Hi, folks I apologize for missing my streamer column this week. I’m a college admissions counselor and my weekends have been taken up with reading applications and watching the Olympics. I stumbled into some free time and need to solve a pressing problem on one of my own fantasy hockey teams, so join me as I explore the world of goalies before the fantasy playoffs. As some of you know I only use one goalie, and stream when necessary. This strategy gets me an additional skater to play for 3-4 games a week, and prevents me from fretting about ratios and wins- I can focus on getting offensive categories and can roll the dice on my ratios (sv% and GAA). I drafted Braden Holtby for this role, but his last few starts have been absolutely terrible: 5, 4, 6, and 4 goals allowed in his last four starts. His GAA on the season is 2.95, nearly a full goal greater than last year and a full half goal above his career average. Because the playoffs are coming, I need to figure out why this is happening. I’ve been content to let Holtby’s performance slip and slide, but now the heat is on to get decent performances- a championship is on the line. So, I’ve built a goalie-stats spreadsheet to try and figure out where I can gain an advantage and if need be, work a trade before the end of the weekend, or decide to ride out the storm.
No, I'm not talking about the musical.  I've used "Teach Me How to Dougie" before, so I needed to change it up.  Dougie Hamilton scored the first hat trick of his career on Saturday, albeit in a 6-3 loss to the Panthers.  He probably won't match last season's 50 point total, but Hamilton has been just as good.  He's over three shots per game, the plus-minus is solid, the PIM are there, and a career high in goals is a near-certainty (he needs one more).  As someone who has a betting ticket on the Flames to win the Cup, I just wish Glen Gulutzan would play Dougie more.  Their first pair is so damn good that there's no reason for Hamilton to be under 25 minutes per game.  Regardless, he's a solid #2 fantasy D for the all-around contribution with upside to be a bottom-end #1.  With his recent play (11 points in his last 10 games), hopefully that happens.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
You don't need me to tell you how good Evgeni Malkin is at hockey.  I'm still flabbergasted that he wasn't one of the players in the NHL 100 because he's clearly one of the best 100 players ever.  Certainly better than Toews or Keith.  I also wanted to use the word flabbergasted in a sentence.  Oh, yeah, so about that Malkin fella.  He scored his 12th career hat trick on Tuesday night as the Penguins kept rolling against the Sharks.  Malkin is well over a point per game, gives great penalty minutes, and the shot rate remains over three points per game.  As I always say about Malkin, just stay healthy!  As noted here, the playoff schedule is rough for the Pens, but Malkin should definitely help you get to that point.  Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
The Chicago Blackhawks are in last place in their division for the first time in what seems like an eternity.  They are lacking in the scoring department in a big way.  There's one easily move that Joel Quenneville can make to help their cause: play Alex DeBrincat more.  The 20 year old scored his second hat trick of the season on Thursday while adding an assist.  He's now tied for third on the team in points and second in goals.  However, on a per-minute basis, he scores more goals than anyone on the team by a country mile and he's incredibly close to Kane in points per minute.  DeBrincat is averaging under 15 minutes per game on the season and to be blunt, that makes no sense to me.  The Blackhawks aren't completely dead in the water, especially if Corey Crawford eventually returns (it's been reported that he could return to the ice "soon").  Either way though, getting DeBrincat more ice time helps the team now and helps his development.  He's playing at a 28 goal pace with bottom six ice time!  DeBrincat is an elite streamer in 12'ers right now but if his minutes increase as they should, I would bet he becomes a hold down the stretch.  Let's take a look at what happened in the NHL over the last two nights:
Here is what I wrote about the Blues in my 31 predictions post: "Carter Hutton starts at least half of the games the rest of the way.  There’s no way around it, he’s been much better than Jake Allen.  You can tell Mike Yeo knows it lately as Hutton is starting to get more starts.  Hutton is still available in over 75% of leagues; I’d go grab him now just because of the potential upside."  And that's me quoting me copying what Grey does!  Hutton received the start on Tuesday and stopped 30 of 31 shots in the Blues' 3-1 win over Toronto.  Hutton has started 17 games and has the best GAA and sv% in the league for qualified goalies.  Is he going to stay at this level?  Of course not.  Could Hutton be a top 15 goalie the rest of the way if he gets 25+ starts?  Absolutely.  It's worth repeating that you should pick up Hutton right now because he's good enough to potentially be a huge difference maker in fantasy leagues this year.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
There have been a few big games by individuals this season but Patrice Bergeron's on Saturday is the new leader for the best of the year.  Bergeron scored four goals and added an assist with seven shots in the 7-1 win over the Hurricanes.  Bergeron was the second player this year to score four goals after Alex Ovechkin.  Per usual, Bergeron is crushing all of the categories.  He's playing around a 40+35 pace while already having a +19 rating, solid PIM and pushing four shots per game.  Bergeron is a slam dunk top 50 player for the rest of the season who should push towards the top 25.  Again, the top line in Boston is as good as it gets and Bergeron is at the forefront of their success.  That line just gave up their first goal against at even strength all season!  Remarkable stuff.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
I have to admit, I've always had a soft spot for Thomas Vanek.  I saw him win the NCAA Championship as Minnesota's best player as a freshman and fell in love with his offensive abilities before the Sabres drafted him 5th overall.  Vanek was excellent for many years in Buffalo and while his game isn't where it once was, he can still put up points at a fairly high level.  Vancouver switched their lines recently with Vanek playing with Brock Boeser and Sam Gagner.  They exploded against Chicago on Thursday with Vanek leading the way.  In the 5-2 win over the Blackhawks, Vanek scored two goals and three assists with five shots and two PIM finishing +5.  Vanek now has 10 points in his past 4 games giving him 12+16 in 38 games this year.  The shot rate has been up over the past ten games (3 per) so I'd grab Vanek while he's on fire, at least as a streamer.  I'm sure his name will be discussed as a trade target again at this year's deadline and unlike last year in Florida, I think Vanek will make a difference.  Injuries really hurt Florida and Vanek was mostly relegated to 12 minutes on third line duty.  We've seen in Detroit last season and Vancouver this year that Vanek is still capable of putting up points.  Let's take a look at what else happened Thursday night around the league:
Reid and I talked about Tristan Jarry extensively on last week's podcast.  We said that he should be picked up immediately with Matt Murray out for at least a few weeks, mostly because the Penguins had a back-to-back against the hapless Sabres.  Well, Jarry delivered and then some in both games.  He started off with a 34 save shutout in Buffalo before allowing 1 goal on 33 shots in Pittsburgh on Saturday.  The schedule isn't great this week with the Rangers, Islanders, and Maple Leafs on deck, but they're all at home.  At the least, Jarry is a nice spec add to see how things go against better competition.  He's still available in over 70% of leagues so go grab him now.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Like Patrice Bergeron, I'm back!  After a long flight back home, it'll be difficult for me to return in the style he did.  Bergeron had a goal and three assists with six shots in his season debut, a 6-3 win over the Canucks.  There's not much to be said about Bergeron; get him back in your lineup immediately.  Look for his linemates to take off as well.  Let's take a look at what happened over the last two nights:
The Chicago Blackhawks were the best team in the Western Conference during the 2016-17 regular season but unlike in years past, the postseason had no success.  The Blackhawks were demolished in the first round by the Predators leading them to make some radical offseason changes.  Out goes Artemi Panarin, back comes Brandon Saad.  Out goes Marian Hossa due to injury, back comes Patrick Sharp.  Out goes Niklas Hjalmarsson, Connor Murphy comes back in return.  Overall, I really don't like the direction that Chicago is going as I discussed on this podcast.  Despite the fact that I think they could be in a battle this season just to make the playoffs, there's still plenty of fantasy talents worth discussing.  Let's take a look at what they're working with: