No One Better than Boeser in Van City, Penguin Plus/Minus, and more…
Like many Saturdays, there was lots of game action. There should be plenty of info to pore through, although I can’t guarantee that every major fantasy news event will be covered here.
Brock Boeser and linemates are making Canucks’ hockey fun again. Boeser’s NHL career is not even 20 games old, but he has already scored nine goals, including his first NHL hat trick on a night where he and his linemates filled the statsheet. Boeser also added an assist with a plus-4 and seven shots on goal. Boeser is not the most electrifying player out there, but he has a nose for the net and a wicked shot once he gets the puck. The Canucks can continue to talk about easing him into the lineup and limiting his minutes, but they quite simply do not possess any other player with that level of finish.
Boeser leads the Canucks with 13 points in just 10 games, and that total could be even higher had he not been a healthy scratch for the Canucks’ first two games. He’s only 24 percent owned in Yahoo leagues. If he’s not owned in yours, then what are you waiting for?
The amazing hat trick goal call from Hockey Night in Punjabi:
Boeser actually had a chance for a fourth goal in an empty net, but he elected to pass instead.
The Boeser line, now the de facto first line for the Canucks, accounted for all four Canucks’ goals in the win against Pittsburgh. Bo Horvat scored a goal and added three assists, while Sven Baertschi recorded three assists. Both were also a plus-4 in this game.
Earlier this week, a Canucks’ beat writer called Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson the best goaltending tandem in the league. Even as a Canucks’ fan, I’m not ready to affirm that statement, but let’s give credit where credit is due. Markstrom stopped 37 of 39 shots for the win. Markstrom has a very respectable 2.25 GAA and .916 SV%, but he has actually been outperformed by Nilsson with a 1.89 GAA and .943 SV%. Goaltending was a major question mark for the Canucks entering the season, but the Canucks’ 2.31 GA/GP is currently second in the NHL. Both goalies are around 30 percent owned in Yahoo, but if you had to choose between the two, Markstrom should start more games.
Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin each played only eight minutes and change in this game. Get used to the new normal in what is looking more like their final season. The only way the Sedins are offensively relevant in any game at this point is if the Canucks receive significant power-play time. They received only two power plays in this game.
The Penguins were using Olli Maatta on the vaunted first-unit power play instead of Kris Letang, at least for the first two power plays of the game. Letang ended up with four minutes on the power play, and Maatta had three minutes. Letang was a minus-3 in this game, bringing his total to minus-16 on the season! This number has been anchored by a few blowout losses, but there’s still legitimate cause for concern if you’re a Letang owner and your league counts plus/minus.
During the first intermission of the Penguins/Canucks game, the Hockey Night in Canada panel made a great point about something that could affect fantasy owners. Between the regular season, playoffs, and even the World Cup, think about the number of games that Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel have played.
Playoff poolies will no doubt be aware that the Penguins might be gassed after back-to-back Stanley Cup runs. But what about the regular season? Pittsburgh and Ottawa play more back-to-backs than any other team this season (19). If you are considering trading for any core Penguins players, the fatigue factor might be something to consider. And although plus/minus might be a debatable stat, it’s starting to rear its ugly head on the oft-injured Letang and now even Crosby (minus-3 on Saturday, minus-11 overall). And we know that Crosby, Malkin, and Letang are all significant injury risks to begin with.
Phil Kessel left the game, then returned, after falling backward and hitting his head on the ice. He was evaluated for concussion protocol. It was a frustrating night for Kessel, who took six shots but could not convert. But at least he was repped by Ryan Reaves during After Hours:
Maxime Lagace becomes the fourth Golden Knights goalie to earn a win, stopping 24 of 28 shots in earning a 5-4 win. This was the Knights’ first win in four games, ending the team’s longest-ever losing streak at three games.
Obviously it was scoring that kept the Knights afloat in this game, with Erik Haula and Jonathan Marchessault each recording three points. Marchessault has been especially hot recently with seven points (2g-5a) over his last five games. With everyone tripping over themselves to add KHL sensation Vadim Shipachyov as a sleeper, fantasy owners forgot about Marchessault. Yet with Shipachyov all but officially gone from the Vegas roster, Marchessault could end the season as the team’s top point getter. Among forwards, he has the highest points per game (9 points in 10 games). He’s still unowned in two-thirds of Yahoo leagues.
The Vegas team’s top points-per-game performer? Brad Hunt, who has seven points (all assists) in seven games. But he was a healthy scratch for this game. And because you’re wondering, Colin Miller and Shea Theodore both logged over four minutes of power-play time in this game. Neither earned a point will logging around 16 minutes of icetime each. Theodore might have the highest upside of the bunch, but by no means will it be easy for him to secure a spot on the first-unit power play… or even the lineup, for that matter.
Here’s the latest on the rumored Matt Duchene deal, from Elliotte:
This deal would have been a humdinger to write a Fantasy Take on. I like three-way deals. Come on Yahoo, make the technology happen for fantasy leagues!
All kidding aside, I think Matt Duchene gets traded eventually, just not in the near future after this news leaked. Joe Sakic is taking a lot of heat for not making this deal, with many stating he’s unfit to be a general manager. I’m not going to jump down that rabbit hole, but instead suggest that he’s taking his time trying to find the right deal. This is something we commend general managers for doing, and I’m certain that Sakic would be criticized if he jumped into a deal. Duchene could still be a 60-point player in the right situation.
Duchene’s first-period goal was his first goal in seven games and first point in four games, and he also assisted on Nail Yakupov’s third-period goal while logging over 20 minutes of icetime, up a full six minutes from his previous game. With 10 points in 13 games, though, Duchene is at least an improved player from last season. So as long as the Avs are scoring, Duchene will return more in a trade.
One week after taking a vicious check to the head from Leo Komarov, Shayne Gostisbehere returned to the Flyers’ lineup on Saturday, recording a power-play assist from Claude Giroux’s goal. He also took four shots on goal in 26 minutes of icetime, which included a staggering seven minutes on the power play. In spite of missing three games this week, Ghost is second among defensemen in overall scoring with 14 points. Some thought Dobber’s projection of 55 points was too high, but the Ghost could very well reach that.
The Leafs played a solid road first period in a matchup against a former Norris Division rival. Then the second period came along and the Blues just took over, carrying the play. In other words, it didn’t end well for Frederik Andersen, whose numbers seem to swing between solid efforts and stinkers as a result. Andersen allowed six goals, all in the final two periods, on 32 shots. Andersen is a talented goalie, but his 3.48 GAA and .895 SV% aren’t helping fantasy teams at the moment.
The Blues had a number of players who rose to the occasion. Alex Pietrangelo scored two goals to put him in the league lead among defensemen in both goals (6) and points (15). For what it’s worth:
The top line of Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn, and Jaden Schwartz was en fuego in this game. Tarasenko scored a goal and an assist while taking seven shots on goal, Schenn recorded four assists, and Schwartz added three helpers of his own. Schwartz might be considered a sell high because of his place in the scoring race (third with 20 points in 15 games). But provided he isn’t moved off that line, I’d have a hard time wanting to move him. It certainly doesn’t hurt to shoot for the moon, though.
The Canadiens’ power play seemed to work with Andrew Shaw standing in front of the net. Shaw scored two power-play goals in the Habs’ 5-4 overtime win over Winnipeg. Max Pacioretty scored the overtime winner and assisted on both of Shaw’s goals. If you predicted that the Habs would break out after struggling to score early in the season because of an abnormally low shooting percentage, you were right. The Habs have erupted 21 goals over their last four games.
Carey Price sat out this game with a lower-body injury, which will hopefully give him a mental health break as well. I mentioned Price as a buy-low option in my Finding Fantasy Value column for Sportsnet. So do these folks that tell me that Price is worthless fantasy-wise remember that he was drafted on average sixth overall from Yahoo? Maybe if you redrafted today you wouldn’t pick him in the first round, but he’s not chopped liver. Come on.
Corey Crawford recorded his second consecutive shutout on Saturday, stopping all 24 shots in a 2-0 win over the Wild. I’ve been wrong about Crawford so far, pegging him as a goalie on a gradual decline after four consecutive years of goals-against average increases. Instead, he has arguably been the Hawks’ best player, posting a sparkling 1.75 GAA and .945 SV%. Obviously he will receive NHL Three Stars of the Week consideration, and it goes without saying he should be in your starting lineup.
A shoutout to the Keeping Karlsson podcast from poker icon Daniel Negreanu:
I have to admit, that song really sticks in my head!
In his second start since returning from injury, Antti Raanta stopped 36 of 37 shots to earn a shootout victory for the Coyotes. He didn’t make it easy on himself and whoever dared to start him, though.
That wasn’t the only goofy highlight involving a goalie.
For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.