The Jets top line got beat up by the Blackhawks last night. The Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler line combined to go minus-nine and Dustin Byfulgien and Tobias Enstrom were a combined minus-five.
That’s what happens when Jonathan Toews sets his sights on you.
Al Montoya made his second straight start for the Jets. He got lit up but played fairly well in the loss. The backup goalie is always a fan favourite but in this case Montoya really has played better than starter Ondrej Pavelec. But Montoya has only made four starts so it’s impossible to come to any conclusions about who is better.
What we do know is that the Jets need to play with more consistency in front of whoever they put in goal because that’s where these games are being lost. Of course, the Jets are fighting a losing battle moving to the hyper-competitive Central Division from the creampuff former Southeast Division.
Evander Kane was healthy but was held out of the lineup last night anyway, the second straight game he’s missed. The old healthy-ish scratch. Interesting. A message being sent perhaps?
We are all still waiting for Evander Kane, superstar, to emerge. He’s off to something of a slow start with just nine points through 15 games but he does have six goals so Kane isn’t completely lost. Maybe the late scratch gets him going.
Patrick Kane skated circles around the Jets last night. He only managed a goal but was dangerous throughout, which is surprising to no one.
Brandon Pirri skated a season high 16:10 last night. He scored a really nice goal on a breakaway chance. This is what he needs to do when rewarded with ice time. He skated with Kane and Brandon Saad, which is excellent company.
After scoring goals in four straight games, Bryan Bickell is now scoreless in five straight. He skated just 10:44 last night. Hardly fantasy relevant.
Shaw too was held off the board but with lots of power play time he’s got a shot at 50 points this season. He probably finishes with 40 though.
That was a message-sending game by the New York Rangers. They jumped ahead of the Penguins early and never looked back. They are mostly healthy now and playing some really good hockey.
Zuccarello has seven points on the year but all seven have come in his last seven games. Kreider also has seven points since being called up for the past eight games. Stepan has been the quietest of the bunch but is probably a sleeping giant.
With just 11 points on the year Stepan certainly has more to offer.
Carl Hagelin has five points in five games since returning to the lineup. His speed is certainly a game-changing element but he is still producing over his head. It’s true that Hagelin is on the top line with Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan but he has next to no power play time so it’s only a matter of time before he slows down.
Ryan McDonagh scored a goal last night and has four points in his last five. He has been the lone defenseman on the Rangers’ power play for a while now and was last night skating over four minutes with the man advantage. He’s not exactly scoring a ton right now but is heating up with the rest of the Rangers and could still be a sneaky buy low right now. I like him for 40 points this year.
Derrick Brassard is the odd man out with this healthy Rangers lineup. He skated just 12:30 last night on the third line but did manage a goal. He has just seven points through 15 games this season so any hopes of a breakout season are probably unfounded. Does he draw Rick Nash as a linemate when the big forward returns?
Sidney Crosby was held scoreless for just the third time this season but he still leads the league in scoring.
Kris Letang scored the lone goal for the Penguins. Three of his four points this season have been goals and all of them have come on the power play. Only a matter of time before he starts popping some even strength assists and really gets rolling.
Pascal Dupuis left the game early with an unspecified injury. I wonder who gets the call to replace him on the top line if he does indeed miss time. The Penguins are already thin up front due to injuries so the options are fairly limited. Perhaps they try stacking their top line with Malkin playing on the wing as they will often do when they need a goal.
Word is Pekka Rinne will now be out until Christmas with an E. coli infection. I’ve written him off for the year. Perhaps that’s an overreaction but I can’t help it. Infected joints are nasty business. You don’t have blood flow to your joints the way you do to most organs/tissues in your body so there’s not much your immune system can do to fight the infection. The only course of action is surgery to clean out the joint and antibiotics to try and prevent a future infection.
If you recall, this happened to Tom Brady had this happen during his recovery from ACL surgery a few years ago. He wound up missing the rest of his season.
Rinne may be back by Christmas or he may be longer. Even when he does return, what kind of shape is going to be in? It’s entirely possible that what this does is forces Rinne out of the discussion for Finland’s goaltending, which would make the Olympic break a positive for him, giving Rinne a chance to really recuperate and prepare for a strong stretch to close the season.
I don’t think you can sell at this point. If you are a Rinne owner you are basically stuck until he is set to return. If you are not a Rinne owner, you’d need a hell of a lot of patience if you wanted to buy low at this point.
Personally, I would wait until after he returns and gamble that he struggles even further because the only time I see him having success is after the Olympics, assuming he doesn’t play in Sochi.
More on Nashville goaltending, Magnus Hellberg was sent down and Marek Mazanec was called up in his stead.
I don’t look at this as a shot towards Hellberg. The Predators are simply sending him down to make sure he stays ready by getting him some game action. What this does mean is that the Predators are content with the play of Carter Hutton.
Hutton, by the way, got the start for Nashville last night, his fifth straight. Nashville has played a sparse schedule since Rinne went down so that has allowed Hutton to get into all of the games without getting too burned out. They don’t see a back-to-back until next weekend so there is a good chance he gets the next three or four starts as well.
Hutton hasn’t played particularly well since Rinne went down but he’s been good enough to win, which I suppose is all that really matters. He allowed four goals against the Avalanche last night but his teammates lifted him up scoring six of their own.
Colin Wilson, in particular, did some heavy lifting with two goals and two assists on the night. That’s certainly one way to break a five game scoreless skid. Wilson did all his work in under 15 minutes so this is more of an aberration than a reflection of an impending breakout.
What’s interesting is that Wilson has been spending much of his season skating alongside Mike Fisher and Patrick Hornqvist, two of Nashville’s most productive forwards.
Stalberg scored his first goal and assist of the season last night and nearly doubled his season shot total with six. I’m not saying this is where Stalberg turns it around but he’s a better player than he’s shown so far.
David Legwand’s hot streak continued with two assists. He has nine points in his last five games and has 14 for the season altogether.
This could be a case of Legwand stepping up in a contract-year or perhaps he is just getting lucky. He is shooting 20% on the year, so that will regress but he leads all Predators forwards in power play ice time so the opportunities have been there for him.
I’m not ready to buy in yet though. The Predators still spread their forward ice time around too much.
They do not however share the ice evenly with their defensemen. Shea Weber and Seth Jones continue to see the lion’s share of minutes for the Predators combining to skate over 50 minutes again last night, which is pretty much a nightly occurrence seeing as they both are averaging over 25 minutes per game. No two teammates skate more minutes than these two do for Nashville (though when Mark Giordano returns for Calgary, he and Dennis Wideman will lay claim to that title).
Interestingly enough however, it was Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi leading Nashville in power play ice time last night. Ellis skated just 11:52 overall but managed two assists on the power play – MA Bergeron 2.0. Josi skated over 19 minutes and managed one power play assist.
Welcome back to the top line P.A. Parenteau! Parenteau notched a goal and an assist last night as the Avalanche top line went off in a losing effort. Ryan O’Reilly scored a goal on eight shots while Matt Duchene continued his superstar evolution with three points, giving him 17 for the season.
Duchene has to regress some time though. He’s shooting 20.0%, which is well above his career average. Still, a point per-game doesn’t sound at all unreasonable.
Paul Stastny scored a goal as his quiet renaissance continues. I am sceptical about how real this is though. The Avalanche still don’t have great possession stats, indicating their offense will probably slow down somewhat as the season progresses. Stastny is still paired up with great linemates – Gabriel Landeskog and Alex Tanguay – but those guys also have serious defensive responsibilities and Stastny is only a second power play unit guy.
Tanguay by the way, missed last night and will be out for a week or two with a lower body injury. With Tanguay out, Nathan MacKinnon jumped onto the second line and skated over 20 minutes for the first time in his career. He was held scoreless and didn’t even fire a shot but it’s interesting to see how MacKinnon shakes out with the Avalanche’s plethora of lineup options given their deep group of forwards.
Tyson Barrie, by the way, was sent down to the AHL earlier this week. It makes sense. Patrick Roy hasn’t played him in weeks and he wasn’t learning much sitting in the press box but it’s just hard to look at this no-name group of defensemen and wonder how Barrie can’t even score the Ryan Ellis role and just be a power play specialist but when you think about it, it makes sense. Nashville can skate Ellis just 14 minutes a game and mostly just on the power play because they’ve got two studs eating all the minutes. Colorado doesn’t have that option so they need whoever does play to hold down a regular shift. Barrie, clearly just isn’t ready for that according to Roy and since the team is winning, how can you argue?
I expect to see Barrie back at some point however. He has torn up the AHL with 61 points in 87 games across two half seasons. He’ll skate for Lake Erie tonight.
I was SOL tonight for goalies. My options were Marc-Andre Fleury who got lit up by the Rangers and Mike Smith who got torched by the Ducks. I chose Fleury but I guess the move was to punt. Oh well, can’t win ‘em all, which is likely what the Coyotes are saying after having their five-game win streak snapped.
The loss also provided us a reprieve from Keith Yandle’s reign of terror. He has now gone scoreless in two of three games as his scoring once again attempts to balance itself out.
Meanwhile, Oliver Ekman-Larsson managed an assist to tie Yandle with 12 points on the season. The big difference between the two? OEL is plus-seven while Yandle is minus-five. Complete defenseman vs. offensive dynamo.
The Martin Hanzal breakout watch continues. He missed a few games there but has picked up his scoring with two points in three games since returning from suspension. His current 69-point pace is unrealistic but this is also a guy whose career high is 34 points. Anything above 40 is a breakout for Hanzal and right now 50 is looking pretty good, with excellent peripheral numbers. One of my few hits in the Dobber Experts League.
After a slow start Shane Doan now has 10 points in his last 11 games. He’s not a point-per-game player but he can still get you 60 or there-about. Now happens to be the time to get in on one of his hot streaks though that window may be closing.
Radim Vrbata left the game early with a lower-body injury. No word on the severity.
The Ducks solved their power play riddle, for at least one night anyway, going two-for-four with the man advantage. A big part of that success was Cam Fowler who scored his first goal of the year and added an assist as well, both power play scores.
The Ducks still have the league’s worst power play but if Fowler can get it going then they will start to pick up their efficiency. Or conversely, if the Ducks start to pick up their efficiency Fowler will start to produce more. Fowler now has four points in his last four games and might be starting to turn the corner.
It is little surprise to me that the Ducks had power play success with Sami Vatanen scratched. Vatanen leads all Ducks defensemen in power play ice time as the Ducks have been forcing him out there like crazy.
There is no doubt that Vatanen has talent but he isn’t working back there. It’s hard to nit-pick given the success the Ducks have had but possessing the league’s worst power play is just a flaw that sticks out like a sore thumb and Vatanen just looks uncomfortable quarterbacking. There is too much talent there to struggle this much.
Nick Bonino has been receiving top unit power play time on and off all season. He was on last night and scored two assists for his troubles. Bonino still isn’t seeing great minutes or great linemates but if he can keep getting cameos on the top power play unit his productivity will continue to linger.
Hampus Lindholm scored his first career NHL goal and managed an assist as well. To me, he is the future of the Ducks blue line. The scoring hasn’t been there much yet but he’s still a teenager skating on the Ducks top defense pairing. That’s something of a misnomer considering Lindholm actually only skates 19:14 per game but the point is that he has a real future in this league.
Devante Smith-Pelly continues to be strangely productive in limited minutes since being called up. After notching an assist last night he now has six points in eight games. It’s safe to say he won’t continue to score at a 60-point pace going forward but given he has some rotisserie value as a big hitter he doesn’t need to score a ton to be valuable.
It helps that Smith-Pelly has been paired with Mathieu Perreault who also continues to be productive. I picked him up in one of my leagues this week. I mostly did it because Anaheim has a great schedule having played on Monday and Wednesday, while also playing Friday and Sunday. Anaheim is the best for off-night scheduling. I also wanted Perreault because he’s been kind of hot lately despite limited minutes.
Perreault saw just 14:52 last night with second unit power play time, which is pretty much par for the course but he managed an assist so I’m happy.
Teemu Selanne made his return to the lineup but was held scoreless in 14:36.
Jonas Hiller got the start and the win for the Ducks. He is going to have to be on the ball all season to hang onto his starting job because the Ducks are so stacked in net it’s stupid.
From Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts:
24. There are a couple of scouts who think Canucks head coach John Tortorella will keep Ryan Kesler on Henrik Sedin's wing long-term, spreading Daniel Sedin around to create offence. I've no idea if that's what he will do, but it would be interesting to watch.
There is still growth and progress to be made in his game at both ends of the ice, but Nichushkin is poised to take a step toward the production expected of him before the season started. It may not be fair to expect him to quickly jump into Calder conversations, but with his newfound confidence (and possibly lining up in the top six), Nichushkin is set to put a more sizable mark on the season and show everyone why he was such a steal as the 10th overall pick in the 2013 draft.
A really intriguing look at factoring age into contract decisions by Eric T. on SB Nation:
Knowing how players age is an important part of making projections. This sounds pretty simple to study -- you'd think you could just look at how the average 19-year-old does, then the average 20-year-old, and so on up through age 35 or 40. But it's trickier than that; not everyone's career lasts 20 years, which complicates things.
In most fantasy hockey leagues you aren’t locking guys into contracts but in a sense you are. You are investing valuable capital (draft picks, trades, etc.) into players and expect a return on that investment so it is very important to understand how players age.
Older players are often the most undervalued players in fantasy hockey. Being able to project future value for older declining players can allow you to gain an edge on myopic competitors too concerned with age.
You might look at the numbers and say Karlsson is actually leading in points and is thus playing better but really that’s splitting hairs.
These two are the best in the business and no one is really close. Letang was but he’s made out of peanut brittle.
Just how bad are the Buffalo Sabres? According to the article, potentially historically bad.
Sean McIndoe takes a look at five huge moves that you’ve probably forgotten.
Grantland hockey writer Katie Baker was recently asked whether she’d prefer to see her team (New York Rangers) win the Cup or her country (USA) win the gold.
I know that I would much prefer to see my home country win the Gold. What say you?
Great reminder from a fan in Chicago to seize every opportunity as Adam Pardy got checked through the glass:
Great restraint by Pardy by the way. Not only does he get his helmet ripped off but then a lady dumps a beer on his head. We’ve all seen too many instances of how that sort of fan involvement goes ugly but Pardy took it like a champ.
What’s hilarious about all this is that this is not the first time Pardy’s been put through the glass!
Duchene flashes some of that all-world speed:
You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.