Before the season started I was not a big fan of Roberto Luongo (W, 32 SV, 1 GA, .970%). I mean, I like Lu and think he's a stellar tender, but I figured his chances of a solid year with the Cats were somewhat slim. I mean honestly, it’s the Cats. Yes, they are chock full of young talent, but they’d been garbage for so long and their defense so porous that I expected Lu to return to his old stomping ground and face about the same volume of shots he did in days gone by. An aging goalie returning to face a montain of shots on a young team doesn't exactly sound like a recipe for success, now does it? Well, apparently I was wrong. Since their opening night implosion against the Devils the Cats have really pulled themselves together and have been playing some seriously solid 5-on-5 defense. Their forwards are back-checking like whoa and in general they’re able to disrupt some of the better offenses in the game. Dare I say I’m even impressed? Oh, I dare. I’m impressed. Flordia currently sits at 14th in the league in shots against per game allowing 30 a night and Lu is more than enough goalie to handle that kind of workload and put up solid numbers doing it. With that said this endorsement comes with a word of caution. Florida is indeed very young and while they are currently seventh overall in goals against per game allowing just two a tilt they’re second to last in goals per game with 1.5 per, 23rd on the power play and 28th on the Penalty Kill. Those numbers do not bode well for Lu getting many wins. If the defense holds up his peripherals should range from solid to sparkling despite the lack of wins, so, I guess it really is like he’s back to his old tricks in South Florida, eh? So I was kind of right, anyway. Just the wrong kind of right. Right? Hmn. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Chris Pronger was recently hired by the NHL to join the league’s Player Safety Department. Wow. Really? Uh. No. Wait. Really? What's next? Announcing the new head of the NHL’s Driver Safety Department, Ray Charles! He’s not only blind, he’s dead! Perfect! I suppose hiring a guy responsible for so many injuries and damage over the years (dem elbows) might make the perfect hire, I mean, the government hires hackers that are good enough to get into their systems to show the government how to secure said systems again, right? So it all makes sense that way. Right? The weird/illegal/BS aspect of this is that Pronger is still under contract with the Flyers for two more years. That's right, he's still technically a player in the league. And now he's going to be part of a league office? We all know he'll never skate again, but still, come on. How on earth is this legal? Can you imagine if this sticks? This just in! The entire top-six of the Devils and Rangers were just suspended for, uh, violating player safety. Yeah, that’s it. Player safety. What a crock. None of this has anything to do with fantasy hockey, but something had to be said. Chris Pronger? Player Safety? With his deputy Todd Bertuzzi, right? Jesus. Anyway, here’s what I saw in the first full night of action in the world o’ fantasy hockey:
Patrik Elias (3 A, 3 SOG, +2) was automatic at one point in his career, in fact he was almost always a sure thing and as recently as 2011-12 he was just shy of a point-per-game player. Fast-forward a few years and father time is finally catching up with Elias this season as he’s struggled to stay healthy and stay consistent. Still, a bad season for Elias means he’s going to top the 60-point marker by season’s end, even at his age, so he retains some value in most formats. Right now he’s absolutely on fire with 12 points in his last 10 games. Some speculate the recent birth of his second child has given Elias new life, and that might be true, but I think it has more to do with his pairing with surging rookie Adam Henrique (3 A, 1 SOG, +2, 2 PIM) instead. Henrique exploded after the Olympic break with 14 points in 12 games and that coincided with his being shifted to a line with Elias, so there you go! The trio of helpers he tallied last night serve as more evidence that he is going to keep producing, trying to get his team into the playoffs, so if you enjoy winning you might want to add Elias. It shouldn’t be hard if you’re a Yahoo player as he’s only owned in 58% leagues there, but sad news for you ESPN people, he’s at 100% ownership there. It’s kind of ironic that ESPN has all but abandoned any semblance of decent coverage for the NHL and yet their fantasy hockey system seems to be far more active than Yahoos. Not that Yahoo has been a pillar of support and good coverage for the NHL, but ESPN really has been that bad. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world of fantasy hockey yesterday:
Ryane Clowe (1 A, 0 SOG, -2) had some pretty solid seasons as a member of the San Jose Sharks from 2008 to 2012 and after getting dealt to the Rangers last year because there was just no room for him on the Sharks, he signed a $24 million deal with the Devils. His first five or six games this season were just awful, and then rookie defenseman Jacob Trouba elbowed him in the head and he fell like a sack o' potatoes. After missing the last two-and-a-half months with a concussion he's returned with a vengeance quickly establishing himself as an important cog in a seemingly rejuvenated Devils offense for the second half of the season. He's everywhere out there right now; clearing space, getting shots on goal, creating offensive chances where earlier in the season the Devils couldn't buy an opportunity and what's more, he's scoring consistently since returning from injury with 10 points in his last 10 games. While I don't expect he can keep that pace up, the Devils brought him in to win battles and help generate offense and it appears that's exactly what he's doing while healthy. Even on nights where the Devils have struggled (like last night) he still manages to look good out there with line-mates Adam Henrique and Michael Ryder. While most owners probably hoped he'd see more time on the top line with Jaromir Jagr, he seems to be doing just fine on what appears to be New Jersey's new second line so don't hope to fix what isn't broken. By this point in the season the wire is pretty thin getting thinner making finding fresh legs almost impossible so that gives Clowe a bit more value than he might otherwise have had at this point in the season. That being said, 10 points in his last 10 games, are you going to ignore that? Well, you go right ahead, but the rest of us are paying attention. While everyone else is going to be digging deep after the Olympic break Clowe is going to be churning on fresh legs and that could help him score more and you win more. He's not sexy, he's not fast, he's not going to wow you, but when other guys are slowing and getting hurt when you need them the most, Clowe is likely to be happy, healthy and fairly productive. Would you buy that for a dollar? Doesn't matter! Clowe's probably out there for free, so cash in now y'all! Anyway, here's what else I saw last night in the world o' fantasy hockey:
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:
Normally I focus on one player that stands out to me as I write these rundowns, but tonight I have to switch it up because the Edmonton Oilers have come alive! Semyon Varlamov stayed in the entire game taking an 8-2 pounding from the league’s youngest team. It's pretty ironic that back in 1995 when Avs Head Coach Patrick Roy was left in for all 9 goals scored effectively ending his career with the Habs (and he nearly retired completely) and now he's gone and done the same thing to Varlamov, classy. I never liked Roy. Anyway, here’s the rundown for the Oil:
Taylor Hall (3 G, 1 A, 7 SOG, + 1) is elite and should be the guy that leads this team back to greatness. He’s got all the skills and he put them all on display tonight.
Jordan Eberle (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, even) is the other half of the core of this offensive unit that could be one of the best in the league in the second half.
David Perron (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, +2) is having a career year and after not living up to expectations for years seems to have found a home in the Great White North.
Ales Hemsky (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG, +1) is showing signs of life as well. He’s one of my second-half sleepers.
Mark Acrobello (1 G, 1 A, 5 SOG, +1) remains a risky add at best. He’s tiny and inconsistent, but could live well off the table scraps of others if the Oil take off like I think they can.
Sam Ganger (1 G, 2 SOG, even) should take this opportunity to step up and be a leader for this young bunch. He was once a highly touted prospect himself.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (1 A, 2 SOG, +1) chipped in an assist, but should be right in the middle of all the scoring sooner than later. What would a mention of the Oilers’ potential be without the Nudge?!
Nail Yakupov (1 SOG, -1) continues to be a huge bust and what a tickertease for his owners. I never buy in early on young Russians because so few of them pan out and Yakupov seems to be the same. On a team flush with young talent this kid is playing an embarassing season of hockey with a -17 rating and just 9 points in 28 games played so far. Nail, I think the KHL is calling.
After a terrible start to the season it seems like this young team is getting its legs and finding their identity as a team. They’ve won four of their last five games and with performances like this there’s a possibility this team might, may be able to ull itself out of the basement and fight for a playoff spot. After adding Breezy to upgrade their goalie situation and a favorable schedule going up to the Olympic break facing the likes of the Flames, Jets, Blue Jackets, Hurricanes and Predators, things are looking up for the Edmonton faithful. Is the horrible start a thing of the past? Maybe, but you can’t deny tonight’s results, and this didn’t come against a bad team with lackluster goaltending either. Don’t miss out on this potential buffet o’ fantasy black gold, grab some Oil while you can get ‘em cheap! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey recently:
Brad Richards scored twice and Rick Nash added a pair of assists as the New York Rangers knocked off the LA Kings 3-1 as part of a light night of on-ice action. Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Canadiens won a tough division but fell apart in the playoffs. Montreal had plenty of value in fantasy in 2013 so let’s take a look back and see which players are Must-Habs for the coming season. Please, blog, may I have some more?
There are Stars in the sky but there were no Stars in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2013 following a .500 season. Dallas missed the playoffs for a fifth straight year and the Stars have cleaned house with a new general manager and coach. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Tommy Wingles had a goal and two assists for the San Jose Sharks as they blanked the Anaheim Ducks 4-0. Antti Niemi said no to all 22 Anaheim shots and Logan Couture had two assists in the win. Please, blog, may I have some more?