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:
50 points in 40 games. That was my prediction for Sidney Crosby in the second half of the season. Yesterday, I said that "Sidney Crosby has been outstanding for a month and could easily lead the league in points from this point forward" here. That possibility is off to a great start. Crosby had a hat trick on Tuesday night with an assist and eight shots in the 6-5 win over the Senators. Amazingly, he's become somewhat of a forgotten man this year but it's his time to shine again. Here's what else I saw around the league the night after the All-Star break:
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:
While I've talked about the Flames being a major disappointment in this space multiple times this year, Johnny Gaudreau certainly doesn't belong in that category. The young gun is keeping a point per game this season and he had his best game to date on Friday, scoring a hat trick, adding an assist with five shots and two PIM in the 5-4 OT win against the Bruins. The shots are a little lower than you'd like for Gaudreau to reach true superstar status but he's probably pushing the top 25 overall at this point. Not bad for a fifth round pick who most thought was too small to make it in the league. Here's what else I saw on a busy weekend:
Petr Mrazek was the goalie waiting in the wings, for the Wings, for a couple years until the end of last season. He took over the job and played well through the playoffs until they lost to the Lightning in 7 games. Now, he's on the better side of the Wings platoon in net and he showed why he should get the majority of the starts on Tuesday, stopping all 38 shots against Washington in the 1-0 win, including a whopping 15 shots from Alex Ovechkin. Ideally, you would still own Jimmy Howard with Mrazek but Mrazek looks to be on the better side of the split right now. Here's what else I saw on the massive slate on Tuesday:
It might be hard to believe but despite their struggles as a team there is still some fantasy gold yet left to find in the nearly depleted mines of the Edmonton Oilers. Though skaters like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and to a lesser extent, Jordan Eberle have spectacularly failed fantasy owners this season, as we go headlong into the stretch run for fantasy hockey a 21-year-old defensive prospect is starting to show glimmers of his potential offensive prowess. With nine points (2 G, 7 A) in his last 13 games to pair with a TOI spike to around 22-24 minutes per game and an increased roll across the board, Oscar Klefbom is making a case for a late season pick up in deeper formats.
I’m not sure if someone put a hit out on goalies in the NHL recently or there’s some there’s a really cranky Oilers fan sitting up in the bitter cold of Edmonton with a set of voodoo dolls he attacks routinely, but whatever the case may be, but life has been tough for starting goalies in the NHL lately. On the heels of the devastating news that the fantasy owners will be without the services of Henrik Lundqvist for at least the next three-to-four weeks due to a blood vessel injury in his neck two more starting goalies went down over the weekend when Frederik Andersen, G (L, 17 SV, 5 GA, .773%) took his neck to the back of the head and Steve Mason, G (8 SV, 0 GA, 1.000%) tried to stretch between plays only to have his knee buckle on him.
Yesterday I wrote at length about the possibility that Henrik Lundqvist was poised to miss significant time with a mysterious neck injury that the Rangers were saying very little about. They didn’t have much to say about it this morning, either, other than the fact that Hank is out for at least a month, perhaps longer. The exact nature of the injury has not been disclosed and honestly, I wouldn’t expect to hear much about it for at least a few more days. All that is known is Hank did not develop a blood clot, suffer nerve damage or, despite the reports of intermittent headaches, he is not suffering from post-concussion syndrome either. This changes everything for the Rangers and Lundqvist fantasy owners. It goes without saying that Cam Talbot is now a must add everywhere as he is now the undisputed starter for the high powered Rangers with the 20-year-old, unfortunately named and wholly unproven MacKenzie Skapski getting recalled from the Hartford Wolfpack of the AHL to serve as Tablot’s backup.
With Kyle Okposo basically out for the rest of the season big questions about what will happen in the Isles’ top six loom large. In the past no one would have cared at all beyond when Okie was getting back into the lineup, but 2015 is a new year and the Isles offense is one of the best in the league posting a heady 3.2 goals per game, good for second in the NHL. So now that question of who replaces Okie on the Isles’ top line along side superstar pivot John Tavares, C (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) is pretty intriguing and Mikhail Grabovski, C (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) wasted no time answering it by putting the biscuit in the basket on a feed from Josh Bailey, RW (1 A, 2 SOG, +1) after JT started the whole dance with a nice feed of his own. The trio looked like they had some solid chemistry and word has it that Grabby is going to be replacing Okie in role and position moving forward. He absolutely has the ability to finish, so I’d go ahead and add him where you can as he could be in line for a strong second half push. That being said, he has a history of being streaky and if he goes cold, Ryan Strome, C (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) could step in and fill the gap without missing a beat.
Just what the doctor ordered for the start of your stretch run, there's a bunch of key guys out with injuries and almost no one who can replace them. We all knew about Sergei Bobrovsky's injury going into the break, but the big news is that Kyle Okposo is going to be out for the next two months with an upper-body injury. The Isles are mum on what exactly happened to Okie, but some fan accounts say it's likely a wrist problem. That sounds terrible. This is terrible and there's no replacing him. Ryan Strome might get a shot at the top line, Brock Nelson could see a promotion and Mikhail Grabovski is on his way back to the lineup after missing some time with an injury, but regardless of who ends up playing on John Tavares' wing, the slot isn't going to provide the value boost to whomever gets the bump up without Okie there. Josh Bailey and his newfound value also take a hit here, as defenses will be able to clamp down on him and he's going to lose the space that Okie and JT created for him, which was a large part of his recent success. All in all this is a crushing blow for the Isles and fantasy owners alike. All you can do is stash him on IR and hope for a speedy recovery, but if it's his wrist, and that two month timeline is because he needs to recover from surgery we're in trouble fellow Okie owners. Even if he does get back before the playoffs if he has to shake off rust, get back into game shape and get his shot mechanics back to normal there just isn't going to be enough time for him to get back up to full speed and his value will be nil for the rest of this season. If that isn't enough to start your week with a "Dammit all!" here's the skinny on a few more key guys who are down for a while with injuries: