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Scott Cullen

TSN.ca Analytics

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A change in the Canadiens crease, some unlikely weekend hat tricks, Tavares, Tarasenko, Perry, O’Reilly, fantasy tips and more in Scott Cullen’s Statistically Speaking.

The Montreal Canadiens sit atop the NHL standings, with an 11-2 record, but they’re going to deal with some adversity early in the season, as they will be without Carey Price, their all-universe goaltender for the next week due to a lower-body injury. 

Price still has a .936 save percentage in nine starts, even after allowing nine goals on 55 shots in losses at Edmonton and Vancouver, his last two games before he was sidelined.

25-year-old rookie Mike Condon will take over in Price’s absence, and he’s been sharp. He stopped 30 of 32 shots in Friday’s win at Calgary, then had an easier time stopping 18 of 19 shots in Sunday’s victory over the Jets. That leaves Condon with a .944 save percentage in four starts.

That’s obviously inflated, but Condon had a .921 save percentage in 48 AHL games last season, so it’s not like he’s out of his realm taking advantage this opportunity.

"I'm not going to try and be Carey. I don't think anyone can," Condon said after Sunday’s win. "I'm just going to try and keep the spot warm for him."

The Habs have also recalled Dustin Tokarski from St. John’s of the AHL, where he had an .891 save percentage in six starts.

HEROES

Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard, Rick Nash – The Rangers first line did all the damage in a 3-1 win over Toronto Friday. Zuccarello finished with the hat trick, with three assists each going to centre Derick Brassard and left winger Rick Nash

Zuccarello has six points (4 G, 2 A) in the past five games; so does Brassard (2 G, 4 A), while Nash has five points (1 G, 4 A) in the past five.

Dale Weise – An unlikely hat trick and seven shots on goal for the Habs winger in Friday’s 6-2 win at Calgary. Playing a career-high 13:16 per game, Weise is generating a respectable 2.38 shots on goal per game, so even though his shooting percentage (19.4%) is inflated, he’s getting opportunities to score and has seven points (5 G, 2 A) in the past six games.

Michael Frolik – The Flames winger scored his first three goals of the season, had seven shots on goal, and game-best possession (16 for, 7 against, 69.6 SAT%) in Saturday’s 5-4 win at Edmonton.

ZEROES

Rene Bourque, Gregory Campbell, David Clarkson – Columbus’ fourth line didn’t start any shifts in the offensive zone in Friday’s loss to Washington, but they didn’t do much to get out of the zone either, as the trio was on for one shot attempt for and 10 against (9.1 SAT%) against the Capitals.

Ryan Callahan – Despite playing 20:18, and starting 72% of his shifts in the offensive zone the Lightning winger failed to register a shot attempt, had game-worst possession stats (5 for, 19 against, 20.8 SAT%) and was on for two goals against in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Boston.

Goaltenders: 

Joni Ortio – Allowed six goals on 31 shots in Friday’s loss to Montreal, not exactly rising to the opportunity presented with starter Jonas Hiller injured.

Mike Smith – Arizona’s goaltender was yanked less than five minutes into the game after allowing two goals on three shots in Friday’s 4-3 loss to Vancouver.

Michael Hutchinson – Winnipeg’s second-year goaltender was pulled after allowing four goals on nine shots in 23 minutes against Montreal Sunday.

Sergei Bobrovsky – The rough start to the season continues for Columbus’ goaltender, who was pulled after allowing three goals on 11 shots in Saturday’s 3-2 loss. His save percentage sits at .865 for the season.

VITAL SIGNS

John Tavares – Missed both Islanders games over the weekend due to illness, though the circumstances appeared a tad unusual, with the Islanders revealing the reason for Tavares’ absence after the game Saturday, like announcing he was out due to illness was some kind of state secret.

Vladimir Tarasenko – St. Louis’ star right winger missed Saturday’s win over Minnesota with a knee injury. The thinned-out Blues forward lines had Scottie Upshall move up to skate with Alexander Steen and Jori Lehtera.

Andrei Vasilevskiy – The 21-year-old rising star netminder made his season debut for Tampa Bay and stopped 32 of 35 shots in a 4-3 win at Carolina. He had been sidelined while he recovered from blood clots.

Eric Fehr – Made his season debut for the Penguins Saturday night at Toronto, contributing a goal and an assist in a 4-0 win, while skating on the wing of a line with veteran Matt Cullen and rookie Sergei Plotnikov.

Tyler Bozak – Returned to the Maple Leafs lineup Friday night at the Rangers. He has just two points in six games this season, but has stellar possession stats (62.2 SAT%).

Corey Perry – The struggling Ducks winger, who is still looking for his first goal of the season, played a season-low 13:59 against Nashville Sunday.

Lars Eller – Played team-low 9:09 at Calgary Friday, before bouncing back with a goal in Sunday’s 5-1 win against Winnipeg.

Dougie Hamilton – Played a season-low 12:07 in Calgary’s 5-4 win at Edmonton Saturday.

Fedor Tyutin – The veteran Blue Jackets defenceman was a healthy scratch for Friday’s 2-1 loss at Washington, and Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Winnipeg. He’s playing a career-low 17:51 per game this season, yet has the best possession stats among Columbus blueliners.

David Pastrnak – The second-year Bruins winger played 7:41 at Tampa Bay Saturday, getting six seconds of ice time in the final 23:51. The slumping sophomore has one goal and no assists in his past eight games.

Tanner Kero – Signed as a free agent out of Michigan Tech. last season, the 23-year-old has been called up to the Blackhawks and played his first two NHL games Thursday and Friday. He has eight points (6 G, 2 A) in seven AHL games when he got the call. 

Erik Gustafssson – The 23-year-old rookie made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks Friday, and picked up an assist in 12:17 of ice time at Minnesota.

FIRSTS

Bobby Farnham – Recently picked up on waivers from the Penguins, the Devils agitator had quite the debut with New Jersey, picking up his first career goal (in his 15th career game) and adding an assist in 7:54 of ice time at the Islanders Saturday.

Brendan Gaunce – Playing his second NHL game at Arizona Friday, the 20-year-old Canucks rookie scored his first NHL goal in a 4-3 win at Arizona.

Andrew Copp – The Jets rookie scored his first goal in Saturday’s 3-2 win at Columbus, his 12th NHL game.  

SHORT SHIFTS

Sabres C Ryan O’Reilly had a goal and two assists in Friday’s 3-1 win over Philadelphia; he has 10 points (3 G, 7 A) during a five-game point streak…Bruins D Zdeno Chara had a goal and an assist in a 3-1 win at Florida Friday, then added an assist in Saturday’s 3-1 win at Tampa Bay, giving him seven points (1 G, 6 A) in eight games…Bruins LW Brad Marchand scored a pair of goals Friday at Florida, followed by a goal and an assist at Tampa Bay Saturday, and he’s put up nine points (5 G, 4 A) during a six-game point streak…Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews scored a pair of goals in Friday’s 5-4 loss at Minnesota; he has four goals in the past four games…Wild C Mikko Koivu had three assists against Chicago Friday, extending his point streak to eight games (3 G, 7 A), before he was held off the scoresheet Saturday at St. Louis…Wild LW Jason Zucker put up a goal and an assist Friday vs. Chicago, then added another goal Saturday at St. Louis, and now has seven points (3 G, 4 A) during a six-game point streak.

Sharks RW Joel Ward had a goal and an assist in a 5-3 loss at Dallas Saturday, then added a goal at Colorado Sunday, and has seven points (6 G, 1 A) in the past five games…Stars D Jason Demers picked up a goal and an assist against San Jose; he has seven points (3 G, 4 A) in his past eight games…Stars LW Vernon Fiddler had a goal and two assists against San Jose Saturday, and has five points (1 G, 4 A) in the past five games…Stars D John Klingberg picked up a pair of assists against San Jose, giving him nine points (2 G, 7 A) during a seven-game point streak…Stars C Tyler Seguin registered a goal and an assist vs. San Jose and has 16 points (5 G, 11 A) in the past 10 games…Stars RW Patrick Sharp tallied a goal and an assist against the Sharks, and has eight points (4 G, 4 A) in the past seven games…Kings RW Tyler Toffoli buried a couple of goals in Saturday’s 4-3 win over Nashville, giving him nine points (8 G, 1 A) in the past seven games…Red Wings RW Gustav Nyquist had a goal and an assist in Saturday’s 5-3 win at Ottawa, and has six points (3 G, 3 A) in the past six games…Senators RW Mark Stone notched a goal and an assist in Saturday’s loss to Detroit, and has five points (1 G, 4 A) during a four-game point streak. Controlled play (32 for, 9 against, 78.1 SAT%) with linemates Kyle Turris and Shane Prince…Senators RW Bobby Ryan had a goal and an assist in Friday’s 3-1 win at Detroit, then added a goal in Saturday’s 5-3 loss, giving him five points (3 G, 2 A) in the past four games…Jets C Bryan Little had a goal and an assist in Saturday’s 3-2 win at Columbus; he has six points (2 G, 4 A) in the past four games.

Oilers RW Leon Draisaitl picked up a goal and two assists in Saturday’s 5-4 loss to Calgary, and has five points (3 G, 2 A) in two games since getting called up from the AHL…Oilers LW Taylor Hall tallied a goal and two assists Saturday, giving him 10 points (3 G, 7 A) during a five-game point streak…Oilers C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins chipped in a couple of assists against Calgary, and has six points (1 G, 5 A) in the past five games…Canadiens RW Paul Byron had a goal and an assist in his first game against his former team in Calgary Friday, then added another shorthanded goal in Sunday’s win over Winnipeg…Canadiens C David Desharnais accrued a goal and two assists against Winnipeg Sunday, and has 11 points (2 G, 9 A) in the past 10 games…Canadiens LW Tomas Fleischmann put up a pair of goals and added an assist, giving him seven points (2 G, 5 A) in the past six games…Sharks D Brent Burns had a pair of goals in Sunday’s 4-3 win at Colorado, and has five points (2 G, 3 A) in the past four games…Hurricanes RW Kris Versteeg had a goal and two assists in a 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay Sunday, and has six points (1 G, 5 A) in the past five games…Hurricanes C Victor Rask earned three assists against Tampa Bay, giving him six points (2 G, 4 A) in the past five games.

Sabres G Linus Ullmark stopped 27 of 28 shots in Friday’s 3-1 win vs. Philadelphia, then followed up by stopping 29 of 30 shots in Sunday’s 2-1 win at the Islanders. He has a ,930 save percentage in his first three NHL games…Capitals G Braden Holtby had 29 saves on 30 shots in Friday’s 2-1 win over Columbus, and has a .924 save percentage through eight starts…Senators G Andrew Hammond stopped 29 of 30 shots in Friday’s 3-1 win vs. Detroit…Bruins G Tuukka Rask stopped 31 of 32 shots in Friday’s win at Florida, his second straight quality start and a sign of improvement after a poor start to the season…Ducks G Frederik Andersen turned aside 40 of 42 shots in Sunday’s win vs. Nashville, and has a .935 save percentage in nine games.

FANTASY FOCUS

A trio of players available in more than 50% of TSN leagues:

Kyle Palmieri – The Devils winger is starting to take advantage of the significant ice time he’s receiving and has five points (2 G, 3 A) in the past five games. Owned: 24.9%

Justin Williams – Playing a top-six role in Washington works for just about anyone and Williams has six points (2 G, 4 A) in the past six games. Owned: 43.9%

Brett Connolly – Starting to make his mark with the Bruins, Connolly has five points (4 G, 1 A) during a five-game point streak. Owned: 0.7%

Much of the data included comes from www.war-on-ice.comwww.hockey-reference and www.naturalstattrick.com

Scott Cullen can be reached at scott.cullen@bellmedia.ca