As promised we’re halfway through the week and I’m back with a quick update to help you keep tracking games remaining this week for all 30 teams. What? You think Wednesday is halfway through the week? Wrong you are, math majors! I’ll let you figure that one out but in the meantime pay attention. If one of your guys on a team with only a game or two left this week are hurt you have some tough decisions to make as we approach the weekend. Remember what I wrote about knowing when to cut bait on the right guys at the right time and with a little luck you’ll be just fine.
Games remaining by team for the Week of March 30 – April 5:
3 Games– Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals
2 Games– Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, Phoenix Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks
1 Game– Anaheim Ducks, Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets
Remember that those totals include tonight’s games and there are 12 teams with two left right now that only play one game from Friday through Sunday and they are the Ducks, Bruins, Flames, Blue Jackets, Oilers, Kings, Wild, Preds, Isles, Rangers, Canucks and Jets. So keep these numbers in mind when making your moves and make sure to choose wisely my friends. Good luck to all and here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
Tyler Johnson skated with the team this morning but remains doubtful for tonight’s tilt versus the Senators. There’s still no word on what the injury is or how bad it is, but it can’t be that bad if he’s skating at practice again already. That being said, the Bolts clinched their playoff spot so they have zero incentive to rush him back so don’t count on him to carry you to your title.
Evgeni Malkin is expected to miss the next 2-4 days with an undisclosed injury. I knew the injury bug would bite him again this season; it’s just a shame for his owners that it’s happening now. You have my condolences, y’all!
Pavel Datsyuk is still struggling with his ankle but says he should be good to go for Saturday but won’t suit up tonight. Typical.
Erik Cole remains out with an upper-body injury and won’t play tonight either.
Martin St. Louis is expected back in the lineup for tonight’s game vs. the Wild so get him back in your lineups too.
Vladimir Tarasenko remains out with an undisclosed lower-body injury and like Tyler Johnson the Blues have little reason to rush their franchise player back. Yeah, I called him their franchise player because lets face it, dude is going to be a monster producer for years to come. You know it. I know it. The Blues know it and they aren’t going to risk it. If you own him in a keeper league you have to suck it up and deal so you can hold him for 2015, in redraft leagues wait a few more days to get word, but if he doesn’t play on Friday and you’re losing going into the weekend, you might have to cut bait here so you can fight for your life with streamers. Painful, I know, but I warned about this being a possibility last week.
Dmitri Orlov has been recalled by the Caps from his conditioning stint and will be in the lineup tonight. He’s missed all season with a wrist injury so don’t expect him to jump into the frey and get it done in a big way. He’s worth keeping on your radar just in case because the ceiling is so high here, but he’s probably best on the wire until 2015.
Valeri Nichushkin has been recalled by the Stars after his conditioning stint and could be in the lineup as soon as tomorrow. He’s coming back after missing the entire season due to hip surgery and there was a setback during his recovery, so like Orlov, don’t expect much but keep your eye on him nonetheless.
Dougie Hamilton is expected to resume skating next week, but that does little for his fantasy owners. He’s done for the year most likely, though he may come back just in time to play a game or two next week, though that sounds doubtful.
Marko Dano will likely be a healthy scratch tonight, but he’s fallen off pretty considerably after a solid surge a month ago, so you can safely drop him and use his spot for streamers. Keep an eye on him next season, though. He’s a gritty two-way forward with a lot of upside that will deliver lots of hits with some solid offensive production.
Jonathan Bernier, G (L, 27 SV, 4 GA, .871%) – I haven’t mentioned Bernie in a while because why bother? The Leafs are a disaster and despite being a fairly solid goalie, no one on earth could do much better in the Toronto crease given their porous defense. That said, the guy I’m facing in one of my H2H leagues started him for this game and so I mention him to say thank you, guy, and please keep starting him.
Anders Lindback, G (W, 24 SV, 3 GA, .889%) – The Sabres faced the Maple Leafs and Lindy faced Bernie. Could there be a more inconsequential game than this? I seriously doubt it, but hey here’s Lindy with his second win in a row! It means nothing for fantasy purposes, but hey, two wins in a row!
Brian Gionta, C (2 A, 2 PTS, 2 SOG, even) – It’s painfully difficult to recommend a Sabre while you fight for a title, but Gionta does have eight points (4 G, 4 A) over his last five games and 11 points (4 G, 7 A) over his last 14 games. That comes with a bleh plus/minus, so beware of that, but if you’re dying for some points, Gionta is white hot right now and totally worth streaming.
James van Riemsdyk, LW (1 G, 3 SOG, +2) – Like most Leafs JvR is limping to the finish line but at least he potted a goal on three shots in the win last night. He’ll finish with fewer than 30 goals and 60 points and that’s officially a bust of a season. Even if he did breach the 60-point mark, his minus-33 rating makes him almost impossible to own in any league that counts plus/minus. I’m not sure what to expect from the talented winger in 2015, it really depends on what the Leafs do with their roster before the puck drops next season.
Phil Kessel, C (2 A, 7 SOG, +2) – Like his good buddy and linemate JvR, Kessel’s season has been a bust. He’s been able to give his owners 25 goals, and that’s all right, but you expect around 35 from him so it’s not all right. He’s also going to break the 60-point marker, so that’s alright, but you expect around 80 points from him, so that’s not all right. I guess it’s safe to say nothing is all right with Toronto this year. Like JvR and many other Leafs, the success or failure of his 2015 campaign will be decided in large part by how well the Leafs overhaul their roster this off season.
Tyler Bozak, C (2 A, 1 SOG, +2) – To say Bozak is hot because he has six points (3 G, 3 A) over his last five games would be misleading. Four of those points came in one game and he has zero points and a minus-4 in three of those five games before last night’s two-helper show. You can’t trust any Leafs with your title run right now, but don’t bench Bozo if you own him.
Nazem Kadri, C (1 G, 1 SOG, 2 PIM) – Kadri is another Maple Leaf bust for 2015 despite the three points (1 G, 2 A) in his last two games. There was some buzz around Kadri after he put up 44 points in 48 games in the lockout shortened 2012 season, but he fell well short of expectations in 2013 despite setting a career high in goals with 20, assists with 30 and points with 50. The problem was he scored nearly that many points the previous season in 30 fewer games. Ouch. Fast forward to now and he’s not even going to match his lockout season totals in nearly a full season of play in 2014. The long and short of it is Kadri just isn’t very good and 2012 was a fluke.
Matt Moulson, RW (1 G, 4 SOG) – The theme of the post today is busts apparently because here’s Moulson with a goal. He has points in back-to-back games and five points (2 G, 3 A) over his last five despite a pretty bleh season. To be fair he plays for the worst team in the league, but then I never thought Moulson was as good as John Tavares made him look on Long Island. At any rate, he’s worth streaming at the moment if you’re desperate for offensive help, but don’t expect miracles.
Steve Mason, G (W, 24 SV, 1 GA, .960%) – He might have just 16 wins to his name for the season but he combines that paltry win total with a 2.22 goals-against average and a robust .928 save percentage through 48 games. I used to bag on Mase, but I’m getting on board next season. He could be huge in 2015 if the Flyers make the right moves this offseason. For now you should start him with confidence, if nothing else he’ll help your peripherals.
Marc-Andre Fleury, G (L, 27 SV, 4 GA, .871%) – Flower was steady as she goes for the first three months of the season, then he had a rough January (3.02 GAA/.893% in 9 games) followed by his best month of the season in Feburary (1.55 GAA/.943% in 9 games). He got back on track for the most part on March but it’s clear that he’s tiring a bit. He’s still a top tier option in net, but he’s not nearly as automatic as he was in the early goings and that’s starting to be a trend for him.
Brayden Schenn, LW (2 G, 5 SOG, +1) – Of course this game only happened because I finally dropped him for a hot hand. If you still own him, you’re welcome. Yes, I’m salty.
Sidney Crosby, C (1 G, 5 SOG, +1) – Sid is lighting it up as the season winds down and for his owners this surge couldn’t come at a better time. He has six points (2 G, 4 A) in his last four games and with five games left on the schedule I wouldn’t be surprised to see him put up anywhere from 5 to 10 points over that span.
Frederik Andersen, G (W, 22 SV, 1 GA, .957%) – And the goalie merry go round starts to slow ever so slightly with Freddy taking five of the last seven starts over John Gibson and winning four of them with solid play. It’s going to remain a split down the stretch and honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 1A/1B situation all next season too.
Hampus Lindholm, D (1 A, 1 PT, 1 SOG, +4) – With a helper last night Hamper’s season line sits at 7/27/34/+27 with just over 100 shots on goal in 75 games played. Look for a breakout season in 2015 where I could easily see him finishing with close to 13 goals and 50 points.
Ben Scrivens, G (L, 22 SV, 5 GA, .815%) – Poor Scribbles.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C (1 G, 1 SOG, -2) – The Nuge has been white hot since the start of March posting 18 points (8 G, 10 A) in his last 14 games. This is the Nuge I expected to show up this season and I guess I’ll go ahead and jump on the Nuge in 2015 bandwagon now and say he’s finally going to have his breakout season. Right Nuge? RIGHT?!
Alex Stalock, G (W, 19 SV, 1 GA, .950%) – Stalock isn’t owned in many leagues anymore and that’s a bit of irony considering how well he’s played recently. Over his last five games he’s faced 105 shots and pushed aside 98 of them for a beastly .933 save percentage. He’s 3-2-1 over that span, but that’s mostly his team’s fault. If nothing else he’s showing the form that made me think he’d win the starting job over Antti Niemi ealier this season, so hey, maybe I was a year early here like I was with Nuge and the boys in Edmonton. I’ll be too gun shy to buy in at the draft table next season, but I still think he’s talented enough to be a starter.
Reto Berra, G (L, 25 SV, 3 GA, .893%) – Reto took the loss here and didn’t look very good doing it, but as he says hockey is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical. Right? Wait… wrong Berra.
Matt Duchene, C (1 G, 5 SOG, -2) – It’s so hard for me to write something positive about Duche after he burned me so royally in the RCL. He has five points (2 G, 3 A) in his last five games, so that’s good. He also has 20 points in his last 24 games. So that’s pretty good too. The Avs got off to such a horrendous start it’s really hard to guage what their stars will do next season, but the Duche’s post All-Star game stretch has almost been good enough to make me consider keeping him for the 2015 season. Almost.
Patrick Marleau, C (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – At the start of the season I was impressed by Patty’s surge and dubbed him the Cortez of hockey given he had seemingly found the fountain of youth and dipped his crunk cup in that shiz on the reg. Sadly the well dried up about two months into the season and he’s going to finish with fewer than 20 goals and 60 points in a full season of play. The ship has sailed here and I’d avoid him next season unless you’re in a deep league and you consider picking him for back-end secondary scoring.
Logan Couture, C (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – Unlike Marleau, the ship has just barely left port on a beastly career for this talented young pivot. He has six points (3 G, 3 A) over his last four games and should flirt with 30 goals and 70 points before all is said and done. That might be the ceiling for him moving forward, but there’s probably a career year coming soon where he’ll deliver 40 goals and 85 points.
Brent Burns, D (2 A, 2 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) – Burnsy extended his point streak to five games and has points in 11 of his last 14 games. His 58 points puts him second among defenseman in scoring just three behind Erik Karlsson’s 62. That’s beast and it’s a stark reminder that no matter how offensively gifted a rearguard might be, it’s almost never a good idea to shift him to the wing.