The race for the Calder trophy has been razor thin from the start of the season. Early on it looked like the Sharks’ Tomas Hertl was well on his way, but then he blew out a knee and that opened the door for the Rangers’ Chris Kreider, but he has since cooled, though he’s still getting good minutes with Rick Nash and Derek Stepan and remains valuable in deeper leagues. Ondrej Palat jumps into the mix with his recent surge of 15 points in his last 16 games giving him 31 points, which actually puts him ahead of Kreider’s 30. Regardless, it’s Nathan MacKinnon’s (1 A, 5 SOG, +1) turn to be the front runner and this time the edge might not be so razor thin. MacKinnon has eight points in his last five games with goals in three straight until last night, but he figured he’d keep the trend going and chipped in a helper. With less than 30 games to play MacKinnon leads all rookies in goals (20), assists (21) and points (41) putting him on pace to finish with a Bobby Ryan-esque 30 goals and 31 assists in 82 games. It’s not every day that you get a rookie that can score 30 goals, it’s even more rare to find a kid who will match his goal scoring with assists and a decent plus/minus to boot! You’d think given his recent streak and general good play all year he’d be owned in 100% of leagues everywhere, but alas, Yahoo fails us once again and his ownership sits a platry 68% as we approach the stretch run to the playoffs with Palat coming in at just 16%. ESPN sits at 100% for MacKinnon but just 81% for Palat. These are the guys that give you the edge moving forward, so if you’re in a league where either is available, do yourself a favor and pick them up yesterday. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Erik Gustafsson (1 A, +3, 2 PIM) joins a large crop of promising young defenseman in the NHL this season with another solid night for the Flyers in a 5-2 win over the Sharks. So what’s the skinny on Erik? He’s fast, real fast with smooth skating, laser sharp passing and a strong sense for the game. He’s only going to get in around 50 games this season, but he’ll post around 20-25 points over that span. He’s a bit older than some of the other guys mentioned here over the course of the season at 25, but there’s still room to grow. He’s worth about another 10, maybe 15 points, with a solid plus/minus before season’s end.
Nathan MacKinnon (1 A, 5 SOG, +1) now has eight points in his last five games, goals in three straight until last night and he’s on pace to finish with a Bobby Ryan-esque 30 goals and 31 assists in 82 games. That makes him the front runner for the Calder with Chris Kreider’s production slowing significantly in recent months. This kid is on fire and unbelievably he’s only owned in 68% of Yahoo Leagues as we approach the stretch run to the playoffs. Come on, people, wake up!
Ryan Johansen (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) continues his breakout season with goals in three straight games and four over that span. He’s developed into the top line center that the Blues so desperately need at an alarming quick pace, but I’ll take it. If you were one of the smart/lucky ones that grabbed him early on, good on you! He’s being given room to roam and there’s no reason to think he won’t finish with around 65 points this season.
Patrick Kane (2 G, 1 A, 6 SOG, even) posted a trifecta of points in tribute to his grandfather who passed away just hours before the game. Our condolences and best wishes go out to the Kane family.
Justin Abdelkader (2 G, 3 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) is stealing time atop the pile with Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyqvist and it’s showing on his nightly line. He potted two last night, but one of those was an empty netter. Regardless, he’s peppering shots on goal right now and scoring, so you could do worse in deeper leagues while he keeps such fine company on Detroit’s stop line.
Claude Giroux (1 G, 2 A, 2 SOG, +1) is starting to look like he’s actually going to recover from his horrible start and finish better than a point-per-game. He has nine points in his last five games and if his scoring trends continue he should easily top out around 85 points this season. It’s unbelievable to think that he didn’t score his first point until his seventh game of the season or his first goal didn’t come until his 16th game, but here we are! As a Giroux owner, I couldn’t be more pleased.
Ilya Bryzgalov (2 GA, 42 SV, W) pushed away 42 of 44 for his second straight victory, but with Ben Scrivens holding fort well enough for the Oil this was Breezy’s first start since Jan. 27th. He’s making the best of his starts, though, and should start to see a bit more action and a more even split with Scribbles if he keeps this kind of play going. That being said, it’s the Oilers, so I wouldn’t recommend you own either goalie.
Craig Anderson (2 GA, 46 SV, L) is back at it, but hey this time it actually wasn’t his fault! He stopped 46 of 48 but didn’t get much support from his team and they fell 2-1 in OT to the Pens. I was begging for Robin Lehner to get a shot and he did! Then he promptly gave up five goals and the Sens went right back to Anderson, who has given up 12 goals in his last four games, five against the Leafs last Saturday. It looks like Lehner’s “chance” was just a breather for Anderson and unless the kid gets more than one start every week or so, he’s not going to settle in and give us a real picture of what he can do. Like the Oilers goalie bleh, I’d avoid this situation as well.
Nick Leddy (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +2) continues to have a pretty solid season and should end up around the mid-thirties by season’s end. I think if he’s going to turn himself into an elite scoring defenseman it’s going to happen in the next two years or it isn’t. In the meantime owning just about any Blackhawk is always a good decision.
Anze Kopitar (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG, even) looked like he had pretty decent chemistry with Tyler Troffoli and had his best game in a while. I’m still waiting for Igor to get into gear, but the clock is ticking.
Nick Foligno (2 G, 5 SOG, even) has three goals in his last two games but you know that isn’t going to last. He’ll be lucky to hit the 50 point mark, but he retains some modest value in deeper leagues with solid PIM (81) so far.
Sergei Bobrovsky (2 GA, 34 SV, W) won his third straight game in convincing fashion holding the Ducks to two goals on 36 shots. His season line now sits at 20-13-2/2.53/.917%/2 and his injury riddled poor start is a thing of the past. He looked incredible last night and the Blue Jackets on whole seem like they’re coming together pretty quickly. They are middle of the pack in most major areas; seventeenth in goals against, 14th on the power play, 16th on the penalty kill, but they’re seventh in the league in scoring with 2.9 goals per game. If they can shore up their defense they could be a legit threat next season.
Marc-Andre Fleury (1 GA, 24 SV, W) won his 30th game in 45 tries last night. The Penguins are pretty solid, eh?
Eddie Lack (1 GA, 28 SV, L) looked really solid against the Wings but couldn’t hold losing 2-0 to Jimas Gustoward and the Wings. It was a rare start for Lack and just a breather for starter Roberto Luongo, so expect Lu back in there next game.
James Neal (1 G, 6 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) snapped an eight game cold spell a few games ago and now has points in three straight. It was only a matter of time before Neal got going again and consider that he went eight games with nothing bug goose eggs and he’s still on pace for 73 points in 61 games. Lawds.
Tyler Toffoli (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +1) finally snapped out of a long fifteen game drought with a pair of points playing with Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter. All developing players go through fits and spurts, but this was one hell of a fit. If that line combination holds, his production might too.
Matt Nieto (2 G, 3 SOG, even, 2 PIM) snapped his own cold spell last night and scored two goals after seven games with nada to show for his efforts. Developing players, streaky, etc.
Scott Hartnell (2 A, 2 SOG, +1) looks like he’ll continue to have a solid second half with six points in his last five living off of Claude Giroux’s scraps. Hey, it’s a living, right? After putting up just 19 points in his first 32 games Hartnell has since rebounded with 17 in his last 17. I’d buy that for a dollar, ya’ll!
Drew Doughty (1 G, 5 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) has just two points in his last eight games, but he put the biscuit in the basket last night to help the Kings err, well, lose by fewer goals than they otherwise would have had he not scored. Try saying that three times fast! He’ll still put up 40-plus by season’s end, no worries.
David Perron (2 A, 2 SOG, +1) had two helpers in the battle of bleh between the Oil and Sabres last night. He continues his solid, albeit surprisingly solid, season and with the Blues chugging along he should continue to as well.
R.J. Umberger (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, even) has an outside chance at 25 goals this season, but that’s a seriously outside chance. Like, a sad dog in the cold wet rain looking in at people all warm and cozy by the fire through the window outside chance. Outside.
Michael Raffl (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) looked like he might start scoring when he posted 10 points in 14 games in December, but he quickly returned to his unproductive self with 5 points in his next 14 games. I wouldn’t own him with your team.
Evgeni Malkin (1 A, 4 SOG, +1) has seen his goal scoring increase, but overall production decrease steadily. That is decreased from an insane 1.5 points per game pace he was cruising along with to start the season, so, you know, it’s all about perspective.
Henrik Zetterberg (1 A, 4 SOG, +1) keeps on chugging along with 15 points in his last 13 games. There isn’t much more that needs to be said. Dude’s baller.
Jonas Gustavsson (0 GA, 8 SV, W) had to leave after the first due to dizziness, no word as of yet, as of why.
Jimmy Howard (0 GA, 16 SV, W) came in and stopped the next 16 for the joint shutout. They both looked good, but with the Monster’s noodle not quite right, Howie should get the next start.
Cory Schneider (2 GA, 23 SV, L) was given the start yet again and lost because his team couldn’t give him more than two goals in support. I would think that it will be a rare sight to see Martin Brodeur in the crease for the Devils moving forward.
P.A. Parenteau (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) wishes he could be as good as the rest of his squad, buuut he remains good ole P.A., quite yawnstipating.
Fedor Tyutin (1 A, 3 SOG, +1) is another one that is oh so effin’ boring. He’ll finish with around 36 points, and I know it’s the boring guys that always give you steady production that help you win more often than not, but I just can’t stand Tyutin. He puts me to sleep! That doesn’t make him any less valuable, of course.
Jeff Carter (2 A, 2 SOG, even) stretched his goal scoring drought to seven games but helped out with two assists anyway. It’s always a concern when Carter stops scoring goals because frankly, that’s all he does. He needs to get back on track fast and when he does make sure to get him in there; he’s likely to go off any game and streak for four or five games before sputtering out again.
Jakub Voracek (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) hasn’t been able to recover like his teammate Claude Giroux, but he did get himself in gear in December with 15 points in 14 games. He’s slowed a bit since then putting up 13 in his last 17 games, but that’s still a far cry from the 12 he posted in his first 26 contests. He’s going to be undervalued next year as long as he doesn’t really go off after the Olympic break, which I don’t see happening. He’ll finish around 55-60 points at best, but has a chance to break out next year and be a serious steal in the mid-rounds of next year’s drafts.
Teemu Selanne (1 A, 1 SOG, +2) really needs to retire. I joke about that with some guys who have no business retiring, but this is serious. Time to hang ‘em up, champ.
Justin Schultz (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) has only just begun his career and what a start! He looks like he should finish with 35 points and 10 goals by season’s end and that’s effin’ fantastic for a rookie defenseman on the Oilers of all teams. He remains keeper gold, ya’ll!
Jean-Sebastien Giguere (1 GA, 27 SV, W) finally snapped a five game losing streak with a 2-1 OT victory against the Devils yesterday. I say finally because that losing streak stretches back to Dec. 8, 2013. No joke, dude has only started five games in the last two months. Semyon Varlamov is a beast, and the Avs rewarded that beast with a five-year, $29.5 million deal earlier this week. Wise, Avs. Wise.
Steve Mason (2 GA, 20 SV, W) posted his second solid performance in two games after a bummer of a month in January that saw him allow 32 goals in 11 games for a .889 SV%. I’ve never been a Mason fan and I don’t think he’s reliable going forward, even as the Flyers surge.
Jhonas Enroth (3 GA, 25 SV, L) lost the battle of the bleh. Poor Jhonas, that’s all he seems to do with a record of 1-11-5. That’s… pretty horrible.