Ramblings: Explaining the Draisaitl Hat Trick, Vasilevskiy Streak Ends, Vilardi Makes Immediate Impact (Feb 21)
If you've been on the Frozen Tools Report Generator over the past few days, you might have noticed a new report called "Draisaitl Hat Tricks." If you don't follow me on Twitter, then you might be asking what on earth a Leon Draisaitl hat trick would be. That's what I'm here to explain.
You know the Gordie Howe hat trick, right? Well, instead of a goal, assist, and fight, a player earns a Draisaitl hat trick when he scores a goal, adds an assist, and is still a minus player for the game. Basically it evolved from my rant on plus/minus in fantasy leagues, which I followed up with bringing up how Kevin Fiala's minus-2 cost me the plus/minus category for the week in one league, even though he scored a goal and an assist in that game. That's when Eric Daoust of Frozen Tools brought up how Fiala earned a Draisaitl hat trick. So after some humorous banter, it's officially a thing on Frozen Tools.
So the leader of Draisaitl hat tricks this season is none other than… Draisaitl himself, as it should be. Last season's co-leader is… you guessed it (along with Nikita Kucherov and Aleksander Barkov). So leading this category isn't necessarily a lame attempt at saying a player sucks. In fact, leading this category might suggest that if a star player has poor plus/minus, then he could have strong power-play-point totals. In fact, here's why being a leader of the Draisaitl Hat Trick might not be such a bad thing. Rankings are for last season.
The Gordie Howe hat trick was actually trending on Twitter on Thursday because Kasperi Kapanen only needed an assist to complete one. Unfortunately, Kapanen wasn't able to get the assist, but I'm sure he'll take the Leafs win. After getting spanked 5-2 on Pittsburgh on Tuesday, the Leafs bounced back with a 4-0 shutout win when the two teams met in Toronto on Thursday.
Keeping with the theme of "hat tricks", here's an interesting story on the Gordie Howe hat trick.
Jake Muzzin led the Leafs with a goal and two assists with a plus-3. As you might have heared, Muzzin is rumored to be receiving a four-year contract extension worth just over $5.5 million per season, according to Darren Dreger. Oh yeah, and Muzzin also has a four-game point streak going.
Tuesday's and Thursday's games were like night and day for Frederik Andersen. In fact, Thursday was an important turnaround game for Andersen. The win was Andersen's first in five games, which between poor play and injury was his first this month. Entering Thursday's game, Andersen had been hit with a 4.27 GAA and .839 SV% in February. Hopefully this is a sign that things are back on track for Andersen, who also shouldn't be forced to start just about every game now that Jack Campbell is in the fold. Yet with the Leafs having to battle like crazy for a playoff spot, expect Andersen to start a lot anyway.
Dating back to December 16 and interrupted by injury, Oliver Bjorkstrand has 14 goals over his last 17 games. That includes his goal in Thursday's overtime loss to the Flyers. Unfortunately, Bjorkstrand slid into the boards at the end of regulation and didn't play in overtime. We'll have to wait and see the prognosis on Bjorkstrand, but given his earlier injury and the Blue Jackets falling like flies, it's not easy to be optimistic.
My waiver-wire pickup of the week was Mackenzie Blackwood. I know I shouldn't lean heavily on a Devils goalie, but he had a juicy home matchup against the stumbling Sharks and he's been red hot lately. Blackwood stopped 36 of 37 shots to earn the W, which gives him five consecutive quality starts. Over that span, he has a 5-0-0 records with a sparkling 0.99 GAA and .975 SV%. I know Dobber isn't huge on him, but he is an RFA this offseason and playing for the chance to be the Devils' permanent starting goalie. The Devils might be playing for pride, but hot goalies can emerge from anywhere. Ride this train while it lasts.
The St. Louis/Arizona game was also a great one to own goalies. Jordan Binnington was on the winning end of a 1-0 score, pitching his second consecutive shutout. Over those two games, Binnington has stopped a combined 31 shots. That's over two games – not one game. After his 17-save shutout against Jersey on Tuesday, Binnington only needed to push aside 14 Coyotes shots. That included just two shots in the third period.
In spite of that paltry shot total from his team, Taylor Hall still managed four shots, though. Goose egg in that department for Phil Kessel, however. Kessel is on pace for just 45 points, and for the first time in his career he's on pace for fewer than 200 shots. His fantasy value sunk like a stone with the move to the desert, but we told you that might happen.
The hard-luck player of the game was Antti Raanta, who probably thought the ice was tilted down on him. Raanta deserved a win in stopping 45 of 46 shots, but he did not get one. Raanta has been playing better lately with quality starts in each of his last three games and just one goal allowed in each of those games.
Mark Scheifele exploded for a hat trick plus one assist on Thursday. The goals were much needed, as he had not scored a goal in his previous 12 games. In spite of the recent goal slump, Scheifele is on pace for over 30 goals and a similar point total as last season (84). Nothing to worry about here.
Sooner or later, it had to come to an end. The Tampa Bay Lightning's 11-game win streak, that is, which ended at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday. Over that stretch, Andrei Vasilevskiy posted eight of those wins. In fact, Thursday's loss was Vasilevskiy's first in over two months (since December 14). Entering Thursday, Vasilevskiy had gone 19-0-2 with a 1.98 GAA and a .934 SV%. He should be back in the Vezina Trophy conversation by now.
With a goal and an assist on Thursday, Max Pacioretty now has seven goals and ten points over his last seven games. After two seasons of underwhelming returns, Pacioretty is making a case for comeback player of the year in fantasy. He's at a 0.94 PTS/GP pace, which is the highest number of his career. In addition, only Alex Ovechkin has more shots than Patches (273). That's impressive value for a player who was on average drafted outside of the top 100 in Yahoo leagues, behind Jeff Skinner (oops!) To the commenter who said I need to push Pacioretty up the Roto Rankings, you'll see that next month. He's not slowing down.
In his Vegas debut, Alec Martinez scored a goal and added an assist with a plus-3 and four blocked shots in 20 minutes of icetime. Not bad at all.
The LA Kings have been busy helping other teams with their playoff runs, shipping off Martinez and Tyler Toffoli to Pacific Division rivals this week. That represents opportunity for some new faces. One new King fantasy owners might be interested in is Gabriel Vilardi, who provided instant returns on his first-ever NHL shift.
The 2017 first-rounder also added an assist on a Martin Frk goal while finishing the game with 15:10 in icetime and second-unit power-play time. Vilardi was sidelined for almost all of last season with a back injury, but he scored 25 points in 32 AHL games this season. View his Dobber Prospects profile.
Speaking of Frk, he now has five goals in eight NHL games this season. The Toffoli departure in particular could help him (Fantasy Impact: Toffoli Traded to Canucks), although he's one slump away from being shipped back to the AHL. Still, Frk fired a season-high six shots on Thursday, and there's real opportunity for him in LA for the rest of the season if he's able to grab it.
In spite of the loss, Jonathan Huberdeau scored a goal and added three assists, extending his point streak to five games. Since February 15 of last year (one full year plus five days), only the aforementioned Draisaitl has more points than Huberdeau (116).
In fact, Draisaitl is the runaway scoring leader over that span with 133 points. To bring it back to the first topic today, he's also a minus-11 over that span. As the scoring leader this season by a full 11 points, Draisaitl should receive serious consideration for the Hart Trophy. Even if he's a minus-12 this season.
I'm going to watch some live hockey this weekend, so I'll talk to you next week. In the meantime, for more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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