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:
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.
When you drafted Matt Duchene in the third round this year you were drafting a guy that you expected 70-plus points and 30 goals from and given his history, his team and his expected line mates that those were totally reasonable expectations. Well, 33 games into the 2014-’15 season Duchene has just 10 goals and 10 assists and is on pace for just 50 points and 25 goals by season’s end. Currently riding a four game scoreless streak he’s slowly sinking on a team that is riddled with problems. Nathan MacKinnon has been hit by a serious sophomore slump and isn’t performing nearly up to the high expectations he set for himself after last year’s stellar performance. Gabriel Landeskog is putting up similarly weak numbers and looking just as lost as Jarome Iginla, Semyon Varlamov and Ryan O’Reilly. Lets face it, the Avs are a mess and they aren’t making any great strides to improve their situation as we approach the halfway mark of the season. Usually a dig into the advanced stats will show a star player doing everything right but getting unlucky, so the points should flow anytime, but sadly for Duchene’s owners that just isn’t the case so far this season.
When the Sharks moved Brent Burns to the wing last year hoping he could elevate his offensive game to the next level they were quickly made to realize that Burns isn’t a scoring forward, he’s a scoring defenseman. After a meh season on the wing he was shifted back to the blue line and wouldn’t you know it, he’s been rocking it this season to the tune of 22 points in 29 games so far. The story with Dustin Byfuglien, D (1 G, 6 SOG, 2 PIM) is much the same, but with a few twists. After three 50-plus point seasons as a defenseman the Jets, in desperate need of scoring up front, decided to conduct their own little experiment and shift Buff to the wing. The idea had merit, he’d get top six minutes and he might just make for a bruising power forward with some solid offensive upside. So here we are a third of the way through the 2014-15 season and they’ve already shifted him back to the blue line and according to Jets Coach Paul Maurice he’ll remain there “until further notice.” That’s good news for fantasy owners considering he’s scored goals in each of his last four games and has five points over that span since the transition. He’s also taken 21 shots on goal and played as much as 28 minutes the other night. Expect him to return to the top power play unit and eat up some tasty minutes there, too. The question now isn’t whether you should pick him up if a frustrated owner dropped him already, but where he can gain eligibility at D back, if he ever lost it. In Yahoo leagues he’s been listed with D eligibility since the start of the season, but in ESPN he’s listed as a RW only and according to ESPN’s site it’s going to stay that way until next season. So be aware ESPN owners, you can’t grab him now and wait for his position eligibility to change because it won’t. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey this weekend:
When you think of the Sabres lately one name generally comes to mind and he isn’t even in the league yet, yes I’m talking about McJesus himself, Connor McDavid. The Sabres are well on their way to winning the McDavid sweepstakes by bungling their way through the 2014-15 season looking like hot garbage from top to bottom, save one bright spot; Zemgus Girgensons. Girgs was the Sabres’ second first round pick in 2012 and he’s paying off pretty quickly for a team that desperately needs someone to do something positive. I mean the fact that the Sabres had two first round picks should say something in-and-of it self, but I digress, the 20 year old Latvian pivot works his butt off out there from whistle to whistle. He’s hard to knock off the puck, isn’t afraid to fight for position in traffic and while he isn’t a traditional dangler, he definitely has solid hands and fore-checks like whoa. He’s now the Sabres top line center and spends time on their top power play unit as well. Given that it’s the Sabres you can’t expect him to score a ton, but he’s posted a respectable season line so far with 8 G, 6 A, +3 (on the Sabres!), 48 SOG and 9 PIM to date. Wait, that doesn’t look as sexy as I made it sound, does it? Well! That’s because his real value comes from his ability to win faceoffs (161), deliver hits (57) and even block shots (24). There’s basically not much this guy doesn’t do and in roto leagues that’s pure gold. In deep category H2H leagues he has value too. ROS I expect him to end up with around 50-55 points, he has tremendous upside over the long term and it’s clear that the Sabres envision him as a team leader moving forward. Those in keeper leagues would do well to grab him and hold on tight. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
It might be Miller Time all the time somewhere in the world, but last night in Vancouver it was anything but. Ryan Miller (L, 8 SV, 5 GA, .615%) was bounced from the game shortly after the start of the third period after he coughed up five flippin’ goals on just 13 shots. This might make some of his owners panic, but I’m here to quell your worries, so relax guy! Most of the goals weren’t really Miller’s fault, so lets break ‘em down. The most egregious example of Miller getting hung out to dry was when Chris Tanev plowed into his own goalie and laid Miller out. While the two were tangled up Miller made a futile attempt to stop the puck but he couldn’t do much more than wave his glove hand at it while Tyler Seguin potted one in a wide open net. It didn’t start there, but it didn’t stop there either. On another goal Jamie Benn took a shot from the outside and the puck was headed wide, so Miller did what all good goalies would do, he reached his blocker out to push the puck away. He makes contact and the puck starts to move safely away from the net only to be deflected in off the knob of his stick as he pulls his blocker hand back. Then there’s when Nick Bonino dropped his stick when skating through the neutral zone on the pentalty kill. He decided to go grab his stick because hey, killing a penalties without a stick is tough, right? Well, while did it left the Canucks essentially in a 5 on 3 in their own zone and bang boom, another goal. Yes, there are some he should have stopped and yes, I’m not big on Miller this year, but it really wasn’t all bad news for Miller owners. In his words “It just wasn’t my night.” Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:
Last season Henrik Lundqvist (L, 21 SV, 6 GA, .778 SV%) had a pretty terrible October finishing the month with a line of 3-5-0, 2.84 GAA, .908 SV%, 22 GA. He rebounded a bit in November but returned to blehsville in December finishing with an even worse line of 4-4-2, 3.08 GAA, .888 SV%, 29 GA. People freaked. Should I trade Lundqvist? Is he hurt? Is he past it? Ahh! Then, from January on he followed that crapfest he called a start to his season with three months of sub 2.00 GAA’s and SV% in the .930s. He finished the season with a very Hankish 33-24-5, 2.36 GAA, .920 SV% on route to a monumental run at the Stanley Cup that ended just short of success. Everything with Hank was fine. Everything with Hank is fine. Yet here we at the start of the 2015 season and again we are faced with another slow start from His Majesty. With it, of course, comes more panic from the masses and really, it’s the same story and erryone should relax, he isn’t this bad and he won’t continue to be. That being said, there is one key difference this year and that’s the Rangers defense. In that it’s not nearly as good as it was last year. Losing possession king Anton Stralman to the Bolts hurts, but what hurts more is his “replacement” Mike Kostka who was directly responsible for two of the four goals in the fourth that rolled the Rangers after the Isles took an early 3-2 third period lead on an unassisted Kyle Okposo goal. Dan Boyle being injured doesn’t help much either, but if losing Boyle does this to your team defensively there are deeper problems that need solving, but I digress. Hank should be fine and no, he won’t keep coughing up six goals a game. Still, his owners should beware. There are cracks and holes showing on the Rangers where few existed last season that may limit his value slightly relative to seasons past. This is why I do not advise using your first or second round pick on a goalie, y’all! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Apparently all the free agents got together and decided that today was the day to sign a deal. Also, everyone had to sign with a central division team. Or demand a trade to a central division team. If I'm a fan of the Wings, Blue Jackets or any other team lucky enough to have escaped the west, I'm counting my lucky starts tonight because baby, the central is loaded. Normally I’m used to hearing news about a big contract here, a big name move there, but since the draft there have been tons of moves that sent ripples through the fantasy hockey world like so many pebbles being tossed into a still pond. Zen! Anyway, it goes without saying then (though I’ll say it) that y’all need to know who went where and for what and why. When? Yesterday! Today? Who’s on first?! The biggest non-contract move so far has to be Jason Spezza and Ludwig Karlsson going to Dallas for Alex Chaisson, Nick Paul, Alex Guptill, a 2015 second round pick and a bag o’ pucks. Couple that with Ales Hemsky inking a 3-year, $12M deal with the Stars today and they might have found a recipe for success in the west! When I initially found out about this deal I saw it as “Spezza/Karlsson traded to Dallas” and my damn jaw dropped. Come to find out its some guy named Ludwig. Really? People are actually named Ludwig? That’s too bad. Anyway, these moves should make the Stars an offensive powerhouse and I’d say Spezza (if he can stay healthy) and Hemsky (if he can stay healthy) get a decent boost in value for next season. Kari Lehtonen (if he can stay healthy) might be a goalie to target in 2015 now, too. I’m sensing a theme here. Huh, anyway, here are the rest of the big moves that matter so far this offseason…