ll admit, Sustr has some real solid upside and does appear ready to be a pro right now but I don’t see much upside for him this season.
Victor Hedman saw just 18:57 last night with no power play time. I know we are supposed to be patient with defensemen but he’s pretty much ventured into Erik Johnson territory at this point, no?
Ryan Malone skated over 20 minutes for the Lightning with over four minutes with the man advantage. I know the Lightning considered buying him out and he’s had some really troubles with injuries but so long as the minutes are there Malone is a real sleeper this season. Why couldn’t he be the next power forward to shoot a super high percentage on the way to a 30-goal/60-point season?
Very solid performance by Jaroslav Halak against the Predators last night. Halak doesn’t normally see so much rubber playing behind the Blues but he stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced. This is a good way to start the season as he tries to fend off Brian Elliott once again.
On the other side, Pekka Rinne got chased allowing three goals on his first six shots. Carter Hutton came on in relief and played remarkably well considering how miserable he was during the pre-season.
I’m telling you right now that Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo are going to be a pairing for Canada at the Olympics. The two were the only Blues who skated more than 20 minutes for the Blues last night and they are going to do that all season. If the Blues are contenders (and there’s no reason to suspect they won’t be) this pairing is going to be together on team Canada. They are big, mobile, smart and talented. Pietrangelo notched two assists while Bouwmeester chipped in with one – you are going to want to have these guys on your fantasy squad this year as well.
The forward minutes broke down exactly as you’d expect they would for the Blues with no one seeing more than the 17:27 skated by David Backes. Here are the Blues’ lines courtesy of FrozenPool:
I will mention that despite the favourable linemates Chris Stewart managed to go a team worst minus-two in a scoreless 13:22 of ice time, because of course he did.
Predators rookie Seth Jones was scoreless last night but did manage to go plus-two in 18:52 of ice time. He also received a ton of second unit power play time. As expected, the Jones-Shea Weber pairing was NOT a thing. Instead, Roman Josi and Weber were paired just as they were last season with each skating over 26 minutes last night.
Magnus Paajarvi was a healthy scratch for the Blues, while Filip Forsberg and Ryan Ellis were scratches for the Predators.
YES! It’s finally time to talk about all of the Florida Panthers reclamation projects. Where do we start?
Scott Gomez scored a goal and was comically the centerman on the Panthers’ top power play unit. He skated only 13:09 last night but 4:06 of that came on the power play. Your guess is as good as mine but no, do not pick him up.
Defenseman Tom Gilbert joined Gomez on that top power play unit but was actually a useful player otherwise, notching an assist in 24:41 of ice time while paired with Brian Campbell. There are going to be 29 other teams wishing they’d given Gilbert a shot. I still can’t believe Edmonton traded him… but Gilbert could be a nice depth option in your pool.
Ryan Whitney went scoreless in 18:27 with second unit power play time. I wonder if those power play minutes were charity or if he just got them because Dmitri Kulikov got ejected early in the game. Whatever the explanation, Whitney can’t skate any more, which completely limits his upside. Do not pick him up.
Brad Boyes was also scoreless in 14:38 with second unit power play time. He has proven in the past that he can be productive when placed with the right individuals. At present those individuals appear to be Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, who we should consider the right individuals. I would consider Boyes a solid depth option if this continues.
Both Barkov and Huberdeau saw just second unit power play time but both skated over 15 minutes, which is all a forward really needs if he isn’t killing penalties, which neither one is. Barkov scored his first NHL goal last night and Huberdeau recorded an assist on the play. Get used to that combination over the next decade.
As comical as it was to see Gomez skating so many minutes it came at the expense of Drew Shore who has been relegated to wing duty on the fourth line with Gomez and no power play time. I mean, throw the kid a bone; he was only one of their best forwards last season.
Adding insult to injury, Marcel Goc is currently centering the Panthers’ top line, he scored two goals last night but no, don’t pick him up.
Oh yeah, and Tim Thomas had himself an excellent game in his return.
Brendan Dillon had a really productive night for Dallas with a goal and an assist in over 20 minutes of ice time. Don’t count on Dillon scoring too many points this season as he is not a power play guy and won’t be any time soon. He is a rotisserie beast with all the hits and blocks he stacks up so just enjoy the points as a cherry on top.
The Sergei Gonchar-Alex Goligoski defense pairing is off to a miserable start as they each went scoreless with a minus-two rating last night. As expected Gonchar’s presence has pushed Goligoski off the Stars’ top power play unit, which certainly limits the latter’s upside.
What wasn’t expected was that the Wizard, Ray Whitney was also pushed off the top power play unit. I don’t see that lasting as he remains the Stars’ most creative forward but it will hurt him in the short term even though he managed an assist last night.
Rookie Alex Chiasson made a decent impression scoring a goal in 16:52 of ice time including 2:52 as a member of the Stars’ top power play unit. He also went a minus-two on the night, which certainly won’t endear him to the coaching staff.
The other Stars on that top power play unit were Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Erik Cole. Benn and Seguin aren’t surprises but both Chiasson and Cole are. I have to suspect we will see Whitney replace one of Chiasson or Cole as the season wears on.
Rookie forward Valeri Nichushkin also saw a lot of playing time skating 19:50 with second unit power play time. Unfortunately, he went scoreless which isn’t all that surprising considering he was lined up with Shawn Horcoff and Vernon Fiddler for most of the game.
Not the start that either John Tortorella or Alain Vigneault were looking for in their coaching debuts this season as both saw their teams drop their opener 4-1 last night.
Tortorella’s impact on the Canucks was felt almost immediately however as his team blocked 22 shots, which is nearly double their 11.8 per game average from last season.
Don’t expect the Canucks to block that many shots every night as Tortorella’s Rangers only blocked 16 per game last season and good teams aren’t supposed to block that many shots anyhow but this could help the rotisserie value of Canucks players so keep that in mind.
Jason Garrison pumped in the lone goal for the Canucks, a power play marker. Garrison was featured on the Canucks’ top power play unit along with Alex Edler, the Sedins and Ryan Kesler. This could be a big year for Garrison if he can continue on the Canucks’ top unit.
Recent acquisition Zach Dalpe skated just 3:19 and we are starting to get to that point where he may just not be an NHL player. He deserves a better shake than just three minutes though.
Logan Couture notched two assists for the Sharks skating alongside Patrick Marleau and Tyler Kennedy on the Sharks’ second line, while also seeing big minutes on the Sharks’ top power play unit. Couture is a pretty good candidate to take the leap to stardom this season.
Here are the rest of the Sharks’ lines courtesy of FrozenPool:
A couple of things to note:
First, rookie Tomas Hertl has hit the jackpot. He recorded his first career NHL point last night while skating 16:14 with second unit power play time. He’s a great Calder Trophy darkhorse. Also, Brent Burns with Joe Thornton? Weird, but I like it.
You probably noted Joe Pavelski skating on the third line. Don’t read too much into that. He is still on the Sharks’ top power play unit and in fact skated the most minutes of any Sharks forward last night.
Radim Vrbata notched a hat-trick for the Coyotes last night. I was really high on Vrbata coming into this season as he has shown great skill in the past and I figured with the addition of Mike Ribeiro he’d have the perfect playmaking center to team-up with. Vrbata actually wasn’t paired with Ribeiro so despite the great start my optimism may be off here. Vrbata was on the second line with Martin Hanzal and Lauri Korpikoski and also on the second power play unit.
The top power play unit featured Ribeiro (who went scoreless) alongside Mikkel Boedker and Shane Doan who are also with him on the top line. I think this gives Boedker some intriguing breakout upside.
Coyotes rookies Lucas Lessio and Chris Brown saw very little ice time. Lessio skated just 9:08 while Brown skated only 5:27 but did flash his rotisserie upside getting ejected in a third period scrap. Brown shouldn’t be used as just a fighter though as he has more upside than that. Send him back to the AHL unless you are going to give him real minutes.
Rangers rookie JT Miller saw just 11:28 of ice time but 3:21 came on the power play. He needs to take advantage of those opportunities if he doesn’t want to get buried in the lineup.
It was great to see Marc Staal back in the lineup for the Rangers. He scored a goal and led all Rangers in ice time with 25:40.
Strangely enough Ryan McDonagh skated just 15:08 last night, with next to no power play time. I can’t see that continuing as he is the Rangers’ best defenseman but if he keeps not getting power play minutes his sleeper potential disappears.
Barkov becomes the youngest player to ever score in the NHL:
Chris Kelly with a nice move on the penalty shot for a shortie:
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