I’m not a fan of shootouts. I think they belong in the All Star Skills competition, not playing a critical role in determining who goes home with two points and who goes home with regrets. In a sport where individual achievement is only possible through teamwork we’ve boiled down deciding games to a one-on-one competition that’s antithetical to the very nature of the game. A game where who you play with and the chemistry you have with those players has as much impact on your chances for success as your individual skill does. Why does it have to be this way? Do the fans really prefer shorter games this much? How often do teams really go into double OT anyway? Bah. If thats the worry, lets adopt the AHL’s new three-on-three OT rules and watch the fun! Of course this rant is brought on by the longest shoot out in the history of the universe last night between the Cat and Caps. Twenty rounds this circus went. Roberto Luongo, G (W, 23 SV, 1 GA, .958%) stood tall and man was I too harsh on Lu in the preseason; he’s been fantastic all year. He must really love living in Florida. I digress, on the other side of this madness was Braden Holtby, G (L, 28 SV, 1 GA, .966%) who took the loss but not because he played poorly. He held his ground for 19 rounds until he finally cracked and gave one up to Nick Bjugstad (1 SOG) in what was Jugs’ second attempt of the night. Why second attempt? Because the Cats ran out of people to take the bloody shots so they had to give him another go. Ugh. This proves who the better team was last night how, exactly? And of course this wasn’t the only shootout of the night, the Wings and Jackets needed one to decide their game too. Shootouts are so bunk, man. They’re about as useful as FoxTrax. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:
Sergei Bobrovsky, G (W, 30 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – Bob is really on a roll and he might be the hottest goalie in hockey right now. He’s won seven games in a row now and hasn’t lost a game since November 28th to the Canucks 5-0. Not only did he shut down the seventh best offensive team in the league, he didn’t allow a goal through regulation or OT and surrendered just one in the shoot out to Pavel Datsyuk (4 SOG). Baller.
Jimmy Howard, G (29 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – Howie was just as good as Bob all game long, that is until the shoot out. Ugh, shoot outs, not a fan. Why should a game this good end in such a way? Heresy, I say! Hersey. No, I’m not a Wings fan, just a purist.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, G (W, 23 SV, 1 GA, .958%) – I figured Vas would get a start or two in Ben Bishop’s absence but I didn’t expect it to be so soon. It makes sense given Evgeni Nabokov played most of Monday’s game and looked like hot garbage doing it, so why not run with the kid? The Flyers hit him hardest in the first but he pushed away all 10 shots they sent his way. That’s not exactly the stiffest test, but he looked very solid in his NHL debut nonetheless. His time on big ice is going to be short, though, it sounds like Big Ben’s injury is minor and he could be back by this weekend when the Bolts have back-to-back games. At best I figure Vas gets one more start and is sent back down to the AHL. That being said, if Nabokov continues to struggle like he has and the kid keeps shining in the AHL, he could be called up again later this year.
Steve Mason, G (L, 20 SV, 2 GA, .909%) – Mason’s peripherals (2.58/.918%) aren’t too bad, though the GAA could be tighter. He’s 6-10-4 through a third of the season, though. Bleh.
Valtteri Filppula, C (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – After a solid start Flip has fallen off in a fairly significant way, so much so that he was recently demoted to the third line skating with Jonathan Drouin (1 A, +1, 2 PIM) and Brett Connolly (2 SOG). That’s a far cry from skating with Steven Stamkos (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) and Ryan Callahan (2 A, 1 SOG, +1), which thankfully of late he’s been doing again as Alex Killorn (+1) has started to fade. Flip remains a fixture on their power play and has points in back-to-back games so hopefully he’s starting to build some momentum again. Yeah, last night’s goal was an empty netter, but you have to start somewhere, right?
Tyler Johnson, C (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – Johnny has 33 points in 32 games (10 G, 23 A) and continues to roll towards an 80-point campaign. He can get there and he probably will. The Bolts are stacked, y’all!
Wayne Simmonds, RW (1 G, 1 SOG, -1) – Simmonds was the only Flyer to beat Vasilevskiy last night and he did it on the power play. That tally stretches his current goal streak to thee games and puts him on track for a 35-goal campaign. He’s right on target.
Jonathan Bernier, G (W, 40 SV, 2 GA, .952%) – Bernie knocked off the Ducks for a 6-2 victory pushing 40 of 42 shots away to extend his win streak to four games. His season line is a strong 13-6-3/2.53/.922% and he seems to be getting better as the season moves on. So do the Leafs for that matter, but you know how this story usually ends, don’t you Leafs fans?
Frederik Andersen, G (L, 16 SV, 4 GA, .800%) – Freddy looked lost at times in this one and got yanked shortly after the start of the third period. Ilya Bryzgalov (7 SV, 2 GA, .714%) came in and sucked it up too so expect Andersen to be right back in there for the Duck’s next tilt. Breezy should get a start soon.
Sami Vatanen, D (1 G, 2 SOG) – Man was I wrong on this one. I doubted little Sami, but he keeps putting the biscuit in the basket and notched his ninth of the year last night. He shows no signs of slowing down and the sky seems like the limit for him. I’d say he’s earned his way into keeper territory now as well. I don’t own him anywhere, but I’d hang on to him if I did.
David Booth, LW (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – A David Booth sighting! He was once a guy with a lot of promise and would be good for 20 goals a year, but he’s injured so often it makes Marian Gaborik giggle. I doubt he has much left in the tank to be the player he once showed the promise of becoming, but he could find a way to stick in Toronto’s top nine. I wouldn’t own him with your team, though.
Joffrey Lupul, LW (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – As expected Lupul went cold shortly after getting hot, but he potted one in a blow out last night. I don’t like Lupul this season or moving forward. Like Booth, he’s injury prone like whoa and at this point I see him as little more than a unhealthy heaping of unfulfilled expectations. Ooo, harsh.
Carey Price, G (W, 25 SV, 1 GA, .962%) – The Price is right, as per usual.
Cam Ward, G (L, 25 SV, 4 GA, .862%) – The Ward is wrong, as per usual. Hmn, that one doesn’t have the same ring to it. Ah well.
Max Pacioretty, LW (3 A, 1 SOG, +3) – Woo, assists from Maximilian! In fact, he has four over his last five games and threw in a goal for good measure and he’s on pace to finish with 30-plus goals and 30-plus assists. You’ll take it.
Alex Galchenyuk, C (3 G, 3 SOG, +3) – Gally delivers a hatty as he snaps a three game skid while carrying his team on his back offensively. The future is bright here; he’s going to set career bests in goals, assists and points and should end the year with around 25 goals and 60 points at the high end. He’s been scoring at a fairly consistent rate for the Habs, though like most young guy he’s prone to a cold spell here and there. I figure he at least pots 20 goals and nets 50 points. He’s a solid keeper, too.
Pekka Rinne, G (W, 33 SV, 2 GA, .943%) – Vezina.
Tuukka Rask, G (L, 38 SV, 2 GA, .950%) – Last night marks four games in a row now that Tuukka has allowed three goals or less. That might not seem like it’s worth noting, but considering this four game streak is on the heels of a 7-4 ass whoopin’ the Sharks put on Rask earlier this month, it becomes worth noting. Ah proper context, it changes everything!
Milan Lucic, LW (1 G, 4 SOG, 4 PIM) – Luc has been pretty disappointing offensively this year with just 15 points in 31 games and just six goals so far. That puts on him on pace for just 16 goals in a full 82 games and that isn’t acceptable. His shooting percentage is at 12%, which is almost three points below his career average, so with a few lucky bounces here and there he should be able to get to 20 goals by season’s end. In the meantime he’s delivering in PIM (60) and hits (100), so he retains some value while he’s slumping offensively at least.
Reilly Smith, RW (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – This tally gives Smith six points (4 G, 2 A) over his last five games. He’s really come alive since joining the Brad Marchand (1 A, 2 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) and Patrice Bergeron (1 A, +1) but he isn’t a high scoring guy so it won’t last. He has value in deeper leagues because of the 20 goal, 50 point ceiling he has, but in standard formats he’s best left as a streamer.
Mike Ribeiro, C (1 G, 2 SOG, -1) – I used to doubt Ribs, but I don’t anymore. I haven’t for a few years. But every so often when I see he has a cold streak, that habit tries to re-emerge and make me doubt him again. Not sure why. Maybe it’s his face. Anyway, he has four points (1 G, 3 A) over his last five and remains on track for at least 65 points. Money.
Mike Fisher, C (1 G, 1 SOG) – Fish is a third liner, but he’s sort of scoring right now with five points in nine games this season. You could stream him in deeper leagues if you’re desperate, but otherwise, meh.
Ondrej Pavelec, G (W, 27 SV, 1 GA, .964%) – I think I said it before, but I don’t remember if I did and I’m too lazy to go back and re-read my own stuff, so I’ll say it again; it’s likely that Pavs will remain the starter for the rest of the season. Michael Hutchinson is definitely the goalie of the future, but I think they’ll continue to roll with Pavs most of the time. Probably a 70/30 split, though Hutch can work his way towards 60/40.
Michal Neuvirth, G (L, 31 SV, 5 GA, .861%) – Newbirth gets his first start in ten days and what does he do with it? Cough up five goals on 36 shots to the Jets, that’s what. To the pine with you, Mikey!
Evander Kane, LW (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – It’s good to see Kane’s name on the score sheet, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up for much from him at this point, they’ll just get dashed on the rocks of despair and disappointment.
Mark Scheifele, C (2 G, 1 A, 5 SOG) – Last night’s game gives Scheifelelele six points in his last three games, not bad. He’s still not on track to reach respectable numbers in goals or points, but there are signs of life here.
Marian Gaborik, RW (2 G, 3 SOG, -1) – Don’t look now but Gabby is starting to score. Give him a few more games like this and start shopping his fragile ass around for a trade while his past goal scoring prowess and current streak mask the fact that he’s made of glass.
Alex Steen, RW (1 G, 6 SOG, +1) – Last night’s goal gives Steen five points (3 G, 2 A) in his last five games as he works his way back to respectability. He’s pouring shots on goal right now with 29 over his last five games and his shooting percentage is about 2 points below his career average, so he could make his way to 25 goals by season’s end, though I doubt he can match last season’s 33.
Jake Allen, G (W, 21 SV, 2 GA, .913%) – Marty Brodeur was rolled out for three straight games after he was signed and now Allen has started three straight as well. If Marty goes for the Blues on Thursday I’d say we’re at a 50/50 split. If it’s Allen, he might have the edge. He looks like the better goalie between the two if you ask me, and you kinda do just by reading this!
Jon Quick, G (L, 18 SV, 4 GA, .818%) – Eh, nobody’s perfect.
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW (3 G, 1 A, 5 SOG) – I’m in one league, a deep league, that I’m completely dominating and it’s because I own this beautiful bastard and his 20 goals and 36 points in 31 games and Tyler Seguin. I’ve been a huge fan of Tarasenko’s since I first saw him two years ago and figured he’d be something special, but this is off the chain. Don’t ever change, Vladdy!
Antti Raanta, G (W, 26 SV, 3 GA, .897%) – Raanta has won four straight now alternating from solid games where he allows one goal and not-so-soild games where he coughs up three. He’s getting wins in those three goal games because the Hawks offense is so beast. Regardless, Scott Darling was reassigned to the AHL today, which means Corey Crawford is on his way back and Raanta has retained his backup duties.
Niklas Backstrom, G (L, 34 SV, 4 GA, .895%) – In November Backstrom was stellar in six games with four starts posting a line of 2-1-1/1.83/.925% and it looked like he might actually be a solid backup in limited minutes. He’s undoing that good worth this month and posted a 2-1-1/3.40/.878% line this month. See how deceiving win-loss records can be in judging the value of a goalie? They mean almost nothing. Almost.
Nino Niederreiter, RW (1 G, 5 SOG) – My man Nino and his silky soft hands, lady and gentleman! He’s now on pace to tally 40, but I’m still thinking more in the 35 range. Still. Goals. Lots of ‘em.
Marco Scandella, D (1 G, 2 SOG) – Oh sure, I drop you to activate Ben Lovejoy and this is what happens? I see how it is.
Tomas Vanek, RW (1 G, 3 SOG) – Hopefully now that the scumbag that was blackmailing Vanek came clean Vanek’s off-ice troubles can be put to bed and he can focus on not being so terribly useless on the ice. He has four points (1 G, 3 A) over his last three games so that’s encouraging, but he’ll need to do a lot more of that to regain the confidence of fantasy owners. In terms of skill he’s world class, but whether he’s willing or able to tap into that skill consistently is the question. He could be an intriguing buy low, second half sleeper.
Marian Hossa, RW (1 G, 3 SOG) – It appears that age has finally caught up to Hoss. He used to be fragile and miss time due to injury like it was his job, but when healthy he was easily a point-per-game guy. That’s no longer the case. His ceiling is 55, maybe 60 points if he hits a hot streak. I’d avoid him in next year’s drafts and sell high if he goes on a hot streak.
Henrik Lundqvist, G (W, 29 SV, 2 GA, .935%) – It appears The King has solved his own paradox by not sucking so much ass lately. His early season regression is definitely a head scratcher, but after four solid games in a row he appears to be finding a decent groove. The damage to his ratios can still be largely undone in roto leagues, but you have to stick with him. He could be a top 5 goalie in the second half.
Karri Ramo, G (L, 9 SV, 4 GA, .692%) – Ramo was pulled in the second after coughing up four goals on 13 shots to the Flames and replaced by Jonas Hiller (9 SV, 1.000%) who stopped all nine shots he faced. Expect to see Hiller in net for the Flames’ next game.
Jiri Hudler, RW (1 G, 5 SOG, -1) – Hudler always starts strong and fades as the season goes on, so while he’s scoring like he’s never scored before I’d say sell high, my friends. Sell so very very high.
Derek Stepan, C (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – After a hot start returning form a broken leg Step’s scoring has slowed a bit but he’s still just under a point-per-game overall with 16 points in 17 games played. 13 of those points are assists, though, and the goals don’t seem to be anywhere in sight. If you own him just roll with it, his 8.1% shooting percentage is 2 points below his career average, so some goals should start coming sooner than later. Not a ton, but some.
Chris Kreider, RW (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – I honestly expected a bit more from Kreider this season. He’s on pace to set career bests in points and assists, but not goals. And he’s only set to beat last year’s points mark (37) by four at this rate. He could be poised to take the next step next season, or maybe even later this year, but I’m not super encouraged by what I’ve seen so far this season.
Rick Nash, LW (2 G, 5 SOG, +1) – Nashty’s march to 50 goals continues, 30 more to go!
Devan Dubnyk, G (W,) – Dubs has to be making strong inroads on the starting gig by now. Mike Smith has been terrible all year and though Dubs isn’t exactly stellar, he’s definitely been an upgrade so far. I wouldn’t own either goalie with your team, but if you must Dubnyk is the guy to own.
Ben Scrivens, G (L, 42 SV, 2 GA, .955%) – Poor Scribbles.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C (1 G, 4 SOG) – There are rumors and rumblings about a possible trade involving Taylor Hall after the Dallas Eakins firing, but somehow I doubt they’re going to move their best player nor will any other GM be willing to pay the astronomical price that the Oil ask for. There are serious issues with the Edmonton organization that go much deeper than their roster, so we’ll see what happens. Oh, Nuge? He’s still Nuge. 20 goals, 50 points, horrible plus/minus, etc.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D (1 G, 8 SOG, +1) – It’s been a trying year to be an OEL owner, but he remains on pace for 40-plus points, anyway. His plus/minus needs some serious work, but he has three points in his last two games, anyway. There’s a lot of give and take here. Like I said, it’s a trial. I’m confident he can get it going in the right direction long enough to have a solid season.