We’re down to the final week of the season and most leagues have already been decided, but for those of you in leagues who are still fighting it out to the last puck drop, I’ll keep posting my daily roundups to keep you informed. Though I only took over Razzball Hockey halfway through the season I have to say I’ve enjoyed writing every word and I hope that I’ve been able to help shepherd a few of you to success this season. If not, well, I only take credit when you win, so don’t come knocking with all that sadface “I lost!” nonsense! Seriously though, it has been and I hope will continue to be a blast. Now then, for those of you still on the hunt for a title, how can we help? Patrik Hornqvist (2 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, 2 PIM, +3) might be an option! To hell with might, he’s the best option you’ve got this late. Even if it wasn't this late, the way he's been playing over the last two-three weeks has been unbelievable. I didn't mention him because there were other, hotter, better bets to ride to a title but I guess I can't deny it anymore. Horny has posted a whopping 10 points in his last five games with no signs of slowing down. Granted, no signs means squat because this kind of play is way above Hornqvist’s head, but while he’s scoring like there’s no tomorrow, you should add him, because in a few days there’s going to be no tomorrow! At least for fantasy hockey leagues this season, that is. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey this weekend:
Jonathan Bernier (2 GA, 25 SV, W) got the win and looked good doing it until he was hurt when Leafs defenseman Paul Ranger checked Patrice Bergeron (1 G, 1 A, 8 SOG, +2) into Bernier. Bergeron fell awkwardly on Bernier’s leg and he left without being able to put any weight on it. He’s scheduled for an MRI today and is listed as day-to-day with an LBI. He just returned from another injury only to get reinjured and honestly I think his season is done. That’s truly a shame, he deserved more considering how outstanding he has played for the Leafs this season, a team in the process of letting themselves and their fans down in a big way. Oddly that makes me happy. It’s Toronto, what can I say? At any rate, James Reimer (1 GA, 10 SV, W) came in to a standing ovation and held fort allowing one goal on 11 shots helping the Leafs to two critical points with the win. Reimer is what the Leafs have moving forward, it doesn’t look good for Bernier’s chances of returning this season, playoffs or not, but the results of the MRI will tell us more later today or tomorrow. Any Bernier owners should have already handcuffed Reimer to Bernier, but anyone looking for some goalie help can grab Reimer now. It’s the Leafs, and you’ve seen how they have been playing lately, so temper your expectations a bit. That said, a starter is a starter right now and Reimer is talented and the schedule is fairly favorable over the last four games with matchups against Winnipeg, Tampa Bay, Florida and Ottawa coming up. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:
Ryan McDonagh has officially broken into the elite ranks of fantasy defenseman this year with 43 points in 77 games all while maintaining his status as one of, if not these best lockdown defenseman in the east, and maybe the league. A lot of good that does his owners now that Alex Burrows leveled McDonagh in the waning seconds of the Rangers’ Tuesday’s 3-1 win over the Canucks. The Rangers brass is playing this one close to the chest and all they’ll say is the injury isn’t serious. That being said, they’re also going to play it safe with their new franchise defenseman and are prepared to hold him out of the lineup for the rest of the regular season to give him a chance to heal and be ready for a cup run. So where does that leave owners who were hoping to get a few more points from the young blue liner? Not up shiz creek like you might think thanks to Alec Martinez (2 A, +1), who keeps finding ways to score and with these two helpers he has a mini-two-game points streak going and five points in his last five. He should be added to any teams still left standing right now. Don’t think so? Take a look at who you have slotted in as your 4th defenseman, is he doing any better over the last month than Martinez? Then add Martinez. I know I did. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:
The Minnesota Wild seem to have a bit of a goaltending problem. It’s not that they don’t have the personnel, in fact, to start the season you would have tought their duo of Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding would again be among the better goaltending situations in the league, but then the curse set in. Backstrom finally realizes how old he is and can’t keep it together, Harding starts the season healthy and finally gets a chance to take the no. 1 job for himself, does, plays like he’s going to win the Vezina and then gets laid low by his MS. And now, in what seems like an inevitability, Mr. Darcy is toppled by an injury during practice?! You read that right, Darcy Kuemper suffered an UBI in yesterday’s morning skate and is day-to-day for now, but it doesn’t sound very promising. That leaves everyone’s favorite Russian goofball, Ilya Bryzgalov (2 GA, 18 SV, W), all alone in the crease and he becomes the de-facto starter for the Wild. What the hell is going on with the Minnesota goaltending? Are they cursed? Does Paul Maurice sit in his office with a little goalie voodoo doll after hours or what? Breezy is a good option (depending on matchups) if you’re looking for some help in the crease towards the end of the week. Owned in just ~13% of ESPN leagues and 17% of Yahoo leagues, he should be available if you need him and I’m willing to bet there’s a handful of Kuemper owners who are sadface today, so turn that frown upside down and add Breezy! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:
Beau Bennett (1 A, 2 SOG, +2) is an intriguing option that many folks have likely long forgotten. Once upon a time Bennett was slated to start the season on the second line with Evgeni Malkin and everyone’s favorite player James Neal. Say what you will about Neal (I do!) but that was a choice place to land for the youngster who had everything to prove and the skills to do it. Well, he broke his damn hand, or his wrist, or some such nonsense that kept him out for most of this season and now he’s back, healthy, and has the space to play. Malkin’s down, so he won’t be playing along side the big Russian, but Bennett has points in three of his last four games with two goals mixed in for flavor. He’s only seeing around 12-13 minutes of TOI right now, but that’s enough for him to leave a mark and considering the Pens have locked up their playoff spot, I don’t see any reason they won’t let Bennett roam freely over the next week or two to get him up to speed for the post season party. All that adds up to him being a pretty viable scoring option for those in need whilst chasing those sweet sweet league championships. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey this weekend:
The Detroit Red Wings are one of the few teams so well built that they can sustain a playoff run despite missing four of their top players, two of which are point-per-game guys or better. How, you might wonder, is this feat possible? That'd be solid drafting, a commitment to player development and a fantastic scouting department, all of which Wings GM Ken Holland has in spades. The idea that the Wings roster is loaded with wire gold is not a new theme for me, but right now it's more important than ever to remember. Tomas Tatar (2 G, 4 SOG, +2) now has three straight two-point games and seven over his last five. I’ve been preaching to y’all to pick up any Red Wings that are scoring due to their ridiculous injury woes and Tatar is high on that list. At times he can look like a weak option compared to his high flying Swedish buddy Gustav Nyquist, but Tatar has solid value right now and should be owned everywhere. Riley Sheahan (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG, +3) is another one of those newly valuable Wings that I keep saying you should add. Sheahan has the potential to be something special pretty soon, but you can say that about most of the incredible crop of youth the Wings sport thanks to GM Ken Holland’s deft moves over the years. With six points over his last five and nine points in 13 March games, he’s definitely worth a stream. Sadly, Tomas Jurco (1 A, 5 SOG, +3) isn't among the new elite just yet, but returned from a broken rib to help out with an assist, but I don’t think he's worth an add at this point. He might be the best of the bunch for the Wings youth in terms of pure talent, but right now that's not resulting in many points. He remains very raw and needs more time to develop, and while this is that time, with just 11 points in 27 games so far this season I can’t really recommend him, even to stream. It’s a shame, really, I thought Jurco would be the one to burst onto the scene like Gustav Nyquist has. The moral of the story here is when in doubt, look to the Red Wings roster for scoring help, you can't go wrong! Anyway, here's what else I saw in the world o' fantasy hockey last night:
Mathieu Perreault (1 G, 2 SOG, even) is Anahiem’s version of Martin St. Louis, the only difference is Perreault is actually scoring! It wasn’t always so, though. Maty, not to be confused with Marty, was playing really well to start the season with 11 points in 13 October games but then fell completely off the map for a few months scoring just 8 points over his next 23 games. Then January rolled around he put up 9 points in 11 games. Now this month he’s got six points in seven games and has scored a point in six straight. I’ve mentioned Perreault a few times this season and that’s because I really like the guy. Right now he’s penciled in as the Ducks’ second line center with Patrick Maroon and Kyle Palmieri on his wings and while those names may not overwhelm you to the point that you rush to the wire to add Perreault, they do have some solid chemistry going and Maty is starting to see some time with the Ducks’ second powerplay unit while averaging around 16 minutes TOI a game lately. The smooth skating, shifty playmaker has some solid offensive upside, plays for the Ducks and is scoring right now, so do you need another reason to add him to help keep your title hopes alive? I sure hope not, because you’re playing the wrong game if you do. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Ryan McDonagh (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG, +3, 2 PIM) lead the way for the streaking Rangers scoring the game winner in OT. He also dished out two primary assists, ended up plus-3 and even threw in a couple PIM to make the game complete. I didn’t think he’d get there, but McDonagh is looking at breaking the 50-point/15 goal markers this season and that easily sits him among the league’s best fantasy defenseman. To give you an idea of just how quickly McDonagh has found his way into the ranks of the elite, chew on this factoid; with 13 goals in 73 games so far this season he has eclipsed his total from his previous three seasons, where he scored 12 goals over 169 games. That’s no joke! Does it mean he’s a flash in the pan? That he’ll regress back to the mean starting next year? I don’t think so. I think what we’re seeing here is a premiere defensemen coming into his own and he should, at the very least, maintain this kind of production for seasons to come. The coaching change is a big help here; John Tortarella put McD out there for less than a minute, on average, of power play time per game. You could justify that and say it’s because he was young, but come on, less than a minute? Alain Vigneault puts him out there for an average or 2:53, and he’s cashing in on that like whoa. If you were lucky enough to grab him in a keeper league on the cheap this year, enjoy the ride, because he’s not going to be cheap again until he’s aging and fading. So why does this matter right now? Could a guy like this possible be available? Why yes, yes he can! Try 31% of Yahoo leagues. He’s owned in 100% of ESPN leagues, so that does nothing for you ESPN folks, but I added him on two of my Yahoo teams just for the playoff run. Seriously. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
When I took a look at the box scores from yesterday’s tilts all I saw was a bunch of yawnstipating schmohawks filling the score sheets! Outside of a handful of regulars like Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf getting their usual helpings o’ goals and assists, guys like Damien Brunner and Patrick Maroon were all I saw! Seriously, Maroon? What is this guy, from an old Bugs Bunny cartoon? These guys are boring as eff and you’d have to be a maroon to pick most of them up, so to kick this round up off I’m going to go over a few key free agent grabs that didn’t play last night, but could actually help you win starting with Boston’s stellar backup Chad Johnson. Johnson’s season has been absolutely stellar posting a season line of 16-3-0/2.04/.925/2 in 23 starts this season, so his track record is solid and his team is ridiculous. Despite the fantastic numbers Johnson is only owned in 60% of ESPN leagues and 20% of Yahoo leagues so he’s most likely available if you want to take advantage of Boston’s back-to-back game riddled schedule over the next few weeks. You know Boston want to keep Rask healthy and fresh and with a playoff spot already locked up Johnson might see starts even on nights that aren’t typical rest days for Tuukka. What does all this mean? It means you need to cash in on that shiz right now and add Johnson before someone else does. Mike Cammalleri is another key guy to grab like, yesterday, and if you’ve been living under a rock for the past week you might not have noticed that he’s posted 16 points over his last 12 games and nothing else really matters save that he’s posted 16 freakin’ points over his last 12 games. Big names don’t matter right now, goals and assists do, and Calamari is providing much o’ that! Add him? Yes. When? I already told you like four lines up, yesterday! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Patrik Elias (3 A, 3 SOG, +2) was automatic at one point in his career, in fact he was almost always a sure thing and as recently as 2011-12 he was just shy of a point-per-game player. Fast-forward a few years and father time is finally catching up with Elias this season as he’s struggled to stay healthy and stay consistent. Still, a bad season for Elias means he’s going to top the 60-point marker by season’s end, even at his age, so he retains some value in most formats. Right now he’s absolutely on fire with 12 points in his last 10 games. Some speculate the recent birth of his second child has given Elias new life, and that might be true, but I think it has more to do with his pairing with surging rookie Adam Henrique (3 A, 1 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) instead. Henrique exploded after the Olympic break with 14 points in 12 games and that coincided with his being shifted to a line with Elias, so there you go! The trio of helpers he tallied last night serve as more evidence that he is going to keep producing, trying to get his team into the playoffs, so if you enjoy winning you might want to add Elias. It shouldn’t be hard if you’re a Yahoo player as he’s only owned in 58% leagues there, but sad news for you ESPN people, he’s at 100% ownership there. It’s kind of ironic that ESPN has all but abandoned any semblance of decent coverage for the NHL and yet their fantasy hockey system seems to be far more active than Yahoos. Not that Yahoo has been a pillar of support and good coverage for the NHL, but ESPN really has been that bad. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world of fantasy hockey yesterday:
EDIT (21/2/14): Kane is now on LTIR and is out for the rest of the regular season. You can safely drop him in any yearly leagues.
Patrick Kane (1 A, +2) apparently injured his left knee in a 4-0 victory over the Blues last night and it sounds like he’s going to be about for the rest of the regular season, or at least long enough to make sure he contributes nothing to his fantasy owners’ hopes and dreams of winning their leagues. Some reports say two weeks, others say three weeks, I say the rest of the regular season because why would the Hawks tempt fate and rush Kane back before the playoffs? Pro tip: they won't. I guess Brendan Morrow accidentally rolled into Kane’s knee after a hit from the Hawks’ Sheldon Brookbank. Well that’s great; it’s good to know two mostly worthless guys took one of the most valuable fantasy assets off the board for the playoffs. Can you sense my bitterness? Oh, I’m bitter. Like sour patch kids bitter. What, that’s sour? Fine, I’ll happily donate some of my bitterness to bitter it up further. So what do you do if you just lost Kane? Drink and cry, my friends, drink and cry. Before you get too deeply into the bottle, though, consider that Kane’s absence opens up TOI for some of the younger guys and will demand a reshuffling of the lines. It’s hard to say who will end up where, the Hawks have a ton of options, but Andrew Shaw (1 G, 3 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) has goals in back-to-back games and has seven points in nine games this month, so he might be worth a flier. A former Blackhawk now turned Panther is also worth a look as Brandon Pirri has been a roll since being traded to South Florida with seven points in his last eight games. Right now Kane owners are looking at this advice and cringing, thinking; “Shaw? Pirri? These are the guys you expect to replace Kane?” No, bitter Kane owner, I don’t! You can’t replace him, but you might be able to mitigate the impact to your hopes by looking into some of these guys, they might just be available to save your (and my) skins:
Martin St. Louis (1 A, 2 PIM, +3) was supposed to help continued to struggle for the blue shirts, but managed to tally his third point in nine games as a Ranger. This is not the scoring boost that Rangers GM Glen Sather was hoping for when he moved Ryan Callahan to the Bolts for the veteran scoring monster. Cally, on the other hand, has four points in six games for Tampa.
Anton Khudobin (1 GA, 46 SV, W) was put right back in net after taking a 2-1 loss and did not disappoint pushing 46 of 47 shots away for a 3-1 victory. Is there any doubt that Khudobin is the guy for the Canes? The only place there might be doubt is the Canes’ front office, but judging by the two-year deal they inked Khudobin to recently, I’d say that concept is fading fast. Cam Ward had an opportunity to take his starting job back, but he failed to do that like he has doing, well, mostly anything this season, and after this game the starters gig should be his and his alone for the next 12 games.
Gustav Nyquist (2 G, 6 SOG, +1) is really the only thing keeping the Wings from tipping completely over and missing the playoffs for the first time in 22 years. He has three goals in his last two games and that gives in 35 points in 43 games since his call up earlier this year. Can Nyquist really be the only thing keeping the Wings afloat, you might be wondering. Well, have a look at the list of guys Babs had to scratch last night: Pavel Datsyuk, Justin Abdelkader, Jonathan Ericsson, Dan Cleary, Tomas Jurco, Darren Helm, Joakim Andersson and Teemu Pulkkinen. Those are the scratches, how about guys on IR? Henrik Zetterberg, Mikael Samuelsson and Stephen Weiss. So, if by some insane happenstance he’s still available in one of your leagues I think you know what to do.
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