Teams to target, injured goalies, plus more…
Hi everyone, it’s Ian pinch-hitting for Steve tonight.
In a matchup of two of the league’s hottest scorers, one was able to keep his white-hot streak intact, while the other saw his long-time streak end.
Patrik Laine scored goal number 39, giving him eight goals over his past four games and 14 goals over his past ten games. Laine was already hot when Paul Stastny joined the Jets, but he has cranked the volume even higher since Stastny’s acquisition. This is a match made in heaven for both players, as Stastny now has six points over his last five games and is suddenly a must-own in fantasy leagues. The third man on that line (Nikolaj Ehlers) also has six points over his last five games, as well as 12 points over his last 10 games.
Unfortunately for his fantasy owners who have been able to count on at least one point per game for quite a while, Taylor Hall’s personal point streak ended at 26 games. How great has it been? Hall scored 22 points over his previous 15 games played. Or to put it another way:
New Jersey Devils scoring leaders this season:
Nico Hischier – 41
Taylor Hall's last 26 games – 38
Taylor Hall's first 36 games – 36
Jesper Bratt – 34
Kyle Palmieri – 33
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) March 7, 2018
I posted this the other night, getting some reaction from the Twitterverse:
So if Tuukka Rask and Ben Bishop and Antti Raanta are the goalies on one of your fantasy teams, what do you do?
— Ian Gooding (@Ian_Gooding) March 6, 2018
So here’s an update on my injured goaltending tales of woe. I added Craig Anderson and was able to wait it out with Rask, who returned on Thursday night. So I ended up with three goalies I could start: Rask, Anderson, and Charlie Lindgren. Fortunately I made the right call and started Rask and Anderson over Lindgren. I can probably get by with those three goalies for now, although I’m not super confident in Lindgren and I dropped Anderson from another team last week.
On that other team, two of my three goalies suddenly became unavailable on Monday: Antti Raanta (who I added when I dropped Anderson) and Sergei Bobrovsky. Needless to say, I was sweating because this is the week before my fantasy playoffs start and I haven’t clinched a playoff spot yet (although I am currently holding one). And my other goalie is Jaroslav Halak! It appears that Bob could start tonight (Friday), as he was able to suit up as the backup on Thursday. As well, I was able to add Darcy Kuemper and start him on Wednesday against the Canucks, picking up a victory in the process. So I’m feeling a little more settled with this team as well.
Speaking of which, don’t sleep on the Coyotes as a team that could help your fantasy squad down the stretch. At this point they have as many games left as the Bruins, Panthers, and Senators (16), which is the most of all teams. If you’re not sold on adding Raanta or Kuemper (both of whom I added to this team over the past week), keep in mind that the Yotes are 9-2-2 over the past 30 days. So their place in the standings is a bit misleading compared to the team that they are now, just because of their awful start.
Here’s a couple Coyotes to target: Derek Stepan has 13 points over his last 14 games. He’s still unowned in over two-thirds of Yahoo leagues. Clayton Keller is more likely to be owned (nearly half of Yahoo leagues). He has 13 points over his last 13 games and can play all three forward positions in Yahoo leagues, so he might be useful if you can find him.
Not long after I dropped Thomas Vanek after a very uneventful first few games with the Blue Jackets, he scored twice on eight shots on goal and earned a plus-3 rating on Thursday. My prediction on Vanek has been incorrect in that he is not on the Jackets’ first-unit power play. Vanek was held without a point and had taken just four shots on goal in his first four games with his new team.
Seth Jones had a similar game on Thursday, scoring a goal and adding two assists on seven shots on goal in nearly 24 minutes of icetime. Jones has eclipsed Zach Werenski as the defenseman of choice for the Blue Jackets, pushing the higher-drafted Werenski to the second-unit power play. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if this reverses itself next season, if not perhaps sooner.
The Jackets’ top-unit power play on Thursday consisted of Jones and the following forwards:
60% PP ATKINSON,CAM – DUBOIS,PIERRE-LUC – PANARIN,ARTEMI – WENNBERG,ALEXANDER
Werenski was able to slip in a little bit of time on the first-unit power play, as his power-play goal was assisted by Jones and Dubois. The Jackets’ power play is 30th in the NHL and went 1-for-5 on Thursday, so expect John Tortorella to continue to keep it in a state of flux while they fight for a playoff spot.
With an assist on Thursday, Mark Stone extended his point streak to ten games. He has 15 points over that stretch, but surprisingly only two of those points are goals.
Although his contract is constantly mentioned as one of the worst in the league ($7.25 million for four more seasons after this one), Stone’s current linemate Bobby Ryan entered Thursday’s game with eight points over his last seven games. He was held without a point on Thursday, but the Sens’ high number of games remaining (see above) makes Ryan not as bad a player to target late-season as you might think.
Because of Reilly Smith’s upper-body injury, Tomas Tatar was moved up to the Golden Knights’ top line with Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson just in time for his first meeting with the Red Wings since they traded him at the deadline. But it was the third line that did all the scoring for VGK, as Cody Eakin and Alex Tuch each scored two goals on Thursday.
Shutout shoutout to Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 28 saves.
It seems as if every Tampa Bay Lightning forward has been worth owning on fantasy teams as one time or another this season. The latest is Anthony Cirelli, who scored a goal and added two assists with a plus-3 on Thursday. Since his callup from the AHL, Cirelli has five points (2g-3a) in just four games. Cirelli hasn’t really lined up with any high-level Bolts (Alex Killorn and Adam Erne were his linemates on Thursday), so I wouldn’t get too excited about him… yet. He has some pedigree, though, as you may remember him from Canada’s World Junior team last season.
With a goal and two assists and a plus-3 of his own, Ryan Spooner now has ten points (2g-8a) in just six games as a Ranger. Do you think he likes it there so far? Spooner was held without a point in his previous two games, but has multiple points in the other four. Spooner’s Ranger breakout has helped the recent fantasy value of linemate Kevin Hayes (six points over his last six games).
Roberto Luongo’s 40-save shutout was his second of the season and 75th of his career. Since his return from injury, he has made James Reimer obsolete. The Panthers’ recent success has a lot to do with Luongo, who has seven wins and a 2.31 GAA and .934 SV% in the nine games since his return.
With three helpers and a plus-3 on Thursday, Keith Yandle has seven assists and a plus-5 over his past four games. Since February 1, Shayne Gostisbehere is the only defenseman that has more assists than Yandle (15 assists in 16 games). Needless to say, Yandle has been a big help to teams in the fantasy playoffs and should continue to be a major asset given the Panthers’ favorable schedule.
The addition of Yandle last season was thought to have hurt Aaron Ekblad’s fantasy value, as Ekblad was held to just 21 points with a minus-23. But Ekblad has rebounded nicely with 29 points in 65 games, including assists in five of his last six games. Coincidentally, Ekblad and Yandle are regular even-strength defense partners.
Is Pekka Rinne in the discussion for comeback player of the year? The Predators’ win streak is now at ten games, while Rinne is on a personal eight-game win streak. I’ll admit I didn’t target him thinking that age was catching up to him and Juuse Saros would grab an increased number of starts. But at the moment, is there any goalie that you would feel more confident in a playoff pool right now than Rinne?
One goalie I’ve seen dropped in one of my leagues recently is Jake Allen, who was called on to start on Thursday after Carter Hutton was scratched at the last moment with an injury. Allen was solid, stopping 34 of 35 shots he faced. Allen hasn’t earned a win in a month and hasn’t been great, but he hasn’t received any kind of run support from his offense.
Blues have scored one goal in Jake Allen's past eight periods in goal
— Tom Timmermann (@tomtimm) March 9, 2018
Entering the third period, in San Jose, Jake Allen had gone 276 minutes 39 seconds without a lead by the Blues.
— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) March 9, 2018
Let’s just say as the Blues fall out of the playoff race, some of Allen’s teammates aren’t bringing it right now. I’m pointing the finger at you, Brayden Schenn. Normally Schenn is a multicategory beast, but the offense has dried up (no goals and two assists in his last seven games). Same with Alex Steen (no goals and two assists in his last eight games).
Schenn was the player I targeted in multiple leagues this season for his multicategory value and where I could draft him. I hadn’t thought about this until now, but now I’m wondering whether it’s worth my while to keep him in my shallower single-season league. Since January 30, Schenn has basically been average with just three goals and seven points in 16 games. It’s been a great run but it’s starting to fizzle, so it wouldn’t be inconceivable to drop him if you need to do everything possible to keep your fantasy season alive.
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.