If you’re waiting for that turnaround from Sergei Bobrovsky, you’ll have to wait at least one more game. The top cop on the force was pulled early in the second period after allowing three goals on seven shots in an eventual 3-2 loss to Buffalo. His season numbers now stand at 3.33 GAA and .895 SV%. Worse yet, he’s failed to post a quality start in each of his last six games, allowing at least three goals in each of them.
Whether Bobrovsky’s woes are mainly due to his own poor play or the Panthers’ defensive issues (or Columbus’ stronger defense) is up for debate. Either way, the second-half turnaround that you thought you could set your watch to has been delayed, and fantasy owners are continuing to watch a high draft pick cost their team valuable points. This might serve as a cautionary tale on not using a high pick on a goalie, given the volatility of the position right now. Benching him might continue to be your best option, as I don’t recommend selling low on a player. Bob was a winner for fantasy teams in February and March last season, so you’ve at least got that to lean on if you can be patient for a little longer.
Keep in mind that the plan might have been to quickly remove Bob from the crease on Saturday so that he would be fresher for a start today (Sunday) against an injury-riddled Penguins squad.
A loyal reader asked me about Keith Yandle’s perceived decline. In other words, has Yandle been way less valuable in the second quarter than in the first quarter?
You can check Yandle’s Frozen Tools player profile for Quarter 1 and 2 splits, but I’ll post them here for your convenience:
Qtr GP G A PTS SOG PPP PPTOI TOI
1 20 2 16 18 40 11 3:45 20:10
2 21 2 12 14 42 6 3:57 20:43
There is a dropoff, although I wouldn’t call it falling off a cliff or anything like that. The point decline is all power-play points. The Florida power-play success rate during Quarter 1 was 27.0% (4th), but during Quarter 2 fell to 20.3% (15th).
There is something to look at with plus/minus, however, as Yandle was plus-6 in Quarter 1 but minus-5 in Quarter 2. More recently, Yandle has gone minus-7 over the last seven games, which might be related to the above Bobrovsky numbers and could also be fueling the perception that Yandle’s numbers are declining. Yandle has had his issues in the plus/minus department, most recently with a minus-17 last season. As the Panthers continue to struggle defensively, this bears watching, specifically since Yandle racks up so many of his points on the power play. Yandle is fifth among Florida defensemen in even-strength time on ice per game, which might give you an idea as to how they deploy him.
If you’re looking at bangers’ categories, Yandle is a negligible option in penalty minutes and hits (especially hits), while his blocked shots total has remained steady. I’m not concerned about this, because Yandle is not on fantasy teams for that reason.
All in all, I wouldn’t consider this a massive dropoff for Yandle. But how much of a decline it is may depend on the type of league you play in.
When the NHL announces its weekly Three Stars on Monday, you might see Zach Werenski’s name on the list. The Columbus blueliner scored two more goals on Saturday, giving him five goals this week. Werenski has also taken 13 shots this week, including five on Saturday.
Even though Werenski has missed seven games, he is still third in Jackets scoring with 25 points in 35 games. He’s also the team points-per-game leader (0.71 PTS/GP). Columbus’ top scorer this season may turn out to be a defenseman.
Let’s give credit where credit is due. Mike Smith stopped 35 of 36 shots in earning a road win in Boston.
Smith earned his first win and first quality start since November 23. No, I’m still not recommending that you add him.
With linemates like Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty, Chandler Stephenson has to make it work, right? He did so on Saturday, scoring the overtime winner and adding an assist with a plus-2 rating. Since coming over in a trade with Washington, Stephenson has five goals and nine points and a plus-11 in 16 games. He had just four points in 24 games, so this is one of those under-the-radar trades that has provided a massive boost to a player’s value. Saturday’s result, which is Stephenson’s first multi-point game as a Golden Knight, could go a long way in him retaining his spot on this line. He’s worth taking a flier on in deeper Yahoo leagues before his ownership climbs. An added bonus if you do: He’s eligible at all three forward positions.
Cody Glass injured his knee in this game. Didn’t look good.
I second what @vegassportsdoc is saying
Worst case: torn ACL and Cody Glass is done for the season
— Dr. Harjas Grewal (@Harjas_Grewal) January 5, 2020
Mikko Rantanen recorded his second career hat trick with a plus-3 ranking. Yes, the third goal was an empty netter, which anecdotally I believe many of them are. Rantanen is not a top-50 scorer due to injury, but he’s a top-15 points-per-game option among players who have played a similar number of games (1.19 PTS/GP).
Michael Hutchinson pitched a 33-save shutout, which means that he has now won three consecutive games. Strangely enough, Sheldon Keefe decided to start him in a non-back-to-back situation. Having a backup goalie that Keefe can trust will work out better for Frederik Andersen, who is again near the top of the league in terms of goalie minutes. In fact, no goalie has played more games and minutes than Andersen over the past four seasons. This should matter not just to Leafs fans who would like their team to advance beyond the first round, but also Andersen owners. Andersen’s worst quarter last season was Quarter 4, when he posted a 3.28 GAA and .903 SV%. Rest matters.
Antti Raanta was working on his own shutout, but he decided to pull himself after the second period with a lower-body injury. Darcy Kuemper is not ready to return yet, so it could be Adin Hill time next week. Hill stopped 10 of 12 shots to help the Coyotes earn a win against Philadelphia. Raanta is believed to be day-to-day for now.
The Coyotes do have a four-game week next week, but before you jump at adding Hill, note the brutal schedule for the Yotes. Three of these games are on the road through some high-scoring teams in the old Southeast Division (Florida, Tampa Bay, Carolina), then the other is a home date with Pittsburgh. All of these teams boast top-10 offenses in terms of goals for per game.
Clayton Keller scored twice to lead the Coyotes on Saturday. The goals were his first in six games; however, Keller has 18 points (8g-10a) in his last 19 games. Nick Schmaltz, who assisted on one of Keller’s goals and recorded two assists total, has 15 points (2g-13a) over his last 13 games. Who says the Coyotes don’t have any scoring?
Artturi Lehkonen scored twice on Saturday, breaking a four-game slump without a point. Lehkonen had scored just one goal over his previous 16 games. However, he now has 20 points, all of which are even strength. In other words, he has zero power-play points this season. With all the Habs’ injuries at forward, maybe he’s due for some? It will only get harder with Ilya Kovalchuk coming on board. Kovalchuk, by the way, did not make his Montreal debut on Saturday.
Max Domi, who assisted on one of Lehkonen’s goals, now has a nine-game point streak. Over that span he has 12 points (6g-6a).
The Canucks have now won seven consecutive games, with Jacob Markstrom winning six of them. Markstrom stopped 36 of 37 shots to basically steal a victory for the Canucks over the Rangers. Over those six wins, Markstrom has faced an average of 37 shots per game. That’s higher than any team’s average shots against per game this season. Markstrom deserves full value for his All-Star Game nomination the way he is bailing the Canucks out of games.
I know that Tyler Myers isn’t a favorite of either fantasy owners or the analytics crowd. Yet with the game-winning goal on Saturday, Myers now has eight points (3g-5a) over his last nine games. He won’t set the world on fire with his scoring, but guess what? Myers – not Quinn Hughes, not Alex Edler – leads Vancouver defensemen with 83 shots on goal.
With an assist on Saturday, Chris Kreider now has 13 points (6g-7a) over his last 13 games. This followed a six-game stretch in late November/early December without a point.
Anthony Duclair missed Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury. Top prospect Drake Batherson was recalled for Saturday’s game and recorded an assist. Duclair may return on Tuesday, so it is not known whether Batherson will be returned to the AHL. Batherson has been lighting up the AHL with 41 points (13g-28a) in just 33 games, so look out for him to make a late-season impact should the Senators sell some of their current assets at the trade deadline.
What skill on this goal by Colin White! It’s a damn shame that the NHL doesn’t award points for creativity.
Enjoy the World Junior medal games, and GO CANADA GO!
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.