Over the past week my posts have been focused on the fact that at this point in the fantasy season it doesn’t matter what happened before this point in the season, if a guy is scoring you pick him up and if he’s cold and you’re about to get knocked out of the playoffs, or knocked out of playoff contention, the time is now to make big moves. Sometimes that means you have to drop a superstar you can’t keep for next season that’s been nothing but an anchor for the last few weeks or more, and that can be tough, but if you don’t have the stones to make those big risky moves you don’t deserve to win. It’s harsh, but it is what it is. It’s a dog eat dog world and we’re just trying to get our just deserts. If you fancy deserts you might fancy winning, and if you fancy winning you might consider picking up the newest hot hand on the blue line, Marek Zidlicky, D (1 G, 2 A, 4 SOG).
Since the deal that sent him to the Wings Zidlickme has been absolutely on fire. I guess it pays to be one of two right handed shots on an offensive lion like the Wings and he’s making it count with seven points (3 G, 4 A) in seven games since the move. He’s being featured heavily with the man advantage and cashing in, a trend I don’t see slowing down anytime soon. Obviously a point per game pace isn’t sustainable for the journeyman rearguard, he’s never produced like this for any significant stretch of time before so don’t hold out hope that will continue. Despite that, what’d I just say in the lede for this feature? If he’s scoring right now that’s all that matters and right now Zidlicky is scoring. Owned in just 44% of Yahoo! Leagues and 50% of ESPN leagues he’s still widely available, but the CBS crowd is already on the ball and he’s owned in 78% of leagues there. If he’s available add him yesterday. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
Dustin Byfuglien returned to practice today but there’s still no word on how much longer he’ll be out. Still, it’s encouraging to see him back on the ice for practice leading up to the fantasy playoffs. There’s a chance he’ll be back before next week.
Martin St. Louis went down with a knee injury yesterday and there’s no word on how bad the injury is or how long he could be out. He hasn’t exactly dazzled so far this season, but this definitely isn’t the news you wanted to hear if you own him. More updates as they come in.
Petr Mrazek, G (W, 42 SV, 1 GA, .977%) – In his first start on big ice in over a month Mrazek did not disappoint pushing away 42 of 43 shots to shut down the potent Pens last night. I doubt Mrazek is going to see a ton of work down the stretch but he’s waffled from solid to brilliant regardless of whether he’s played in the AHL or the NHL and it would be pretty foolish of the Wings to turn to the oft-injured Jonas Gustavsson again this year. Given that he’s suffering from concussion-like symptoms it’s safe to say that the Monster’s regular season is likely over and Mrazek should be a very solid spot start during your fantasy playoffs.
Teemu Pulkkinen, LW (2 G, 4 SOG, +1) – PulCannon showed off where he gets his nickname from and potted two goals with his heavy shot last night. We’re going to be seeing a lot of this from the up-and-coming Finnish stud who has four points (3 G, 1 A) over his last five games. He seems to be fixed on big ice for the rest of this season and should be a fixture in the Wings’ top nine in 2015. He can score a few goals for you during the fantasy playoffs, but don’t hope for miracles. He’s still very young.
David Perron, LW (1 G, 4 SOG, 2 PIM) – Perron continues to be a very solid source of supplementary scoring potting another goal last night, his second in his last three games. Since February 22nd he has three goals, four assists, a plus-4 rating, 10 penalty minutes and 17 hits. That’s money in hits leagues fo’ sho’.
Cam Talbot, G (W, 38 SV, 1 GA, .974%) – Talbot is really playing out of his mind and the Rangers are going to have a hell of a time re-signing him when his deal runs out after next season. Word has it there’s a “vocal sect of Rangers fans” that want Talbot to stay in net even if and when his highness Henrik Lundqvist returns to the crease. That’s madness of course, but Talbot’s play does make it easier for the Rangers to ease Hank back in. Given how close we are to the actual playoffs, if you’re riding Talbot don’t lose hope; he stands to get a lot more work over the next month regardless of Hank’s health.
Dan Ellis, G (L, 32 SV, 2 GA, .941%) – I was pretty down on Ellis when he was called up to fill in for the apparently way more hurt than they’re letting on Roberto Luongo and he’s proven me wrong so far. In five games this season he’s posted a line of 5-3-1-1/1.95/.929 and he’s put up those numbers against teams like the Isles, Rangers and Stars, who might be a mess defensively, but still know how to put the biscuit in the basket. If Lu misses more time Ellis isn’t a horrible spot starter, but despite his recent success, his track record says it won’t last long.
Sergei Bobrovsky, G (L, 24 SV, 3 GA, .889%) – I’m slated to face off against the 8th seed in one of my H2H leagues in the first round of the playoffs next week so I scouted his team ahead of time. I saw Bobrovsky as one of his two goalies and I was immediately emboldened. That wasn’t the reaction I’d have last year, but after 40 games, lots of injuries and a line of 20-17-2/2.82/.913 and yet another lackluster effort against the lowly Canes last night, and the lowly Oil in the tilt before that, it’s safe to say it’s not safe at all to consider Bob an automatic start in the playoffs. Be careful.
Justin Faulk, D (1 G, 4 SOG) – After last night’s tally the best defenseman on a horrible team is just one goal off of 15 for the season as he continues is march towards a 55-point campaign. His minus-16 rating hurts my heart, but the future remains bright for the young rearguard.
Scott Hartnell, LW (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – Did you know Hartnell is only 32? Seems like he’s been in the league forever, right? Yeah, 13 seasons so far. Dude started when he was just 19 years old and his recent streak of four goals in his last four games is one of the reason’s why he hit big ice at such a young age and stuck. Most Blue Jackets are wild cards this season and Hartnell has never been a big scoring forward, but what did I say earlier? It only matters who is scoring right now and baby, Hartnell is scoring in bunches.
Nick Foligno, LW (1 G, 2 SOG, -1) – Speaking of wildcards, here’s Foggy extending his point streak to three games with another goal. I keep waiting for the slow down and he keeps producing. I don’t know what to expect from him in 2015 but after six seasons he seems like he’s finally living up to his first round selection in the 2006 draft. I wouldn’t kick him off my team, anyway.
Jake Allen, G (W, 28 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – In his first start in two weeks Allen stood tall and pushed away all 28 shots the Stars sent his way for the 3-0 victory last night. It has been a wild ride for the rookie tender but he’s going to finish the season with solid numbers and currently sits at 18-6-3/2.46/.906 in 30 starts. At first blush that’s not so great, but considering he’s a rookie in the West, he’s doing a fantastic job. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Allen the undisputed starter for St. Louis as early as 2016. He’s likely to get another 30-40 starts next season but if Brian Elliott goes down with an injury again, he could run away with the job.
Kari Lehtonen, G (L, 18 SV, 2 GA, .900%) – Let-one-in hasn’t been coughing up four, five or six goal games lately, so that’s good! Unfortch for his few remaining owners, he’s only facing around 20 shots a night and giving up two or three goals in the process. That’s terrible, he’s been terrible and I have no idea why anyone owns him anymore. Wait, I do? WTF.
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – The Tarasenko Express is probably the biggest breakout story of the 2014 season as he flirts with the 40-goal season that he’s almost sure to get next year. That’s why I tried like hell to trade for him in every keeper league I’m in, but alas, I only own him in one and I drafted him in that league. I’m sure there’s more left in the tank for the fantasy playoffs here, but not a ton, he’s sporting a line of 34/33/67/+29 in 69 games so far and he’s still young, so don’t expect him to carry you but he’s good for another 10-15 points before the fat lady sings.
Andrew Hammond, G (W, 27 SV, 1 GA, .964%) – Frankly I don’t see why the Sens would bother putting Craig Anderson back on the ice this season unless they really have to. Since taking over as the starter Hamrew has been other-worldly posting a line of 10-0-1/1.39/.955 in 12 games played. That’s obviously unsustainable, but there’s so little time left he could keep this play up over the next month and be one of the most valuable players to own in the fantasy playoffs this season.
Ray Emery, G (L, 27 SV, 1 GA, .964%) – And then there was Ray Emery. Good game, bad player. Don’t bother.
Jakub Voracek, RW (1 G, 5 SOG, +1) – I never really bought into the hype that Jake was going to keep up his early season pace and put up over 100 points this year, so when he slowed down a bit over the last few months I wasn’t surprised. He’s probably good for another 10-12 points, which will be good for 80-plus on the season making him one of the most valuable forwards in all of fantasy hockey this season. He’ll continue the trend next year and maintain a point-per-game pace then, too. If you can keep him for 2015 you absolutely should.
Braden Holtby, G (W, 32 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – Man, if it was any other year Holtby would be a front-runner for the Vezina with his sparkling season line of 33-18-9/2.17/.925 in 61 games played. I’ve always been a big fan of his, but I didn’t expect him to be this good until next season. There’s nothing wrong with getting ahead of schedule, but I wish he sent us the memo ahead of time.
Tuukka Rask, G (L, 36 SV, 2 GA, .947%) – Tuukka really turned his season around after a woeful (for him) first half. His sparkling season line of 29-17-10/2.26/.924 in 58 games played is, well, sparkling but the first half likely killed his H2H owners and I maintain that he still hasn’t and won’t justify his first round ADP.
John Gibson, G (W, 25 SV, 2 GA, .926%) – Gibsy is starting to pull away from Frederik Andersen in the fight for the Ducks’ starting job with another solid start last night. It’s hard to believe that this late in the season there is a goalie controversy, but it’s a good problem to have for the Ducks and shite problem to have for fantasy owners who weren’t able to handcuff one netminder to the other. It might be painful to hold on to that extra goalie for a bit to see how these races will shake out, but if you can, you should.
Pekka Rinne, G (L, 24 SV, 4 GA, .857%) – The wheels sort of, kind of came off Rinne’s season after he suffered an LBI a few months ago and missed some time. He’s still elite and he can still carry you through the playoffs to your league title, but it isn’t going to be as smooth a ride as we thought it might and last night’s game is a testament to that.
Roman Josi, D (1 G, 3 SOG, -1) – A lot of peeps were unsure about Josi coming into this season and early on I was asked if he should be dropped more times than I’m comfortable with. I said no every single time and now that we’re coming up on the finish line and he’s sporting a season line of 12/37/49/+15 in 71 games played, you know why. He could be even better in 2015. If you have him and can keep him, hold on tight, he’s an elite number one fantasy defenseman now and he’ll stay that way for years to come.
Milan Lucic, LW (Zip, Zilch, Nada) – Last night’s game was pretty rough for Cheech but in the four games leading up to it he put up at least a point in each contest and had four points over that span. In fact, despite the goose eggs last night he has seven points (3 G, 4 A) over his last eight games and should continue to be a valuable asset in the fantasy playoffs offering a smattering of penalty minutes and a healthy dose of hits to go with the solid offensive production. His scoring can be streaky, but he’s streaking now so don’t bench him.
Brayden Schenn, LW (Zip, Zilch, Nada) – Just like Cheech, he had a down game yesterday but on Saturday he had a three point game powered by two goals and now has an outside chance to flirt with 50 points by the end of the season. He’s more likely to put up around 45-48 points, but if he goes on a min-run he could hit that golden marker of 50 before the fat lady sings. His hits bring solid value in hits leagues, but the lack of faceoff wins compared to season’s past definitely detracts from his value, though. Despite that he could be poised for another step forward in 2015.
Mackenzie Skapski, G (W, 20 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – There’s sheltered minutes and there’s what the Rangers are doing with Skapski. He’s started two games this season, both against the Sabres, both wins. Shocking! He posted a 20-save shutout on Saturday night and will likely see little to no work down the stretch for the Rangers. If he does, depending on the match up he’s a decent spot start, but he’s not worth owning.
Keith Yandle, D (+1) – Yandle potted his first goal as a Ranger on Saturday, but it’s not surprising that his production and his TOI have fallen significantly since joining the Rangers. There’s hope, however, as Kevin Klein is out for three-to-four weeks with an upper body injury and Yandle’s TOI will rise and he’ll be asked to step up to fill the gap. That’s not a big offensive gap to fill, but Keith has plenty of offensive to fill it with anyway.
Devan Dubnyk, G (W, 41 SV, 1 GA, .976%) – At this point Doobie might be in the Vezina race, though with only 46 starts he’s probably not going to be a serious contender. Despite that he sports a Vezina quality line of 29-10-3/2.08/.929 and is probably the most valuable wire grab in 2014. If you were smart and quick enough to the wire to add him you will likely ride him deep into your fantasy playoffs.