Around the League
Eyebrows raised when a string of websites keeping track of advanced hockey stats were shut down over the summer. The movement that started in on the computer in mom’s basement has finally crashed into the front office of pro sports, previously a bastion of former athletes who served often as ambassadors and people who’ve been “around” the game.
To make high-brained statistical analysis accessible to the public, and because society nowadays is more about the lowest common denominator than being a meritocracy, well-known terms in the hockey dorks community like “Corsi” and “Fenwick” will be replaced with “shot attempts” and “unblocked shot attempts,” according to a Sportsnet report. The NHL has been quite vocal about their website makeover and can’t wait to show it all off.
A strong fantasy player will attempt to absorb any information that comes, because like in any sort of game, usually the more you know the better off you are. When T.J. Brodie scored 12 points in November and then just 13 over the next three months, it wasn’t surprising because his original scoring pace was unsustainable, judging by his and Mark Giordano’s talent with the naked eye. But eyes can be deceiving, and so the advanced stats served to confirm what everyone believed would happen.
That being said, here are some talented players who are having disappointing seasons but poised to finish on a strong note as indicated by PDO, a measure of luck that combines shooting percentage and save percentage:
Patrick Sharp, LW, Blackhawks – too talented to keep six-game slide going, but still may finish with less than 20 goals.
Nail Yakupov, RW, Oilers – he’s starting to heat up; see below.
Anze Kopitar, C, Kings – entire Kings team has struggled, but he should be scoring more since he had 26 points in 26 playoff games last year.
Patrice Bergeron, C, Bruins – His overall numbers are still good but just slightly below expectations.
Sam Gagner, C/RW, Coyotes – He’s been a bust in Arizona when everyone thought he’d do much better and the jury’s still out on him.
Vincent Lecavalier, C/LW, Flyers – You either think he’s trying hard or just way out of his league, but 16 points is a low total for a player of his caliber, but then again, he’s racked up some mileage with over 1,000 NHL games played.
Friday game notes:
- It’s Thing 2 vs. Thing 3 in New Jersey with two of Roberto Luongo’s understudies facing off against one another. The Canucks really need to start playing Eddie Lack a lot more, who is in line for a big ‘W’ against the Devils. Bo Horvat, who is on fire right now, will go up against the player he was traded for in Cory Schneider.
- The Leafs were 21 points ahead of Carolina when the year turned 2015. Now that lead is just four. Part of it is Carolina playing better, but most of it was Toronto sucking harder than a vacuum cleaner. Bernier is winless in his past three starts while Ward has won three of his past four starts. Those trends will likely continue.
- Talbot had a busy night Thursday in a shootout loss to the Canucks, so even though the Rangers strongly prefer to start him in net, it looks like MacKenzie Skapski may get the call tonight. The good news is that it’s against Buffalo, so that’s always a nice way to ease in a rookie. The better news is that Buffalo may be starting Anders Lindback, in order to give the red-hot Michal Neuvirth a little rest.
- Rask won’t let in many goals because it’s Rask, and Ellliott won’t allow many either because it’s the Blues. What should be a slugfest may turn into a total barn burner, but whatever it may end up being, the game should be relatively close. The Blues are the better team this year, but the Bruins should never be written off, especially against a team that plays a similar style, and it’s not in the Bruins to admit another team plays as tough or tougher than the do.
- Crawford should take the easy win over Varlamov, who hasn’t been very good of late, but maybe he’s smart and knows that if the Avs do worse they can get a better draft position. He’s playing the long game in Denver. Varlamov has lost his past two starts on the road.
- Gibson has allowed nine goals in his past two starts, both loses, and Anaheim’s goalie of the future will have the added pressure of facing the guy Anaheim previously thought was their goalie of the future. A Hiller-Andersen tandem would’ve been great, but Gibson’s playing a tough team. The Ducks have not been very good of late.
- The Wild should run roughshod over the Oilers, who will be riding Scrivens the rest of the season with Fasth out an indeterminate period of time. The Oil don’t have much to gain by winning while the Wild to pull within one point of a wild card berth. Dubnyk should be motivated to play well against a team that gave up on him.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid
Vancouver Canucks (Eddie Lack*) at New Jersey Devils (Cory Schneider*), 7:00 PM
Toronto Maple Leafs (Jonathan Bernier) at Carolina Hurricanes (Cam Ward), 7:00 PM
New York Rangers (Cam Talbot) at Buffalo Sabres (Anders Lindback), 7:00 PM
Boston Bruins (Tuukka Rask) at St. Louis Blues (Brian Elliott), 8:00 PM
Colorado Avalanche (Semyon Varlamov) at Chicago Blackhawks (Corey Crawford*), 8:30 PM
Anaheim Ducks (John Gibson) at Calgary Flames (Jonas Hiller*), 9:00 PM
Minnesota Wild (Devan Dubnyk) at Edmonton Oilers (Ben Scrivens), 9:00 PM
Injury News For Teams Playing Friday
Brad Richardson, C (ankle) – no return date set.
Kevin Bieksa, D (hand) – no return date set.
Alexander Edler, D (upper body) – no return date set.
Chris Tanev, D (undisclosed) – no return date set.
Frank Corrado, D (upper body) – out 2-3 weeks.
Nick Bonino, C (foot) – did not play Thursday; questionable.
New Jersey Devils
Damon Severson, D (fractured left ankle) – no timetable for return.
Bryce Salvador, D (back) – out indefinitely.
Ryane Clowe, LW (concussion) – out for the season.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Joffrey Lupul, LW (knee) – will not play.
Dion Phaneuf, D (hand) – will not play.
Trevor Smith, C (lower body) – will not play.
Ryan Murphy, D (leg) – out four weeks.
New York Rangers
Henrik Lundqvist, G (throat) – no return date set.
Jesper Fast, RW (sprained right knee) – no return date set.
Josh Gorges, D (lower body) – did not play Thursday; doubtful.
Patrick Kaleta, RW (lower body) – out 4-6 weeks.
Evander Kane, LW (shoulder) – out for the season.
Cody McCormick, C (blood clots) – out indefinitely.
Kevan Miller, D (shoulder) – no return date set.
St. Louis Blues
Kevin Shattenkirk, D (abdominal surgery) – no return date set.
Jamie McGinn, LW (back) – out for the season.
Ryan Wilson, D (shoulder surgery) – out for the season.
Jesse Winchester, LW (concussion) – out indefinitely.
Erik Johnson, D (knee) – no return date set.
Borna Rendulic, RW (broken leg) – out for a month.
Patrick Bordeleau, LW (knee) – practiced Tuesday; questionable.
Ryan Hartman, RW (lower body) – game-time decision; questionable.
Trevor van Riemsdyk, D (knee) – no return date set.
Sheldon Souray, D (wrist) – out for the season.
Matt Beleskey, LW (upper body) – no return date set.
Stefan Noesen, RW (Achilles) – no return date set.
Sami Vatanen, D (lower body) – no return date set.
Frederik Andersen, G (upper body) – no return date set.
Hampus Lindholm, D (ankle) – practiced Thursday; questionable.
Ladislav Smid, D (upper body) skated Thursday; no return date set.
Paul Byron, C (lower body) – game-time decision; questionable.
Keith Ballard, D (concussion) – no return date set.
Josh Harding, G (dehydration) – no return date set.
Jason Zucker, LW (broken collarbone) – out three months.
Matt Cooke, LW (hernia) out 4-5 weeks.
Ryan Carter, C (shoulder) – out for a month.
Jared Spurgeon, D (face) – will not play.
Nikita Nikitin, D (shoulder) – no timetable for return.
Tyler Pitlick, RW (spleen) – out for the season.
Viktor Fasth, G (knee) – out indefinitely.
Taylor Hall, LW (leg) – out six weeks.
Luke Gazdic, LW (head) – did not play Wednesday; doubtful.
Anton Lander, C (shoulder) – did not finish game Wednesday; questionable.
Jeff Petry, D (ribs) – did not finish game Wednesday; questionable.
Rob Klinkhammer, LW (personal) – did not play Wednesday; game-time decision.
Alex Ovechkin, LW, Capitals – You just can’t stop this Russian freight train. He’s 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds and when he’s on his game, nobody can stop him. He’s scored four goals in his past three games, including three power play points, to go with 19 shots and eight hits. Getting ‘er done in the capital.
Frans Nielsen, C, Islanders – His offense has finally awakened with two goals and six points in his past three games, bringing his season total to 11 goals and 36 points. It’s a nice late-season offensive boost for a fantasy asset that has been a letdown this season.
Antoine Vermette, C, Coyotes – Someone get Vermette the memo from the Sabres: if you want to play elsewhere, play well enough so we can trade you for something good. The versatile center has gone cold this week with only two goals in his past five games and a minus-5 rating. Maybe he really does like the early golf seasons.
Chris Kunitz, LW, Penguins – With Friday’s loss, that brings Kunitz’s goalless streak to nine games with just one assist in his past five games. He’s getting the shots on net but he’s not putting any of them. It’s not like Kunitz is terrible (he did make the Olympic team, after all… okay, bad example), so he’ll snap out of it soon.
Nail Yakupov, RW, Oilers – What is there to lose? Yak’s talent has always been evident and now that he’s on a hot streak with three goals in his past two games and seven points on this current six-game point streak, he’s worth the pickup. The Oilers stink but Yakupov can still end his season on a high note, and maybe someone will take notice and make an offer the Oilers can’t refuse. #freeYak