It’s an interesting question, JD. Thanks, self! Just how good has Carey Price, G (L, 30 SV, 2 GA, .938%) been this season? Pretty damn good, that’s how good. In 52 starts he has posted a season line of 36-13-3/1.92/.935/6 and with 18 games left in the regular season for the Habs, Carey now leads the Vezina race over Pekka Rinne and will challenge Dominik Hasek’s ridiculous 1998-99 season. That year Hasek posted arguably the best season by a goalie ever putting up a 1.87 goals-against average to go with a robust .937 save percentage. That’s absolutely ridiculous. What’s more ridiculous is the shooting gallery he faced doing it. There has rarely been a better example of a one-man show than the 1998 Buffalo Sabres, who had no earthly business making the playoffs but no one told Hasek that. Then Sabres Head Coach Lindy Ruff would let his entire team pinch deep offensively allowing tons of odd-man rushes leaving Hasek hanged out to dry more often than not and more often than not Hasek shut the door. The 2014 Habs aren’t nearly that bad, but it can be argued that without Price they would be struggling to make the playoffs, don’t get me started on leading the Eastern Conference. Indeed, Carey’s 1.92 goals-against average to pair with his beastly .935 save percentage have carried the Habs to first overall in the east despite sitting just 22nd overall with 2.6 goals per game on offense and sporting one of the league’s more inept power plays ranking 24th overall converting on just 16.8% of their chances. That’s pretty ridiculous and come playoff time the Habs will have trouble advancing without a potent power play, but don’t put it past Price to carry them to the Eastern Conference Finals again. Is Price putting up the best season for a goalie ever? You could certainly argue that’s the case. I know I am. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
Good news, everyone! Kyle Okposo may be ready to return within the next 7 to 10 days according to various sources. The Isles are 10-7-1 without him and fantasy owners are similarly suffering without Okie in their lineups who, despite missing 18 games with this injury, is still second in scoring for New York with 44 points. Here’s to hoping the reports are true and Okie is back on the ice soon.
More good news, everyone! Tyler Seguin may be back within a week depending on how he responds to his workouts according to Stars Head Coach Lindy Ruff.
Dustin Byfuglien left last night’s game with an upper-body injury and wasn’t able to return. There’s still no word on how bad his injury is, so stay tuned.
Roberto Luongo is going to miss the next two games for the Cats with a shoulder injury and Al Montoya is out for two weeks with a groin problem. That means the Cats, in the playoff hunt, have to turn to Dan Ellis for at least the next two games. Don’t pick Ellis up, he’s hot garbage.
Andrew Hammond, G (W, 35 SV, 1 GA, .972%) – I wrote at length about Hamrew yesterday and how he was just too hot to bench despite the return of starter Craig Anderson and he went out there and proved me right pushing away 35 of 36 shots on route to a 3-1 victory over the Jets. Word has it Anderson doesn’t “feel comfortable” enough to go out and start for the Sens but who needs him? Expect Hamrew to keep getting the starts so long as he plays well. The moment he loses two games in a row or loses one really badly, expect to see Anderson back in there in the next tilt.
Michael Hutchinson, G (L, 14 SV, 3 GA, .824%) – Making his fifth straight start Hutch got bombed for three goals on 17 shots before he was lifted with around 8 minutes left in the second period and everyone’s favorite mediocre goalie, Ondrej Pavelec, G (3 SV, 3 SA, 1.000%) came in and stopped all three shots he faced. Given how many games in a row the Jets have rolled Hutch out there I’d imagine Pavs is set to get the next start, but it appears that Hutch is now the guy for them moving into next season.
Bobby Ryan, RW (1 G, 2 SOG, -1) – All things considered, Ryan isn’t having a bad year per se, but it isn’t the type of year you were hoping for when you drafted him. After a goal last night his season line sits at a respectable 17/31/48/+9 in 58 games played. If you swapped his goal total with his helper total, that’d be the season you were looking for from the (former?) sniper. Still, it’s good to see him at least trying to maintain around a 0.75 points-per-game pace. He’s serviceable, well worth owning, but the idea that he’s going to blow up into something more than he already is has long since been put to bed. He’s a middle round, supplementary scoring option, nothing more.
Kyle Turris, C (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – Unlike Ryan, Turris still has room to grow despite having already spent six seasons in the NHL. He won’t match the 26 goals he put up last season, but he will set new career highs in points (58) and assists (32) before the fat lady sings. The Sens actually have some very solid young guys coming up and they could be a force to be reckoned with in the east in a few years. Along the way, look for Turris to continue to improve and top out at around 25 goals and 70 points at the high end. In the meantime, he has five points (2 G, 3 A) over his last five. Baller.
Michael Frolik, RW (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – Fro extended his point streak to five games with a tally last night and has seven points (4 G, 3 A) over his last nine games. That’s pretty solid for a guy who has never finished a season north of 45 points. He won’t do that this season, either, but he’s hot right now so he’s worth a flyer in most formats. At this point, anyone hot is worth a flyer if it gets you a win.
Jimmy Howard, G (W, 39 SV, 1 GA, .975%) – Over his last three games Howie keeps getting better and better and put up one of the better performances of the season last night pushing away 39 of 40 shots to help down the high octane Rangers 2-1 in OT. The Wings haven’t been shy with rolling their number one out against top teams since his return from injury and he’s only getting better as the games go by. He should be a no-brainer start for the remainder of the season.
Cam Talbot, G (L, 29 SV, 2 GA, .935%) – This was the first game that I’ve seen Tablot actually get challenged and play well in for the entire game. There were no clean goals in this one on either side and Talbot can’t be blamed for either of the two he let slip past him. He made some great saves and gave his team a chance to win, which they seem to have every game, but the last two games against the Wings and Preds have highlighted just how good the Rangers defense is, and that bodes well for Talbot’s continued success for the next few weeks. Yeah, word has it Henrik Lundqvist is still a few weeks away from returning to the lineup, so Talbot remains their starter for the time being.
Henrik Zetterberg, C (2 A, 3 SOG, +1) – Z wasted no time making his presence known in a return to the lineup after a short break due to injury. He put up two helpers with three shots on goal and generally looked great as per the usual. Keep him in your lineups.
Dan Girardi, D (1 G, 1 SOG, -1) – Normally all you expect from Girardi is hit and blocks and he delivers big time in both categories, so when your only goal of the game comes from him, you know it was a tight matchup.
Marek Zidlicky, D (1 G, 2 SOG, 2 PIM) – Zidlickme wasted no time making his presence known after getting acquired via trade from New Jersey at the deadline and scored the game winning goal in OT. It was a dirty goal that he poked in during a scrum in the Rangers’ crease, so I wouldn’t get too excited. That said, his offensive prospects on the Wings are vastly better than they were in New Jersey, so there’s that.
John Gibson, G (W, 37 SV, 1 GA, .974%) – See what I’m saying about too hot to bench? Gibs was dubbed a “super rookie” coming into the season and only injury has held him back from earning that label. He’s been superlative in goal for the Ducks for some time now and there’s absolutely no reason to take the kid out and slow his roll. Frederik Andersen will get starts too, but the idea that people think Gibs will get sent down to the AHL again this season is madness. Who, pray tell, would come up to fill the gap he leaves behind? No one, that’s the answer. He’s here to stay and he’s good for anywhere from 7-8 more starts before the fat lady sings.
Alex Galchenyuk, C (1 G, 2 SOG, -1) – The Habs are great, but they need more scoring. Gally can provide and he did with a tally last night in the 3-1 loss to the Ducks. That gives him 19 goals on the season and I’d expect him to finish with around 25 and 50 points by the end of the season. He’s been in the league three seasons and set career highs in goals, points and assists in each one. I’d expect that trend to continue next season, so look for a breakout. He remains a no-brainer keeper.
Semyon Varlamov, G (W, 28 SV, 1 GA, .966%) – Varly is going to finish with a respectable save percentage that isn’t close to last year’s ridiculous .927 mark. That was a given. He’s going to finish with a bleh goals-against average that isn’t close to last year’s solid 2.41 mark. He’s also going to finish with about 15 fewer wins than his beastly total of 41 last season. Seeing a trend here? Yeah, it’s the trend I warned you about since the pre-season. I’m not sure Varly does much better next season, either. That is, of course, unless the Avs get their shiz together on defense, offense and, well, just in general. It’s definitely possible. Probable? Eh. Still possible, though.
Nathan MacKinnon, C (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – For some reason I like Mac for next year. I talked about why before, sometimes I forget why I said those things watching him out there, but last night he reminded me why. He’s going to be undervalued at the draft table next year and available in a lot more keeper leagues that you might expect as frustrated owners jettison him back to the draft pool providing ripe opportunities for you and I to snatch him up on the cheap and enjoy the ride over the next few seasons. His rookie year wasn’t a fluke and the juice is oh-so-real.
Gabriel Landeskog, LW (1 G, 2 A, 2 SOG) – With 15 points (6 G, 7 A) in his last 16 games since the All-Star Break Landy has returned to last season’s form and that should carry over into 2015. Like MacKinnon there was never a lack of skill, just a bad situation that culminated in a lot of woeful play. He’s righted the ship and should be high on your keeper lists for 2015.
Jarome Iginla, RW (1 G, 1 SOG) – Iggy is having a better season than I expected, but he won’t score 30 goals this year or any other moving forward. He remains serviceable as a secondary scoring option in deeper leagues, but otherwise, meh. He was a monster in his prime, but that was years ago.
Tyson Barrie, D (1 A, 4 SOG, +1) – Amidst the sea of underachieving skaters for the Avs Barrie is putting up a very quality season from the blue line. After last night’s helper he boasts a season line of 10/30/40/+3 in 62 games and should finish north of 50 points for the first time in his short career. He’s a beast and he’s capable of flirt with 60 points next season. Will he? I don’t know, but he can. If you’re keeping a defenseman and Barrie is on your roster, he should be near the top of the list.