Before the season started I cautioned against drafting Semyon Varlamov expecting a repeat of last season and sure enough he sucked up the joint hard to start the year then hit IR with a bum groin. He came back, sucked it up so more and then exited once more with the same injury. Again he returned and again he sucked and yet again he re-injured the same groin and is now down for “a couple weeks.” Yeah, right. Listen, a goalie with a groin injury is a red flag. A goalie that hurts the same groin three times in less than a half a season is more than a red flag, it’s a signal to run for the hills and not look back. For now you stash him on IR, but don’t expect much from him moving forward. In the meantime rookie Calvin Pickard, G (W, 30 SV, 3 GA, .909%) has taken control of the Colorado crease and doesn’t appear to be ready to relinquish command of it anytime soon. With expensive backup Reto Berra struggling Captain Pickard seems to be the go-to guy for Patrick Roy right now. In a recent interview Roy said of Pickard “He deserves to play, he gives us a chance to win every night. We cannot ask for more from him.” And how could you? Why would you? The kid has been stellar in the handful of starts he’s been given, win or loss, and seems to be getting stronger as he gets more time. There’s no reason for Pickard to be available in any leagues right now, deep or shallow, so if he’s available in your league add him yesterday. If you do, don’t drop another starter to do it. Remember that while he might out play Berra like whoa until Varly gets back, as soon as he does Pickard is headed back to the AHL unless the Avs cut or trade Berra, who has a one-way deal and cannot be sent to the minors. Regardless, in the meantime if you’re thinking of adding Captain Pickard, make it so. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Scott Darling, G (W, 32 SV, 2 GA, .941%) – It doesn’t seem to matter who is in net for the Blackhawks this year, they just keep on winning. Darling picked up his third straight win in his third straight start and the Hawks extended their win streak to eight games last night. Antti Raanta started the first two games after Corey Crawford went down and won them both in solid fashion, but since then Darling has gotten the call. Darling has out played Raanta since his last chance on big ice earlier this season so he should continue to get at least half of the starts until Crawdad gets back, and there doesn’t appear to be a firm timetable for that. Long story short; hold Darling if you own him, grab him if he’s available.
Tuukka Rask, G (L, 18 SV, 3 GA, .857%) – Someone offered me a trade not too long ago and Rask was the centerpiece. I never thought I’d turn down Tuukka but after he coughed up seven goals to the Sharks last Thursday I really wanted nothing to do with him. His talent and track record says he’s due for a strong second half rebound, and with Zdeno Chara, D (1 SOG, 4 PIM) returning to the lineup and the rest of the Boston defense back to full health, that should help mitigate some of the damage as well.
Torey Krug, D (1 G, 4 SOG, -2) – Speaking of the Boston defense getting healthy again, here comes Tiny Torey Krug with a goal on four shots. He has points in three straight and looks to be heating up. He’s been limited by injury so he’s not going to flirt with the 50 points I expected he might before the season, but 40 points and 15 goals are reachable markers for him.
Kris Versteeg, LW (1 A, 3 SOG) – Folks have been trading and dropping Versteeg and I’m somewhat baffled by the trend. Yes, I can see selling high because he’s had a checkered past with injury woes, but he’s also never played on a line with as much talent as he does now. Don’t forget that in the past he’s scored more than 20 goals three times in his career, so the talent is there. So long as he’s healthy and playing with Patrick Kane, RW (1 G, 2 SOG) he should be owned everywhere.
Reilly Smith, RW (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Smith has five points in his last three games as he continues to skate with Patrice Bergeron, C (1 A, 5 SOG, +1) and Brad Marchand, LW (1 A, 3 SOG, +1), but I wouldn’t get too excited, the ceiling is around 50 points and that’s probably being generous.
Jhonas Enroth, G (W, 42 SV, 3 GA, .933%) – I feel like I mention Enroth a lot, but just to say don’t bother with him. I don’t really think I can change the tune here, but this is his second straight win. He shut out the Kings last game and allowed three goals on 45 shots last night and that’s why I keep saying don’t bother. The Sabres D is weak and though Enroth is pretty solid, he can only do so much.
Karri Ramo, G (L, 15 SV, 4 GA, .789%) – After a strong run Ramo looked entirely human in this one coughing up four goals on just 19 shots to the Sabres of all teams. He still strikes me as the better goalie in Calgary, but I figure Jonas Hiller will be back in there for the next tilt after this performance from Ramo. It seems like a 50/50 time share with the hot hand taking a few starts in a row is how this situation is going to play out for the rest of the season.
Sean Monahan, C (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – Money has three goals and four points total over his last five games and remains on pace for a 30 goal season. The ceiling for points is around 55-60 and 60 is being generous, but dem goals though.
Mark Giordano, D (1 G, 6 SOG, -1) – With 30 points in 30 games so far I am only left to wonder when Erik Karlsson bought a Mark Giordano suit, because what the hell is this all about? I’d like to say I see no way he could keep this up, so I’ll say there shouldn’t be a way he can keep this up, but he’s already scored 75% of what I expected from him before the season started, so I have no idea when and if he’ll slow down.
Zemgus Girgensons, C (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – The most popular Latvian player in the history of Lativa puts up another solid game, but he really needs to take more shots on goal. Ziggy remains the top line center for the Sabres and he plays pivot on their top power play unit as well, but this is the Sabres we’re talking about so temper your expectations. Fun fact! Ziggy has received 803,805 votes for the All Star game and almost 90% of those votes hail from his home country of Latvia which has a total population of 2.03 million. Peeps love some Ziggy back home, y’all! I might vote for him just because.
Matt Moulson, RW (2 G, 4 SOG, +2) – Last season when Moulson was on the Wild I figured he was finally in a good place to produce, but he fell flat. So naturally after years of struggles with the Sabres and finally escaping their vortex, Moulson resigned with Buffalo in the off-season and put himself right back in the same position he was in before. It’s not a good position as his yawnstipating season line of 6/8/14/-5 in 29 games played can attest to. I wouldn’t own him with your team.
Ray Emery, G (W, 17 SV, 1 GA, .944%) – Whoa now, Ray Emery won a game, y’all! He should retire and quit now while he’s on a high note.
Corey Schneider, G (L, 32 SV, 3 GA, .914%) – Clearly rest wasn’t the answer for Schneids as he returns to the crease after a one game spell to cough up three goals on 35 shots to the Flyers and take the loss. It’s cool, he’ll start the next 25 games in a row and get right back into an, er, groove?
Martin Havlat, RW (1 G, 3 SOG, -1) – Party like it’s 2003 errybody! Don’t pick him up.
Wayne Simmonds, RW (1 G, 5 SOG) – Simmonds has been a bit streaky this season but that’s par for the course. He has four goals over his last five games and remains on pace for 35 goals, 60 points, 230 shots and around 70 PIM. Add a few more fights in there (They’ll come, Simmonds loves to throw down) and his PIM will come up and he should finish almost exactly where you’d hope when you drafted him.
Jakub Voracek, RW (1 G, 3 SOG, +2) – I never expected to see Jake set a 100-plus point pace 30 games into the season, but here we are. I’ve watched him play for the last few years pretty closely and always thought there was another gear he could shift into, but this is ridiculous. It would be interesting to see what he’d do without Claude Giroux, C (2 A, 5 SOG, +1) on his line, but that isn’t going to happen barring injury, so the points spree should continue unabated for the rest of the season.
Sergei Bobrovsky, G (W, 39 SV, 2 GA, .951%) – And here come the Blue Jackets! Bob has now won five in a row after losing his previous five in a row and his season line continues to slowly work its way back to respectability. He’s a good buy low candidate, but the window is closing fast.
Troy Brouwer, RW (1 G, 4 SOG) – With goals in back-to-back games and eight total on the season Brouwer has definitely earned ownable status in deep leagues, but I he’s borderline elsewhere. He’s topped 20 goals twice in his career and as recently as last year when he finished with 25 goals and 43 points. I figure he’s good for pretty much the same this season, give or take a few goals.
Nick Foligno, LW (2 G, 2 SOG, +1) – It blows me away that Foggy is continuing to score and I’m further boggled by the idea that the has 26 points in 27 games so far. I’m so boggled I think you should sell high, because really, is there any reason to think he’ll score 75 points this season? No, no there isn’t and his 23.2% shooting percentage screams imminent regression. Sell high, my friends.
Craig Anderson, G (L, 31 SV, 4 GA, .886%) – This is the point where I’d call for Robin Lehner to get more starts and also make a crack about how bad Anderson is, but honestly, I wouldn’t own either of them with your team. Anderson’s save percentage is inflated and it’s going to come down, then what are you left with? No wins and a bleh GAA.
Anze Kopitar, C (1 G, 2 SOG, -1) – After 26 games Igor is on pace to tally just 40ish points by season’s end and normally I’d call someone like him a buy low, I’m not so sure here. Historically he starts hot and really pours it on early in the season and looking back I don’t think he’s ever had a start this bad in his career. It’s hard to believe a guy like him would end up with less than 50 points for a full season’s work, but he’s headed that way pretty fast.
Tanner Pearson, LW (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – Talk about a regression, Pearson has 14 points in 29 games this season and tallied nine of those in his first 11 games. He’s actually still on pace to score 30 goals, but I seriously doubt that he’ll get there this season.
Bobby Ryan, RW (1 G, 1 SOG) – What once was the staple of Ryan’s game has become a rather scarce resource, last night’s goal gives him six on the year and he’s on pace for fewer than 20 by season’s end. He has five points in his last three games, but most of those points come from helpers and without the goals, he’s not really worth owning anywhere but deeper leagues.
Evgeni Nabokov, G (W, 29 SV, 1 GA, .967%) – After he started the season horribly in limited relief for Ben Bishop the Bolts’ coaching staff has rolled Nabby out in sheltered minutes against the hapless Sabres and wandering Hurricanes over his last two starts. He’s allowed just one goal in each so I’d imagine they’ll keep starting him against the weaker teams and leave the heavy lifting to Big Ben.
Justin Faulk, D (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – Last night’s tally give Faulk goals in back-to-back games as he stays on pace to hit 50 points by season’s end. He might sport a minus-40 by then, so that severely limits his value, but in points only leagues he’s one of the best offensive defenseman you could hope for.
Nikita Kucherov, RW (2 G, 2 SOG, +1) – If you’re waiting for the Bolts to break up their potent second line of Kucherov, Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson, C (2 SOG, +1) you’ll be waiting a long time, because I doubt it’s going to happen this season barring injury. Speaking of injuries, Palat was a scratch last night with an LBI and that pushed Valtteri Filppula, C (4 SOG, -1) to the top line and knocked Alex Killorn, C (1 A, 1 SOG, +1) down to the second line with Kucherov and Johnson for the time being. Either way, Kucherov hasn’t slowed down one bit since he started the season strong and remains on pace for a 70-point, 30-goal season; both markers I expect him to flirt with by season’s end.
Jake Allen, G (W, 25 SV, 3 GA, .893%) – In his first start since Martin Brodeur was signed, Allen didn’t exactly shine but he lasted long enough to get the win pushing away 25 of 28 shots for the 6-3 win over the Isles. I didn’t see much from Allen in this game that would indicate that he’ll take any time away from Marty, who appears to be the starter for the time being. Don’t drop Allen, but if Marty is still available in your league you’d do well to handcuff the two together if you have space on your roster.
Jaroslav Halak, G (L, 27 SV, 5 GA, .844%) – After winning like fitty games in a row while allowing almost no goals ever Halak finally broke over his last two games and has coughed up 11 goals in back-to-back losses. The Isles might not be as good as they started out to be and cracks in their defense might be turning into holes that pucks can fly through on a regular basis. I wouldn’t be against trading Halak while his value is still high. I don’t think it will plummet, but remember the first month and change of the season? You don’t want to go back to that, do you?
Kyle Okposo, RW (1 G, 1 A, 5 SOG) – I’m a huge fan of Okie, I think he’s a beast and his 26 points in 29 games attest to that. He’s had seven multiple point games so far and though I’d like to see more than just six goals at this point, he’s finding his way to the score sheet on most nights and that’s what counts. I fully expect a 70 point campaign from him this season.
John Tavares, C (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Some peeps were getting a bit freaked out by Tavares’ lack of production early on, but with points in three straight he could be heating back up. When I say lack of production, I mean he only has 26 points in 29 games. That’s on par with Okie, but you didn’t draft Okie with a top 10 pick, either. He’ll be fine and sooner than later he’ll explode and score like 15 points in 7 games and be right back on track for 80 or more points by season’s end. Be patient.
Paul Stastny, C (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – The injuries are healed up and Stas is flying now extending his goals streak to four straight with five points over his last five. If any of his owners haven’t been paying attention lately capitalize and try to buy low, but the window is slamming shut fast. If he’s healthy, he should have a huge second half for the Blues.
Alex Steen, C (2 G, 1 A, 6 SOG) – Just the other day I told a commenter that he shouldn’t have traded Kris Versteeg for Steen and then he goes and does this. Thanks for making me look bad, Alex. I’m still not a huge fan and I don’t think there will be a repeat of last year’s performance, but 20-25 goals is definitely achievable.
Jaden Schwartz, LW (1 G, 1 SOG) – I hate to see those one shot, one goal games but that’s not Schwartz’ M.O. so we can let it pass. He’ll build on last seasons’ 56 points, probably to the tune of 65 or so by season’s end.
T.J. Oshie, RW (1 G, 2 A, 5 SOG) – It was a huge night for the Oshie line but I’m still not getting on board with Oshie, who I think is still overvalued from last season, Steen who I feel is the same as Oshie or David Backes, C (1 A, 3 SOG) though I do love Backes in deep hits leagues.
Pekka Rinne, G (W, 31 SV, 1 GA, .969%) – Vezina.
Mike Smith, G (L, 33 SV, 5 GA, .868%) – Heh, Mike Smith.
James Neal, RW (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – I haven’t had many opportunities to mention Neal and I’d rather not, but here he is with another goal, his second in as many games. With all the scoring going on in Nashville, hell, on his line, you’d think he would have done more by now, but no. I was meh on him in the preseason and I’m meh now. Meh.
Olli Jokinen, C (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – I’m only mentioning Olli because he’s been so bad this season it isn’t even funny. I’m not sure why he hasn’t been cut outright or sent to the minors by now. Why, you wonder. Why would you say such harsh things about Olli?! His season line is now 2/0/2 in 28 games played. Yup.
Mike Fisher, C (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – It took Fish a few games to get into gear but after starting his injury abbreviated ’14-’15 campaign started with three goose eggs he has four points over his last four games. That said, he’s only going to give you the 40-45 points he ever does, so even in deep leagues his value is questionable at best.
Ondrej Pavelec, G (L, 23 SV, 3 GA, .885%) – Another game, another vote of confidence for Michael Hutchinson! Seriously, how many bad games do Jets fans have to suffer through before Hutch starts getting the lion’s share of the starts?
Matt Duchene, C (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – The Duche is finally getting his shiz together and has six points (3 G, 3 A) over his last six games. The buy low window is shutting fast, and while I’d like to see fewer two and three game skids, he’s definitely looking a hell of a lot better than he did to start the season. In fact, most Avs are.
Jarome Iginla, RW (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – Most of Iggy’s contract money is wrapped up in incentives and that’s a shame for him because despite scoring three goals over his last five games he’s only on pace for 20 goals on the year. That has value in deep leagues, but otherwise, meh.
Andrew Ladd, LW (1 G, 5 SOG, -2) – Laddy is exploding lately with seven points (3 G, 4 A) over his last four games and now has 23 poiTnts in 30 games so far this season. That puts him on pace for the first 30-goal season of his career, but honestly, I expect him to end up just short of that; somewhere in the 25-30-goal range. Still, he’ll give you 60 points overall and considering you’re likely adding him from the wire, that’s a bargain and a half.
Mark Scheifele, C (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG) – Man, talk about disappointments. I didn’t expect the world from Scheifelelelele, but I did expect him to be on track for more than 36 bloody points after a third of the season was done with. Despite the strong game I see no signs that he’s going to break out of this funk anytime soon. I wouldn’t own him with your team.
Alex Stalock, G (W, 18 SV, 1 GA, .947%) – In his third straight start he gets another victory pushing away 18 of 19 Wild shots for the tight 2-1 victory. Stalock has been more than solid in all three games since he returned from minor knee surgery and currently rocks a sexy season line of 4-3-1/2.12/.926% in just eight starts this season. If this week is any indication we could be getting back to a 50/50 split in starts for the Sharks at worst, and at best Antti Niemi will sit and Stalock will start to own the San Jose crease. It’s only a matter of time.
Darcy Kuemper, G (L, 28 SV, 2 GA, .933%) – Kuemps put up a good fight in this one but ultimately fell to the mighty Alex Stalock and the Sharks 2-1. Considering the heaps of bleh news about Josh Harding coming out of his AHL stint and the fact that the ancient Nik Backstrom is the only challenge to the young Kuemper, I’d say he has a very long leash to work with right now and he’ll continue to be up and down as the season goes. Long term he’s a great keeper, but this season he’ll likely finish up with a middling peripherals and decent wins. He’s a decent second fantasy goalie and a strong third.