Welcome to this Sunday's special Daylight Savings Time edition of the Dobber Hockey Ramblings. It has been an absurd week of hockey news, one of the oddest in recent memory. We'll break down some of what's unfolded recently, before moving on to recap Saturday night's action.

 

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In case you spent your Saturday in a cave somewhere (or with your loved ones, rather than obsessively refreshing your Twitter feed) the Buffalo Sabres placed habitual headhunter Patrick Kaleta on waivers. 

 

Kaleta is due $1.25 million this season and next on his current contract. That means the club will retain $300k of his cap-hit if he clears waivers and is assigned to Rochester. Darcy Regier suggested that it's a 50/50 proposition for whether or not Kaleta clears, but I'd assume he will. Which he probably shouldn't, frankly, since he's a useful fourth-line player on a reasonable deal.

 

What makes Kaleta so useful? It's not his hockey playing ability really. Its his mastery of drawing penalties. Whether it's frustrating opponents, or knowing how and when to sell the call: Kaleta is super, super elite when it comes to drawing penalties. In fact he's led regular forwards in rate of penalties drawn in 2 of the past 4 years (beating out stalwarts like Dustin Brown, Taylor Hall and Jeff Skinner). He's usually among the top-10 skaters in this categrory.

 

Yeah some of that utility is given back by Kaleta's propensity to take penalties, but generally speaking he's a net positive in terms of penalty differential. If you're a team with a threatening power-play: that skill alone makes Kaleta a credible fourth liner, and type of depth piece that can help you win.

 

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Tough week for Steve Downie to say the least. Traded from the hottest club in the West to a cellar dweller, and then injured rather gravely by a massive Aaron Volpatti punch. 

 

Flyers fowrward Tye McGinn was called up on Sunday, and he was productive in the early going this season. On Saturday McGinn played nearly 13 minutes and didn't do much, but if he gets top-9 minutes with regularity I think McGinn can give you hits and shots at least, and maybe goals. McGinn got a lot of burn on the power-play from Berube on Saturday so he might be worth watching for if you're in a deeper league.

 

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Other big injury news: Dave Bolland suffered a laceration in his foot on Saturday night. The injury was similar to the one where Erik Karlsson's achillies was cut nearly three-quarters of the way through. Bolland was taken to be operated on, and will be out long-term.

 

The injury occurred on an awkward play. Canucks forward Zack Kassian went to hit Bolland and his skate lifted as he attempted to pin the Leafs center along the boards. Bolland was instantly in a good deal of trouble, while play continued and Kassian scored a goal to put Vancouver up 2-0...

 

Bolland had been Toronto's best centerman this season. He was soaking up tough minutes and coming out way ahead (relatively speaking, he still plays for the Leafs of course). 

 

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Toronto center Tyler Bozak was also placed on Long-Term Injured Reserve on Saturday, meaning he'll be out of the lineup for at least ten games (dating back to when he first missed action). There's definitely a fantasy angle to be played here, but I doubt that angle is "picking up Jay McClement." Does Toronto call up Greg McKegg? Does McClement bump into the top-six? Will JVR play some center, perhaps? And how will that effect his shot and hits totals?

 

Or, the sexiest option: do the Leafs consider moving a defenseman for help down the middle?

 

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Let's move on to Saturday's games. 

 

In the early game the Chicago Blackhawks buzzsaw claimed its latest victim: hapless Ondrej Pavelec and the Winnipeg Jets. Pavelec was pulled after Chicago put four pucks past him, and he continues to be the major reason why the Winnipeg Jets won't play hockey into late April this season. He's signed through 2017 by the way.

 

In terms of fantasy impact, I'd mention that Brandon Pirri played a season high 15:14, albeit in a lopsided contest, and continues to take shifts with some seriously skilled players (like Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad). Pirri didn't have a particularly good game against Chicago and was buried by the underlying numbers despite extremely favourable deployments. While that doesn't bode well for his ability to stay in the lineup or continue to produce, he did face tough competition and Chicago really hurt the Jets with their depth on Saturday... Other than that, and Nick Leddy having a good game in limited minutes, there were some nice lines put up by fringer Blackhawks with relatively minimal fantasy value (like Brandon Bollig). Against top-heavy teams like the Jets, Chicago's ridiculous depth regularly inflicts early and often.

 

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Winnipeg's third pairing on Sunday consisted of Ben Chiarot, who was playing his first game in the NHL and finished a -3, and overwhelmed veteran Adam Pardy. Pardy and Chiarot didn't play much but they were burned by Chicago's third and fourth liners anyway. I bring this up just in case you were wondering why exactly the Jets claimed Keaton Ellerby off waivers.

 

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Probably the highest profile 7pm start on Saturday (though the puck really dropped closer to 7:30 because of an extended ceremony to honor Pavel Bure) was the game between the Maple Leafs and the Vancouver Canucks. That contest was not really competitive - Vancouver outshot the Leafs 10-0 with the score tied - and the Leafs continued to demonstrate just how vulnerable they are against teams that are sufficiently competent at even-strength.

 

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The Canucks/Leafs game was riveting, however, despite being lopsided. Alex Burrows mocked Phil Kessel for his two-handed Paul Bunyan slash against John Scott this past preseason, and then Kessel fought Burrows over the insult. Joffrey Lupul attempted to decapitate Henrik Sedin and caught Nazem Kadri instead. Chris Higgins and Daniel Sedin scored perfectly lovely goals, both James Reimer and Roberto Luongo played extremely well, and Dan Hamhuis dominated in a way I've rarely seen. 

 

With Dan Hamhuis on the ice at even-strength, the Canucks attempted 31 shots against Toronto while surrendering only four against. I've almost never seen a "Corsi-For%" hover close to 90%. It's like the shutdown defenseman's version of a perfect game.

 

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As good as Dan Hamhuis' puck possession game was, however, it was overshadowed by the fantasy line Hamhuis' Canucks colleague Alex Edler dropped. Considering that Edler is a defenseman, his fantasy line might have been the most impressive of the evening: 1 assist, 1 point, +1, 12 shots(!), 3 hits, 4 blocks. Not too shabby.

 

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Derek Stepan and the New York Rangers finally had the breakout contest and it was all thanks to Carolina's hapless goaltending and defense. Two of Stepan's goals came off of hilariously failed clearing attempts by Hurricanes blue-liners, and his third goal was just soft. Stepan and the Rangers were due some bounces, however, and got them on Saturday. 

 

We might also point out that the Rangers have now won 3 in a row, have moved into the top-half of the league in Corsi For% and still have the lowest PDO in the league. For all the hand-wringing about New York's nightmare October, they're three points out of second in the Metropolitan Division, and are looking rather legitimately like the second best team in the division by the underlying numbers (which, yeah, isn't saying too much).

 

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The Tampa Bay Lightning dusted off the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, and the thing to note specifically is the play of Alex Killorn. The 24-year-old, Harvard educated forward contributed three points in the Lightning's victory, and more importantly, skated alongside Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos. His headcoach Jon Cooper was effusive in his praise for Killorn post game, "He's got two world-class linemates, but I thought he more than held his own" Cooper told the Tampa Bay Times. "I thought he was outstanding."

If you're in need of a forward at the moment, I think you could do a good deal worse...

 

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Struggling St. Louis Blues forward Chris Stewart played third-line minutes on Saturday against Tampa, was a -2, and had nothing to show for three shots. Stewart's personal shooting percentage is really low (4.3%, or about a third as high as his career mark) and his underlying numbers are really strong relative to most of his teammates. Those are both factors which would suggest a tremendous buy low opportunity, but on the other hand Stewart's really not that valuable if he isn't skating closer to 18 minutes per game. He's only hit that figure once this season...

 

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Getzlaf and Perry were silly good against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night, as the Ducks handed the worst team in the history of the NHL's salary cap-era a 6-3 beat down. Also silly good: the Andrew Cogliano, Nick Bonino, Daniel Winnik line that Bruce Boudreau has turned to in Saku Koivu's absence. Those three Corsi'd at an 80% rate against the Sabres, which, admittedly doesn't tell you much because the Sabres are the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NHL.

 

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Let's give some love to Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy who doesn't really have fantasy value but is getting a lot of ice-time this season, had a six hit game on Saturday, and would be in the running for the NHL's "most improved player award" this season if such a thing existed.

 

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And one final Ducks note: Dustin Penner and Patrick Maroon shared time playing with the Getzlaf/Perry line on Saturday night. Boudreau has yet to really firm up the third member of that line this season, but whoever can run with the job (my money is on Palmieri) will have significant, Alex Burrows type value...

 

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Drew Stafford recorded four shots on Saturday night but couldn't buy a goal, which has really been the story of the past two seasons for him. If one guy in the league needs a fresh start, I swear it's Stafford.

 

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Ray Emery recording a shutout on the same day that the bleeding heart crowd were calling for him to be suspended without precedent was some of the highest quality trolling. Of course, the impressiveness of Emery's performance is mitigated somewhat by the complete awfulness of the Devils attack.

 

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Thomas Vanek had his first goal as a New York Islander on Saturday, as the line of Kyle Okposo, John Tavares and Vanek began to feel each other against the Bruins. The Islanders scored three goals even-strength against a pretty good defensive team, albeit a pretty good defensive team playing their backup, with those three on the ice. Also the day before the Islanders took 50 shots against the Senators. Have to like the early retains on the Vanek deal for New York (and for Okposo fantasy owners, damn)...

 

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The Panthers made sniper Kris Versteeg a healthy scratch on Saturday against the Washington Capitals, and it's looking like head-coach Kevin Dineen may have alienated the player. Everyone believes that the Panthers, who are woeful and just changed owners, are shopping their veterans and one wonders if Versteeg might join Bergenheim on the "first out the door" list.

 

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Nick Backstrom had another goal to finish off a strong fantasy week, and Mike Green had a rebound performance finishing with a 1 A, +1, 4 SOG and 2 hit line against the Panthers. Meanwhile struggling defenseman John Carlson, who has probably played himself off of the USA's Sochi Olympic team in the early going this season, scored his first goal of the season to get off the schneid.

 

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Over in the awful Metropolitan division the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0. 26-year-old rookie Jeff Zatkoff, who has been one of the best American Hockey League goalies over the first few seasons, recorded his first career shutout in the victory. Also Derryk Engelland scored a goal as a forward...

 

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I'm still not buying that the 12-1-0 Colorado Avalanche are a serious contender or anything more than a fringe playoff team in the Central Division, although, we're at that point in the season where the Avalanche could go 500 the rest of the way and flirt with 47 wins so...

 

Real or not the Avalanche have serious talent up front, and Landeskog was a monster on Saturday against the Canadiens recording a goal, an assist, finishing +2, taking six shots, and laying out a couple of hits.

 

Also in poring over the data the other day I realized something weird: the Avalanche have scored eight goals with Matt Duchene on the ice at even-strength in score close situations while allowing zero against. In all other situations: they've been outscored six to nothing. There's literally nothing of value that you can take from that fact because it's almost certainly just randomness, but it could be the basis for someone silly to make a CLUTCH argument so I figured I'd share it.

 

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Alex Galchenyuk has an excellent shot, but he's unleashing it fewer than two times per game. The talented Canadiens winger is crushing it with his playmaking ability this season, but as a fantasy owner and analyst, I'm a bit troubled by that persistently low shot rate...

 

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Man the Edmonton Oilers are bad. Early in the season they played pretty well but were betrayed by goaltending, but now they just look like a dispirited squad. They're also already ten points out of a Wild Card spot chasing the likes of Vancouver, Phoenix, Minnesota and Los Angeles (all of whom are just in a different weight class entirely). The Oilers will probably start to win some games and play better, they're certainly not the worst team in the league anymore, but this latest season in Edmonton can already be described as still born. Considering the talent on that roster, and the length of this current rebuilding process: that's a terrible conclusion to be reaching in early November.

 

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Todd Bertuzzi spent Detroit's Western swing playing with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. You might not be surprised to learn, then, that he has been playing some excellent hockey of late. Since being bumped up to the top-line in Vancouver earlier this week, Bertuzzi has 13 shots and 3 points in 3 games...

 

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Contract year David Legwand is an interesting development for the surprising Nashville Predators. Nashville had no business coming away with two points on Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings who were completely dominant at even-strength, but two goals from David Legwand (including the late winner) powered them to the victory. Patric Hornqvist had a pretty serious game with three assists, while Eric Nystrom scored his fourth goal of the season and is actually taking shots at a pretty good clip this season. Might be worth a look on the waiver wire in a deep matchup league. For if you need to add games in a comeback or something...

 

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Kings center Jarret Stoll left the game in the second period and didn't return. If he joins Jeff Carter on the shelf for any length of time that will render the Kings at least somewhat shallow down the middle, a proposition which seems mind-bending frankly. I'd imagine Trevor Lewis will receive the bulk of the load if Stoll's injury is significant.

 

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Finally the Phoenix Coyotes downed the San Jose Sharks in the shootout. Rob Klinkhammer continued his torrid scoring pace, and Dan Boyle returned to the action for the Sharks (while Matt Irwin was made a healthy scratch) with a goal. The Coyotes are racking up points in the West, a situation which is going to cause headaches for quality teams like the Ducks, Canucks, Kings and Wild, or overachieving clubs like the Avalanche. Not everyone makes the playoffs, and maybe only one team from the Metropolitan should...


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Comments (9)add comment

Isle B. said:

Isle B.
... To paraphrase Bill Parcells, at some point, you are what your record says you are. The Avs, at 12-1-0, have an outstanding group of forwards and two red-hot goalies. Their defense doesn't look like much on paper but it is getting the job done. This team has the 1st overall pick in '06, the 3rd overall pick in '09, the 2nd overall pick in '11, the first overall pick in '13, players like Stastny, who were once stars in the making who are now bouncing back after languishing for years under the previous regime and some crafty playmaking wingers in PAP and Tanguay who complement some great center depth. Plus they have a coach who has done nothing but win for about the past 30 years, and, despite being a living legend, rose up through the coaching ranks by actually coaching. What's not to like?

November 03, 2013
Votes: +3

Username said:

Username
... Stafford can't score because he has hands of stone.

Quality ramblings, Drance.
November 03, 2013
Votes: +0

mojavedesert said:

mojavedesert
Rollie... Isn't it obvious. Shanny has Emery in his hockey pool. The suspensions, which appear to be handed down with randomness, by both Shanahan and his predecessor Colin Campbell, are in fact based not on the severity of the incident but on who is owned in hockey pools by the heads of the NHL.
November 03, 2013
Votes: +0

Rollie1967 said:

Rollie1967
Emery Im not an advanced stats guy- so what the hell does PDO stand for?

As for Emery, put me in the camp of he shouldve been suspended. There is precedent, infact Shanahan suspended Matt Carkner for beating up Brian Boyle who didnt want to fight.(1 game i think) just last year. And what wouldve happened if Holtby was concussed/hurt on the play? Emery was punching him in the back of the head, for a league that says its all about protecting its players- it does a pretty shitty job when they turn a blind eye towards this crap, hell the Philly announcers gave Emery the 3rd star- despite letting in 4 goals in half a game. Do we need another Bertuzzi/Moore incident? And no, Im not against fighting, but that display was disgusting.
November 03, 2013
Votes: +6

Yardie said:

Yardie
Quality I've been a member of this site for a while now and I don't believe I've ever commented on the quality of a Ramblings before. Until now. This summary was clear, concise, insightful and entertaining.
November 03, 2013
Votes: +0

SockPuppet said:

SockPuppet
... Simply amazing. I'm in complete agreement with shingy and germant. Probably the best ramblings I've read in a long time (ever?). Useful, insightful, well written, and funny. Awesome! Keep it up.
November 03, 2013
Votes: +2

shingy said:

shingy
Ramblings
Excellent, thank you.
November 03, 2013
Votes: +1

germant said:

germant
Credit due . . .
Thomas, speaking from one who has made mention of some rather short and sometimes less than insightful Sunday Ramblings let me be the first to say that these ramblings are simply gold.

I like that you touched upon Kaleta even though that wasn't part of the hefty Saturday night's slate of games. And you offered up some great insight on several other games/players. Needless to say, these beefy ramblings are what I look forward to every Sunday. Thank you!

On a side note - with a goal last night, Dustin Brown continues to produce after being pulled from the top line. I've often wondered about the chemistry between him and Kopitar and now that they're not together . . .
November 03, 2013
Votes: +3

pahlsson26 said:

pahlsson26
Ducks Lovejoy is actually playing at a similiar level to last year. He's no better than a 3rd pairing d-man, but he's been playing with Fowler. I'm curious as to what the Ducks lines will look like when Sbisa returns on Monday. Vatanen left the game in the 2nd period against Buffalo and did not return, so Sbisa will probably take his place for now, but in the long run he might take Lovejoy's spot.

Palmieri is the sexy pick for fantasy managers to play on that 1st line, but it's not going to happen. He might get an audition for a few games, but Getzlaf and Perry are guys who love to play a cycle game. Penner fits in perfectly because of that. Maroon is a decent fit, too, but Penner is more experienced and more used to that kind of game, so he will probably spend the most time on that 1st line. Another player who might see some minutes there? Matt Beleskey when he returns.
November 03, 2013
Votes: +0
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