James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Dose: On Bryzgalov, Scrivens

Monday, November 18, 2013


 

The Daily Dose is meant to entertain and/or inform a pretty wide swath of readers in a diverse array of ways. (Whether it’s successful is for you to decide. *Flashes puppy dog eyes*)

 

Some might seek it out as their two scoops of breakfast-time hockey reading. Others may use it as a diversion from cubicle monotony. There are those who might roll their eyes at the silliness but hone in on a few suggestions or condemnations. Maybe the occasional reader prints things out for a little toilet reading.*

 

(Hopefully not too many people out there are just flat-out “hate reading” these columns. If you are one of those well-meaning folks … thanks, and I love you, too.)

 

There were all kinds of news bits that cropped up over the weekend, but I thought I’d start with the “honing in” crowd. Mainly because a lot of those injury bits are sad, and this goalie stuff is kind of fun and probably more fruitful. So let’s get cracking.

 

Editor’s Note: Rotoworld’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $2,500 Fantasy Hockey league tonight (Monday). It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $500. Starts at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the link.

 

SCRIVENS TO BELIEVE IN

 

Maybe “East Coast Bias” will work in your favor, but if I were goalie-poor, I wouldn’t sit too long on Ben Scrivens.**

 

After all, guys who rack up two shutouts in a row (and stop 86 out of their last 88 shots) don’t usually go without a dance partner for too long, especially when their best competition (Quick) could be out for a month or so. Even more so if that netminder plays on a team that won a Stanley Cup a couple years ago and still boasts a fantastic supporting cast, including a strong defense.

 

Yes, Scrivens is largely unproven; that’s why he was basically an afterthought in the Jonathan Bernier trade. Now he has a chance to be Bernier 2.0, albeit with none of the hype that comes with a first-round pedigree (although maybe that added humility explains why his Twitter feed can be so fantastic).

 

They match up in satisfyingly superficial ways at least. Bernier is a Kings backup-turned-Toronto starter who mopped up for Jonathan Quick in 2013 (last season). Scrivens is a Maple Leafs backup-turned-Los Angeles temporary starter mopping up for an injured Quick in 2013 (this season).

 

Beyond that silly-but-fun connection, they also share the distinction of putting up a small sample size of decent-yet-unspectacular NHL numbers while also really excelling other levels, including longer runs in the AHL.

 

So, long story short, there’s some reason to believe in Scrivens. Certainly compared to real unknowns in seemingly solid situations, like Carter Hutton (don’t). I recommended Scrivens on Friday and recommend him again; in that time, he’s gone from owned in 24 percent to 39.


That number is bound to grow as you read this with your many morning food options, kill time not reading your work e-mails or react to your morning muffin and coffee, so step to it. There isn’t a goalie being discussed here who’s realistically available who I’d recommend over Scrivens, so open a new tab/window and do that, then come back.

 

Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $2,500 Fantasy Hockey league tonight (Monday). It's just $10 to join and first prize is $500. Starts at 7pm ET. Here's the link.

 

For everything NHL, check out Rotoworld's Player News and follow @Rotoworld_ HK+@cyclelikesedins on Twitter.

 

Oh, and there’s still plenty of time to join a Yahoo! Hockey Pool, so get on that.

 

THE HARDING EXAMPLE

 

To start things off, I thought I’d discuss a goalie who almost certainly isn’t available in your league. Somehow, Josh Harding is out there in certain leagues - just 77 percent ownership right now, which would seem to make that “go ahead, add Scrivens” bit seem defunct, except you wouldn’t read the Dose and not grab Harding by now, would you? - but I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Niklas Backstrom’s concussion seems serious enough to convert the final holdouts.

 

Anyway, Harding kept his ridiculous run going this weekend. Quick recap: he hasn’t lost a regulation game in a month and has only allowed more than two goals once this season - three in a win on Nov.1 against Carolina - reinforcing his dominance. He represents an interesting bridge between two choices you might be mulling over right now: Scrivens and Ilya Bryzgalov.

 

NATURE VS. NURTURE

 

Harding might not be a household name, yet for hockey hardcores, he’s been known for quite some time as a guy many believed could jump from backup to a No. 1 role. Much like Bernier and Bryzgalov (the latter many moons ago).

 

Harding also shares some similarities with Scrivens’ situation. Both the Kings and Wild rank among the league’s better defensive-minded/puck possession-interested teams, providing nurturing environments for their goalies.

 

It’s not an exact science - judging goalies is often a fool’s errand, even for NHL franchises full of experienced hockey men - but in 2013, I’d honestly take a promising situation over a big name more often than not.

 

Consider the last few years in the netminding ranks. All four 2013 Stanley Cup Final goalies were in contract years with less than settled situations; remember when Tuukka Rask and Corey Crawford were relative mysteries, if not deeply doubted? The Vezina winner was also a guy with an unsettled situation who was just traded by a franchise whose brand is linked as much to awful goaltending as it is to being “bullies.”

 

It’s also become clear that you don’t always get what you pay for goaltending-wise. (Aside from maybe when you employ Zdeno Chara, who seems to have a fairly positive impact on his netminders …)

 

In all honesty, I understand the siren call of name recognition. And the standards for adding a third or fourth goalie via the waiver wire is lower than drafting a netminder in fantasy; it’s often quite reasonable to just to take the occasional shot in the dark.

 

But if I had to choose, I’d take Scrivens over Bryzgalov right now. Breezy has a higher ceiling talent-wise (I think) and could potentially hold onto the Oilers job longer (I think), but I also think that there’s a chance that the Oilers’ bigger picture problems are hardly Devan Dubnyk’s fault (though he’s had a rough go of things). Big D could conceivably harness the anger of getting replaced by Breezy, see Bryzgalov stumble and get his nose right back in it.

 

When in doubt, go with the guy in a better situation. For me, that one’s easy: it’s Scrivens. Both are decent depth options, however, so don’t feel TOO bad in DEFYING the DD.

 

BUMPS AND BRUISES

 

Injury situations were big enough this weekend that I thought I’d single some of them out and write a tiny bit longer on them. This is by no means a comprehensive list, though, so click here for that.

 

-- Matt Duchene suffered an oblique injury that will supposedly only sideline him for a week. This comes at a tough time, as it was revealed that Alex Tanguay is out indefinitely with a knee injury while the Avs (on a three-game losing streak) face a schedule that’s seriously ramping up. At least Nathan MacKinnon owners could benefit from their patience, as he’s expected to get top-six minutes.

 

-- Marian Gaborik could miss anywhere between three and eight weeks with a sprained knee. Tough news for a guy in a contract year. I wonder if the winger will ever play for Columbus again, considering the mixed talk about a deal.

 

-- Evgeni Nabokov might be out a couple weeks to a month. It sounds like the Islanders won’t seek outside help, so Kevin Poulin may just be the bronze medal behind this column’s gold (Scrivens) and silver (Bryzgalov) options. Again, netminding potential is maybe even more subjective than other bits, so if you think he’s a stud in the making grab him.

 

-- Daniel Alfredsson could be out for a week or so with a groin injury. Rough run since they have lost six in a row (three via shootout and two before that in OT).

 

-- Zach Bogosian is considered week-to-week with a groin issue. That’s a bummer for the Winnipeg Jets defenseman and the Jets themselves, as waiver fodder Keaton Ellerby seems like his replacement (so far).

 

-- Nikolai Khabibulin has been placed on the LTIR. He’s been awful, so it really just emboldens Corey Crawford. If you’re the quick add/drop type, Antti Raanta may get a start or two on their upcoming “circus” seven-game road trip.

 

* - If you do so, it might not be wise to read more than two Doses in one “sitting.”

 

** - Actually, he could even be worth a look if you want an embarrassment of riches. Maybe grab Scrivens, hope he stays hot for a week and try to land a trade? Or trade one of your more established goalies?



James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than two years. Follow him on Twitter.
Email :James O'Brien



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