Last season Henrik Lundqvist (L, 21 SV, 6 GA, .778 SV%) had a pretty terrible October finishing the month with a line of 3-5-0, 2.84 GAA, .908 SV%, 22 GA. He rebounded a bit in November but returned to blehsville in December finishing with an even worse line of 4-4-2, 3.08 GAA, .888 SV%, 29 GA. People freaked. Should I trade Lundqvist? Is he hurt? Is he past it? Ahh! Then, from January on he followed that crapfest he called a start to his season with three months of sub 2.00 GAA’s and SV% in the .930s. He finished the season with a very Hankish 33-24-5, 2.36 GAA, .920 SV% on route to a monumental run at the Stanley Cup that ended just short of success. Everything with Hank was fine. Everything with Hank is fine. Yet here we at the start of the 2015 season and again we are faced with another slow start from His Majesty. With it, of course, comes more panic from the masses and really, it’s the same story and erryone should relax, he isn’t this bad and he won’t continue to be. That being said, there is one key difference this year and that’s the Rangers defense. In that it’s not nearly as good as it was last year.
Losing possession king Anton Stralman to the Bolts hurts, but what hurts more is his “replacement” Mike Kostka who was directly responsible for two of the four goals in the fourth that rolled the Rangers after the Isles took an early 3-2 third period lead on an unassisted Kyle Okposo goal. Dan Boyle being injured doesn’t help much either, but if losing Boyle does this to your team defensively there are deeper problems that need solving, but I digress. Hank should be fine and no, he won’t keep coughing up six goals a game. Still, his owners should beware. There are cracks and holes showing on the Rangers where few existed last season that may limit his value slightly relative to seasons past. This is why I do not advise using your first or second round pick on a goalie, y’all! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Jaroslav Halak (W, 40 SV, 3 GA, .930 SV%) – Jaro kept the Isles in it while the Rangers dominated through much of the first half of this game. He gave up one too many rebounds that the Rangers failed to pot, but better teams will take advantage, so beware. Still, he pushed away 40 of 43 for the W.
Rick Nash (2 G, 4 SOG, 2 PIM) – There was one bright spot for the Rangers last night and it was Nashty here. The second of these two came when the game was long over anyway, but Nash remains white-hot extending his goal streak to four games. He leads the league with 6 tallies now and I see no reason why he won’t keep it up.
Johnny Boychuk (1 G, 1 SOG, +3) – When he was on the B’s they were so loaded at D there wasn’t a lot of room for Boychuk to move. He played a defensive first role and he played it well, but on the Isles he seems to be getting the freedom to indulge his natural inclination to jump in on the attack and man alive, this man’s alive! It goes without saying that Boychuk should be owned everywhere right now and theres really no telling when this run will end. It will end, though, and it the scoring might dry up bigtime when it does. Tread carefully, but with optimism that his time on the top powerplay unit with John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Brock Nelson remains the status quo on Long Island.
Brock Nelson (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – There is a growing chemistry between Brock and Ryan Strome that is leading them both to be valuable assets in just about any format. The only question is whether or not it will or can continue, and I think it can, though there’s no chance Nelson continues at a point-per-game pace.
Ryan Strome (2 A, 3 SOG, +2) – He’s going to be one of those all-helpers guys but I have to say his ability to dish the biscuit is really something else. He didn’t have the best debut on big ice last year, but he’s clicking with Brock Nelson and Mikhail Grabovski right now. Grabby can finish and apparently Nelson might have a knack for it too, so I’d add Strome in most deeper leagues and even some standards too, if you’re hurting badly enough at C.
Kyle Okposo (1 G, 1 A, 5 SOG) – Okie keeps chugging along as expected alongside JT on the Isles’ top everything. The plus/minus may not be pretty as the season goes on, but it won’t be brutal, either.
John Tavares (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – That makes seven points in three games as Tavares begins the campaign that should solidify him as one of the games top 5 players.
Tyler Seguin (3 G, 6 SOG, +4) – Just before this game folks were starting to wonder, and the media started to ask, what’s the deal Tyler? You gon’ score or what? He said he wasn’t worried. Neither was I. This was his response.
Jamie Benn (1 G, 3 A, 4 SOG) – Note the three helpers. Note Seguin’s goal total. There is a connection here. And a goal too? You’re too kind, Jamie!
Ryan Johansen (2 G, 3 SOG) – I was a bit concerned with Joey jumping right into the regular season with no pre-season reps to get into gear this season but apparently my concerns were unfounded. That’s five points in his first three games and he should be good for 70+ this year.
Sergei Bobrovsky (L, 31 SV, 3 GA, .912%) – You could argue that this was Bob’s first real test of the season after starting against the Sabres and Rangers before this game. He looked good, but ultimately couldn’t hold back the tide that is the Stars’ first line.
Kari Lehtonen (W, 33 SV, 2 GA, .943 SV%) – With his past injury woes behind him Kari is probably going to be one of the more valuable goalies relative to his ADP this year. I drafted him where I could and I’m feeling pretty good about it so far, how about you?
Semyon Varlamov (L, 37 SV, 3 GA, .925 SV%) – Varly continues his rough start to the 2015 campaign with another loss and another game where he faced more than 30 shots. Actually here he faced 40, but could only stop 37. The Avs’ possession game was a problem last year and it looks no better this year. It hurts Varly’s value for sure.
James Reimer (W, 22 SV, 2 GA, .917 SV%) – Compared to Jonathan Bernier Reimer is looking like a legit starter so far this season. I doubt it stays that way, but for now Reimer is worth owning in deeper leagues and especially as a handcuff to Bernier.
Matt Duchene (1 G, 3 SOG, -1) – Like most of the Avs Duchene is having trouble finding his stride. This makes two points in his last two, though, so hopefully it’s the start of an expected trend of point-per-game production. With how bad the Avs are with the puck, I worry about his plus/minus.
Phil Kessel (1 G, 1 A, 6 SOG) – The Leafs have a lot of problems, but one of them isn’t a bad first line. Have you seen the Kessel/Tyler Bozak/James van Riemsdyk line fly out there? It’s pretty fun to watch. Then they go down to the other end of the ice and well, it stops being fun to watch if you’re a Leafs fan, anyway.
James van Riemsdyk (1 G, 5 SOG) – Where Phil Kessel goes, JvR will follow.
Kari Ramo (W, 19 SV, 2 GA, .905 SV%) – When Ramo faced the Oil he stopped 38 of 40 for the W, then he allowed two goals on 21 shots last night. 19 fewer shots, same amount of goals allowed. This is not a great sign, but he did only allow two so that’s solid. I like him a lot more than I like Jonas Hiller, but I wouldn’t want to own either.
Pekka Rinne (W, 26 SV, 2 GA, .929 SV%) – Rinne finally had to make more than 20 saves for the win and he held up well pushing away 26 for the W. I’m still tentative with Rinne, but with each passing start I’m feeling a bit more secure that he’s going to be okay.
Antti Niemi (W, 29 SV, 5 GA, .853 SV%) – As good as Niemi looked in his first game, he looked as bad in his second game coughing up five goals on 34 shots. That’s fugly, man. I’d expect to see Alex Stalock get the next start despite Nimei holding on for the 6-5 victory.
Braden Holtby (3 GA, 4 SV, .571 SV%) – Just as I was starting to extole the brilliance of the Holtby he gets rocked and knocked out of the game before it was 10 minutes old. He looked solid against the Bs and the Habs before this, so lets consider it a blip. I figure Holtby should get a rest after starting three straight games, but he only played two games and ten minutes, so he’s probably fresh enough to get run out there next game.
Justin Peters (L, 14 SV, 2 GA, .875 SV%) – Yeah, he gave up two on 16 shots of his own and wasn’t able to hold on to help the Caps win. He did finally stop them from scoring when the Caps tied it in the third period at 5 all, but lost it in the shoot out. Peters still needs time to develop, he’ll get some starts this year, but Holtby remains the undisputed starter.
Alex Ovechkin (2 G, 1 A, 8 SOG) – With all that goal scoring in the Caps game you knew Ovi would be at the heart of it. 2 goals, a helper, 8 SOG and 5 hits, he’s full steam ahead.
Mike Green (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – Once upon a time Green was the premier scoring defenseman in the NHL. Those days are no longer, but neither are the days where he isn’t healthy and not giving you 45+ points. The goals won’t top 15, but anything more than 10 is a gift.
Tommy Wingles (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – That makes four points in his first three games but with only nine shots on goal doing it. I don’t expect this to continue, especially when he’s not going to be getting consistent top six minutes. In any case, great game Pickles!
Matt Irwin (2 G, 2 SOG) – These two goals were basically as result of catching Holtby with his pants down and likely represent half of the total goals you’d get from Irwin if you owned him, but you don’t. No one does. And that’s how it should be.
Joe Pavelski (1 G, 1 SOG, +2) – Pavs has points in his last two games but just two shots on goal over that span. That’s bleh, especially after he took seven shots in his first game. It goes without saying this man needs to take more shots, but what man doesn’t?
Cam Ward (L, 23 SV, 3 GA, .885 SV%) – Wow, Ward can’t even beat the Sabres. He coughed up 3 goals on just 26 shots and then lost it in the shoot out. I know Anton Khudobin’s first game was pretty brutal, but it was against what looks like a pretty dangerous Isles team, so maybe it’s time for him to get another chance, eh? I don’t like anything about either of these guys, or this team, this year. Next.
Marcus Foligno (2 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Typically Folgy here is a hits guy, and with over 200 last season he carries legit value in hits leagues, but otherwise? Eh. Expect around 35 points this year, a terrible plus/minus, and tons of hits. There is some upside here playing on the third line with Chris Stewart, but not much.
Jhonas Enroth (L, 22 SV, 3 GA, .880 SV%) – You shouldn’t own either of the Sabres’ goalies unless you have no other choice.
Cory Schneider (W, 26 SV, 1 GA, .963 SV%) – After a rough first game he righted the ship against the Cats (a warm up, really) and looked very good against a legit Bolts offense last night. He should be one of the more valuable tenders to own this season because I didn’t get to draft him anywhere. Yar!
Evgeni Nabokov (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – If you own Nabby it’s because you own Bishop and it’s a deep league. In this case, this is a good start! He didn’t kill your peripherals and generally didn’t embarrass himself. You’ll take it.
Frederik Andersen (W, 39 SV, 3 GA, .929 SV%) – Welp, I thought John Gibson was going to get this start but instead Boudreau went back to the well with Andersen and he responded. It’s hard to discount Gibsy with just one horrible star under his belt, but I don’t see why the Ducks wouldn’t keep looking to Andersen to handle the bulk of the work in net so long as he keeps this up.
Steve Mason (L, 25 SV, 3 GA, .893 SV%) – I’ve never been a fan of Mason’s. It’s not personal, it’s just that he isn’t very good at, ah, how do you say? “Stopping pucks.”
Wayne Simmonds (1 G, 1 A, 5 SOG) – The goals keep coming and that should continue. I had him pegged for the low 30s this year, but at this rate 40 isn’t out of the question. He seems to be developing some solid chemistry with Brayden Schenn who has also looked good so far this season. Typically Brayden’s value is highest in hits leagues, but there’s enough upside there that he could top 50 points this year.
Jakub Voracek (1 G, 7 SOG, +1) – Jake has looked good and his place on Claude Giroux’s wing is set in stone, it’s just a matter of sitting back and enjoying the ride. The plus/minus will right itself, that one game vs. the Devils was pretty brutal but otherwise they’ve both been fine.
Claude Giroux (2 A, 7 SOG, +1) – How are the Flyers not better with this much talent? Oh right! Steve Mason.
Matt Beleskey (1 G, 5 SOG, +1) – Bele’s keeping that tasty slot on the top line with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf warm for the injured Patrick Maroon. While he’s there, he’s worth streaming. When Maroon returns don’t be surprised to see him drop off the line and suffer a similar drop in production shortly thereafter.
Viktor Fasth (L, 8 SV, 3 GA, .727 SV%) – Can the Oilers get any worse? Seriously. You’d think that Fasth was pulled from this one after allowing 3 goals on 11 shots in the first, but he left due to a groin injury. Talk about adding, uh, injury to insult. Ben Scrivens (12 SV, 3 GA, .800 SV) came in to relieve him and didn’t do much better. I wouldn’t own either of them with your team. Yuck.
Tanner Pearson (2 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – Yes, Pearson is good but no, he’s not this good yet. Right now he has 4 goals on the season. He also has just 5 shots on the season. That’s obviously not sustainable and the monster game here comes against the Oil, so, take it with a grain of salt.
Tyler Toffoli (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – Yes, Toffoli is good and yeah, he might actually be this good. He could easily break the 40-point mark and flirt with 50 points this year.
Jeff Carter (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – Okay, okay. That 70’s Line has some solid chemistry going. I get it.