Conor Garland Is a Hockey Player, More Thoughts on Goalies
The Rangers snapped a five-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over the Islanders on Saturday afternoon. There obviously wasn’t much scoring, so my one takeaway is that Alexandar Georgiev and Henrik Lundqvist have basically been splitting starts (with Lundqvist being pulled twice during that span). It was Georgiev’s turn today, and he stopped 24 of 25 shots to earn the win. I’m not high on Rangers’ goaltending as a whole, but Georgiev could be worth a flier if you need goaltending help. Lundqvist, meanwhile, has struggled mightily since the New Year, with a 6.43 GAA and .786 SV% over those three starts. The veteran goalie should be firmly parked on your bench right now.
Mackenzie Blackwood returned to the Devils’ lineup on Saturday, stopping 32 of 34 shots in picking up a 3-2 win over the Flyers.
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I added Tyler Bertuzzi in one league recently because of his presence on the Wings’ top line with near-point-per-game scorer Dylan Larkin and surprisingly successful Gustav Nyquist. With one goal in 18 games and only two power-play points entering Saturday’s game, he hadn’t exactly been making the most of his opportunity. However, Bertuzzi exploded for three goals on Saturday, with Larkin assisting on all three. I was probably one of the few who got lucky with this hat trick (given my sorry state at left wing on this one particular team). You’ll probably want to see more sustained production from Bert before you regularly start him in any league that isn’t deep. But you could take a flier on him for the opportunity alone.
Thomas Vanek, who used to score a lot more than he does now, scored the Wings’ other two goals in their 5-2 win over Minnesota.
In his second consecutive start, Joonas Korpisalo stopped 32 of 33 shots he faced in the Blue Jackets’ 2-1 overtime win over Washington. Not to worry about Sergei Bobrovsky, though. The Jackets were playing their first of back-to-backs on the weekend, and Bob is expected to start on Sunday. This will be his first start since his team-imposed suspension earlier this week.
There was news in the other crease of this game. Braden Holtby left this game after taking a stick through his mask during the second period. Holtby is dealing with some sort of eye injury and will be re-evaluated. Here is how it happened:
Braden Holtby takes a stick to the face THROUGH his mask and did not return to the game 😟 pic.twitter.com/dus2UNkIfa
— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) January 13, 2019
In case you needed a reason to add Pheonix Copley, now you have one. Holtby did not appear to be in serious distress following the incident, but he will no doubt be carefully re-evaluated.
Sean Kuraly might be a candidate for a promotion in case one of the Bruins’ top 6 forwards suffers an injury. Kuraly scored a goal and added two assists on Saturday, including an assist on David Pastrnak’s game winner against the Leafs. Kuraly is normally on a line with Noel Acciari and Chris Wagner, but his other assist came on David Krejci’s first-period goal. Kuraly hadn’t recorded a point in his previous four games, but again sometimes it’s about opportunity.
Following three consecutive losses, Carey Price stopped all 28 shots he faced in posting a shutout against the troubled Avalanche. This is Price’s second shutout this month, and he has done his part since returning from injury just after the new year (1.63 GAA, .946 SV%). Start him with confidence, even if the Habs aren’t always a sure thing to win.
Just another day at the office for Nikita Kucherov. With a goal and two assists on Saturday, he now has 23 points in his last nine games. He also leads the NHL in scoring with 75 points, and he is the only player to have reached 70 so far.
When you’re scoring goals like Conor Garland is right now, you’re scoring them every which way. Including off your face, as you’ll see below.
Fortunately, he returned to this game after taking some stitches, even taking the time to conduct an interview while he was bleeding during the second intermission, then scoring the game-winner in the third period. Looks like a hockey player to me!
— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) January 13, 2019
I’ll admit, I didn’t take him that seriously to start the season (stick tap to new Journey writer Brayden Olafson for first mentioning him last month and for Dobber for exclusively bringing him up in his Ramblings since). However, the more I watch this kid, the more I like him. To me, he looks skinnier than his 5-10, 165 lb. frame, but he’s an incredibly quick player who also appears to be a very hard worker (even beyond the above injury).
The Hockey Night broadcast also mentioned that Garland was the first player since Sidney Crosby to lead the QMJHL in scoring in back-to-back seasons (129 and 128 points in 2014-15 and 2015-16, respectively). After scoring at a point-per-game pace in the AHL to start the season, the Yotes decided to him up. Now he’s scored six goals over his last four games and is lining up with Alex Galchenyuk and is also seeing first-unit power-play time.
The Coyotes recently parted ways with two prospects in Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini who they didn’t think were going to work out. By and large, they haven’t converted many prospects into bona fide NHLers recently. Maybe this is where a guy like Garland now has the opportunity to stand out. And maybe because he plays in a place like Arizona, he hasn’t received much attention in fantasy leagues (just 2 percent owned in Yahoo leagues). So I’ll tell you now: Deep leagues at a minimum need to get onto this guy right away.
Speaking of the Coyotes, what if I told you that Darcy Kuemper now has three consecutive wins. He might not be the most appealing name out there, but he’s now the starting goalie for a team that is only four points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference (which says as much about the recent poor play of bubble teams like Anaheim, Colorado, and Edmonton as it does about the surging Coyotes).
There’s still opportunity to buy low on Vladimir Tarasenko, but that window will have closed a crack on Saturday. Tarasenko scored two goals in the Blues’ 3-1 win over Dallas, which gives him five points in his last five games. We may have to adjust our expectations of Tank as simply a very good fantasy option as opposed to being among the elite. Tarasenko’s production dipped slightly last season, as he missed hitting 35 goals and 70 points for the first time in four seasons. He’s still only on pace for 53 points, but he’s also on pace for 300 shots. More of those shots have to start going in.
I had assumed that despite Jake Allen’s struggles, the Blues were simply going to continue throwing him out there and hoping for better results. Jordan Binnington’s recent play may change that plan, though. With a 22-save win on Saturday, Binnington has now posted three consecutive wins and allowed just two goals over that span. Given the state the Blues have been in, they will probably cling to anything positive, meaning that Binnington should start at least one of the Blues’ back-to-back games on Monday (vs. Washington) or Tuesday (vs. NY Islanders). Since the Blues play four games next week, Binnington deserves a pickup in many leagues.
With a goal and an assist on Saturday, Alex Tuch extended his point streak to nine games, a record in the short yet storied history of the Vegas Golden Knights franchise. Surprise: it’s Tuch – not Jonathan Marchessault or William Karlsson – who leads the Golden Knights in scoring with 37 points in 40 games.
In the same game, Alex DeBrincat scored two goals, which gives him goals in four consecutive games. DeBrincat has now reached 20 goals in each of his two NHL seasons.
Martin Jones might be considered an average starting goalie, but it’s worth mentioning that he’s now on a seven-game win streak. Since the start of the streak (just after the Christmas break), Jones has posted a 2.29 GAA and .916 SV%. Maybe not the hottest of hot goalies, but definitely someone you should have between the pipes if you need wins. Jones is second in wins (21) behind only Marc-Andre Fleury.
What a weekend on the west coast for Jake Guentzel. After posting a hat trick on Friday, Guentzel scored another two goals on Saturday, giving him five over back-to-back games. As I mentioned yesterday, Guentzel’s playoff success is now translating to the regular season. His value might take a bit of a hit when Patric Hornqvist returns from his latest concussion, but Guentzel looks like he’ll be just fine.
Hello, Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter. Nice to see you again. The two goals that Kopitar scored on Saturday represented his first multipoint game in over a month. However, Kopitar has been remarkably consistent recently, scoring nine points over his past ten games. He shouldn’t have been expected to repeat his 90+ points from last season, but you should be able to acquire him for a fraction of his usual cost.
Carter, meanwhile, scored a goal and added two assists, but you probably can’t be blamed for missing out. Carter entered this game with just six points in his last 19 games. Carter’s season shooting percentage of 8.1% is well down from his 12% career average, so he could also be due for a market correction in the second half.
Finally, just a little Snoop Dog providing his unique play-by-play skills for the Kings. It's everything you'd expect it to be.
"Oh come on, nephew." – @SnoopDogg
Nothing will ever compare to Snoop Dogg doing play-by-play for the LA Kings on Hockey Night in LA. pic.twitter.com/SH527Vo2zr
— LA Kings (@LAKings) January 13, 2019
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.