So for the past week your boy JD has been felled by some seriously ebola level flu and I apologize for the lapse in updates, but damnit I was nearly on my deathbed. Not really, but it sucked like Craig Anderson trying to tend net, so I demand your sympathy and understanding. Since I’m demanding it, I suppose I should offer some sympathy and understanding to Ben Bishop (W, 17 SV, 3 GA, .850%) but my patience is starting to run a bit thin. Yes, the clock struck three on Big Ben again and his numbers continue to slide ever so slowly towards the bleh end of the spectrum. After last night he’s sitting at a mediocre 9-1-1 / 2.44 / .910%. That’s not terrible, yet, but it’s slowly getting there and despite the sparkling record Bishop has allowed three goals in six of his last eight starts. The other two games he allowed two goals a pop. That’s not what you expect from your number one goalie and a guy expected to be a top five option in the crease for fantasy owners this year. If there’s a positive spin to this it’s that he hasn’t allowed more than three goals all year, but that’s little solace at the moment for his owners in roto leagues who are watching their ratios get rocked slowly but surely. The Bolts allow just 27.4 shots per game, so this isn’t a defensive problem, it’s a Bishop problem and he needs to solve it soon. I haven’t seen any signs of his surgically repaired wrist being the issue here, so lets just think happy thoughts (serenity now!) and expect that there are better days ahead for the young tender. If nothing else, he has absolutely no risk of losing his starting job with the woeful Evgeni Nabokov backing him up. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey this weekend:
Evgeni Nabokov (W, 28 SV, 4 GA, .875%) – Speaking of the woeful Nabby, he was staked to a four-zip lead in the first period and did everything he could to allow the completely destroyed by injury Blue Jackets back into this game. Luckily for him the Bolts offense was on point and notched seven goals to secure the win, but if Nabby keeps this up he might lose his backup job to, uh, I don’t know… me? You? My cat? We’re all probably better options at this point.
Ryan Johansen (1 G, 1 A, 6 SOG) – Who needs a healthy team around him to get it done? Joey don’t.
Jimmy Howard (L, 27 SV, 3 GA, .900%) – Howie looks good even when he loses this season, for serial. He’s been so baller this season he’s allowed more than two goals just three times in 12 starts so far this season. The Wings D is beastly and allows a platry 26.8 shots per game, good for fourth best in the league. All signs to Howie continuing his stellar season and if he keeps it up he should contend for the Vezina by season’s end. Next season I’ll rank him high, draft him, and he’ll be terrible.
Tyler Johnson (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Last night’s tally gives Johnson six points (4 G, 2 A) in his last four games. Most expected the Ryan Callahan (2 A, 2 SOG, 2 PIM), Steven Stamkos (2 G, 3 SOG), whoever is lucky enough to play with Stammer line to be the Bolts’ top scoring unit, but at the moment their second line seems to pack a bigger punch. Johnson plays pivot on the Bolts’ second power play unit, so he’s getting chances with the man advantage and that should help the points continue to flow. I don’t think he’s going to score 90 points this year, so expect a cold spell and a bit of regression in the future, but maintaining a near point-per-game pace isn’t out of the question for him this season.
Johan Franzen (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – Don’t look now, but The Mule has four points in his last four games playing on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg (-1, 4 SOG) and Gustav Nyquist (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG). The lines are shuffled a bit right now due to Pavel Datsyuk’s latest injury, but one way or the other Franzen finds time on that top line. He’s going to get hurt because he plays a physical game, but while he’s on a streak you should absolutely get him in your lineup.
Niklas Kronwall (2 A, 2 SOG, +1) – Kronner has three points in his last two games and is currently on pace for a whopping 66 by season’s end. I doubt he breaks the 60-point marker, but 50+ is absolutely in the books barring injury, so mark it down. That’s not to say he can’t find his way to a 60-point season, though. The talent is there and he’s become the Wings’ primary scoring option on the back end.
Viktor Fasth (W, 20 SV, 1 GA, .952%) – Fasth wasn’t really tested in this one being asked to push away just 21 shots and shame on the Rangers for allowing that to pass. The Oil out played the Rangers in almost every aspect of the game and Fasth benefitted from a relatively easy game. I wouldn’t own either oil tender unless I was desperate, but this game marks a good showing in back-to-back starts for Fasth who could start to fight starter Ben Scrivens for more ice time.
Henrik Lundqvist (L, 30 SV, 2 GA, .938%) – Hank was the best player on the ice for the Rangers, but that’s almost always the case. He stood tall for the Rangers who were unable to score to support his effort. His GAA is coming down a bit and his SV% is on the rise, but both are moving slowly. While the Rangers defensive woes continue, Hank will continue to struggle more than we’re used to, but from everything I’ve seen he’s just fine.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (1 G, 1 A, 5 SOG) – Last night’s two points give The Nuge four points in his last four and 10 points in 13 games so far this season. The bulked up Nuge is starting to hit his stride and I can see him hitting the 60 point marker this year, especially if he keeps it up when explosive winger Taylor Hall returns to the lineup sometime next month.
James Reimer (W, 38 SV, 3 GA, .927%) – The time share between Reimer and Jonathan Bernier is going to start to favor Reimer if he keeps playing like this and by this I mean a lot better than Bernier has been. The Leafs love to cough up shots by the bucket, so both goalies are going to get peppered, but it seems like Reimer is handling the load better so far this season. He’s worth a speculative add in most leagues if you can afford the space and in deep leagues he’s a must own.
Robin Lehner (L, 25 SV, 5 GA, .833%) – Oof, that’s nine goals allowed in his last two starts and his peripherals are spiraling out of control. With play like this he’s never going to usurp Craig Anderson. Sadface.
David Clarkson (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – Hey look! Clarkson is still alive and wouldn’t you know it, he’s doing something for that huge salary the Leafs have to pay him. Shocking, I know.
James van Reimsdyk (1 G, 3 SOG, -1) – JVR has points in all five games he’s played this this month and looks good across the board save his plus/minus, which sits at minus-3 so far and won’t be getting much better as the season rolls on. He’s going to get his 35 goals, though.
Kyle Turris (1 G, 3 SOG, -3) – Turris continues to disappoint, but with his supporting cast can you really blame him? His plus/minus is going to stay bleh and I don’t really see him matching his career best of 58 points last season again this year. Honestly, there’s so much talent at center there’s no reason to hold him if there’s someone better on the wire or you’d get more value using his roster slot to stream other guys.
Eddie Lack (W, 28 SV, 1 GA, .966%) – Ryan Miller was bombed by the Kings last game and Lack came in to steady the ship, but the game was lost already. Still, he was good enough to earn a start here and performed well pushing 28 of 29 shots away to down the Ducks 2-1 in the SO. There is no risk of Miller losing his job to Lack despite the solid effort.
Frederik Andersen (W, 34 SV, 1 GA, .971%) – Even when he loses he only gives up a goal or two. Dude is the real deal for anyone who still doubts it. With John Gibson out for another month or so there’s absolutely no questioning Andersen as the starter. Even when Gibsy does come back, I see no change coming. That said, Andersen is due to regress a bit, there’s no way he can maintain a 1.56 GAA and .943 SV%, so expect some less than stellar starts sooner than later.
Alexandre Burrows (1 G, 5 SOG, +1) – Burrows was one of those guys who could give you 25 goals and 100+ PIM once upon a time, but he slowly degraded until his utter disaster of a season last year that saw him post just 15 points in 49 games. So far this season he has eight points in 13 games and I’m willing to bet he’ll hit at least 40 point marker this year, with around 85 PIM to boot. What’s that mean? It means he’s worth owning in lots of leagues, y’all!
Sami Vatanen (1 G, 5 SOG, +1) – Little Sami keeps cranking away with three points in his last three games, and he potted a goal last night to boot! That gives him four on the season and honestly I wondered if he could even reach that mark at the start of the season. He’ll continue to score points at a decent clip, but I don’t think he’s the second coming that some seem to.
Corey Crawford (W, 32 SV, 2 GA, .941%) – When Crawdad went down for a short time with a minor injury and Scott Darling came up and performed well all of the sudden there were calls to trade Crawford and promote Darling to split time with Antti Raanta. No, I’m not kidding. To those who doubt Crawdad I have only this to say; y’all cray.
Antti Niemi (L, 32 SV, 4 GA, .889%) – Believe it or not, Alex Stalock has better numbers than Niemi does. Granted, he’s started fewer games, but despite his recent struggles I’m wondering if this should still be the case in San Jose. This loss marks two in a row for Neimi whose season line now sits at 6-4-1/2.68/.915% and that’s, well, meh. If Stalock gets some consistent starts he could perform well enough to earn back some of his lost time, or he just has to let Niemi continue to fall down like this. Either way, Stalock will get more chances.
Alex Stalock (W, 37 SV, 3 GA, .925%) – Speaking of Alex Stalock, he held the high-powered Stars offense to three goals. In fact, he held nearly the entire Stars offense to no goals, it was just Tyler Seguin (37 SV, 3 GA, .925%) who potted a hatty on him, otherwise he was solid. This game on the back of Niemi’s recent bleh play may translate into more chances for Stalock in the near future. Don’t give up on him yet!
Joe Pavelski (2 G, 5 SOG) – The Sharks lose but that doesn’t stop Pavs from getting his. He has six points in his last five games, but lackluster defensive play by the Sharks is costing him in the plus/minus department. Despite his 15 points in 16 games played he’s barely even at plus-2 so far. I think the Sharks offense is too good for that number to dip too far into the minus, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.
Brent Seabrook (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – Seabrook is quickly becoming one of the best all around defensemen in the league. With last night’s goal he’s on pace for 16 goals and 38 points and that’d be good enough, but in leagues that count hits and blocks his value jumps even higher. I’d buy that for a dollar!
Darcy Kuemper (L, 27 SV, 4 GA, .871%) – That’s two bad games in a row for Kuemps but don’t panic, he had to regress a bit after a white hot start to the season that saw him pitch three shutouts in October. There’s going to be some ups and downs here as he’s still young, don’t forget that and panic and deal him if he doesn’t right the ship right away. For now he has the starter’s gig in Minnesota locked down though it’s worth noting that Josh Harding has been moved to IR, so he’s worth grabbing and stashing if you have room.
Carey Price (W, 30 SV, 1 GA, .968%) – After coughing up a whopping ten goals in his last two starts Price gets back on track with a solid performance holding the high octane Wild to just one goal. The Habs allow the ninth most shots per game in the league (31.7) so Carey should keep getting a lot of work and it’s going to keep going either way with him. I figure he has to get better and more consistent sooner than later, but maybe that knee he injured in the playoffs last season isn’t quite right yet.
Steve Mason (W, 36 SV, 3 GA, .923%) – That’s three straight wins in three straight starts for Mason who actually looks halfway decent lately. Granted, two of those games came against the Cats, so take the stretch with a grain of salt. I know, I know, the Cats aren’t as terrible as we all expected, but lets face it, they’re still not very good and if half of your good starts in a four game stretch come against them it’s worth noting.
Marian Gaborik (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – He’s alive! And scored a goal! And he’ll get injured in T-minus three, two, one…
Anze Kopitar (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – He’s alive! And scored a goal! And his value seems to be tied directly to the performance or presence of Marian Gaborik? Oh noes, y’all!
Tyler Toffoli (1 G, 2 A, 4 SOG) – I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop here and Toffoli keeps holding it above my head. He has to regress eventually, right? Right.
Sidney Crosby (5 A, 2 SOG, +3) – Sid is truly great so this isn’t a huge shocker, but holy hell the Sabres are terrible.