Cam Ward (W, 22 SV, 1 GA, .957%) started four games in October. In those four games he allowed 16 goals on a 100 shots, good for a .840 SV%. I suppose saying it was “good” for anything is a lie, as that kind of effort is good for nothing. Flip the calendar over to November and Ward is a different man all together. In five starts this month he’s faced 130 shots and pushed 123 of them away, good for a .946 SV%. That’s not just good, that’s absolutely sparkling and wholly unsustainable for most, especially Ward. Still, a five game win streak while allowing no more than 2 goals in any tilt while mixing in a shutout cannot be ignored. So, is Cam Ward in danger of becoming a good goalie again? I doubt it. If you take a look at what he’s done it’s easy to say yeah, he’s getting back on track, but when you look at whom he’s doing it against, then the cracks start to appear. He’s compiled this run against the likes of the ‘yotes (25th in Goals Per Game), the injury devastated Blue Jackets (18th in GPG) twice, the Kings (24th in GPG) and the Flames (8th in GPG). Of all those teams the Flames are the only team clicking on offense right now. By contrast, in his opening four games in October the Isles, Sabres, Flames and Canucks spanked him. Yeah, those Sabres, from Buffalo. I’ve seen a lot of peeps talking about adding Ward because he’s suddenly found his form again. I won’t deny that he looks good right now, and if you need goalie help you should add him, but don’t expect this to last. Yeah, the Canes’ defense doesn’t help his situation much, but that only lends credence to the assertion that the well will dry up sooner than later with Ward. Ride him while he’s hot and drop him like a bad habit when he gets blown up, because he will. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:
Beau Bennett has been called up to the Pens after posting five helpers in two games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Word has it he’ll find his way into the top six and land on Evgeni Malkin’s line, but we’ll see. The kid has loads of talent but he’s made of glass. If he starts scoring add him, but expect more downtime due to injury. He’s like Marian Gaborik light, only without the track record, or goals, or, well. Hmn, that’s not a very flattering comparison, now is it? Sorry Beau.
Sergei Bobrovsky is practicing and should be back in the next week or so. The Jackets keep saying there’s no timetable for his return, but you know they want him back in there sooner than later.
Zach Parise is another story. There is no timetable for his return from a concussion and that’s just how it goes. Good news, though, is that he could return to the ice as early as this week.
Dan Boyle is nearly healthy again and could return sometime next week. If he was dropped like I’ve seen in a few leagues and you need help on your back end, he’s definitely worth a flier. It’s a flier, though, this isn’t the Boyler of old on the Sharks. It’s the Old Boyler on Broadway.
Michal Jordan apparently plays hockey and the Canes sent him down to the AHL yesterday. That’s a shame, maybe he should give baseball a try?
Jonas Hiller (L, 27 SV, 4 GA, .871%) – There was more than one Jekyll and Hyde story in last night’s contest between the Flames and Canes and it’s definitely this guy. In October Hiller looked great pushing away 209 of 222 shots en route to a .941 SV%. I warned that it wasn’t sustainable and that he isn’t a very good goalie, and so far in November Hills is doing everything he can to prove me right. Hey, thanks guy! In seven games in October Hiller allowed 13 goals. He’s coughed up another 13 in two fewer games so far this month stopping 113 of 126 shots for a .897 SV%. Ah, that’s more like it. That brings his season line to 7-4-1/2.24/.925% which is all wrong. Expect those peripherals to regress to around 2.50/.912% sometime in the near future. Sell and sell now.
Justin Faulk (1 G, 2 A, 1 SOG) – Faulk’s plus/minus sits at a bleh minus-4, but he has 10 points in 14 games so far after last night’s three-point show. I’ve been a fan of Faulk’s since last season and expect him to become an elite-scoring rearguard sooner than later, and sooner might be now. He’s currently on pace for 59 points, and while that’s madness, he has the skill to hit 50 this year. I think mid-40’s is probably the safer prediction, but either way that puts him in the upper echelons of value for fantasy blue liners. The plus/minus is probably going to get worse before it gets better, though.
Jeff Skinner (1 G, 1 A, 7 SOG) – When Skinner is healthy he’s awesome; he’s just never healthy. That’s hyperbole though because he’s healthy right now and wouldn’t you know it, he’s scoring to the tune of four points in his last three games. I’ve seen him on a line with Alexander Semin (1 A, +2) and Eric Staal (5 SOG) and if that holds, which I think it should, the scoring will continue, until he gets hurt again. And he will get hurt again.
Tuukka Rask (W, 26 SV, 2 GA, .929%) – Ah yes, it looks like Rage Monster is getting back on track with his fourth straight victory last night against the Devils. He’s allowed no more than two goals in any game during his current streak blocking 95 of 102 shots for a .931 SV% over that span. Like Ward and Hiller, Rask has been a man of two months. He was worrisomely bad in October finishing with a .899 SV%, but he’s back to form now. The quality of his opponents hasn’t been great during the streak; Ottawa, Edmonton, Florida and New Jersey, but his track record is such that we can overlook that for now and say he’s good to go moving forward, as expected.
Cory Schneider (L, 19 SV, 4 GA, .826%) – Speaking of worrisomely bad, hello Cory Schneider. Schneids has now lost four straight and his season line sits at an awful 6-6-2/2.99/.901%. He’s started 15 of 16 games so far this season for the Devils and for the love of all that’s holy why won’t they sit the poor bastard and let him catch his breath? I know he said he was ready and capable to start 70-plus games this season, but, uh, maybe not?
Jaromir Jagr (1 G, 6 SOG) – I often joke that Patrick Marleau found the fountain of youth, and I still think that’s the case, but perhaps he slipped Jags a casket or two of the water, because dude just keeps on rolling year after year. Can you imagine what his career numbers would look like if he didn’t take that stupid hiatus to go play in the KHL? Anyway, he’s on pace for about 55 points and that sounds aboot right. He’s not going to push 70 again this season like he did last year, and at 42 years old the tank is clearly running close to empty.
Carl Soderberg (1 G, 3 SOG, -1) – Earlier this season I didn’t think that Sods would keep cranking at the pace he opened the season, but here he is still doing just that. He has five points in his last four games, three in his last two and 13 in 16 games this season. He’s on pace for around 25 goals and 70 points and while I remain somewhat skeptical that he’ll be able to hit those marks, I’m starting to buy in.
Reilly Smith (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – With six points in his last five games Smith is starting to roll. I don’t think his ceiling is much higher than 50 or so points and 20 goals, but that’s worth something in a lot more leagues than he’s currently owned in. On Yahoo he’s owned in just 25% of leagues, ESPN is at 55.8% and CBS is at 66%. Again Yahoo lags. You disappoint me, Yahoo. So long as he skates on a line with Brad Marchand (+1) and Patrice Bergeron (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG) he’s going to score some points, so go grab him if he’s available.
Mike Cammalleri (2 A, 3 SOG, 2 PIM) – Squids started hot, everyone was riled up and ready to drop Ryan Johansen and Nathan MacKinnon for him and then he predictably went down with an injury. He returned to action after missing a few weeks and recorded a couple of helpers. That’s a good sign and his season line still looks pretty nice with nine points in nine games, so now that he’s back and he did something good, if you held him on IR you should try and sell high. His value will never be higher. It’s not really that high to begin with, though; so don’t go thinking you’ll net Marc-Andre Fleury in a one for one deal, but as part of a package? That point-per-game line is going to get someone to pull the trigger I’m sure.