Kyle Okposo (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2) is probably a more shocking snub for the US Olympic team than Bobby Ryan is if you ask me, and if you’re reading this, you kinda are. The logic behind the Ryan snub is that he wasn’t a top-six forward on that team and if he doesn’t have a place there, he’s not going to do anything to help your grinding and checking lines and he doesn’t kill penalties. So what’s left? He just doesn’t fit and that’s all it came down to. I don’t know that I agree with how they treated Ryan, but whatever, he’ll live, but Okposo? Dude is tearing it up this year and I can’t for the life of me see why he was left off the roster. Apparently he wasn’t even considered because he isn’t “built for the big ice” used on the Olympic stage. It didn’t seem to bother him much as he continues to pour it on with John Tavares and has 10 point in his last five games and is on pace for 31 goals, 82 points, and a big eff-you, David Poile. If team USA lacks for scoring while Okposo keeps this up, you have to wonder what Poile and his people were smoking. It must be good! Anyway, here’s what else I saw on a full night o’ fantasy hockey:
John Tavares (1 A, 5 SOG, +2) makes everyone around him better. He’s on pace for 89 points. Ayup.
Curtis McElhinney (0 GA, 34 SV, W) shutout the ‘yotes 2-0 with Sergei Bobrovsky returning from his LBI and serving as backup. McElhinney has been serviceable in Bobs’ absence until he coughed up 10 goals in two games against the Pens and Avs last week. Granted, it is the Pens and Avs, but still, this shutout does little to create a controversy in Columbus. Expect Bobrovsky to get the lion’s share of the starts going forward.
Max Pacioretty (2 G, 2 A, 7 SOG, +3, 2 PIM) celebrated his selection to the US Olympic squad with a four point outburst giving him six points over his last two games and seven in his last five. He’s on pace for 40+ goals and I expect he’ll reach that, but man the 13 assists he’s on pace to adding for that really diminish his value. If only he could provide Bobby Ryan-esque parity!
Brian Elliott (0 GA, 30 SV, W) shut out the Kings for his sixth straight win. That gives him eight wins in his last nine starts as he’s tended net for the Blues for four straight games. Elliot has stolen the show before and with Jaroslav Halak sick and otherwise struggling lately, Elliot is worth adding in all formats.
Jeff Skinner (3 G, 5 SOG, +2) followed up Tuesday’s three point game with a hatty on five shots, including the OT game winner beating the ‘Canes 4-3 virtually by himself! No, that’s not true. It’s a team sport and all that. But still, Skinner has lost his damn mind lately with 7 goals in his last five games, five coming in the last two. After missing much of November with an injury he’s returned in December and January with a vengeance scoring 19 points (15 G, 4 A) and he’s now at a point-per-game pace with 30 in 30. If he stays healthy he can score 40+ goals and keep this pace up for the rest of the season.
P.K. Subban (1 G, 3 A, 2 SOG, +3) went ahead and helped himself to a four point night on the heels of a two pointer in a 5-4 OT loss to Jeff Skinner. Subs has seven points in his last five and is likely to follow up last year’s shortened Norris winning season with the full version this year.
Evgeni Nabokov (2 GA, 37 SV, W) has been pretty stellar since returning from injury and missing most of November. In December he posted a line of 3-2-2/2.15/.925/1 and put up another good effort last night pushing away 37 Hawks shots for a 3-2 OT win. Listen, I know it’s the Isles and all, but they aren’t totally talentless and if you’re hurting for help between the pipes, don’t be afraid to add Nabokov. He’s old, but he’s good.
Semyon Varlamov (1 GA, 29 SV, W) won his second straight start after dropping four in a row. To be fair he faced the Kings, Sharks and Blackhawks during his four game skid with two games going to shoot-outs and another, against the Jets, going to OT. At any rate, since his domestic whatever charges were dropped he’s all cylinders go on a nasty Avs squad.
Niklas Svedberg (2 GA, 33 SV, W) is an extremely talented 24 year old goalie that ate up the Swedish Elite League last year posting a ridiculous .948 SV% during the playoffs. When he showed up in the AHL he posted 37 W, 2.15 GAA, .925 SV% with four shutouts and what does he do in his first NHL game? Well, he won, of course. He hasn’t played enough at the AHL level to really project how he’ll pan out, but all signs point to him having a very high ceiling. Those Swedish goalies have a way of sneaking up on everyone, hell, Henrik Lundqvist was drafted 205th overall in the 7th bloody round back in 2000. I expect Svedberg will head back down to the AHL at some point, but he’ll keep Chad Johnson on his toes, that’s for sure.
Antti Niemi (1 GA, 23 SV, W) rebounded after coughing up five to the Ducks in just over 2 periods of play with a 5-1 W over the Oil last night. That’s… not much to write home about, but Neimi keeps on gettin’ his with 4 wins in his last five starts.
Anton Khudobin (3 GA, 38 SV, W) returned just in time for Cam Ward to get hurt. Brilliant! Ward is out for a few games at least and Khudobin muddied the Carolina goaltending waters with a solid start outlasting the Caps 4-3 in OT. That’s a great way for him to return, but it sure does make it hard to predict what will happen here. It doesn’t sound like Ward’s injury is severe, so sooner than later Justin Peters might be the odd man out if Khudobin keeps playing like this. He’s worth owning in deep leagues for sure.
Ryan Suter (2 A, 4 SOG, +3, 2 PIM) is scoring less goals, and that’s only marginally possible at this point, but still manages to put up points as he’s on pace for 50. Meh +/-, though. I like a healthy rating on my blue liners.
David Desharnais (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2) is so freakin’ yawnstipating it kills me. The Habs fans love him, but what do they know? He’s on pace for 40 points, and that’s meh in fantasy world unless you’re a defenseman. He’s not.
Mika Zibanejad (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +2) zib-ahn-ee-jah-d? Is that right? Bah. Mika followed up Monday’s goal against the Caps with a 2 point effort last night against the Jets in a 4-3 W. Not only can this rookie play both ways effectively, he’s a prototypical power forward waiting to happen, in a similar mold as Chris Kreider. He’s a must own in all keeper leagues and could be valuable in standard formats as early as next year despite his somewhat iffy production so far this season.
Joe Pavelski (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2) stretched his points streak six games with a goal and an assist against the Oil last night. He had 12 points (7 G, 5 A) in December and has continued to roll in the New Year. He’s a central cog to the US Olympic and fantasy teams alike. He should continue to hover around a point-per-game all year.
Mike Fisher (2 A, 6 SOG, +1) is surging right now and has 8 points in his last three games. That being said, the 13 year vet hasn’t found some new aspect to his game or some magic youth beans or, uh, something. He’s on pace to tally around 45 points and that’s what he always does. Move along.
Brendan Gallagher (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) has more or less kept pace with his rookie season production so far, but not quite with just 20 points (11 G, 9 A) in 41 games this season compared to his 28 points (15 G, 13 A) in 44 games last season. He’s young and he’ll get it together sooner or later and when he does, you’ll want to have him around despite his diminutive 5’9” frame. The only aspects of his game that hold him back to this point are his size and speed, both of which need a boost if he’s going to be as effective as other mighty mini-scoring machines like Marty St. Louis.
Brenden Morrow (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG, +1) has really gone downhill in recent years though playing on the Pens for a stretch last year did wonders for his line (14 points in 15 games). That success hasn’t followed him to St. Louis, but no one expected it to and that’s not his role.
Niklas Backstrom (1 GA, 19 SV, W) has been awful since returning but finally had a decent game against the league’s most laughable team beating the Sabres 4-1. Before that he lost eight straight dating back to November 15. He lost every game he played in November. Every game! I wouldn’t own him unless I was desperate.
T.J. Oshie (2 G, 2 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) earned himself an Olympic bid and continued his stellar play with a few goals against the Kings last night. That’s four goals in his last three games with five points in his last five. He’s on pace for 70+ points and wouldn’t you know it, he’s available in 26% of Yahoo! Leagues. Er, why?
Brent Burns (1 G, 6 SOG, +2)’s beard has eight points in his last five and remains on pace for 32 goals form the blue line. Lawds, that’s a thing of beauty. The numbers. And the beard.
Joe Thornton (2 A, 2 SOG, +2) is on pace for 92 points with just 18 goals. Seriously, no one does this more often than Thunder Joe. Dude is a rock. I don’t think he hits the 90 point mark, but 80s is doable.
Milan Michalek (1 G, 5 SOG, +2) remains consistently bad. I mean, like clockwork bad. His plus/minus by month: -5, -6, -7. Not only is he consistently bad, he’s linearly bad and steadily getting worse. Math joke!
Evander Kane (1 G, 5 SOG, +2) will fall well short of pre-season expectations and is probably only worth another 10-12 goals for the rest of the season. Couple that with his diminishing time in the sin bin, meh plus/minus and, well, you get the idea.
Manny Malhotra (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +1) actually managed to get signed by an NHL team? Oh, the Hurricanes? Figures.
Alex Ovechkin (1 G, 9 SOG, Even, 2 PIM) broke out of a mini four game slump with a goal last night. He’s on pace to notch 64 goals and I believe it. He’s also flirting with topping 80 points on the year with less than 25 assists. Impressive.
Cory Conacher (2 A, 3 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) has started showing flashes of the talent he showed last year in Tampa and now has six points over his last five games. He’s not really worth owning in most standard leagues, but he’s definitely worth a look in deep keepers.
Mikko Koivu (2 A, 3 SOG, +1) continues to do what Mikko Koivu always does. Score, get your hopes up, get hurt, rinse, lather, repeat.
Lars Eller (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) is supposed to start scoring any day now, right? Well, I mean more than this, anyway.
Ryan O’Reilly (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) has joined the Bobby Ryan All Parity Team with 14 G and 14 A so far this season. Flirting with 30 goals is more than I expected out of him, if you nabbed him in the late rounds he’s definitely providing great value.
Andrew MacDonald (2 A, +2) scored a few points, ee-i-ee-i-oooo! Mooooving oooon!
Kevin Shattenkirk (1 A, 1 SOG, +3) was actually dropped in one of my leagues early this year and I really needed a solid third defenseman so I was happy to add Shats as my “third” blue liner, but I definitely didn’t expect the career year and the 60 points he’s on pace for so far. I’m dubious on whether or not he can get there, but the Blues are loaded with enough talent to help get him there.
Shea Weber (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG, +1) got upset when I said he was starting to slip out of the elites category and has since rebounded with a monster December with 2 G, 8 A, 28 SOG but saddled with an ugly minus-6. Still, he’s on pace for 50 points which means he’s likely to land in the mid to low 40s. I think that actually strengthens my initial point against him, hmn. Was I so humble I circled back around my own disagreement with myself only to re-agree with myself? Wait, what? Who are you people? How’d I get here?
Eric Staal (2 A, 1 SOG, +1) also decided to get his rear in gear after I lambasted his poor play to start the season. I’m not narcissistic enough to think I actually spurred them on with my chiding, but, yes I am. But seriously, you can have his 70ish points and that nasty minus-30 he’s on pace for. Not on my team.
Craig Anderson (3 GA, 32 SV, W) continues to bother me by winning his fourth straight. Is it so much to ask that you continue to be the normal, mediocre Craig Anderson so my boy Robin Lehner can get some love? No one likes you, Craig Anderson. Granted, Lehner hasn’t exactly been shut down awesome with his limited chances, but that’s neither here nor there.
Steve Mason (2 GA, 29 SV, L) had his personal five game win streak snapped with a 2-1 loss to the Avs yesterday. I keep waiting for Mason to start being the 3.00 GAA goalie he is, but here we are. I’m calling it now, Mason is way over valued in next year’s drafts.
Corey Crawford (3 GA, 31 SV, L) returned from his injury only to lose to Kyle Okposo. Tough luck for Crawford, but he should be fine. Antti Raanta will get the start in net for the Hawks tomorrow and given his solid play with Crawford out, you can expect a bit more of a time share in Chicago until one or the other stumbles. There’s no controversy here yet, but keep an eye on it.
Ryan Miller (3 GA, 28 SV, L) put up a magnificent December going 5-2-1/1.82/.948 pushing his season line to 10-18-1/2.70/.926 and by sheer force of will this man is carrying the Sabres like he will for team USA in Sochi. Imagine, if you will, Ryan Miller on a winning team with a solid defense. Mmm, that’s good, savor that thought, aaaaand back to reality. Aw.
Carey Price (4 GA, 28 SV, W) continues his career year, as scheduled, and could very well lead the Habs to their first Cup since 1993.