If I asked you who would have the better numbers after a month or so of play, Tuukka Rask (L, 12 SV, 4 GA, .750%) or Jonathan Bernier (W, 25 SV, 1 GA, .962%), I’m willing to bet a case of beer and a back of pucks you’d snap back with Tuukka as your answer pretty quickly. To be fair so would I, and we’d both be wrong. To this point Bernier’s sports a season line of 5-3-2/2.58/.917% while Tuukka is sitting ugly at 8-5-0/2.69/.901%. Believe it? You best. It seemed as though Tuukka was getting his act together after a rough October until he was bombed for four goals on 16 shots last night by a team that he has completely dominated in the past. When I say completely dominated, I mean never allowing more than two goals against them before last night completely dominated. To be fair, the Leafs are on fire right now so this is a different Toronto team that Rask has owned in the past, but still, I’m starting to worry about Rask’s overall play this season. My gut says he’ll be fine, but his stellar play this month comes against teams like the Cats, Oilers, Devils and Sens. That’s not exactly the cream of the offensive crop, so it’s expected that he’d handle them with general ease. It was also expected that he’d handle the Leafs in a similar fashion, too. If it makes Rask owners feel any better, he was pulled in the second for rookie Niklas Svedberg (2 GA, 15 SV, .882%) who promptly coughed up two of his own on 17 shots. At the heart of the matter here is Boston’s decimated defense and most notably the absence of its heart and soul Zdeno Chara, so these struggles aren’t wholly his fault. You can’t trade Tuukka because his value is far, far below his ADP, so you’ll just have to stick it out. This is yet another example of why you shouldn’t be taking goalies in the first two rounds. If you own Tuukka, you most likely did just that. Well, while you took Tuukka I drafted Tyler Seguin and I couldn’t be happier with my pick, how about you? Goalies are too unpredictable to justify taking that early, even the elites, and they often fail to live up to their ADP. It’s not about what your early goalie grab gives you or doesn’t, it’s what you left on the board while doing it that’s at the heart of the matter. Always remember my mantra; skaters first. Skaters first. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Olli Maatta should be back within the next week or so, and that’s pretty incredible considering the tumor doctors removed from his thyroid gland was indeed cancerous. Yeah, you read that right, dude had a cancerous tumor removed and he’ll be back on the ice within a week of this post. Dude is a beast.
T.J. Oshie has been activated and will be back on the ice tonight, so get him back in your lineups.
Tyler Johnson is expected back on the ice for the Bolts tonight, which is good news for his owners. It sounds like it’s bad news for Jonathan Drouin owners, though, as it sounds like Drouin is headed for healthy scratchville to make room for Johnson and Alex Killorn’s return to action tonight.
Dan Boyle is expected to return tonight for the Rangers, so get him back in your lineups if you still own him. He’s probably worth picking up in leagues where his owners threw up their hands and threw him to the wire.
Phil Kessel (2 G, 4 SOG, +2) – Imagine if the Bruins still had Kessel and Tyler Seguin? Oh, what could have been for Boston fans.
James van Reimsdyk (1 G, 2 A, 1 SOG) – JvR is rolling with seven points in his last five games and goals in back to back games. So long as Kessel is healthy and doing his thing JvR will continue to roll as well, I don’t know that he’d do as well without Phil around, though.
Tyler Bozak (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG) – If Bozak stays healthy he finishes the year around 60 points with 20-plus goals. This line is pretty deadly; in fact it’s better than any Bozak has ever played on, so the opportunities will keep coming. If he is on your wire you’d do well to snatch him up.
Jason LaBarbera (W, 14 SV, 2 GA, .875%) – Don’t get too excited seeing HannaBarbera’s name in the win column again. Frederik Andersen (3 GA, 7 SV, .700%) had a rough night and coughed up three goals on ten shots before getting lifted in the second. Everyone has a bad night now and then; so don’t be too worried about Andersen. There is no goalie controversy here and no, you shouldn’t add LaBarbera.
Jon Quick (L, 44 SV, 5 GA, .898%) – Ouch. The Kings need to do something about their defense and fast, but it sounds like their hands are mostly tied due to cap restrictions. There was a group of folks who claimed that Quick was made to look far better than he really is by a staunch Kings D and now he’s getting the opportunity to prove them wrong. This game doesn’t exactly go a long way to proving anything good to anyone, but the guy faced 49 freakin’ shots, so we have to cut him some slack. I don’t think Quick is in trouble this year, but he may not finish 2015 with his usual microscopic peripherals. Between what’s happening with Tuukka Rask, Quick and Henrik Lundqvist, I’m feeling pretty confident in my skaters first draft strategy. Goalies are just too unpredictable to waste a first or second round pick on.
Marian Gaborik (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Last night’s goal gives him tallies in back-to-back games and three points over his last two. When he’s healthy he’s deadly, but he’s never healthy. He’ll get injured again; you can set your clock to it. That being said, if for whatever reason he ended up on the wire in our league he’s worth adding. Trading for him is another story and I’m willing to bet more than a few of his owners will try to move him while he’s actually upright on skates. Proceed with caution if you’re on the receiving end of a trade offer built around Gabby.
Anze Kopitar (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – Two games with Gabby back on his line and Igor posts back-to-back two point games with goals in each contest. It’s terrifying to me, and it should be to all Igor owners, that it appears his offensive production this season seems directly tied to the presence of Gaborik. These two could go on a crazy rampage of scoring while Gabby is healthy, and I’d think about selling high on both guys if you can.
Drew Doughty (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – Doughty finally gets on the board with his first goal of the season. Despite the early offensive struggles by the Kings Doughty is actually on pace for 40-plus points, which would put him squarely where he usually is. He teased us all with a 59-point campaign back in 2009, but I doubt he’s capable of putting together an offensive season like that again. Still, 40-plus points, 70 PIM and 200 shots is valuable in every league. Yeah, he’s on pace for 200 shots this year, which would be a career high. I would imagine if he keeps putting the puck on net at this rate he could finish in the high 40s by season’s end.
Ryan Kesler (2 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – After finishing October with eight points in 12 games Kesler has rebounded with six points in his last four games. His outburst brings his season line to 5-9-14 and he’s on pace for around 70 points now, which is about what you could reasonably expect from him this season. Peeps were freaking out last month, but Kesler’s recent return to form should be more evidence lending credence to the maxim that patient managers are winning managers in fantasy sports.
Jakob Silfverberg (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – Oh sure, I’m all about Jake and telling people his sick wrister and great vision have to lead to some offensive production, right? I mean, he was going to be top six for the mighty powerful Ducks, how could he not break out? Bah. So I drop the bum and now he has three points in his last three games with 10 shots on goal and a plus-two. Really, Jake? This is how we’re going to play it this year? You’re dead to me, sir. Dead.
Cam Fowler (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – Here’s a guy that everyone overlooks and wants to drop or trade and I want to break you all of that habit right now. I know he had a horrible sophomore campaign that saw him post just five goals and 29 points in 82 games and then followed that up with an injury shortened, woeful third year, but that doesn’t take away from his level of skill, which is quite high. Despite being in the league for four seasons he’s only 22, for you math majors that means he made his NHL debut at 18 and, as an 18 year-old rookie he put up 11 goals and 40 points in 76 games. Fast forward to now and he’s put up 10 points in 16 games so far and is currently on pace for 51 points, a marker I think he’s capable of reaching. I figure he’ll probably end up in the 40s again, but his ceiling is definitely higher than many seem to think it is.
Sami Vatanen (2 A, 2 SOG, +2) – Okay, okay already. I’m on board and I bought a first class ticket to Vatanenville.
Cody Franson (2 A, 1 SOG, +1, 4 PIM) – I mostly drafted Franson where I could because he hits everything that moves and had decent offensive upside, but nothing huge, so color me surprised when I saw his current streak had him post seven points in his last five games. Of those seven points three have come on the power play and it looks like he’s on the point for the Leafs’ deadly first unit, so if he’s available in your league for whatever reason, add him now before the opportunity slips away.
Leo Komarov (1 A, 1 PT, 4 SOG, 6 Hits) – What’s this? Komarov with a power play point? I wouldn’t get used to that, but the hits (69) will keep on coming and he now has four points in his last three games. I touched on Komrade Leo earlier this week as a guy to target and his recent stretch does nothing but tell me to tell you once again to add him in any league that counts hits. You won’t find many guys who can offer up as much destruction as Komarov can with some solid offensive upside to to go with it.