Calgary has been quite a mess over the past two weeks since Mike Smith went down with a groin injury. The 7-3 loss to Vegas on Wednesday was close to rock bottom, even though they played a solid game through 45 minutes before falling apart. Please, blog, may I have some more?
It's nothing new when Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler have big games, and both managed to do so twice this weekend. In Friday's 5-2 win over the Avalanche, Wheeler registered a point on all five goals, going 1+4, while Scheifele scored a goal and two assists with three shots. They followed that up with Wheeler getting two more assists and Scheifele posting a 2+1 game. Wheeler already has 20 assists in 16 games to go with 19 PIM and 3 goals, while Scheifele is up to 9+10 with 20 PIM. Wheeler was a borderline first round pick that I had ranked as a high second rounder, while Scheifele was more 2nd/3rd range. With his shot rate at exactly 2.5 per game right now, that solidifies him as a second round value. Remember when ESPN had him ranked in the 60s? Hilarious. These two should continue to put up points no matter the opposition. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
In my second half predictions post, I said that Jack Eichel would be in the top 5 in scoring for the rest of the season. He's certainly started on the right track. Eichel scored the OT winner on his seventh shot against the Flames on Monday before exploding against the Oilers with a goal and three assists with five shots on Tuesday. The Sabres power play looks like last season's unit again, the unit that was #1 in the entire NHL. Eichel is leading the way there but has also been dominant in all phases. He's currently in the midst of a 7 game point streak totaling a whopping 14 points in those 7 games while averaging almost 5 shots per game. This game put Eichel above a point per game for the season and I expect him to finish there. Sure, the plus-minus is poor, but everything else is outstanding. He's a first round pick for me next season, no doubt about it. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Winnipeg cooled off the red hot Oilers on Wednesday night winning 4-3. They'd probably trade that win if it meant Mark Scheifele wasn't injured. The Jets superstar center fell awkwardly into the boards in the second period and did not return. This is mostly guesswork on my part but from watching a ton of hockey over the years, it looked like Scheifele severely damaged his shoulder or collarbone. Either way, we could be looking at a significant absence. What does it mean going forward for the Jets in fantasy hockey? I think we see the top two lines get their minutes evened out. Consequently, it would give a small boost to Laine and Ehlers while a slight down tick to Wheeler and Connor. The potential winner is Bryan Little. Little scored a goal in this game on three shots and played over 21 minutes. The Jets lack a true replacement as a top six center so it'll be interesting to see what the Jets lines look like tomorrow in practice and during the next game. My speculation: Little becomes must-own, one other player becomes a streamer (Armia?) and not much else changes. Here's to hoping Scheifele isn't out too long for everyone. Let's take a look at what else happened on Wednesday night after a three day hiatus for the NHL:
I'll be honest, a year ago, I never thought I'd be writing about Alex Stalock again. After a few years of being the backup in San Jose, Stalock was shipped to Toronto, where he was immediately waived to play in the AHL. In the summer of 2016, Stalock signed a two-way deal with the Wild but never played in Minnesota, only in Iowa. After Kuemper's struggles last year and Stalock recording a .926 sv% in the A, the Wild let Kuemper go and decided to sign Stalock to be their backup this year. Sadly, Devan Dubnyk was injured on Tuesday and is week-to-week. We discussed this on yesterday's podcast, but Stalock becomes a clear must-own until Dubnyk returns. He made me look good as he shut out the Maple Leafs on Thursday night stopping 28 shots he's faced. Grab Stalock now before somebody else. The Wild are getting healthy and playing great defensive hockey at the moment so for at least the next week, Stalock should provide great value. Here's what else happened the last two nights:
There are plenty of great story lines going around the NHL right now. Vegas' incredible start, Kucherov and Stamkos dominating, the Blues top line taking off, the Jets breaking out, etc. Even the Oilers dreadful start is a major talking point but we haven't talked much about their best player. Connor McDavid is still only 20 years old and despite the Oilers being a dumpster fire and these other players being the talk of the town, McJesus is only 3 points from the league lead. In Edmonton's demolition of Columbus Tuesday, McDavid had a goal and three assists with five shots. The shot rate is marginally down from last season but he's well on track to repeat last year's 30+70. No matter what awful set of players Peter Chiarelli fills the roster with, it's good to know McDavid won't be stopped. Look for him to win his second scoring title and potentially go for the Hart Trophy again if he can lead the Oilers back to the playoffs (seemingly a long shot). Let's take a look at what else happened Tuesday night:
We've gone without daily notes for five days due to Razzball crashing for a short period of time. The good news is that the problem is fixed and that we are backed! I'm not going to go through every single game over the past five days because at this point, some of it would be outdated. I'm going to go through each team in the league and write a little bit about each of them. Let's get right to it!
The Minnesota Wild had an excellent regular season in 2016-17, their first under Bruce Boudreau, finishing with 106 points. Unfortunately for them, they had another first round exit, this time as a prohibitive favorite against the St. Louis Blues. I was all in on the Wild last year in the regular season strictly because of Boudreau; the man is as good as it gets behind the bench. Arguably my biggest call of the year, having Devan Dubnyk 40 spots higher than ADP, worked out perfectly as Dubnyk finished as the #3 overall goalie. With a few players breaking out and others finding their form again, the Wild remain a very interesting team for fantasy purposes. Let's take a look at the plethora of options Boudreau has to work with:
The Philadelphia Flyers have nothing to play for besides being a spoiler. Their season is effectively over but they basically ended their division rivals on Thursday. The Flyers blitzed the Islanders on Thursday going up 5-0 in the first period and winning 6-3. With the Bruins, Maple Leafs, Lightning and Hurricanes all winning, the Islanders are toast. There were many players who stood out for the Flyers in this game but the one with the biggest fantasy impact is Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds had a Gordie Howe hat trick and then some totaling a goal, two assists, five penalty minutes and four shots. The goal was Simmonds' 30th of the season allowing him to reach the 30 goal plateau for the second straight season. With four straight seasons of 28+ goals and massive penalty minutes, we know who Simmonds is in those departments. The shots are solid and the PPP are elite but there are some concerns. One, he's been a minus player every season in Philly with this year being his worst ever, a -20. The other issue is that he's never topped 31 assists. I thought this season he would set a new career high but he's not coming close. So where does that leave us? I had Simmonds in my top 25 last season which turned out to be too high. I love Simmonds for what he is but it's not worth taking him in the top of the third round when he's only getting 55-60 points. He'll certainly be in my top 50 but since he's on the verge of turning 29, my hopes of Simmonds taking another step seem incredibly unlikely. Here's what else happened around the league the last two nights:
The trade deadline looms, leaving some things uncertain, but for the most part we are getting to the part of the season where we know what we know what we know: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Sometimes it’s hard to admit that your top ranked goalie just has not come out of his funk (Pekka Rinne, anyone?); or that the offensive juggernaut your goalie plays for just can’t buy a goal (Hello, Ben Bishop!). There are still surprises to watch out for, especially for those in keeper leagues, so keep an eye on the middle tiers if you’re looking to upgrade your goaltending situation. The top tier are likely untouchable; and for other reasons entirely, so are the bottom tier.