The Pittsburgh Penguins are getting beat up by injury, disease and all sorts of nonsense this season and their luck didn’t improve with the news that Patric Hornqvist will miss at least a few weeks with a lower-body injury as he hit the IR for the first time this season a few days ago. Horny isn’t the only Pen down for a few weeks either, Blake Comeau suffered an upper-body injury a few days before Christmas and will be out until mid-January as well. The fun doesn’t stop there, either! Steve Downie joined the mumps brigade not too long ago, and though he’s returning this week and bringing his NHL leading 135 PIM with him, the Pens needed to shore up their top six in a bad way so they saved David Perron from the Oilers and banished Rob Klinkhammer and whoever the poor bastard that ends up being their number one pick in 2015 to the Great White North. While this does little to help Klink’s already minimal value, Perron gets a huge boost, but expectations should be tempered.
It might be Miller Time all the time somewhere in the world, but last night in Vancouver it was anything but. Ryan Miller (L, 8 SV, 5 GA, .615%) was bounced from the game shortly after the start of the third period after he coughed up five flippin’ goals on just 13 shots. This might make some of his owners panic, but I’m here to quell your worries, so relax guy! Most of the goals weren’t really Miller’s fault, so lets break ‘em down. The most egregious example of Miller getting hung out to dry was when Chris Tanev plowed into his own goalie and laid Miller out. While the two were tangled up Miller made a futile attempt to stop the puck but he couldn’t do much more than wave his glove hand at it while Tyler Seguin potted one in a wide open net. It didn’t start there, but it didn’t stop there either. On another goal Jamie Benn took a shot from the outside and the puck was headed wide, so Miller did what all good goalies would do, he reached his blocker out to push the puck away. He makes contact and the puck starts to move safely away from the net only to be deflected in off the knob of his stick as he pulls his blocker hand back. Then there’s when Nick Bonino dropped his stick when skating through the neutral zone on the pentalty kill. He decided to go grab his stick because hey, killing a penalties without a stick is tough, right? Well, while did it left the Canucks essentially in a 5 on 3 in their own zone and bang boom, another goal. Yes, there are some he should have stopped and yes, I’m not big on Miller this year, but it really wasn’t all bad news for Miller owners. In his words “It just wasn’t my night.” Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:
As the season wears on and the Olympic break looms, a few starters are starting to get up there in TOI and their teams are contenders, so what do you think they'll do with their starters? If you said "rest them as soon as they can to keep them fresh for the playoffs" you'd be correct and I'm putting a gold star by your name! Every year there's one or two backups or no names that come out of nowhere to start eight or nine of a team's last ten games and looks amazing doing it. Those guys? Those guys win you titles. This year two backups stand out with the potential to become fantasy gold down the stretch; San Jose's Alex Stalock (1 GA, 19 SV, W) and Anaheim's Frederik Andersen. Neither Andersen nor Stalock saw much action for the first three months of the season, but in January they both saw a spike in starts with six each, a trend that should continue as the season winds to a close. Stalock handled himself nicely for a 19 save win last night because starter Antti Niemi coughed up four goals in his last start and with 47 starts under his belt, and the Olympics starting next week, I think the Sharks want to rest Niemi and that means nothing but good things for Stalock owners. Stalock has been great with his workload slowly but steadily increasing and in that span he put up a line of 3-3-0/1.79/.949/2. That has value anywhere, y'all! Similarly, Jonas Hiller (2 GA, 23 SV, L) backup Frederik Andersen has slowly eaten into Hiller's starts much like Stalock has in San Jose. With Hiller headed to Sochi to tend net for the Swiss, his injury history and how well Andersen continues to play, Hiller is likely to continue split starts with Andersen more evenly moving forward. Andersen started 6 games to Hiller’s 9 last month and it’s 2 to 1 Hiller so far this month. What's he done with his time? How about a line of 5-0-0/1.86/.939 in January. Yeah, his last game was a bit of bleh against the surging Blue Jackets, but overall he remains valuable and could be huge if Hiller goes down with another LBI. Never look past backups this late in the season, you never know who will become instant fantasy gold. Anyway, here's what else I saw in fantasy hockey recently:
Tyler Bozak (2 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, even) seems to be working really hard to make up for the fact that he listens to Miley Cyrus. No, seriously, he does! He chose the Leafs’ postgame song once earlier in the year and put on the ole’ wrecking ball herself. That might be why he sucked so hard to start the season despite having the mighty duo of James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel on his wings. Just how well has he been doing? Over the last five games he has four goals and six points with three goals coming in the last two games. Stretch that out a bit more and he has 15 points in his last 12 games and if you look at his whole year he’s rockin’ a line with 22 points in 24 games with a plus-12 rating to boot! This is easily Bozak’s best season as a pro and had the first half not been, well, cut in half, he might be among the league leaders in scoring if it wasn’t for one scary indicator, his shooting percentage which sits at an obese 28.1% so far. Why obese? Because that shiz is not healthy and it screams regression to the mean, that’s why! Sorry, didn’t mean to get uppity there. I digress, his track record to date isn’t that great and with that big shooting percentage gut of his hanging over his belt I doubt we can expect him to continue this torrid pace for the rest of the season. With that being said, he plays with some seriously nasty snipers and even if he slumps a bit he can still live off their table scraps and his TOI has spiked up over 20 minutes per. He’s basically gone in ESPN leagues (~99% owned) but he’s only owned in 33% of Yahoo! Leagues. Oh, Yahoo, you let me down again. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
The L.A. Kings’ goalie situation seemed set in stone going into the season with the elite Jon Quick holding down the crease, but when he went down earlier this year Ben Scrivens took the opportunity and ran with it posting a beautiful line of 7-2-4, 1.56 GAA, .943 SV% in 15 games played (12 starts) so far. Scrivens eventually needed a breather so Martin Jones got the call a few days ago and after putting up back-to-back shutouts in his first two starts he’s slated to take the crease again tonight for the third straight game. There was a lot of talk about how Scrivens’ stellar play might unseat Quick when he returns and I scoffed at that notion then and I scoff now. Scoff! Who is Martin Jones? He’s a young, big, quick tender that doesn’t give up many rebounds and is actually pretty talented overall, so this isn’t a fluke, per se. You know what, or more to the point, who he’s not, though? Jon Quick. You know who Scrivens isn’t? Jon Quick. Lots of back up goalies, both young and old, tend to come on hot when they get their opportunity, but like young hitters in baseball who explode out of the gate only to slump hard once pitchers adjust to his weaknesses, young netminders often see a similar dip, or are simply relegated to backup duties once the starter returns from injury. I told you to sell high on Scrivens and I’m holding to that more than ever now. If Jones can so easily unseat Scrivens, what do you think will happen when Quick returns? The Kings aren’t fools, they’re Stanley Cup contenders again and Quick is the guy who will lead them there when healthy. Sell high on Scrivens while you’ll still get good value back, add Jones if you want for now but expect to drop him, and maybe try to buy low on Quick while you’re at it! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey yesterday:
Evgeni Malkin (1 G, 3 A, 1 SOG, +3, 2 PIM) decided he wasn’t putting in enough effort lately and upped his game with 4 points against the toothless Panthers. He even chipped in 2 PIM for good measure! Geno is on pace for 103 points which wouldn’t in itself be historic, but being on pace for just 21 goals would make it a season for the history books, so expect that this torrid pace to slow a bit, and hitting the century mark? I don’t think he’ll get there. Lies! They say. Slander! They cry. Not so! Just 15 of the 270 (~5%) 100 point seasons by a player came with fewer than 30 goals:
Player Goals Assists Points Year
Bobby Clarke 27 89 116 ‘74-‘75
Paul Coffey 29 74 103 ‘89-‘90
Ron Francis 24 76 100 ‘92-‘93
Ron Francis 27 92 119 ‘95-‘96
Doug Gilmour 27 84 111 ‘93-‘94
Wayne Gretzky 23 79 102 ‘95-‘96
Joe Thornton 29 96 125 ‘05-‘06
Joe Thornton 22 92 114 ‘06-‘07
Henrik Sedin 29 83 112 ‘09-‘10
Adam Oates 23 79 102 ‘89-‘90
Adam Oates 25 90 115 ‘90-‘91
Bobby Orr 29 72 101 ‘72-‘73
Al MacInnis 28 75 103 ‘90-‘91
Brian Leetch 22 80 102 ‘91-‘92
Craig Janney 24 82 106 ‘92-‘93
I didn't even bother ordering those by year, or goals, or anything, why? Well, I entered it that way and editing a table is really annoying, seriously. My laziness aside, it doesn't matter because the point remains the same. Break it down even further and you'll see that less than half of those seasons came with fewer than 25 goals. Even Malkin's own 100 point campaigns were always supported by buckets o’ goals with 47, 35 and 50 goals scored respectively. Should he break the 100 point marker this year it would be a rare achievement amongst rare achievements, making it unlikely. When you rely on others to score goals for you to score points, the control that player has over his own destiny is largely in the hands of other men. Other men being the likes of Sidney Crosby and James Neal is nice, but what happens if Neal goes down again? I think Malkin is more likely to return to a point per game pace at some point and finish with 90ish points. Ho hum. Anyway, here's what else I saw in fantasy hockey recently: