The Washington Capitals were 2-8-1 through 11 games and were heading towards the bottom of the league. Somehow, they pulled off an amazing comeback and went 25-10-2 over the rest of the season and stole the Southeast Division title away from Winnipeg. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Phil Housley's shakeup of the lines last Saturday has worked extremely well. The Sabres have won three straight and carried the play in all three of those games. One of those moves was putting Jason Pominville on the first line and he's delivered and then some. Pominville scored two goals on five shots on Thursday, giving him 3+3 in his last three games. Now, I'm not saying he's going to be a hold all year, it's 2018, not 2008. However, he's a hot schmotato right now, and first line plus first power play time is nothing to be ignored. If you need a streamer on Saturday, Pominville is a great option, and if the heater continues, use him next week. The Sabres schedule is pretty soft over the next two weeks. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's Christmas in February! I'm going to hit on all of the trades that I haven't discussed to this point and then update this post with every trade that takes place today. These are all my instant thoughts from both a real life and fantasy perspective. Let's get right to it!
Hey everyone! Last year's trade deadline post was a hit so I'm back updating all of the latest trades and providing instant analysis. Reid will also be giving his thoughts as well that I will add into this post with mine. An hour or so after the deadline, we will record a podcast that will go up Thursday morning recapping everything in more detail. Anyways, I'll recap everything that happened before 1 AM EST now and starting around 10-11 AM later today, I will start updating this post as trades happen. As always, post any questions or comments in the section below or we will answer them. Let's get to it!
It's been quite a while since we've seen a shutout streak like the Blues are on. On Friday, Brian Elliott had one of the easiest shutouts of the season making 15 saves in the 4-0 win over the Canucks. The next day, Jake Allen recorded the fourth consecutive Blues shutout, stopping all 32 Capitals shots in the 4-0 win. Both have been outstanding this season and should be started every game the rest of the way. Get them in your lineup every time they start; the Blues will be highly motivated down the stretch to get home ice throughout the Western Conference Playoffs. Here's what else I saw around the league this weekend:
The Leafs are in the midst of their traditional mid-to-end-of-season collapse and it’s a surprise to exactly no one. Oh, you’re surprised? Were you also surprised that the sun came up this morning? Because baby, this is like clockwork for the Leafs. Looking at the team on paper coming into the season you figured they had to have a chance to be better than they were last season, perhaps even avoid the slump they’re in right now. Yeah, not so much, eh? Well, despite their perennial struggles you can’t lose hope yet and jettison James van Riemsdyk, LW (1 G, 8 SOG, +1), Tyler Bozak, C (1 A, 3 SOG, +1) or Phil Kessel, RW (zip, zilch, nada) for pennies on the dollar, because the upside is just much too high there and sooner or later they’re going to rebound and start producing again.
If you are among the many owners who benched Semyon Varlamov, G (W, 54 SV, 0 GA, 1.000%, SHO) and David Backes, C (4 G, 6 SOG, +2) take some solace in the fact that it was the right call. It might sting, but don’t second-guess yourself here. Before either guy found some semblance of their 2014 selves on Wednesday night they were hot garbage with a side of crusty old gym socks so there was no reason to put either of them in your lineups. Generally the rule of thumb is to always, always start your big names. You drafted them, you can’t trade them and if there’s nothing better on the wire, you just slot them in and live or die with your decisions. But both Varly and Backes have been so bad this year that you almost had no choice but to bench them. With performances this good it begs the question whether or not either of them has found their stride for a big second half, but I’m sorry to say that neither is poised for a big run and neither of them has earned the right to be regularly inserted into your lineups moving forward, either.
Kris Versteeg did his best impression of Dan Boyle the other night and blocked an Eric Fehr shot with his hand. It didn’t work and predictably his hand is broken. Hawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville said it’s doubtful that the injury will require surgery, so that’s good, but Steeg is down for a month or so. That’s bad. Despite the recent slow down in production, Steeg hits the IR third in points for the Hawks with 27 in 34 games played. He was on pace for 65 points, 20 goals and a plus-32 and considering his 10.8% shooting percentage is right in line with his career average of 11.5%, it’s a safe bet that he’d have hit all those marks. All this from a guy you likely picked up for nothing. Sadface. There’s a silver lining in this dark cloud, though, and his name is Teuvo Teräväinen.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are getting beat up by injury, disease and all sorts of nonsense this season and their luck didn’t improve with the news that Patric Hornqvist will miss at least a few weeks with a lower-body injury as he hit the IR for the first time this season a few days ago. Horny isn’t the only Pen down for a few weeks either, Blake Comeau suffered an upper-body injury a few days before Christmas and will be out until mid-January as well. The fun doesn’t stop there, either! Steve Downie joined the mumps brigade not too long ago, and though he’s returning this week and bringing his NHL leading 135 PIM with him, the Pens needed to shore up their top six in a bad way so they saved David Perron from the Oilers and banished Rob Klinkhammer and whoever the poor bastard that ends up being their number one pick in 2015 to the Great White North. While this does little to help Klink’s already minimal value, Perron gets a huge boost, but expectations should be tempered.
Elias Lindholm (1 G, 2 A, 2 SOG, +2) was the fifth overall pick in the 2013 Entry Draft and at the ripe old age of 19 made his NHL debut this season. The 'Canes were kind enough to loan him to the Swedes for the WJC, but he just got back and decided to throw a party with three points to help the surging Hurricanes crush the Leafs 6-1 last night. Just before he did that, he scored nine points in seven games (2 G, 7 A) in the World Junior Championship helping to drive the Swedish team to the gold medal game; sadly they fell to the Fins 3-2 in OT. Lindholm then almost immediately flew back to the states, crossing who knows how many time zones, to make practice and take his place on the Carolina roster. After practice Wednesday morning he worried he would be too tired to play well, saying he hoped he would "feel better tomorrow." Welp, it looks like he was feeling just fine! Impressive, maybe the Swedish media wasn't going insane touting him as the next Peter Forsberg last year. So what's this kid all about? Well, Lindholm plays like he’s much older than his 19 years, and not in a bad way. His hockey IQ seems to be at least above average and given his age the hope is he'll only get smarter and better as he continues to play. He displays a strong set of great qualities to see in a guy his age with superb hands, good vision, and very tasty playmaking and passing abilites. He keeps his head up, can play both ways, works hard, has a great attitude and gets results on the ice. What more could you want? Plant fields of this kid! So far he has 10 points in 22 games and despite his recent surge I don’t think he’s worth owning just yet. That being said, he could see his worth skyrocket and fast if he brings some of his overseas success back to the NHL. The 'Canes called him up in hopes that he would help their fight for a playoff spot and if he does he'll stick around. He's young, and he might get tired fast, but by the time your fantasy squad is gearing up for the playoffs, he may end up as a key guy you stream to win. Until then he’s keeper league material and a must own there for sure. Anyway, here's what else I saw in the world o' fantasy hockey last night: