Kopitar’s Consistency, Hamilton’s Hattie, plus more…
Two Kings’ forwards scored two goals on Saturday. You’ve heard of one of them, but you may not have heard of the other one.
Anze Kopitar has been an example of consistency throughout his career, as he has reached 25 goals for the eighth time in his career after scoring two goals on Saturday. After barely finishing in the top 100 with 0.68 P/GP last season, he is having a nice bounceback campaign, as he is back within the top 20 with 1.09 P/GP. He has also been very consistent recently, scoring 17 points over his last 15 games. A coaching change from Darryl Sutter’s stifling defensive strategy to John Stevens and Pierre Turgeon’s more up-tempo strategy has had a major positive fantasy impact on Kopitar.
Some other factors are at play for Kopitar. He is also shooting the puck again, as he is on pace for nearly 200 shots, a number that he has not reached since the 2013-14 season. As well, his icetime is up more than a minute per game, which might have something to do with fellow center Jeff Carter’s injury. Only Aleksander Barkov has a higher icetime per game than Kopitar (21:56). So Carter’s return could be a concern, as it could slightly cut into Kopitar’s fantasy value.
The other Kings’ forward to score two goals was Michael Amadio. He probably hasn’t been on your fantasy radar because he plays in the Kings’ bottom six and hadn’t recorded a point in his previous seven games. Amadio is listed as one of the Kings’ top 10 prospects according to Dobber Prospects, though (view his prospect profile here).
Is Dion Phaneuf being used in a lesser role with the Kings? In his Kings’ debut on Thursday he logged just under 19 minutes of icetime, which is understandable if it’s his first game playing in a new system. But on Saturday he was on the ice for just 14:18.
If the rumors are true about Derick Brassard being a serious trade target for the Blues, he has sure aided his own trade value over the past week. With a goal and two assists on Saturday, Brassard now has goals in four consecutive games and five of his last six games. This recent run of success was preceded by an eight-game pointless drought, so any real and fantasy teams interested in Brassard could experience both peaks and valleys.
With a goal and an assist on Saturday, Matt Duchene now has six points (2g-4a) over his last three games and 12 points (4g-8a) over his last nine games. His acquisition might not have been a wise idea for the Senators considering their downward trend and his lack of scoring shortly after the trade, but at least his season has gotten back on track. In fact, his shooting percentage has recovered to 11.7%, which is in line with his career average. I’ve mentioned before that the Senators have a favorable fantasy playoff schedule, so he shouldn’t be that bad a player to own the rest of the way.
The Rangers are hoping the NHL’s other teams saw this stat on Michael Grabner, thus boosting his trade value:
Michael Grabner is tied for fourth in the NHL in even strength goals this season (23), trailing only Nikita Kucherov (26), Alex Ovechkin (24), and Auston Matthews (24). #NYR
— NYR Stats & Info (@NYRStatsInfo) February 17, 2018
With two goals on Saturday, Grabner now has 25 goals, which makes him a top-25 goal scorer spanning both this season and last. Of all the players to score a combined 50 goals over this season and last, no one has fewer assists (19) and fewer shots on goal (288) than Grabner. He is clearly an option if you need help with goals, but he won’t fill your other categories. Plus with him being a potential trade target, we can’t guarantee that he’ll continue this goal-scoring pace rest of the way, let alone contribute in any other categories.
After leaving Antti Raanta on the bench on one of my teams for much of the season, I’ve decided to move him into the starting lineup since his play has improved recently. Raanta continued his stellar play on Saturday, stopping all 40 shots in shutting out the Oilers. Raanta has won each of his last three starts (albeit against teams that do not occupy playoff spots, but you have to play those teams too). He might even be a candidate for one of the NHL’s Three Stars this week, as he has an exceptional 0.91 GAA and .976 SV% this week in those three wins. He’s only owned in 27 percent of Yahoo leagues, so he could be in the mix if you need goalie help.
The Evgeni Malkin–Bryan Rust–Carl Hagelin line did some damage on Saturday against the Leafs, combining for eight points. Malkin recorded three points himself and was trying for the empty-netter to get the fourth points. That kind of effort will endear himself to his fantasy owners.
We know that Malkin has been healthy all season and has been scoring at an eye-popping rate (1.20 P/GP, fourth in the NHL). Rust and Hagelin are more dependent on their linemates for points, although this is a good opportunity to bring up their recent production. Hagelin has 15 points over his last 17 games. Rust has 13 points over his last 12 games, thanks to his three points on Saturday. On a team whose big 3 (Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel) are in the top 10 in scoring, these are two under-the-radar options that are owned in very few leagues.
Meanwhile in Vegas, Jonathan Marchessault added another three assists, giving him a place in the league’s top 20 in scoring with 58 points in just 55 games. He’s the Golden Knights’ leading scorer, yet he averages only 17 minutes per game. Of players in the top 50 in scoring, no one has a lower TOI/GP than Marchessault. That makes me think that there’s the potential for even more, although more icetime could be offset by an inevitable decline in production by both Reilly Smith and William Karlsson.
Speaking of Smith, he scored two goals and added an assist, extending his point streak to seven games. Over that stretch he’s scored 12 points (5g-7a). He’s also now reached 50 points for the third time in his career, with the potential for much more before the season is said and done. Smith is the fourth Golden Knight to reach the 50-point mark, one that we didn’t think four VGK players would reach all season before the team even dropped the puck in its first game. (Remember when we thought Vadim Shipachyov would lead this team in scoring with around 50 points?) Another benefit to owning Smith is that he has been very durable, only missing three games over his past five season.
All these point-per-game players made me think, how many more players are above the point-per-game mark this season compared to last season? Although regression from a larger sample size will hit some of these players, 25 players are currently scoring at a point per game or higher in 2017-18 (minimum 30 games played). As for 2016-17 (minimum 40 games played), only eight players scored at a point per game or higher. That’s some kind of difference.
So is Taylor Hall’s point streak 10 games – the number of games he has played since returning from injury, or 17 games – the number of consecutive games he has played where he has scored at least a point?
It’s a wonder how Miles Wood only received a two-minute penalty after this dangerous hit on Vladislav Namestnikov. If you don’t like blood, don’t watch this video, as Andrej Sustr’s face was bloodied and his visor broke in half when he fought Wood in retaliation.
In spite of scoring a goal and adding two assists on Saturday, Jonathan Toews is still on pace for his third consecutive sub-60 point season. Unless you can draft him relatively low, you’re better off letting someone else draft Toews higher than he should go because of his name value. Toews is at least holding his own in the shots on goal category, as his 173 shots places him in the same company as Malkin, Crosby, Gaudreau, Laine, and Stamkos. Although Toews has just 16 goals, he may encounter some better luck soon.
Tuukka Rask had been lights out for his fantasy owners for about two and a half months, so it was inevitable that he would lay an egg at some point. You probably didn’t think he would crash so suddenly in the first period against Vancouver, allowing four goals on eight shots. Don’t panic, though. The Bruins play 16 games in March, so you may want to retain his services for some very important games for your fantasy team.
The Bruins’ busy schedule in March could mean more work for Anton Khudobin. Although there are only two sets of back-to-back games that month, the Bruins have an Atlantic Division playoff spot well in hand and could simply be jockeying for position with Tampa Bay and Toronto. In case you hadn’t noticed, Khudobin has been one of the league’s better backups with a 2.34 GAA and .923 SV% in 21 games.
If you need to project the number of games played for any team over a given week, don’t forget about the Frozen Pool Fantasy Game Planner.
Whenever Loui Eriksson scores a goal, it costs the Canucks nearly a million dollars. He gave them a discount on Saturday by scoring two goals. Canucks’ fans had been asking why Sven Baertschi and not Eriksson was healthy scratched on Thursday. “Eriksson is a key penalty killer for the Canucks” was an explanation that I heard on one local Vancouver sports radio program. Eriksson entered Saturday’s game without a point in his previous seven games and without a goal in his previous ten games, so he shouldn’t be on your fantasy radar.
Hat tricks among defensemen are rare. So Dougie Hamilton owners will gladly take his three goals on Saturday. With 13 goals, Hamilton is only behind P.K. Subban for goals by a defenseman. Hamilton’s success in scoring goals (double-digit goal totals in each of the last four seasons) comes from his ability to take shots. Hamilton’s 180 shots on goal places him in the top 5 in that category. Hamilton also has 12 points over his last 11 games.
Something that is helping Hamilton’s cause at the moment: he has logged at least seven minutes of power-play time in three of his last five games. The Flames haven’t always used Hamilton on the first-unit power play, but they are now. Both player are team are benefitting.
Johnny Gaudreau left Saturday’s game briefly after taking a puck near his face, but he fortunately returned to the game. Sigh of relief for Flames fans and his fantasy owners.
Roberto Luongo made his first start in over two months, stopping 30 of 33 shots in earning a win against the Flames. The Panthers’ goaltending situation has been a difficult one to project, as both Luongo and James Reimer have missed time due to injury. I’d have to predict a 50-50 split for the rest of the season.
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.