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Check out Dobber’s Fantasy Pool Look column at The Hockey News. This week he touches on players who excel on the road.
With American Thanksgiving there were just two games last night. As promised I need to cover the late games from Wednesday night first…
Calgary held a 2-0 period early in the third period but when desperation time hit the Blackhawks showed the talent disparity scoring three unanswered for the win.
Antti Raanta got his first career start and hung in there for the win.
Patrick Kane scored two goals, including the game winner, to key the Blackhawks’ comeback. Kane has points in 12 straight games. He is shooting 18.8% on the year so he’s probably due some regression, unless you believe he has truly stepped up his shooting. After all, in last year’s half-season Kane managed to shoot 16.7% so he’s either on a 73-game game run he won’t match again or he’s kicked his game up a notch.
The distinction is important because if you believe Kane can maintain a shooting percentage above 15.0% then there is room for him build on his career high of 88 points. If you don’t believe he can sustain such high shooting percentages then he probably tops out somewhere between 75 and 85, which is still really good but obviously you hope he can reach another level.
The Blackhawks’ second power play unit actually saw more ice time than the top unit did last night, which is one of those oddities that happens from time to time.
Pirri hasn’t scored in five straight. He still has relevance skating on the second line with Kane and Saad but without power play time that relevance is limited.
Duncan Keith has points in five straight and has only been held off the board twice in the last month. He has just one goal but 20(!) assists so far and is on pace for 66 points, which would easily be his most since his career high 69 in 2009-10. Is Olympic year Duncan Keith a thing?
I figured we would never see Keith score that many points again in his career because he not only fired the puck more than ever in 2009-10 but he also shot 6.6% which is pretty high for him. Keith averaged 2.6 shots per game that season but has otherwise averaged basically two per game. This season he is averaging 2.8 per game and while he is only shooting 1.4% he has seen the results of getting the puck to the net.
The Wideman injury means that when Mark Giordano returns in the next little while it won’t kill the big minutes Kris Russell has been skating in his absence so if you’ve had Russell as a short-term pickup you can count on having him productive for an extended stretch.
Jiri Hudler’s scoring had slowed with just two points in six games going into Wednesday’s affair but he managed two assists to get things going once again. I almost bought high on Hudler this week but decided better of it. There just isn’t enough talent in Calgary for him to sustain a 70-point pace. I’d bet he finishes short of 60, which to be fair, would still be good but that’s not the price you are paying right now.
Consider that Hudler sits 11th in the league in five-on-five on-ice shooting percentage. You don’t want to be left holding Hudler as that regresses so it’s time to play some hot potato.
The San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings proved perfect matches for each other on Wednesday as they took a 2-2 draw into the shootout and then had to go eight shooters deep in the skills competition. The two teams even fired the same number of shots (40) in the game, which meant great numbers for Ben Scrivens and Antti Niemi.
Scrivens continues to be a revelation for the Kings in Jonathan Quick’s absence.
Tyler Toffoli, meanwhile, has just one point in his last five games and has been reduced to just 10 minutes per game with Carter returning. Feels like it won’t be long before he gets sent down. I don’t see why they can’t find the minutes for Toffoli to be productive though. You could play him on the third line sure but give him some second unit power play minutes. Do they really need to keep running Alec Martinez out there?
How unfortunate are things for Joe Pavelski right now? Sure, he’s been stuck centering the third line for a while now but he has at least seen top unit power play minutes. Well now his linemates on the third line are Martin Havlat and the king of the useless shot Tyler Kennedy. Havlat has recently been vulturing some of Pavelski’s power play minutes as the Sharks attempt to shop him. Hopefully the nightmare ends soon.
The trio did combine for all the points on the Sharks’ opening goal so things aren’t really as bad as the hyperbolic paragraph above would indicate but if I can’t make fun of Martin Havlat and Tyler Kennedy then I don’t want to do these ramblings any more.
Now onto the Thursday night games…
Apparently Craig Anderson played so well on Wednesday night the Senators just had to give him the start last night as well to complete the back-to-back. At this point, they get what they deserve – sticking the fantasy arsonist out there in the back-to-back is just playing with fire.
Anderson got lit up for four goals for the fourth straight game. He just doesn’t have it right now and he needs to be excellent because the Senators are not playing good hockey.
The whole splitting up the twins thing didn’t last very long. The Sedins each had two points last night in the win.
Alex Burrows was back on the top line with the Sedins but was held off the board for the sixth straight game. He has really struggled this season but in deeper leagues you should consider trying to buy low.
With Burrows up on the top line Ryan Kesler has been dropped down to centering the second line with Zack Kassian and Chris Higgins, which definitely hurts Kesler but so long as he remains on the top power play he will put up consistent points and he continues to fire the puck a ton so his rotisserie value remains high as well.
The lineup shuffle has also pushed Mike Santorelli down to the third line with David Booth and Dale Weise but that line was surprisingly productive last night. Santorelli and Booth each had two points while Weise chipped in one, his third in the last four games but don’t expect that productivity to continue.
For Booth, his two points were his first since returning to the lineup earlier this month. I wouldn’t be rushing out to grab him though. He’s still just a third liner so even if he stays healthy you can’t really rely on him.
Jason Garrison has been back on the Canucks top power play unit. He has power play markers in three straight games and has four points over that time. It doesn’t seem like he is going to stick on that top unit for the full season so you can’t count on him to keep producing but if you can get him for these little rushes then you’ll do well.
Alex Edler, the other defenseman on the top power play unit is struggling heavily. He has just three points in his last 16 games and just one power play marker this season. You won’t find a better buy low on the market.
It’s true that the Canucks have been merely an average team offensively this season (18th in goals per game) and have had a truly dreadful power play (27th in efficiency). Both of those factors have conspired to drag Edler down this season but you’ve got to ask whether or not you think it can get any worse.
Edler has by no means been the most unlucky player this season but he’s on the list. Consider the Canucks are shooting just 4.9% at five-on-five with Edler on the ice. The team simply has not put the puck in with Edler out there in any situation. Perhaps that’s a reflection of Edler’s poor play this season but I blame luck as well.
My whole world just got flipped upside down. Ilya Bryzgalov made his first start in an Oiler uniform and got a shutout stopping 33 shots against the streaking Predators.
He’s not the answer. There’s no way he’s the answer. I’ll eat my hat if Bryzgalov winds up putting up good stats for the Oilers and steals the starting job. But if he can do enough to push Devan Dubnyk back to respectability (he was already on his way before getting beat up by the Blackhawks on Monday) then the signing was a good one.
The answer for the Oilers was always to get healthy. They are now, which helps explain why they’ve won four of their last five. A friendly schedule of late has also helped matters. They’ll play Columbus tonight, whom they beat up 7-0 last week. Don’t expect it to be so easy this time around.
It’ll be interesting to see who the Oilers put in goal tonight though as they could easily reward Bryzgalov for a job well done.
Taylor Hall has been a menace since returning from injury. He now has seven points in his last five games and the buy low window has closed, at least until his next injury.
Sam Gagner, who I mentioned as a solid buy low in the recent DobberNation podcast, has picked things up as well with five points in his last six games. The important thing is to keep expectations within reason. He is not going to be a top dog on this team but he can be a valuable depth scorer, which could help any fantasy team. If you need a guy who can score 50 points with upside for a little more then Gagner could score at that pace for you the rest of the way and he may still have some of the early season stink on him.
By the way, how do you like our DobberNation podcasts? Is it something you’d like to see more of? I’m not directly involved with the product so this is more for my own curiosity. I personally love them and was so happy to finally get a shot to appear this month. John Gilbert is doing some excellent work.
Shea Weber got hit in the face with the puck and left the game early and did not return. I won’t imbed the video here but if you follow that link you can see the play. It’s unclear where it hit him but it sure looked like it was his right eye. Please, please, please don’t let this be serious.
Marek Mazanec put forth another solid start allowing just two goals on 27 shots in a losing effort. Can’t hang this one on him.
Kudos to the people of Nashville for supporting an NHL game on a national holiday where so many are happy to just stay home and watch football. They really are passionate for the NHL down there and deserve some credit.
Jewels from the Crown takes a look at some of the advanced stats trends in the Pacific Division:
Phoenix has been a pest despite some pretty uninspiring possession numbers. They are 22nd in the league in Corsi and have received league average goaltending. So why are they hanging around among the Pacific division leaders? The answer lies in shooting percentage. They been shooting a blazing hot 9% at 5v5, if that percentage regresses, look for them to fade. Derek Morris, Mike Ribiero, Michael Stone and Mikkel Boedker have been the ones running ridiculously hot in shooting percentage. I don't see that group being able to keep up that pace.
Something to look out for, according to Jason Brough, teams are playing Alex Ovechkin tight on the power play. Considering pretty much everything they do involves Ovechkin shooting this could slow not just Ovechkin but those surrounding him as well. Or it could open up opportunities for others to produce.
Big shout out to Rick Roos for killing it with the Cage Match column. I can honestly say he’s done a better job with that space than I ever did. Keep up the good work, Rick.
But I really want to give this shout out because he is bringing back my favourite gimmick, the Cage Match Tournament. Of all the things I did with that column, the Tournaments were undoubtedly the best. Make sure you vote when the polls open next week. I know I will!
Hall slips it five-hole:
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