Dominant performance for the Vancouver Canucks last night but they played the Buffalo Sabres so anything less would have been disappointing.
Roberto Luongo recorded a much needed shutout, as he has struggled to start the year. Luongo does this every year though, so I’d expect the improvements to keep on coming. Seriously, look at his split stats. Outside of April, October is Luongo’s worst month. If you are into that sort of thing then you’ll want Luongo for December-February, which is when he seems to peak.
Wherever the Canucks put Mike Santorelli he seems to keep finding a way to produce. He had two assists last night centering the second line with Jannik Hansen and Chris Higgins. He was also with the same two on the second power play unit. I don’t think Santorelli will get you more than 55 points (and probably finishes closer to 45) because the opportunity just isn’t quite good enough but if he keeps getting second unit minutes he will have his most productive season to date. And at 27 it makes sense that he’d finally start to hit his stride.
Note Ryan Kesler skated on the top line with the Sedins. He was scoreless but did fire six shots on goal.
Poor Ryan Miller had another solid outing stopping 31 of 34 shots but the Sabres just don’t have the skaters to give him any help.
Jamie McBain and Zemgus Girgensons were scratches for the Sabres. Girgensons is obviously a prospect so that makes sense but for McBain if he can’t make the Hurricanes’ or Sabres’ lineups then he just may not be an NHL player.
Mikhail Grigorenko saw only 6:43 on the fourth line as he heads towards a repeat of last season’s misery. I’d love to be proven wrong but I don’t have much hope for Grigorenko and that’s after acknowledging how early it is in his career.
The Islanders have been experimenting with Kyle Okposo and Michael Grabner on the top line with John Taveres, while Matt Moulson has been relegated to third line duties with Cal Clutterbuck and Peter Regin.
The new top line was productive last night with the trio combining for two goals and five points. I can’t see it sticking though so I wouldn’t be too down on Moulson. Moulson also managed an assist as he remains on the top power play unit.
For the Oilers it was a game of silver linings…
Starter Devan Dubnyk had his first solid start of the season stopping 37 of the 40 shots he faced. Obviously the Oilers aren’t going to win many games giving up that many shots but at least Dubnyk was solid.
Mark Arcobello got assists on both goals giving him eight in eight games this season. I’m with Dobber, Arcobello probably doesn’t stick with the team long term because Sam Gagner looms as the incumbent second line center. But I love his faceoff ability. We know faceoffs aren’t everything but having watched Gagner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins struggle horribly at faceoffs these past few seasons I cannot help but be impressed with a guy who proves himself reliable.
Can Arcobello fit as a third line guy when Gagner returns?
Could he make Gagner expendable (acknowledging that Gagner has a no-movement clause)?
This is a good problem for the Oilers. Probably the only good one they have.
Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer went down with what appears to be a head injury after his own teammate Josh Leivo crashed into him. Not good. Jonathan Bernier looks set to have a stranglehold on the Leafs’ starting position now. That’s just tough luck for Reimer who was making his second straight start following a really good outing against the Wild the other night. So much for the goaltending controversy that was brewing.
Bernier stopped 34 of 37 shots the rest of the way, which is the sort of brilliance the Leafs have grown accustomed to from him. Their luck finally caught up with them as the Hurricanes were able to mount a third period comeback from down two goals to win 3-2.
The third Hurricanes goal was truly a fluke coming on a cleared puck by Ron Hainsey but the other two goals were legitimate and when you allow a team to outshoot you 38-26 you are bound to get unlucky.
For Hurricanes starter Cam Ward, the win last night was his first of the season and has to be a huge confidence booster.
Eric Staal scored a goal on six shots. He has had a tough start to the season but with points in his last three games, Staal appears to be turning things on.
Justin Faulk got an assist on Staal’s goal and continues to chew up huge minutes for the Hurricanes. He is currently tied with Duncan Keith for 10th in the NHL in time on ice per game, skating 25:01 per night. I cannot see those minutes slowing down for Faulk and I cannot see him scoring less than 40 this season. He already has five points through eight games this year.
Ryan Murphy scored his first NHL goal last night, a power play marker. He isn’t skating a ton of minutes but with 3:14 in power play time per game he is third on the Hurricanes this season and is actually seeing more power play time than Faulk thus far.
Jeff Skinner’s hot start continued with an assist. He has eight points through eight games despite some pretty miserable linemates.
Joffrey Lupul scored a goal for the Leafs to continue his own hot start. He now has six goals and nine points in eight games. He’s shooting 20.7% so you know the goals won’t come with quite the same pace as the season goes on.
To the surprise of no one, the Penguins beat up on the Flyers last night 4-1. The only surprise was the Penguins not scoring on any of their four power play chances. All of the usual suspects got in on the scoring for the Penguins and Marc-Andre Fleury had himself another solid outing, bring his record to 6-0-0 for the season. Hopefully you bought low this summer, I know I did!
Tanner Glass landed 10 hits for the game, which is a pretty insane amount. He doesn’t do anything else but in deep leagues that count hits Glass has some marginal value.
If there is any positive to be gleaned from this game for the Flyers it’s that they scored on one of their four power play chances. Their power play is struggling at 9.2% this season but you have to imagine with the weapons they have that things will turn around. But maybe they don’t. The Blackhawks had the league’s 19th ranked power play last season in spite of all their weapons. Sometimes talented teams just cannot get it together a man up.
Claude Giroux notched his first power play point of the season, an assist. Giroux still has no goals this season and I would guess he is still struggling from breaking his hand during the summer. It could be an on-going issue this year.
Wayne Simmonds notched the Flyers’ power play marker but was also a dreadful minus-four on the night. One step forward, two steps back.
The Montreal Canadiens got off to a hot 3-0 start against the Columbus Blue Jackets but then saw their lead slowly wither away as Jackets rookie Boone Jenner scored his first two career NHL goals, both power play markers. Jenner skated over 20 minutes including 3:21 on the power play, both totals easily the most Jenner has seen all season so it’s good to see him taking advantage of his opportunities.
Before you get too excited, Jenner only got this opportunity because Marian Gaborik was out sick. Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson really struggled without Gaborik each going scoreless and minus-three for the game.
Nick Foligno also missed the game for personal reasons.
The Canadiens were bailed out by Tomas Plekanec who scored two goals late in the game to put it away, including a short-handed empty-netter. Plekanec also fired seven shots on the game.
PK Subban continued his hot start to the season with two assists. After going scoreless in the opener, Subban now has 10 points in his last six games. Can he challenge for 80 points?
Andrei Markov also contributed two points but I think you are playing with fire having him on your team. I’d look to sell high. His knees have been through the ringer.
I think the Ottawa Senators got away with one last night. The 5-2 final score masks what was otherwise a close game. The Senators were outshot 42-22, although perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised as they are allowing an average of 42 shots per game this season.
Craig Anderson was brilliant but for New Jersey this is a continuation of their struggles scoring this season. The Devils actually struggled to score last season as well despite some great possession metrics.
The game was actually fairly even at five-on-five but the Senators were incredibly undisciplined, granting the Devils seven power plays. The Devils finally got on the board at the tail end of a five-on-three power play early in the third and made it a game again on a Steven Bernier goal.
Ultimately, the Senators put the game away with a couple of late goals, including Jason Spezza’s empty-netter. Spezza and Erik Karlsson each notched three points for the Senators while Bobby Ryan managed two. These are the guys Ottawa needs scoring. Ryan now appears to be settling in on the second line, which could hurt the breakout we were all hoping to see this season.
Jaromir Jagr looked solid for the Devils and he got plenty of chances firing eight shots on goal but as mentioned before, the Devils can’t score so naturally he went scoreless.
Michael Ryder had a rough go of it for the Devils as well, going minus-four on the night but the real dud was Martin Brodeur who stopped just four of 22 shots. He couldn’t do much on some of the Devils’ chances but he isn’t doing anything to show me he deserves to be the Devils’ starter.
How about the Tampa Bay Lightning? I haven’t heard much about them but they have quietly climbed to 5-2-0 to start the season while getting some solid goaltending from Ben Bishop, who is 5-0-0. I want to see him keep this up for an extended stretch but with the talent the Lightning have up front you have to optimistic about his chances of being a productive fantasy netminder this season.
Steven Stamkos scored because that’s what Stamkos does. Matt Carle got an assist on Stamkos’ goal and now has five through seven games this season. He is undoubtedly the defenseman to own on the Lightning blueline, although it is Sami Salo who leads the team in defenseman scoring and power play ice time this season. Salo is made of glass and cannot be trusted to play 70 games in a season, which he hasn’t done since 2003-04.
But if you are interested in hot streaks, Salo scored last night and has points in each of his last four games.
Lightning rookie Richard Panik notched an assist. He isn’t seeing much ice time this season but he is consistently getting second unit power play time so he could be productive in deep leagues.
Tim Thomas got back in goal for the Panthers against his former team the Boston Bruins. He was solid stopping 37 of 40 shots and you can expect him to be the starter going forward.
The Panthers did a good job keeping the game close tying up the game late in the third only to give up the game-winner with 59 seconds remaining. Reilly Smith scored the goal for Boston, the first of his NHL career. Smith isn’t getting a ton of minutes but he’s been productive with four points in six games to start the season. I wouldn’t be optimistic about his chances of scoring too many points this season but he could be a keeper.
Dougie Hamilton drew back into the lineup and scored a power play marker on one of his five shots on goal. That’s how you respond to a benching. I still don’t think Hamilton does much this season as he’s still too raw to contribute on a nightly basis but he is obviously a keeper.
Nick Bjugstad notched an assist in his second game of the season but is still seeing less than 10 minutes a game so don’t count on this becoming a trend.
Kris Versteeg scored last night. He is off to a slower start with four points in eight games but I think he picks up the pace to finish with at least 50 points this season. He is still skating with Scott Gomez and Jonathan Huberdeau. Gomez is a huge minus on that unit but Huberdeau is a huge plus. The kid can play.
Huberdeau notched an assist on Versteeg’s goal and skated over 20 minutes for the first time this season. I like to see that progress.
Rookie forward Aleksander Barkov is now scoreless in three games. Baby steps with him. He isn’t going to blow us out of the water this season but he’s still on the Panthers’ top line with Tomas Fleischmann and Brad Boyes and should continue to see solid minutes. The Panthers aren’t punting this season by any means but they clearly want to let their kids play.
It was another tight game between the Blues and Blackhawks as they went to the shootout. St. Louis won the coin flip and now have two wins against their division rivals. It was a really solid bounce back for the Blues after getting schooled by the Sharks a couple nights back.
Alex Steen continues to roll scoring his fifth goal of the season. He is shooting 31.3% so far. Do what you will with that information.
Did we see half of Team Canada’s blue line last night?
After a four game pointless skid, Marian Hossa now has points in each of his last two games.
Brandon Pirri scored his first NHL goal last night but don’t get overly excited. He skated less than 10 minutes last night and the Blackhawks seem to have little interest in giving him a shot on a scoring line. It’s way more important that they keep forcing Bryan Bickell and Bryan Bickell’s massive contract out there. Bickell has one point this season and is hardly fantasy relevant. He is Fernando Pisani reincarnate.
Did you bet the under in the Kings-Predators game last night? You should have. The two teams are tied for 25th in scoring this season with two goals per game. They combined for that total last night, which was great news for desperate Jonathan Quick and Pekka Rinne owners.
Slava Voynov scored the lone goal for the Kings and now has goals in back-to-back games.
Jake Muzzin was scratched for second straight game.
Seth Jones continues to play huge minutes in Roman Josi’s absence. I still don’t know if Jones keeps this up when Josi returns but he has definitely come ready to play at the NHL level, which is more than we can say for the last few defensemen given first overall hype.
For instance, Adam Larsson is still struggling to get in the Devils lineup and it’s his third NHL season. He skated just 14:19 last night, by the way.
Well, well, the San Jose Sharks do have a weakness – non-representative skills competitions! The Sharks lost the coin flip to the Dallas Stars last night.
Credit the Stars for being the first team to hang with the Sharks this season, forcing the tie, especially after the Sharks got off to such a quick start.
Tyler Kennedy scored just nine seconds into the game, which is the hockey version of a sucker-punch. Oh, you’re saying hockey already has those? My mistake.
Patrick Marleau’s point streak continued, however as he now has points in all seven games this season. I remember when I first found DobberHockey and there was a lot of hype about Marleau being a strong second-half producer. Well now it seems he is strong starter as he has done this hot-streak-to-start-the-season thing two years running. I think Marleau is just a good but not great player and as such his scoring is going to come in clumps. When that occurs in the calendar year is anybody’s guess.
That would be the flip-side argument for split stats.
I want to argue that Jason Demers and Matt Irwin stepped into some extra power play time with Dan Boyle out but they each skated just over three minutes with the man-advantage, which is right around where they have been this season. Irwin had himself a fantastic rotisserie game with seven PIM, five SOG, three Hits and three Blocks – no points though.
The Stars second line of Ray Whitney, Cody Eakin and Alex Chiasson was very productive last night combining for five points. None of those points came on the power play as the Stars (and Sharks) were shut down with the man-advantage last night but it was nice to see Ray Whitney finally on the Stars top power play unit.
He has now replaced Rich Peverley on the Stars’ top power play unit in each of the past two games and has points in both of those games, one of which was a power play assist. I would say it is time to buy low on Whitney, even if those two assists may have encouraged his owner.
Stars rookie Valeri Nichushkin saw his lowest ice time of the season last night with just 9:56. Well technically that’s incorrect, the fewest minutes he saw was zero when he was a healthy scratch in the Stars’ previous game. I don’t like the idea of benching a kid and then giving him zilch for ice time the following game. How is he going to respond?
Nichushkin is scoreless on the year and has just two shots but he’s also only played in five games. He probably deserves a longer look but it’s starting to look like it’s time for him to go to the AHL, lest they risk damaging his psyche.
Niklas Kronwall left last night’s Red Wings-Avalanche game early after getting boarded by Cody McLeod. I won’t link to it but it was a really bad hit. I suspect there will be a suspension. Kronwall was carted off on a stretcher and it does not look good.
Jacob Kindl filled in for Kronwall on the power play and notched an assist. He is worth a look if Kronwall is out for any length of time.
The five-minute major McLeod was assessed helped dig a hole for the Avalanche early as Johan Franzen scored on that power play. Franzen scored two goals in the game, his first two of the season. Hopefully this gets him going.
Pavel Datsyuk also scored two goals for Detroit on eight shots. Datsyuk is off to a blazing start with 10 points through eight games and has fired 30 shots on goal already this season. He is on pace for over 300 shots this season, which would be a career high. Obviously he won’t sustain that pace but he hasn’t even fired over 200 shots in a season since 2009-10, the last year he scored at least 70 points. It’s early but it’s looking like a renaissance year for Datsyuk.
Speaking of renaissance, Daniel Alfredsson notched three assists to give him eight on the season. WOW!
Despite the early hole the Avalanche actually played a good game outshooting the Red Wings 40-28 but Semyon Varlamov was simply outdueled by Jonas Gustavsson who has now played and won three straight with Jimmy Howard missing time with a bruised hand. I was really put off by Gustavsson last year when I had hyped him in the pre-season as a real sleeper if Howard got hurt. Howard didn’t get hurt, instead Gustavsson did. Now this season Howard has gotten hurt, Gustavsson has played admirably and I’ve been completely blindsided. That’ll teach me to overreact to one (shortened) season.
This, by the way, was Varlamov’s first stinker of the season and all things considered it wasn’t that bad.
Erik Johnson scored a power play marker for the Avs but he still isn’t their top defenseman for power play time. That distinction remains Andre Benoit’s, whom I picked up in the Dobber Expert’s League this week. No points for Benoit last night but I like his chances if he keeps seeing so many minutes.
Meanwhile, Tyson Barrie was a healthy scratch for the third straight game. He was a favourite of mine coming into this season so I am anxiously awaiting his return to the lineup. Now that the Avalanche finally lost maybe Patrick Roy will risk upsetting his lineup getting Barrie back in there.
Here’s an odd one: Jan Hejda fired seven shots on goal last night. Guarantee he doesn’t do that again.
If you are keeping score at home, there are now no undefeated teams in the NHL. What a buzzkill of a Thursday night. I blame Gary Bettman.
Apparently Ryan Callahan broke his thumb on Wednesday night against the Capitals. He’ll miss three to four weeks. This is starting to look like a real hard-luck season for the Rangers. First Rick Nash goes down, now Callahan. Oh and Carl Hagelin is still out as well.
The Rangers recalled Darroll Powe but I was kind of hoping to see one of Chris Kreider or Danny Kristo get the call.
Better to be lucky or good?
You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.