Riley Sheahan (1 A, 1 SOG, even) has five points in his last five (2 G, 3 A) and is currently on pace for 10 points in 15 games this season since being called up from Wings’ AHL affiliate the Grand Rapids Griffins. It will be interesting to see which of the Wings’ dynamic young forwards will get sent down when Pavel Datsyuk returns after the Olympic break, but Sheahan is making a serious case that it shouldn’t be him. Gustav Nyqvist is making a similar claim with his play, so it might be Tomas Jurco that gets the boot given his inability to generate consistent offense in his time with the big club. I’ve mentioned Sheahan before, and it probably went something like this: “This kid has some serious offensive chops with a big shot and great playmaking ability. He has all the tools to become a top-six power forward in the NHL and already knows how to use his big frame to help his puck possession game, which is pretty damn good to begin with. He can play both ends of the ice, has a solid hockey IQ and should be on everyone’s radar as we come down the stretch this season in fantasy hockey.” Wow, sounds like that guy knows what he’s talking about, you should listen to him. I’d grab Sheahan in deeper leagues if you need a scoring boost with the caveat that he may end up drawing the short stick and heading back down to the AHL at some point this season, but if not, he’s well worth owning for the remainder of this season if nothing else. Anyway, here’s what else I saw on a seriously short night o’ fantasy hockey:

Gustav Nyquist (3 G, 1 A, 5 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) potted three goals for his first career hatty and thought that might not be enough for the offensively struggling Wings, so he helped Justin Abdelkader score one too. Nyqvist now has 22 points in 30 games played and stands to score around 25 goals in just 57 games in the NHL this season. With 12 points in his last eight games, this kid is well worth adding everywhere.

Tomas Jurco (1 A, 3 SOG, even) hasn’t been doing as much as I hoped he would, but he’s still very young and raw. He continues to focus on becoming a complete hockey player, which is good for a kid who could have easily been lost to totally unusable, but really cool to watch tricks with the puck and nasty stick handling skills. Thing about all those awesome tricks with the puck he can do? If you try them in a real game in the NHL, you’re going to end up getting flattened. Still, Jurco is going to be something special in a few years.

Tomas Tatar (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) continues to find a way to contribute, and while he isn’t scoring at a clip like his buddy Gustav Nyqvist, he’s still worth owning in deep leagues and definitely someone to keep an eye on for keeper leagues.

Thomas Vanek turned down a (rumored) $50 million, seven year deal to stick with the Isles after this season and it sounds like his tenure with the team is going to be a short one, because Isles GM Garth Snow is already fielding offers for the 30 year old winger. I doubt this has as much to do with the Isles as it does with the fact that he’s a UFA come season’s end, and he’s going to get a lot of offers from a lot of good teams. The Isles are definitely moving in the right direction, but Snow botched this one if he can’t sign Vanek and has to trade him for less than he’s worth. Worse, he could just walk. I don’t think this affects line mates John Tavares and Kyle Okposo’s production much, but depending on where Vanek lands, it could hurt his. If I owned him, I’d sell high while you still can.

Jimmy Howard (6 GA, 28 SV, L) looked terrible in his first start back from his sprained MCL. This is especially distressing news for Howie owners because he was looking so fantastic, finally, in the games leading up to his latest injury. I’d call it a rust problem, but he only missed a handful of games before returning. If you own Howie and don’t have other options, you should have handcuffed Jonas Gustavsson to him a long time ago. If you can, do it now.

Michael Neuvirth (5 GA, 30 SV, W) demanded a trade when rookie upstart Philipp Grubauer displaced Braden Holtby from the starters’ job and he was the odd man out. Now that Grubi is back in the AHL and Holtby is the starter again, Neuvirth gets his random opportunities to disappoint once again. Maybe it’s time the Caps demanded a trade.

Joel Ward (2 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, even) has scored four goals in his last three games and with two goals last night he’s equaled his single season career high of 17 goals. He’s scoring now, but don’t count on it to last. He’s never done anything worth note offensively and I doubt he’s going to start now.

Henrik Zetterberg (3 A, 2 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) added a trifecta of helpers last night to give him nine points (1 G, 8 A) in his last five games. He goes through fits and spurts of goals or assists, but in the end, does it really matter? Z is gonna get his and his owners will get theirs.

Jason Chimera (1 G, 2 A, 2 SOG, even) is basically Joel Ward right now. He never scores, but in his last two games he has four points powered by three goals. Aaaand that will stop as soon as anyone picks him up.

Eric Gelinas was sent down to the AHL by the Devils but the move has absolutely nothing to do with Gelinas’ play. The Devils want to keep the rookie rolling during the Olympic break, so he was sent down to stay on the ice. Once the Olympics wrap up, expect Gelinas to be called back up.

Zdeno Chara wasn’t sent down to the AHL, but he’s taking a few games off to head over to Sochi early and carry the Slovakian flag in the opening ceremonies. Adjust your lineups accordingly.

Connor Carrick (2 A, 1 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) has the potential to be a game breaking, powerplay QB type defenseman, but he is pretty rough around the edges. His lack of size can make him a bit of a liability in his own end, but he shows real grit and doesn’t give an inch despite his, ahem, shortcomings. He has a great shot, can move the puck well and overall has a decent shot at success in the NHL. I wouldn’t own him anywhere now, but he’s a guy worth keeping an eye on next season.

Al Montoya (1 GA, 30 SV, W) has won back to back games allowing just two goals in both contests after allowing ten freakin’ goals in his two starts prior. Consider that even though he allowed ten goals in two games, after 17 games and 14 starts he’s sporting a season line of 10-4-1/2.14/.928/2, so he was really playing out of his mind before that blip. Even still, his numbers so far make him one of the more reliable and valuable backups in the league.

Michael Frolik (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) has goals in back-to-back games now, but remains pretty worthless fantasy wise. He might not even finish with 40 points, yikes! That being said, I doubt anyone owned him in the first place. What can I say? There were only two games last night.

Nicklas Backstrom (2 A, 3 SOG, even) continues to rock a pretty blech plus/minus at minus-11 and counting the wrong way, but that has a lot more to do with his overall team than Nick’s personal play. He remains on pace for about a point-per-game, and that’s where you expect him to be. He’ll probably finish slightly below that pace, however, but just about everyone on the Caps is a disappointment this year, except of course Ovie and his 2,000 goals.

Alex Ovechkin (1 G, 5 SOG, even) now has 2001 goals. Brilliant!

Brian Gionta (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) got wind that Dainius Zubrus is still playing and Jaromir Jagr is flirting with a point-per-game pace, so he figured he’d just took a nasty check to the head and forgot what year it was and started scoring again. Three points in his last three games, alternating goals and assists and I wouldn’t own him with your team.

Niklas Kronwall (2 A, even) is quietly on pace for a 50 point season. I’m willing to bet no one outside of his owners had any idea he’s having such a good year, especially considering how offensively bleh the injury riddled Wings this year. He actually has a chance to best his career high of 51 points set back in 2008-09. I’m not even mad, that’s amazing!

John Carlson (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, even) has had a rough season to date and despite his recent surge with six points in his last five games, he’s at just 23 points in 56 games this season. That puts him on pace to score around 35, which would be a career high for him, so that’s good! The problem here is that last year in 48 games he posted 22 points, so his pace has slowed since last year. What’s worse? How about a minus-4 and counting the wrong way rating? Ugh. I love Carlson, but unless I see a real strong finish he’s going to drop down my rankings for defenseman next season. 

Justin Abdelkader (1 G, 3 SOG, even) scored a goal, but this isn’t going to be a common occurrence. He’s a grinder, nothing more.

Zach Bogosian (6 SOG, +1) put six shots on goal and didn’t have much to show for it. That’s basically the story of Bogie’s NHL career to this point. He has a monster shot and showed serious offensive chops coming up, but since arriving in the NHL he has been nothing but a disappointment.

Andrew Ladd (1 A, 3 SOG, even) looks like he’s going to finish with around 55 points this season, and that’s exactly on target for a very yawnstipating albeit consistent source of secondary scoring.

Blake Wheeler (1 A, +1) has six points in his last five games (4 G, 2 A) and keeps fighting to reach that 70-point mark by season’s end. I think he can get there, but will probably end up in the mid-sixties instead. Imagine what he could do if he was still on the Bs? They wonder the same thing.

Andrei Markov (1 A, 2 SOG, even, 2 PIM) only played twenty games in all of 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons combined due to injuries, but he seems to have fully recovered finally and is on pace to top 40 points this season. It’s uncharacteristically driven by a lot of assists, but after 12 years and seriously surgically repaired knees we have to give the guy some slack. 

Tobias Enstrom (1 G, 1 SOG, even) scored a rare goal and only gets mentioned due to the dearth of games yesterday what with the Superbawl on and awl.

Daniel Alfredsson (1 A, 1 SOG, even) is like 54 years old but he’s still trying like hell, isn’t he? I’m sure he signed with the Wings hoping he’d get his chance to hoist the cup before he skates off into the sunset, but it doesn’t look like the chances of that happening this season are very good. Coincidentally enough, he’s on pace for 54 points this season, and that’s actually worth owning in deeper leagues if you need some secondary scoring help. Hey, 20 goals is 20 goals. How many guys on the wire are going to give you 8-10 more goals before season’s end? None? Very few? You get the idea.

Carey Price (2 GA, 33 SV, L) has lost four of his last five, but the last two were no fault of his own as he only allowed two goals in each contest. Hey, he can’t do it all. So whom do the Habs blame? I vote we blame it on P.K. Subban for scoring on his own net.

  1. The Wings & Caps match-up Friday & Sunday were great to watch, especially Sunday. Nyquist was in beast mode Sunday and he was really awesome. As a Red Wing fan, I got to say I love watching these “Kid Rocks” coming up from the Griffins and making a good showing. Finally the NHL is set-up to develop young talent. The Wings have always been slow to develop there young guns. I like the new structure of the NHL that rewards developing talent.

  2. I decided to hold onto Mike Smith. He was sharp on his return Saturday in a win over Pittsburgh, after a couple of nights off, stopping 23 of 24 shots. I know he spent some time working with a goalie coach while Greiss got some starts. I hope I didn’t make a mistake passing on Khudobin, but Cam Ward is back, Khudobin has never played a lot of games in a single season, and expert Justin Goldman thinks Smith will have a big 2nd half. Hopefully I didn’t fumble by holding instead of folding… I see Khudobin was named “the star of January” after a 10-4-0 record with a 2.19 goals-against average and a .927 SV%. I saw too many games where he allowed 3 goals.

    • willy says:

      @madden_curser: you made the right call…

      • JD

        JD says:

        @willy: I wouldn’t be so quick to say so! Khudobin is starting over a healthy Cam Ward tonight and unless he gives them any reason to, I don’t think that is going to change any time soon. Yes, I think Ward gets some starts, but unless he really turns it around fast, which is unlikely coming off yet another injury, the time share is going to leave in Khudobin’s favor moving forward.

        Smith has had one good month all season, December, and has otherwise been a 3.00/.900 goalie. Smith does tend to get stronger as the season moves on, but he’s struggled so consistently this season I have no faith that it will happen again.

        • willy says:

          @JD: good point JD… Nice angle.

          • willy says:

            @willy: for some reason I saw smith and was thinking howard. brain can be funny sometimes!

            • goodfold2 says:

              @willy: as a smith owner i would think you’d be happy to see only 3 goals allowed efforts.

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