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Moulson Brews Strong Debut

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Moulson Brews Strong Debut
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Tuesday's Hockey Dose studies Matt Moulson's smashing Sabres debut and goes deeper on his career to date …

Over the long haul, being a good fantasy owner often comes down to sniffing out lucky starts and hot streaks versus signs of an actual, more permanent breakthrough.

With that in mind, it’s easy to get carried away with the kind of two-goal debut Matt Moulson had with the Buffalo Sabres on Monday. Here’s the thing, though: it’s also the kind of thing that makes hockey/sports more fun - both in fantasy and reality.

It’s probably an exaggeration to say that “all” eyes were on Moulson last night. This wasn’t a playoff game. It wasn’t on national television. His new lowly team allowed the Dallas Stars to climb back to .500 at 5-5-1 by the end of the night.

Still, when it comes to silencing his critics, Moulson did a great job for at least one evening. It’s comically early to say that his almost-storybook start proves that he can indeed produce without John Tavares, yet it’s awfully captivating stuff.

So let’s break down Moulson’s night, his linemates and even his career to get a better idea of the Sabres’ new No. 26.

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MOULSON’S GAME

No doubt about it, Moulson’s first game with Buffalo was great. The best part, for me, was that he provided a taste of the two very different kind of goals he tends to score: pretty, highlight reel-types and dirty, “in the trenches” tallies.

There was certainly some luck involved for the 29-year-old, as he found the net right away on his first SOG. Still, the peripherals weren’t half-bad, as he collected four SOG and two takeaways on Monday.

The TOI dispersal falls in line with his Islanders work: 19:48 total, with 3:04 on the power play.

Overall, good stuff.

MOULSON’S CAREER

Here’s a breakdown of Moulson’s production since he joined the Islanders (and also this season so far):

2013-14: 8 goals, three assists, 11 points in 12 GP; 32 SOG, nine blocked shots (four hits), 17:49 TOI.

Power-play: five PPG, 2 PPA, 7 PPP

No GWG yet

Home/Road Points: 10 at home, 1 on road

2012-13: 15 G, 29 A, 44 P in 47 GP; 154 SOG, 28 BS (24 hits), 19:09 TOI

Power-play: 8 PPG, 7 PPA, 15 PPP

No GWG

Home/Road Points: 23 at home, 21 on road

2011-12: 36 G, 33 A, 69 P in 82 GP; 219 SOG, 40 BS (33 hits), 19:18 TOI

Power-play: 14 PPG, 10 PPA, 24 PPP

5 GWG

Home/Road Points: 32 at home, 37 on road

2010-11: 31 G, 22 A, 53 P in 82 GP; 237 SOG, 48 BS (84 hits), 18:52 TOI

Power-play: 9 PPG, 6 PPA, 15 PPP

3 GWG

Home/Road Points: 34 at home, 19 on road

2009-10: 30 G, 18 A, 48 P in 82 GP; 208 SOG, 52 BS (113 hits), 16:38 TOI

Power-play: 8 PPG, 7 PPA, 15 PPP

5 GWG

Home/Road Points: 23 at home, 25 on road

A few quick takeaways:

-- PIM aren’t a big part of the Moulson package, with just 62 in 334 career GP. The most he generated was 24 in 2010-11.

-- As you may see, Moulson’s hits went down as his role (and assists) increased.

-- One other thing I didn’t really list was PP TOI: he’s generally averaged a healthy three per game.

-- GWG aren’t wildly predictable in the first place, but playing for the Sabres obviously won’t help matters.

HIS NEW LINEMATES

Let’s not belabor the John Tavares point too much just yet, OK? Sure, 118 of his 126 career goals came with the Islanders, but 304 of his 334 career games were in Long Island, anyway. Instead, let’s look at the guys he rolled with on Monday: Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis.

Hodgson (50 percent owned in Yahoo) - Hodgson and Thomas Vanek were basically the Sabres offense early this season, so it stands to reason that will continue (only with Moulson replacing Vanek) for at least a while.

He has 10 points (including an assist last night) in 14 games so far this season and did well with an enhanced role with Buffalo last season, scoring 34 points in 48 contests.

The solid center is doing OK SOG-wise (34 in 14 GP), but like Moulson, doesn't really have PIMs going for him. The TOI is there, as he's averaging 19:27 overall and 3:28 per game.

Overall, Hodgson isn't a must-have, but he should be solid. That's especially true in deeper leagues.

Tyler Ennis (39 percent) - The Sabres’ smallish winger (no longer the “other” smaller Sabres winger, as Nathan Gerbe bolted, although Gerbe was probably the “other” one) looked pretty good on Monday, particularly when he cleverly faked a shot then sent a one-timer pass to Moulson for his first goal.

No doubt, this season so far hasn’t been great for Ennis; his two assists boosts his season totals from one point to three. Still, his history shows that he has some solid offensive potential (31 points in 47 games last season, 20 goals in 2010-11) and he sports a decent pedigree (26th overall in 2008).

One “advantage” Ennis has over Hodgson is that Ennis is in a contract year (he’ll be an RFA) while Hodgson is locked up through 2018-19. As you may know, Moulson is also playing for a new contract, and he’s a pending UFA.

Ultimately, I’d say that Hodgson is (and has been) worth adding in many formats while Ennis is at least worth monitoring.

After the jump: Game notes and more.

DALLAS 4, BUFFALO 3

-- Kari Lehtonen's injury woes might obscure his nice start; he's 2-0-1 since returning from injury, improving his overall record to 4-1-1 with strong individual numbers (.949 save percentage and 1.60 GAA).

-- Tyler Seguin is doing more or less what anyone can reasonably expect: 12 points in 11 games, 30 SOG. He could very well best his career-high 67 points.

-- Steve Ott is heating up as a multiple-category threat. He scored a goal, fired four SOG, threw three hits and collected four PIM. As the Sabres' full-time captain, he should be engaged.

PITTSBURGH 3, CAROLINA 1

-- With two assists, Sidney Crosby now has 20 points in 12 games. If he stays healthy, this pace (136-137 points) would blow his career-high 120 points out of the water. Obviously a healthy season seems like a big if, though, sadly.

-- Alexander Semin's getting it together with a four-game point streak (one goal, four assists). Those five points account for most of his seven this season.

-- Nathan Gerbe's production isn't that exciting (seven points in 12 GP) but you have to love that 41 SOG.

-- Speaking of SOG, Chris Kunitz is just fine too, with 42 of his own in 12 games. He also has 12 points and a +11 rating.

-- Aside from Semin heating up, the best news for Carolina might be that Jordan Staal seemingly avoided injury Monday.

-- Rob Scuderi’s out indefinitely with a broken ankle.

VANCOUVER 3, WASHINGTON 2

-- Alex Burrows returned on Monday, failing to score a point but collecting three SOG while receiving 15:57 of ice time, including almost four minutes on the PP.

-- Ryan Kesler continues his impressive work, collecting a goal in his fourth consecutive game (five G) and a five-game point streak (plus three assists). Most impressively, he has more than four SOG per game, with a towering 60 in 14 GP. The thought that he'd click in John Tortorella's setup certainly seems well-founded so far.

-- Alex Ovechkin hasn't scored a point in the last two games, opening a small window for his irrational critics to latch on while they can. Seriously, these people never stop.

-- Great to see Roberto Luongo in workhorse mode. It's been quite the winding road.

MONTREAL 2, RANGERS 0

-- Alex Galchenyuk lucked into what's been a rare point lately, as his 2-0 goal didn't get waved off. He only has a goal and an assist in his last eight games after a red-hot start (six points in first four games). He has a bright future but might not be worth keeping right now.

-- Peter Budaj got a 27-save shutout and has only allowed one goal in his two games played (both wins). It's hard to imagine him getting many starts from Carey Price (just fine with a .937 save percentage). Maybe worth grabbing for stray starts, but I wouldn't get too excited.

-- Tomas Plekanec remains red-hot, scoring his sixth goal (this time on the PP) last night.

-- The Rangers offense is clearly hurting without Rick Nash and Ryan Callahan. At least it sounds like Carl Hagelin might be back as early as Tuesday night.

CHICAGO 5, MINNESOTA 1

-- Patrick Sharp finally got his second goal of the season. He's been having crazy-bad puck luck, with those two tallies on just 48 SOG (4.2 shooting percentage). His six points are OK all things considered.

-- My general feeling is that the Blackhawks' offense is on its way to a rebound. Jonathan Toews is a solid example, as he has five of his nine points in the last four games.

-- Hard to argue with Corey Crawford's results at this point, especially with how shaky Nikolai Khabibulin's been looking in rare starts.

-- All seven of Jason Pominville's points are goals. His goal to assist ratio foreshadows it a bit (196 G vs. 276 A) but you'd think this would even out at least a bit.

-- Boy, Niklas Backstrom sure seems mediocre if not bad lately, huh?

Click here for injuries and suspensions, including Martin Hanzal sitting out two games for his hit on Jeff Petry.

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