For most of the season, I've talked about why I wouldn't want to own Semyon Varlamov. Long story short, I don't trust the Avalanche to play defense well enough to prevent Varlamov from having a high goals against average. Well, the counter to that is Varlamov is a very good goaltender who can carry his team to wins. It happened twice this weekend. On Friday, he stopped 33 of 34 shots to beat the Blues 2-1 in a shootout, then he came back Saturday to make 42 saves against the Stars in a 3-1 victory. Even after these games, his goals against average is below league average but his save percentage is strong and he's top 10 in the league in wins. There's still plenty of value in a goalie like Varlamov, you just need to balance it by having an elite goalie to carry you in goals against average. Here's what else I saw around the league this weekend:
Say the title five times fast, you won't! Alliteration aside, Ben Bishop brought an end to the Blackhawks 12 game winning streak on Thursday, stopping 17 of 18 shots to extend the Lightning's winning streak to 7. Despite all of their struggles, the Lightning are only one point out of first place in the Atlantic and they have Bishop to thank. He's top 10 in the league in goals against, save percentage and wins, including 2nd in the leagues in goals against average. He hasn't been mentioned as a Vezina candidate but he has earned the right to be in the conversation. Here's what else I saw the last two nights around the league:
Poor Sergei Bobrovsky. After a horrible start, he catches fire for a month only to get a groin injury that sidelines him for a month. Then, he gets activated off injured reserve only to get in practice before he plays a game putting him out for a few more weeks. Bob finally gets healthy and who does he get in his first game back? The best team in the league so far, the Washington Capitals. Bob gave up 5 goals on 27 shots in the 6-3 loss. The question is do you panic? The answer is no. I'm blindly rolling Bob in every matchup going forward outside of two possible matchups; Washington and Chicago. Those depend how he's playing in the games before hand but the point is that Bob will be fine. Here's what else happened around the league on Tuesday night:
Unfortunately for the hockey world, the biggest news to come out of Monday's games was that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be out for "a long time" after blocking a shot with his hand against the Panthers. He managed to get an assist before the injury putting him at 30 points on the year, not great but solid. It's terrible for the Oilers as they were about to get healthy with Connor McDavid close to returning. In redrafts, you can stash RNH on IR but if you don't have the IR spots, you can safely cut him. Obviously hold onto him in dynasties. As far as the value of the other Oilers, I don't think anyone takes a hit since McDavid will slide right into that slot. If anything, I would argue there's a winner here and it's Leon Draisaitl. The German should have kept a role in the top 6 even with McDavid back but now it's a certainty that he remains at center on the top line. Here's some info on the players who did something fantasy relevant last night:
If you're a frequent reader of my articles, then you know the player I streamed the most this year has been Vladislav Namestnikov. Well, I'm not streaming him anymore because he's terrible. Kidding! That's because he's a clear hold now. He's centering the first line in Tampa (Steven Stamkos is playing RW) and he's coming off a hat trick on five shots in the 5-4 win over the Penguins Friday night. He only had one shot in Sunday's game but still, the role we look to stream him in looks secured now. Names (I'm sticking with that nickname, thanks commenters!) now has 23 points in 44 games and that's with being shuffled throughout the lineup and with little PP time (he has 4 PPP). There's no guarantee that he lasts in this role all season but now, he's must own in 12'ers. Here's what else I saw around the league this weekend:
In Wednesday's article, I talked about Sam Bennett after he scored a goal in his last game. In regards to his future, I said "I still love him in dynasties and would like to trade for him if you’re out of the picture for this season. He’s still only 19 years old and should blossom sooner than later. I smell a sleeper post for him next year; I’m a sucker!" Well, apparently sooner was that night because Sam scored four goals on five shots, including a first period hat trick, in the 6-0 win over the Panthers. He was flying all over the ice and showed why he was a top pick in the draft. This is why I had him ranked so high going into the season. Now, it's only about finding consistency. It's hard to guess when that will happen but I still believe he's going to be a superstar in this league. Here's what else I saw the last two nights around the league:
Before Tuesday night, in the past 25 Coyotes games, Max Domi had scored in exactly one game, a meeting with the Sabres on December 4th where he scored twice. I had a question in the comments in my Monday article about whether Domi was still worth holding in 12'ers and justifiably so. Well, Domi showed his upside and why he should be held in fantasy leagues scoring a hat trick on five shots in the 4-3 overtime win against the Oilers. With this one game, he's back on a 60 point pace ( ~25+35) and should be owned everywhere. In dynasty leagues, he's going to pay massive dividends going forward as the Coyotes are loaded with young talent and have a lot more coming led by Dylan Strome. Here's what else I saw the last two nights around the league:
Even by his lofty standards, Alex Ovechkin had quite the weekend. He went into the weekend with 497 career goals and managed to score two goals in both games he played to get 501. On Saturday, he scored the opening goal and then a coast to coast overtime winner to beat the Rangers 4-3 on his fifth shot of the game. On Sunday, he scored number 500 from his patented spot by the left hashmark and added 501 late to put the Capitals up 7-1. Here are the players who got to 500 goals faster than Ovechkin: Gretzky, Lemieux, Bossy, Hull. That's it. And those guys did it in an era where the game was wide open, not the dead era Ovechkin plays in now. I've said it before and people didn't agree in the comments but I still believe it; Ovechkin is the greatest goal scorer in NHL history. Here's to hoping he sticks around because he has a decent shot to break Gretzky's record which would be incredible given the low goal scoring in this era plus he missed time for two lockouts. Here's what else happened around the league this weekend:
Coming into the season, I was all aboard the Dallas bandwagon. As far as their goalies went, I had Kari Lehtonen ranked behind their big free agent acquisition Antti Niemi but suggested owning both parts of the platoon since it looked be close to an even split in starts. Well, they both have been struggling lately but Lehtonen put an end to their recent run of poor form. He stopped 32 of 33 shots last night in the 2-1 shootout win over the Jets. Things can certainly change with goalies but in the short term, look for Lehtonen to start getting a higher percentage of the Dallas starts. His overall numbers aren't great outside of wins but that's mostly because of a couple horrendous starts. Here's what else I saw in a very low scoring Thursday around the league: