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.
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:
Even though the Flames offense has been prospering lately, they've done it without their number 1 center producing. Before Wednesday night, Sean Monahan had 3 points in his last 13 games. Well, he broke out of his slump and in a big way with a goal, three assists and three shots in the 4-1 win over the Hurricanes. He now has 15 goals and 18 assists through 49 games, a bit behind last year's pace. You can attribute directly to special teams points; Monahan had 21 last year while he only has 8 to date this year. If he gets going on the power play, he can push last year's 62 point total. While he hasn't taken the next step from last season, he's still only 21 years old. The sky is the limit for this kid and it would be wise to throw make some offers for him in a dynasty league if his owner isn't happy. Here's what else I saw around the league the last two nights:
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:
Say the title five times fast, you won't! Alliteration aside, Ben Bishop brought an end to the Blackhawks 12 game winning streak on Thursday, stopping 17 of 18 shots to extend the Lightning's winning streak to 7. Despite all of their struggles, the Lightning are only one point out of first place in the Atlantic and they have Bishop to thank. He's top 10 in the league in goals against, save percentage and wins, including 2nd in the leagues in goals against average. He hasn't been mentioned as a Vezina candidate but he has earned the right to be in the conversation. Here's what else I saw the last two nights around the league:
Before Tuesday night, in the past 25 Coyotes games, Max Domi had scored in exactly one game, a meeting with the Sabres on December 4th where he scored twice. I had a question in the comments in my Monday article about whether Domi was still worth holding in 12'ers and justifiably so. Well, Domi showed his upside and why he should be held in fantasy leagues scoring a hat trick on five shots in the 4-3 overtime win against the Oilers. With this one game, he's back on a 60 point pace ( ~25+35) and should be owned everywhere. In dynasty leagues, he's going to pay massive dividends going forward as the Coyotes are loaded with young talent and have a lot more coming led by Dylan Strome. Here's what else I saw the last two nights around the league:
Coming into the season, I was all aboard the Dallas bandwagon. As far as their goalies went, I had Kari Lehtonen ranked behind their big free agent acquisition Antti Niemi but suggested owning both parts of the platoon since it looked be close to an even split in starts. Well, they both have been struggling lately but Lehtonen put an end to their recent run of poor form. He stopped 32 of 33 shots last night in the 2-1 shootout win over the Jets. Things can certainly change with goalies but in the short term, look for Lehtonen to start getting a higher percentage of the Dallas starts. His overall numbers aren't great outside of wins but that's mostly because of a couple horrendous starts. Here's what else I saw in a very low scoring Thursday around the league:
To start the year, John Gibson was stuck in the AHL because the Ducks wanted to get him playing time. It took an injury to Fredrik Anderson for Gibson to start getting playing time and now Bruce Boudreau has realized that Gibson, their goalie of the future, is their present as well. On Thursday, Gibson had his second consecutive 1-0 win stopping all 21 shots against the Oilers. On Sunday, Gibson stopped 19 of 20 shots in the 4-1 win over the Jets. In 15 starts, Gibson has an absurd 1.63 GAA and a .932 save percentage. After an absolutely dreadful start, the Ducks are in a playoff spot thanks mostly to Gibson. Here's what else has happened around the league going back to the 31st of last year:
Shane Doan has been around for so long that he was on the Winnipeg Jets in the mid 1990's. As a kid, he was one of my favorite players for the two way game that he played. He was one of the most consistent players in the league who quietly went about his business and has been part of the Coyotes since they moved to Arizona. So far, his biggest plus in the fantasy world was that he was racking up the penalty minutes until he had two goals and an assist with four shots in the 3-2 win against the Maple Leafs on Tuesday. If you are short on PIM, I'd definitely grab Doan in 12'ers because his offense is better than most of the big PIM guys. If you don't need PIM, he's starting to work his way onto the fringe and is a solid streamer. Jaromir Jagr is getting a ton of attention for what he's doing at his age but Doan at 39 is going under the radar again. Here's what else I saw on a busy Tuesday:
As far as journeyman goaltenders go, Chad Johnson is the perfect model for grinding the hockey life waiting for an opportunity. Johnson bounced around organizations and finally got a chance to backup in Boston 2 years ago putting up outstanding numbers in 27 games. He was miserable for the Islanders last season and was traded to the tanking Sabres at the deadline. Well, the Sabres aren't tanking now and Johnson is taking advantage of his chance splitting time. Johnson played incredibly on Thursday night, stopping all 44 shots he faced in the 3-0 win over the Ducks. His numbers on the season are now very solid for someone who's sitting on the waiver wire in the majority of leagues; 2.33 GAA and .918 sv%. It's still unknown when Robin Lehner will return and Linus Ullmark will get his starts but I'd grab Johnson in 12'ers for the time being. Here's what else I saw the last two nights: