More eggs are finding their way back into No. 1 forward line baskets ... Surprise demotion for Kovalchuk ... Coyotes’ GAA is best in the biz
There are no doubt a few factors involved, but some NHL teams are easing off the notion that they have to spread their offensive talent across two, or even three, forward lines to be productive.
The Rangers, for example, loaded up their top troika a few games ago, putting together (with excellent results) their
Mats Zuccarello top two forwards — Mike Zibanejad
and — while the Flyers have been
Claude better since re-uniting Giroux Jakub Voracek.
and The Stars, of course, are the fore-runners of this process
Tyler Seguin with and Jamie Benn,
splitting them up to compensate for a lack of scoring depth, then re-uniting them on more than one occasion the past few years.
In Ottawa, a rebuilding Senators team without a lot of proven point-producers,
Mark has finally put Stone Matt Duchene
and on to one line, along with Ryan Dzingel,
arguably their third-best forward.
Even the Maple Leafs, for whom depth is not seen to be an issue, had their hand forced by the shoulder injury
Auston Matthews to and continued holdout of William Nylander. All it took was one game — Monday’s listless loss to the visiting Flames
Mike Babcock — for coach
John Tavares to see that and Mitch Marner
were not nearly as threatening on separate lines as they were working
Zach Hyman. together with
So that line was quickly reformed for Thursday’s game against Dallas and, while they were on the ice for the Leafs’ lone goal on the power-play, the dynamic duo generated a lot more chances at even strength that it likely would have capitalized on in the opening weeks of the schedule when the team wasn’t struggling to score.
In each case, when a team’s top two available offensive threats are working together, the fantasy results should favour the owners of these players. However, a good defensive game plan by the opposing coach will occasionally shut them down, or limit their production, which, if it occurs too often, is usually the reason for breaking them up again.
Dustin When Kings RW Brown
(broken finger) made his season debut last Sunday, it was naturally assumed he’d take his place alongside Anze Kopitar Ilya Kovalchuk
and on the top line and push
Alex early-season surprise Iafallo
into a bottom-six role. Well, when the Kings lined up for the game-opening faceoff against the Rangers that night, it was Kovalchuk who had been demoted to the third line even-strength with Iafallo staying put. The weird thing about it is that Kovalchuk, now
Adrian Kempe skating with
Trevor Lewis, and has suddenly gotten hot, piling up 2-3-5 totals in two games. n Brad Marchand
owners had to be relieved with his two-goal game against Carolina on Tuesday. Not just because it doubled his goals total, but because the five shots he took were a season high. Prior to that game, the feisty Bruins winger had just 17 shots on net in 11 outings, an average of 1.5 per, more than a full shot less than last year when he scored 34 goals. n
Here’s a bit of a shocker: Heading into Saturday’s action, the Arizona Coyotes actually lead the NHL in team goals against average. The Desert Dogs have yielded just 24 goals through their first dozen games for a tidy 2.00 GAA. Last year, they ranked 21st at 3.06. The Predators are a distant second at 2.31 with
Antti the Bruins third at 2.42. Raanta,
who led all starting goalies in save percentage last year at .930, has continued to shine with a .929 mark this season. That includes stopping n 48 of 51 shots in an OT win over Carolina on Friday. That’s a surprising number in itself given that the Coyotes have moved up from 19th in shots allowed last year to seventh (32.2 to 29.9).
Ben Chiarot’s Jets D-man
26 PIMs may appear attractive to a fantasy owner needing help in that category, but 22 of those have come in two games, with a misconduct in each. Take away that pair of 10-minute sentences and he has just three minor penalties in 12 games. n
There must be something about Hollywood that agrees
Ivan Provorov. with The Flyers defenceman, a 17-goal scorer last year, was having a seriously rough start to the season with just three assists and a minus-8 in his first 11 games. The Flyers then head to L.A., and he scores in back-toback games against the Ducks and Kings, and goes plus-3. n
Fantasy owners of Mika Zibanejad (right) and Mats Zuccarello have been smiling more since the Rangers put them together on their top line.