Things can change quickly in hockey. Matt Murray led the Pens to two Stanley Cups, then struggled mightily last season and to open this year. Now, Murray has caught fire once again. The netminder had a 33 save shutout on Friday against the Jets. That means in his last 6 games, he's allowed 6 goals total with his worst save percentage being .931. We've seen the upside before, and that's of a top 5 goaltender, if not more. First off, he's somehow available in 15% of leagues, which is absurd. If you're lucky enough to be in one, grab him immediately. Two, if you own Casey DeSmith, you can safely drop him. Lastly, I doubt you'll be able to trade for him given his hot run, but I'd much rather do that than sell high. The upside of Murray is too high to pass on, and with the Pens playing as well as they lately, the floor is fairly high too. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
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:
Here's what I said about Jonathan Marchessault in my season preview of the Florida Panthers: "Jared McCann and Jonathan Marchessault are the two Panthers I can see taking a late flier on in deep leagues... Marchessault scored 18 points in 45 games for Tampa Bay last season despite averaging only 12 minutes of ice time per game. When Tampa was hit with injuries, Marchessault filled in admirably. If Florida was hit by the injury bug, I could see both of these guys becoming relevant in 12’ers; for now they are potential waiting for their chance." And that's me quoting me! Well, Florida did get struck by the injury bug and while McCann didn't provide much value this season, Marchessault certainly did. The return of their two best players hasn't hurt Marchessault at all. In fact, it's helped him on the power play. He recorded his first career hat trick in the 7-0 win over the Blackhawk, which also included four shots and four PIM. That brings Marchessault's totals to 28+20 with 34 PIM and 2.5 shots per game in 67 GP. Not bad for a guy the Panthers signed for $750k for this season and next. The Panthers have an interesting offseason ahead to determine how their forward core is going to look next season. Regardless, I think Marchessault is worry of a late round pick next season. I don't think there's more upside than what he's doing this season but there's no complaints with a 34+25 per 82 games when he's not hurting you elsewhere. I expect the Panthers to be back in the playoffs next season with Marchessault providing some nice depth behind the big guns. Let's take a look at what else happened this weekend around the league:
Cory Schneider has been a mainstay among the top of goaltending rankings for the past few years in fantasy hockey. To say this year has been a disappointment to this point would be quite the understatement. The good thing is that there's plenty of time for him to turn the tide. Schneider had his first shutout of the season on Thursday making 16 saves in the 4-0 win over the Flyers. Yes, it was a great spot for the Devils but regardless, they took it to the Flyers and Schneider stepped up when called upon. I would ask Schneider's owner about a trade and see if you can buy low on him. He's established himself as a true #1 fantasy goalie for years and I think he plays that way the rest of the season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two days:
I said on Friday that I don't like leading off with the same person back to back, let alone the same month. Well, Devan Dubnyk deserves to be the lede again with his third consecutive shutout on Saturday stopping all 29 shots against the Stars. For those of you who own Dubnyk in weekly head to head leagues, congrats on winning the goaltending categories this week! Three starts, three shutouts for my most frequently owned goaltender, go me! In the big picture, this doesn't really change things for me; Dubnyk is a #1 goalie and will continue to be so. While it matters less in fantasy hockey (it still has an impact for streaming and matchups), this shows me that the Wild are for real this season. I harped on it in the preseason and on the podcasts (mostly the over-under) but Bruce Boudreau does amazing things for hockey teams. I'm sure we'll be talking about it on Tuesday's podcast. Anyways, let's take a look at everything that happened around the league this weekend.
So I’m in this one league that drafts way too early each year. On top of that, it’s an email draft that typically takes up to 3 weeks to complete. And it’s deep. Very deep. Twenty teams, with 20-man rosters. So why do I torture myself year after year, with this slow-as-molasses-and-way-too-soon draft? Because it preps me for all the others I will take part in leading up to the season. They’re still playing World Cup games, for crying out loud. How is anyone supposed to be ready for this?
The Winnipeg Jets looked to be turning a corner in 2014-15 when they made the playoffs for the first time since moving from Atlanta. However, their goaltending fell apart and injuries piled up last season causing the Jets to struggle mightily, consequently trade their captain and bottom out. Luckily for them, they moved up in the lottery to the second pick to give them an absolutely loaded top 6. The Central Division will be a bloodbath but I expect the Jets to bounce back and fight to return to the playoffs. They have a handful of players I'm extremely high on so let's take a look at what they're working with:
Let’s just cut to the chase, shall we? You somehow made the fantasy playoffs, even though your goaltending is suspect. For this playoff edition of the Goalie Report, I’m going to do away with the regular format and go right ahead and list who’s worth an add, who to avoid, and a few desperation plays – if that’s how you roll. These guys might be available in 12-team leagues, but anything deeper and who are we kidding? You’re likely stuck with what you’ve got, and if you’re lucky, one or more of the desperation plays will work out for you.
Both divisions in the Western Conference are in the midst of a three way battle that will have a major impact throughout the playoffs. The Blackhawks found themselves playing three games in a row against their competitors and lost their third in a row. The Blackhawks were thoroughly dominated on Monday night by the Kings, losing 5-0 at home. Jonathan Quick posted the shutout for L.A. stopping all 32 shots he faced. Quick is currently the number 4 fantasy goaltender on the season with better numbers across the board than last season. The Kings remained in first in the Pacific while the Blackhawks remained in third. They have overcome being on the road before but it still makes things quite difficult for Chicago. On the other hand, the Kings getting home ice, a situation they're rarely in, would be a nice bonus against the Ducks or Sharks. Expect Quick to get the majority of the starts down the stretch to be one of the biggest difference makers in the fantasy playoffs. Here's what I saw around the league Monday night:
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.