Saturday night featured a busy slate of games with 26 of 30 teams in action. There's a lot to break down so we'll get right to it...

 

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In the earlier afternoon game, the Pittsburgh Penguins managed to defeat the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout despite getting handily out-played. That the Penguins victory came despite Marc-Andre Fleury doing Fleury-type things like letting goals in from center ice in addition to the club getting pulverized at evens is a credit to the talent of one Sidney Crosby (who had 3 assists).

 

With the win Fleury improved to 7-0-0 on the season, he's stopping .930% of shots and .935% of even-strength shots (which isn't actually too far outside what he managed over 20 starts in the regular season last year).

 

Fact is: Fleury was over praised a couple of years ago as an elite goalie when he was merely modestly above average. Then he was torn down after a couple of iffy playoff performances in consecutive seasons (despite remaining modestly above average). While perception has yo-yo'd, Fleury has remained modestly above average the entire time!

Nice to see an embattled guy like Fuery bounce back a bit, though I doubt he'll sustain an elite save percentage over a full season as Pittsburgh's starter.

 

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Sidney Crosby is off to a completely absurd start to the season with 17 points in 8 games. Making Crosby's performance more impressive: he's essentially Pittsburgh's best defensive center. 

 

While scoring at a rate of two points per game in the early going this season, Crosby is also starting significantly fewer shifts in the offensive end than teammate Evgeni Malkin. Morever, Crosby is facing way tougher matchups. 

 

Consider Sunday's game against the Canucks where Crosby spent twelve and a half minutes chasing around Henrik Sedin, while Malkin was hard-matched against Mike Santorelli. 

 

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Malkin fared pretty badly against a line featuring (mostly) Mike Santorelli, Jannik Hansen and Chris Higgins (with occasional shifts from Daniel Sedin). True story.

 

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Mike Santorelli probably won't play with the Sedin twins too often going forward, but he looks to have cemented a spot for himself in Vancouver's top-nine. If Jordan Schroeder - who was re-injured on Saturday - is back out of the lineup, then it's all but certain that Santorelli will continue to log major minutes.

 

Beyond Vancouver's need at Santorelli's position, the reclamation project has played extraordinarily well in the Canucks' first 9 games. On Saturday Santorelli's line completely manhandled Malkin's in their head-to-head matchup. We're getting pretty close to the point where we reasonably start valuing him as a 40 point player this season...

 

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Jason Garrison is getting all of the attention, but how about the fantasy season Kevin Bieksa is putting together so far. Vancouver's stanchion-loving defenseman out-produced Garrison easily this week, and the club has outscored opponents 8-2 in score close situations with Bieksa on the ice. Not too shabby.

 

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The Oilers were due to regress, and Devan Dubnyk especially, and that process began on Saturday apparently. The Senators outplayed the Oilers consistently, but an offensive outburst from the Nail Yakupov, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle line powered Edmonton's club to their second win of the season.

 

That line will need to keep up their strong play, especially if Taylor Hall is out of the lineup for the medium term.

 

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The Chicago Blackhawks have a habit of stepping on opponent's throats, so perhaps Leafs fans can look at Saturday's dismantling of the Toronto Maple Leafs in that context. Or, y'know, it's that Toronto probably isn't a playoff team, a likelihood that is easier to see after you've watched them spend an entire game without the puck...

 

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The Maple Leafs continue to be fascinating because of their speed, and the quality of their against the grain attack. Between that, their goaltending and their special teams dominance, the Leafs have the ingredients in place to outperform their underlying numbers. Also, it'll certainly help when they get David Clarkson and Nikolai Kulemin back in the lineup.

 

But how anyone thinks this team has the horses down the middle or on the back-end is beyond me.

 

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Here's an interesting deployment note, and something that might be worth keeping an eye on for fans of Central Division teams: the Blackhawks hard-matched Jonathan Toews against the Phil Kessel line on Saturday, but used Seabrook and Keith primarily to battle the Bolland/Lupul group. 

 

In the past, the Keith-Seabrook-Toews axis has been used to stop the top offensive lines of Blackhawks opponents. But Phil Kessel - one of the most dangerous players in the NHL by any measure - faced the Hjalmarsson, Oduya, Toews axis, which is odd to say the least (though Hjalmarsson and Oduya acquired themselves very well). 

 

I'll be curious to see if Coach Q continues to use his top-pairing and top defensive center against different lines as rigidly against other clubs going forward...

 

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The Ottawa Senators have looked woeful, and the Minnesota Wild have looked offensively challenged. Ignore those mirages, both clubs will start winning (and in Minnesota's case scoring) in short-order.

 

The Senators were flat out better than the Oilers, but just couldn't beat Dubnyk. Honestly, production aside, it looks to me like both Cory Conacher and Kyle Turris have taken a significant step this season.

 

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The same goes for the Wild and Tim Thomas on Saturday. Minnesota also lost despite outplaying Tampa Bay this week, and were blown out in Toronto in a game which actually looked a bit similar to what Chicago did to the Maple Leafs on Saturday night (results aside, of course).

 

That Koivu line is shooting an absurdly low percentage, and Charlie Coyle will be returning from injury shortly. With the way the Wild are controling games and generating looks, the goals will come.

 

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There were some fine plays on Saturday night, but for my money Seth Jones' game winner was the finest:

 

 

Jones now has a couple of goals and four points in 9 games. He's not hitting enough to really have fantasy value in most leagues in my view, but he's playing major minutes and putting up some points so he's worth keeping an eye on.

 

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I'm just so impressed by this goal and Jones' overall level of play. Jones is a teenager, a rookie, and he's playing his off-side to begin the season (he's usually a right defenseman, but has been on Shea Weber's left-side). That a player as young as Jones has the balls to jump into the play like this late in the game, and the skill level to deke out an opposing goalie before beating him cleanly is impressive enough. To do it on your off-side while logging top-pairing minutes? Seth Jones is pretty good.

 

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The Avalanche continued to exceed expectations by handling the Jacksonville Jaguars of hockey (the Buffalo Sabres) a 4-2 defeat on Saturday. The Avs also continue to get .950+ goaltending at even-strength. I'm really not a believer in what they've got brewing in Denver, though I am impressed with Roy's coaching (and with Andre Benoit's emergence).

 

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Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen may make his regular season debut on Sunday, after practicing with the team on Saturday. As a Lehtonen fantasy owner, and just for the sake of a Stars team that has been pretty exciting to watch this season: thank goodness.


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Comments (12)add comment

Puck Nation said:

Puck Nation
... I love these ramblings and I love this site!!!! I also buy all the guides to support the site. People should stop complaining and enjoy the free content from the best fantasy hockey site on the net. If that sounds like kissing ass then so be it. Great job by all the writers on this site!!!
October 20, 2013
Votes: +5

hockey said:

hockey
Ramblings are free! Thanks Drance and the rest of the Dobber writers for giving your readers new content EVERY day. I always buy the guides to give my support but its probably also worth saying that I really appreciate ANY/ALL of the free content on this site. Nobody has the right to be "disappointed" with the gift of ramblings.

Erik Johnson has points in 3 straight...could the long dormant 1st overall be stirring? haha I hope so, I've always felt he was playing better hockey than he was being given credit for.

October 20, 2013
Votes: +3

Rollie1967 said:

Rollie1967
Toronto Is there a worst #1 center than Bozak? Toronto is arguably the worst team at center, throw in a mediocre defense and I think they will be lucky to sneak in to the playoffs. One thing that works in their favour, is the apparent weakness of the East (which will probably even out eventually), last week NJ was 3rd from the bottom, and had yet to win a game- gaining points only thru ties.

As for the daily ramblings chatter- thats what I love about this site- you cant get that on TSN, whose comment section is a trollfest at best. Do I want more ramblings? damn straight I do! I cant see every game,(actually very few so far) so getting some input other than what shows in the stats is a huge plus. I will take what I can get
Speaking of TSN.... am I alone in the 'WTF happened to their hockey content camp' ? If its not Toronto related, its often not even there. their video clips arent nearly as comprehensive, and their message boards arent updated at all in the evenings (on the west coast). A HUGE dropoff in content and quality imho.
October 20, 2013
Votes: +1

Daydream Nation said:

Daydream Nation
... Q has often matched Oduya/Hjalmarsson against the top line over the last year. And with the way Hammer has been playing, there is not a big dropoff between the lines. Keith has been great this year but Seabrook got off to a slow start but has played better lately.
October 20, 2013
Votes: +2

C.J said:

C.J
... Sadly Dobber, more often then not its the regulars who seem to be whining every other day about grammer, content etc. Somehow they feel their post count allowos them to play armchair quaterback, when they are actually ruining this section on a regular basis.

Its too bad this coments section has turned into a place for most regulars to play "teacher" every other day...gradding and correcting the ramblings.

The coments section should be a place for people to ADD and contribute their own ramblings to provide the readers with MORE information (like frozenpools did below). This helps make the site better in a positive way for everyone.

Anyway, love the site and love the ramblings. Like you said, if i want a complete breakdown of the night I go to rotoworld and spend 30 mins, but this site is great for a unique, brief view of the nights events that i can read in 5 mins or less.

*I left some grammar errors in to give some of the guys something to do to and feel complete.....
October 20, 2013
Votes: +9

shingy said:

shingy
Ramblings
I like these ramblings. I get a lot out of this type of writing as well. It's great and there's never enough. Maybe most won't agree but I find Drance reminds of Ryan Ma (who is sorely missed, if anyone knows if/where he's writing these days, please post). Although Ma was more stats driven. But If I were to offer an opinion on a solution it would be to switch days and cover rambling with less scheduled games. Some of the other guys can just write forever so it would only make sense to let them have Sunday morning. I really enjoyed the very first thing I seen on this site from TD, I'm sure others feel the same way. I suppose it's just never enough.

October 20, 2013
Votes: +1

Dobber said:

Dobber
Ramblings To be clear, ramblings are just that - ramblings. Our thoughts on the latest news. I don't feel a responsiblity to cover any game, let alone all games. Whatever I'm thinking when I look over my fantasy squads and do some research, I'll muse about here in the ramblings. If you want a full breakdown of games, TSN.ca/NHL has great coverage. And if you want a full breakdown of the latest news, there are sites such as Rotoworld out there.

What we try to bring you in the ramblings is a unique perspective with thoughts and observations that you won't find anywhere else. As soon as we try to cover "all" games and "all" news, the ramblings cease being unique (and fun to write) and the pressure to perform builds.

This is a message I've given before (maybe a couple of years ago), but definitely due for a refresher since new people have discovered us. Hopefully, with this understanding, the newcomers to this site can adjust expectations accordingly. Thanks!
October 20, 2013
Votes: +9

Percy21 said:

Percy21
... First paragraph points out that 13 games went down on Saturday but the ramblings only touch on about half of them. Pretty disappointing. Maybe my expectations are to high.
October 20, 2013
Votes: -5

frozenpools said:

frozenpools
Pirri Another interesting one for Dobber readers... Brandon Pirri, 1G, 1A, 9 min toi. Coach Q doesn't trust him but he's forcing the issue. (Note: didn't watch him play)
October 20, 2013
Votes: +1

Blackie_O said:

Blackie_O
Lehtonen Pretty sure that was him in goal versus Winnipeg on the 11th.
October 20, 2013
Votes: +2

rijobar said:

rijobar
Lehtonen Debut? Hasn't Lehtonen played 3 games this season already? Also - no comments about Washington game? Is Erat off 4th line to stay with his perormance last night? I also agree with mrmojorisin - Smith goal worthy of a video or at least a comment. Very weak ramblings after a night where 26 teams were in action. Disappointing read to say the least.
October 20, 2013
Votes: -1

mrmojorisin said:

mrmojorisin
Smith Likely worth mentioning (and adding a video) of the Mike Smith goal. Fun fact, he now has more goals this season than Claude Giroux!
October 20, 2013
Votes: +3
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