The Ottawa Senators crushed the Red Wings 6-1 last night and in the process sank me in my head-to-head matchup this week. Oh well, them’s the breaks. Goaltender Jimmy Howard got chased after giving up three goals on eight shots in the first while Jonas Gustavsson allowed three more but on several more shots the rest of the way.

 

Howard has golden boy status so he won’t be losing many starts to Gustavsson no matter how well Gustavsson plays. At least not at this point in the year.

 

Niklas Kronwall shocked me by making his return to the lineup after having his head crushed into the boards by Cody McLeod last week. He got right back into the swing of things with a power play assist.

 

Darren Helm, by the way, has suffered another setback in his return and won’t play Saturday at the very least.

 

Daniel Alfredsson was held without a point against his former team and is now scoreless in three straight. He still has good numbers on the year and while I am trying not to read too much into his hot start I have to acknowledge that there is some Teemu Selanne circa 2010-11 potential here. You put these smart, creative geriatrics in the right situation and if they can stay healthy magic can happen. Alfredsson has to hold up his end by staying healthy but I can’t think of a much better situation for him than skating on the Red Wings’ top power play unit.

 

*

 

Mika Zibanejad made his season debut after getting called up from the AHL. He notched his first point of the season, an assist, taking JG Pageau’s spot on the fourth line. Pageau was a healthy scratch. Zibanejad did see some second unit power play time late in the game but it’s hard to see him having much relevance skating on the fourth line. It will be interesting to watch the battle between Zibanejad and Pageau to get into the lineup but it’s hard to see either one mounting much of a fantasy season.

 

Patrick Wiercioch was also a healthy scratch for the Senators, which allowed Joe Corvo to get into his fourth game of the season. He recorded an assist giving him four in four games. If Corvo could keep himself in the lineup he would absolutely warrant fantasy consideration but as he cannot you should probably keep him on the waiver wire. He skated 14:04 last night, less than any other Senator defenseman and while a minute of that came on the power play not much of that minute was when the game was still in doubt. The point is that the coaching staff doesn’t exactly trust him, so neither should you.

 

The Clarke MacArthur-Kyle Turris-Bobby Ryan line continues to click for the Senators. They combined for five points last night, including needing just seven seconds of power play time to notch their lone power play marker. Last season was really Turris’ breakout campaign but since it came in a shortened season it was somewhat overlooked. Turris is going to score at least 50 points this season if he can escape injury and maybe he gets 60 if everything goes right.

 

*

 

Things didn’t get any prettier in the second match last night as the Bruins beat up on the NHL’s doormat and fantasy hockey medicine, the Buffalo Sabres, outshooting them 34-16 in a 5-2 route. If you disagree with that assessment of Buffalo consider Jarome Iginla’s slow start this season. Boom, two points last night. Struggles over.

 

By the way, the Stanley Cup of Chowder on with a solid take Iginla’s slow start this season:


Jarome Iginla has played 17 seasons in the NHL. Three seasons of slower starts do not make him a "traditionally slow starter." In the last day or so, though, it seems to be the narrative that many members of the Boston media have latched onto. My problem isn't that they aren't raking him over the coals for not scoring -- it's actually a bit refreshing to see them cut him some slack for not immediately producing -- but it's that they are insisting on clinging to/propagating this false narrative about him being a player who takes a while to get going.

 

I tend to agree with this piece. Iginla is going to start producing but he’s also not going to be the Iginla of old. I wouldn’t expect him to even hit 60 points but he’s a lock for 50 if he stays healthy.

 

Milan Lucic scored both goals off of Iginla’s assists and added an assist of his own to bring him to nine points through eight games this season. Lucic’s shooting percentage is off the charts at over 30% but he’s always been a high percentage shooter with a career 14.9% mark and has pulled off three full seasons of 17% shooting. Lucic shot only 8.9% last season and was definitely a strong candidate to rebound coming into the year. So far he is making good.

 

Defenseman Tory Krug also added two goals and continues to see the kind of ice time necessary to be fantasy relevant. It’s worth mentioning that Krug has more goals than assists this season, which is the same thing that occurred during last spring’s playoffs. He has great instincts pinching in and is not afraid to shoot the puck averaging well over two shots per game this season.

 

Carl Soderberg took Jordan Caron’s spot in the lineup last night and notched two assists. He has only played in two games thus far but has points in both contests.

Reilly Smith managed an assist giving him six points in eight games. I am not at all confident in his ability to maintain that sort of pace but he is skating enough minutes on the Bruins top line to warrant consideration. And just for clarification the Bruins’ top offensive unit is the Krejci line but I still see Patrice Bergeron as the top center on the Bruins so he gets “top line” billing. Semantics, really, but there’s your explanation. Look at the Bruins’ line combinations this season below:

 

Frequency

Strength

Line Combination

20.43%

EV

12 IGINLA,JAROME - 46 KREJCI,DAVID - 17 LUCIC,MILAN

10.99%

EV

11 CAMPBELL,GREGORY - 20 PAILLE,DANIEL - 22 THORNTON,SHAWN

10.11%

EV

37 BERGERON,PATRICE - 21 ERIKSSON,LOUI - 18 SMITH,REILLY

9.75%

EV

37 BERGERON,PATRICE - 21 ERIKSSON,LOUI - 63 MARCHAND,BRAD

7.59%

EV

38 CARON,JORDAN - 23 KELLY,CHRIS - 18 SMITH,REILLY

4.85%

EV

38 CARON,JORDAN - 23 KELLY,CHRIS - 63 MARCHAND,BRAD

3.92%

PP

12 IGINLA,JAROME - 46 KREJCI,DAVID - 17 LUCIC,MILAN

2.53%

EV

23 KELLY,CHRIS - 63 MARCHAND,BRAD - 34 SODERBERG,CARL

 

Loui Eriksson, by the way, left the match early after a cheap shot to the head from Sabres goon John Scott in the third period. A despicable hit. We know too much for this to be acceptable. Obviously we are looking at a concussion/suspension scenario here. I wouldn’t be shocked if this was some sort of revenge act on the part of Scott as the Sabres-Bruins rivalry is one of the league’s fiercest despite the difference in the quality of these two teams.

 

Not that Eriksson has been on the team for any of the battles between the Bruins and Sabres over the past few years but I don’t think Scott was really discriminating. He saw a vulnerable Bruin and took a shot. It’s not fair and it’s not right but for the Bruins, you reap what you sow.

 

You have to imagine that with Eriksson’s pending absence, Soderberg will draw into the lineup more frequently.

 

*

 

It was another abysmal performance for the Sabres who are now on pace to break the 1974-75 Washington Capitals’ record for fewest wins in a season (eight) but thanks to the loser point remain above the pace to set the record for fewest points in a season set by that same Capitals team (21).

 

There were even some silver linings last night. For instance, the Sabres’ power play clicked on one of three attempts last night leading to a Cody Hodgson goal. As bad as the Sabres have been Hodgson and linemate Tomas Vanek (who notched an assist) continue to remain productive with eight and seven points respectively this season.

 

What those two need is a third wheel because their current linemate, Drew Stafford, is simply not very good. To be fair, they are also trying Steve Ott on that line and it hasn’t worked much either. They miss Jason Pominville.

 

Rookie defenseman Zikita Zadorov notched his first NHL goal, drawing into the lineup for just his second game of the season. I am not sure what Zadorov is gaining from sticking around this team but you have to think it will be only a matter of time before he gets returned to junior.

 

The Sabres’s other rookie defenseman, Rasmus Ristolainen, has sat these past two games while Zadorov has skated. I don’t think Ristolainen should stick around either and the Sabres should be able to send him to the AHL. That would burn a year off his entry-level deal but it’s still pro hockey and at a level that would help develop him better. Hell, he may even get to experience some winning.

 

Jamie McBain was also a healthy scratch and has been several times this season. I imagine he’ll draw into the lineup once the Sabres are done trying out their rookies but it’s still not a positive that McBain is getting scratched by the worst team in the league. If he can’t play for these guys he probably just can’t play.

 

Another silver lining for the Sabres, or at least Sabre fantasy owners, is that Marcus Foligno is starting to roll. With two assists last night the young winger now has four points in his last four games. He is skating on the second line and only getting second unit power play time so there isn’t a ton of upside from a point scoring perspective. But that’s okay. The reason you like Foligno in fantasy is his multi-category potential so even modest point productive is a positive.

 

Tyler Ennis, Foligno’s linemate, continues to struggle by the way. He has just one point in 11 games this season despite skating big minutes including nearly four minutes per game on the power play. I’d recommend buying low because even on the Sabres Ennis should be good for 50 points. 

 

*

 

Good news!

 

 

 

 

 

It’s tough to argue with the decision. I figured he would be headed down after nine games but that was back when he was skating on the third line with limited power play time. Monahan produced anyway and earned the right to stay and is now skating on the top line with Jiri Hudler.

 

Games between 2013-10-19 and 2013-10-22

Frequency

Strength

Line Combination

47.93%

EV

47 BAERTSCHI,SVEN - 24 HUDLER,JIRI - 23 MONAHAN,SEAN

12.4%

EV

20 GLENCROSS,CURTIS - 24 HUDLER,JIRI - 23 MONAHAN,SEAN

10.74%

EV

13 CAMMALLERI,MIKE - 24 HUDLER,JIRI - 23 MONAHAN,SEAN

9.5%

PP

13 CAMMALLERI,MIKE - 24 HUDLER,JIRI - 23 MONAHAN,SEAN

 

Monahan has skated over 19 minutes in each of the past two games and hasn’t looked out of place doing so.

 

I would imagine that he will hit the rookie wall at some point, especially when you consider he is currently shooting 28.6%, which is bound to regress but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve to be here. I still wouldn’t try to get him in one-year leagues but it’s worth consideration now.

 

*

 

Apparently word has come down that NHL linesmen are to stop fights when the fighters take off their helmets prior to the fight. This occurred during the Montreal-Edmonton game on Tuesday when Travis Moen and Luke Gadzic intended to throw down. The fight was stopped early and the players were issued unsportsmanlike minor penalties rather than fighting majors.

 

Might this have a detrimental effect on the value of goons in multi-category pools?

 

*

 

In Lou We Trust, the Devils’ SB Nation blog with a nice breakdown of the Devils’ power play struggles this season:


As nice as the set-up was, it's been unfamiliar so far this season. Ryder's lamplighter was only the third power play goal scored by the Devils this season. Only their second in 5-on-4 play, the most common of power play situations. Disregarding Sunday's games, the goal moved the Devils' overall conversion rate to 11.5%, putting them in a tie with Boston for the fifth-lowest conversion rate in the league. Yes, there are four teams that have been more woeful: Philadelphia, Buffalo, Vancouver, and Anaheim.

 

I think that the biggest issue here is coaching. The team hasn’t had a good power play since Peter DeBoer took over as head coach and I know not all head coaches are responsible for special teams play but the assistant responsible for the power play (Dave Barr) has been there since DeBoer took over so they both take responsibility, in my opinion.

 

I am not sure DeBoer needs to be canned as he has the Devils winning the shot differential battle at five-on-five but he really needs to consider making a change with his assistant before it costs DeBoer his own job.

 

But to be perfectly fair, the Devils don’t have a ton of talent this season. Ilya Kovalchuk is gone so they’ve had to craft a new power play strategy and their best playmaker, Patrick Elias, has missed time due to illness. The Devils also have never had a standout puck-moving defenseman during DeBoer’s tenure. Their best option is veteran Marek Zidlicky, who is solid but far from elite.

 

Still, I think a better coach with have this unit performing at a better rate. They have solid veterans in Elias, Jagr, Zidlicky and Michael Ryder who have a history of producing with the man-advantage. They may be older and slower but they have the hockey IQ necessary to run circles around opponents when given the space that a power play affords them. For the coaching staff to not produce at least league average play from this unit is a failure. It’s still early and maybe they turn it around but I wouldn’t expect a ton out of these guys without some kind of a change made behind the bench.

 

*

 

Are the Minnesota Wild once again the lamest team in hockey? Only the Sabres have seen fewer goals scored in their games than the Wild this season but the Sabres suck so at least you can count on them to fluff your fantasy team whenever your players roll through Buffalo. What excuse do the Wild have?

 

I would argue for bad luck. They currently lead the league in five-on-five shot differential and sit second to the Sharks in overall shot differential. Yet they have only scored 21 goals this season shooting just 6.9% as a team. That figure has to come up.

 

Of particular interest, the Wild’s top line of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville have yet to be on the ice for a five-on-five goal against. They are dominating opponents but have just four goals of their own to show for it. I look at those three as solid buy-low candidates.

 

The one area where the Wild are not failing to produce goals is special teams. The Wild power play is clicking on one of every four chances good for fifth in the league but on the flip side the Wild penalty kill ranks 27th allowing a goal 24.4% of the time. Clearly the refs need to start blowing their whistles more often.

 

Our very own Thomas Drance took a look at how the Wild revamped their approach to puck possession, in particular offensive zone entry, in order to improve their overall performance:


The Wild have eschewed the dump and chase this season, in favor of gaining the blue line with speed and possession. The defensemen are activating more often. In fact, Wild defenders have already contributed four goals through seven games, where the Minnesota defense managed just 15 goals in 48 games last season.

 

So buy low on the Wild. I cannot stress that enough.

 

*

 

Your top 10 luckiest players based on five-on-five on-ice shooting percentage (have played at least 100 minutes) as of Tuesday:

 

Hampus Lindholm – 18.18%

TJ Oshie – 18.00%

Francois Beauchemin – 17.14%

Frans Nielsen – 16.98%

Ladislav Smid – 15.38%

Jeff Petry – 14.29%

Jeff Skinner – 14.29%

Jakob Silfverberg – 14.29%

Tomas Hertl – 14.29%

Ryan Getzlaf – 14.04%

Aleksander Barkov – 14.04%

 

A lot of Ducks on that list!

 

*

 

And your top 10 unluckiest players:

 

Andrej Sustr – 0%

Alex Goligoski – 0%

Tomas Kopecky – 0%

Kevin Klein – 0%

Dany Heatley’s corpse – 0%

Matt Hendricks – 0%

Matt Read – 0%

Johan Franzen – 1.56%

Jason Pominville – 1.59%

Brett Bellemore – 1.59%

 

A lot of underachievers on this list. Obviously these guys are at least somewhat to blame for their failures thus far but I would say these guys are good buy-low candidates, even Dany Heatley’s corpse.

 

*

 

I won’t list them but check out the individual shooting percentage leaders to start the season. A lot of sell-high candidates on that list.

 

*

 

From Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts:


The word on Philadlephia Flyers forward Claude Giroux -- three points in eight games -- is he is trying to do way too much. You can see him forcing plays that aren't there, especially as the losses and injuries mount. One thing teams look for in their best players is, do they raise their game when things are going badly? He's trying yet not succeeding.

 

*

 

Sean McIndoe gives us Great Moments in Goalie Goal-Scoring History, if you are into that sort of thing.

 

*

 

Did you watch the new 30 for 30 documentary Big Shot on Tuesday night? It’s about how John Spano defrauded his way into ownership of the New York Islanders. A really great watch. I actually found myself rooting for him, even knowing how it all worked out, which is a testament to how well made the film was. I love the 30 for 30 series, which debuted four years ago with Kings Ransom, a doc on the Wayne Gretzky trade. You can watch that Gretzky one in full on Youtube.

 

*

 

Seen Steven Stamkos’ Coke Zero commercial?

 

 

*

 

You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.


Write comment
Comments (25)add comment

v105memorial said:

v105memorial
... Dany Heatley's corpse! PRICELESS!!
October 24, 2013
Votes: +0

rijobar said:

rijobar
... As everyone else has already said - awesome ramblings. This is what I like to read, and all this with only 2 games. I just assume that with 5 times as many games on a Saturday night that I will get to read 5 times as many ramblings on Sunday morning so I actually feel sorry for the person writing the ramblings Sunday morning as these (and Dobber's) sets the expectations very high.
A couple questions that maybe someone can give more insight into: 1. What is going on with Goligoski - I was expecting a bounce back season from him and am getting very worried. I"m in a keeper league - should I be dumping him yet or be more patient?
2. I heard the coach of San Jose say that Stalock would be seeing action soon - with the way Niemi is playing is Stalock ever going to see a game or not? Will he ever be fantasy relevant in San Jose? Thanks and keep up the awesome ramblings!
October 24, 2013
Votes: +0

Big Ev said:

October 24, 2013
Votes: -1

Philly said:

Philly
... Foligno was actually on PP1 with Vanek, Hodgson, Ehrhoff and Ennis. Unless this is PP2 which I highly doubt! Kid has a lot of poise. Takes that extra half second that alot of power forwards don't at that age.
October 24, 2013
Votes: +0

Rodgort said:

Rodgort
... To think if the NHL had suspended Lucic or the Sabres had defended Miller that game Buffalo would not have gone out to be tough over skill (to battle the Bruins) and then become absolutely terrible. It is neat to see how a past action could cause this. If something had happened that game I doubt anyone would see Jon Scott in the NHL he'd probably be toiling in the AHL on a league minimum 2-way deal for teams wanting to keep "toughness" to defend their stars
October 24, 2013
Votes: +1

metaldude26 said:

metaldude26
... Thanks for the comments, folks! For the record, Angus is still the best.

Miihaapa - No, the Devils have to give up their own pick this year. No circumventing the punishment.

Germant - I'm not so sure how much Scott's "frontier justice" drives ticket sales. I acknowledge that there is a portion of the population who wants to see that stuff but I'm not sure how much they move the needle. As for villains, hockey fans have no trouble creating villains out of nothing so they don't need players to actively pursue that title. And by the way, I did have the Sunday ramblings a couple of weeks ago, hope you checked them out!

Chinny - Nice digs, thanks.
October 24, 2013
Votes: +1

Chinny said:

Chinny
Pomminville Using Frozen Pool i see that Pomminville is actually spending more of his time with Granlund and Heatley (42%) and 31% with Parise and Koivu but with them on the PP. Those numbers are based over the past 3 games.
October 24, 2013
Votes: +0

repenttokyo said:

repenttokyo
'you reap what you sow?' really? did i step out of a time machine into 1984?
October 24, 2013
Votes: -2

jimywho1 said:

jimywho1
... King's Ransom, btw, was awesome
October 24, 2013
Votes: +0

jimywho1 said:

jimywho1
... The day you stop doing ramblings Steve will be a sad day for all of us, these are insane!
October 24, 2013
Votes: +0

agentzero said:

agentzero
great job Already lots of kudos out there, but I have to say like Comish that these ramblings are just fantastic and even better when considering only two games happened last night. They do exactly what ramblings are supposed to do: throw random, very important food for thought out there to make us better fantasy owner. Not only that, but you whip in so much useful information it's fantastic. Well done.

Said it before and I'll say it again, John Scott is not an NHL player. He's not an AHL player. He's not an ECHL player. He's barely a beer league player. Brutal. Get him outta the league. Giv'er Shanny. Lifetime ban for that clown.
October 24, 2013
Votes: +0

germant said:

germant
... Also wanted to mention that hockey, like all good drama, needs villains to despise. Scott fills that role. He gets people riled up (see comments below) and I'm okay with his place in the NHL. In fact, I welcome it.
October 24, 2013
Votes: -1

Tcheliabinsk said:

Tcheliabinsk
The best there is Just the best ramblings there is out there. Thanks Steve.
October 24, 2013
Votes: +0

germant said:

germant
... I think Anze pretty much called it there. The Bruins have a long history of dubious actions. I'm not sure the argument "well our goons can play" really works to diminish their dirty deeds.

Besides, guys like Scott drive ticket sales in Buffalo (and now Boston and Toronto). Many are looking forward to the next Boston / Buffalo game as well as the home-and-home Buffalo / Toronto set in mid November if only to see if "(frontier) justice will be served."

And I'd like to add my voice to the symphony of those praising Steve's Ramblings. I'd love to see what Steve could do with the Sunday ramblings which is the highlight of my week.

Well done Steve!!!!!!
October 24, 2013
Votes: +1

Wink said:

Wink
Big Shot Worth the price of admission just to see Ziggy Pallfy's hair flying around out there!

Great watch.
October 24, 2013
Votes: +0

Anze said:

Anze
@ hockey I agree that the Bruins tough guys can play, but they've been aggressors in the past ( Pacioretty, Miller ) and if teams can't find players like Chara and Lucic, they will hire pure enforcers. Remember that Buffalo had some success against the Bruins last year after Scott knocked out Thornton ( this year will be another story ). If Scott deserves a suspension he should and will get it.

But the Bruins live by the sword, so it has to be expected.
October 24, 2013
Votes: +0

miihaapa said:

miihaapa
... I have a question concerning the Devils. Do the Devils have to forfeit their own 1st round pick this summer or will just any 1st round pick do?

I mean if any other teams' 1st round pick is sufficient they could try to trade for one or even trade their own pick, which will probably be really high, for another teams' 1st round pick and a really good prospect.
October 24, 2013
Votes: +0

hockey said:

hockey
Bruins reap what they sow? if Steve Ott delivered that hit I would have to agree with you but Scott doesn't belong in the NHL and everybody knows that. Bruins don't roster a John Scott type player (a guy who I can skater better than), so I'm not convinced that is what the bruins sow.
October 24, 2013
Votes: -1

hockey said:

hockey
Bruins reap what they sow? if Steve Ott delivered that hit I would have to agree with you but Scott doesn't belong in the NHL and everybody knows that. Bruins don't roster a John Scott type player (a guy who I can skater better than), so I'm not convinced that is what the bruins sow.
October 24, 2013
Votes: -1

PrairieDog said:

PrairieDog
... Love the fact that you are doing the Ramblings, Steve - always overflowing with great information and interesting details. Thanks!
October 24, 2013
Votes: +0

hockey said:

hockey
Bruins reap what they sow? if Steve Ott delivered that hit I would have to agree with you but Scott doesn't belong in the NHL and everybody knows that. Bruins don't roster a John Scott type player (a guy who I can skater better than), so I'm not convinced that is what the bruins sow.
October 24, 2013
Votes: +0

brave44 said:

brave44
... I agree, very nice ramblings. Thx.
October 24, 2013
Votes: +1

allonblack said:

allonblack
Many thanks... That has got to be the best ramblings on a night with two games I have ever seen...I applaud you.
October 24, 2013
Votes: +4

BrianSTC said:

BrianSTC
... Can we just suspend Scott for the year already. It's really time to send a message. Actually it was time to send a message five years ago.
October 24, 2013
Votes: +2

The Comish said:

The Comish
... Nice ramblings Steve! Lots of info considering there were only two games last night.
October 24, 2013
Votes: +3
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