The Minnesota Wild seem to have a bit of a goaltending problem. It’s not that they don’t have the personnel, in fact, to start the season you would have tought their duo of Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding would again be among the better goaltending situations in the league, but then the curse set in. Backstrom finally realizes how old he is and can’t keep it together, Harding starts the season healthy and finally gets a chance to take the no. 1 job for himself, does, plays like he’s going to win the Vezina and then gets laid low by his MS. And now, in what seems like an inevitability, Mr. Darcy is toppled by an injury during practice?! You read that right, Darcy Kuemper suffered an UBI in yesterday’s morning skate and is day-to-day for now, but it doesn’t sound very promising. That leaves everyone’s favorite Russian goofball, Ilya Bryzgalov (2 GA, 18 SV, W), all alone in the crease and he becomes the de-facto starter for the Wild. What the hell is going on with the Minnesota goaltending? Are they cursed? Does Paul Maurice sit in his office with a little goalie voodoo doll after hours or what? Breezy is a good option (depending on matchups) if you’re looking for some help in the crease towards the end of the week. Owned in just ~13% of ESPN leagues and 17% of Yahoo leagues, he should be available if you need him and I’m willing to bet there’s a handful of Kuemper owners who are sadface today, so turn that frown upside down and add Breezy! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:
Cory Schneider (0 GA, 13 SV, W) came in and stopped all 13 shots he faced to hep the Devils win in relief of Martin Brodeur after Marty coughed up three goals on nine shots. Schneider is the confirmed starter tonight in Buffalo, so get him in there without second thoughts.
Travis Zajac (3 G, 1 A, 6 SOG, +3) actually has 14 points in 15 games this month, but of course four of those points were tallied last night snapping a four game drought. It’s hard to recommend Zajac at any point, I think in a drunken moment earlier this season I might have even done just that, but points are points and Zajac (along with a host of other Devils) are scoring them in bunches right now. Caveat here, and you knew one was coming, he had this huge game against the Cats sans Roberto Luongo, so, yeah.
Jaromir Jagr (1 G, 3 A, 3 SOG, +2) loves scoring in bunches, so he scored a bunch of points again last night with a trio of helpers and a goal for flavor. He is the ying to Zajac’s yang.
Ryane Clowe (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG, +2) has five points in his last five and 12 in his last 15. Clowe has been all sorts of useful in deeper leagues since his return from injury and he’s scoring at a better clip than even I expected, and I endorsed the guy!
Mikko Koivu (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, even) has 18 points over his last 18 games and this deuce extended his streak to six straight games with at least a point with points in seven of his last eight. He was playing on the first PP unit and a line with Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle and looked good doing it, so there may have been a minor shakeup in the lines for the Wild last night. This may also have been a temporary switch, but given the success they saw, the experiment may extend a few more games. You might think this hurts Mikael Granlund’s (1 A, -1) value, but all this shift does is move him down onto the second line with Matt Moulson (1 G, 2 SOG, even), so no real harm done. Granlund left with an injury last night, but he isn’t listed on the Wild’s injury report this morning, so it sounds minor.
Patrick Maroon (2 A, 2 SOG, +1) has eight points in his last five games while his line mate Mathieu Perreault (1 A, 1 SOG, -1) continues his recent surge and frankly, like I’ve been saying, points are points and this Maroon/Perreault/Teemu Selanne line is getting it done lately.
Nick Bonino (1 G, 4 SOG, +2) now has three goals in his last four games, though considering the vast swath of wire options that the Ducks can provide you, Bonino is on the lower-end of the bunch. Can I interest you in a vintage Teemu Selanne? Or perhaps you’re interested in something younger? I suggest Mathieu Perreault.
Marian Gaborik (1 A, 3 SOG, +2) keeps trying to stay both healthy and relevant. Given how well he stays healthy, you can imagine how well he’s doing with the other half of that equation.
Jeff Skinner (1 G, 2 SOG, even) scored a goal for his fourth straight game giving him 30 on the season. It may not seem like it, but Skinner is only 21 years old so far and this is the second time he’s hit the 30-goal marker already. Injuries aside, this kid is something special, and if he can stay healthy moving forward you can expect him to be a perennial 30-40 goal guy for years to come.
Kyle Palmieri (1 A, 4 SOG, +1) was bumped to the third line when Selanne was bumped from the top line to the second and apparently it doesn’t make much of a difference for Palms. I wouldn’t add him, but mostly because there are so many better options available from the Ducks right now.
Eric Tangradi (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) is a massive winger with a pretty bad attitude (in a good way) on the ice. He knows how to use his big frame (6’4”, 235lbs) well, but his skating leaves much to be desired. It’s said that there’s some offensive upside here, but I sure as hell haven’t seen much from him. Perhaps he needs time to figure his game out at the NHL level, but I’m not holding my breath for a big breakout anytime soon.
Jacob Trouba (1 G, 4 SOG, even) put up the majority of his 30-some points so far in January and February when he posted 19 points in 18 games, but then after the Olympic break he went flat. That’s not a huge shock considering he’s a rookie and rookies are want to wane in the final months of the season. That being said, the kid has massive offensive upside and though he’s likely only good for another goal, if that, next season he’s going to be a very hot commodity on the blue line. If you own him in a keeper league, keep him.
Alec Martinez (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) was all kinds of worthless for most of the season posting just seven points through February, but now that it’s March it seems Martinez has woken up and he has 12 points in his last 15. I’m not a fan of his, but how many other defenseman on the wire are offering you four points in five games? Not many. You can add him, but do so with a word of caution; his shooting percentage is around 16% this season and that’s cray cray high for a guy who hasn’t ever had a shooting percentage over 10 in his career. You know what that screams? Regression to the mean, and probably sooner than later.
Ales Hemsky (1 A, 4 SOG, even) has points in three straight games, with four points over that span, all assists. Hemsky has 12 points in 13 games since getting traded to the Sens and he shows no signs of slowing down as the regular season winds to a close. I was happy to endorse adding him the moment was moved out of Edmonton and I’m happy to see that his scoring, and his health, has stayed true so far. If he’s out there and you need scoring help, for the love of all that’s holy, pick the guy up already.
Craig Anderson (1 GA, 30 SV, W) won this game and now he’s going to go back to stealing starts from my boy Robin Lehner, who was finally getting his shiz together and starting to play up to his potential. Anderson, you are the bane of my hockey existence.
Cam Ward (1 GA, 28 SV, L) actually had a pretty solid game but lost 2-1 in the SO. Every time you get upset to see Ward in there over Anton Khudobin, remember, Ward is his own worst enemy. The Canes resigned Khudobin to a multi-year extension for a reason; Ward’s time in Carolina is coming to an end sooner than later. I know that doesn’t help you now, but hey, I feel your pain.
Frederik Andersen (4 GA, 33 SV, W) had his worst and what can arguably be said his only bad game so far this season and even then he still gets you the win. What a guy!