Ryane Clowe (1 A, 0 SOG, -2) had some pretty solid seasons as a member of the San Jose Sharks from 2008 to 2012 and after getting dealt to the Rangers last year because there was just no room for him on the Sharks, he signed a $24 million deal with the Devils. His first five or six games this season were just awful, and then rookie defenseman Jacob Trouba elbowed him in the head and he fell like a sack o’ potatoes. After missing the last two-and-a-half months with a concussion he’s returned with a vengeance quickly establishing himself as an important cog in a seemingly rejuvenated Devils offense for the second half of the season. He’s everywhere out there right now; clearing space, getting shots on goal, creating offensive chances where earlier in the season the Devils couldn’t buy an opportunity and what’s more, he’s scoring consistently since returning from injury with 10 points in his last 10 games. While I don’t expect he can keep that pace up, the Devils brought him in to win battles and help generate offense and it appears that’s exactly what he’s doing while healthy. Even on nights where the Devils have struggled (like last night) he still manages to look good out there with line-mates Adam Henrique and Michael Ryder. While most owners probably hoped he’d see more time on the top line with Jaromir Jagr, he seems to be doing just fine on what appears to be New Jersey’s new second line so don’t hope to fix what isn’t broken. By this point in the season the wire is pretty thin getting thinner making finding fresh legs almost impossible so that gives Clowe a bit more value than he might otherwise have had at this point in the season. That being said, 10 points in his last 10 games, are you going to ignore that? Well, you go right ahead, but the rest of us are paying attention. While everyone else is going to be digging deep after the Olympic break Clowe is going to be churning on fresh legs and that could help him score more and you win more. He’s not sexy, he’s not fast, he’s not going to wow you, but when other guys are slowing and getting hurt when you need them the most, Clowe is likely to be happy, healthy and fairly productive. Would you buy that for a dollar? Doesn’t matter! Clowe’s probably out there for free, so cash in now y’all! Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in the world o’ fantasy hockey:
Antoine Vermette (3 G, 5 SOG, +1) finds a way to keep himself somewhat relevant with a hatty in a 5-4 loss to the Canucks last night. This was no ordinary hat trick with one goal coming on the power play, one coming short handed and the third at even strength. While that’s impressive, he’s still projected to come in under 50 points for the season, so it makes him tough to own, but with his recent surge of six goals in his last five games, he’s flirting with a 30 goal season that he may actually be able to reach, keeping him on the radars of managers in deeper leagues.
Kevin Bieksa (2 G, 5 SOG, even) thought Vermette’s hat trick was cute, but decided he’d end the game in OT anyway. He once gave us the idea that he might be good for 40 points, a great plus/minus and tons of PIM, but I think at this point we know that isn’t the type of player he is. So far this season he’s on pace for 28 points in 82 games and that sounds more in line with what you can expect from him. That being said, those PIM are still going to flow so he has value as a fourth defenseman in most leagues.
Chris Higgins (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG, +3) hasn’t really done much since I endorsed him earlier this season, but he’s been scoring lately, so he’s worth a flier as a streamer, anyway. His role with the Canucks is as limited as his potential at this point, so expect you’ll be dropping him shortly after adding him if you do.
Marc Staal (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +4) scored this goal on a fluke bounce, one of three that really stung Marty Brodeur and forced him out of the game after two periods yesterday against the Rangers. Staal is a defensive stalwart, but he’s painful to watch on offense more often than not. He was looking strong and stronger in the offensive end until his brother Eric destroyed him with an illegal check and forced Marc to miss significant time with a concussion. Ah, brotherly love, ain’t it grand?!
Mats Zuccarello (2 G, 4 SOG, +2) continues to thrive under new head coach Alain Vigneault’s run and gun system scoring two more goals yesterday. The first goal was a funky bounce off his skate, the second was a nice goal that showed patience and good hands that will continue to help Zucc find success this season and beyond.
Henrik Lundqvist (3 GA, 19 SV, W) allowed three goals in the first period and then shut the door on the Devils to win 7-3 in the first of two Stadium Series games for the Rangers this week. Hank remains all system’s go and those goals can likely be attributed to Henrik being cold to start the game and taking a bit to warm up. I’m not making excuses for Henrik, though, even Marty Brodeur remarked about the temperature in a post game interview saying “When you went on it was worse and worse. It was tough, It was so cold out there.” Hmn, now that sounds like Brodeur making excuses for Brodeur, doesn’t it? Nah, he’s earned the benefit of the doubt.
Corey Crawford (2 GA, 18 SV, L) can’t buy a win lately after leading the league in wins for the first few months of the season. This isn’t all Crawdad’s fault, of the seven losses he’s taken in nine games this month six of those have gone to OT or the SO and he’s only allowed more than three goals in any game once, last Wednesday against the Wings in a 5-4 SO loss. The Hawks need to get their act together and give Corey a bit of offensive help and soon. Still, you can’t sit him and you have to believe he and the Hawks will right the ship sooner than later.
Justin Schultz (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2) is actually having a really solid rookie year for the Oil and with this two-point performance is on track for a 35-point season powered by 10 goals. That’s fantastic, but because he plays in Edmonton his plus/minus is headed towards minus-30 by season’s end and that really kills his value outside of, well, it actually kills his value everywhere. I could stomach him in H2H leagues, but I wouldn’t add him with your team in roto leagues.
Jonas Gustavsson (4 GA, 33 SV, L) coughed up four goals to the Panthers, who are admittedly clicking right now, but that’s the second four goal game in three starts since his return from the IR and Jimmy Howard’s newest re-injury. It sounds like Howie is going to be back this week, so expect the Monster to again ride the pine more often than not upon his return. That might not be the worst thing to happen for fantasy owners, as he’s looking pretty shaking out there lately.
Tomas Tatar (1 G, 1 A, 5 SOG, +1) has shown a lot of good qualities you’d love to see in a young player this season, but most notably he’s been consistent. In each full month he’s posted seven points and so far this month he’s at exactly seven. That’s not great and it puts him on pace for just 37 points in 73 games, which would be great for a defenseman, but alas, Tatar isn’t. I think Tatar is an extremely talented young winger and he’ll likely have a lot of value in a few years, but for now he should remain on the wire.
Derek Stepan (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2) has eight points in his last five games as he continues to try and save what will be an extremely disappointing season for him regardless of what he does for the remainder of the season. It makes me giddy to think just how undervalued Stepan will be next year; I think he’ll round into the form we all expected this season and be a killer mid-round value grab in next years drafts.
Jordan Eberle (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG, +1) has been the subject of trade inqueries by a few teams around the league and the Oilers have had one thing to say to every team asking: “Hells no, y’all cray cray!” He’s not going anywhere, and that’s a wise choice and hey, look at that, he showed why with a two-point performance last night. He has goals in four of his last five, six points over that span and despite a rough plus/minus (-15) he’s going to finish around 70 points. I’d buy that for a dollar!
Blake Wheeler (2 G, 3 SOG, +1) is now on pace to exceed 30 goals and will probably finish around 65 points by season’s end, and that’s pretty damn valuable no matter where you play. If by chance he remains on the wire in your league, you’d do well to add him fast.
Al Montoya (1 GA, 34 SV, W) returned to form after allowing ten goals in two games before this start and that’s probably why the Jets won’t roll him out there over Ondrej Pavelec with any sort of consistency.
Ryan Smyth (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +1) is so freakin’ old. I watched an ESPN Classic game not too long ago and thought, “Man, I was like 15 when this happened…” and sure enough Smyth skates on through the frame. I could only chuckle when I saw his name on the score sheet this morning. He’s a class act, but he’s worthless fantasy wise.
Riley Sheahan (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +1) has eight points in 12 games so far this season and he’s a legitimate young power-forward in the making. He has a big body and he knows how to use it showing great puck possession skills to go along with great shooting and playmaking abilities. The Wings are flush with elite young talent and Sheahan is among the best they have to offer. He needs to work on his defensive game a bit, but even there he isn’t showing himself to be a liability, so if you’re looking for a short term scoring boost and a long term add for keeper leagues, here’s your guy.
Patrik Elias (2 G, 3 SOG, even, 2 PIM) was playing like it was 1995 yesterday, well, for the first period, anyway. He notched two quick goals that were admittedly vintage Elias, but he and the Devils faded quickly after the start of the second. Elias is another class act that’s too old and ineffective to consider owning.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, even) is on pace to put up a horrible plus/minus like every other member of the Oilers, but he’s taking that step forward that we all hoped he would and is currently on pace to tally 63 points by season’s end, a new single season high for the immensely talented young center. Come next season he’s going to turn into the high scoring, top line center we’ve all be waiting for.
Jaromir Jagr (2 A, 2 SOG, +1) remains surprisingly effective for his age (41) and made some sick plays in the first period yesterday to get the Devils off to a hot start, but like the rest of his team faded as the game goes on. You have to expect that with his age, but I’d own him anywhere.
David Moss (2 A, 3 SOG, +1) is about as exciting as his last name would indicate.
Brian Campbell (1 A, 2 SOG, +3) continues to quietly put up solid numbers every year for the hapless Panthers, and what’s even more impressive is his plus-3 rating. He’s not going to give you the 50-point seasons of the past, but 35 is not out of the question. I wouldn’t be unhappy to have him as my fourth defenseman.
Tom Gilbert (2 A, +2) is actually on pace to out produce Brian Campbell and has six points over his last three games, all assists. Will Gilbert finish the year ahead of Campbell in points? I doubt it, but the fact that he’s even in the discussion is impressive. Like Campbell, I’d own him as fourth defenseman in most leagues.
Taylor Hall (2 A, 3 SOG, even) has five points in his last five games but is that a surprise to anyone? I hope not. It is a bit surprising to see all five of those points come as helpers, but points are points. He’s going to finish with a brutal plus/minus, because Edmonton, but otherwise he’ll likely hit 80 points in 75 games by season’s end, and that’s elite. Come next season when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins breaks out the top line for the Oil will be one of the best in the league. Now if they could only figure out that whole “defense” concept, they’d be well on their way!
Andrew Ladd (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) is a fine lad as find Ladds go and is looking like he’ll flirt with 60 points by season’s end. That’s not bad considering he plays for the Jets, and yes they’re surging right now, but they waffle from looking absolutely fantastic on offense to absolutely miserable on a game-to-game basis, so it’s anyone’s guess where Laddy ends up. Still, in deep leagues he remains a solid secondary scoring option while the Jets are rolling.
Brad Boyes (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) scored 72 points in 82 games for the Blues back in 2008-09, remember that? Yeah, I don’t either. Yawn.
Tomas Jurco (1 A, 4 SOG, +1) hasn’t produced like I thought he would, but to be fair he’s been up and down between the AHL and NHL a lot more frequently than I expected he would given all those injuries the Wings are dealing with. He’s going to be great, but unfortunately it’s not going to be this year.
Nail Yakupov (1 G, 3 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) has a minus-31 rating in 49 games so far. Do I even need to tell you his other stats beyond that? I hope not, because anyone who sports a plus/minus that bad should be avoided like the plague.
Ben Scrivens (1 GA, 34 SV, W) proved the third time’s a charm and finally won his first game with the Oil defeating the toothless Preds 6-1 yesterday. You all know how I feel about Scribbles on the Oil, and it isn’t a pretty picture. I wouldn’t own any Oil goalies.
Roberto Luongo (4 GA, 29 SV, W) won despite giving up four goals which drew the love of Canucks fans and seriously dirty looks from Ryan Miller.