Often when a goalie makes 49 saves the focus is on how stellar the goalie performed and why not? Making that many saves in a single game is quite the feat. When I saw that Jonas Hiller (W, 49 SV, 1 GA, .980 SV%) accomplished that very feat last night my immediate reaction was not “Wow, killer game from Hiller!” it was “Jesus, the Flames gave up 50 shots on goal?” Make no mistake, Hiller was absolutely brilliant last night, but that does that make him a brilliant goaltender. So far the Flames are third overall in shots against. That’s not good. They’re offering up almost 37 shots a game. The only teams that are worse in this department are the Avs at 37.5 shots against per game and Buffalo at 39 against per game. Surprised to not see the Oil up there? Me too! In fact, Edmonton is tied for 11th overall allowing 31.3 shots per game despite already allowing 22 goals. Ouch. At any rate, the high shots against average is elevated a bit for the Flames due to the 50 they allowed last night, but the trend remains clear; the Flames defense is suspect and shows few signs of tightening up soon.
I don’t believe either Calgary tender, Hiller or Karri Ramo, are good enough to handle the crazy shots load their defense is leaving them with. Hell, I doubt any goalie is. It might not be that bad if their shot differential wasn’t horrible, but it is and as it stands they offer up almost 13 more shots than they take. That’s a recipe for sadness and defeat. To make matters worse Hiller has shown himself to be streaky, injury prone and definitely doesn’t perform well when he’s fighting for time in net. Ramo was solid last year and he remains solid this year, in fact, he’s looked better than Hiller until last night’s game and last night’s game does nothing to take the shine off of Ramo’s work so far this season, it just gives Hiller a polish. If I was a Hiller owner I’d hope he can build off this start and string together a few more good ones. If he can, and the shots are still being poured on by the opposition, I’d try to sell high before it’s too late. I won’t, though, because I wasn’t foolish enough to draft Hiller anywhere. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
EDIT: Semyon Varlamov was just put on IR with a groin injury, there’s no time table for his return yet. This makes Reto Berra a must own in all leagues, so go get him. That being said I give this advice with a word of caution; the Avs are second in the league for shots against, so Berra is going to have his hands full and the results might leave his owners wanting.
Corey Crawford (L, 16 SV, 2 GA, .889 SV%) – Crawdad didn’t get much work in this one and took the loss after stopping 16 of 18. I imagine he just fell asleep in his crease as the rest of his team was spending most of the game pouring shot after shot in on Hiller and the Flames D to the tune of 50-18. Still, it’s an impressive feat to lose a game 2-1 when your shot differential is that good. By “impressive” I mean sad, sad and disappointing.
Andrew Shaw (1 G, 4 SOG) – That’s goals in back-to-back games for Shaw. I didn’t expect much from him this season but I also didn’t expect him to play pivot on a line with Brandon Saad and Patrick Kane. While that’s the status quo in Chicago, Shaw is worth owning everywhere.
Jonathan Drouin – It looks like the thumb is healed up and he’s been sent to the AHL for a two-week conditioning stint. After that he’ll likely get called back up to play on big ice. I don’t know that he’ll immediately slot in on Steven Stamkos’ line, but he’ll eventually get some time there.
Ben Scrivens (L, 23 SV, 6 GA, .793 SV%) – All Scribbles had to do was stop fewer than 30 shots and what happened? He could only muster 23 stops. Even when the Oilers D doesn’t completely implode their goalies can’t keep it together. That’s not to say the Oil D was good in this game, just that they didn’t completely fall apart. That said, they’ve allowed 22 freakin’ goals in just four games! That’s scary bad.
Taylor Hall (2 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – Even when the rest of the Oilers look like bleh, Hall retains his spectacular form. Here he delivers three points contributing on 3 out of 4 Oiler goals last night. Again, his plus/minus is going to make baby Jesus cry, but he’s going to maintain a point-per-game pace, or better, all season long.
Jordan Eberle (2 A, 1 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) – I had Eberle pegged for a 30 goal, 70-point season but the start is concerning me. The Oilers don’t look very good at all save Hall’s brilliance, but he plays with Hall, so there’s that. I still think Eberle is going to be solid, but as the games go by and really get a good look at the Oil, my expectations are slipping a bit.
Mark Arcobello (1 G, 3 SOG, +3) – The little fella has found his way to the top line with Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins out with an injury for the time being. There’s no chance he retains this slot when The Nuge returns from injury, and without a place on the top line my expectations for his production levels are pretty low. Stream him while it lasts.
Mike Smith (23 SV, 4 GA, .852 SV%) – Smith has allowed 10 goals in his first two games. Please, tell me again how he’s a top 15 goalie. I could use a good laugh. At this point they’d be better off starting Devan Dubnyk who is worth a speculative grab in deep leagues if you’re hurting in net, especially if you own Smith. Don’t expect any miracles though; Dubby isn’t exactly stellar between the pipes either.
Mikkel Boedker (3 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – I really wish this game came against a team other than the Oilers, just because it seems like if you want some free goals and points just play Edmonton, they seem to have plenty to spare! This hatty wasn’t a thing of beauty, but he scored two goals when it counted the most and the third was an empty netter. I’m a big fan of Boedacious this season and this game is why. He now has goals in each of his three games so far this season with has 6 points over that span, a plus-3 rating and hey, he even threw in a helper last night for good measure. He’s well on his way to 60 points so if you see him available on the wire for some insane reason grab him now, because the window is closing fast after his performance last night.
Keith Yandle (1 A, 3 SOG, +3) – So far three of his four assists have come on the man advantage and that’s what we’re hoping for. He’ll donate a sprinkle o’ goals, but if he hits double digits on that front I’d be surprised. Still, you can count on those 50 points fo’ sho’.
Rob Klinkhammer (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – I only mention him because of his name. It sounds like the name of some goofy German character from an old 1950’s TV show about World War II where all the Americans refer to the Germans as “krauts.” It’s a shame the ‘yotes can’t get Fox Noise Contributor Charles Krauthammer on staff. That would be fun.
Martin Erat (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2) – Erat is one of those guys that you see his name and a 2 point night and think “I remember him! He had some decent scoring chops back in the day and I’m dying right now, I’ll drop Valeri Nishuchkin for him!” Yeah, don’t do that. Even when he played for the Preds at his peak he was streaky and when he wasn’t streaky he was hurt. Next!
Martin Hanzal (2 A, 3 SOG, +2) – Ever since the ‘yotes took this dude 17th overall in the 2005 draft they’ve been saying he’s going to have a breakout season. Any year now! Well, we’re still waiting. Guess what we’re going to be doing next year? You guessed it! Waiting. We’ll always be waiting, because it’s not coming.
Tuukka Rask (W, 18 SV, 2 GA, .900 SV%) – The Boston D is so beast that Tuukka isn’t really facing many shots and yet he’s still coughing up goals. That’s not very Tuukkaesque, but everything should be fine with him so don’t worry. The GAA looks good, the SV% will come up when the volume of shots does. Still, starts like this and what Henrik Lundqvist is doing only reinforces my belief that going after the elite goalies with first or second round picks tends to really diminish the value you’d get out of those picks. Always go with scoring forwards early, there’s just too much talent in the goalie pool every year to waste picks on pricy goaltending.
Jimmy Howard (L, 37 SV, 2 GA, .949 SV%) – Howie might have taken the loss here, but he was the better goalie blocking 37 of 39 while Tuukka took a nap in his end needing just 18 saves to beat the Wings. When asked about last night’s game Red Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock had this to offer; “Howie looked good.” Wow, thanks Babs! Great insight. Howie is indeed looking stellar so far and he might be in line for one of his good seasons. That makes sense since I bought in on him heavily last year, got burnt, and ran away screaming this year. Thanks Howie, much love.
Gustav Nyqvist (1 G, 4 SOG, 2 PIM) – That’s goals in each of his three games, but no helpers so far. I could see Gusty putting up 25 goals this year and possibly as many helpers playing with Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen.
Tomas Tatar (1 G, 1 SOG) – He took one shot, scored one goal and instilled no confidence in me for him this season. The talent is there but he’s not going to get top six minutes and with only four shots in three games I’m not impressed. He spends most of his time on the third line with Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco, two talented young players with a long way to go before they’re legit. I think that’s where Tatar belongs for now.
David Krejci (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Krejci gets on the board with a goal in his second game. Goals aren’t his thing, so don’t expect more than 15-18 of them, but he should flirt with 70 points because of al dem’ assistseses.
Reilly Smith (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – So long as he plays with Patrice Bergeron he should be able to reach for 20 goals. If he loses his spot next to Patty, the production is going to fall off the shelf, so keep a close eye on where he slots in for the Bs. So far the combo of Smith, Bergeron and Brad Marchand spend more than 25% of their time together with Loui Eriksson spending most of his time on a line with Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly. Loui was supposed to slot in next to Bergeron after coming over in the Tyler Seguin trade, but hey, whatever works!
Patrice Bergeron (1 A, 3 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) – Speaking of Bergeron, here he is with a helper! I doubt he returns to 30 goals this season unless he takes another 240+ shots, but 25 isn’t out of the question. Honestly, he has the skill to top 70 points but the B’s are so stacked there’s no reason for him to push and take 300 shots and score 75 points for Boston to be successful, so he probably won’t.
Mikael Backlund (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – Backlund is actually pretty good. It’s his supporting cast that will be the biggest limiting factor of his 2015 campaign. He’s not going to explode for 70 points anytime soon, but in the right situation 55-60 wouldn’t be out of the question. He has incredible hands and moves the puck extremely well with crisp, confident passes and he wins faceoffs in droves, so he has value for sure. Overall I expect him to come up just shy of 20 goals and 50 points, probably more on the low end of the 40s. He’s definitely worth a look in keeper leagues.