Before the season started I was not a big fan of Roberto Luongo (W, 32 SV, 1 GA, .970%). I mean, I like Lu and think he’s a stellar tender, but I figured his chances of a solid year with the Cats were somewhat slim. I mean honestly, it’s the Cats. Yes, they are chock full of young talent, but they’d been garbage for so long and their defense so porous that I expected Lu to return to his old stomping ground and face about the same volume of shots he did in days gone by. An aging goalie returning to face a montain of shots on a young team doesn’t exactly sound like a recipe for success, now does it? Well, apparently I was wrong. Since their opening night implosion against the Devils the Cats have really pulled themselves together and have been playing some seriously solid 5-on-5 defense. Their forwards are back-checking like whoa and in general they’re able to disrupt some of the better offenses in the game. Dare I say I’m even impressed? Oh, I dare. I’m impressed. Flordia currently sits at 14th in the league in shots against per game allowing 30 a night and Lu is more than enough goalie to handle that kind of workload and put up solid numbers doing it. With that said this endorsement comes with a word of caution. Florida is indeed very young and while they are currently seventh overall in goals against per game allowing just two a tilt they’re second to last in goals per game with 1.5 per, 23rd on the power play and 28th on the Penalty Kill. Those numbers do not bode well for Lu getting many wins. If the defense holds up his peripherals should range from solid to sparkling despite the lack of wins, so, I guess it really is like he’s back to his old tricks in South Florida, eh? So I was kind of right, anyway. Just the wrong kind of right. Right? Hmn. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
For some time now the most talked about injury a player suffered in hockey has been the dreaded concussion. Well, this season we’ve got a new injury de jour, and it’s the broken finger. Everyone is breaking their freakin’ digits this season; Victor Hedman, Sergei Bobrovsky and Ben Lovejoy are all down for various amounts of time with broken fingers and yesterday Torey Krug and James Wisniewski joined the club with broken a finger each. Krug is out for two to three weeks and Wisniewski is out for one to two weeks. Mark Letestu figured Wiz was going to be lonely on IR so he pulled his groin and joins the IR crew himself for at least a few weeks, but who owns Letestu anyway? Hey, speaking of concussions, both T.J. Oshie and David Backes are both down with concussions with of course no time table for their return. As per the standard procedure both are out for at least a week at which time they’ll be evaluated and if they show know post concussion syndrome symptoms they can be cleared to play, otherwise they’re down for another week until they are reevaluated by team doctors. So they’re basically week-to-week. Is the entire St. Louis roster week-to-week now or what? Regardless, these aren’t the only injuries, they’re just the most recent and you know what that means? To the waiver wire we go!Please, blog, may I have some more?
Caps head coach Barry Trotz recently broke up long time duo Nicklas Backstrom (3 SOG, -2) and Alex Ovechkin (7 SOG, -2) sending Backs down to the second line while promoting rookie Andre Burakovsky (1 A, 2 SOG, 2 PIM) to the top unit in hopes it would spark Ovi back to life. The situation might sound desperate if the Caps are moving a rookie to the top line to replace a guy like Backs just to get Ovi going, but it’s really not as bad as it seems. It might be news to some that Ovi isn’t rolling like he normally does to start the season, but his owners are acutely aware of the drought. Through nine games Ovi has just six points, but five of those are goals so the biscuit is still finding its way to the basket at a decent rate and that’s key to Ovi’s value. While that’s not what you hope for from a top five pick to start the season when guys like John Tavares (12 points in 9 GP) and Tyler Seguin (15 points in 9 GP) are lighting it up, you must remain patient. From what I’ve seen it has basically been bad luck that’s keeping him down lately. A post here, a crossbar there, a funky bounce that doesn’t bounce favorably, those are the sorts of happenings that have gotten in Ovi’s way so far; in other words he’s fine, don’t panic. Despite the lack of points there are indicators that he’s doing just fine, so take solace in the fact that he’s still hitting (38) and shooting (38) on par with his career rates. What’s wrong with Alex Ovechkin? In a word, nothing. The goals and points should follow sooner than later. If anything this just shows how incredibly consistent Ovi has been in his career. I mean think about it, he’s been around for how long and this is the first time in his career that he has gone just five freakin’ games without a point. Baller. The points will come, the points will flow and all will be well in Ovi land, worry not. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Recently some had speculated that when Ryan Callahan went down with an injury it would be Nikita Kucherov (3 G, 6 SOG, +2) that would step up to the Stamkos line. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Instead he’s found some seriously strong chemistry with line mates Ondrej Palat (1 A, 1 SOG, +2) and Tyler Johnson (4 A, 3 SOG, +2) on what is fast becoming one of the better lines in hockey. Last season Kucherov didn’t look very good at atime and at others he looked flat out lost, but it wasn’t all bad as he showed flashes of brilliance that had become his hallmark as he exceled at every level of play on his way to the NHL. Still, he tallied just 9 goals and 18 points over 52 games played so it didn’t exactly leave anyone with a high expectations of a breakout campaign in 2015. The big question is whether or not his current scoring outburst is the start of something big or will it burn itself out sooner than later? Well, Kucherov has incredibly hands and sports an elite wrister that would put most in the NHL to shame. He relies on his generally sharp offensive instincts to drive a fast pace and has shown natural nose for the net, but he could stand to bulk up at bit standing at 5’ 11” 178 lbs. I like the kid and I think he could do well this year, but he sees limited time on the power play and that limits his value. Obviously the seven points in three games is an unsustainable pace, but this isn’t just a passing fad, this kid is good and he’s going to get better. Expect the scoring to dry up and come in streaks, but with his talent the streaks may continue to be fairly grand affairs. He’s only owned in 15% of Yahoo! Leagues and 8.7% of ESPN leagues, so go snatch him up and stream him while the streamin’s good! In keeper leagues, considering holding him for longer if you can. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:Please, blog, may I have some more?
When asked whether or not Anthony Duclair (1 G, 2 SOG) was going to stick with the Rangers or get sent back to juniors, Rangers Head Coach Alain Vigneault quipped, “Talent has no age.” True enough, but the question isn’t whether or not Duke is talented, it’s whether or not he’s ready for big ice. Few dispute Duke’s promise as a potential top-six forward in the NHL. Over the last few seasons in the QMJHL he ate up the competition to the tune of tune of 215 points in 183 games. Last season he nearly tallied 100 points in 59 games falling just short with 99 powered by 50 goals. Yeah, the QMJHL is known for inflated scoring numbers, but still, that’s baller. He’s shown himself to be useful at the NHL level already too, getting his NHL career off to a hot start with five points in seven games, points in three of his last four and sporting a healthy plus-five rating over that span. It sure seems like he belongs with numbers like that, but really, he probably belongs in the AHL.Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Los Angeles Kings are starting to look a little unbalanced. Anze Kopitar (1 SOG) has just three points in eight games. You can never really rely on Dustin Brown (2 SOG) for points and Justin Williams (1 A, 3 SOG) has just two points in eight games. Marian Gaborik did his thing and immediately got hurt and he’s still not back. Slava Voynov is suspended indefinitely due to alleged domestic violence issues at home. Despite all that, the Kings are 6-1-1 and sit atop their division. Why? How? That’s 70s Line, that’s how. Jeff Cater (1 G, 3 A, 1 SOG), Tyler Toffoli (1 G, 3 A, 2 SOG), and Tanner Pearson (2 G, 3 SOG, +2) continue to light it up and have carried the Kings so far this season. When I say carried, I mean they pick up the team plane and walk it from city to city on road trips, carry everyone’s bags off the plane and to the hotel, then dress everyone for the game and then win it basically by themselves with a dash of stellar goaltending from Jon Quick (W, 22 SV, 2 GA, .917%). But seriously, this line has accounted for 16 of 21 goals scored by the Kings this season. That’s 76% of the team’s total offense. They combined for 10 points last night and 33 points (16 G, 17A) and a plus-32 rating over the last seven games. That’s obviously not sustainable for the Kings and this torrid pace has to slow for That 70s Line, especially for Pearson and Toffoli, both of whom are more likely to finish around 50 points rather than the 90+ they’re on pace for. If ever there was a time to sell high, this is it. You can probably flip any guy on this line for a King’s ransom, so try floating some offers out there and see what you can get. You never know, you might end up with a killer package in return and when the other shoe drops and this line comes back down to earth, you’ll be laughing all the way to a playoff berth. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey this weekend:Please, blog, may I have some more?
When the season started I was mostly worried Zdeno Chara (1 SOG, -1) had lingering nerve damage after he’d been fighting the issue over the last season or so. Last year he had difficulty holding a stick towards the end of the year, but all signs looked good in the preseason so I ranked him accordingly. Well, the hand is fine, but the knee? Not so much. Chara suffered ligament damage to his knee yesterday while laying a big hit on NHL scoring leader John Tavares (1 A, 4 SOG, +1) in yesterday’s game. He’ll miss 4-6 weeks at which point they’re going to determine whether or not he needs surgery. Wow, that sounds terrible. They have to wait over a month just to see if the knee is bad enough that Chara needs to go under the knife? Let me just go ahead and call this right now, he needs surgery. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s done for the year, but you can’t just drop him until we know for sure, so stash him on IR and hope for the best. In the meantime this is a big blow to the Bruins and fantasy owners alike. Not only does it hurt his owners, but also Chara serves as the lynchpin to the Bs both offensively and defensively. They haven’t been playing well as a team to start the year and this injury will further erode their ability to step up and deliver. Tuukka Rask’s meh play is likely to continue to a degree, or at least continue more than we would have expected this season with Chara out. I want to say that this is going to give guys like Torey Krug (4 SOG, -1), Dennis Seidenberg (1 SOG, +1), and Dougie Hamilton (1 SOG) a boost in value that will come with an uptick in playing time, especially on the powerplay, but I really don’t think that’s the case here. I think the B’s are poorer without Chara, and the ripple effect will hurt more than it will help. You know, Johnny Boychuk (1 SOG, +1) sure seems like a good option right now, so may—oh right, well played Garth Snow. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
It might be Miller Time all the time somewhere in the world, but last night in Vancouver it was anything but. Ryan Miller (L, 8 SV, 5 GA, .615%) was bounced from the game shortly after the start of the third period after he coughed up five flippin’ goals on just 13 shots. This might make some of his owners panic, but I’m here to quell your worries, so relax guy! Most of the goals weren’t really Miller’s fault, so lets break ‘em down. The most egregious example of Miller getting hung out to dry was when Chris Tanev plowed into his own goalie and laid Miller out. While the two were tangled up Miller made a futile attempt to stop the puck but he couldn’t do much more than wave his glove hand at it while Tyler Seguin potted one in a wide open net. It didn’t start there, but it didn’t stop there either. On another goal Jamie Benn took a shot from the outside and the puck was headed wide, so Miller did what all good goalies would do, he reached his blocker out to push the puck away. He makes contact and the puck starts to move safely away from the net only to be deflected in off the knob of his stick as he pulls his blocker hand back. Then there’s when Nick Bonino dropped his stick when skating through the neutral zone on the pentalty kill. He decided to go grab his stick because hey, killing a penalties without a stick is tough, right? Well, while did it left the Canucks essentially in a 5 on 3 in their own zone and bang boom, another goal. Yes, there are some he should have stopped and yes, I’m not big on Miller this year, but it really wasn’t all bad news for Miller owners. In his words “It just wasn’t my night.” Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:Please, blog, may I have some more?
It was a rough weekend for defenseman in the NHL and a rougher one for the poor saps that own the newly fallen. The biggest blow due to injury fell from the heavens like Mjölnir and smashed me right in the face when my sun and stars Victor Hedman broke his finger while trying to block a shot. He’s out 4-6 weeks after successful surgery to fix his mangled digit. Now where can I go to get successful surgery on my broken heart? Nowhere?! What a world. I guess I’ll just have to pine away and gaze longingly at his stat line over the last week plus and wonder what could have been had he not tried to block a slap shot with his damn hand. The Rangers lost Dan Boyle to a similar injury and it makes me wonder, why the hell are these guys trying to block shots with their hands? Have they not seen the fastest shot competition? Do they not know they’re trying to use their hands to stop a frozen piece of vulcanized rubber flying at nearly 100mph in their direction? I’m all about sacrificing the body for the good of the team and some of us totally need those blocks, but come on! Suffice it to say there is no replacing Hedman but Anton Stralman is reportedly moving to the Bolts’ top powerplay unit with Jason Garrison slated to get time on the second unit, so the value of both jumps a bit with this news.
Unfortch for fantasy owners broken fingers (and hearts!) weren’t the only issue that plagued some of fantasy hockey’s defenseman since last week. Slava Voynov was suspended indefinitely today due to a domestic violence incident that apparently left the victim hospitalized. I won’t joke about this because there is nothing funny about it. I also don’t know the details of the situation, but what I have read says that whoever he attacked (assuming he did) was rushed to the hospital and the extend of their injuries was such that the hospital staff called the cops on Voynov. This doesn’t sound good at all, but details are scant right now so if you can afford to, I’d try to hold off on dropping him until we get a clearer idea of how long he could be out. That being said, since this is non-hockey related absence he won’t be eligible for IR or IR+, so if you can’t afford to have a deadweight defenseman clogging up your bench, drop Slava and add whomever you can to fill the void. Luckily his season started somewhat slowly so the void isn’t that big. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey this weekend:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Heading into this season all eyes were on rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov (1 A, 1 SOG) of the Caps and why not? The big Russian seems to have all the tools he needs to be an offensive powerhouse in the NHL. He showed some serious chops in his time with the KHL, but we all know that has to be taken with a grain of salt. Still, I fully expect he’ll break the 40-point mark this season, however, Kuz isn’t the only rookie worth knowing about in D.C. this year. Lost in all that Kuz hype is a dynamic Swede on the verge of a breakout and his name is Andre Burakovsky (1 G, 2 SOG, +1). I blame myself for not mentioning him earlier, I should have, but he slipped my mind so I’ll do it now. Well I already did it. In fact I’m in the middle of the mention at this very moment, and so are you! Trippy, man. I digress, Burakovsky is an offensively gifted pivot in the mold of Henrik Zetterberg, who coach Barry Trotz compared the kid to just the other day. The comparison might seem pretty lofty, but when you break down the kid’s bona fides it starts to seem pretty accurate. Last season Burakovsky lit the OHL up in his first go at North American hockey scoring a gaudy 87 points in 57 games for the Erie Otters. He followed that up by posting seven points in seven games in the World Junior Classic-20 division and then 14 points in 14 games in the U20 (all) International Juniors. Damn, that’s sexy. Do I sense a new mancrush coming on? Mayhaps! There’s plenty of room in my hockey heart for another and this young man is a leading candidate. He’s a strong skater with a remarkably high hockey IQ that will serve him well as he adjusts this season. Couple that with a sick wrister and the top six minutes he’s going to be getting and what does it all add up to? Me adding him in every keeper league, that’s for sure. He’s worth owning in standard leagues while he’s scoring too, and with five points in five games so far he’s doing just that. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:Please, blog, may I have some more?