The Boston Bruins have been dealing with some serious injury problems all season long and while that might be a death keel to their hopes at a cup run this season, it’s opening up some opportunities for their prospects to get time on big ice and some opportunities for fantasy owners to swoop in and snag some sweet, free supplementary scoring that makes the difference between winning and crying alone in your tub. Most recenely the absence of David Krejci forced a reshuffle of the lines in Beantown and when the dust settled rookies Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak ended up skating on the second line with Milan Lucic and at least for now, the trio is putting up fantasy gold and shouldn’t be ignored.
Earlier this season when Pasta was called up impressed right away potting four goals in his first two games, but then he went cold. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, at least anyone who reads this blog, because as you should be well aware of at this point you can’t count on rookies for much. They’re up and down, it’s part of the price you pay owning highly talented prospects. With that said, when they produce you can’t ignore it and lately Pasta is finding ways to score. He has nine points over his last 14 games and is even seeing a bit of time on the B’s second power play unit. Top six minutes, power play time and a blank check to play his game and get reps in on big ice? Yeah, that sounds like a good recipe for a solid addition to any team in a deep format. If you’re in a keeper league even better, Pasta might just be next year’s Tyler Johnson so don’t sleep. If you own him, keep him. If you don’t own him and could keep him, add him. The only drawback here is that he doesn’t deliver much peripheral goodness, limiting his value, but in points only leagues he’ll continue to provide value for his owners for the rest of the season.
The third line wouldn’t be complete without its newest pivot, Ryan Spooner. He’s been called up a few times over the past few seasons but didn’t impress, though last year he put up 11 helpers in 23 games before getting sent back down to Providence for more development time. This time around he’s making his time count and in eight games since his latest recall he has eight points (3 G, 5 A). In fact, he has points in five straight with a two-goal game that included a power play goal coming against the Senators on Tuesday. At this point there’s no reason he’ll get sent back down, especially with Krejci skating but nowhere near returning from his partially torn ACL. There’s no telling how long he’ll keep this up, but like I said before, at this point you can’t ignore any source of offense and Spoons is definitely delivering lately. He’s worth a flyer in most leagues.
In the end, they’re both rookies and they could go cold at any time and if Krejci gets back on the ice, Spooner will likely get demoted to the third line. That being said, Pasta stands to continue his production at this rate for the rest of the season. He came up, impressed, earned his right to stay with the big club and needed some time to adjust to the NHL game and adjust the has. It didn’t take him long to find his groove and despite a lack of size, his nose for the net will continue to serve him well. Spoons is more of a wild card, but he’s also doing most of the scoring between the two and might be the better bet in the short term. In either case, they’re both worth your attention. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey recently:
Ondrej Palat will miss the next two to three weeks with a bum foot after trying to block a shot recently. That effectively ends his fantasy season. You could stash him on IR and hope he comes back for the championship week, but that’s about all you can hope for from him this season. If you’re in a keeper league he’s worth holding.
Semyon Varlamov is scheduled to take part in the Avs’ morning skate and could start against the Devils tonight. If not, I’m not sure who they’ll go to given how poorly Calvin Pickard played in their last game, but it would seem like Reto Berra might get a shot if Varly can’t go. In either case, it sounds like Varly is going to be back between the pipes sooner than later.
Darren Helm is slated to return to the Red Wings lineup this weekend. If you were rolling with him before the injury, get him back in your lineups by then.
Jonathan Bernier, G (W, 30 SV, 3 GA, .909%) – I have to mention Bernie when he gets a win, it’s such a rare occurrence that it deserves a mention. The annals of history shant forget the day that the Maple Leafs won a game! Not on my watch!
Anders Lindback, G (L, 31 SV, 3 GA, .912%) – To a surprise to absolutely no one since getting traded to the Sabres Lindback has been facing tons of shots. In four starts since the move he’s faced fewer than 34 shots in just one game. Surprisingly he’s stood tall in most of these games in a way he never did for the Stars. What is it with goalies playing well for the Sabres? Is it like as soon as they put on the uniform they start playing way above their heads in hopes they’ll get traded?
Leo Komarov, C (1 G, 4 SOG, +1, 5 Hits) – I’m a huge fan of Commrade Komarov in hits leagues; he’s such a beast. If he hadn’t been derailed by the freight train otherwise known as Alex Ovechkin earlier this year he’d be pushing 250 hits and 15 goals right now. Still, 198 hits in 42 games is pretty beast and he’s sporting a plus-4 rating on one of the universe’s worst possession teams, so don’t sleep on Leo, he provides.
David Booth, LW (1 A, 6 SOG, even) – Booth extends his point streak to five games with a helper on six shots last night. I normally wouldn’t recommend him to anyone, but when we’re this late in the season any scoring from the wire can help and hey, Booth is scoring. Pick him up him at your own risk, but he’s managed to put up solid production over the short term and hasn’t had many games in the negative on a horrible team, so there’s that.
Tyler Ennis, LW (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG) – If the Sabres have what you’d call a “leader” then Ennis is definitely it. He’ll finish the season with 20 goals and around 45 points and while that might not be very exciting for a top six winger, it’s bloody amazing if that winger skates in the top six for the Sabres. If Ennis played for a better team he’d probably be a 60-point, 25 goal player. Fo’ serial. Sadly he doesn’t and he remains pretty much worthless in most formats.
Cam Talbot, G (W, 28 SV, 1 GA, .966%) – Yet again the staunch Rangers D held off the high octane Caps for most of the game, but when Talbot was tested he came up big. I’ve noticed he has a tendency to handle the puck a lot and sometimes he makes great plays and other times not so much. Other than that he’s clearly in a groove and standing tall against some of the league’s finest competition. He remains a must start until Hank returns and even then expect the Rangers to ease Lundqvist back in and give Talbot some starts even then. As for the Rangers’ next tilt, Mackenzie Skapski makes for a good spot starter should be between the pipes against the Sabres given Talbot just started (and won) both games of a back-to-back set.
Kevin Hayes, C/RW (2 A, 2 SOG, +2) – The patience and poise that Hayes shows as a rookie is tremendous. He knows how to use his massive frame to make space, always finds the open man and when he can’t, he finds a way to pot the goal himself. This kid is destined for a top six role on the Rangers and it could happen as early as next season, though given they’ve shifted him to center I doubt he’ll overtake Derek Stepan, C (3 SOG, +1) or Derick Brassard, C (2 SOG) anytime soon. Still, the Rangers’ third line is deadly and Hayes is the reason why. He’s worth owning in all formats, but especially keeper leagues.
J.T. Miller, RW (1 G, 1 SOG, +2) – Like I just said, that third line for the Rangers is pretty beast lately and Hayes is finding ways to make his linemates better. Case in point, Miller. He’s not worth owning, but he’s been a lot more offensively minded lately and with Hayes feeding the puck around, he’s getting more chances.
Carl Hagelin, LW (1 G, 2 SOG, +2) – Again with the Rangers’ third line. See what I’m saying? Neither Hags nor Miller were doing much until Hayes joined them. Now? Well, you see. I wouldn’t bother owning Hags, either. This is just to illustrate just how good Hayes is and could be moving forward. It’s no joke.
Braden Holtby, G (L, 28 SV, 3 GA, .903%) – Holtby was victimized late in the game by a two on oh-damn-here-comes-Kreider-and-St. Louis-all-alone, but otherwise he looked like his usual self out there. He remains one of the best options in next for the rest of the season.
Martin St. Louis, LW (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – I’m not sure what the Rangers are going to do with Marty when his contract expires at the end of this season but if they’re smart they’ll let him walk. The diminutive 38-year-old future Hall of Famer is one of the best to every play the game, but he’s definitely not the guy he used to be and this goal snaps a six game skid. It looks like he’s lost a step at times and while he’ll still find his way to 50-55 points and 20 goals, that’s far cry from the totals we’ve come to expect from the mighty mini scoring machine. Avoid him at the draft table next season.
Alex Ovechkin, LW (1 G, 4 SOG, -2) – Ho hum, another power play goal for Ovie. He has 45 on the season and barring the end of the world he’ll stop 50 yet again. I figured Rick Nash had a shot at 50 too, but he’s been stuck in the high 30’s for a bit now.
Karri Ramo, G (W, 29 SV, 3 GA, .906%) – Ramo is giving up two or three goals a game but he’s also facing almost 40 shots a game recently. Over his last five starts he’s seen 167 shots and pushed away 154 of them, good for a .922 save percentage. Two of those games went to shootouts, another went to OT, and another was a loss. The Flames are loaded with top tier prospects on offense, but without Mark Giordano their defense is completely falling apart. I wouldn’t trust either Flames tender with my playoff hopes.
John Gibson, G (L, 17 SV, 6 GA, .739%) – Wow, Gibson got completely rocked and Ducks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau left the rookie out there for all six. Ouch. He coughed up those six goals on just 23 shots and like any rookie, super or not, there are going to be these games. I doubt it changes much in the Ducks’ goalie landscape. Frederik Andersen will get the next start, but Gibsy is still in line to get his, too.
Johnny Gaudreau, LW (2 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Johnny Hockey was at it again last night potting two goals on three shots to extend his point streak to five games. He has six points (3 G, 3 A) over that span and continues to show size doesn’t matter, at least when it comes to effectiveness in the offensive game in hockey. Now, what happens in your bedroom is none of my business, but hey, you work with what you’ve got man.
Jiri Hudler, LW (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – Yeah, so, my bad on the whole “Sell on Hudler” business. I can only go by what history tells me and Hudler has always faded in the second half. This year he’s finally found a way to put together a complete season and he’s rolling lately with a whopping nine points (5 G, 4 A) over his last five games. He’s been so good lately that last night’s one goal game was the first single point effort he’s put up this month after clocking two points in each of his previous four games. Ridiculous. He’s on his way to a 30-goal, 70-point season and he’s likely to repeat that effort next season.
Sean Monahan, C (1 G, 6 SOG, -1) – Money extends his own point streak to five games with a goal on six shots last night. He’s put up 14 points (8 G, 6 A) over his last 12 games and at this rate he’s going to score 30 goals as a rookie. The sky is the limit for Money, Johnny Hockey and the boys in Calgary, so keep him high on your keeper lists.