By the end of October it looked as if the opportunities for Alex Stalock to carve out the 40 or so starts I predicted he’d get this season were dwindling fast. Antti Niemi (L, 26 SV, 4 GA, .867%) was rolling strong on five straight starts, it seemed like the deal was sealed and Stalock would have to wait until next year to get his chance. Luckily for us Stalock owners, Niemi has provided ample opportunity once again for Alex to get back in the picture. Last night’s loss marks three in a row and four of his last five for Niemi who now owns a yawnstipating 6-5-1/2.79/.911% season line. Those numbers look like they belong to Ondrej Pavelec, and before this season that would be a grevious insult, but hey even Pavelec is looking better than Niemi this year. I digress, I was never a huge fan of Niemi’s so this doesn’t surprise me one bit. Alex Stalock is the goalie of the future in San Jose and despite some early struggles in limited work (that game against the Sabres haunts me still) I still believe he’s going to get his starts and Niemi may not even finish the season as the Sharks’ starter. During his current losing streak Niemi has coughed up 15 goals and the Sharks have lost four of those five contests. By contrast, Stalock sports a 2-2-1/2.38/.925% line is looking a hell of a lot better than what Niemi has offered up despite the fact that it has been built over seven fewer games. Stalock was supposed to start last night against the Cats but at the last minute the call was made to start Niemi. Bad call, San Jose. Lets get with the program and get Stalock so more starts, eh? If he’s healthy and he performs well in his next few games I’d say Stalock would be well on his way to making this thing a fight again. If that’s the case, he’s worth adding. If you still own him, hold him for now. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Cory Schneider (W, 23 SV, 1 GA, .958%) – Starting for the 16th time in 17 games and for the second game in as many nights Schneider finally found his stride and held the Wild off for a 3-1 victory last night. I don’t know when they’re going to sit him, but it has to be soon or he’s going to play until he gets hurt. I honestly have no idea what Schneids will do moving forward, I can only assume he’ll get better because, well, he’s far better than he has played so far this season. He could be a good buy low candidate.
Darcy Kuemper (L, 20 SV, 2 GA, .909%) – Last night’s loss marks three in a row for the young tender who, with Josh Harding practicing and soon to return, might be hitting a cold spell at just the wrong time. In seven October games Kuemps allowed 10 goals. In four November games he’s allowed 12. If you look back his shutouts came against the Avs twice to start the year and the hapless ‘yotes shortly after, so the quality of competition wasn’t great, either. He has every opportunity to right the ship and maintain his starter status when Harding returns, but he needs to get it together quickly. In any case if you own Keumper you should add Harding and stash him on IR where you can; he’s a valuable handcuff.
Mike Cammalleri (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – Yesterday I said wait until he does something decent for a few games and trade him before the inevitable cold spell or injury, so here you go. Sell high, my friends.
Jaroslav Halak (W, 20 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – It’s funny, Halak’s back-to-back shutouts come against the Avs and the ‘yotes, the teams I just bagged on Kuemper for earning his shutouts against, and here we are again. He also held the Ducks to a two goals for a 3-2 OT win to start this little three game run, but I’m not very confident it continues when he runs into higher quality opposition in the near future.
Semyon Varlamov (L, 40 SV, 6 GA, .870%) – I warned against drafting Varly and everyone told me I was a madman. How could it possibly be? He was so fantastic last season surely it wasn’t a fluke! Well, his season line currently sits at a bleh 2-5-4/3.05/.918% and I don’t see it getting better any time soon. The Avs are a mess and Varly is doing even worse than I expected him to. He’s going to keep getting peppered by buckets of shots and clearly he isn’t able to handle it so you have to bench him for now.
Ryan Strome (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +2) – With all the hype around other rookies like Jonathan Drouin (1 A, 1 SOG, +1) and Aaron Ekblad (2 A, 2 SOG, +3, 2 PIM) Strome has slipped under the radar for many, but he’s been better than most young players so far this season. Last night’s two point effort gives him 10 points in 15 games so far with a plus-five rating, 10 PIM and some faceoff wins, too. He spends his time playing pivot on a line with Brock Nelson (1 A, +2) and Anders Lee (1 G, 5 SOG, +2) and it seems to be clicking well. He should be owned in most deep leagues.
Henrik Lundqvist (W, 33 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – Not only has the depleted Rangers defense not hurt Lundqvist like I thought it might, he’s actually gotten stronger over the last four games posting two shutouts and a .958 SV%. Please excuse my doubts your majesty, it will never happen again.
Marc-Andre Fleury (L, 30 SV, 5 GA, .857%) – The Rangers dominated from the first puck drop last night and they spanked Fluery for five goals. It was half MAF’s fault and half the defense’s, so you can chock this one up to a bad night and expect that he’ll get back on track next game.
Derick Brassard (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – Brass has really come on strong of late with six points in his last six games giving him 13 points in 15 games overall. He’s the Rangers’ second-line center and gets power play opportunities, so he’s worth adding in most leagues right now. The plus/minus could go either way moving forward, but 55 points and 20 goals is definitely doable here.
Rick Nash (1 G, 2 A, 6 SOG) – Nash maintains his league lead in goals with his 12th tally of the season last night. It was just a short time ago when people were saying Nash was past it, he lost the fire, blah blah blah. Welp, it looks like that was all a bunch of bullshiz, he’s looked like the elite scoring forward Broadway pays him to be since the first game of the season and barring injury I doubt he’ll slow down. He could score 50 goals this year.
Martin St. Louis (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Now that Marty is back at his natural position on the wing he can focus on scoring and hey, look at that, he’s scoring. Six points in his last five games push his season total to 12 points in 15 contests and I doubt he’s going to slow down anytime soon.
Mats Zuccarello (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – I think the ceiling for Zook is probably 55 points. He’s a dynamic little sparkplug, but I doubt he’s going to become another Marty St. Louis. He’s currently on pace for 40ish points for the year and that’s just too low, but I wouldn’t expect more than 55 this year.
Braden Holtby (W, 24 SV, 2 GA, .923%) – That’s back-to-back solid games for Hotlby after he had a three game hiccup that saw him cough up 12 goals over that span. I heard tell of peeps thinking of dropping Holtby because of that three game stretch. You cray. He’ll be fine.
Curtis McElhinney (L, 28 SV, 4 GA, .875%) – Soooo, Sergei Bobrovsky is back soon, yes?
Marcus Johansson (2 G, 8 SOG, +1) – I doubt his recent scoring burst will last much longer, but you can’t ignore a guy who posted four points in his first nine games, then eight in his last six. He’s been spending time with dynamic rookie pivot Andre Burakovsky () and it looks like they might be developing some solid chemistry together. Own him while he’s hot and drop him while he’s not.
Alex Ovechkin (2 G, 8 SOG) – Nine points in his last five games, check. Lots o’ goals, check. Minus-2 rating, aw damnit… check.
Carey Price (W, 29 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – I’d say he’s officially back on track after this one. That’s two very good games in a row and though the quality of competition is a bit suspect, he’s so good that you have to expect this to continue.
Ondrej Pavelec (L, 24 SV, 2 GA, .923%) – Would you believe me if I told you Pavs has been one of the best goalies in the league so far this year? His season line sits at 7-5-2/1.98/.928% in 14 starts this season. I… well, I’m speechless. I don’t expect his play to continue at this level, but then I didn’t even think he was good enough to do this kind of work at all. It really can’t keep going, can it? Is everything in my life a lie?!
Alex Galchenyuk (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Finally the cold streak is over as Galy nets his first point in four games and just his second point in his last nine. He started hot then fell off a cliff, but he’s talented enough that there’s hope he’ll start scoring again now that the dam has broken. I guess calling a one goal game breaking the dam open is a little dramatic, but hey, poetic license.
Roberto Luongo (W, 21 SV, 1 GA, .955%) – Oh Lu, you so good. I’m sorry we had a falling out.
Joe Thornton (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – Jumbo Joe has five goals already! That’s about half of what he’ll give you all season.
Brian Elliott (W, 28 SV, 1 GA, .966%) – Ten starts in and all systems are go for Elliott, but again, that’s not the concern. The concern is when he gets to 40-plus starts, then we’ll see if he’s going to be the Blues’ starter for a few years, or he’s just a bridge for Jake Allen. Either way, he’s money for now.
Michal Neuvirth (L, 23 SV, 6 GA, .793%) – Yeah, well, Buffalo.
Jaden Schwartz (3 A, +3) – So long as he centers Vladimir Tarasenko (2 A, 4 SOG, +2) and Jori Lehtera he’s going to have plenty of helpers to dish out.
Jori Lehtera (3 G, 5 SOG, +3) – I mentioned Lehtera in my wire watch post yesterday, but after last night’s game I doubt he’ll be available on many anymore. If he is, add him now. Fun fact time! Lehtera’s hatty was of the natural variety and that makes him the third Blue from the same line to net a hatty in the first 15 games of the season. That must be some kind of record.
Alexander Steen (3 A, 4 SOG, even, 9 PIM) – The three helpers all come on the man advantage and that’s how you can expect Steen to rack up his points, but don’t expect them to come in buckets like last year, he isn’t a point-per-game guy or even close to it. Don’t be fooled by last year.
Viktor Fasth (L, 14 SV, 3 GA, .824%) – Fasth seemed to have taken the starting job from Ben Scrivens (0 GA, 18 SV, 100.0 SV%) but after last night that doesn’t appear to be the case anymore. Does it really matter who starts for the Oil? You shouldn’t own either of them unless you’re desperate.
Nail Yakupov (1 G, 3 SOG) – This guy isn’t in the KHL yet? What’s the hold up?
Filip Forsberg (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – After last night’s tilt The Fors has 17 points in 15 games and a plus-17 rating. If anyone told you they knew Forsberg would be this good they’re damn dirty liars, that’s what they are. I don’t know how long it will continue, but from what I’ve seen of him, it looks like he should keep chugging along at a steady pace. I doubt it’s at more than a point-per-game pace though.
Mike Ribeiro (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – Every season I see Ribeiro’s name and think “Meh” and move on. And every freakin’ year he ends up playing well. I don’t know what it is about him that puts me to sleep, but I’d be happy to have his 13 points in 15 games tuck me in each night. If he’s available add him.
Corey Crawford (W, 25 SV, 2 GA, .926%) – What was that about Scott Darling? I vaguely recall some grumblings about trading Crawford? Nonsense.
Ben Bishop (L, 37 SV, 2 GA, .949%) – At least he didn’t allow three goals this time.
Nikita Kucherov (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Did you pick him up when I told you to? I did. Thanks, me!
Brad Richards (1 G, 4 SOG) – Don’t look now but Richards has four points in his last four games and *gasp* is actually worth picking up in deep leagues.
Kari Lehtonen (W, 34 SV, 3 GA, .919%) – It appears that Kari has caught the threes disease from Ben Bishop and he coughed up another three spot in a 4-3 victory over the ‘yotes last night. That snaps a five game losing streak that extends back into October. I think the Stars as a team are struggling to start the season and Kari is paying a bit of the price, but he really needs to step it up and soon. You can’t trade him because you won’t get value, you can’t bench him because he and the Stars are good enough to break out at any moment, so you have to bite the bullet and start him for now.
Mike Smith (L, 28 SV, 4 GA, .875%) – Heh, Mike Smith.
Mikkel Boedker (1 G, 4 SOG) – And finally the 12 game goal drought has ended for a guy who I’m still pretty high on. Perhaps my dreams of him pushing 60 points this season have faded, but I still think he’ll hit 25 goals and 50-ish points. I still believe, damnit!
Tyler Seguin (2 G, 5 SOG, +1) – I know the Bruins have been just fine since the Seguin deal, but can you really tell me they don’t regret it? Really? I regret it and I don’t even like the Bruins.
Ryan Miller (W, 21 SV, 3 GA, .875%) – He’s doing exactly what we expected; middling peripherals (2.46/.910%) and solid wins (11). He’ll keep rollin’ like that all season long.
Alex Burrows (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Burrows was hot garbage last year, but he seems to have returned to his 50 point form, so I’d add him if you need scoring help. 25 goals is definitely doable.
Craig Anderson (W, 33 SV, 4 GA, .892%) – I firmly believe that Anderson owns a Robin Lehner voodoo doll.