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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Gretzky, Lemieux, Forsberg, LaFontaine.  That’s the list of players in the last 30 seasons to have multiple five assist games in one season.  Add Mathew Barzal to the list after Friday night.  Barzal became the first rookie in 100 years to have three five point games in one season dishing five assists in the 7-6 win over the Red Wings.  That puts Barzal over a point per game on the season and makes him the prohibitive favorite for the Calder (sorry Boeser).  Our second podcast ever, which took place before last season, saw Reid and I hype up Barzal for dynasties.  Regardless, he’s blown away my expectations this season.  Now, it’s not all rosy for fantasy.  The penalty minutes are low, but more importantly the shot rate is barely over two per game.  On the other hand, he’s 20 years old and is over a point per game, so it’s hard to complain.  There’s a top 20 fantasy player in Barzal’s future if he can get that shot rate up.  Regardless, he’ll be a borderline top 50 player next year solely for the points, and it’s only going to get better from there.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Hey everyone!  While there are still a bunch of teams that have their bye this week, it’s nowhere near as many as last week.  The lack of games made it the lightest week of the season and leaving little to talk about fantasy wise.  Therefore, I’m going to use this post to make one fantasy hockey prediction for each team for the rest of the season.  We’ll be back to the usual daily notes on Wednesday and Friday this week.  Let’s get going!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

What the Vegas Golden Knights are doing in their inaugural season is nothing short of spectacular.  The only thing I’ve ever seen like it is Leicester City fighting off relegation before winning the Premier League title the next season at 5000-1 shots.  Sure, Vegas was nowhere near that big of a long shot, but to have the best record in the West is remarkable.  On Tuesday, they beat their top competition, the Nashville Predators, 3-0.  Marc-Andre Fleury led the way with a 28 save shutout.  It’s a shame Fleury was injured this season because he’s been great in 9 of 10 starts.  Fleury has won 8 of his 10 starts with a GAA below 2 and save percentage above .940.  It’s safe to say it will regress some but I’m well past the point of thinking Vegas is going to regress.  This team is real and Fleury looks like he’ll be a slam dunk #1 fantasy goalie for the rest of the season and going forward.  Just a remarkable story that I can’t get enough of.  Let’s take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

First off, I hope everyone had a Happy New Year’s!  As much as I personally don’t care for New Year’s Eve, this year was different because of the Buffalo Bills making the playoffs.  I wish I had video of me celebrating with my dad or an audio recording of my friend, who is in Paris, who heard us yelling on speaker phone and him celebrating in the Paris streets. Couple that with an amazing USA win in the WJC outdoor game against Canada that I was at and things in the sports world couldn’t be better.  Even the Sabres looked competent today despite the loss!  Anyways, let’s get to what you’re here for…

I’ve talked about Josh Bailey being the waiver wire pickup of the year on multiple occasions over the last couple weeks because, well, the Isles top line is on fire.  That said, William Karlsson is easily #2 in this department.  Wild Bill, a Razzball favorite from the past (aka favorite of mine), scored the first hat trick in Vegas history on Sunday, scoring three goals and an assist in the 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs.  That brings Karlsson’s totals to 20+13 in 33 games with a +15 rating.  Sure, it will regress some because he’s not going to shoot 26.3% all season, but let’s give Karlsson his due.  In the first 183 games of his career, Karlsson scored 18 goals.  He has that beat for the Golden Knights in 37 games.  His emergence is a huge part of Vegas shocking the world as they sit atop the Western Conference.  Karlsson will drop off some in the second half, at least in the goals department, but make no mistake about it, it’s not a complete fluke.  Karlsson should be a hold for the rest of the season.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last three days of the old year:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?