The trade deadline looms, leaving some things uncertain, but for the most part we are getting to the part of the season where we know what we know what we know: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Sometimes it’s hard to admit that your top ranked goalie just has not come out of his funk (Pekka Rinne, anyone?); or that the offensive juggernaut your goalie plays for just can’t buy a goal (Hello, Ben Bishop!). There are still surprises to watch out for, especially for those in keeper leagues, so keep an eye on the middle tiers if you’re looking to upgrade your goaltending situation. The top tier are likely untouchable; and for other reasons entirely, so are the bottom tier.

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I’ve always been a huge Peyton Manning fan and thought he was the G.O.A.T. before last night. Even though he didn’t play well, it was great to see him win a second Super Bowl. I’m glad he said was going to have a bunch of beers after the game as well, although he should pick something better than Budweiser. Wait, I’m supposed to talk about hockey here. Whoops… The weekend had less action than normal due to the Super Bowl but there was plenty going on. Kyle Okposo had the best weekend of everyone. On Saturday, he had an assist in the blowout loss but on Sunday, Okposo went off with a hat trick, assist and eight shots in the 8-1 massacre of the Oilers. He now has a good chance of setting a career high in points, penalty minutes and power play points which is outstanding. At 27 years old, Okposo is about to enter his prime and as long as he stays healthy, he should be a 60-70 point player for the next couple years. Here’s what else I saw around the league this weekend:

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For most of the season, I’ve talked about why I wouldn’t want to own Semyon Varlamov. Long story short, I don’t trust the Avalanche to play defense well enough to prevent Varlamov from having a high goals against average. Well, the counter to that is Varlamov is a very good goaltender who can carry his team to wins. It happened twice this weekend. On Friday, he stopped 33 of 34 shots to beat the Blues 2-1 in a shootout, then he came back Saturday to make 42 saves against the Stars in a 3-1 victory. Even after these games, his goals against average is below league average but his save percentage is strong and he’s top 10 in the league in wins. There’s still plenty of value in a goalie like Varlamov, you just need to balance it by having an elite goalie to carry you in goals against average. Here’s what else I saw around the league this weekend:

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If you’re a frequent reader of my articles, then you know the player I streamed the most this year has been Vladislav Namestnikov. Well, I’m not streaming him anymore because he’s terrible. Kidding! That’s because he’s a clear hold now. He’s centering the first line in Tampa (Steven Stamkos is playing RW) and he’s coming off a hat trick on five shots in the 5-4 win over the Penguins Friday night. He only had one shot in Sunday’s game but still, the role we look to stream him in looks secured now. Names (I’m sticking with that nickname, thanks commenters!) now has 23 points in 44 games and that’s with being shuffled throughout the lineup and with little PP time (he has 4 PPP). There’s no guarantee that he lasts in this role all season but now, he’s must own in 12’ers. Here’s what else I saw around the league this weekend:

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It’s only been a month, but we have a lot of moving and shaking within our four goalie tiers. We have backups usurping starters, starters getting injured, and that mysterious 15-day flu. December in fantasy hockey is a great time to reassess your talent – especially that of the blue chip variety. Now is the time that teams begin to know where they stand in the big picture, and decisions are made (i.e.: coins are flipped) when it comes to the goaltending. You have a prime opportunity to take advantage and buy low on goalies that appear to have a future, and sell high on those who may be losing the confidence of the coaching staff, but still retain some name brand significance in trade talks.

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In my preseason defenseman rankings here, I included a detailed breakdown on why I liked John Klingberg so much for this season.  Almost everything I said has come to fruition.  Klingberg is definitely a top 10 defenseman next year and is going forward this year, the Stars power play is amazing, he’s well on his way to double last year’s 12 power play points (he has 10 already) and with 20 points in 18 games, he’s well on his way to getting 60 points.  He’s also exactly at two shots per game so there’s no limit to how good Klingberg can finish this season.  On Saturday night, Klingberg was involved in all 3 Stars goals, assisting on both goals in regulation before scoring the winner in overtime.  He’s the #1 defenseman so far this season based on ESPN’s player rater, which isn’t perfect by any means, but it illustrates just how good he’s been.  I’d say the number 10 overall player and 5th best skater is even better than what I thought his best case scenario was.  I hope you drafted him on some teams because you won’t be able to acquire him now.

Here’s what I saw in the games this weekend:

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Welcome to Assume the Position, a new weekly feature that will focus on one specific player position each week. On a personal note, I love a good, deep league, the kind in which it’s actually helpful to know who the backup goalie is in Buffalo. We’ll be wading deep into the player pool on most weeks, so dynasty and deep redraft league owners, take note.

We’ll start things off with a look at the goaltenders, breaking them up into four tiers, with comments on each.

Below, goalies denoted in parentheses are the clear backup, while teammates that are hyphenated play in a more balanced timeshare. Rating goalies by the numbers alone is tricky business. We’ll revisit the chart throughout the season and hopefully give you a leg (pad?) up on the competition that goes beyond the numbers.

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For the past week plus, every time that the Blues played I bring up a solid performance from Colton Parayko.  His role was increased with the injury to Kevin Shattenkirk and he’s run with it ever since.  Yesterday, he scored another goal getting an absurd 10 shots on goal with 2 blocked shots.  Shattenkirk is going to be back soon but Parayko has solidified himself as a top 4 option on the blueline with power play skills.  Again, go grab him where you can.

Here’s what else happened the last two nights:

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Last season, the Ducks finished the regular season as the top seed in the Western Conference.  This year, every team has at least 2 wins so far in the West except the Ducks, who are 1-5-2 through the first 8 games after a 1-0 OT loss to Chicago on Monday.  Through 6 games last year, Corey Perry scored 8 goals.  This year, through 8 games, the Ducks have 6 total goals (Perry has none), including being shut out a whopping 5 times.  Am I concerned?  To be honest, not that much for the Ducks or Perry.  The Ducks have been consistently outshooting teams, including a great Chicago team by a Corsi (all total shots) 60-47.  Perry also had 8 shots on goal on Monday and was +11 in Corsi, meaning the Ducks had 11 more shot attempts than they gave up when he was on the ice.  The Ducks are shooting close to 3% on the season as a team which is completely unsustainable.  Bottom line, expect the Ducks to break out of their slump soon and in a big way.  With the 3 game slate on Monday, I’m also going to cite Corsi statistics for individual players on Monday to give a better indication on how their team did when they were on the ice.  As a disclaimer, Corsi is only for 5-5 on play; it doesn’t include special teams time because it would skew the stat too much.  Corsi is a great indicator for future success; the more shot attempts a player has when he is on the ice compared to his opponent, the more likely he is to score goals.  

Let’s take a look:

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The Arizona Coyotes put forward a great display of tanking at the end of last season pushing the Sabres for the worst record in the league.  Unfortunately for them, they came up short and were jumped in the lottery.  They were expected to be horrible again and the first two games do not really change their expectations.  That said, you had to come away impressed by the Desert Dogs this weekend crushing the Kings 4-1 in LA on Friday and beating Pittsburgh 2-1 on Saturday. The quick start can largely be attributed to Mike Smith stopping 40 of 41 shots Friday and 27 of 28 on Saturday. He’s an incredibly streaky goalie so it’s not a terrible idea to pick him up and stream him while it lasts.  He could also get shelled in their next game  (Wednesday at Anaheim) so you have to decide for yourself if it’s worth the gamble (I’d lean yes).  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:

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