What is it with Russians named Evgeny? Is there some sort of magic in the name? Maybe it’s the Vodka? Either way, Evgeny Kuznetsov (1 A, 2 SOG, even) has arrived and y’all best take notice as the kid has four points in his last two games and now plays on the second line for the Caps alongside Casey Wellman and Troy Brouwer. I know, those names don’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of their opponents but when you consider he just left the fourth line with Tom Wilson and Jay Beagle, it starts to sound a lot better, right? Either way, the initial chemistry Evgeny has with his teammates can’t be denied after back-to-back solid games on his new line. What’s better, he’s getting time on the Caps’ second power play unit and saw time with Alex Ovechkin. The only limit on Kuzentsov is Kuzentsov, and like many young Russians he’s passionate and highly skilled but who knows what that translates to over time. His weakness as defensive liability can cost him TOI at times, but most young offensively minded players suffer there and he’s improving steadily. His playmaking skills, however, are on par with Nicklas Backstrom’s (sans the PEDs, err, allergy meds!) and his wicked fake-slapper, slap-pass to Tom Wilson for a goal a few days ago against the Stars is evidence of that. He’s wildly creative with the puck, has soft hands, great vision and is an all around offensive force. He lacks strength, but that’s something he can improve on over time. It’s crunch time and there’s no reason to overthink snatching up a guy like Kuznetsov, so go get while the gettin’s good! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Dustin Byfuglien (2 G, 1 A, 7 SOG, +3) led a powerful Jets attack that piled up seven goa—wait, what did I just type? Powerful Jets attack? The end is surely nigh! Nay? Anyway, Big Buff has eight points over his last five with six goals. I wish the Jets could do this more often, or at least put up enough to keep Buff’s plus/minus, currently sitting at minus-15, a little higher. Still, for a guy eligible at D that can give you 65 points, I can overlook it.
Tobias Enstrom (1 G, 2 A, 1 SOG, +4) had easily his best game of the season and it might be the last. Not his last game, but his last game that will look half as good as this one. Enstrom has struggled all season failing to put up one month of play with double digit point totals, so, don’t expect much more
Blake Wheeler (4 A, 3 SOG, +3) seemed to be lynchpin to the Jets attack racking up four helpers for his troubles. The game left Wheeler at plus-four for the season, and you have to tip your cap to a guy who can manage a rating on the plus side playing in Winnipeg.
Jaroslav Halak (2 GA, 27 SV, W) must be ecstatic to not be stuck in Buffalo right now. I’m not just hating on the Sabres, they became the first team to be officially eliminated from the playoffs yesterday. Ouch. Well, Halak is going to end up the clear-cut starter for the Caps because Braden Holtby just can’t find much consistency and Halak has been exactly that everywhere he’s played.
Anton Khudobin (2 GA, 31 SV, L) got the nod because Cam Ward returned to his usual form and even though Anton wasn’t able to get the W, it wasn’t because he played poorly. It’s anyone’s guess who gets the next start, but I’ll put a few bucks down on Khudobin. The Canes have to know they have a much better chance to win with him in despite his recent stumbles.
Alex Burrows (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) is scoring like its four years ago, so go grab him where you can. I would, but I have a full lineup of guys I can’t drop right now and I’m on a bye week. I hate bye weeks, what is this, football? I’m against the bye week concept for top seeds in the league; it’s boring and really serves no purpose. Bleh, says I to the bye! Anyway, he’s not going to the box as much as he used to, but that hasn’t stopped him from laying 12 hits over his last four games.
Nicklas Jensen (1 G, 1 SOG, +2) is playing with the surging Alex Burrows and cashing in with three points (2 G, 1 A) in his first five games in the NHL. The young sniper has a nose for the net but finds his greatest strength in his explosive acceleration and the crazy speed that follows. He sports a nice pair of hands, too, as evidenced by the nasty one-timer he put over Roberto Luongo’s shoulder and then later the nice knee-dip wrister that beat Lu, and the Cats, for the 4-3 W in the SO. While Burrows is scoring Jensen probably will be too, so he’s worth a look in most formats.
Wayne Simmonds (2 G, 1 A, 6 SOG, even) scored both of his goals in the first period and seems to have some solid chemistry with Claude Giroux, which means nothing but good things for Simmonds owners, but that’s nothing new for a guy who has put up 25 points in his last 27 games.
Roberto Luongo (3 GA, 29 SV, L) was extremely happy to be going back to Florida, but it must be for the sun, because he hasn’t done a whole hell of a lot in net since rejoining his beloved Cats. When he first played in Florida he was young and ridiculously talented and he could stand up to the onslaught of shots he faced night-in-night-out and it made him a valuable fantasy asset. These days he’s old, albeit still ridiculously talented, and his value is plummeting fast.
Eddie Lack (3 GA, 26 SV, W) has alternated from win to loss over the last six games, so if you can say anything about his play since he took over the starters job from the departed Roberto Luongo, it’s that he’s consistent! Believe it or not, Lack is more valuable than Lu. I don’t know if that’s an insult or a compliment to either guy.
Marian Hossa (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG, +2) returned to the lineup after a five game absence to find he’d lost his spot on the top line with Jonathan Toews to Brandon Saad but that didn’t even last the game as Hossa put up three points in the victory. In the end, Saad and Patrick Sharp head to the third line and Hossa played with Toews and Kris Versteeg.
Patrick Sharp (1 A, 7 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) has been dropped to the third line in a surprising move. On the Hawks the third line is more like most other teams’ second line, so it’s not that bad, but it is quite the fall from playing with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa to Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw. It hurts his value, but the lines are getting shuffled in Chicago like whoa, so it could be back to normal by next game. Cue Yackety Sax, y’all!
Joel Ward (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +1) scored his goal on a sweet tasty cake of a pass from Dustin Penner and it held up as the game winner. That gives Ward four points in his last four games, but don’t expect this to be the start of anything major from a guy who will be lucky to crack the 50-point marker this season. Still, he might pot 25 goals, so he retains some value in most formats.
Troy Brouwer (2 G, 5 SOG, +1) might also score 25 goals this season despite being otherwise not worth owning in most formats. He’s on pace to finish with 24 goals and 17 assists, so I will dub him the poor man’s Max Pacioretty.
Jimmy Hayes (2 G, 3 SOG, +1) didn’t get much of a chance to shine behind all the talent in Chicago, but now that he plays for the Cats he’s getting an opportunity to get more TOI and lucky for the Cats, he’s on a tear with eight points in his last nine games. Hayes is your prototypical power forward; big, fast, strong and he showed decent nose for the net in the AHL. His numbers before this point were completely horrible, he’s actually not a bad streaming option in H2H leagues now that he’s got room to roam.
Justin Schultz (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, even) would be one of my favorite young fantasy defensemen, but here we are, and there he is. Sadface. Dustin Byfuglien might be able to make up for his poor plus/minus, but Shultz doesn’t hasn’t put those kind of numbers up yet, and I doubt he can. The five or six points he has left to give his owners are going to be offset by the minus-5 or 6 that comes with it. Yar.
James Reimer (3 GA, 29 SV, L) isn’t going to start many more games playing like this, but it won’t really matter either way because Jonathan Bernier’s injury isn’t considered serious, so he’ll be back sometime next week it sounds.
Jordan Staal (1 G, 7 SOG, +1) has been horrible most of the season save for two stretches; December and right now, and right now he’s as hot as he can be with eight points in his last five games. Staal is only owned in 58% of ESPN leagues and 45% of Yahoo leagues, so here’s another stellar streaming option for you H2H folks. I know I’ve added him in a few leagues.
Duncan Keith (2 A, 1 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) tallied a few more helpers. Stop the presses.
Matt Read (1 G, 4 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) has five points in his last five games with three goals in his last two. He’s got a chance at 25 goals with a handful of assists and what the hell is it with all of these 25 goals, 15 assist guys? Who is assisting on all of these goals if everyone has more goals than assists?! I’m bad at math, help!
Evander Kane (1 G, 6 SOG, +1) scored his first goal since effin’ January and will finish this season a complete bust. It will be hard to recommend him next year given that he’s apparently made of glass and streaky as hell. Evander, welcome to my doghouse, you can have a seat next to Bobby Ryan.
Logan Couture (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) scored the lone goal in a 1-0 victory over the Rangers at the Garden yesterday. This was a ridiculous goal, and not ridiculous on that Tomas Tatar from a few days ago way, like he was nearly on his ass and backhanded by Henrik Lundqvist. That extends Couture’s scoring streak to four games with goals in back-to-back. He’s going to keep scoring as the season winds down, so enjoy the ride now that he’s 100% healthy.
Michael Frolik (1 G, 3 SOG, +2) has points in four straight now but I can’t in good conscience recommend that you add any Jet that might be available on the wire. He’s a flier for a decent streaming option, but if you’re going for Frolik, you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel. Just look at yourself! How low can you go?
Jason Chimera (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) actually has seven points in his last nine games and might be worth streaming in some formats. It’s hard to believe I’d recommend him, but hey, points are points. I know, I know, I just laid into Frolik saying almost the exact opposite, but, uh, poetic license? Yeah, that’s it.
Semyon Varlamov (1 GA, 38 SV, W) nearly had the shutout but Clarke MacArthur broke that up with just six seconds left, leaving Varlamov with a 3-1 victory. That’s fine, says Semyon, who shares the league lead of 34 with Marc-Andre Fleury.
Dustin Tokarski (0 GA, 29 SV, W) wasn’t expected to see any time in the NHL this season, but injuries open up opportunities and Tokarski is making the best of his, that’s for sure. He’s young, inexperienced, has a small frame and plays behind Carey Price, so his value is going to be quite limited. That being said, there’s apparently some mystery ailment that is hampering Price, so keep an eye on that because who knows, if Price does miss any time Tokarksi could streak and help carry you along with the Habs.
Ben Scrivens (1 GA, 29 SV, W) allowed ten goals over his last two games before settling back down to hold the Canes to just one goal on 30 shots. Oh, Scribbles, you’re in for a long couple seasons in Edmonton. I, of course, wouldn’t own any Oiler goalies and I can’t recommend you do the same unless dire circumstances require such measures.
Henrik Lundqvist (1 GA, 28 SV, L) was his usual Kingly sharp self before and after Logan Couture’s nonsense, but still pretty sweet goal. Hank is going to get ridden hard down the stretch as the Rangers vie for a playoff spot in the east, and it couldn’t be coming at a better time for his owners.
Al Montoya (2 GA, 25 SV, W) won his first game since February second, which would be horrible if it wasn’t for the fact that he’s only had four starts between then and now. Ugh, that’s even worse! A shame he’s not getting more playing time, but there has been this doubt that has hung around Montoya everywhere he’s been since his UM days that he just can’t handle the workload of a starter. I guess we’ll never know!
Jhonas Enroth (2 GA, 20 SV, L) lost… again. I really feel for the guy, he played well and only allowed two goals but that was too much for the Sabres to overcome. Enroth’s holy horrible record line now sits at 4-17-5. Ouch.
Steve Mason (3 GA, 20 SV, W) was able to escape with this win because Sidney Crosby’s backhand hit the post after Olli Maatta hit him with a pretty sweet pass. I’m talking about the guys who nearly beat Mason than Mason when I should be talking about Mason for a reason. I’m not a fan of Mason.