I’ve been weaving a theme through most of my posts over the last week or so and today isn’t the day to try something new because baby, my words of wisdom are still hella applicable in a big way. What’s that maxim everyone? It doesn’t matter what’s happened to this point in the season, it only matter what’s happening right now. What’s happening right now is two guys who haven’t done a ton on offense this season are blowing up, and who helps you win your league title? Those guys, that’s who. So who are those guys? Brandon Pirri, C (1 G, 10 SOG) and Justin Abdelkader, RW (2 PIM, 2 SOG, +1) are those guys and they’re both putting the biscuit in the basket at a high rate lately, didn’t you know? Well, now you do. You might go to the wire to add either, see their overall offensive numbers for the season and shy away, but you’d do yourself and your chances of winning a serious disservice if you do.
When the Panthers acquired Pirri from the Blackhawks it seemed like a fairly big move. Pirri was a highly touted prospect in the robust Chicago farm system and with his puckhandling and playmaking skills seemingly getting better by the game he seemed destined for a spot in the Hawks’ top nine. When he was moved to the Cats it seemed like given his pedigree he’d find his way into a prominent scoring role in South Florida, but it hasn’t really panned out that way. None of that matters now, however; he’s scoring goals like there’s no tomorrow lately with seven goals in his last nine games. He put another biscuit in the basket last night, too, giving him a goal in each of his last three games. At the moment he’s skating on the Cats’ third line with Vincent Trocheck, C (2 SOG, -1) and Jimmy Hayes, LW (2 SOG) and while that sounds a bit underwhelming, he is putting up those goals while playing with them, so there must be some solid chemistry developing there. He’s getting time on the team’s second power play unit as well, so there’s some hope that he’ll keep producing for another week or two at least.
One aspect to Pirri’s game that he lacks is that peripheral goodness we love here at Razzball. It’s not enough that you score goals and accrue helpers, though it helps, we want hits, faceoff wins, blocked shots, whatever you’ve got to offer we want it! While Pirri doesn’t deliver there, the Red Wings’ Justin Adelkader does. Over the last two weeks no one has more goals than Abs’ six and despite the complete lack of helpers over that time he also racked up 13 penalty minutes, two power play points, 22 shots on goal, 14 hits and two blocks. That’s baller. What’s better, he’s skating in the Wings’ top six on a line with Henrik Zetterberg, C (1 G, 1 A, 5 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) and Gustav Nyquist, LW (1 A, +1) and gets time on their second power play unit as well.
The long and short of it is both guys are going to give you some goals, but Abs is probably the better pick up. His team is better, his line is better and he’s able to provide stats across the board. He might not score a goal one game, but he’ll give you four penalty minutes and three hits with a plus-2 rating instead. Pirri can be a bit feast or famine, so move with caution there, but if Abs is available in your league you should absolutely pick him up. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
Dustin Byfuglien is going to miss his next game but he’s possible for Thursday. Keep a close on eye on his status and make sure he’s in your lineup when he gets back. Honestly, I’d err on the side of caution and put him in your starting lineup every time the Jets have a game until he comes back if you can afford it. Now is not the time to miss a big game from Big Buff.
Pavel Datsyuk suffered an undisclosed lower-body injury and he’ll miss the Wings’ next two games. It sounds like he should be back on Sunday or early next week as the fantasy playoffs get under way and I’m hoping that’s true. Now isn’t the time to get hurt, Dats, just stay on the freakin’ ice.
Sami Vatanen is on the verge of returning but there’s still no timetable. He could play tonight, but there’s no official word yet. In either case, it sounds like he’s close to returning despite the tight lips in Anaheim.
Brandon Dubinsky remains questionable for tonight’s tilt as he’s apparently “banged up.” Really? That’s a problem? Isn’t his whole game built around being banged up?
David Krejci is skating at practice but he’s still a week or so away from returning. He could be worth stashing if you make it into the second round of the playoffs, but don’t drop anyone valuable for him.
Craig Anderson apparently re-aggravated the hand injury that allowed Andrew Hammond to blow the hell up, so thanks Andy! He didn’t even dress for the Sens’ last game and it sounds like his season might be over. It doesn’t matter either way, because who in their right mind would sit Hamrew right now?
Taylor Hall is skating at practice with the Oil but there’s still no timetable for his return. I wouldn’t be surprised if they shut him down for the season. Why risk it? They aren’t going anywhere and bringing him back before he’s 100% is madness. He wasn’t doing much before getting hurt anyway, so, meh. You’ve betrayed me, Hall. You’ll rue the day.
Martin St. Louis is out for around two weeks with a knee injury. Honestly, Marty looks like one of the odd men out on the speedy Rangers. He’s definitely lost a step and this won’t help much.
Patric Hornqvist is out for a week with an undisclosed injury. He couldn’t hold his stick and had to leave the game and will miss all three of the Pens’ games this week. There’s no word on whether or not he’ll be out for longer.
Evgeni Malkin finally came down with the injury I expected he’d suffer, but at the worst possible time. He’ll miss the next two weeks with a lower-body injury. It goes without saying there’s no replacing Geno and if you were relying on him to get you deep into the playoffs you have my condolences.
Andrew Hammond, G (W, 35 SV, 1 GA, .972%) – The Hamburgler steals another one! This guy has been unbelievable since taking over for the injured and now re-injured Craig Anderson in mid February and hasn’t looked back. In 12 starts over that span he hasn’t allowed more than two goals in any game. Not once. That’s as ridiculous as it is impossible to maintain, but given how late we are in the season it’s totally possible he could take this stretch of play all the way through to the end. Fun fact! The Hamburgler is the first goalie to hold all of his opponents to two goals or fewer in 12 straight starts since someone’s great, great grandpa Frank Brimsek accomplished the same feat back in 1938. Like I said, ridiculous. If you own him, start him without concerns, if you can still add him (worst league ever!) you absolutely should.
Anton Khudobin, G (L, 31 SV, 2 GA, .939%) – Like last season Dobby seems to have taken over the Carolina crease late in the season and he’s doing alright, but I wouldn’t own him with your team unless I was very desperate. He’s a half-way decent, high risk start against the right opponents, anyway. That means Buffalo. He’s safe to start against Buffalo.
Mark Stone, RW (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – Stone Cold pots another one for the Sens and continues his going on three-month streak of solid to fantastic play. He remains a must-add in all fantasy leagues for the time being.
Elias Lindholm, C (1 G, 5 SOG, +1) – Lindy is a tremendous talent that will break out as soon as next season, but it might not be until 2016 until we see what he can really do. Lately he’s put up seven points (4 G, 3 A) over his last eight games, so that’s good, but he plays for the Canes, so that’s bad. Why? He has a minus-3 over that span and his plus/minus will be brutal like all Canes. There’s upside here, but he’s mostly a deep league secondary scoring option while he’s scoring.
Adam Henrique, C (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – It has been a disappointing fantasy season for Henry and his meh season line of 16/22/38/even in 63 games played. He’ll give you decent faceoff wins for leagues that count them, but otherwise he’s been pretty yawnstipating on a very yawnstipating New Jersey Devils team. That being said, he has five points (4 G, 1 A) over his last five games, so if you need a handful of faceoff wins and some points, he can deliver. Beware, the offense could and will dry up at a moment’s notice.
Anders Lindback, G (W, 44 SV, 1 GA, .978%) – Lindy stood tall in this one pushing away 44 of 45 shots to help down the Bruins 2-1 in the shootout. He’s still hot garbage, though; I just thought I’d mention him because it’s so rare to see a Lindback victory.
Niklas Svedberg, G (L, 23 SV, 1 GA, .958%) – It looks like Svedy might to come up a bit shy of hitting 20 starts in his rookie season but he hasn’t put his time on big ice to waste this season. In 16 starts he’s posted a line of 7-5-1/2.32/.920 and showed very bit of the promise that guarantees he’ll be Tuukka Rask’s successor. That day may come sooner than we think, but it’s safe to assume Rage Monster will be between the pipes for the B’s for at least another season before they trade him and hand the reigns over to Svedberg. With that all being said, Rask didn’t start this game due to “general soreness” so Svedberg could get called on more over the next few weeks than we might be expecting making him a great streaming option in the playoffs.
Devan Dubnyk, G (W, 25 SV, 2 GA, .926%) – Doobie does it again shrugging aside 25 of 27 shots to beat the fading Preds 3-2 in OT. Imagine what he can do in a full season in this system? He’s going to be a hot commodity in 2015 and I’m going to be one of the people clamoring to draft him and you should be too. He’s legit.
Pekka Rinne, G (L, 18 SV, 3 GA, .857%) – I wish I had better news here but Rinne looked shaky in yet another start last night. He didn’t get much action but could only stop 18 of 21 Wild shots losing in OT to the Doobie. I have one team that basically hinges on Rinne for success or failure in the playoffs and I’m not feeling super confident right now. Oi.
Roman Josi, D (2 G, 4 SOG, +1) – A two-tally game pushes Yoshi’s season line to 14/37/51/+16 in 72 games making him an elite option on the blue line both in reality and in fantasy land. Earlier I remarked that I wasn’t sure whom I wanted to keep, Josi or Hedman. There is no choice here I’m keeping them both. At this point I’d rank Josi top 10 and could argue that he’s a top 5 option on the back end in fantasy hockey. Treat him accordingly at next season’s drafts.
Antti Niemi, G (L, 5 SV, 3 GA, .625%) – The Sharks goaltending is pretty disastrous this season and that’s not something I expected. I mean, I knew Niemi would be pretty lame but I thought Alex Stalock, G (L, 12 SV, 2 GA, .857%) would take the opportunity to steal the starting job. Yeah not so much. I’m washing my hands of Stalock and it’ll be tough for him to buy my love back for next season.
Blake Wheeler, RW (2 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – For whatever reason Wheels gets doubted every season and every season he delivers. I don’t know why peeps can’t get on the Wheels train, but I’m definitely on board. He’s put up 18 points (9 G, 9 A) over his lat 17 games and is on track to finish a 25-goal, 65-point season on a team that has been in disarray since game one.
Andrew Ladd, LW (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – Here’s another Jet who gets doubted and forgotten but delivers. With two points last night he’s pushing towards 30 goals for the season, though I doubt he gets there, and will finish with his own 65-68 point campaign. I don’t know what it is with people and doubting Jets skaters, but they definitely have some guys that deliver and Ladd is one of them.
Corey Crawford, G (W, 38 SV, 1 GA, .974%) – Crow seems to be going in the opposite direction that Pekka Rinne is currently headed in. He started hot, got hurt, came back, went cold and now he’s white hot at the best possible time. Since February 26th he’s won six of his last seven starts allowing no more than two goals in any game over that span, the only loss a 1-0 squeaker in OT to the league leading Rangers. Start him with confidence as we start the fantasy playoffs.
Patrick Sharp, C (2 A, 4 SOG, +4) – Kris Versteeg, RW (1 SOG) has been playing like garbage for a bit now and that opened up the chance for Sharp to regain his top line role and he’s done just that. His owners have been disappointed in him so far this season and with just cause, but now that he’s back skating with Jonathan Toews, C (2 G, 2 A, 4 SOG, +4) he should provide valuable offense in the fantasy playoffs. So much so that he could absolutely become a difference maker and every owner that dropped him in frustration will now pull their hair out in frustration as they lose to the guy they gave up on too soon. Patience is a virtue, kids, especially in fantasy hockey.
Michal Neuvirth, G (L, 26 SV, 4 GA, .867%) – When Neuvi was traded to the Isles I thought he’d have an opportunity to make a run at the starting job. He was putting gup some seriously strong peripherals in his last days with the Sabres and if he could do that in upstate New York, it stands to reason Long Island would be that much better for his numbers. That hasn’t exactly panned out as I hoped and now that Jaroslav Halak is dealing with an injury he was given the opportunity to fill the gap and did anything but allowing four goals on 30 shots. As for Halak, he’s day-to-day with an undisclosed upper-body injury so for the time being Neuvi is going to get some starts.
Brian Elliott, G (W, 25 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – For the second time in three starts Elliott posted a shutout and appears to be getting a second wind at the most critical point in the fantasy season. That’s good news for his owners and given how beast the Blues are, he could carry you through the playoffs no problem. This could be the time he finally proves to me that he can truly carry the weight of a starter’s job through an entire season.
Jonas Hiller, G (L, 22 SV, 3 GA, .880%) – After coming in to relive Karri Ramo on Sunday and stopping all 19 shots he faced naturally the Flames went back to him for for two of the last three games and he’s coughed up three goals in each tilt. Ah, typical Hiller. I’m not a fan now and I doubt I ever will be.
Eddie Lack, G (W, 27 SV, 1 GA, .964%) – I was a bit concerned about how Lack would fare as a full time starter after Ryan Miller went down for the season, but he’s been surprisingly fantastic. Over the last month he’s 5-1-1 with a .200 goals-against average to go with a .934 save percentage. Those are elite numbers. What’s that? It’s a small sample size you say? Well, in six starts and eight appearances in February he went 4-2-0 with a 2.38 goals-against average paired with a .923 save percentage. It makes you wonder why the Canucks spent all that money on the aging Miller in the first place. Start him with confidence.
Steve Mason, G (L, 31 SV, 3 GA, .912%) – I used to hate on Mase, now I just feel bad for the poor bastard. He puts up seriously solid peripherals but his crapbag of a team doesn’t help much and he rarely notches a win.
Alex Burrows, RW (2 G, 4 SOG, +2) – It seemed like Burrows might regain his prior form and score some goals this season, but that hasn’t panned out. In fact, he’s been so wildly inconsistent regardless of where he lines up in a given game I can’t recommend you bother with him even after this two-goal game.
Radim Vrbata, RW (1 G, 5 SOG, +1) – Verb was white hot early in the season when he was skating with the Sedins, but since he moved off that line the production dropped off the map. He’s inching towards a 30-goal season with another goal last night, but after 12 seasons it’s pretty clear that he’s a 55-60 point guy at best. That will come with at least 25 goals, so he’s absolutely worth grabbing in late rounds, but otherwise, don’t expect him to become a 40-goal scorer anytime soon. We know what we’ll get from him and this is it. He’s a solid guy to own in roto, not so much for head-to-head.