In just his second full season with the Rangers 23-year-old power forward Chris Kreider, LW (1 G, 7 SOG, +1) burst out of the gates strong and quickly faded, often looking lost on the ice. His decent culminated with a demotion to the Rangers’ fourth line, a destination that Kreider is none too familiar or comfortable with, and following that he was a healthy scratch. The Rangers claimed it was a neck issue, but it was clear to everyone he was just getting scratched. It was clear that the sophomore was listless on the ice at times, bereft of the passion and drive that had propelled him to early playoff success two years ago and a hot start this season. Kreider hadn’t lost it though; he was suffering through the death of his Grandfather, and admitted that his heart just wasn’t in it during that difficult period. Well, that period is over, and he’s currently riding a three game point streak posting four points (2 G, 2 A) over that span. He enters the all-star break riding high, showing every sign of finishing this season with a bang and breaking out in a big way next year.
Caps head coach Barry Trotz recently broke up long time duo Nicklas Backstrom (3 SOG, -2) and Alex Ovechkin (7 SOG, -2) sending Backs down to the second line while promoting rookie Andre Burakovsky (1 A, 2 SOG, 2 PIM) to the top unit in hopes it would spark Ovi back to life. The situation might sound desperate if the Caps are moving a rookie to the top line to replace a guy like Backs just to get Ovi going, but it’s really not as bad as it seems. It might be news to some that Ovi isn't rolling like he normally does to start the season, but his owners are acutely aware of the drought. Through nine games Ovi has just six points, but five of those are goals so the biscuit is still finding its way to the basket at a decent rate and that’s key to Ovi’s value. While that’s not what you hope for from a top five pick to start the season when guys like John Tavares (12 points in 9 GP) and Tyler Seguin (15 points in 9 GP) are lighting it up, you must remain patient. From what I’ve seen it has basically been bad luck that’s keeping him down lately. A post here, a crossbar there, a funky bounce that doesn’t bounce favorably, those are the sorts of happenings that have gotten in Ovi’s way so far; in other words he’s fine, don’t panic. Despite the lack of points there are indicators that he’s doing just fine, so take solace in the fact that he’s still hitting (38) and shooting (38) on par with his career rates. What's wrong with Alex Ovechkin? In a word, nothing. The goals and points should follow sooner than later. If anything this just shows how incredibly consistent Ovi has been in his career. I mean think about it, he’s been around for how long and this is the first time in his career that he has gone just five freakin’ games without a point. Baller. The points will come, the points will flow and all will be well in Ovi land, worry not. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Tomas Jurco (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2) probably has the best hands in the hockey world. Don’t believe me? Have a look. It’s likely that Jurco doesn’t just have the best hands in the hockey world, he might be the talented young player out there right now and with all due respect to Tomas Hertl, he has the highest offensive upside, too. Last season he was fourth on the Sea Dogs in scoring despite missing 20 games and posted a ridiculous 13 goals, 16 assists, plus-24 in 16 playoff games. He earned the nickname “YouTube guy” because of his sick moves and it actually peeved him something severe. Not wanting to be a one-trick pony he has since stopped all the fancy-pants circus tricks with the puck and is now focused on becoming a complete hockey player. That couldn't be better news for the Wings and fantasy owners alike and so far it seems to be working. As the Wings battle a rash of injuries he’s making the best of his opportunity with a goal and an assist, plus-3 with eight shots in his first four NHL games. With hands like his you’d think he would be on course to be a sniper but he excels in just about every aspect of the game and shows flashes of a possible power-forward future and given the Wings’ struggles this season, it seems like it’s time to give the kid a chance to stick with the team, something he’s more than capable of doing. He’s an absolute must own in keeper and deeper leagues and worth very close scrutiny for standard leagues. He has the ability to be a top-six guy right now. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey recently:
Paul Stastny (2 G, 2 A, 4 SOG, +2) had his best game since, well, as long as I can remember last night with four points on four shots. Not since he last spent time centering the RPM line with Milan Hejduk and Ryan Smyth has he looked so good. When Stas burst onto the scene back in ’06 he convinced the fantasy hockey world that he’d be as good as gold posting 78 and 71 points in his first two seasons, respectively. He was rolling on into his third year when he broke his forearm, had surgery, recovered, and then returned only to break his foot and need to get that surgically repaired too. Showing real grit and a heaping load o’ talent, he came right back the next year with 79 points in 81 games and made you think injuries? What injuries? He’s good to go! Sadly since then, not so much. Despite staying healthy he wasn’t able to breach the 60 point mark in each of his last two seasons, finishing with 57 and 53 points, respectively.  And then came last season, the lockout shortened season. It’s hard to use last year as any sort of metric because of the wild amount of variables you can’t account for like how hard a guy worked out in the offseason, who he trained with, if he played overseas, the list goes on. Still, when you take Stas’ 40 GP last year and project out over 80 games he was on pace to score just 48 points, a career low. Effin’ eh, what happened?! Nothing much between this season and last considering this four point explosion comes on the heels of a nine game scoreless skid. He’s on pace to break that seemingly elusive 60 point mark this season and normally at this point I’d say don’t count on it, but with as good as the Avs are this season and as good as Stas once was, he might well make it. If not, he could always get Hejduk out of retirement and get the Avs to trade for Smyth, right? Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey yesterday:
Jay Bouwmeester has been around the league for a while now, and once upon a time he was a reliable offensive threat from the blueline for the Panthers of all teams. Then he moved on to Calgary and he went from a top 5 guy to a fantasy non-factor overnight, not once hitting the 30 point mark for the Flames in three and a half seasons after averaging 42 points a year in the four years prior to being dealt.  Since joining the Blues he’s decided to change colors again and pulled a full 180 (dig the mixed metaphors!) and now he’s on pace for an insane 64 points this season. At first I thought “Puh! Not bloody likely…” but then I started thinking about how ridiculous the St. Louis offense really is this season. Shall we break it down? Let’s shall; the Blues are 2nd in Goals Per Game with 3.4 (just 0.1 shy of league leading Chicago and 2nd overall with the man-advantage at 25.5%(!) putting their GA/GF DIFF at +35. Jay has just two goals but 19 assists and there’s plenty more where those came from. Paired with Alex Pietrangelo he has climbed into the top five in scoring for defensemen with his performance last night (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, +2)  and now has 21 points in 29 games overall. He has 11 points over his last 12 games, a plus-15 rating for the season and you should go ahead and pick him up if he’s still available in your league. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey: