Mats Zuccarello (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) has established himself as both a staple of the New York Rangers’ offense, such as it is, and a guy that’s now worth a look in standard formats. After a dismal start to the season that saw Zucc post just 3 points (1 G, 2 A) in 11 games he’s turned it around completely and is actually producing and nearly a point-per-game pace since with 27 points in his last 30 games. Not only has that, 12 of those points came with the man advantage as his TOI there continues to increase. Zucc has been productive enough over the last two months to be on pace for 60 points and 20 goals this season, and that’s after three lousy points in all of October? I’d buy that for a dollar! And that’s what the Rangers must be thinking when they look at the individual stats and salaries and find Zuccarello leading the Rangers in points (30), goals (10) and assists (20) while high priced talent like Rick Nash (16 P in 25 GP), Brad Richards (27 P in 42 GP) and Derek Stepan (25 P in 42 GP) continue to struggle. I’d wager a decent sum that Zucc’s lack of production early on had a lot to do with his finding a place in and learning new head coach Alain Vigneault’s system. Well, he gets it now and all you need to do is go get him; standards, deeper, keeper, it doesn’t matter, Mats is worth a look errywhere! Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy hockey:
Patrick Sharp (3 G, 5 SOG, +4) is doing his best Jeff Skinner impression with seven goals over his last five games, six of which came on two hattys in that span. Sharp is on a tear and flirting with 50 goals and with his supporting cast it’s entirely possible he could hit that marker by season’s end.
Chris Kunitz (2 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2) has reached the point where I think he’s actually going to break the 40 goal marker for this season. I never would have predicted it, but here we are. Put him on a line with someone other than Sid and I’d love to see what happens. 40 goals then? Methinks not.
Sidney Crosby (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) did a little of everything and threw in three more points, also he continues to make Kunitz look better than he is. Ho hum.
Duncan Keith (3 A, +4) keeps on showing the true meaning of giving with three more helpers and a tasty +4. It’s so hard for me to like a guy like Keith, I mean, I’d recommend owning him wherever you can, but my love of goal scoring always gives me pause when it comes to him.
Marian Hossa (1 G, 5 SOG, +3) remains old reliable. He’s either reliably productive or reliably hurt. But man, he’s reliable.
Jonathan Toews (2 A, 1 SOG, +4) has been his usual consistent self this year but kicked it up a few notches over the last few weeks with 9 points in his last five games (2 G, 7 A) as he helps Patrick Sharp on his way to a 40 goal season.
Ondrej Palat (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG, +2) extended his points streak to five games with a game winning goal and an assist yesterday. You can expect his production to be erratic this season, but for now he’s taking full advantage of Steven Stamkos’ absence and enjoying every minute playing with Martin St. Louis.
Marek Zidlicky (2 G, 6 SOG, even) appears to be fully healthy and producing like its 2010, well, at least for him. That was the last season Zidlicky did anything of note. Still, for the first six seasons of his career he was good for 40ish points like clockwork, only injuries have held him back over the last few seasons. He was an older rookie when he kicked off his career, but he could have a few more years like this left in the tank and should have no problems finishing this season was a strong second half.
Brent Seabrook (2 A, 1 SOG, +3) remains on pace for nearly 60 points after chipping in a few more helpers. I don’t know what it is about him and Keith that makes them so boring to me, but they are. It has to be the goals thing.
Antti Raanta (3 GA, 24 SV, W) was able to fend off the Devils for a 5-4 W and it’s anyone’s guess who will start the next game for the Blackhawks on Sunday, but I’d put decent money on Corey Crawford as this wasn’t a dominating performance by Raanta by any means.
Jonas Hiller (2 GA, 16 SV, W) didn’t have to do much work to defeat the Oil 5-2. He has the no. 1 job in Anaheim all locked up and unless he’s traded the only questions that remain are whether or not Hiller can stay healthy and who becomes his backup, Victor Fasth or Frederik Andersen? While Fasth is hurt it’s obviously Andersen, who has remained brilliant in limited work. He may very well force Fasth to the AHL when he returns from injury if he has a two-way deal.
Andrew Cogliano (1 G, 2 SOG, +3, 2 PIM) is having the best season of his six year NHL career, but he’s only on pace for 48 points, so take that for what you will. Still, he has goals in two straight, four of his last five and five points over that span. He’s on pace for 25 goals, anyway. We’ll have to wait for next season to see if this is a step towards fantasy relevance or just a season of Cogs living off the scraps of the Ducks’ 2014 offensive buffet.
Cam Fowler (1 A, 1 SOG, +3) extended his points streak to four games with a whole bunch o’ assists and remains on pace for his own 50 point season. I figure he ends up in the low 40s, but still, Cam remains a Fowler path to fantasy gold!
James Neal (1 A, 3 SOG, +2) sure is talented, eh? Lots more points, etc.
Saku Koivu (1 A, +3) has actually been on a tear lately with seven points in his last five games, but remains on pace for just 38 in 67 games. His plus/minus is ridiculous for a guy who seems to rarely score these days.
Mark Barberio (1 A, 2 SOG, +2) is Mike Ribiero’s doppelgänger! He should have an evil goatee, so we don’t get confused.
Reid Boucher (1 A, 4 SOG, +1) hasn’t done much since I mentioned he might do something. Well, thanks little fella! Ah, the ups and downs of youth and bad haircuts. Someone send this guy to Jaromir Jagr for some hair advice, and while he’s at it maybe Jags can drop some of the finer points of scoring goals on the lad as well.
Nikita Kucherov (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) has goals in back to back games but his season line is so miserable I’m not even going to write it here. It would besmirch the upstanding reputation of this fine digital periodical.
Nick Bonino (1 A, 1 SOG, +2) has goals in back-to-back games and is starting to look like a sleeper/breakout candidate for next season. He hadn’t done much in his short career to this point with a previous high of 18 points in 50 games back in 2011-’12, but this year he’s on pace for 58 points which is a huge step forward. If he can take another one next season, he’ll be worth owning everywhere.
Brandon Saad (1 G, 3 SOG) is just like Nick Bonino only more talented and doing this a few years sooner. He’s no sleeper for next season, though he will still be available for great value grabs in the mid-rounds.
Patrick Kane (1 A, 3 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) snapped a two game drought with an assist and remains on pace to break the century mark powered by 43 goals. Kane has taken a step from star to superstar this year and on a team like the Hawks, I don’t say this lightly, is easily their best player.
Ben Bishop (0 GA, 19 SV, W) shows what he thinks of his Olympic snub with his second straight win, a 2-0 shutout of the Flames, and his fourth win in his last five. I don’t think the kid can keep up this ridiculous Vezina pace for the second half, but even if he doesn’t, he won’t completely bomb. If Jon Quick isn’t healthy enough to go in Sochi for team USA, they’d be insane not to add him as an alternate.
Karri Ramo (2 GA, 27 SV, L) has lost four straight, on the other hand, and you and any Olympic squad would come off as a bit touched in the head if you owned him. I mean honestly, don’t give the guy false hope!