There were nine NHL games on the slate on Saturday night, and most of them were kind of underwhelming from a match up perspective. Not that we care, we're just glad to watch hockey in the fall again.

Let's get to it, shall we?

 

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On Saturday morning the Toronto maple Leafs completed a deal with the Anaheim Ducks - Jesse Blacker, a conditional third round pick and a seventh rounder went to Anaheim, while Peter Holland and Brad Staubitz's two-year, one-way contract went to Toronto.

 

It's a good deal for both sides, I figure. The Leafs get the best player in the deal in Holland - a skilled centre with pedigree who has managed .87 points per game in the AHL during his young professional career. At the same time, the Leafs paid a good deal to acquire Holland: they took on a 1.2 million dollar liability in Staubitz and sent the Ducks a conditional pick which could become a second rounder if Holland plays 25 games this season.

 

I really like the deal for Toronto, but I don't think it's a slam dunk for the Leafs: it's an intelligent, calculated gamble. Anaheim meanwhile managed to shed some payroll and maximize the return for an asset who was falling down their depth chart, was likely to fall further next season when William Karlsson comes to North America, and was probably going to end up on waivers after training camp next season if he'd remained in the Ducks organization.

 

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Peter Holland made his debut on Saturday night in Toronto's 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. He started immediately on a line with James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel and while he didn't get power-play time, he did spend the entire evening on that top-line. With Bozak at least another 10 days away, I'd say Holland's a reasonable bet if you need a player in a matchup league this week.

 

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Holland's biggest fantasy impact, however, won't be one he personally makes. Rather, it'll be in his freeing up of van Riemsdyk, who has been playing centre in Bozak and Bolland's absence. JVR is not a natural centreman and while he's okay there, it neuters his offensive output, his actual effectiveness and his fantasy value. In his first game back as a winger van Riemsdyk scored on two identical tip goals, and managed four shots. Ho-hum.

 

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Speaking of Toronto Maple Leafs wingers: David Clarkson hasn't scored a goal in his first ten games and is beginning to hear about it. Clarkson hasn't been that bad, in my view, and a lot of what's going on is just bad luck.

 

To wit, at five-on-five with David Clarkson on the ice the Maple Leafs are shooting 2.6% meaning he's been outrageously unlucky in the offensive end of the rink. Clarkson isn't a guy who drives the percentages, he's more of a shot volume than a shot quality guy, but that 2.6% won't continue obviously. Meanwhile he's at least taking a couple of shots per game and he's the only Toronto Maple Leafs skater this season - really, the only one - who is coming out ahead in terms of the underlying numbers at evens.

 

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Tough night for the Montreal Canadiens who were mauled and shut out at home by the New York Rangers. PK Subban managed zero shots, while the much ballyhooed Brendan Gallagher, Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk line generated a combined two shots on net. Yikes.

 

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You want to know why Montreal was so godawful offensively on Saturday night? Look no further than the clinic put on by New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonaugh. McDonaugh led all Rangers players in ice-time on Saturday night, and the team outshot their opponents 14-4 in those minutes.

 

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Here's an odd note, the most frequent match up for McDonaugh - in a game on the road, mind you - was a defenseman in Montreal's Subban. It's pretty rare to see a club's best defensive defenseman is soft-matched against an opposing defenseman, but I suspect that's how Alain Vigneault and the Rangers game-planned against Montreal and Subban on Saturday night.

 

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It was tough to imagine saying this when they were in the midst of their early season nose dive but the New York Rangers might be for real. The Rangers are the third best Eastern Conference team in terms of shot attempt differential, and have the third lowest PDO (combined on-ice shooting% and save%) in the NHL. The return of Carl Hagelin (who had 4 shots and 3 hits on Saturday) and the emergence of Chris Krieder (who had 3 shots and 6 hits on Saturday) has helped the club enormously, and the expected return of Rick Nash will make them considerably more formidable still.

 

Eventually Lundqvist will figure it out, and then the Rangers will have a very good shot at emerging from the Metropolitan division, I think.

 

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The game between the Detroit Red Wings and the New York Islanders was like a fantasy wet dream (so long as you're not a Jonas Gustavsson or Kevin Poulin owner). Two subpar goalies and two excellent offensive teams is really the best combination in hockey from a fan's perspective.

 

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Big Islanders rookie Brock Nelson is an intriguing option if you're looking for a player this week. A week ago Saturday, Nelson was a scratch as the Islanders fell to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Since then he's been getting gobs of power-play ice-time - including more than six minutes with the top-unit in the past three games. On Saturday he managed a goal and probably should've had more, finishing with seven shots. Eventually, one assumes, Vanek will return and diminish Nelson's power-play points utility, but until then he might be worth a look.

 

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Alexander Steen continued his scoring tear with the game winning goal, his 17th of the season, on Saturday night as the St. Louis Blues defeated the Carolina Hurricanes.

 

It goes without saying that Steen's outrageous goal scoring output is unsustainable. After all he is shooting 26.6% through 18 games this season and has a career shooting% under 10%. But who really cares? Steen is averaging 3.5 shots per game for the Blues in the early going and has long been one of the league's most under-rated two-way players. So forget sustainability: if Steen shoots below his career average the rest of the way (say, 8%) but maintains his shooting rate he'd still hit 35 goals at this point...

 

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Evgeni Malkin has not had a particularly good start to the season and had a tough game again on Saturday. Against the Devils the Penguins were outscored by two goals at evens with Malkin on the ice when the score was tied, and were handily outshot too. I wouldn't even note this, except that its become something of a trend in the early going this season. While Malkin has 18 points in 20 games, which is excellent, and his -8 is much ado about nothing (Pittsburgh goalies have a .884 sv% when Malkin's on the ice at even-strength) he's not near the top of the league in driving play this season and in fact is a bit under water in terms of shot attempt differential despite an optimized offensively oriented deployment. Not sure what's going on with him, but Malkin has always relied a lot on his physical style and speed. Perhaps he's keeping an injury quiet and has lost a step?

 

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The Predators have enjoyed just woeful goaltending of late but Marek Mazanec had a solid game on Saturday. Mazanec is a big 'tender who has been relatively successful everywhere he's been so far. I'll be curious to see if he can run with the starters responsibilities in Nashville.

 

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A related point: with Nabokov and Khabibulin adding to the list of injured goalies on Saturday night, it's pretty amazing that it took so long for Tim Thomas and Ilya Bryzgalov to find work. Both are pretty solid bets to be average goaltenders, in my estimation, and it seems like several teams are going to be pretty desperate for netminding over the next month.

 

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Martin Hanzal had your fantasy line of the night with a goal, three assists, a power-play point, 2 shots and three hits. That Phoenix Coyotes team might be nails, by the way.

 

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We've now seen enough hockey since Steven Stamkos' injury to know that Valterri Filppula owners are going to be literally the only people tangentially related to the league who benefit from the absence of the best goal scorer in a generation. Filppula had another beast fantasy game on Saturday night with five shots, and led all Lightning skaters in ice-time...

 

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Amazing how the Avalanche look mediocre when their goaltenders don't stop 95% of all shots. Or perhaps it's not regression that's afflicting Colorado, perhaps they just really, really miss the presence of Andre Benoit on the back-end...

 

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I'll be honest, I decided to watch LobCity play poorly against Brooklyn's scrubs rather than tune into the battle of Alberta (Albrutal? AHLberta?). Can you blame me? I'll point out a couple of things from looking over the boxscore, however. Sven Baertschi managed an assist and played nearly 3 minutes of power-play ice-time. Baertschi has regularly been a healthy scratch this season and obviously the team is trying a tough love approach with him. If you see his minutes trending upwards, however, and especially on the man-advantage, then he could have some value.

 

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In a similar vein Oilers defenseman Philip Larsen continues to play big minutes and in particular on the power-play. He has fantasy value at the moment, despite the flood of minuses that he (and most Oilers skaters, honestly) brings with him.


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Comments (4)add comment

sparrowtrini said:

hockeysmygame
Posting Okay as I mentioned yesterday I cant post on the forums. Im obviously signed in here on the outside but it continues to say login by the forums.
Guess im chomping on the bit a little when it comes to talking hockey.
But I appreciate all those on the admin are trying to fix this.
Patiently waiting
Sparrow
November 17, 2013
Votes: +0

Rodgort said:

Rodgort
... I like the analysis on McDonaugh vs Subban matchup. I would have never thought about that, and that adds a different dimension to matchups when I watch games
November 17, 2013
Votes: +1

coldsquad2002 said:

coldsquad2002
... Colorado has not been the same since they made that awful Downie trade and their goalie spent the night in jail.
November 17, 2013
Votes: +1

loki12 said:

loki12
... So who is Michael Stone? Six goals from a D-man on a team with Yandle and OEL? No assists however...still, how is he doing it?
November 17, 2013
Votes: +1
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