In just his second full season with the Rangers 23-year-old power forward Chris Kreider, LW (1 G, 7 SOG, +1) burst out of the gates strong and quickly faded, often looking lost on the ice. His decent culminated with a demotion to the Rangers’ fourth line, a destination that Kreider is none too familiar or comfortable with, and following that he was a healthy scratch. The Rangers claimed it was a neck issue, but it was clear to everyone he was just getting scratched. It was clear that the sophomore was listless on the ice at times, bereft of the passion and drive that had propelled him to early playoff success two years ago and a hot start this season. Kreider hadn’t lost it though; he was suffering through the death of his Grandfather, and admitted that his heart just wasn’t in it during that difficult period. Well, that period is over, and he’s currently riding a three game point streak posting four points (2 G, 2 A) over that span. He enters the all-star break riding high, showing every sign of finishing this season with a bang and breaking out in a big way next year.
To this point Kreids hasn’t had a season to write home about, but I’ll write to you about the potential for a big second half from the kid. Since he broke onto big ice a few years ago in the playoffs it may feel like he’s taking his sweet time to pan out, but really, he’s right on target. In a season that is seemingly full of skaters who are on their way to a 20-goal, 50-plus point year, Kreider won’t be left out. He’s long since earned his way back up the lines and currently skates in the top six for one of the best offenses in the league along side crafty veteran Martin St. Louis, RW (1 A, 1 SOG, +1) and slick playmaking pivot Derek Stepan, C (1 A, 3 SOG, +2), a line that often looks like the Rangers’ best. With his focus now squarely back on the ice the speedy winger is putting all his skills to use and the opposition is feeling the pain, but fantasy owners should feel nothing but joy. Kreider isn’t just delivering offensively with goals and assists; he’s aiming to finish the season with 170 PIM, 170 SOG and 150 hits as well. That’s beast mode right there, especially considering his ADP.
His season line is looking solid and clearly Kreider is on his way to becoming one of the most valueable multi-category contributors in fantasy hockey. That’s not to say that offense isn’t important; Kreids has five goals in his last ten games after potting just five in his first 32. That’s a huge surge and a sign that there’s more to come. Stick with Kreider, y’all, he’s going to be great. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
Mathieu Perreault is now on IR and out indefinitely with what looked like a broken arm, but that was later denied as false by the Jets. No one knows the extent to Perry-o’s injury and we won’t until after the All-Star Break. Dan Carcillo has been suspended for six games for the hit, which was both unnecessary and vicious. He called it a routine hockey play, which would be mind boggling if the statement didn’t come from a guy called “Car Bomb.” This is the twelfth disciplinary action taken against Car Bomb in his nine seasons in the NHL. Maybe, just maybe, something more should be done about the guy.
Kris Letang is suffering from a head injury but the Pens won’t say more than that. He’s questionable for today and touch and go moving forward. He needs more testing to find out exactly what’s wrong, but we’re all keeping our fingers crossed that he’ll avoid a concussion.
Tommy Wingels is out for “weeks” after suffering an LBI on Monday. We’ll miss you, Pickles!
Karri Ramo was activated from IR and the Flames are officially carrying three goalies. Ramo is probably last on the depth chart, but not by much, behind Jonas Hiller and the white hot defacto starter of the moment, Joni Ortio.
Mikkel Boedker is out for 4-6 weeks after successful surgery to remove his freakin’ spleen. That effectively ends his fantasy season but if he can get back in a month he’ll be able to contribute a bit for the fantasy playoffs. That said, stash him on IR for now unless you need the spot for more promising players. This truly bums me out, I love Boedker and he was on his way to having a solid, albeit unspectacular season on a horrible Arizona Coyotes team. That brings to mind another point; the ‘Yotes offense is going to suffer without Boedacious, so look for a slight downtick in production from your Coyotes.
Petr Mrazek, G (W, 34 SV, 4 GA, .895%) – Petey picked up the win but only after another third period meltdown. Going into the final period of play the Wings were settled in with a comfy 4-1 lead that Mrazek promptly surrendered and was forced to hold fort through OT and the SO to hold on for a 5-4 victory. He had a similar problem against the Blues and also looked bad against the Sabres in the first period of that matchup. That’s not all to say you should jettison Pete to the wire, but there are clearly some holes that need filling here and more time in the AHL will do well by Mrazek. He remains a must own while Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson are both on IR, though.
Darcy Kuemper, G (L, 14 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – Word had it the Wild were going to prescribe rest and a possible conditioning stint in the AHL for Kuemper over the All-Star Break, but Devan Dubnyk, G (6 SV, 4 GA, .600%) was shaky in his fourth straight start since being acquired by the team and got yanked in the second after coughing up four goals on ten shots. I’m not sure if Kuemper needs a conditioning stint after his performance last night, but we’ll see what the Wild do. There’s no telling who will lead the way in the Minnesota crease until after the ASB, so sit on both tenders until more games are played and the situation becomes more clear.
Teemu Pulkkinen, LW (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – It took Tay-moo six games to find the back of the net but he did so in grand fashion with a monster slapper from the slot reminiscent of Brett Hull. Despite the flash of brilliance the kid is on the Wings’ fourth line and barely getting ten minutes a game on the ice. He isn’t worth owning unless he works his way into the Wings’ top nine and starts getting more TOI. He’s worth a flier in the deepest keeper leagues, though.
Thomas Vanek, LW (1 G, 1 A, 6 SOG) – Last night was Vanek’s second two-point effort in his last five, but he’s put up zeros otherwise. That’s nothing new for Vanek in what became a lost season months ago. There is some positive news here; he’s still shooting at a paltry 8.8% which is nearly six points below his career average, so you can expect an uptick in goal scoring in the second half. Sadly for Vanek and his owners, that means he has an outside shot at 20 goals, but that’s the ceiling.
Gustav Nyquist, C (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – Nyquist has posted the exact same line for the last three games straight; one goal, one assist, two shots on goal. In two of the three games he was also a plus-2. All that gives him seven points (4 G, 3 A) over his last five and he seems to be thriving on the Wings’ second line with Riley Sheahan, C (2 SOG, -1) and Tomas Tatar, RW (1 SOG) lately.
Mikko Koivu, C (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – It seems like Koivu should have way, way better numbers than he does playing on the Wild’s top line with Zach Parise, LW (2 G, 8 SOG, +1) and Jason Pominville, RW (1 A, 2 SOG, +1), but if you thought that you’d think wrong. Despite a recent four game point streak his season line remains a mediocre 7/19/26/-2 in 46 games. I have little hope of even a decent second half from Mikko, but he is scoring lately, so he’s worth streaming at the moment.
Kari Lehtonen, G (L, 24 SV, 3 GA, .889%) – It seems Kari is focused on allowing at least three goals a game this season and he achieved his goals again and coughed up three more on 27 shots in a 3-1 loss to the B’s last night. You disgust me, Kari.
Tuukka Rask, G (W, 36 SV, 1 GA, .973%) – Here comes Tuukka with a string of solid starts as the Bruins defense is finally healthy and playing well again. Rask has won four of his last five starts and allowed just even goals over that span. I still don’t think he’ll be able to justify is ADP, but he’s definitely working those peripherals of his (2.37/.918%) back into respectable territory, slowly but surely.
Dougie Hamilton, D (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – Hambone isn’t scoring with a ton of consistency but he’s going to make his way into the 40-45 point range by the end of the season. He plays on the top pairing with Zdeno Chara, D (+2) and currently plays point as the only defenseman on their first power play unit, so there’s definitely room for solid production in the second half; I’d say you can expect about 6 more goals and another 18-20 points total moving forward.
Loui Eriksson, LW (1 G, 3 SOG) – With last night’s tally Loui has four points (2 G, 2 A) in his last five and is working his way towards a 20-goal, 50-55 point season for the B’s. That’s pretty solid considering his reduced role in Boston as compared to what he was asked to do in Dallas. If you bumped him to the top line he’d probably produce like he did in Dallas, or at least close to it, but that isn’t going to happen. Still, throw in a plus-10 and rising rating and 150 or more shots and you have yourself a skater well worth owning in most formats.
Antti Raanta, G (W, 35 SV, 1 GA, .972%) – Corey Crawford is slumping at the moment and it makes me wonder if his foot is 100% healed up or not. The All-Star Break should give Crawdad some more time to rest and heal and I expect him to come out of the gates hot in the second half. This blurb was supposed to be about Raanta, and it ended up being about Crawford. What does that tell you?
Mike Smith, G (L, 45 SV, 6 GA, .882%) – Wow, Smith stopped 45 shots last night, great game! Wow, Smith coughed up six goals last night, awful game!
Teuvo Teravainen, LW (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – Don’t look now but the rookie is starting to score a bit with three points (2 G, 1 A) in his last three games. He’s in the Chicago top nine while Kris Versteeg heals up playing on a line with Andrew Shaw, C (2 G, 8 SOG, +2) and Bryan Bickell, LW (2 A, +3). That unit seems to be finding some decent chemistry lately, too, with Bickell posting five points (1 G, 4 A) in his last five and Shaw contributing a couple of goals last night. In fact, this line put up half of the goals scored by the Hawks last night. Noice.
Ray Emery, G (W, 33 SV, 2 GA, .943%) – The Robb Zepp experiment is over for now and the Flyers rolled Emery out last night for a 3-2 OT victory over the Pens. I still wouldn’t own either goalie with your team.
Thomas Greiss, G (L, 37 SV, 3 GA, .925%) – Greasy filled in admirably for Flower last night, as per the usual, but couldn’t hold on in OT and took the loss. He’ll sit for another few weeks before sniffing the crease again, but should anything happen to Marc-Andre Fleury, Greasy will be a must own.
Beau Bennett, RW (1 G, 3 SOG) – Yeah, BeeBee scored a goal, but when is his next injury scheduled for? Inquiring minds want to know.
Ben Bishop, G (W, 27 SV, 1 GA, .964%) – Big Ben owns the Canucks and he owned them again last night pushing away 27 of 28 shots for the 4-1 win. He has some work to do before his bleh peripherals (2.34/.914%) are back into respectable territory, but it’s good to see him stand tall and look good for a full 60 minutes. I expect him to have a solid second half.
Victor Hedman, D (2 A, 1 SOG, +3) – If my Sun and Stars can stay healthy after the ASB, he’ll be a monstrous beast from the blue line once again and you can expect more games like this moving forward.
Ryan Miller, G (L, 22 SV, 3 GA, .880%) – I wouldn’t have guessed it if you asked me, but Miller has better numbers than Bishop does so far this season. I doubt I’ll say the same when the season wraps up, but for now, it is what it is. I like Miller in the second half, but I’m not in love.
Valtteri Filppula, C (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – Flip has had a rather strange season that has been filled with ups and downs. Down from the first line to the third, back up to the first, down to the second, up to the first, back down to the—well, you get the idea. His line position, like his play, has been all over the place but he seems to be back on the top line with Steven Stamkos, C (1 A, 2 SOG, 4 PIM, +1) and Ryan Callahan, RW (1 A, 2 SOG, +1) again and not surprisingly, he’s scoring. I expected a 65-point season from Flip but it looks like he’ll end up in the 55-point range instead. Sadface.
Carey Price, G (W, 36 SV, 1 GA, .973%) – Price is having another brilliant season and every year I go into drafts looking to grab him and every year he goes too early for my taste. At this rate he’ll have to be included in the Vezina conversation sporting a season line of 24-10-2/2.15/.929% in 36 games so far this season.
Carter Hutton, G (L, 25 SV, 2 GA, .926%) – Despite getting rocked by the Wings and yanked in the first period of his last game, the Preds rolled Hutton out again last night and despite looking much, much better he coughed up one too many and took the 2-1 loss. Hutton is going to be shaky going forward, but he’s the guy for the Preds while Pekka Rinne is out. I wouldn’t consider him an automatic start; try to deploy him in sheltered minutes against weak opponents if you can afford to sit him against better offenses.
Alex Galchenyuk, C (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – There was a lot of hype around Gally going into the season and he hasn’t lived up to it. That doesn’t mean I think he’s had a bad season so far, though. At his current pace he’s set to finish with more than 20 goals, close to 60 points with a solid plus/minus and around 175 shots on goal. That’s a solid sophomore season and If he can meet those totals before the end of the season I’m going to be all about him next year.
Viktor Fasth, G (W, 20 SV, 4 GA, .833%) – If you ignored the “W” at the front of this game line you’d have to expect it was a loser, but no, it was just the Oil’s starting goalie doing his usual thing. He coughed up four goals on just 24 shots but managed to hold on for the win because of the rare offensive outburst by his teammates. Gross.
Braden Holtby, G (L, 27 SV, 4 GA, .871%) – Holtby took the loss with better numbers than Fasth. Only in Edmonton.
Derek Roy, C (1 G, 2 SOG) – Some jagweed over at ESPN was talking about how people need to pick Roy up, and that he understands why owners would be shy about doing it, but can’t quite comprehend why Roy is available in so many leagues still. I’ll tell you. He’s terrible, so are the Oilers and coincidentally, so is ESPN. A marriage made in heaven!
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – I wonder what Nuge could do if he wasn’t stuck in Edmonton. He’d probably be a beast. As it is, he’s on pace to finish this season with more than 20 goals and 50 points on nearly 200 shots, and that’s on the Oil. Oh, what could have been?