Yesterday I brought big Anthony Mantha to your attention and said you should keep an eye on him as he’s on the rise. Well, there’s another kid you should get to know that’s already on big ice and lately his star is rising fast. Nick Bjugstad, C (2 G, 5 SOG, +1) is on a roll with seven points in his last three games including multiple two goal games giving him six goals in his last seven games. In fact, he has nine points in his last eight games and these totals aren’t unexpected. He started the season slowly, but at just 22 years of age and one full season under his belt that’s not surprising. It was only a matter of time before he started producing, and here it is. Can he keep it up? Absolutely. Just like Mantha he’s a big boy at 6’5”, 215lbs and he knows how to use his big frame to create space and opportunities for himself. Clearly he knows how to cash in on those opportunities as well bringing a heavy, accurate shot to the table in his big bag o’ tricks. He’s not just big; he’s strong too often winning battles along the boards. With exceptional on-ice awareness and vision he rarely finds himself out of position. Lately he’s playing with fellow prospect Jonathan Huberdeau (2 A, 4 SOG, +1) and veteran Brad Boyes (+1) so it’s a solid line for him to grow on. I don’t expect more than 50 points from Jugs, but he could beat that mark if he and Huber gel like the Cats hope they will. In any case, he should be added in all keeper leagues if he was on the wire and in deep re-drafts as well. It may not be long before he’s relevant in all leagues, so like I always say, get it while the gettins’ good, y’all! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Roberto Luongo, G (W, 28 SV, 2 GA, .933%) – As much as I bag on the Cats, I’m actually starting to feel the love. They have some seriously solid young talent and even if one or two of them pan out like expected, this team could be a force to be reckoned with sooner than later. In the mix of it all is the veteran rock they desperately needed to build on and that rock is Lu.
Antti Niemi, G (L, 26 SV, 2 GA, .929%) – This was his second straight loss and the second straight time it really wasn’t his fault. I hate shootouts, don’t you? At first I thought they were cool, but the novelty wore off fast and now deciding games in shootouts bothers me. I bet it bothers Antti, too.
Patrick Marleau, C (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – Hail, Mighty Cortez! Drinker of the fountain’s glory, breaker of five game scoreless streaks!
Darcy Kuemper, G (W, 37 SV, 2 GA, .949%) – This win makes three in a row for Kuemps who stumbled a bit after a white hot start to the season. He hasn’t allowed more than two goals in four straight, so I’d say he’s back on track. It remains to be seen if and when Josh Harding can work his way back to big ice for the Wild, but it sounds like Kuemps will remain the starter for the foreseeable future.
Ray Emery, G (L, 26 SV, 3 GA, .897%) – The Philly goaltending situation was basically a disaster and this guy makes it a catastrophe. Emery has allowed 13 goals in his last three starts and now sports an embarrassing 4-3-1/3.22/.897% season line. He’s not very good, so this doesn’t surprise me one bit.
Nino Niederreiter, RW (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – Another game, another goal for Nino who now has five goals in his last six games including a hatty last week against the Sabres. He’s at nine goals on the year and I fully expect 30 by season’s end.
Marco Scandella, D (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – I picked up Scandella in a few leagues when Victor Hedman went down with his broken digits and I’ve been very pleased. He isn’t very widely owned and I’m not quite sure why. Last night’s tally gives him goals in two straight with three points total. He’s on pace for 35 points, 20 goals, 150 PIM and 165 shots on goal, not to mention that he blocks tons of shots (29) and deals out the hits (21) too. He plays on an offensively solid squad in a system that openly encourages their rearguards to step up and get into the flow offensively. There’s no reason not to pick the guy up. Who is your forth defenseman right now? It should probably be Scandella.
Claude Giroux, C (1 G, 7 SOG, 2 PIM) – There was no slow start this season, that’s for sure. It’s clear that he should play less golf and grab more asses in the off season. It’s obviously the safer option.
Mark Streit, D (1 G, 6 SOG, +1) – After putting up eight points in 10 games in October he’s slowed a bit with four points over his last eight this month. That’s to be expected. He remains on pace for 50-plus points and I’m a bit skeptical he’ll get there, but he should flirt with 50 points and 15 goals by season’s end.
Jonathan Bernier, G (W, 26 SV, 2 GA, .929%) – Bernie looked good in this one but you know how I feel about Leafs goalies. Individually they’re both very talented, but very risky plays on any given night in fantasy.
Ben Bishop, G (L, 16 SV, 4 GA, .800%) – Bishop got rocked in this one and it snaps a solid streak of four games without allowing more than two goals in any game. This is also the first time he’s allowed more than three goals in any game in 16 starts this season. He should be fine the next time out and he really has no choice given how poorly Evgeni Nabokov has played so far.
Steven Stamkos, C (1 G, 5 SOG) – Some folks pegged Stamkos for 100-plus points this year, but I think he’ll end up just short of the mark around 90 points with 50 goals.
James van Riemsdyk, LW (2 G, 5 SOG, +2) – JvR lead the way for the Leafs last night with two goals bringing his season total to nine in 20 games so far. I think around 35 goals for him sounds about right, but he could top 40 with a couple lucky bounces here and there.
Roman Polak, D (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – There’s almost no reason to own Polak, but he gets a mention because of how ridiculous his goal was. Behold.
Alex Killorn, C (1 G, 2 SOG) – That’s three straight games with a goal and points in four straight for Killorn who returned from injury not too long ago. He scored this one shorthanded and while I don’t think the goals will last, he’s either spending his time with Steven Stamkos on the top line or Jonathan Drouin (-2) on another unit, so there’s always solid to spectacular talent around him. He’s worth owning while he’s hot.
Carey Price, G (W, 1 GA, 31 SV, .969%) – The rollercoaster continues and Price puts up a solid effort to shut down the blues for a 4-1 win. I honestly don’t know what to expect from Price his next time out but I’m still inclined to think he’ll get it together sooner than later and regain some consistency as the season goes on. I hope.
Jake Allen, G (L, 26 SV, 4 GA, .867%) – Last night’s loss snaps a personal four game win streak for Allen. It’s just the second loss in seven starts, too. He’s been stellar in limited action and that’s what the Blues wanted to see. He’s the goalie of the future for the Blues and the future could be as early as the second half of this season.
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW (1 G, 3 SOG) – After two straight games of goose eggs the Tarasenko Express rolled through to another goal bringing his season total to 11 in 19 games so far this season. He’s on pace for 95 points, 47 goals and as many assists. I don’t know how likely it is that he’ll hit the 95-point mark, but I’d call it unlikely. He could definitely score 40 goals and settle in with 80 points, though.
Max Pacioretty, LW (2 G, 5 SOG, +2) – 40 goals was a lock if he stayed healthy, so the only thing keeping him from stepping into the elite tier of fantasy forwards was his lack of helpers. I bemoaned that issue constantly last season, but this year he’s not the only guy on the Habs that can put the biscuit in the basket. Pax has 10 goals and 8 assists for 18 points in 21 games so far and that puts him on pace for 70 points and, you guessed it, 40 goals. Perfect!
Robin Lehner, G (W, 33 SV, 2 GA, .943%) – If Lehner could just find a bit more consistency he’d be able to usurp Craig Anderson in no time, but alas, he can’t keep it together long enough to make the case.
Carter Hutton, G (L, 16 SV, 3 GA, .842%) – This wasn’t an awful game for Hutton, but it wasn’t great either. Three goals coughed up on just 19 shots? He’ll have to do better than that, and I expect he will in whatever scraps o’ TOI Pekka Rinne decides to bestow upon him.
Shea Weber, D (1 G, 2 SOG, -2) – On the heels of his triple helping o’ helpers game he pots a goal in this one. That puts him on pace to top 20 goals and 50 points, as per the usual. Ho hum.
Bobby Ryan, RW (1 G, 3 SOG) – I think this is the first time I’ve mentioned Ryan all season. It’s because of the wounds he’s left in my hockey heart after years of disappointment. Last night’s tally gives him points in three straight and four over his last five, but that brings him to juts 10 points in 16 games overall this season. Supporting cast or not, Ryan has to do more I just don’t know that he’s capable anymore.
Alex Chaisson, RW (1 G, 4 SOG) – Case in point, Chaisson is on pace for 26 goals to Ryans 20 and he’s on pace for 52 points to Ryan’s 50. This is a problem, clearly, when a guy like Chaisson is not only matching Ryan’s production, but also beating it. On the bright side, you should add Chaisson if you need some scoring, he has three points in his last four and 10 in 15 games overall.
Petr Mrazek, G (W, 28 SV, 3 GA, .903%) – One bad period hurt Mrazek here but not enough to saddle him with a loss. The Wings scored two third period goals to lift Petr to a 4-3 victory. He’s young, so it’s bound to happen. He’s going to get some starts with Jonas Gustavsson out, though.
Justin Abdelkader, LW (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – Abs has understandably slowed in the offensive production department since Pavel Datsyuk went down with yet another injury and the Dats/Henrik Zetterberg (-1, 2 SOG)/Abs line was broken up. He’s going to score a bit, but it will be difficult for him to reach the 50-point mark if he’s not on that top line. Really, he was only there for lack of a better option. Lately he’s been on a line with Riley Sheahan (1 A, 1 SOG) and Tomas Tatar (2 G, 3 SOG, +1) which isn’t bad, but it’s nothing like that top line was.
Johan Franzen, LW (1 G, 2 SOG) – I have no idea how The Mule does it, but he has 13 points in 13 games so far. He’s not going to keep going at a point-per-game pace, and he’s likely to get hurt again over the course of the year due to the type of game he plays, but he’s going to get some points along the way and should be owned everywhere.
Dustin Byfuglien, RW (1 G, 3 SOG, 2 PIM) – A rare goal for Big Buff and that’s just his third of the year putting him on pace for 20 points and eight goals. That’s bloody horrible. When the Sharks moved Brent Burns (+1, 5 SOG) back to the blue line he exploded offensively despite concerns it would have the opposite effect, so, maybe give that a try? He’s clearly not suited for a top-six slot.
Mathieu Perreault, C (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – Wow, all that promise he had with the Ducks evaporated pretty quickly when he shifted to a team with far less offensive talent. Maty never really had a high ceiling, but I didn’t expect him to fall this far from grace. He has three points in his last two games, but I would consider any offensive production he offers a bonus.
Kari Lehtonen, G (W, 26 SV, 1 GA, .963%) – I said be careful who you roll Lehtonen out against until he gets back on track, but the ‘yotes are always a team you start your guys against and this is why. Hopefully it gives Kari a bearing to follow for the rest of the season instead of this bleh he’s been serving up on most nights so far.
Mike Smith, G (L, 24 SV, 3 GA, .889%) – Heh, Mike Smith.
Jason Spezza, C (1 G, 2 SOG, +2) – Last night’s goal gives Spaz points in three straight and four of his last five. He has 18 in 20 games overall and just signed a shiny new four-year deal, too. It’s good to see the plus-two, his minus-10 rating was getting a bit out of hand. I expect his rating to rebound into the plus and around 75 points from him by season’s end. More if he spends more time on that deadly top line.
Braden Holtby, G (W, 27 SV, 2 GA, .931%) – Holtby hasn’t allowed more than two goals in four straight now, winning his last two. I think he’s totally capable of finishing this season with 30-plus wins and a 2.30 GAA.
Reto Berra, G (L, 20 SV, 3 GA, .870%) – Oof, Avs goalies. Berra hasn’t been much better than the injured Semyon Varlamov was before he was hurt, but a lot of the blames goes to the horrible possession play of the Avs as per the usual.
Alex Ovechkin, LW (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – With 85 shots on goal in just 19 games so far Ovie is on pace to fire 367 shots on goal this season. If it were anyone else I’d say no bloody way is he going to hit that mark, but Ovie? I can see it happening.
Tyson Barrie, D (1 G, 3 SOG, -1) – Someone actually dropped Barrie in one of the leagues I’m in this year and I was more than happy to grab him to fill in for Victor Hedman. I know the Avs looked bad but dropping a guy like Barrie is madness, I hope you didn’t make the same mistake. After last night’s goal he has five points in his last five games and is on pace for 57 points on the year. 57 isn’t likely, but 50 is totally doable.
Corey Crawford, G (W, 24 SV, 3 GA, .889%) – It wasn’t pretty but Crawdad got the job done, as usual. Last night marks just the fourth time in 13 starts that he’s allowed more than two goals and his GAA is still sitting pretty under 2.00 at 1.97. He should be in the Vezina picture by season’s end barring injury.
Jonas Hiller, G (L, 18 SV, 4 GA, .818%) – Didn’t you listen when I told you to sell high here? I hope so.
Brent Seabrook, D (1 G, 1 SOG) – Seabiscuit now has three goals over his last five games with four points over that span. He’s on pace for mid-40s points and almost 200 shots on goal, not to mention hits (32) and blocks (28). I love this guy and you should too. Do it. Start loving him. Do iiiiiiit.
Sean Monahan, C (1 G, 4 SOG) – Money has a chance to hit 30 goals this year. I was figuring for 25, but he’s on pace for 31 and that seems doable. He’s not going to do much more than that, but moving forward he has huge upside and remains a no-brainer keeper.
Dennis Wideman, D (2 G, 4 SOG, +2) – Wideman is also on pace for 30 goals and there’s really no way he hits that given he’s never topped more than 13 goals in any season and he only hit that mark twice. Sell high, my friends. Sell high.
Patrick Kane, RW (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – I noticed that Patty only had 16 points in 19 games so far and I thought “Man, what’s wrong with him?” and then I noticed he has six points in his last three games. The answer is nothing, nothing is wrong with him.
Frederik Andersen, G (W, 25 SV, 3 GA, .893%) – Freddy sort of gets back on track with a win here, but he coughed up three goals to do it. That makes five straight games where he’s allowed at least three goals, but only allowed more three once over that span. So it’s not all bad, but it’s mostly bad. If he doesn’t get his act together before John Gibson gets healthy, he and his owners are in big trouble.
Eddie Lack, G (L, 23 SV, 3 GA, .885%) – After a couple of solid games Lack fell down in this one allowed three goals on 26 shots. Despite Ryan Miller’s stellar win-loss record, Lack might have had an opportunity to carve out some playing time given the consistency issues the aging Miller is having. Alas, Lack just isn’t that good.
Matt Beleskey, LW (1 G, 2 SOG) – With a goal last night Belly has goals in back-to-back games but his value and ability to put the biscuit in the basket are tied directly to what line he plays on in a given game. I wouldn’t add him unless you’re in a deep pool and are really hurting for goals.
Ryan Getzlaf, C (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – Getz is at about a point-per-game with 19 in 20 so far and that’s about where I expected him to be at this point given he was without Corey Perry while Perry was out injured for a short time. All system’s go here.
Radim Vrbata, RW (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – I still think you should sell high on Vrbata. With goals in back-to-back games, now wouldn’t be a bad time.
Jon Quick, G (W, 30 SV, 2 GA, .938%) – Oh look, Jon Quick won again. Shocking.
Cam Ward, G (L, 36 SV, 3 GA, .923%) – Oh look, Cam Ward lost again. Shocking.
Jeff Skinner, RW (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – I love Skinner, I really do, but he just can’t stay healthy so I stay away. He scores when he’s healthy though, as evidenced by his goals in back-to-back games now. That next injury is right around the corner though, believe that.
Tanner Pearson, LW (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – Pearson finally snaps out of his long slump and pots a goal. After starting off white-hot with nine points in his first 11 games he completely fell off the planet posting just two points in his last nine. That was expected. I hope you sold high.
Jarret Stoll, C (1 G, 1 SOG) – Stoll gives you squat for offensive production, but if it be faceoff wins you be seekin’ for the streamin’, he be yer man, he be.
Eric Staal, C (1 G, 4 SOG, -2) – If you can stomach the plus/minus hit, the points will be there as usual.