Saturday night marked a pretty entertaining slate of games in the National Hockey League. We watched the Penguins get frustrated in Toronto and the Bruins cough up  a late lead to the offensively challenged Devils. Also the Calgary Flames continued to amazingly not suck.

 

Meanwhile the Predators missed Pekka Rinne, while St. Louis Blues wingers were ravaged by the injury bug. The Oilers continued to be fantasy gold (that is, if you own players on whatever team they're playing), and Rick DiPietro has an intriguing opportunity in North Carolina.

 

Anyway here is your Sunday morning fantasy roundup:

 

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Let's start with oft-injured goaltender Rick DiPietro, who signed a professional tryout contract with the Charlotte Checkers on Saturday and will join the American Hockey League team this weekend. The Checkers, who already have Manny Malhotra on the roster, are the prefered destination for reclamation projects it seems.

 

DiPietro has a very intriguing opportunity in North Carolina. The Checkers are the AHL affiliate of the Hurricanes, and the Hurricanes have seen their goaltending depth ravaged with Cam Ward injured for a month and Anton Khudobin still on the shelf. The 'Canes are currently rolling with a Justin Peters/Mike Murphy tandem, so yeah, if DiPietro is in game shape and can perform even modestly well against AHL shooters over the next week or two, it's not hard to see him playing an NHL game this season.

 

The opportunity in Carolina is intriguing, but I'm not sure DiPietro's NHL prospects are. What was often lost in the constant rash of DiPietro injuries was how consistently poor his performance was on Long Island. In terms of even-strength save-percentage the past six seasons (a pretty big sample) Rick DiPietro's is the second worst among goaltenders who played at least 3000 minutes.

 

In other words, the Hurricanes would've been better off giving Bryzgalov a spin...

 

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Which maybe we'll see the Nashville Predators do yet (at least if Saturday night's shellacking is any indication). The Blues managed six goals on 30 shots on Saturday against the Pekka Rinne-less Predators, with Alex Steen in particular keeping up his absurd shooting. Steen is shooting nearly 30% so far this season and is tied for the league lead in goals. Consider selling high if you play in a league with a small handful of marks.

 

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St. Louis lost a couple of wingers on Saturday in Chris Stewart and Magnus Paajarvi. Ken Hitchcock called Paajarvi's injury "pretty significant" post game so one images he'll be out of the lineup for a bit. Stewart meanwhile appeared to have a head injury, but the team was denying that he had a concussion after the contest.

 

Hopefully Stewart's good to go, but from a fantasy perspective, there could be a few Blues players aboutt to see a bit more ice over the next little bit. I'd gamble that some combination of Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko or Vladimir Sobotka (who ironically played together for much of Saturday night) are the biggest fantasy beneficiaries of injury locusts savaging St. Louis' forward depth.

 

Sobotka in particular is quietly putting together an impressive season is his contact year. He had a really nice set up of a Jaden Schwartz goal on Saturday, to give him six points on the season. He's only owned in 1% of Yahoo fantasy leagues. Schwartz also is only owned in 3% of Yahoo Fantasy Leagues, which seems nuts to me. His minutes are crescendoing over the past five games and could climb further in the wake of injuries to Stewart and Paajarvi.

 

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In the afternoon game, the Phoenix Coyotes outlasted the Edmonton Oilers by a score of 5-4. It was a typical Oilers game: at some points of the contest Edmonton's skill looked dominant, but their ability to hold a lead is non-existent. 

 

From a fantasy perspective Ryan Nugent-Hopkins continued his tear with two assists and a +1, but he didn't record a single shot and I'd keep a close eye on his ice-time. Both Arcobello and Boyd Gordon played more minutes than RNH did at even-strength, which seems pretty odd in a close game that Edmonton trailed for a healthy portion...

 

On the other side of the ledger, Radim Vrbata has to be one of the most under-rated players in the NHL (even though most fantasy sharps know his value). He had a ho hum outing on Saturday with 3 assists and 4 shots. Oliver Ekman-Larsson also had three points (a goal and two assists) and continued to be an all around beast, and also: precisely the type of player that seperates an overachieving team like Phoenix from a moribund club like the Oilers.

 

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The Bruins coughed up a late lead and lost in regulation - thanks to a Patrice Bergeron puck over glass penalty late and some uncharacteristic opportunism from the New Jersey Devils.

 

Bruins winger Brad Marchand continued to struggle enormously and essentially played 9th forward minutes at even-strength, while Torey Krug scored a goal and continued to be fantasy gold in the early going this season.

 

In New Jersey it might be worth watching out for Eric Gelinas, a rookie defenseman who was called up this week and has impressed me enormously in outings against the Canucks and Bruins this week. Gelinas has a point in each game and a really good, hard shot from the point. He played nearly 4 minutes on the power-play against Boston on Saturday while recording an assist, three shots, and a block and a hit. If you're in a deeper league or looking for defensive depth, Gelinas' ice-time in New Jersey might be worth monitoring this week.

 

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James Reimer is a pretty good goaltender, and showed it again on Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Reimer doesn't pass the eye test, but he gets in front of an above average number of pucks. I don't know anything about the technical aspects of goaltending: but generally, that seems to be what matters.

 

Anyway that was an impressive outing for Toronto, who continue to rack up wins despite a non-existent puck possession game and a depleted forward group (on Saturday Toronto was without Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul and Nikolai Kulemin). Eventually this club will begin to pay for woeful stretches like the Leafs put together in the second period on Saturday, but they didn't pay for it on Saturday and were full value in the third period.

 

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David Clarkson fantasy owners must have been smiling this weekend, as the Maple Leafs forward returned to action and promptly recorded 9 hits in 2 games (including 8 against the Penguins on Saturday). Meanwhile Cody Franson and James van Riemsdyk continued to post stellar fantasy lines.

 

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While watching and thinking about Saturday night's game, I was struck by the impression that Penguins center Evgeni Malkin doesn't seem to be quite as dominant as he's been in the past. The underlying numbers sort of back that up, certainly Malkin isn't dominating play in the early going to quite the extent that he has in the past.

 

But a lot of this is probably just bounces too. Malkin is a nearly a point per game player thus far, he's played without James Neal, and he's got a 5.4% on-ice shooting percentage. So yeah, I'd say it's too soon to panic about Malkin's game.

 

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In P.K. Subban's worst fantasy performance of the season, the Monteral Canadiens were shutout by the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. Habs winger Brendan Gallagher left the game briefly with an apparent jaw injury, but promptly returned and seemed no worse for wear. Price continued his solid play while Galchenyuk continued to cool off after an unsustainably hot start to the year. 

 

On the San Jose side it seems worth noting that Tomas Hertl played fourth-line minutes at even-strength on Saturday night. If you're a Hertl owner I wouldn't panic or anything - The Sharks had a narrow lead all game, and Hertl has played roughly 15 minutes in five of San Jose's last six games - but it's worth keeping an eye on. Fellow Sharks rookie Matt Nieto, who has been so impressive to my eyes this season, managed 7 shots for San Jose. 

 

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When the Bruins give up two late third period goals to the Devils it's noteworthy (cue Nelson *ha ha* sound effect). When the Sabres give up two late third period goals to the Lightning it's not.

 

Sabres defenseman Mark Pysyk took a tough hit and briefly left the contest on Saturday night, which is too bad because he's literally the Sabres' only bright spot this season. Meanwhile Cody Hodgson only played 12:10 for the Sabres (and only 8 and change at even-strength) including only two third period shifts...

 

 

The Dallas Stars are, I'm very confident, better than they've looked to start the season. Lindy Ruff has taken a bit to figure out how to use his defenseman (hint: ride Stephane Robidas and Brenden Dillon) but now that he's playing those guys like a first pairing, they both have some fantasy value in deep leagues. Robidas had a really impressive fantasy stat line on Saturday with a goal, +1, 2 PIM, 3 shots and 3 hits. Dillon meanwhile added 4 hits, a block and a shot.

 

Meanwhile Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn combined for 8 shots but couldn't beat Ondrej Pavelec. That's not likely to be a thing that happens very often...

 

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Who pissed in Olli Jokinen's coffee on Saturday? The Finnish center racked up 7 hits against the Dallas Stars.

 

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The Flyers are a bad team this year, but their not as bad as they've looked offensively. Regression finally came to Philadelphia on Saturday night as the Flyers actually managed to puncture an opponent for a few goals (five in fact), while Vincent Lecavalier recorded a hat-trick. The Islanders are good for what ails you offensively, it seems.

 

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New York's second line (P.M. Bouchard, Josh Bailey, Franz Nielsen) got lit up a bit on Saturday night, but I still like all three from a fantasy perspective. Not nearly as much as I like Okposo though, who is soaking up massive power-play minutes and skating with John Tavares at evens. He's become a bit of a fantasy monster this month...

 

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Kyle Quincey and Dan DeKeyser led all Red Wings defenders in ice-time on Saturday night (in a 3-2 loss to the awful New York Rangers). Quincey has played over twenty minutes in the past five games, so he was seeing a lot of burn even before Kronwall was out of the lineup. Quincey won't give you points, but if he's playing that much for the Red Wings, he should at least get you shots, hits and +/- in a very deep league.

 

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Stephen Weiss has to be the early season leader for "free agent acquistion dud," he's been straight up woeful to start the season. Some of it is bounces (that 3.1% on-ice shooting at evens is tough), but also a lot of it is "getting his teeth kicked in by secondary competition." In 12 games the Red Wings have been outshot with Weiss on the ice at 5on5 by 18. They've controlled only 43.3% of shot attempts.

 

Weiss' luck will change, but will his inability to control games in Detroit?

 

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The Rangers ended their road trip from hell with a victory in Detroit, and I legitimately don't think they're an actual bad team.

 

Consider the underlying data. With a 931 PDO the Rangers have been the league's single unluckiest team to the start the season, but they're 18th in the NHL in percenate of shot attempts controlled and they haven't played a home game yet. 

 

The Rangers will figure it out, and it certainly helps that Cam Talbot has looked like an NHL goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist's absence.

 

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Finally the upstart Calgary Flames pummelled the disappointing Washington Capitals 5-2. Some pretty impressive stuff from Dennis Wideman and Kris Russel, both of whom were counted on to step up with Mark Giordano out of the lineup and played extraordinarily well. Russell played over 27 minutes and was a +5 on the night, while Wideman managed 7 shots - and blocked six - in nearly 30 minutes of ice-time. 


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Comments (10)add comment

messierforlife said:

messierforlife
... Bryz won't sign for the minimum & nor should he. He's holding out for the right offer I believe(not that he has many suitors, but he's being a bit picky at the moment. Whereas, Ricky D has no choice but to accept anything that is offered his way...even an AHL tryout.---Mid-season tryouts anywhere are almost unheard of.
October 28, 2013
Votes: +0

jjmckenn said:

jjmckenn
... Re: Puck Possession. I think Carlyle said that about a couple of games, but outside of that, it has been pretty good. I'm talking about true puck Possession here, not corsi/Fenwick. The Leafs are first in the East for a reason, it's time you came around and recognized that Tom. When I refer to Colton Orr having great Corsi numbers, I am trying to emphasize how misleading these numbers quite often are.
October 27, 2013
Votes: +0

Isle B. said:

Isle B.
... I find it unfathomable that DiPietro, who hasn't been an NHL caliber goalie since 2008, gets a shot before Bryzgalov.
October 27, 2013
Votes: +0

austeane said:

austeane
... I think we are about to witness the fall of Hertl. I don't think he will finish in the top five in rookie scoring... Still a good season, but nowhere near what people were projecting a couple weeks ago.

Also, Hodgson is dealing with an injury right now.. That would explain the lack of minutes.

I guarantee there will be a prolonged stretch where Malkin goes off at a 2ppg pace.
October 27, 2013
Votes: +0

Thomas Drance said:

Thomas Drance
... Leafs are dead last in puck possession in the league. Carlyle even thinks their possession game has been an issue. Squirreling the debate by pointing to Orr's 9 CF, 1 CA night (in limited minutes, deployed mostly in the offensive zone and against 4th line competition), doesn't change that.
October 27, 2013
Votes: +0

mojavedesert said:

mojavedesert
Weiss Detroit signing Weiss was a huge surprise (at least for me). You take a soft player, whose best season is 61 points, off a team where he is the top centre and move him to a team where he becomes the no. 2 (and potentially no. 3 centre depending on how Detroit uses Zetterberg) and I would expect his point total to decrease. Only thrice has his point total exceeded 0.70 PPG, which equates to 57 points if 82 games are played. Weiss has played fewer than 75 games in more than half his 11 year career. Yes, Weiss is scoring less than expected but I think we can cap his ceiling in the mid 40s which he may still do (44 pts based on career average of 0.59 PPG and playing 75 games).

As the others below have said, excellent Sunday morning ramblings Mr. Drance.
October 27, 2013
Votes: +0

SeaDawg said:

SeaDawg
... excellent ramblings...some of the best I have read lately...keep up the great work
October 27, 2013
Votes: +2

jjmckenn said:

jjmckenn
Leafs Puck Possesion I think the Leafs possess the puck just fine, outside of a couple of stretches. Sure they don't waste a lot of shots on net, which is why their corsi numbers might be down, but I think Toronto is a perfect example of the flaws in corsi/Fenwick numbers and using them as a proxy for Possession. looking at player Corsi, Colton Orr looks like a hockey god last night.
October 27, 2013
Votes: +1

germant said:

germant
Great Read
Well done Thomas. One of my favourite reads has usually been Sunday morning ramblings and I wasn't disappointed in the least. Thanks!
October 27, 2013
Votes: +3

cylee00 said:

cylee00
... Nice ramblings Thomas. Of note: Rob Scuderi (Pit) went down with an injury last nigh too. MA Fleury owners you have been forewarned!!
October 27, 2013
Votes: +1
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