It might be Miller Time all the time somewhere in the world, but last night in Vancouver it was anything but. Ryan Miller (L, 8 SV, 5 GA, .615%) was bounced from the game shortly after the start of the third period after he coughed up five flippin’ goals on just 13 shots. This might make some of his owners panic, but I’m here to quell your worries, so relax guy! Most of the goals weren’t really Miller’s fault, so lets break ‘em down. The most egregious example of Miller getting hung out to dry was when Chris Tanev plowed into his own goalie and laid Miller out. While the two were tangled up Miller made a futile attempt to stop the puck but he couldn’t do much more than wave his glove hand at it while Tyler Seguin potted one in a wide open net. It didn’t start there, but it didn’t stop there either. On another goal Jamie Benn took a shot from the outside and the puck was headed wide, so Miller did what all good goalies would do, he reached his blocker out to push the puck away. He makes contact and the puck starts to move safely away from the net only to be deflected in off the knob of his stick as he pulls his blocker hand back. Then there’s when Nick Bonino dropped his stick when skating through the neutral zone on the pentalty kill. He decided to go grab his stick because hey, killing a penalties without a stick is tough, right? Well, while did it left the Canucks essentially in a 5 on 3 in their own zone and bang boom, another goal. Yes, there are some he should have stopped and yes, I’m not big on Miller this year, but it really wasn’t all bad news for Miller owners. In his words “It just wasn’t my night.” Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:
Kari Lehtonen (W, 43 SV, 3 GA, .935%) – Faced with 46 shots Kari was able to push 43 away for the victory. Back to normal after that six goal blowup in Philly a few days ago.
Tyler Seguin (1 G, 1 A, 6 SOG) – After his “slow start” Seguin has 10 points in six games so far this season. I didn’t see him rated as highly as I rated him basically anywhere else, I’m not really sure why.
Ryan Garbutt (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – The Stars are so stacked even guys like Garbutt are scoring. This gives him four points in six games and for Garbutt that’s beastly offensive production. He’s mostly good for hits and PIM, but I could see him breaking the 40-point barrier to go with his 100+ PIM and 150 hits this year giving him decent value in most leagues.
Jason Spezza (1 A, +1, 1 SOG) – Spezz now plays pivot for the Benn/Seguin line and that’s an absolutely fantastic place to be. Since joining the line he’s exploded and here’s to hoping the Stars keep this line together; it could be the best in hockey.
Erik Cole (2 G, 3 SOG) – These two goals come in a game where Ryan Miller was victimized by horrible play all around by the Canucks, so I wouldn’t get too excited. He’s battled injuries for the last few years and his ability to give you 20-goals is likely long gone.
Radim Vrbata (1 G, 7 SOG, +1) – The rest of the Canucks might have sucked it up last night but Vrbata keeps cranking along skating with Daniel (1 A, +1, 4 SOG) and Henrik Sedin (1 A, +1, 1 SOG). The twins haven’t had a finisher like Vrbata on their line, maybe ever, so it stands to reason this trio will continue to produce at a consistently high level all season long.
Tuukka Rask (W, 31 SV, 3 GA, .912%) – Rage Monster finally faced more than 20 shots, so that’s good. He allowed three goals on 34 of them, so that’s not great, but it’s not awful either. Really it seems bad because we’ve come to expect such stellar play from Rask and this isn’t what I’d call stellar. He started off shaky in this one but recovered by the third blocking all 10 shots the Sharks sent his way securing the win for the Bs. What’s most concerning for Rask owners is that he’s been tasked with holding nine leads so far this season and he’s let eight of them go. That’s terrible. Rask isn’t terrible, so this should correct itself soon; he sucked it up to start last season too.
Antii Niemi (W, 28 SV, 4 GA, .875%) – Well, Niemi had a chance to put some space between himself and Alex Stalock after the Rangers bombed Stalock for four goals in his last start. Sadly for his owners (and to the glee of Stalock’s) he failed to do so and coughed up four goals of his own on 32 shots. Expect to see Stalock back in net for the Sharks for their next tilt.
Logan Couture (2 G, 8 SOG, -2) – This is the type of game I expect to see a lot of from Couture this season. He has six points in seven games so far but his plus/minus is still in the negative, which me no likey. If he can stay healthy 40-goals isn’t out of the question, in fact, it’s the expectation.
Joe Thornton (1 G, 3 SOG) – Jumbo scored a goal! That’s two on the season, and you’ll get about ten more.
Torey Krug (1 G, 2 A, 1 SOG) – Tiny Torey’s march towards a 40-point season is in full swing after a monster three-point effort last night. Zdeno Chara (1 A, 1 SOG, +1) is still a top option on your blue line in 2015, but expect to see the torch get passed this season in Beantown.
Jaroslav Halak (L, 18 SV, 5 GA, .783%) – Halak was never that great, honestly. He played well on good teams with solid defenses in front of him and now things have changed. The Isles are getting better, but there are clearly some big holes and despite the additions of Nick Leddy (1 G, 3 SOG, 2 PIM) and Johnny Boychuk (3 SOG), the defense seems to be suspect at times still. That doesn’t excuse Halak, though, as he’s allowed more than three goals a game like clockwork, it doesn’t seem to matter how many shots he faces.
Jonathan Bernier (W, 34 SV, 2 GA, .944%) – That’s two straight good games from Bernie, but I just can’t buy in on either Leafs goalie when their defense keeps allowing an average of 34 shots a game.
John Tavares (1 G, 3 SOG, -2) –This goal ties Tavares with Tyler Seguin atop the league with 10 points apiece. Despite that, he’s a minus-2. Bleh, Isles.
Steve Mason (L, 39 SV, 4 GA, .907%) – Mase looked terrible yet again. Like getting maced in the eyes terrible. His season line now sits at a nauseating 0-3-1/3.83/.878% in five starts. I’d say it’s time to think about adding his backup, but Ray Emery isn’t exactly a viable option. If you own Mason bench him and hope he wins a few games in a row, then trade him before he loses his starting gig.
Antti Raanta (W, 32 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – Corey Crawford
was sick injured and out for the Hawks’ next two games. Luckily for the Hawks he wasn’t needed. Raanta isn’t going to see much work this year, but this is an encouraging sign that he could be solid in limited action. EDIT: I was incorrect about him being sick, he suffered an UBI and he’s out for the rest of the road trip. Sadface. Raanta makes for a great streamer for the next 3-4 days.
Brandon Saad (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – Saad found the back of the net for the first time this season and now has five points in five games so far this season. I doubt he keeps this pace up, but 25+ goals and 60 points is within reach.
Evgeni Nabokov (W, 21 SV, 1 GA, .955%) – Like Raanta in Chicago it’s unlikely that Nabby gets a lot of work this season, but that’s probably a good thing. He was fading fast with age and clearly isn’t able to handle a starter’s load anymore, but with targeted use he could put together a stellar season as Ben Bishop’s backup.
Kari Ramo (L, 20 SV, 2 GA, .909%) – Jonas Hiller and Ramo are neck and neck for the starting gig in Calgary as far as I can tell. Really it seems like a 1A/1B situation. Ramo has seen less work in his starts but if Hiller gets hurt or stumbles, one of which is likely, Ramo’s value is going to jump quite a bit so keep an eye on him.
Valtteri Filppula (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – Lots of folks were asking whether they should drop Flip for this guy or that guy in the preseason and the talk continued as the first puck dropped and I couldn’t really fathom why. Maybe he lacks a sexy name? Either way, Flip is centering the top powerplay unit for the Bolts and even spending time on the second unit as well. He has five points in seven games and he should give you 60+ by season’s end. So why no love?!
Ondrej Palat (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – Palat scored the game winning goal in overtime and though he’s spending a lot of time on the top line with Steven Stamkos (1 SOG, +1) he has four points in seven games so far fueling speculation that Jonathan Drouin (1 SOG, +1) will take his place sooner than later if he doesn’t pick it up. Honestly, I don’t know if that’s the case here. People just seem to expect Drouin to take over, but Palat had a solid rookie campaign and games like this will forestall any shift. That said, Ryan Callahan is hurt now, so who knows? Maybe it’ll be a Drouin/Stamokos/Palat line!
Reto Berra (L, 32 SV, 4 GA, .889%) – Berra looked a bit lost in his first start since getting hurt earlier this week, and lost against the Cats of all teams. I know I bag on them a lot, and honestly they looked pretty solid last night, so it wasn’t like it was all bad for Berra. He should right the ship in his next start and remains well worth owning while Semyon Varlamov nurses his sore groin.
Roberto Luongo (W, 30 SV, 3 GA, .909%) – A win and three goals allowed. Typical. His peripherals are starting to get to semi-acceptable levels, but I still don’t have much confidence in Lu this year.
Tyson Barrie (1 G, 2 SOG, -1) – Most of the Avs are starting slow, there are some signs of life there but it’s tough for a team to lose their starting goalie and their backup in the same game and keep it together. Despite that, Barrie has points in his last two games and hopefully it’s the start of a decent streak that gets his horrible minus-six rating moving in the other direction.
Gabriel Landeskog (1 G, 5 SOG, -1) – Speaking of starting slow but starting to show signs of life, Landeskog has just two goals in his first seven games, but both have come in the last three. He’ll get it going sooner than later.
Alex Tanguay (1 G, 2 SOG) – You know your team is hurting when Tanguay is the hottest hand with goals in three straight.
Aleksander Barkov (1 G, 3 SOG) – Barkov finally found his bite and put the biscuit in the basket for his first of the season. The Cats are loaded with young talent that’s going to be baller some day, but today is not that day and this year is not that year.
Pekka Rinne (W, 33 SV, 3 GA, .917%) – Another start and another solid showing for Rinne, I’m getting more and more bold with him as he establishes himself as, well, his old elite self. He sports a sparkling season line of 4-0-1/1.55/.940% through five games and at this point I feel safe in saying he should be a top option moving forward.
Devan Dubnyk (L, 23 SV, 3 GA, .885%) – On the other end of the goalie spectrum from Rinne we find Dubnyk, who looks a whole hell of a lot better than Mike Smith has so far. That’s not saying much, but here we are. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dubs get a few more goes in net over Smith if he can keep it up, he might just win the starting gig outright.
James Neal (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – Wow, I told people to avoid drafting Neal this year because I expected a downturn but this has been pretty bad. He now has just two goals in six games so far with a minus-two rating and four PIM, no assists. I figure Neal ends up around 50-60 points, but if he keeps going at this pace, he might not even hit that.
Jimmy Howard (L, 34 SV, 2 GA, .944%) – Howie had a sore groin, sat a game, and returned to top form in this one despite the loss. This one was more a lack of offensive support and Carey Price returning to form than anything else.
Carey Price (W, 27 SV, 1 GA, .964%) – Like I just said, Price is rounding into form after a bit of a rocky start allowing just three goals in his last two games beating the Avs 3-2 and the Wings 2-1. His peripherals look pretty bleh, but the 5-1-0 record and how he looked in his last two games says things are gon’ be a-o-kay for Carey and his owners moving forward.
Alex Galchenyuk (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – I knew he was good and I knew the Habs believed he was good, but I don’t know about point-per-game good. Still, he has seven points in seven games and should be owned everywhere.