The Midseason Guide is now available! If you don’t have yours yet, what on earth are you waiting for? Second-half projections, line combinations, power-play units, trading block breakdown, prospects, advanced stats, and much more! Also, the second-half projections are now available on a spreadsheet for no additional cost (look for the coupon code on page 2 in the guide).
As has been the case for the previous three seasons, I covered the goaltending section. This includes preseason workload projections vs. actual workload percentages, projected rest-of-season workload, and a writeup on what to expect from each goalie that includes injury/callup scenarios. You’ll want to read through, especially if you own a goalie that you’re not sure about right now. And of course, feel free to send any beefs or bouquets my way.
Have you ever had fun in obtaining a vast array of knowledge on something, while at the same time failing miserably (sometimes) at it when you put it into practice? I’ve learned a lot about goalie management through the years and even into this year, yet at the same time I watch at least one of my fantasy teams getting destroyed in goaltending every week. That’s the kind of season’s it’s been. However, that’s just part of the learning process, as we learn to revalue goalies in this newer, high-scoring NHL. Remember those changes to decrease the size of the equipment? Yeah, we’re experiencing the implications of those changes today.
Of course, goalie situations can change by the day. I had to make a last-minute change to the projections when Antti Raanta was injured last Saturday. He returned to game action on Friday, only to leave after two periods. No, this is not a recording – it appears that Raanta returned too soon. Consider him day-to-day (again), and don’t rule out a trip to the IR. If you’ve purchased the Midseason Guide, this latest injury news doesn’t change the Arizona goalie projections a great deal, as I had expected Raanta to miss at least a few games.
Adin Hill, who replaced Raanta and figures to be the short-term starter for the Coyotes, had all of one save to make in the entire third period. That’s right, one save. At the other end, the Coyotes took seven shots on Petr Mrazek in the third period en route to a 32-save shutout. I can only imagine how much of a snoozefest that third period must have been (although I’m sure someone who watched this game will tell me otherwise).
Mrazek’s shutout was his third of the season, which ties him with a handful of other goalies for the league lead.
Dylan Larkin’s goal on Friday was so amazing, it almost makes me want to vote for him to go to the All-Star Game! (Although I see voting just expired.)
No, I didn’t vote for him, and no, I don’t think he deserves to go based on the season he has had. But after what he said about not wanting to go, it would be such a fan balloting all-star moment for him to get voted in, wouldn’t it? If John Scott can get voted in, then it’s not outside the realm of possibilities for Larkin to get voted in.
If you’ve been waiting for Larkin to come around, you’ll be happy to see that he now has a five-game point streak and seven points in his last seven games. Larkin has also been shooting his shot with 11 SOG over his last three games. There might be a bit of a buy-low opportunity for the second half, although you might be less inclined to make an offer if your league counts plus/minus.
The Wings have had more moments like this in 2019-20 than moments like the above Larkin goal:
This is seriously peak 2019-2020 Red Wings pic.twitter.com/km13rV7wVd
— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) January 11, 2020
Have I mentioned I like writing about goalies? I eventually gave into a follower on Twitter who was in desperate need of goaltending starts and wanted to add Jonathan Bernier. Yes, that would be the scenario to add any Detroit goalie. Bernier made 29 saves in leading the Wings to a 3-2 shootout win over the Senators, which gives Bernier… two consecutive wins and three wins in his last four games. I dunno… give him another start on Sunday at home against Buffalo? Sure, go for it if you need to, I suppose.
Bad news for Brendan Gallagher, one of my favorite players dating back to his junior days. Following his return on Thursday from a concussion, he has been dealing with headaches. His status for Saturday’s game appears to be in doubt.
As one of my keepers in a “keep 4” league, Gabriel Landeskog has fallen well short of expectations between injury and a significantly lower scoring rate when healthy. Landeskog had a solid game on Friday, scoring a goal and adding an assist while taking five shots. Landeskog snapped a three-game pointless drought as well. He’s been making the effort to turn it around, though. Since after the Christmas break, only five players have taken more shots than Landeskog. Maybe another possible buy low, if you’re looking for them?
Here's Landeskog's goal, or perhaps another reason that this isn't Matt Murray's season (at least Murray eventually got the win in this one):
Two more stats that I discovered while I was looking up the Landeskog stat from after Christmas on:
One of the four players with more shots than Landeskog (32 SOG in 8 GP) since after the break is Blake Coleman (34 SOG in 7 GP). The Devils fans that I know swear by this guy.
No player has more points post-Christmas than Artemi Panarin (16 PTS in 7 GP). No other player has more than 12 points since the break.
Looking for waiver-wire Penguins who might be taking advantage of opportunities with the injuries? Try Dominik Kahun, who with three assists on Friday now has five points over his last two games. Over the last three games, Kahun’s icetime has jumped an average of five minutes per game (over 18 minutes) compared to his season average. I almost forgot to mention that he’s been playing on a line with Evgeni Malkin and the new-and-improved Bryan Rust.
I realized Rust missed a bunch of games to start the season, but it’s still mentioning that only 11 players have a higher points-per-game average than Rust (1.23 PTS/GP).
Earlier this week, I appeared on the Fantasy Life Podcast at Fantrax with Jesse Severe. In this podcast, we discussed Mackenzie Blackwood, Linus Ullmark, Pavel Francouz, Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Brady Tkachuk, David Perron, Tristan Jarry, Darcy Kuemper, and Max Pacioretty. If you own any of those players, or if you like podcasts, you’ll want to have a listen!
I hadn’t done the podcasting thing in years. In fact, if any of you remember the Weekly Slapshot Podcast from my fantasyhockey.com days, that’s how long it’s been. Yet I’ve already been invited on by two separate podcasts this season: the Fantasy Life Podcast and the Locked on Fantasy Hockey Podcast. It’s been a lot of fun to get back into it!
Here are Saturday’s confirmed goalie starts, according to Goalie Post:
Carter Hart (vs. TB) – After looking rather ordinary for much of the first half, the Tampa Bay Lightning finally are, in the words of Dennis Green, what we thought they were. That’s nine consecutive wins, in case you haven’t been counting. That’s a tricky start for Carter Hart, although it is a home game for him. I wouldn’t argue if you looked at the matchup and benched him.
Braden Holtby (vs. NJ) – This looks like an easy start on paper for Holtby, but he’s allowed at least three goals in each of his last five games with a .836 SV% over that span. If you need the W more than you need strong save percentage, then Holtby is a safe option.
Henrik Lundqvist (@STL) – This might be more about who is not starting instead of who is starting. Igor Shesterkin is not starting after being given the nod in the previous two games. At least Lundqvist has some incentive in the added competition for starts in what figures to be a very tough matchup.
Aaron Dell (vs. DAL) – Dell will be making his third consecutive start and fifth of the last six games. Dallas won’t be an easy opponent, yet Dell has a 3-1-0 record with a 1.99 GAA and .933 SV% over that span. This is an implication of Bob Boughner taking over, as he’s made a New Year’s resolution to ride the hot hand. If you’ve been waiting for one more reason to drop Martin Jones, now you’ve got it.
RIP Neil Peart, an all-time drummer and huge fan of the game of hockey.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.