Ben Bishop didn’t give up a goal for three straight games and the first period in Thursday’s game. Then, something sadly familiar happened: he was injured. Bishop left Thursday’s game against the Wild with Anton Khudobin playing in relief. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Things have changed quite a bit with goaltending in the NHL since I started writing at Razzball. When I started, there were tons of workhorses with very few teams using a platoon. Now, more than half of the teams have a duo where the backup is getting at least 1/3 of the starts, if not a complete split. Among the few workhorses that we have left, there are only six that I completely trust to be a #1 goalie this year. I am breaking down all of the goalies in the NHL into tiers (and ranking them within in each tier), but be sure to understand how your league format can change the value of certain players. For example, if you're in a head to head league, Marc-Andre Fleury is going to be more valuable than in a roto league because the volume should be there. In a roto league where you have a set number of starts, someone like Ilya Sorokin, who, barring injury, should start 35-40 games, gets a boost because the quality of starts matters a lot more than volume. If you have specific questions, ask them in the comments section, but I'll have a quick note on everyone when necessary. Let's get to it!
"Joonas Donskoi is pushing towards being an elite streamer. Donskoi has eleven points in the past nine games while he received some shifts on the top PP unit on Monday as well." And that's me quoting me from two days ago! Well, Donskoi is certainly at that level now. Donskoi had a hat trick in the first period on Wednesday, adding an assist and six shots in the 9(!)-3 win over the Coyotes. Donskoi's third goal was on the PP with the top unit which does wonders for his value. While he's this hot, Donskoi is worth holding. I don't necessarily expect it to last, but he could easily stay an elite streamer for the rest of the season. The way the Avalanche are playing right now, I want as much to do with their offense as possible. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Injuries have robbed us of an amazing Cale Makar season. The good news is that he's back now and dominating games on a consistent basis. Makar had three assists with four shots in Colorado's 5-2 win over the Ducks on Monday. That brings Makar up to a point per game on the season with a +12 rating in 22 games that isn't a fluke at all. We've seen a slight uptick in his shot rate this season, but a big jump there is what it will take for Makar to move into being a top five defenseman instead of being a middling to bottom end #1. With how well he plays in his age 22 season, I have no doubt that it's coming. For dynasties, I think he has to be the top defenseman. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Mika Zibanejad was looking like the biggest bust of this season near the halfway point. Well, it's changing pretty quickly and amazingly, it wasn't the Sabres that turned it around. Last week, Zibanejad had three goals and three assists against the Flyers. It was so fun that he did it again eight days later! On Thursday, Zibanejad doubled down with his second natural hat trick and six point game in rapid succession against Philadelphia in the 8-3 win. That brings him up to 10+16 in 32 games, not exactly lighting the world on fire, but within reason. He's still over three shots per game, so while a repeat top 20 season is out of play, a top 50 season is still within reason. As I said at the time, Zibanejad is prone to huge hot streaks, and I think 17 points in 7 games qualifies. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's no surprise that the Sharks gave up five goals on Saturday. They've continually allowed a lot of goals and are arguably the best matchup you can hope your players are facing at the moment. It was the top line's turn for the Blues as they combined for eleven points. Ryan O'Reilly and David Perron each had a goal and three assists while Jordan Kyrou scored two goals and added an assist. Perron is now above a point per game and RoR is exactly at it. Kyrou cooled off after a hot start, but he's cemented himself as the third member of this line. The schedule gets pretty tough going forward for the Blues, but I still think I would hold Kyrou in all formats. The upside is through the roof and with the Blues in more of a battle for a playoff spot than they would have anticipated going into the season, I expect the top line to continue getting big minutes. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Tristan Jarry had his best game of the season on Monday night stopping 42 of 43 shots in the 4-1 win over the Bruins. He's crossed both hockey versions of the Mendoza line and the wins are strong, but it's still not pretty overall. However, I'm very bullish on Jarry and Casey DeSmith going forward. The Penguins are playing much better lately and their schedule going forward is outstanding. They still have six games with the Sabres and all eight games against the Devils. That means half of their remaining games are against teams that they should handle with ease. Think of how well goalies like Andersen normally rank at the end of the season because of how many wins they get. Both Pens goalies should have those kind of numbers in the second half. It's hard to say how the starts will be split, but if you're desperate for goalie help, I'm fine with holding DeSmith, and Jarry is a nice trade target. Let's take a look at what else happened on Monday night:
The hype surrounding Kirill Kaprizov was building for a few years before he came to the NHL. Even with the lofty expectations on his shoulders, he's played at a level higher than anyone expected. On Friday, Kaprizov scored a hat trick on eight shots with two PIM and a +4 rating. He followed that up with another eight shots on Sunday, adding an assist and two penalty minutes. I wrote about a month ago that I expected Kaprizov's shot rate to take a big jump as the season progressed based on his shooting totals in the KHL. Well, sixteen shots in the past two games brings him over 2.5 per game, an average rate for a forward. Add in being just under a point per game and we can basically call the Calder race now. I'm not convinced that it's going to get better in the future as Kaprizov will be 24 by the time the regular season ends, but either way, he should establish himself around a 30+40 pace in a normal season with slight upside on both of those numbers. Kaprizov is definitely a top 50 dynasty asset, but I don't think he pushes the top 25 long term because the penalty minutes will be low and more importantly, I don't think he gets to be a 3.5-4 shot per game guy because he's too good of a playmaker for that. Either way, if you're lucky enough to have him, enjoy it because there's nothing fluky about his performance. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Playing time has been the only thing that has stopped Alex Tuch from breaking out in the past. It looked like he was going into the top six two seasons ago, but then the Golden Knights acquired Stone keeping Tuch on the third line. Well, this season that has finally changed even though Stone is still on the team, mostly because the Karlsson line plays less minutes. On Saturday, Stone left the game with a minor injury which led Tuch to being double shifted. Even before that, Tuch was on a tear and it'll only get better with his increased workload. Tuch scored two goals on six shots on Saturday after scoring a goal on Friday. That brings Tuch up to 12 goals in 21 games, an excellent mark. Sure, his shooting percentage is unsustainable, but the increase in minutes could counteract that a bit. Tuch is still available in over 40% of leagues, so if you're lucky enough to be in one of them, grab him now. Let's take a look at what else happpened over the weekend:
It wasn't that long ago that people were talking about a Stanley Cup hangover for the Capitals. Now, the defending champs have won 10 out of 12 on the backs of their captain, Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin recorded the 21st hat trick of his career on Tuesday extending his league lead in goals. He now has 25 goals and 14 assists in only 30 games this season to go along with 116 shots. That means he's below four shots per game, a rarity for The Great Eight, but still an elite rate. Sure, his shooting percentage is going to drop a bit, but there's no reason at all to expect a regression. I've seen a few articles on other sites that say you should sell high on Ovechkin, and I'd have to disagree. He gets drafted in the first round for his incredibly high floor, and nothing has changed to reduce that floor. Let the good times roll and enjoy what should be his eighth 50 goal season of his career. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights: