Back in April 2013 the Washington Capitals were interested in adding some veteran help for a playoff push. The Nashville Predators had some help in the form of Martin Erat and so they struck a deal. Erat went to the Caps and Filip Forsberg (1 G, 2 A, 5 SOG) came over to the Preds in a package deal. At the time no one really batted an eye, but now all eyes are wide open watching “Fil the Thrill” roll through opponents night after night on his way to one of the best starts a rookie forward has had in years. I honestly didn’t see this coming, but after he posted just 34 points in 47 games in the AHL last year, honestly, who did? His preseason was stellar, but preseason means squat and I figured he was just playing hard against weak competition to earn himself a roster spot like any respectable rookie. The last I saw of Fil he was easy to knock of the puck, undersized, lacking strength and looking overwhelmed playing North American hockey, but clearly he had some skill. Oh my how things have changed. With a deceptively awkward but quick wrister at his disposal Fil stretched his point steak to seven games with the three-point effort last night. What’s more, he has a six game goal-scoring streak mixed in and 12 points (7 G, 5 A) over that span. He’s currently on the top line with James Neal (1 A, 2 SOG, +2) and Mike Ribeiro (1 SOG, +2) and that’s a good place to be. He hasn’t just been good, he’s been dominant and his line has outscored opponents 13-1 at even strength so far. The downside here, yes there’s a downside, is that there’s really no chance he can keep this scoring pace up. You know that. You don’t want to admit it, but he will. The upside there is that he’ll fall from dominant to thrilling, retaining tons of value all season long. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Semyon Varlamov (W, 30 SV, 3 GA, .909%) – He may have earned a victory against the Rangers last night but he coughed up three more goals doing it. He’s given up 19 goals in his last five games pushing away just 159 of 178 shots he’s faced for a mediocre .893 SV% over that span. I don’t expect things to get better fast, but I don’t think he’ll get any worse, either. That’s really comforting to his owners, I know.
Henrik Lundqvist (L, 26 SV, 3 GA, .897%) – It was a late power play that undid Hank’s good effort here. He took the loss and allowed three goals doing it, but he played better than his line. He’s fine.
Matt Duchene (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – Oh man, a Matt Duchene sighting! You don’t know how lucky you are, because this is a rare treat for fantasy owners and Avs fans alike! You may not see him again for a few weeks, so savor the moment; Matt Duchenes are notoriously shy in their natural environment. In all seriousness, I think Duchene will get back on track sooner than later. He was talking before the game about how the Avs need to get angry and just make it happen instead of looking like “deer in headlights” out there. Then he put his money where his mouth was and scored a goal and tallied a helper. Stay angry, Matty!
Nathan MacKinnon (1 G, 3 SOG, -1) – While I think Duchene is going to start scoring regularly sooner than later, and may have started with last night’s solid game against the Rangers, I’m still a bit worried about MacKinnon. He’s looking better, but the Avs are generally still a mess and he’s still very young, so he could finish the year around 60 points again. That’s solid, but perhaps not quite solid enough to match his ADP.
Alex Tanguay (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – How about this guy, eh? He must have bought some of that fountain o’ youth juice from Patrick Marleau because he’s doing a lot better than I would have expected with 10 points in 18 games so far. He has three goals in his last four games and there’s a pretty solid chance he’ll be good for 20-plus goals this year.
Dan Girardi (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – Usually Girardi finds most of his value in the hits and blocks that he racks up every season like it’s his job, because it’s his damn job and he does it well. I seriously doubt you can expect much more than 20-25 points from him, but you can bet he’ll deliver 200 hits and 170 blocks. He might even hit the century mark in shots again this season, too.
Derek Stepan (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – Steps has returned from his broken leg in style with four points in his first four games this season. Derick Brassard (-1, 2 SOG) seems to have settled in on the top line between Rick Nash (1 A, 4 SOG, +1) and Martin St. Louis (1 SOG) for the time being so Steps has spent his time on a line with Chris Kreider (-1, 2 SOG) and Mats Zuccarello (1 A, 3 SOG) and so far they’ve clicked. Don’t worry though, whether he’s on the first or second line really makes no matter, he’s going to produce.
Mike Hutchinson (W, 22 SV, 1 GA, .957%) – Hutch has seen limited work, but he was always going to see limited work because the Jets love some Ondrej Pavelec. To be fair, Pavs has been pretty good so far, but I doubt it will last. I also doubt Hutchinson’s good play will last either, but he might be worth owning in the deepest of the deep leagues where there’s almost nothing left on the wire, including the backups.
Cam Ward (L, 34 SV, 2 GA, .944%) – After winning five straight on the heels of opening the season with four straight losses Ward has returned to the losing ways he had become accustomed to in recent years with a 3-1 loss to the Jets. Yes, the Jets, who currently sit at 29th in the league in goals per game with a paltry 1.8. I noted that his win streak came at the expense of some weak teams, so it will be interesting to see how he handles the Preds, Wings, Blues and Wild over the next week plus. I figure he’ll handle them poorly.
Blake Wheeler (2 G, 6 SOG, +2) – Lots of people wanted to drop Wheels early on, and despite the Jets still barely being able to score a goal, here he is with two of his own. He has six points in his last five games and he’s now on pace for around 35 goals and 60 points. I still think he can hit both marks. The time to buy low on him is starting to close, y’all!
Elias Lindholm (1 G, 2 SOG) – Last night’s tally gives him three goals in his last four games and six goals overall. A 30-goal season might be a bit out of reach, but I’d say he’s a safe bet to reach for 25 with around 50 points this year. Lindholm has all the tools and it seems like he’s starting to get it together this season so don’t let him waste away on the wire. If he’s available in your league, add him now.
Carey Price (W, 21 SV, 1 GA, .955%) – After three straight solid to great games I think it’s safe to say that the Price is right again. I never lost faith. Did you?
Niklas Svedberg (29 SV, 5 GA, .853%) – It was bound to happen eventually and with how the Boston defense has been playing of late I’m not surprised, but Svedberg was bombed for five goals on 34 shots by the Habs last night. Predictably the Bs didn’t roll Tuukka Rask out against his old nemesis but Svedberg couldn’t handle the load, either. At any rate, Svedberg is a rookie so there are going to be ups and downs. Rask is too good to stay this bad for very long, so sit tight.
Dougie Hamilton (1 G, 2 SOG, -3) – When Zdeno Chara went down there was a lot of speculation as to which Boston defenseman would step up and fill the void. My vote was for Torey Krug but then he went and hurt himself, too. Hambone was a close second and though it took a few games, he has five points in his last five games with two goals. I’d call that picking up the slack, eh? Add him if you can.
Max Pacioretty (2 G, 5 SOG, +2) – Maximilian has three points in his last four games and is on pace for 40 goals. That’s exactly correct. Continue being correct, Max.
Jiri Sekac (1 G, 1 SOG) – I’m not a huge fan of Jiri and I don’t think his scoring will continue. He seems to have developed some solid chemistry with Lars Eller (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) who has goals in three straight games himself. Sekac is lacking top-six minutes and the scoring touch to justify a promotion so I don’t think there’s a lot of value here long term. With that said, anyone who is scoring is fair game to stream in deeper leagues and either guy is worth a flier while they’re putting the biscuit in the basket on the reg.
Antti Niemi (W, 32 SV, 1 GA, .970%) – One good game and everyone thinks that Niemi has re-solidified himself as the starter with backup Alex Stalock out for 2-4 weeks after minor knee surgery yesterday. I say nay to that line of thinking, though. NAY. Just give Niemi a handful more games over the next few weeks and I’m almost sure he’ll put up more mediocre efforts than solid ones, and when Stalock comes back he’ll be right back in the same position he was the other day; poised with another opportunity to carve out more playing time for himself. IR Stalock and don’t drop him unless you have to, the Sharks didn’t sign Niemi to a long term deal for a reason.
Ben Bishop (L, 37 SV, 2 GA, .949%) – Last night marks back to back games where Bishop faced 39 shots and pushed 37 of them away. He looks great; we just want wins to go with these awesome efforts. I’m just glad he’s lost the threes disease. That shiz was bugging me.
Joe Thornton (1 G, 1 SOG) – Jumbo is getting lucky with the goals lately, it won’t last. That said, he looks fantastic yet again and he’ll keep dishing out the biscuit at the same rate as he always has.
Steven Stamkos (1 G, 2 SOG) – You know he’s going to score 50 goals, but I’m not sure he’s going to make it to the century mark in points because he’s not really a pass first kind of guy (No kidding?) and he lacks real finishers on his line. That plus/minus is a potmark on an otherwise glowing season line, too. I’ve watched the Bolts enough to know that his rating will rise, especially when Victor Hedman gets back in the lineup, which should be soon. Right? Please let that be right.
Niklas Backstrom (W, 25 SV, 1 GA, .962%) – Backs had to come in to spell Darcy Kuemper (0 SV, 2 GA, .000%) who coughed up two goals on two shots and was removed basically as soon as the game started. It was clearly the right call as the Wild went on to win 6-3 with Backstrom leading the way allowing just one goal on 26 shots. There was never any question that Backstorm is talented, he’s just old and fragile. It’s going to come down to Kuemper and Josh Harding at some point and I think Harding ends up winning out, but Kuemper will still have his opportunities. Remember, he’s young, and when he started the season with three shutouts in four games he set expectations unreasonably high. He’s a talented young goalie and he’s going to have ups and downs, this is a down. Way down.
Jhonas Enroth (L, 33 SV, 5 GA, .868%) – The countdown to drafting Connor McDavid has begun. The road will be sad, bumpy and painful. Sounds like prom night! Lets hope the payoff is worth it. It was on prom night, anyway.
Kyle Brodziak (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – Cool story, bro!
Nino Niederreiter (3 G, 5 SOG, +1) – Nino with the hatty! He started slow but this young winger is talented. He lays the boom with solid frequency, so you can count on the hits flowing, but the scoring touch is no fluke. He should end up with 25-30 goals and has enough upside to hit the 30-goal marker by season’s end.
Jared Spurgeon (1 G, 8 SOG) – He’s back from a shoulder injury and wasted no time getting on the score sheet with a goal. It’s hard to say what the diminutive rearguard will do this year, but he does spend his time on the top pairing with Ryan Suter (1 A, 4 SOG) and gets decent time on the power play, so he should be owned everywhere.
Jake Allen (W, 22 SV, 3 GA, .880%) – That’s two games in a row now that Allen has allowed three goals, but he still managed to get the win in both thanks to a high powered Blues offense. Overall he’s looked fantastic with a season line of 5-1-0/1.67/.933% in six starts so far this season. If Brian Elliott gets hurt or falls down in the second half, Allen will be right there to pick up the pieces as expected.
Pekka Rinne (L, 23 SV, 4 GA, .852%) – He had to have a bad game eventually.
Vladimir Tarasenko (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – Speaking of seven game point streaks, with yet another goal Vladdy extended his to seven as well. I was all about this kid from the moment I saw him on amateur ice a few years ago and touted him loudly last season for all to hear. I didn’t expect him to go from zero to 120 mph like he has, but hey, that works for me. If you were lucky/smart/believed me enough to draft him in a keeper league, enjoy the ride.
Roman Josi (1 G, 2 A, 1 SOG) – The Preds are killing it right now and Josi is quietly part of the spree with five points in his last four games. After a rough start that saw him post just three points in 10 games in October he’s rebounded in November. He’s now on pace for around 40-plus points, 10-plus goals, and the value that was expected of him before the season started. Folks asked me frequently if they should drop him and I said no and this is why.
Shea Weber (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – What’s wrong with Weber? Nothing! You’re just impatient. He’ll get it going and finish the year exactly where we expect him to be. Take deep breaths. Serenity now!
Paul Stastny (1 G, 1 SOG) – Most of us had high hopes for Stas when he left the Avs for the Blues, but so far he’s been pretty yawnstipating. Yeah, he’s been hurt, but what else is new? So far he’s on pace for just 45 or so points and that makes me sadface. Considering his place in the top-six and just how ridiculous the Blues offense can be, I’d expect him to get going sooner than later. He’s a great buy-low candidate.
T.J. Oshie (1 G, 2 SOG, -1) – It’s a good sign that Oshie put the biscuit in the basket in his first game back after a concussion cost him seven games. I figure Oshie should still be on track for 50-60 points and 20 goals despite missing time with a dinged up noodle.
Jonas Hiller (W, 20 SV, 3 GA, .870%) – I didn’t think Hiller would maintain the lofty bar he set for himself in October and sure enough he hasn’t. After posting a .941 SV% in October he’s barely keeping the puck out of the net in November sporting a .893 SV% and I don’t think he’s going to get much better as the season goes on. The time to sell high on him was last month, but there’s still value to move here. If you own him and you’re hoping for a return to October form, you’re kidding yourself. Sell high-ish before you can’t sell at all.
Mike Smith (L, 20 SV, 5 GA, .800%) – Heh, Mike Smith.
Sean Monahan (1 G, 3 SOG, +3) – Last night’s goal gives Monahan four goals in his last five points with five points total over that span. Right now he’s on pace to surpass 30 goals which would surprise me, but seeing him finish the season anywhere in the 20s is expected. Considering how good the Flames offense appears to be this year, I’d expect Monahan to finish with 50-plus points and I’d buy that for dollar!
Mark Giordano (1 G, 6 SOG, +1) – For as much as I know about hockey and fantasy hockey to boot I did not see this coming. Mark Giordano is the top defenseman in fantasy hockey so far this year with 20 points in 18 games so far. Erik Karlsson he is not, so I don’t expect him to keep up better than a point-per-game pace, but a 60 point season seems pretty likely from the new top fantasy rearguard. If you were lucky or smart enough to draft him enjoy the incredible value he’s bringing relative to his ADP.
David Jones (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – Jones has goals in three straight games now and while I seriously doubt he’s going to keep this up, he does spend most of his time on a line with Sean Monahan so that bodes well for at least some production from the little owned, rugged winger. If you’re desperate in deep leagues he’s worth a flier right now, but the scoring will likely stop suddenly and for long stretches, so don’t get your hopes up.
Craig Anderson (W, 34 SV, 3 GA, .919%) – It pains me to see Anderson playing well. It won’t last.
Ben Scrivens (L, 26 SV, 4 GA, .867%) – Oof, poor Scribbles, playing for the Oil just doesn’t flatter you, mate. He’s not a bad goalie per se, he’s not a great goalie either. A great goalie would look bad on the Oil, though. Like the Sabres netminders you shouldn’t own either of them.
Jordan Eberle (1 G, 6 SOG, -1) – Ebes quietly plods along towards a 60-point season and that’s about what you should have expected from him. If he goes on a solid run at one point he could push 70 points. He’s the type of guy that you draft, set him in your lineup and keep him there all season and when you win the guys you beat look at your lineup and think “He beat me with that guy?! Come on!” This is what you want.
Alex Chaisson (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – I didn’t expect Chase to even hit the 45-point marker this season, but right now he’s on pace for 50 or more. I still don’t think he’ll hit the 45-point marker this season. That plus/minus is going to get worse before it gets better, too.
Kari Lehtonen (W, 27 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – Back on track with a shutout of the Kings. That’s not exactly a tough game as the Kings offense has been woeful so far, but a shutout is a shutout and Kari looked solid. He should be fine moving forward despite the early season struggles. The entire Dallas team seems to be in a bit of disarray, so that doesn’t help Kari much at all.
Martin Jones (L, 25 SV, 2 GA, .926%) – Jones could end up being one of the most valuable guys on the wire if Jon Quick gets hurt again like he did last year. Even in losses he maintains his poise and keeps the Kings in it.
Jason Spezza (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – With points in three straight games and a goal last night Spaz is right where you’d hope he would be with 15 points in 16 games played so far. Granted, a lot of those points came in a bunch when he was playing with Jaime Benn (1 A, 2 SOG, +1) and Tyler Seguin (1 A, 2 SOG, +1) and wouldn’t you know it, last night he scored his goal on a line with the same two guys. It seems like it’s probably in the Stars’ best interest to keep that group together. Balance scmalance.