If you listen closely enough you can hear the faint sound of Alex Steen ripping through the atmosphere on his way back down to Earth. He is now scoreless in three straight. He didn’t even fire a shot, which is unheard of for him this season.


Of course, Steen also played a season high 24:42 in the overtime contest as Ken Hitchcock continues to rely heavily on his top line. I linked to an article a few weeks back that discussed how Hitchcock wants to scale back the minutes of these guys to keep them fresh all season. So far, no dice. But if you look at it closer, Steen ranks just 16th in the league in ice time among forwards while David Backes ranks 21st and TJ Oshie ranks 40th. This trio isn’t playing any more than other top lines in the league so it is not unreasonable to expect they might continue to see these minutes.


The issue with the Blues in fantasy hockey has long been that they don’t give anyone enough minutes to make a leap to stardom. Well, now Hitchcock is giving these three the top-line treatment and they are making the most of it.

They still have more regression in play even if their minutes don’t come down as both Backes and Steen are shooting over 20% to boast some excellent goal totals and they are dragging Oshie along with them with 15 assists so far.


Anyways, you know that I am firmly in the sell high camp here but I wanted to provide you with the argument why Steen and Co. may not drop off as much as you might think.


Patrick Berglund missed his third straight game and Magnus Paajarvi has drawn into the lineup as his replacement but he has skated nothing for minutes so it’s not time to get him, even if he does have a goal in this three-game stretch.




A must read, Brendan Ross (@RossyYoungblood) was at Game 3 of the SUBWAY Super Series representing Dobber Hockey and has put together a FEATURE STORY over at DobberProspects that provides first hand player reports from all participating prospects on Team OHL plus a few Russians who impressed. Prospects include: Connor McDavid (2015 eligible), Max Domi (Coyotes), Bo Horvat (Canucks), Scott Laughton (Flyers), Nikita Zadorov (Sabres), Nikolay Goldobin (2014 NHL Draft), Aaron Ekblad (2014 NHL Draft), and many more. Give it a read!


"The Buffalo Sabres (finally) returned Zadorov to the London Knights earlier this week and the big first rounder was a late addition to the Russian roster for this series, despite not skating in a game with London yet. Zadorov was the most impressive Russian skater in this game. He provided a physical presence, jump started the rush and picked up a trio of helpers along the way."






Boston’s KIL line stayed cold in last night’s contest. David Krejci is scoreless over the past five games while Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic have one and two points over that same stretch respectively.


Dennis Seidenberg missed last night’s game with a lower body injury. The Bruins called up Kevan Miller to take his place. Miller doesn’t have much upside beyond some possible PIM production and Seidenberg isn’t expected to be out long so I wouldn’t worry about Miller for your pool.


Dougie Hamilton has skated over 23 minutes in each of the past two games, picking up the slack with Seidenberg out. He isn’t ready to play those minutes consistently and will see his ice time drop back below 20 when Seidenberg returns.




After a couple of mediocre starts to get his feet wet Marek Mazanec has now won three straight games, all solid starts. Like Dobber, I expected Magnus Hellberg to be the one putting on this performance but nope, it’s been Mazanec. The biggest takeaway is that the Nashville goalie factory still has mustard.


Matt Cullen exploded for four points last night and has six in the last three but I don’t know how you can justify picking him up. Outside of this three-game stretch he has scored just four points in 19 games and he has never been much of a fantasy producer. This is just one of those weird ones that leave you scratching your head.


Colin Wilson notched a couple of assists but he’s another guy you probably can’t pick up. Before this game he had scored in just one of his last 12 games. That game happened to be a four-pointer of his own but the point is he is too inconsistent. Classic Preds forward.


Craig Smith scored two goals and added an assist, his second three-point effort in the last three games but again, he’s too inconsistent to rely on. He is second on the team with 14 points in 22 games this season so if you can stomach the ups and downs he could be good for 50.


Seth Jones scored a power play goal last night, his first marker in the month of November. He has just two points in his last eight games and recently went through a stretch where he didn’t land a shot on goal in seven straight games. It’s hard to produce points when you aren’t shooting. It isn’t all that surprising that Jones would struggle to produce. The Predators are not an elite offensive team so he won’t get any propping up and even the best young defensemen will struggle with consistency in their first year.




Jonathan Bernier hasn’t started quite as frequently this month but he also hasn’t slowed down much. Last night was his first weak effort in November as he continues to look like the 1A of Toronto’s 1A-1B situation.


Peter Holland scored his first goal as a Leaf but skated just 13:21 on a line with Nikolai Kulemin and Mason Raymond. It turns out that was the Leafs most productive line last night but that doesn’t mean Holland warrants a pickup.


Nazem Kadri scored a goal in his return from suspension and I would expect him to be very productive over the next little while as he is the Leafs only real NHL centerman.




I’m not going to read too much into the scoring outburst from the Matt Read, Sean Couturier and Steve Downie. They combined for six points on two goals scored in a two-minute burst that gave the Flyers a second period lead they would not relinquish.


First of all, it came against Buffalo. Playing against the Sabres is like going to college for an NHL team.


Second, that line is still just the third line and they only get second unit power play time so I won’t believe they can sustain production until I see it.


Kudos to Steve Downie for staying productive since arriving in Philly. His minutes are down and his linemates are weaker but in five games since returning from the concussion he got in his first game as a Flyer he has five points. Not bad but probably not sustainable.


I scooped up Kimmo Timonen of the waiver wire earlier this week because I figured the Flyers were starting to trend upwards and I really liked their schedule over the next little while. I was immediately rewarded with a three-point, five-shot effort. I would have taken that production for the entire week. Not bad.


Timonen was held off the board last night but fired another five shots. He won’t do that every night. In fact, Timonen probably won’t even fire more than two shots per game by season’s end but his scoring will pick up as we go forward. Timonen is one of the league’s most consistent defensemen and I wouldn’t be shocked if he finished the season with 40 points. That would mean 35 points over the next 61 games. That’s totally achievable.


Care to join me on this ride?




Ryan Miller continues to perform well while auditioning for his next gig. He stopped 42 of 45 shots, his seventh 40+ save effort this season and we are only a quarter of the way through. Miller is probably burying you if you track goals-against average but he has been solid for overall save totals.


Ted Nolan isn’t doing anything all that creative with his lineups since taking over. One change worth noting is that the power play ice time that Marcus Foligno had been seeing has completely vanished. In fact, his minutes are way down over the past five games as he has been relegated to the third line as Nolan moves to give his veterans more minutes.


Tyler Ennis has been moved to the wing under Nolan. He is currently skating on the second line with Ville Leino and Steve Ott, which is hardly a perfect situation but it does free him of the defensive responsibilities that centermen typically have. Otherwise Ennis is still skating on the top power play unit. He seems to have responded with four points in five games since Nolan took over.


Might be time to get in on Ennis.




Soooo the Red Wings finally called up Gustav Nyquist and whaddayaknow he scored. Twice. The Red Wings used his presence to split up Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg in an attempt to spread out their offense. I say attempt because the reality is sticking Datsyuk on a line with the geriatrics Todd Bertuzzi and Dan Cleary only serves to shackle one of the NHL’s most creative players.


Now, let’s be clear. Datsyuk can make chicken salad out of chicken **** so he will get his but let’s just say Zetterberg is probably getting the better end of this deal pairing with Nyquist and Johan Franzen.


It showed as Zetterberg notched three assists while Datsyuk was held off the board and was minus-three.


The new found offensive production helped the Red Wings to their first win since November 2nd when they blew out the Oilers. This was against the Hurricanes last night so you don’t want to overreact but at this point the Red Wings will take it.




And to be fair to the Hurricanes’ Justin Peters, the team in front of him may not be good but he was at least solid stopping 43 of 47 shots. Peters has been impressive filling in while Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin are both on the shelf. It really sucks that he’ll be relegated back to the minors when those two get healthy.


The big news for Carolina was the return of Jeff Skinner. He skated on the top line with Eric Staal and Tuomo Ruutu but was held scoreless. I’m not overly optimistic about the potential for this line. Staal and Skinner have never meshed all that well and Ruutu is just flat struggling. But there really isn’t enough talent on this roster to allow for much creativity so they may stick together while they wait for Alex Semin to get healthy.


Skinner’s return pushed Jiri Tlusty’s minutes down below 10 as he was shut off the power play entirely, although this is hardly surprising he has been miserable this season. Somehow he managed to go minus-three last night despite the limited minutes. It’s clear the Red Wings were picking on his line with great success.




The Blackhawks ventilated the Jets 6-3 last night. Jonathan Toews had four points in the offensive outburst.


I rarely have anything to say about the Blackhawks because they are just consistently excellent and we know who their top guns are but their recent acquisition of Kris Versteeg does offer some intrigue. He notched an assist in just 10:20 last night skating on the third line. He has four points in four games since returning to Chicago.


As I projected Versteeg is seeing second unit power play time but that decision was easy with Marian Hossa missing the previous three games. Last night, Hossa was back and that made for some interesting combinations. The Blackhawks fiddled with a lot of different combinations on their second power play unit. One of Versteeg or Brandon Pirri is going to be left out in the cold. It remains to be seen which one.




Tobias Enstrom notched an assist to end an eight-game scoreless drought. There’s still time to buy low however. Like Timonen, Enstrom is one of the most consistent puck-movers in fantasy hockey. He’s a virtual lock for 40 points.


Dustin Byfuglien has really started to pick up the pace with five goals and seven points over his last four games. The good thing about Byfuglien is that he still fires the puck a lot and takes plenty of penalties even when he isn’t scoring, which makes it easy to keep him in the lineup through the slumps so you can take advantage when he gets hot like he is now.


Bryan Little is another one who is hot, but really he has been hot all year. Alex Steen is getting all the press for his otherworldly production so far but Little isn’t far off with 23 points in 24 games so far. Like Steen, Little has been buoyed by a ridiculous shooting percentage but also like Steen he is playing serious top line minutes for the Jets so it’s not surprising to see him producing.




Rick Nash scored a pretty little goal last night, his first of the season.



With his return the Rangers are finally healthy and ready to take off. I firmly believe in their collection of talents. The Rangers can roll three solid scoring lines, each of whom got in on the scoring in their 3-2 win.


Check out their lines from last night courtesy of FrozenPool:















As for power play time, the Rangers got their big four-man unit from last season back together with Nash, Derek Stepan, Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan together. Ryan McDonagh was the lone defenseman.


Of course, the Rangers scored 36 seconds into their lone power play of the night so it’s impossible to come to much of a conclusion.


It’s worth noting that Michael Del Zotto returned to the lineup skating 15:30 and skated his typical brand of mediocre hockey. We should start one of those calendar pools to guess when he gets traded. I’ll take December 3rd.




Credit the Dallas Stars for drawing penalties and using their power plays to generate a significant shot advantage. It wasn’t enough as Henrik Lundqvist was stellar stopping 41 of 43 shots including all seven from Tyler Seguin.


Stephane Robidas fired five shots last nice and was successful on one attempt, giving him two goals in the past three games but just three on the year so I wouldn’t be rushing to grab him just yet.


Sergei Gonchar also got his fourth point of the season and he too has two in his last three. Him I’m more confident about a turnaround but only a modest one so only in deeper leagues should you pursue Gonchar.


Alex Chiasson scored his first goal in nearly a month. Ahhh, rookies.


So Dustin Jeffrey went from seeing less than 10 minutes a night for the Pittsburgh Penguins to seeing less than 10 minutes in his Stars debut. He’s 25 now so I’d say it’s time to pull the plug if for some reason you hadn’t already.




The Coyotes are just weird this year. I picked on them last week for being one of the worst teams in the league for shot differential and here they go and actually outshoot an opponent and they lose anyway. They fired 44 shots to the Avalanche’s 30 in the loss but to be fair, the Avalanche have been another one of those teams winning despite getting consistently outshot.


This Michael Stone character in Phoenix has four goals in the past three games and has seven on the year, as a defenseman. Oh, and he has zero assists. Looks like we have the next Jason Garrison on our hands.


Shane Doan continues to shred for the Coyotes as his scoring streak has stretched to seven games now so the sell high window remains open.




I’ve been singing the praises of Andre Benoit since early in the season. It’s not that I think he’s overly talented but when you see so many minutes on a team as loaded as the Avalanche you are going to get points. Benoit has frequently been the lone defenseman on the Avalanche’s top power play unit. Last night he came through with a big three point effort, including his first goal of the season.


He still doesn’t have much upside and I really do think that Tyson Barrie is the guy who should be top dog amongst Avalanche defensemen but until Barrie takes that job by the horns the job remains Benoit’s. Lord knows Erik Johnson doesn’t want the job. Benoit could get you 40 points this season if the status quo remains.


Barrie, by the way, skated 20:29 last night with second unit power play time.


No Duchene? No problem, says Ryan O’Reilly who extended his scoring streak to four games. Ditto for PA Parenteau who has now scored in three straight.




Uh, oh. Devan Dubnyk and the Oilers have won three in a row. They beat the Flames, Blue Jackets and Panthers on that little win streak so it’s hardly anything to write home about but you take the moral victories where you can get them.


Dubnyk has actually been genuinely productive in November boasting a 4-5-0 record with a 0.913 save percentage and a 2.29 goals-against average. That’s good enough to keep you afloat in any league. I had been trying to buy low on Dubnyk when he hit rock bottom but couldn’t get enough in the deal to make it worth my while. It’s a shame too because it really can’t get worse than where Dubnyk was at. Oh well.


It’s no surprise that this recent turn-around has come with the Oilers finally getting healthy.


Ryan Nugent-Hopkins notched three assists last night. He has scored five in the last two games. Credit the sniping of Jordan Eberle who has four goals in the last three games.


David Perron fired nine shots last night and one found the twine. He too has four goals in the past three games and has fired 19 shots over that span. It’s not hard to see Perron is really benefitting in Edmonton. He has 18 points in 20 games so far and has fired 80 shots on goal, a rate of four per game, which is double what he was shooting in St. Louis.


Sam Gagner took seven shots of his own and now has points in each of his last four games.


Justin Schultz has a point in both games since returning from injury. His return to the lineup spelled the end of Philip Larsen’s mini run of productivity.




Brad Boyes has seen a significant jump in ice time since the departure of Kris Versteeg. He has points in three straight and may be worth looking into.


Tomas Kopecky left the game early and did not return. Shawn Matthias soaked up a good portion of his minutes last night.




As mentioned in yesterday’s ramblings, the Devils play the most back-to-backs in the league this season. Last night was one of those back-to-backs, which offered Cory Schneider an opportunity to re-stake his claim to the blue ice.


Schneider was brilliant stopping 34 of 35 shots as the Devils were outshot 34-15. This was the third straight game Schneider allowed just one goal but in the previous two games the team just couldn’t muster enough offense for the win. Last night they escaped with the overtime victory, just Schneider’s second win of the season.


Everyone is mesmerized by the bounce-back season from Martin Brodeur that they are missing how effective Schneider has been this season. He may have only won two games so far but Schneider has not allowed more than three goals in a game yet this season and his numbers are simply better than Brodeur’s.


I think he gives the Devils the best chance to win on a nightly basis, won-loss record be damned. Wins and losses are a pretty arbitrary way to measure goalie effectiveness if you ask me. Isn’t it possible that Schneider has simply been unlucky to receive next to no goal support in any of his games this season? He’s only had 10 starts, which is hardly enough sample to go off of.


Sample size goes both ways, of course, so it’s possible Schneider’s numbers so far are an aberration and Brodeur is in fact the better goalie but that goes against what we’ve seen over the previous three years of hockey.


Jaromir Jagr scored the game winner last night, which lends more credence to my Benjamin Button theory from yesterday. Jagr’s goal tied him with Mario Lemieux on the all-time goal scoring list. He may be a shadow of his former self but we are still watching one of the greats.


Hey look, Michael Ryder scored for the first time in six games. He has been an utter disappointment in New Jersey and what’s really pathetic is he is actually shooting a really high percentage (14.3%) so it’s not like he offers much buy low potential. He is just another woefully underperforming player on a woefully underwhelming team.




Tyler Toffoli is starting to tail off. He has just one point in his last four games but to be fair two of those games came against Schneider, who is really good so, yeah.

What’s really caused the drought has been a significant drop in ice time that has literally no explanation whatsoever. Over his first four games this season Toffoli skated over 15 minutes in each of them and was productive but over the past five games his ice time has slipped well below 15 minutes in each contest and his productivity has slipped.


But what’s really interesting is Toffoli’s line combos haven’t changed. He is still skating with Mike Richards and Dwight King at even strength and predominantly with Linden Vey and Tanner Pearson on the second power play unit. In fact, last night 3:32 of Toffoli’s 12:46 came with the man advantage.


Justin Williams has been hot for the past month now. He has 16 points over his last 15 games and doesn’t look like he’s going to slow down. I made a few pitches to acquire him when he opened the season cold but no bites. Would’a loved to have nabbed that buy low.




As it turns out, losing Steven Stamkos is actually a big deal. The Lightning have now lost four straight games in devastating fashion but to be fair those four have come against the four teams from the buzz saw that is the Pacific Division. And last night they just happened to throw Anders Lindback out there so that doesn’t help matters either.


I want to see these guys play a few games against some non-Pacific opponents so we can get a real feel for where they stand but so far it looks like scoring is going to be an issue.


I touched on how Ryan Malone is now waiver fodder with Stamkos out last week. It looks like Matt Carle is feeling the crunch as well with just one point in five games but that could just be small sample size noise.


For the most part the notable guys on the roster have maintained some level of scoring without Stamkos so like I said, we need to see more before making any firm conclusions and that includes passing judgement on Ben Bishop who has been one of the breakout stars of this season. Let’s get him some games against the East again and see how he does.


But of course the Lightning play the Ducks tonight so no reprieve this week.




For the Sharks this might have been their first game all year with their full lineup. Here were their lines courtesy of FrozenPool:















Brent Burns made his return to the lineup after a month off. He scored because that’s just what he does now that he’s a forward.


Tommy Wingels scored two goals and he seems to have hit the jackpot now skating with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau who each had three points last night. This certainly seems to be the year where Couture is officially taking the mantle of top dog in San Jose from Joe Thornton, which makes a ton of sense considering Thornton’s UFA status.


Thornton clearly has a lot of hockey left in him. Because he’s so smart, has such vision and has never relied on speed Thornton certain seems like one of those guys who could score big into his 40’s. I’m really interested to see how the playoffs shake out for San Jose. Another flameout and surely he jumps ship and goes ring hunting. He maybe even takes a pay cut to do so. If the Sharks get close however, I could see him back for another kick at the can.


For whatever reason this doesn’t feel like previous Sharks seasons where you could taste the impending playoff doom. Maybe it’s because it’s Couture’s team now so there’s less pressure on the old guard. Or maybe it’s because we simply do not care what this team does until playoff time and since that’s still 60-odd games away there’s no sense in getting riled up.


The point is that Thornton’s summer destination will have serious fantasy implications both in San Jose and/or wherever he lands.




Calgary traded Tim Jackman to Anaheim for a sixth round pick. The Flames did call up Blair Jones after the move but that’s pretty much a non-move as far as fantasy goes.




Sean McIndoe evaluates the NHL a quarter of the way into the season.




You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.

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Comments (10)add comment

mattforte3 said:

Gustav Nyquist ... predictions for the remainder of the season? How many points can he produce?
November 22, 2013
Votes: +0

SavageGardener said:

Kudos to Steve Laidlaw Just wanted to drop a short note to give kudos to Steve Laidlaw - his ramblings are extremely detailed, and cover each of the previous night's games, talking about both the Stars and any possible dark horses/waiver pickups. Keep up the great work, love reading your ramblings!
November 22, 2013
Votes: +0

baumer said:

... The only reason Seth Jones is now struggling is because he was playing around 28-30 minutes a game before with all number ` pp time. Josi comes back and now he is off the number one pp and his icetime is cut down by about 8 minutes. It has nothing to do with burnout or not being able to keep up the pace, its every thing to do with Josi's return.
November 22, 2013
Votes: -1

Big Ev said:

Big Ev
... Yes rataylor, please tell the Detroit Red Wings coaching staff how to win consistently. They just don't have a clue.
November 22, 2013
Votes: +0

Wrist_Shot said:

The Ramblings Beast …another day and another incredible ramblings by Laidlaw. Serious work and very consistently awesome.

Thank you Steve.
November 22, 2013
Votes: +1

RangerFan said:

... Watched the Rangers-Stars game. I honestly think it was the Jaime Benn show. Not Seguin. Benn was weaving and dealing all night long - behind the back passes, toe drag, etc. If it was not for Lundqvist, who absolutely stole 2 points for the Rangers by stopping 23 shots in the first period, Benn would have had at least 3 points on the night.
November 22, 2013
Votes: +0

Shenanigans said:

... Senor Laidlaw.... I would pay a yearly subscription just for your ramblings !

( and that's meant as a compliment, not a "light bulb over the head moment" for Dobber ! Mwahaha. ) Nice job.
November 22, 2013
Votes: +0

Axeman33 said:

... It also shouldn't come as a surprise to Dubnyk's slight spike in play due to some competition coming in and threatening his job as well. He seems to play better when there's a threat that he won't get starts. Labarbera wasn't really a threat to steal much from him and Doobie really didn't play well early on. Bring in the threat to steal his starts in Bryz and look at him pick up his game. The Bulin Wall, as bad as he was, still offered some competition to Doobie the past few years.

I don't care who's in nets and who's offering the competition. I just want them to stop the damn pucks.
November 22, 2013
Votes: +0

rataylor22 said:

... Couple thoughts.

Completely agree on the Schneider thing. He has gotten absolutely no goal support. Almost on par with Harding. Considering the dude has. Not allowed more than three goals this year (and even allowing three is a rarity), his W-L record should be an embarrassment for his team (but not for him).

Poor Datsyuk. I've ranted about this for Edmonton, and now it's Detroit's turn. STOP CHASING THIS MYTH OF OFFENSIVE DIVERSITY. If Detroit wants to win consistently, Zetterberg-Datsyuk-Nyquist needs to be a line, Detroit would be a western playoff team if they started the season with that line (but man is the east a joke).

Problem with Steen: riding out the hot streak. Ideally you want to sell high at the perfect time. Hardest part of this is selling after. Out of the production but before the crash. Possibly the hardest part of fantasy hockey.

Tyler Seguin. Saw some comments on twitter about his dominance. Was it 7 shots but an average game or was he a force in this game? On holidays, wasn't able to watch it, but watch almost every Dallas game. This team is fun to watch.

Toffoli is still young, and going to go through highs and lows. His only danger is Darryl Sutter. That kid should never fall below the top 6 in the Kings lineup. Ice time stats are circumstantial, I wouldn't start worrying until he falls out of the top 6.

Edmonton is starting to show why that can be so scary and dangerous, albeit against 3 of the worst teams in the NHL. Still, if they are starting to pull it together, even if the playoffs isn't possible, a shit ton of high scoring games still is.
November 22, 2013
Votes: -1

holypuck said:

... That''s some thorough ramblings right there!
November 22, 2013
Votes: +2
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