Only able to break the 50-point mark once back in 2010-11 suddenly Alexander Steen is keeping pace with Ovie atop the league leaderboards and the biggest question in everyone’s minds is “Will it last?” My first instinct is to say no, it won’t. The biggest indicator that the Steen Goal Scoring Express is soon to derail is that his shooting percentage sits at a whopping 25.3%. Lets be realistic here, no one is going to score a goal once every four shots over the course of 82 games so expect that number to drop closer to his career average of 9.9%. Beyond his established personal averages, just 37 players in the history of the NHL have finished with a shooting percentage higher than 25% (100 shot minimum) and I think it’s reasonable to say Steen will not become number 38 this year. It’s not just the high volume of shots that are leading to Steen’s early success, though, his Corsi numbers have long shown him to be a critical cog in the puck possession game and that keeps him in the mix for chances more often than not for the Blues. Unfortunately, outside of his inflated shooting percentage he isn’t doing much different than he has in previous seasons. His TOI numbers remain mostly consistent with previous years both at even strength and on the powerplay, and his shot totals and locations also line up, so what gives? Luck, and eventually it will run out. I think it’s reasonable to expect him to finish the year closer to 35-goals than 50 and with few assists to add to that he’s likely given fantasy owners more than half of what he’s going to give all season, so sell high where you can. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey:
Zdeno Chara (1 G, 1 A, 7 PIM, 2 SOG, +2) impressed with a coveted Gordie Howe Hat Trick (a goal, an assist and a fight) today in a 3-2 victory against the Rangers. This is nothing new for the big guy but did you see him destroy Brian Boyle in that fight? Lawds.
Tuukka Rask (6 GA, 22 SV, L) coughed up all six goals to the Wings on Wednesday, ouch. No worries, he was bound to have a bad game eventually and bounced back today with a 3-2 W over the Rangers.
Ilya Bryzgalov (0 GA, 33 SV, W) looks good so far and will face Sergei Bobrovsky in his next start. Bryz is good, but he’s inconsistent and maybe the pressures of succeeding in Philly were a bit much for him. The bar couldn’t be any lower in EDM and with an offense driven entirely by youth the goals and the wins will be inconsistent as well. That doesn’t sound like a good recipe for success if you ask me, but he should post better overall numbers than Dubnyk did, anyway.
David Booth (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +1) was once a guy with a sky high ceiling and looked poised to be something special if not for being stuck in the hockey hell of Florida. He has complained about a “lack of explosiveness” in his skating and I agree. He hasn’t seemed the same since he blew his knee out a few years ago and is off to a skating coach to see if he can inject some new life into his 29 year old wheels. I hope so, but the Canucks call him a project and unfortunately, it’s one you should avoid.
Jason Garrison (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, even) has now scored in three straight and seems to be getting back into gear after a bit of a slump after his white-hot start to the season. He’s a serviceable dman in deeper leagues with limited potential to be worth a look in standard formats.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) has a horrible plus/minus at -11 and it makes me cranky. The Nudge is brimming with talent but the wirey center needs to stay healthy to capitalize on it. With guys like Eberle and Hall around he should be pushing a point-per-game.
Clarke MacArthur (1 G, 2 SOG, even) is being mentioned often as a guy to grab as he continues to score at a decent rate but I disagree. He has good offensive skills, but has never proven to be a dependable scorer and his pace will slow considerably sooner than later.
Jimmy Howard (0 GA, 29 SV, W) rebounded with a nice game and shut down the Isles 5-0 today. His leash is as long as his contract is large, so it’s pretty damn long.
Jonas Gustavsson (1 GA, 16 SV, W) won his third straight start and continues to play well but Howard will remain the no. 1 guy, especially after today’s performance.
James van Riemsdyk (2 G, 1 A, 5 SOG, +3, 2 PIM) is quietly on pace for 38 goals this season. He’s not much for passing but the kid knows where to put the biscuit; he should be owned everywhere.
Andrej Sekera (2 A, 1 SOG, +1) has an upper-body injury and is out of the lineup tonight. He’s easily been the Canes’ best blue liner so far, he’s getting an MRI tomorrow but it doesn’t seem like there’s a ton of concern. He continues to produce across the board adding three hits, nine shots, five blocks in his last four games alone. He’s worth a look in most formats at this point.
Victor Hedman (2 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) has been touted as a no. 1 defensemen since he came into the league a few years ago and he sure is playing like it lately with 10 points over his last 13 games. He’s still available in 27% of Yahoo! Leagues and should be snatched up where he’s available.
Thomas Greiss (1 GA, 28 SV, W) made the best of a rare start with another fine performance allowing just a single goal to the Wild. Despite Smith’s recent struggles, barring injury, Greiss will continue to be hard pressed to find starts and unless Smith is hurt, Greiss’ value is nil.
Johan Franzen (3 A, 3 SOG, +3, 2 PIM) doesn’t look like he’s going to come close to 30 goals this season and that really digs at his value. If he doesn’t start scoring goals soon it’s going to get ugly for his owners.
Marek Mazanec (0 GA, 19 SV, W) wasn’t tested much and didn’t give up anything to the woeful Blue Jackets. The kid is good, he’ll have his ups and downs as any young netminder will, but he’s worth owning in all formats.
Ben Scrivens (2 GA, 38 SV, L) continues to play way above his head, but hey it’s good while it lasts, right? Sadly his insane peripherals (1.48 GAA, .947 SV%) have to come up, and down, respectively. His value will likely never be higher than it is right now.
Antti Niemi (2 GA, 38 SV, W) posted identical numbers as Scrivens in their tilt but with one very important difference.
Carey Price (1 GA, 24 SV, W) is the second best netminder in the league, hands down. The only shortcoming for him this season is a streaky, lackluster Habs offense and his 10-8-0 record reflects that. Still, there’s good news for his owners with Pacioretty healthy the Habs are scoring more, winning more, and so is Price.
Jaden Schwartz (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG, +1) scored an unassisted, shorthanded goal on his only shot of the game. He’s young, but the Schwartz is strong with this one with points in each of his last five games. He’s a must own in keeper leagues with huge offensive upside and a team scoring goals by the truckload, but probably still a bit raw for consideration standard leagues. Still, his potential is high enough that he should be watched closely.
Radim Vrbata (2 G, 4 SOG, +1) cannot keep this pace up, but has thus far scored at nearly a point-per-game rate with 21 points in 23 games played. Sell high, my friends.
Evgeni Malkin (2 G, 1 A, 6 SOG, 2 PIM) is basically unstoppable when he gets going like this.
Tyler Johnson (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +3) is having a great rookie season having solidified the third line center role for the Bolts. He gives himself opportunities to score but doesn’t convert as much as he should but worth keeping a close eye on in keeper leagues.
Niklas Backstrom (2 GA, 23 SV, L) has looked solid since returning from his concussion with three straight good starts for the Wild with Harding hurt. If Backstrom can keep it up you have to expect the Wild to go with a pretty even timeshare to keep both tenders fresh and as healthy as possible; we could be looking at a similar situation as we’ve seen in St. Louis over the past couple seasons.
Phil Kessel (1 G, 6 SOG, +3) is on pace for 43 goals right now which would be a career high and then some. You’d think the Leafs would win more with Kessel and van Riemsdyk scoring in bunches, but then you’d need some semblance of a defense for that.
Andrei Markov (3 A, 1 SOG, +1) has strung together a three game point scoring streak capped with 3 A Wednesday night against the woeful Sabres.
Tyler Bozak (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG, +3) is centering the top line with Phil Kessel on his wing and is worth a look in deeper/keeper leagues. He’s a promising young center with good instincts and poised to be a valuable depth addition to many fantasy teams if keeps this up.
David Backes (1G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) is yet another guy with no real track record to support continued belief that he’ll keep scoring at this pace. Yes, he’s had two 30 goal seasons and yes, the Blues are really, really good this year. I think he slows, but not too much and he’s likely going to remain very valuable for the rest of the year.
Rick Nash (1 G, 2 SOG, +3) is shaking off the rust and has scored goals in consecutive games now. This is a great sign for both the Rangers and his owners.
Dan Ellis (3 GA, 28 SV, W) – Kari Lehtonen remains in firm control of the no. 1 slot for the Stars, but he gets hurt every year so Ellis will likely decent work this year. He’s a solid backup, but he can’t handle the starter’s job for too long without falling on his face.
Dustin Penner (2 G, 4 SOG, +2) continues to score surrounded by a ton of scoring talent. He has never lived up to the hype and closing in on a decade in the league I doubt very seriously this is his breakout campaign. His scoring will slow and he’ll end up around 60ish points. That’s valuable in most formats, but still, don’t expect him to keep this up.
Frederik Andersen (2 GA, 19 SV, W) looked good again in a 5-2 win over the Flames. He’s looked good in every game so far and Fasth is out for at least a month. With Hiller struggling Andersen may get more starts than many had anticipated and couple that with the trade rumors that have starting to swirl around Hiller, Andersen is worth owning everywhere.