It was just another Saturday in late fall, with winter creeping up, and 10 NHL games on tap offering solace.

 

Without further ado, let's break down all the action from a busy Saturday night.

 

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The Edmonton Oilers - who traded away defenseman Ladislav Smid for borderline prospects and the cap-space to allow them to gamble on Ilya Bryzgalov this weekend - continued to hobble along with a rather ugly 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. 

 

I'll double back to the game in short order, but first a quick note on the Bryzgalov signing. If we're judging goalies based on large sample even-strength save percentage - which is a prehistoric evaluation method but probably still the best thing we've got at the moment - Bryzgalov rates pretty well.

 

The philosopher king netminder has managed a .923 sv% at even strength over the past five years, which is right in the neighbourhood of what we've seen from pretty good and well paid goalies like Jonathan Quick, Corey Crawford and Carey Price. 

 

In other words: Bryzgalov has been an above average starter over the past six years, and is a reasonable bet to provide the Oilers with solid goaltending this season. Of course, Dubnyk was a reasonable bet to provide the Oilers with solid goaltending this season too..

 

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Ilya Bryzgalov legitimately does not exist in my current Yahoo! Fantasy League at the moment...

 

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During the Sportsnet West broadcast of the Oilers v. Flyers game, Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish was interviewed during the second intermission. "Change really is a byproduct of where we find ourselves right now," said the Oilers General Manager, addressing the Smid trade and Bryzgalov signing. "We haven't had nearly the amount of success that we forecast. We can try to figure out reasons why but really change is going to be a byproduct of that until we get playing better."

 

If you're a fantasy manager and you hear or see a quote like that, you should know pretty quickly that there's an angle to be played and an opportunity to take advantage of. The guy in Edmonton who looks like he might benefit from Edmonton's "change byproduct" and could maybe have some surprise fantasy value going forward? How about Danish defenseman Philip Larsen. 

 

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Larsen played over twenty minutes on Saturday, including nearly five minutes with the man-advantage. Importantly: it was the third straight game that Larsen played over twenty minutes, and he played really well (both from a fantasy perspective and a hockey perspective).

 

From a hockey perspective: Larsen played nearly 15 minutes at five-on-five including almost 7 minutes against the Giroux line. The Oilers actually outshot the Flyers in Larsen's 14 minutes, and outscored them too.

 

From a fantasy perspective: The Oilers defenseman managed an assist on Taylor Hall's third period goal, recorded six shots, a couple of hits and finished +1. That's a pretty nice fantasy line for a guy who is surely available in your league at the moment.

 

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For those of you who took Flyers captain Claude Giroux with a top ten pick in your fantasy draft this past year: congratulations! Giroux finally had the type of game you'd been expecting with a goal, a power-play point, a +1 rating, four shots and a couple of hits. 

 

I love the idea that some Giroux owners are pissed off this morning because they left the struggling superstar on the bench during a busy night of NHL action. Obviously Giroux is too good to continue to struggle to the extent he has in the early going, but I still have to ask as a public service to our loyal readers: is there a Claude Giroux fantasy owners support group?

 

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Kyle Turris had a serious game on Saturday afternoon recording a couple points (one on the PP) and a handful of shots in Ottawa's 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers. Turris' line with Clarke MacArthur and Bobby Ryan has been dynamite this season, but they're due to regress a little bit at evens going forward.

 

The good news for Turris, MacArthur and Ryan fantasy owners is that much of that regression should be in the defensive end mostly. All three members of Ottawa's best line have an unsustainable looking on-ice sh% so far this season, but the presence of Ryan on that line - Ryan is a noted shooting percentage driver - gives me pause. Maybe they can keep this up offensively? 

 

Either way that's an excellent trio, certainly among the best in the Eastern Conference. Fun to watch them play the game too.

 

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After failing to make the team out of training camp, 20-year-old young Mika Zibanejad returned to the club in late October and had an immediate impact with three goals and four points in his first five games. He's cooled off since then, and his goal on Saturday was his first point in his last four outings. The issue? Icetime, of course.

 

Zibanejad has only eclipsed 15 minutes in a game on one occasion this season, and like with Eric Bledsoe last season (for those of you who play fantasy basketball as well), it's tough not to get frustrated when an efficient fantasy asset plays so rarely. On Saturday. Zibanejad managed five shots. two hits and a goal in 13 minutes. If he starts playing top-six ice-time he'll go off, so it's worth monitoring.

 

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Torey Krug recorded another power-pay point Saturday night during Boston's 3-1 defeat of the Toronto Maple Leafs. I'm not sure I'm ready for the "Torey Krug elite fantasy defenseman era" but here we are. In the Yahoo! league I'm in currently, Krug is the 11th mostly highly ranked defenseman and the 93rd highest ranked skater. He's also still owned in fewer than 60% of leagues too, which is baffling. 

 

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After an extended bit of time off (six long days) the Toronto Maple Leafs played back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday. As such we got our first look at the potential fantasy ramifications of the recent injuries to Leafs centres Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland this weekend. Let's just say that as a James van Riemsdyk owner, I am not too pleased by the early returns.

 

In games against the Devils and Bruins this weekend, JVR managed one shot on goal and zero points. Granted the Devils and Bruins are very good defensive teams, but still, those numbers confirm my fears about his productiveness being somewhat neutered as a result of moving to pivot. Not that I'm overreacting yet, and you shouldn't be either, but it makes sense that JVR might shoot and score less as a centre...

 

Meanwhile, for Joffrey Lupul, Bozak's injury allows him to return to Toronto's top-line and he was dynamite on Saturday recording a goal and taking 8 shots (he even won some faceoffs on his strong side). Lupul owners could benefit enormously for the duration of the "JVR as top-line centre" experiment...

 

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I really didn't like the Cory Conacher/Ben Bishop trade for the Lightning when it happened, but that deal is looking like a steal at the moment. Conacher is languishing away at the far end of the Senators bench (he played just over 8 minutes on Saturday) while Bishop has been completely dominant in the early going for the Lightning this season.

 

The lanky netminder was excellent again on Saturday, stopping 25 of 27 shots in a highly entertaining Lightning overtime win over the Red Wings on Saturday night. That game sort of had everything: two Zetterberg goals, a Stamkos goal, and some fun fast paced hockey. Anyway Bishop has been a big story for the upstart Lightning so far.

 

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Former Red Wings centre Valterri Filppula had a strong game in his return to Joe Louis arena. While Filppula was held off the score sheet on Saturday, he logged major minutes and managed six shots on goal. Stephen Weiss was out of the lineup with an injury, by the way, and the fact remains that Filppula has been the significantly better player so far this season...

 

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The Wild bested the Carolina Hurricanes in a shootout on Saturday. The skill competition only occurred because of a late goal from 26-year-old Wild rookie Justin Fontaine, his fifth tally in 10 games. Fontaine has such a smooth, polished offensive game. I don't think Fontaine has fantasy value this season, he's a 7th forward type who is learning on the job and is certainly not on my radar as a manager. But he's got some slick offensive skills and I've been wildly impressed with his performance this season.

 

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In terms of fantasy impact, here's an odd one: Dany Heatley has been dropped to the fourth line and somehow he's retained his minimal fantasy value anyway. Certainly if you need power-play points, Heatley remains an alright option (and is owned in only 51% of Yahoo! fantasy leagues). 

 

Take Saturday night's contest as an example: Heatley played less than 14 minutes (which isn't good) but he managed 3 shots and 2 hits and logged almost 4 minutes with the man-advantage (which is reasonably good). Heatley has been a bit of a liability at five-on-five for several seasons now if we're being honest, but he's remained productive on the man-advantage. If the Wild are just going to use Heatley as a specialist going forward that's fine, he might still have some value, but adjust your valuation of him accordingly.

 

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The BlueJackets juggled their lineups on Saturday, as Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Johansen played together (flanked by Cam Atkinson). That line started often in the defensive zone (8 times in the game) and was the primary matchup Todd Richards used against the John Tavares line. They also dominated play and both put up massive fantasy nights (Atkinson had a goal and six shots while both Johansen and Dubinsky had a goal and two assists and a +3 rating; Dubinsky added a couple shots and six hits). Strong outing from that group on Saturday. 

 

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James Neal returned to the Penguins lineup in a bit of a surprise move on Saturday night, and he added a power-play point in his return (with a secondary assist on Jussi Jokinen's eighth goal of the season). It'll probably take Neal a few games, or as much as a week or two, before he's firing on all cylinders and it's tough to evaluate based on Saturday night's game. After all the Blues completely crushed the Penguins (even if they had to eke out a victory on the scoreboard).

 

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Patrick Sharp had a four assist evening in Chicago's 5-2 dismantling of the Dallas Stars, while winger Marian Hossa put together a two goal, six shot night. Dallas Stars center Cody Eakin managed a goal in a losing effort for the Stars, and more impressively he took seven shots. Eakin, who I've always been pretty high on, looks to be improving pretty rapidly as the season rolls along. Over the past six games Eakin has three goals and an assist and has played over twenty minutes in five of the past six games. He's only owned in 3% of Yahoo! leagues too.

 

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Other than Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa, Coyotes captain Shane Doan may have put together the best fantasy line of the evening with two goals, five shots and four hits. Doan, who I think we can start describing as "ageless" soon is on a massive hot streak with goals in his past three games and seven goals in his past eight games.

 

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I checked in here and there on the Coyotes v. Capitals game last night and it looked to me like American defenseman John Carlson is finding his form. Did he cost himself a shot at the USA men's Olympic ice hockey team with a struggle filled October, however? Hopefully not, I don't think there are four better American born right-side defenseman in the league frankly. 

 
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With four shots and three points on Saturday night we can officially say that Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli is laying waste while filling in for injured Kings forward Jeff Carter. In three games this season Toffoli has managed five points. He's played over 15 minutes in all three of Los Angeles' games this past month. That Toffoli isn't in the league on an everyday basis yet is both a travesty and a testament to the absurd depth of the Kings.

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Finally I didn't realize this until I was watching last night's Canucks, Kings game but it appears that Darryl Sutter is back to using Jake Muzzin and Drew Doughty as a defensive pairing. As best I can tell this first started happening on October 30th when the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Sharks 4-3 in overtime. Since then Muzzin's ice-time has exploded and he's recorded three points and eight shots in four games.

 


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Shoeless said:

Shoeless
Yahoo ownership Just a quick note on your Krug comment. I am not sure how many Yahoo leagues are keepers with farm teams, but I can bet that almost every one of them has Krug tucked away - that might unskew the numbers a little.
November 10, 2013
Votes: +0

tonyunclejohnny said:

tonyunclejohnny
giroux great ramblings thomas thanks! your jokes on giroux however, not funny...
November 10, 2013
Votes: +0
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