Saturday Daily Puck: Even Strength Extraordinaires
Saturday Daily Puck: Even Strength Extraordinaires

This article is part of our The Daily Puck series.

Around the Rink

A player might be piling up the points on the power play, but what does that really say about their production? It's time to take a look at the early even-strength and power-play scoring leaders this season and what it means for fantasy owners.

When an extremely talented top-line player is producing vast amounts of offense, it's expected a good amount of those points will come on the power play. If we take at look at the five top point getters from last season (Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Claude Giroux, Tyler Seguin, and Corey Perry), we can see that out of the combined 443 points those five players registered, only 141 of those points came on the power play (32 %).

A highly skilled player will produce no matter what offensive situation they are put in. That's why you need to be cautious when looking at a player who has racked up the bulk of their points on the power play. Sure it's benefiting you now, but if another player emerges or the team tries another option, your player gets bumped off the power play and then all of the sudden, they stop producing. Injuries are a good example of this. Tim Erixon of Columbus has posted five of his six points this season with the man advantage, lining up alongside Ryan Johansen and 2014-15 breakout star Nick Foligno. He had never put up more than five points in a season, but with Jack Johnson out of the lineup, this was a golden opportunity for Erixon to cash in. The points come pretty easy when you're dishing passes to stars.

If a player is scoring at even strength, it shows you they can find twine without needing an extra man or extra space. That is why looking at top even-strength players are a great indicator of how good a player is really playing. If he is lighting it up at five on five, then he sure as hell is going to be able to find the back of the net on the power play. The one exception here is if a player is on the third or fourth line scoring goals, but seeing no power-play time whatsoever. Here is a look at the even-strength leaders so far, with the percentage in brackets indicating what percent of the player's points have come with the man advantage.

1. Jakub Voracek, PHI, 16 ES points/24 points total (33% on pp),3:45 PP TOI/GP
2. Filip Forsberg, NSH, 15 ES points/20 points total (25% on pp), 2:40 PP TOI/GP
3. Tyler Johnson, TBL, 15 ES points/ 18 points total (17 % on pp), 1:56 PP TOI/GP
4. Rick Nash, NYR, 15 ES points/18 points total (17% on pp), 2:34 PP TOI/GP
5. Tyler Seguin, DAL, 15 ES points/22 points total, ( 32 % on pp), 4:00 PP TOI/GP
6. Mark Giordano, CGY, 14 ES Points/ 20 points total (30 % on pp), 2:59 PP TOI/GP
7. Nick Bonino, VAN, 14 ES Points/14 points total (0 % on pp), 2:05 PP TOI/GP
8. Phil Kessel, TML, 14 ES Points/ 21 points total (33 % on pp), 3:18 PP TOI/GP

Source: sportingcharts.com

Looking at these leaders, players like Voracek, Forsberg, Seguin, Kessel and Giordano have a promising balance between even-strength and power-play points, meaning you can expect them to keep producing at a similar rate. When you look at guys like Johnson or Bonino, however, it's apparent their production would rise even more with increased power-play time. If Johnson played with Steven Stamkos like Voracek plays with Claude Giroux in Philly or how Forsberg lines up with James Neal and Shea Weber in Nashville, his points would be more evenly distributed.

Now that we have seen that players that really are having terrific start to the 2014-15 season, it's time to look at some players whose production might just be too good to maintain. Keep in mind that last year Nicklas Backstrom of the Capitals was the only player among the top-60 NHL scoring leaders to record over half of his points on the power play. Here are the current 2014-15 power-play points leaders.

1. Sidney Crosby, Pit, 12 PP points/25 points total (48 % on PP), 4:17 PP TOI/GP
2. Ryan Johansen, CBJ, 11 PP points/ 20 points total (55 % on PP), 3:53 PP TOI/GP
3. Evgeni Malkin, PIT, 11 PP points/ 17 points total (65 % on PP), 4:16 PP TOI/GP
4. Nick Foligno, CBJ, 10 PP points/ 18 points total (55 % on PP), 3:26 PP TOI/GP
5. Patric Hornqvist, PIT, 10 PP points/18 points total (55% on PP), 4:04 PP TOI/GP
6. Keith Yandle, PHX, 10 PP points/ 14 points total (71 % on pp), 5:55 PP TOI/GP
7. Kevin Shattenkirk, STL, 10 PP points/ 14 points total (71 % on PP), 3:37 PP TOI/GP
8. Sami Vatanen, ANA, 10 PP points/ 12 points total (83 % on PP), 3:50 PP TOI/GP
9. Claude Giroux, PHI, 9 PP points/ 20 points total (45 % on pp), 3:51 PP TOI/GP
10. Chris Kunitz, PIT, 9 PP points/ 16 points total (56 % on pp), 4:08 PP TOI/GP
11. Kris Letang, PIT, 9 PP points/ 12 points total (75 % on pp), 4:25 PP TOI/GP

Source: NHL.com

Taking a look at this list, a player like Crosby or Giroux would be ideal. They are delivering you elite power-play point totals, but aren't relying solely on the man advantage to provide, meaning they aren't likely to slow down. While defensemen like Shattenkirk, Yandle, Vatanen, and Letang usually get the bulk of their points on the power play, they are relying on the extra man a little too much thus far. It's fair to assume they will experience some drop in their overall production as the season wears on. Eventually stuff happens. The team's power play goes cold or the chemistry gets lost and players are swapped for others. While it's hard to bet against Pittsburgh's power play, a player such as Jackets' Foligno likely won't be able to maintain his current production, as there is no way he is finishing the season with 54 power-play points – what he is currently on pace for.

Let's now take a look at another busy Saturday in the NHL.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)

Hurricanes (Cam Ward) at Bruins (Tuukka Rask), 1:00
Wild (Darcy Kuemper) at Stars (Kari Lehtonen), 2:00
Ducks (Frederick Andersen) at Kings (Jonathan Quick), 4:00
Maple Leafs (Jonathan Bernier) at Sabres (Michael Neuvirth), 7:00
Flyers (Ray Emery) at Canadiens (Carey Price), 7:00
Islanders (Jaroslav Halak) at Lightning (Ben Bishop), 7:00
Avalanche (Semyon Varlamov) at Devils (Cory Schneider), 7:00
Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist) at Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury), 7:00
Sharks (Antti Niemi) at Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky), 7:00
Jets (Ondrej Pavelec) at Predators (Pekka Rinne), 7:00
Capitals (Justin Peters) at Blues (Brian Elliott), 8:00
Senators (Craig Anderson) at Flames (Jonas Hiller), 10:00

*Confirmed Starters

For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check out our Projected Goalies Grid.

Injury News For Teams Playing Saturday

Ducks
Francois Beauchemin, D (illness) - Placed on Injured Reserve.
Corey Perry, RW (illness) - Was skating on his own again Friday.
Dany Heatley, RW (groin) – Placed on injured reserve Friday.
Bruins
David Krejci, C (lower body) - Skated on his own prior to Friday's practice; questionable.
Sabres
Marcus Foligno, LW (soreness) – Expected to return Saturday.
Josh Gorges, D (lower body) – Doubtful.
Flames
Joe Colborne, RW (wrist) - Was able to skate on his own prior to Wednesday's practice; questionable.
Mason Raymond, LW (upper body) - Was able to skate Wednesday; questionable.
Hurricanes
Elias Lindholm, RW (foot) - Did not take part in Friday's practice; questionable.
Jay Harrison, D (foot) - Did not take part in Friday's practice; questionable.
Blue Jackets
Sergei Bobrovsky, G (finger) – Head coach Todd Richards said there is a small chance he will play Saturday against the Sharks.
Ryan Murray, D (knee) – Had another MRI on Tuesday which revealed no structural damage and will not require surgery.
Fedor Tyutin, D (foot) – Appeared to suffer injury while blocking a shot late in Friday's 4-3 victory over the Flyers; questionable.
Artem Anisimov,C (concussion) - Head coach Todd Richards said there is a small chance Anisimov will play Saturday against the Sharks.
Matt Calvert, LW (upper body) - Will not play Saturday.
Mark Letestu, C (groin) -Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said that Letestu "had a little setback" in his recovery from a groin injury.
Nathan Horton, RW (spine) – Is bracing for the possibility of career-ending surgery to rectify his degenerative spinal condition.
Jack Skille, LW (head) – Possible.
Stars
Patrick Eaves, RW (lower body) - Didn't practice Friday, but his injury isn't serious.
Kings
Robyn Regehr, D (undisclosed) – Was on the ice for practice Friday, questionable.
Alec Martinez, D (finger) - Underwent surgery Friday.
Wild
Zach Parise, LW (concussion) –Will not play in Saturday's game against the Stars.
Matt Cooke, LW (lower body) – Not close to returning.
Marco Scandella, D (illness) – Doubtful Saturday.
Jonas Brodin, D (illness) – Doubtful Saturday.

Colin Wilson, LW (lower body) - Doubtful Saturday.
Devils
Bryce Salvador, D (lower body) – Questionable.
Adam Henrique, C (lower body) - Has resumed skating on his own.
Clowe, LW (head) - Was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.
Islanders
Eric Boulton, LW (undisclosed) - Was placed on injured reserve Thursday.
Senators
Marc Methot, D (back) - Was able to resume skating with his teammates Tuesday morning.
Flyers
Andrew MacDonald, D (lower body) - General manager Ron Hextall said MacDonald would return from injured reserve in about 10 days.
Luke Schenn, D (upper body) - Skated prior to Tuesday's practice.
Penguins
Olli Maatta, D (neck) - Is "at least five days away" from returning to action.
Sharks
Alex Stalock, G - Underwent minor surgery on his left knee Thursday and is expected to miss around two-to-four weeks.
Lightning
Ondrej Palat, LW (upper body) - Will be a game-time decision Saturday versus the Islanders.
Brett Connolly, RW (lower body) – Was able to skate again Friday and logged full participation in team drills.
Leafs
Brandon Kozun, LW (ankle) - Skated with the rest of the Leafs' injured forwards before Wednesday's morning session.
Joffrey Lupul, LW (hand) - Randy Carlyle said Lupul is about a week away from returning.
David Booth, RW (foot) – Skated with the rest of his teammates at Tuesday's morning skate.
Daniel Winnik, C (head/neck) – Returned to practice Tuesday.
Capitals
Liam O'Brien, C (lower body) - Questionable.
Tom Wilson, RW (lower body) - Coach Barry Trotz said that Wilson is possible Saturday.
Brooks Laich, C (shoulder) - Was placed on the IR on Friday.

Hot

Cody Franson, D, TOR – Franson has delivered of late, riding a six-game point streak in which he has recorded a goal and seven assists. The 27-year-old has taken on a bigger role with the Leafs this season, playing on the team's top defensive pairing and first power-play unit. Averaging 19:40 of ice time per game, Franson has put up two goals and 11 points in 15 games this season, to go with a plus-6 rating. His production has been balanced, with almost half of his points coming at even strength and the other six coming with the man advantage. He is still available in over 10 percent of ESPN fantasy hockey leagues, so grab him while you can.

James Wisniewski, D, CBJ – Wisniewski has come alive after a slow start, recording two goals and five points in his last three games. He is up to eight points in 13 games this season, and is posting respectable totals in almost every fantasy category. Wiz scored his first two power-play goals of the season Friday against the Flyers, putting his absolutely lethal shot on display. Considering he is coming off a career-high 51 point season, Wisniewski is starting to show signs he can duplicate that past success. As long as he stays healthy, the 30-year-old is a great offensive threat from the blueline.

Cold

Daniel Briere, C, COL – Briere is struggling in Colorado, having been a healthy scratch in eight of the Avs last nine games. He has only recorded two goals and three points in 11 games this season, to go with a minus-2 rating. With Colorado's top-six crowded with young talent, it's hard to see Briere playing anywhere but in the bottom-six, placing a big limit on his fantasy value. If he catches fire, Briere could be worth a look in deeper leagues, but he's not worth your time right now. The 37-year-old's glory days are behind him.

Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, FLA – Once the Panthers' top-line center, Huberdeau is now playing the wing on the second line and is no longer on the team's top power-play unit. He doesn't exactly have the best offensive talent around him, but two points in 11 games is just isn't going to cut it. He has failed to impress since winning the Calder trophy in 2012-13 and isn't showing any signs have fixing that. At only 21 years of age, Huberdeau has a long career ahead of him, but he needs to turn things around soon. He's a big piece of the puzzle in Florida.

Recommended Pickup

Marcus Johansson, LW, WAS – He might not be available in your league, but it's worth checking, as Johansson is having himself quite the season. Johansson, who is currently available in 35.4 of ESPN fantasy hockey leagues, has notched eight goals in 16 games this season – ninth most in the NHL. Skating on the second line with Andre Burakovsky and Troy Brouwer, the 24-year-old appears destined to post a career-high season. Considering he has never recorded more than 14 goals in a season, its obvious Johansson won't maintain the 40-goal pace he is currently on. He is playing on the top power play unit with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, though, so anything is possible. Grab him while you can.


The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brady Trettenero
Brady is a passionate hockey fan and sports writer with over five years experience specializing in digital media, plus a degree in Broadcast Journalism. He's been writing for RotoWire since 2013.
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