At this point, it's no surprise when Jamie Benn has a big night. You almost expect it against Carolina even though he was pointless in the previous three games. Well, it happened on Tuesday with Benn scoring his league leading 19th goal on his only shot of the game with three assists. He's now on a 120 point pace for the year with 39 points in 28 games; I don't know if it's crazier that he's on that pace or that he's not leading the league in points (more on that later). Bottom line is that last year's Art Ross winner is proving that it was no fluke. Here's what else I saw on a busy Tuesday night:
Long term hockey relationships can be the source of fantasy gold. Consider the illustrious history of such legendary lovebirds as Gretzky-Kurri, Hull-Mikita, Hull-Oates (yes, “Hull & Oates”), Trottier-Bossy, Lemieux-Jagr, Lindros-Leclair, and those-were-the-days when Crosby-Malkin, and Toews-Kane were linemates. The less romanticially-inclined out there might simply call them ‘Pairings’. Call them what you will, when you see chemistry like that on the ice, it’s something to behold. And when you successfully draft one of these duos to your fantasy team, it feels like an absolute coup, doesn’t it? You sit there basking in your 3rd round glory: “I’ve got Getzlaf AND Perry!” and dreaming of doubling up your point total on almost every Anaheim goal this season. But in a deep redraft or dynasty league, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get both, even with your first two picks. So what’s a deep leaguer to do? For every Gretzky to Kurri, there has always been that third wheel, catapulted into short term fantasy relevance as long as they stay on that line. Correctly identify the answer to that trivia question and you’ve got yourself a bona fide sleeper, and maybe even a keeper. So who are the candidates a quarter-way into the season?
Finally Tuukka Rask owners have something to be happy about. Rask shutout the Coyotes, saving all 24 shots on goal in the Bruins 6-0 victory. Would I be happy as a Rask owner with this development. Of course, but mostly because this could give you a chance to sell Rask at a higher value. Arizona is going to be a horrible team and they are regressing quickly from their hot start. They are the type of team that the Bruins will dominate because their top-six is going to control the game and not allow their defense to be exposed. Bottom line, I don't see this as the start of a bounceback for Rask; I see it as an opportunity to get away from him while getting good value in return. Here's what else I saw Tuesday night:
If you ever met Jhonas Enroth, you'd never think he was a goalie in the NHL. The diminutive Swede is, at best, 5'8" and 160 pounds. That said, he's proven to be a capable backup at the very least. In his first start in Los Angeles, Enroth stopped 39 of 40 shots in San Jose to let the Kings get revenge for the Sharks blowing them out opening night. Enroth showed in Buffalo that when he gets the chance to play in a regular role, he's more than capable, so if Jonathan Quick were to get hurt, he's must own in all leagues. For now, he's a great streamer in virtually all matchups. Here's what else I saw on Thursday night:
Man, what the hell happened with Kari Lehtonen, G (W, 33 SV, 1.000%, SHO) this season? I honestly have no idea. Yes, the Stars have dealt with injuries since before the start of the season and that’s definitely hurt team chemistry. Yes, their defense is more offensively minded than they should be and when you mix that with a handful of youth on the blue line and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster. Yes, he sports a 31-14-10 record which is pretty stellar, but when you pair it with a 2.82 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage through 59 starts this season you’ve got yourself a recipe for a lot of disgruntled owners. Despite all that, and despite everything I’ve been saying for most of the season, Kari is getting hot at the right time and you’d do well to pick him up for the playoffs.
I figured that Brian Elliott would eventually tire and leave the window open for Jake Allen to step up and steal the job, but I never imagined that Elliott would get hurt this early in the season. Obviously it’s not because he’s tired, but an injury is an injury and Allen is now the starter while Elliott nurses his LBI back to health. Elliott is currently week-to-week and if you pair that with the dreaded knee injury for a goalie, that’s not a good sign. To make matters worse, the Blues quickly contacted Martin Brodeur for a tryout that I’m almost positive he’ll pass. Even if he does, Marty is 42 and he hasn’t been much more than solid in a few years now, so Allen should remain the starter barring some freak happenings. Grab Marty where you can, but only expect backup minutes at worst and a 50/50 timeshare at best. The St. Louis crease isn’t the only crease that’s looking out of order lately, Tampa’s Ben Bishop, G (W, 16 SV, 3 GA, .842%) is working his way into a similar pickle. Bishop is young and extremely talented, so I’m not super worried about his early heavy workload, but it’s going to worry me more and more as the season goes on. Evgeni Nabakov is clearly not the answer to backup Bishop, and I was hoping Stevie Y would give Marty Brodeur a call to fill the roll but that ship has sailed so Big Ben still stands tall but alone in the Tampa crease. We’ve seen how well putting the pressure of literally being the only goalie on the roster the team can depend on has done to Cory Schneider in New Jersey, I’m getting worried the same will happen with Bishop before long. It’s not all bad news though, at least for Alex Stalock owners! Antti Niemi, G (L, 17 SV, 1 GA, .944%) is still mediocre and did very little to make the case that he’s the undisputed no. 1 in San Jose while Stalock was out recovering from minor knee surgery. Even better news for Stalock owners, he’s skating with the team, says his knee feels great and is once again ready to take this starting job from Niemi. It could be that Stalock was suffering from a bum wheel to start the year and now that it’s taken care of, he could be even better upon returning. Stay tuned. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey this week:
When the season started I was mostly worried Zdeno Chara (1 SOG, -1) had lingering nerve damage after he’d been fighting the issue over the last season or so. Last year he had difficulty holding a stick towards the end of the year, but all signs looked good in the preseason so I ranked him accordingly. Well, the hand is fine, but the knee? Not so much. Chara suffered ligament damage to his knee yesterday while laying a big hit on NHL scoring leader John Tavares (1 A, 4 SOG, +1) in yesterday’s game. He’ll miss 4-6 weeks at which point they’re going to determine whether or not he needs surgery. Wow, that sounds terrible. They have to wait over a month just to see if the knee is bad enough that Chara needs to go under the knife? Let me just go ahead and call this right now, he needs surgery. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s done for the year, but you can’t just drop him until we know for sure, so stash him on IR and hope for the best. In the meantime this is a big blow to the Bruins and fantasy owners alike. Not only does it hurt his owners, but also Chara serves as the lynchpin to the Bs both offensively and defensively. They haven’t been playing well as a team to start the year and this injury will further erode their ability to step up and deliver. Tuukka Rask’s meh play is likely to continue to a degree, or at least continue more than we would have expected this season with Chara out. I want to say that this is going to give guys like Torey Krug (4 SOG, -1), Dennis Seidenberg (1 SOG, +1), and Dougie Hamilton (1 SOG) a boost in value that will come with an uptick in playing time, especially on the powerplay, but I really don’t think that’s the case here. I think the B’s are poorer without Chara, and the ripple effect will hurt more than it will help. You know, Johnny Boychuk (1 SOG, +1) sure seems like a good option right now, so may—oh right, well played Garth Snow. 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:
Looks like the flu is going around and a few guys are down with illness, tis the season! Shea Weber returns tonight after missing three games after taking a puck to the face. Apparently he’s going to sport a visor now. Get him in there. Evgeni Malkin did not travel with the team to Boston so he won’t be on the ice tonight. He’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury and is questionable for tomorrow night as well. If he is a part of the Pens’ morning skate, he’ll be in there. James Wisniewski suffered an undisclosed upper-body injury last night against the Wild and is undergoing tests today to see how severe it is. It would be a shame if his season is derailed by injury.
Pittsburgh was the best team in the Eastern Conference during the regular season. It didn’t translate to a cake walk to the Stanley Cup Finals as Boston shut them down in stunning fashion. Please, blog, may I have some more?