It seems like every season there’s one or two breakout goalies that can help make the difference between winning and losing when it counts the most. This season is no exception, and though John Gibson’s strong play is a surprise to no one, Andrew Hammond, G (L, 36 SV, 2 GA, .947%) has been a revelation. Though the two net minders couldn’t be more different; Gibson with his blue chip pedigree and ceiling as high as the sky and Hammond, a 27-year-old no-name never-has-been with a ceiling about as high as my living room’s, both goalies have been hot enough to earn the right to split time with their respective team’s starters making them both most owns in virtually every league.
Hammond wasn’t out played by much and took the hard luck 3-2 loss in the shootout pushing away 36 of 38 shots in the process last night, but it shouldn’t cost him a start, yet. He’s been a revelation since taking over for the injured Robin Lehner who was filling in for the injured Craig Anderson, who has since been activated from the IR. Now that Anderson is back he’s going to get some starts, but the Sens would be crazy to sit Ham for too long considering how well he’s played so far. Anderson quipped in an interview recently “I wouldn’t play me, either…” when asked about his status. Anderson and I are finally on the same page! For now roll with Hammond, the Sens sure as hell are, but don’t count on him to carry you deep into the playoffs. On the other hand, the Ducks’ goalie duo has the ability to do just that.
In his first game in nearly a month Frederik Andersen, G (W, 29 SV, 1 GA, .967%) looked fantastic pushing away 29 of 30 shots for a 4-1 win over the depleted Arizona Coyotes. It’s a soft game back for Freddy, but it’s good to get back in the saddle with a solid win like this. The goaltending situation in Anaheim isn’t as complicated as some folks are making it out to be. Gibson is in the NHL to play big minutes, he’s not the type of prospect that you leave on the bench. He has to grow and he has to play to grow. He’s also white hot recently so this situation turns into a 1A/1B with the bulk of the work going to the hot hand. The Ducks made some solid moves to shore up their injury-weakened defense at the deadline, so that bodes well for both goalies. If you own one, the other is a great handcuff. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
James Wisniewski is expected to miss 1-2 weeks with a bone bruise in his foot, so those of you excited to see what he can do on the Ducks’ top power play will have to wait a bit.
David Clarkson is out 4-6 weeks with a… you know, who cares? How is this guy even in the league at this point?
Kyle Okposo was scheduled to skate before Isles practice earlier this week, but no word on whether he was actually out there or not. It’s sort of, kind of a good sign to hear that they’re scheduling him to skate, anyway. We miss you, Okie!
Tyler Seguin resumed light skating earlier this week, so his progress recovering from his bum wheel is going well. It sounds like he might be back earlier than expected. We hope. I hope. Please come back.
Roberto Luongo, G (19 SV, 1.000%, 19 SA) – Lu went down early in the first after stopping a shot and it appears that he hurt his shoulder. Turns out it hit him in the side of the head, he stays in for the rest of the period but doesn’t come out in the second. Cue backup Al Montoya, G (L, 12 SV, 3 GA, .800) to the rescue! Yeah, not so much. Montoya gets hurt right at the start of the third period when Nazem Kadri, C (1 G, 2 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) makes contact while he scoring a goal. At this point the Cats’ 41-year-old goalie coach Robbie Tallas starts to suit up to come into the game but Florida is spared that spectacle and Montoya comes back and coughs up another goal. At this point Lu returns and relieves the now injured Montoya again. What the hell was I watching?! Now both Lu and Montoya are day-to-day and the Cats called up all-bleh goalie Dan Ellis and some kid named Sam Brittain who seriously looks like nothing special. Given Lu was able to return and stopped all 19 he faced, I’m fairly confident he’ll be back sooner than later.
Devan Dubnyk, G (W, 31 SV, 2 GA, .939%) – Remember those breakout goalies coming out of nowhere I talked about earlier? Doobie is definitely that guy this year and for the low, low price of nothing he’s returned a season line of 25-8-3/2.14/.926 in 40 games played between Arizona and Minnesota. Those are elite numbers, his level of play hasn’t dipped one iota in quite some time and I doubt it will anytime soon.
Chris Stewart, RW (1 A, 1 SOG) – While I still think Stewie ends up on the third line, the Wild threw him into the frying pan in his first game with the squad and he skated on the team’s second line and second power play unit. He tallied a helper, two hits and one shot on goal doing it, so it wasn’t a total disaster. For now he’s skating with Mikko Koivu, C (1 SOG) and Thomas Vanek, LW (Nada, Zip, Zilch) so that nodes somewhat well for his offensive prospects, but those two aren’t exactly in the middle of career years either. I’m still not ready to buy here, but he’s worth a flyer in deeper leagues.
Mika Zibanejad, C (1 G, 4 SOG, +2) – Zibachmadeinejad extended his point streak to four games with a goal on four shots last night. He’s going to finish the season with 20 goals and maybe, just maybe, he can flirt with 50 points. That’s not great, but neither is the team he’s playing with. That said, he’s definitely developing some chemistry with the ever enigmatic Bobby Ryan, RW (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG), so I could see Zib take another step forward next year and put up 25 goals and 60 points. I bet his for his ADP next season that’ll be solid value. Don’t sleep!
Cory Schneider, G (W, 33 SV, 1 GA, .971%) – You have to feel for Schneids. He finally gets the opportunity to be the undisputed starter for one of the more successful franchises in the NHL in recent years annnnnd they crash, burn and sell at the deadline. They’re going to rebuild around him, but it won’t be a pretty ride. Along the way he’ll start like 80 games a season and put up stellar peripherals like the beast that he is.
Carter Hutton, G (L, 21 SV, 2 GA, .913%) – The God of Goalies needed a break so Hutton filled in admirably taking the loss. He’s actually been pretty solid for a bit now, and the Preds will want to make sure they give Pekka Rinne some rest down the stretch, so he isn’t a bad handcuff to consider for the playoffs.
Adam Larsson, D (1 G, 1 SOG, +2) – Lars is another piece to the rebuilding effort in New Jersey and he shows a lot of promise. He’s a strong two-way defenseman that basically does everything well. He can play big minutes and has enough offensive upside to warrant consideration in deeper keeper leagues. Remember, this kid is just three years into his NHL career and he was the fourth overall pick in the 2011 draft for a reason. It takes defenseman a bit to get their offensive legs under them, but when they do good things can happen. He’s showing signs of life in that vein in the second half of this season, so he could show up big out of the gate in 2015.
Karri Ramo, G (W, 35 SV, 2 GA, .946%) – Ramo has been consistently good for a bit now, but it doesn’t really matter given the loss of Mark Giordano for the season. That hurts the Flames from top to bottom and it definitely leaves a big hole in their defense that no one is going to be capable of filling adequately. Suffice it to say, the goalies will suffer along with the rest. I didn’t really like either of them before this, I’m definitely not buying in now.
Steve Mason, G (L, 23 SV, 3 GA, .885%) – There’s something both satisfying and saddening watching the Flyers struggle. You can’t blame Mason much for that given the season he’s put up in limited action. Over 37 games he’s posted a season line of 12-13-8/2.27/.924 and those are strong numbers save the bleh win-loss record. Perhaps I underestimated Mase.
Jiri Hudler, LW (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – 13 points in his last 22 games isn’t horrible, but it’s well off his early season pace. This is clockwork, people. Hot start, hard slow down. To be fair, the second half decline wasn’t nearly as bad this season as it has been in the past, but he was still a picture perfect sell high in late December, early January. I preached it; I hope you heard the gospel!
Sean Monahan, C (1 G, 1 SOG) – Money pots another goal as he fights his way towards 30 for the season. He’s not going to get there, but he’ll be north of 25 that’s for sure. I expect big things from him pretty soon, but I don’t know how big of a step he’ll take in his sophomore season. Still, he’s a no-brainer keeper.
Sean Couturier, C (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – When Coots was in the minors he tore it up. He’s been hot garbage since he joined big ice, though. He had one good money this season when he put up 12 points (5 G, 7 A) in 14 games, but other than that there’s been little to no signs of his flashy, point scorin’ juniors self in years. A shame.
Sergei Bobrovsky, G (L, 28 SV, 4 GA, .875%) – Bob wasn’t especially sharp in his first game back in over a month, but that was to be expected. Honestly, with how beat up the Jackets are and the departure of James Wisniewski via trade recently, I don’t expect Bob to put up stellar numbers and save your playoff hopes. He’s a bust this year, but I think he’ll bounce back in 2015.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, G (W, 28 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – It has been a few games since Vas has looked even remotely comfortable out there, but he sure returned to form in a big way against the lowly Sabres yesterday. That being said, it’s the Sabres so this shutout was a gift. He’s a risky start, but the Bolts want to get him solid minutes down the stretch to keep Ben Bishop healthy for the playoffs, so start him with caution when his number gets called.
Victor Hedman, D (1 G, 3 SOG) – Ah my Sun and Stars finally tallies another goal. It’s been a rough, freak-injury riddled campaign for the big Russian rearguard but he’s back on track with give points (1 G, 4 A) in his last seven games. It was only a matter of time before the offense started back up and given he’s only played 40 games so far this season he should be nice and fresh for the stretch run.
Ryan Callahan, RW (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Ever the workhorse, Cally tallied his 20th goal of the season last night. He also logged four hits and three shots on goal in the process, and though he’s never going to be an offensive juggernaut, 25 goals, 55 points, 175 hits and a plus/minus north of 10 is valuable in just about any format.
Anders Lindback, G (L, 32 SV, 3 GA, .914%) – I guess Lindy is the starter for the Sabres now? Does it really matter?
Tyler Bozak, C (1 G, 1 SOG, -1) – With the trade deadline come and gone Bozo remains a Leaf. That’s a bummer for his already meh fantasy value which should remain somewhere between meh and oh-god-why for the rest of the season. The Leafs, man. What can you do?
Aaron Ekblad, D (1 G, 4 SOG, -1) – I hear a lot of people talk about dropping Eks for someone on the wire lately. A guy who gets traded from here to there and all the sudden you’re letting go of Ekblad? Short memories much? Hold on tight, y’all, especially those of you in keeper leagues.
Kari Lehtonen, G (W, 35 SV, 2 GA, .946%) – You only do this when I bench you, but I only start you when I have absolutely no other choice, which isn’t often. I can’t blame you, but I do, Kari. I blame you for all the ills in the world. Harsh.
Jaroslav Halak, G (L, 32 SV, 3 GA, .914%) – That’s not the kind of effort that will keep newly acquired backup Michal Neuvirth at bay. I’m actually pretty interested to see how well Neuvi does with a solid team like the Isles in front of him. If his recent play for the woeful Sabres is any indication, he could be a beast.
Anders Lee, C (1 G, 5 SOG, 2 PIM) – Lee is quickly becoming one of my favorite young players. He’s got that sweet, sweet scoring touch and tallied his 21st of the season last night, but his talents don’t stop there, oh no. He logged five shots on goal, two penalty minutes and a hit in nearly 18 minutes of ice time. Normally he racks up a bunch of hits (129 so far this season) to go along with solid offensive upside as he continues to solidify his place on the top line alongside John Tavares, C (5 SOG). Mix in a dash of Kyle Okposo when he returns from his bum eyeball and that’s going to be one beast of a line. Lee has to be near the top of your keeper lists.
Josh Bailey, RW (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – The Isles are deep.
Mike Smith, G (L, 31 SV, 3 GA, .912%) – I’m sure life will get easier for Smith now that Keith Yandle is gone. Oh wait.
Jacob Silfverberg, RW (1 G, 2 A, 2 SOG) – I keep waiting for Silver to show signs that he’s the offensive prospect with a high ceiling I still like to believe he is, and lately he’s doing just that. With 11 points (4 G, 7 A) in his last 14 games he’s on a roll and likely available in your league. Though there’s no power play time coming in his future, he’s worked his way into the Ducks’ top six recently, so he’s absolutely worth a flyer in deep leagues.
Cam Talbot, G (W, 25 SV, 1 GA, .962%) – Tablot definitely stood tall against the league leading Preds pushing aside 25 of 26 shots for the 4-1 victory on Monday night, but he was rarely tested as the Rangers new-look defense dominated most of the game. He remains a risky start despite the solid effort.
Chris Kreider, LW (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – With three goals in his last five games Kreider continues to impress. He looks great in almost every aspect of the game and is on pace to set career highs in goals, assists, points and hits this season. He’s going to blow the eff up in 2015, so get on board now before tickets are too expensive.
Alex Stalock, G (W, 20 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – I might have been the only one in the world to get this shutout on my stat line, but I said eff it and started Stalock for this tilt. Yeah, I still own him in one league. It’s deep. Don’t judge me!