Since Corey Crawford went down with his latest injury the Blackhawks have had six games and Scott Darling, G (L, 38 SV, 3 GA, .927%) has started four of them until Antti Raanta, G (W, 23 SV, 1 GA, .960%) won last night in the second game of a back-to-back. In fact, Raanta has only played in six games so far this season to Darling’s seven so it begs the question, has Darling usurped Raanta as Crawdad backup? It sure seems that way. It’s clear that Raanta isn’t a guy you can count on for long streaks of solid play. He’s fine in spot starts and sheltered minutes, but some time in the AHL wouldn’t hurt him at all, and so far it seems that the 6’ 6” Darling has caught the attention of Blackhawk’s Head Coach Joel Quenneville. When asked about the situation Quenneville didn’t offer much insight, but does he ever? He did have this to offer on Darling though “He’s played well, every time he’s been in the net he’s been consistent, looks big (and) handles the puck well. Keep him going.” That bodes well for Darling sticking around, but either way it doesn’t seem like we’ll have to wait very long to find out how this situation is going to shake out because Crawdad was a surprise participant in the morning skate for the Hawks this past weekend. He didn’t speculate on when he’ll return to the lineup but the fact that his foot is well enough for him to skate on is a good sign that he’ll be back in the next few weeks at most. If I had to put money down I’d say Darling has earned the backup job and it’s Raanta who will head down to the AHL when he returns. In the meantime, both should be owned in deep leagues. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey this weekend:
Robin Lehner, G (W, 29 SV, 2 GA, .935%) – Making his first start since November 29th Lehner didn’t waste the opportunity and pushed away 29 of 31 shots to beat the Bruins 3-2 in a shoot out. Craig Anderson has been getting worse by the month, but Lehner hasn’t really done much to give the Sens reason to favor him. It will take three or four more of these kinds of efforts in a row for him to start making some in roads on the starting gig, until then he’s only worth the occasional stream start.
Tuukka Rask, G (L, 29 SV, 2 GA, .935%) – Craig Anderson has better peripherals (2.58/.925%) than Rage Monster so far (2.55/.911%). Let that soak in. It’s painful, I know.
Mika Zibanejad, C (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – At this point Zibachmadenijad should be owned just about everywhere. With a goal on Saturday he’s put up eight points in his last six games (5 G, 3 A) skating on a line with Bobby Ryan (3 SOG, +1) and Mike Hoffman (1 A, 3 SOG, +1). Ryan put up a goose egg in this game but he has five points (1 G, 4 A) over his last five and the two of them may be developing some chemistry finally. I wouldn’t hold my breath, but both of them are talented and they could start playing well off of one another.
David Legwand, C (1 G, 1 SOG, -2) – I didn’t think Legs would have any fantasy value this year, but he stretched his point streak to five games with a goal last game. In the deepest of leagues he has streaming value right now, but the scoring will dry up suddenly so if you bother to add him, be ready to drop him in a few days.
Loui Eriksson, LW (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – It’s hard to believe just a few years ago Loui was a perennial 70-point guy, but those days are long gone as he continues to play a reduced role on the Bs. I figure he finishes with around 40 points by seasons and and I doubt he’ll make his way to 20 goals. That’s solid for a third defenseman, but he’s not a defenseman, so bleh. I wouldn’t own him with your team.
Steve Mason, G (W, 25 SV, 1 GA, .962%) – Doth thine eyes deceive thee? Is this a win and a solid performance from Mason? I must be high.
Anton Khudobin, G (L, 18 SV, 5 GA, .783%) – Dobby is now 0-7-3 and Cam Ward has an iron grip on the starter’s job in Carolina. Not that it’s a job you’d really want to have, mind you, but it’s Ward’s just the same.
Eric Staal, C (1 G, 6 SOG, -1) – Saturday’s tally snaps a five game skid for Staal, who looks positively human this season with bleh season line of 7/9/16/-10 in 24 games this season. The Canes are a bit of a disaster in general, but Staal is good enough that he can rebound and go on a run at any time. You can’t trade him if you own him because you won’t get decent value, so sit tight with Staal and hope for the best. If this slump goes on for a few more weeks to a month and he goes on a hot streak, sell high.
Wayne Simmonds, RW (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – Simmonds pots another goal and that gives him five in his last five games and pushes his robust season line to 13/8/21/+4 in 29 games. Normally I’d say I want to see some more PIM from him, but so long as he’s putting the biscuit in the basket he can stay out of the bin for as long as he wants.
Jhonas Enroth, G (W, 25 SV, 3 GA, .893%) – I noticed Enroth is one of the most added guys in Yahoo right now and I’m warning you, the wins aren’t worth the murder that Sabres goalies can bring down on your GAA. The SV% is high some nights, but that’s because the Sabres let their goalies get peppered most nights.
Petr Mrazek, G (L, 37 SV, 3 GA, .925%) – Pety continues to waffle from good to bad but overall he’s been solid. So far I haven’t seen anything from him that indicates he’ll stick in the NHl when Jonas Gustavsson gets healthy, but for now his backup job is secue and he’ll continue to get one or so starts a week.
Nazim Kadri, C (1 A, 1 SOG, +2) – That lockout-shortened season was a fluke. His ceiling is 50 points, give or take a few helpers. That’s still valuable in some formats, but generally he’s yawnstipating enough to pass over.
James van Reimsdyk, RW (1 G, 2 SOG, -2) – JvR extends his point streak to four games with a goal on Saturday night. He has three goals and two assists in his last five games and should rumble his way to 70 points and 35 goals by season’s end.
Ben Bishop, G (L, 24 SV, 3 GA, .889%) – That makes three straight losses for Big Ben, but he’ll get back on track sooner than later. He’s too good to keep losing and the Bolts are too.
Nicklas Backstrom, C (3 G, 4 SOG, +2) – A rare hatty from the helper king and with eight goals you’ve likely seen half of Backstrom’s goal output for the entire season. That’s cool, though, because with 30 points in 29 games so far this season, he’s on track for another stellar campaign.
Alex Ovechkin (2 A, 7 SOG, +3, 2 PIM) – No goals? No problem says Ovie who helped Backs to his hatty while contributing in every possible way other than putting the puck home. Even god rested on the seventh day, you know?
Jaroslav Halak, C (W, 23 SV, 2 GA, .920%) – The Halakness Monster gets back on track with a solid game against the Hawks after getting completely rocked in his previous two starts to the tune of 11 goals on 61 shots. I think he’s always going to be prone to these two or three game skids, it keeps fantasy owners honst and it keeps Halak from flirting with elevating himself to the fantasy netminder elite. It’s also why the Isles won’t win a cup with him in the crease.
Cal Clutterbuck, RW (1 G, 4 SOG, +2) – I’m only mentioning Clutterbuck because of his name. I mean honestly, Cal Clutterbuck? It’s so easy to pun I’m not even going to bother, it stands strong on its own. He’s not going to score much, but he does hit everything that moves, so if you need pure hits in deep leagues, that’s about the only value he offers anywhere.
Kyle Okposo, RW (1 G, 6 SOG, -1) – With another goal on Saturday that gives Okie goals in back-to-back games and eight on the season. I was hoping for another 30-goal season, but as the season moves on it seems less and less likely. I still think he’s good for 25, but he’ll have to get going soon to hit that mark by season’s end.
Lubomir Visnovsky, D (1 G, 2 SOG) – I know it might be tempting to add him when you see him sitting on the wire but don’t be fooled, he belongs there. There’s an outside chance he could hit 30 points by season’s end, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Sergei Bobrovsky, G (W, 33 SV, 3 GA, .917%) – Bob stretches his win streak to six games and is clearly back to 100% as he and the Jackets continue to roll after a horrendous, injury riddled first quarter of the season. The buy-low window has basically closed here.
Jack Johnson, D (1 G, 4 SOG, -1) – Believe it or not Johnson is on pace to set a career best in points with around 45 on the year. He’s also on pace to finish the year with a minus-55 rating. I don’t think it will be that bad, but at minus-18 it’s still pretty brutal. If the Jackets continue to improve that number should rise enough that he’s worth owning in deeper leagues.
Nick Foligno, LW (1 G, 3 SOG, -1) – I’m a bit speechless when it comes to Foggy. I keep expecting him to slow down, well, at all and he refuses to comply. With zero track record to tell me that this kind of production is sustainable for him, I’m still preaching a sell high here. When the scoring does stop, it’s going to be abrupt and the skid will last a while.
Frederik Andersen, G (W, 27 SV, 1 GA, .964%) – Ilya Bryzgalov was called up today and will likely get a start soon, but only because Freddy needs a break from his seven game win streak. He’s back on track and likely set to own the starting gig for the Ducks for the rest of the season. Unless Breezy falls flat on his face, it looks like rookie John Gibson is headed to the AHL to get some work when he finally heals up.
Michael Hutchinson, G (L, 27 SV, 3 GA, .900%) – Saturday’s loss marks just the second time all season that Hutch has allowed more than two goals. The last time he allowed three was all the way back in his first start of the season, a game he didn’t even start. Hutch is likely going to continue getting sheltered minutes to help him develop and build confidence while everyone’s favorite sieve Ondrej Pavelec continues to occupy the no. 1 slot for the Jets this season.
Jakub Silfverberg, LW (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Silky seems to be showing some signs of life lately with four points over his last five games (3 G, 1 A) but he remains mostly useless outside of the deepest leagues and streaming purposes. I’ve all but given up on him, but I can’t completely write him off yet, that wrister is too sick to ignore.
Niklas Backstrom, G (W, 27 SV, 3 GA, .900%) – He’s been winning in the few starts he gets, but after starting strong he’s been relying on the Wild to provide a lot of offensive support to get over the hump. Darcy Kuemper doesn’t look threatened at all for now.
Devan Dubnyk, G (L, 32 SV, 3 GA, .914%) – His numbers aren’t that great (2.77/.917%) but he’s a hell of a lot better than Mike Smith and it seems like the Coyotes might be starting to understand that. I wouldn’t own either with your team, though.
Nino Niederreiter, RW (1 G, 2 SOG) – He might finish the season with less than 20 helpers, but he’s definitely going to finish the year with more than 30 goals. I’d love a 35-goal, 50-point season from him and I’m pretty sure he can provide. If you own Nino in a keeper league, don’t dismiss him out of hand as one of your keepers, there’s a ton of upside here moving forward.
Jeff Zucker, RW (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Zucker is up to 12 goals on the year but what little value he had was eroded a bit over the weekend when he was bumped off the second power play unit to make room for Mikael Granlund (-2) who was pushed off the first unit. If Zucker can work his way back on to the second power play he has value in deep leagues, but without those minutes I’d send him packing. Considering how bad Granlund has been this season, it may only be a matter of time before he’s completely off the man advantage and Zucker moves back up.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – After a rare two point game OEL is on pace to finish with just under 40 points and that’s pretty disappointing for a guy I expected to flirt with 50 or better by season’s end. Playing for the Coyotes doesn’t help and sadly it makes me less optimistic for a strong second half rebound. He’s talented enough to make it happen, but the ‘yotes do look pretty miserable this year.
Kari Lehtonen, G (W, 28 SV, 3 GA, .903%) – I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that the Stars pretty much have no choice but to keep rolling Kari out there. They recently recalled Anders Lindback from the AHL, but does that does nothing to solve the Stars’ goaltending woes, which really start with the defensive problems that have anyway. That doesn’t excuse Lehtonen’s atrocious play so far this season, though.
Cory Schneider, G (L, 29 SV, 4 GA, .879%) – And the march towards 80 starts continues! Not well, mind you, but it continues nonetheless!
Jason Spezza, C (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – I drafted Spazz expecting a solid year on a solid team and so far he’s produced for the most part with 24 points in 29 games. That being said, his plus/minus makes me stabby at minus-9. He doesn’t seem to be able to get it to move north of that marker either; it seems every time he has a plus game he follows it up with a huge minus. It makes me sadface.
Tyler Seguin, C (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – On the other hand, there’s always Tyler Seguin to help soothe my Spezza fueled rage! Seguin could definitely pot more than 50 goals this year.
Scott Gomez, C (1 G, 2 SOG, -1) – We have a pulse lady and gentleman! No, don’t pick him up.
Henrik Lundqvist (W, 29 SV, 1 GA, .967% and W, 16 SV, 1.000%, 16 SA) – Hank rolled out in both games of a back-to-back and pushed away 34 of 35 shots for a 5-1 and 2-0 victories respectively. He wasn’t exactly put to the test in either game, but it’s good to see him looking like himself again.
Ryan Miller, G (L, 18 SV, 5 GA, .783%) – Like I keep saying; solid wins (16) bleh peripherals (2.69/.900%).
Ryan McDonagh, D (1 SOG, +2) – MacTruck finally gets on the board with his fist goal of the season. He has three points (1 G, 2 A) over his last four games putting him on pace for around 35 points in 70 games this season. I doubt he finishes with less than 40, though. He’ll get hot and go on a run sometime soon and push his production back to the levels we expected in the preseason. I don’t think his shoulder was 100% to start the year, but he looks great out there now. He’s a solid buy low candidate.
Mats Zuccarello, RW (1 A, +2) – Speaking of buy low, Zucc is another guy you might want to consider plucking off some frustrated owner. He has four points (2 G, 2 A) over his last four games and could definitely hit 50 points before the end of the year. I doubt he matches last year’s 63, but he did start slowly last year only to pick it up big time in the second half, so he could be due for another post All-Star surge.
Nick Bonino, C (1 G, 2 SOG, -1) – I haven’t had many opportunities to mention Bones, but he’s quietly on pace for 55 points and 20 goals, both markers I expect him to reach by season’s end. I think that’s the ceiling for him moving forward.
Jake Allen, G (W, 23 SV, 2 GA, .920%) – After Marty Brodeur started three straight Allen has come back with two in a row, both good for strong victories. It looks like an even split is in order with the hot hand getting the nod. I’d imagine so long as Marty holds up well enough the Blues will sit Allen when they can to avoid overworking the kid. It remains to be seen who gets sent down to the AHL when Brian Elliott gets back, but my money is on Allen sticking on big ice for the rest of the season.
Calvin Pickard, G (L, 39 SV, 3 GA, .929%) – Captain Pickard continues to look good, even in losses, and continues to look like the starter for the Avs. Reto Berra will get a start soon, especially with Pickard dropping two in a row, though neither were truly his fault. Still, Pickard remains the guy to own while Semyon Varlamov is out.
Alex Pietrangelo, D (1 G, 2 SOG) – After a rough start to the season Pietrangelo is back on track extending his point streak to four games pushing his season line to 3/14/17/30 in 30 games played. His minus-nine rating makes my head hurt, but that should start to rise now that he’s scoring again.
Antti Niemi, G (W, 29 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – Ugh, would it kill you to just play down to your actual ability and give the starting job to Alex Stalock?! You’re on my list, Niemi. It’s not a good list.
Pekka Rinne, G (L, 32 SV, 1 GA, .970%) – Loses and he still allows just one goal. Beautiful.
Mike Santorelli, C (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – At this point he should be owned everywhere. Anything you get is a bonus, but points is points y’all!
Marian Gaborik, RW (1 G, 7 SOG, +1) – Sweet Zombie Jesus, it’s a Gabby sighting! Cue season ending injury in t-minus three, two, one…