Boston made short work of Florida last night.

 

Rielly Smith led the way for the Bruins with two points. He’s now on a three-game scoring streak. Not much to see here. Smith has long term upside but he is locked into a third-line role and it’s going to be tough for him to get better minutes this season.

 

Tory Krug scored his sixth goal of the season. He has twice as many goals as assists right now. I’d normally disregard that as a random occurrence but he did the same thing in 15 games during the playoffs last spring. Krug has always been a strong goal scorer for a defenseman, producing double-digit goals at every level. So even though he is shooting much too high of a percentage, his goal-scoring isn’t surprising.

 

David Krejci continues to put up points at a very satisfying point-per-game rate. I want to see this continue for more than a month before I get too carried away. His line could easily drop back for a while and the struggling Patrice Bergeron could take off.

 

Bergeron and his linemates, Loui Eriksson and Brad Marchand are all off to really slow starts this season. The minutes are there for them, except Marchand is off the power play entirely so points will follow. Good buy-low opportunity across the board here.

 

By the way, both Eriksson and Marchand got on the board last night but they are still both well off-pace for good fantasy seasons.

Eriksson’s point was his first since returning from a concussion. Great to see him back.

 

*

 

Scott Clemmensen got the start for the Panthers, as though the game wasn’t going to be hard enough.

 

The lone Panthers goal was scored by Jesse Winchester, who happened to have Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad for linemates last night. Not bad for a fourth-liner.

 

For Huberdeau this was his third straight game with a point. He may be skating on something resembling the fourth line but he also led all Panthers’ forwards in power play ice time so as long as those minutes are there he will maintain some semblance of fantasy value this season. The Panthers probably don’t have enough to help him reach another level but I think we’d all be happy with something resembling the 53-point pace Huberdeau scored at last season. He isn’t far off.

 

Bjugstad, on the other hand, saw no power play time so don’t view his point tonight as a sign of things to come.

 

Tomas Fleischmann went a miserable minus-three on the night. He remains one of the only Panthers worth owning in a fantasy league so don’t fret the bad games.

 

Brian Campbell has just seven points in 16 games this season but I would buy low. The Panthers aren’t much worse than they were last season. The only real difference for them offensively is that their power play (a strength, clicking at 20% last season) has been dreadful this season, currently ranking last in efficiency at 9.3%.

 

You know who benefits the most when the Panthers’ power play regresses from their current lows? Campbell. I still think he’s good for at least 40 points.

 

Aleksander Barkov is now scoreless in six straight. The minutes are still there for him but he isn’t producing. Just not ready to be an impact fantasy performer.

 

*

 

If I wasn’t already certain that Robin Lehner was a better goaltender than Craig Anderson before this season started I probably wouldn’t be saying this but Lehner should be the Senators’ starter going forward. Anderson is good, in a streaky kind of way. Lehner is good in a consistent kind of way. He gives the Senators a chance even when they are woefully outshot in every game Lehner starts.

 

The other guy giving the Senators a chance, Bobby Ryan. Ryan notched three points last night and has 18 on the year. This is the year! 80 points here we come!

 

That might be an overreaction but Ryan’s line with Clarke MacArthur and Kyle Turris is firing on all eight cylinders.

 

Cory Conacher saw his ice time climb back over 10 minutes last night and even saw two minutes of power play time, his first meaningful amount of power play time in like two weeks. He was still held scoreless and is losing traction.

 

Patrick Wiercioch was scratched for the second straight game. Mark Borowiecki has been skating in his stead. Borowiecki scored his first NHL goal last night but skated only 12:22. It remains to be seen if he will hold onto a regular spot in the lineup. I doubt it myself.

 

*

 

Don’t blame PK Subban for last night’s result. He managed an assist and pumped nine shots on goal.

 

David Desharnais may be wearing a Habs uniform but he looks an awful lot like a Tim Horton’s employee to me.

 

Max Pacioretty is scoreless since returning from injury but the points will come so buy low if possible. Pacioretty continues to see top unit power play time and the Habs run one of the best power in the league so even though he is plagued skating beside the donut baker at even strength Pacioretty is still seeing ample opportunity to score.

 

Lars Eller is scoreless in five. He is still skating with Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk but the early season rush is over.

 

*

 

The New Jersey Devils finally found an opponent lowlier than themselves, the Philadelphia Flyers. The irony, of course, is that you could have said the same thing last weekend when the Flyers beat the Devils. Such is the way of the Metropolitan Division.

Sean McIndoe had a really interesting take on the miserable Metropolitan Division, including some clever digs at the NHL’s new playoff format. You should definitely check it out.

 

Back to the game, zombie Martin Brodeur is starting to show signs of life. Last night was his first shutout of the season and he’s only allowed two goals in his last three starts. The Devils have continued to do a great job of suppressing opponents’ shots this season but have not received much in the way of goaltending.

 

I remain steadfast that this should be Cory Schneider’s team but he doesn’t seem to want to take the reins. Now Brodeur is coming on and the Devils have no other option than to continue giving him starts.

 

Adam Larsson scored his first point of the season. He skated just 14:45 last night and is still struggling to gain a regular shift so this isn’t where his season (career?) turns around or anything but it’s good to see he still exists.

 

Eric Gelinas, an actually productive defenseman, managed an assist last night, his third point in six games. He also fired three shots and has 17 on the season. Impressive numbers all around. Unfortunately, he left the game early. No word on the severity of his injury.

 

Patrick Elias was placed on the IR today. He’s been missing time with back spasms.

 

Andrei Loktionov was bumped onto the top power play unit in Elias’ stead. He was held scoreless last night, as he has been virtually all year. Not a real fantasy option.

 

*

 

Luke Schenn was once again a healthy scratch, making it three straight games in the press box. He isn’t fantasy relevant but I only mention it because there isn’t much else to say about the Flyers. They can’t score and that doesn’t appear ready to change any time soon.

 

All of the best Flyers are receiving the big minutes, they just aren’t generating many chances and those that they do generate are rarely finding their way to the back of the net. 

 

They sit dead last in the league in scoring, even behind the Buffalo Sabres, who were also shutout last night. There’s too much talent for this to continue but at the same time, it’s hard to see change coming.

 

All you can do as a poolie is keep holding on and hoping for the tide to change. Or, if you don’t own Claude Giroux or Mark Streit or one of the other genuinely talented Flyers you just need to keep pestering your opponents for a trade. It’s always darkest before dawn.

 

*

 

I hope you took my advice and bought up some Wild players. Zach Parise now has points in four straight and seven of his last eight, Mikko Koivu is still underperforming but has four points in his last two, Mikael Granlund has nine points in his last nine games and Jason Pominville has 10 points in his last eight.

 

The Wild are absolutely dominating five-on-five possession and it was only a matter of time before these guys started to produce. They are now and I don’t see them slowing down any time soon.

 

Josh Harding is benefitting the most from all of this. I’ve been really surprised with how he has taken the reins this season but you can’t argue with the results. Obviously he isn’t holding down a 1.16 goals-against average for the rest of the season but what’s to stop him from post a GAA near two?

 

I still have my reservations about investing in Harding too heavily. Niklas Backstrom still looms as a viable option and Harding has never managed to make a sustained run with the starting job before. Maybe this is where he finally does it but I’d still be looking to either grab Backstrom as a handcuff or to sell high altogether.

 

Matt Dumba remains in the NHL but is almost certainly not going to see another game as he has already played in nine so far and definitely isn’t ready to be an NHL regular. Not sure what the delay in sending him down is but at least it sounds like Dumba is making the most of his experience.

 

*

 

Have you met Marcus Johansson yet? He’s this year’s Jiri Tlusty. He has 14 points in 16 games this year riding the Alex Ovechkin/Nicklas Backstrom coattails.

 

Brooks Laich ended a seven-game scoreless skid. Once upon a time he was a major player on the Capitals’ power play. Not this year, however. Laich is skating just 1:01 per game with the man advantage and is largely being used in a checking role. Whatever sleeper value Laich had coming into the season is all but gone.

 

Mike Green still doesn’t have a goal this season. He is remaining productive with nine assists and the goals will come eventually but it has been frustrating to watch the Capitals be such a prolific offensive team and not be seeing major production from Green. Ol’ Mike Green, ain’t what she used to be.

 

Does Ovechkin’s missing two games factor into his 50 in 50 quest at all? He’s got 13 goals in the 14 games he has played and I’m certainly not going to hold it against him if he has 50 goals by the time he’s played his 50th game even if that might be the 52nd game of the season. I just want to get this out of the way so that my premature exuberance about Ovechkin’s early production isn’t all for naught.

 

*

 

I acquired Kyle Okposo in one of my leagues earlier this week so it goes without saying that in his first game in my lineup he was held scoreless. As Rick Roos (killing it in my old Cage Match gig, by the way) noted earlier this week, Okposo was always going to regress so I’m not overly concerned about the goose egg. It had to come eventually and there will be more just like it. You could certainly argue that I bought Okposo at his high point. Except, I bought Okposo expecting he’d finish with 60 points. So the regression was factored in.

 

What I am counting on is that Okposo won’t fall off the map entirely. He is in an excellent situation and has very solid pedigree. I also heard an anecdote on a podcast recently that Zach Parise called him one of the hardest workers he’d ever seen. That’s high praise and it points to a likelihood that Okposo is foolproof.

 

Kevin Poulin got the start for the Islanders last night and was solid in the 1-0 loss. The Hockey Writers’ Anatioly Meter takes a look at why Poulin deserves to see more action this season:


Despite the fact that Poulin hasn’t had a set schedule for playing time, he has patiently waited for his opportunities and has certainly made the most of them. It will take more than a couple of games to find out what Kevin Poulin is really about, but unless he is given more starts it will be virtually impossible to tell what the goalie can be capable of and if he fits into the Islanders’ long-term plans.

 

To me, the case is pretty simple. Nabokov has not been good this year and at 38 he needs rest more than he needs reps. I’d say a 60-40 split going forward helps everyone involved.

 

How many of you scooped up Michael Grabner after his hot start this season? How many of you have hung on for the entirety of his current seven-game scoreless skid? They don’t make them much streakier than Grabner, though new teammate Thomas Vanek might beg to differ. Stick Grabner on the waiver wire until his next hot streak.

 

Here’s a fun fact: the Islanders last power play goal was scored by Matt Moulson. They are now scoreless with the man advantage in five games without him.

 

*

 

For everyone concerned that the Hurricanes might be hurting the development of Elias Lindholm keeping him in the NHL before he is really ready the team sent him down to the AHL on Wednesday, recalling Chris Terry.

 

Is this the last we’ve seen of Lindholm this season? Probably not. I could see another cup of coffee or two but this last month or so was certainly the longest stretch of NHL action Lindholm will have seen when all is said and done.

 

Terry, by the way, doesn’t have a ton of upside and since Lindholm has been spending a ton of time on the fourth line of late Terry isn’t stepping into a premium slot in the lineup. 

 

Terry’s linemates last night were Riley Nash and Patrick Dwyer, so yeah, not much there. He did see 1:31 on the second power play unit, which is more power play time than any of Nathan Gerbe, Jordan Staal or Tuomo Ruutu saw however so maybe there is something there.

 

Ruutu, by the way, hasn’t scored in his last seven games and appears to have left the game early skating just 11:46. This should come as no surprise as Ruutu is a certified Band-Aid Boy.

 

Kudos to Justin Peters for recording the shutout. He has allowed just one goal in his last two games. I wouldn’t rush out to get him unless you are absolutely desperate for goaltending, though.

 

*

 

The New York Rangers are certainly on a roll. All of their big guns got in on the action last night much like they did against the Penguins on Wednesday.

 

Backup Cam Talbot got the start and has looked really solid so far. The sample size is too small to be certain but Talbot looks like he could really help to lighten the load for Henrik Lundqvist this year.

 

Michael Del Zotto was scoreless in just 13:28 last night. He did see 2:06 on the power play but is off to another miserable start and looks like he could be on his way out the door.

 

Carl Hagelin still hasn’t failed to score since returning from injury. Ryan Callahan is on the same kind of streak since returning from his own injury. This simply highlights how the Rangers’ struggles have largely been the result of poor health. With much of the lineup back the Rangers are winning again.

 

Ryan McDonagh notched another two points and now has seven in his last eight. I said this yesterday but I think he’s the guy on the Rangers blue-line and definitely looks good for at least 40 points this season. I’m not sure you can still buy low but I bet he’s still available on many a waiver wire.

*

 

Marian Gaborik put an end to a four-game scoreless drought last night. I’d like to argue that he doesn’t have enough help to be a point-per-game scorer in Columbus but Gaborik has never had much help when he’s been at his most productive so that little drought is nothing to get worried about. He is a streaky scorer and so long as he stays healthy Gaborik will be among the league’s leading scorers at season’s end.

 

James Wisniewski is quietly putting up another solid fantasy season for the Blue Jackets. He and Jack Johnson gobble up the major offensive minutes for Columbus and are the most fantasy worthy defensemen as a result. Wisniewski has 52 points in 93 career games with Columbus so his producing is nothing new. If Wisniewski can stay healthy he will get you 40 points at least but like Gaborik, the big question is health.

 

One more health question in Columbus, Nathan Horton finally skated on Wednesday. He remains on schedule to suit up some time near Christmas but it’s still good to see tangible progress.

 

*

 

If Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk aren’t scoring for Detroit then no one is. It just so happens that those two combined for five points on Detroit’s three goals last night. Todd Bertuzzi continues to ride their coattails and offers some short-term value if you need a roster-filler.

 

The Red Wings are hurting for some depth beyond their top line though. It doesn’t help that Johan Franzen is currently out injured or that their big off-season signing Stephen Weiss has been a complete flop. Meanwhile down in Tampa Bay, their old second line center continues to produce.

 

Rookie defenseman Adam Almquist scored his first career NHL goal though he doesn’t have much fantasy relevance.

 

*

 

I hope you showed patience with some of your struggling Stars. Ray Whitney notched a point last night. He is still off to a real slow start but he’s a top power play guy and this could be where his season turns the corner.

 

You could say the same for Alex Goligoski who registered his first assist of the season. He has three points in seven games since being a healthy scratch.

 

A couple more slow starters for you:

 

Valeri Nichushkin now has points in three straight games.

 

Sergei Gonchar notched his first point in 13 games.

 

I’m less optimistic about these last two but still some positive signs here.

 

Things are not looking up for Erik Cole, though. He has just five points this season and has been bumped down to the fourth line skating just 10 minutes last night.

 

*

 

The Oilers finally called up Linus Omark and then proceeded to give him 9:04 in ice time because that’s exactly how to get production out of scorers.

 

Taylor Hall scored a goal and fired eight shots in his return to the lineup. It wasn’t enough for the win against the dangerous Lightning but Hall’s presence is necessary if the Oilers don’t want to continue to embarrass themselves.

 

Taylor Fedun is a great story coming back from a dreadful accident on a race for an icing. He now has goals in each of his first two NHL games. This won’t last because the defenseman isn’t even skating 15 minutes per game but let’s all enjoy this nonetheless.

 

Dallas Eakins says Nail Yakupov is not being shopped but he’s also not playing either. Just 11 minutes last night for the young winger, his fewest this season.

 

Sam Gagner has only been back for four games but he still hasn’t scored.

 

*

 

Are you in on Radko Gudas yet? He has always had great potentially in rotisserie leagues for his ability to fill out the peripheral categories. Now he is starting to score. Gudas has six points in his last nine games and led the Lightning in power play ice time last night. If he can get a regular shift on the power play with the Lightning’s prolific scorers he could become one of the single best assets in fantasy hockey.

 

The competition for Gudas isn’t exactly fierce (Sami Salo and Matt Carle) so he warrants a real look.

 

There isn’t much else to say as all the usual suspects continue to produce for the Lightning, especially goaltender Ben Bishop who if you don’t have him already, it’s probably too late to get him.

 

*

 

The Flames called up Max Reinhart recently. He skated just 10:29 in his season debut. 

 

Why would the Flames give Mikael Backlund over four minutes of power play time when they know he sucks but give Reinhart their recent call-up none?

 

Joe Colborne continues to see big minutes for the Flames but so far the results just haven’t been there. I’m not overly optimistic about his fantasy prospects.

 

Mike Cammalleri sure has been productive though. He has eight points in just nine games this season.

 

*

 

Brian Elliott got a rare start for the Blues and did just enough to win and nothing more. Classic Elliott start.

 

It’s becoming time to just accept that no forward outside of the Alexander Steen-David Backes-TJ Oshie trio is going to see enough ice time to be a regular producer in St. Louis. Nine different forwards saw at least a minute of power play time last night but only Backes, Steen and, oddly enough, Vladimir Sobotka saw more than 15 minutes of total ice time. So take all of your hopes and dreams for the likes of Chris Stewart, Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Tarasenko, Patrick Berglund and the rest of them and just pack them away for the winter. They ain’t gonna score much.

 

For the record, Tarasenko did manage a goal last night, his first point in five games.

 

*

 

Interesting read on Jonathan Quick’s dreadful 2013 from Jewels from the Crown:


Among goalies with more than 1500 minutes played in the calendar year of 2013, Quick is ranked 27th out of 32 goalies in save percentage. The only people behind him are Ilya Bryzgalov (out of the league), Martin Brodeur (fat, old, piece of garbage), Joey MacDonald (out of the league), Anders Lindback (couldn't hold down the top goaltending position in ******* Tampa Bay), and Jacob Markstrom (I've got bad news for you Florida). Even worse is that he has one of the lightest in-game workloads in the league; Quick has seen the second fewest shots per game among that group.

 

He only had to stop 19 shots for the shutout against Buffalo last night so I wouldn’t say he’s turning it around just yet.

 

Tyler Toffoli is doing everything you want him to do since being called up. He has points in both games filling in for Jeff Carter. This may not be enough to prevent him from getting sent down once Carter gets healthy but at least he is going to make it a tough decision.

 

*

 

Sorry I didn’t have more coverage on the late games. I coach a JV volleyball team and we are in the championship game today and I needed to set aside some time to prepare as well as get some rest. Wish us luck!

 

*

 

Remember to read Dobber’s piece on Puck Daddy every week. Check out this week’s here.

 

*

 

Jamie Benn takes it end to end:

 

 

*

 

You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.


Write comment
Comments (14)add comment

repenttokyo said:

repenttokyo
Would love some thoughts on the Edmonton Bryzgalov signing And the Smid trade.
November 08, 2013
Votes: +0

repenttokyo said:

repenttokyo
great ramblings! thanks for the reading/analysis!
November 08, 2013
Votes: +0

shingy said:

shingy
...
Your ramblings are epic. We hit the jackpot. Thanks. Please don't ever apologize, that's crazy. Good luck in the finals.

Your mention of Cammalleri reminds me again of players that are thriving in their contract year. Dobber does a great job in the guide of identifying all these players, it would be very interesting to read about the progression of this throughout the year.
November 08, 2013
Votes: +1

Isle B. said:

Isle B.
... That Dallas Eakins is off to a heckuva start!
November 08, 2013
Votes: +0

messierforlife said:

messierforlife
Cut Bishop a little Slack lol Its not a complete shock that Lindback couldn't beat out Bishop for the #1 job in Tampa.
November 08, 2013
Votes: +0

DuklaNation said:

DuklaNation
... Anderson will remain the #1 this season. The extrapolation of small samples continues in the fantasy world. Ottawa will likely make a decision next season. Lehner will serve as full time backup for 1 complete season at a minimum.
November 08, 2013
Votes: +0

puckmonkey888 said:

puckmonkey888
... I agree with you about Almquist's fantasy relevance......this year. It will come sooner than later. He has Karlsson like upside.
November 08, 2013
Votes: -3

DarthVain said:

DarthVain
fat, old, piece of garbage Sounds like SOMEONE protected Brodeur this year... lol!
November 08, 2013
Votes: +1

Rodgort said:

Rodgort
... "The Oilers finally called up Linus Omark and then proceeded to give him 9:04 in ice time because that’s exactly how to get production out of scorers."

The Oilers have a history of trying to ruin prospects/players they do not like, see: Schremp, Rob; MPS (2nd year +); cogliano (when his linemates permanently became pisani and moreau)
November 08, 2013
Votes: +0

Dobber said:

Dobber
rataylor Johansson isn't a better player than Tlusty. Tlusty is superior offensively, and Johansson is superior defensively. Overall, I'd peg them around the same.
You are right about Reinhart, but he does have upside that could see him exceed your expectations.
Toffoli IS replacing Carter on the roster. Positions being shifted around is just semantics.


Awesome ramblings again Steve
November 08, 2013
Votes: +1

Big Ev said:

Big Ev
... Borowiecki is here to stay IMO, he gives the team something they have lacked. Wiercioch is redundant right now with Karlsson and I predict will be dealt.



November 08, 2013
Votes: +0

AB33 said:

AB33
... Lindholm will be back up soon. According to Chip Alexander, "Muller says Lindholm to Charlotte likely will be short term, possibly couple of weeks."

Ruutu wasn't hurt, he's just useless and the Hurricanes were protecting a one-goal lead. This was his 4th time this season playing under 13 minutes.
November 08, 2013
Votes: +0

rataylor22 said:

rataylor22
Comments The Johansson-Tlusty comparison is unfair. Johansson is a much better player than Tlusty, and capable of driving production on his own. He actually played center on L2 tonight, not with Ovie and Backstrom and still produced. He's keeping up, not being dragged by their coat tails.

While I don't disagree on Backlund, Reinhart shouldn't be getting that PP time either. He's not a good player, he is a third liner and will never be more than that. Much less talented than either of his brothers or his dad.

Toffoli isn't replacing Carter. Carter is a LW, Toffoli is playing RW. Dwight King is filling in for Carter right now, but he is just a place holder. Toffoli got called up because no other Kings forward was sizing the L2 RW spot.
November 08, 2013
Votes: +1

RP__ said:

RP__
Backstrom Great ramblings, as usual. I always stay up late to try to read them 'hot off the press' (I'm on the west coast).

I'm a Backstrom (Min) owner thinking of dropping him for Reimer. Most of his value last year was derived from his league leading (I think?) win total, which he will not come close to repeating. Backstrom's GAA and SV% have been average at best the past couple of years and should easily be bettered by Reimer (even if his SV% is due for a regression). Should I continue to hold on Backstrom and drop someone else such as Voracek, Edler, Plekanec, or Iginla? My league only allows 15 adds for the entire year, so I need to be judicious. My other goalie is Bishop. Cheers!
November 08, 2013
Votes: +0
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