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Woah! Hey now, are these signs of competency I am seeing out of Evgeni Nabokov and the Islanders?
Nabokov has won two straight and three of his last four, all of which he has performed well in. He's allowed three goals or less in all but one start since returning from injury. Seems to me like Nabokov is gunning for an Olympic spot.
The competition will be tough with Semyon Varlamov having a great season and Sergei Bobrovsky coming off his Vezina winning campaign. That third spot is wide open though and probably Nabokov's to lose. I'd say his first half of the season might have cost him a spot but this recent rush puts him right back on track.
I like Nabokov as a third goalie in deeper leagues. His recent market correction has only done enough to get his save percentage above .900 and his goals-against average below 3.00 but an extended run like this gets him back to his averages from the past couple of seasons. Of course, that's not how this stuff always works. The reality is that regression to the mean involves future performances occurring at a level near the mean not overcompensation for past deviations.
In any case, his current numbers are still ugly enough to scare people off but there's a solid fantasy tender still there for the taking.
He'd be especially good if the Islanders could get Lubomir Visnovsky back from injury. He is still out with a concussion and there is no timetable for his return. This is all too reminiscent of Sidney Crosby and Chris Pronger. In a sense, we should be thankful those high profile names went through what they did because the awareness around concussions in hockey has reached a level I'm not sure they would have otherwise.
The silver lining to Visnovsky continuing to miss time is that Andrew MacDonald's fantasy relevance continues. Kudos to those of you who stuck it out through the bad times – MacDonald has now scored five points in the last three games.
The spoils are modest, MacDonald still isn't scoring at a point-every-other-game pace and he barely fires the puck having not landed one shot over his current scoring streak but he's also not the plus/minus sapping monster you might think a defenseman eating big minutes for the Islanders would be.
Kyle Okposo had his third straight multi-point effort scoring the overtime winner last night and adding an assist. He has now scored 13 points on a scoring streak stretched to eight games now. His recent flurry has brought him back up to the point-per-game mark, which leaves him on pace for a 30-goal/80-point season. Holy mackerel!
Buying Okposo has to have been the single best move I made all year. I was buying high at the time (I also sold high on Lars Eller) but considering the chemistry he was showing with John Tavares and the rave reviews he has received over the years for his work ethic and I just figured he was a can't miss. Looking good right now.
It still feels a bit too good to be true – like Okposo should finish closer to 60 points than to 80 – but it's hard to argue with what he has done through 42 games. The warning signs are clear, he is shooting 14.8%, which is about 50% than his career average. That's due some regression but maybe skating with Tavares just does that