Ramblings: Stamkos On The Shelf, Francouz on Hot Streak, Same With Martin Jones? (Mar 1)
Another day, another injury. This time it's Steven Stamkos, who is expected to be out for six to eight weeks in order to undergo core muscle surgery. Assuming that timeline holds true, Stamkos would not return before the end of the regular season, effectively making him droppable in single-season leagues. Obviously, IR is more desirable, just in case you are playing until the last week of the season. Considering Stamkos was drafted on average at 12th overall in Yahoo leagues, this is a serious blow to his fantasy owners working toward a championship.
No Stamkos means that Ondrej Palat moved up to the top line with Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point, while newly acquired Blake Coleman moves up to the second line with Anthony Cirelli and Alex Killorn. This is a big boost for Palat and Coleman in particular, with Coleman not as likely to be buried down the Lightning lineup as originally thought when the deal was made. Coleman picked up his first point as a Bolt (an assist) on Saturday.
As for the power play, Tyler Johnson scored a first-period power-play goal and was on with the first unit for the entire game. TJ had been on a mini-slump with no points in his previous five games and no goals in his previous 11 games, so the loss of Stamkos may also benefit his production. Despite the Bolts' recent overall success, Tampa's power play entered Saturday's game with the league's worst power-play efficiency rate (9.1%) at 6-for-66 since January 1. Stamkos leads the Bolts with 10 power-play goals, so his loss will be felt if someone like Johnson can't pick up the scoring (Tampa Bay Times).
With a goal on Saturday, Andrew Mangiapane now has seven goals in his last six games and 10 points in his last eight games. Linemate Mikael Backlund recorded an assist on Saturday, which gives him a staggering nine goals and 19 points in just 12 games. Prior to that, Backlund wasn't even rosterable in most leagues, picking less than half a point per game (23 points in 54 games). These are some impressive numbers for both, but just remember that Backlund has been shooting at a nearly 30 percent clip since February 10, which will eventually fall back to earth. It's also more likely that Mangiapane is available in your league, in case you're looking to get in on the action from this hot Flames line.
In case you were worried about Tuukka Rask allowing 10 goals over his previous two games, he was back to his usual form on Saturday. Rask stopped all 25 shots he faced in earning a 4-0 shutout over the Islanders.
With a goal and two assists on Saturday, Charlie McAvoy now has 13 points (4g-9a) over his past 13 games. Compare this to his first 50 games, where he had not scored a goal and recorded 17 assists over 50 games. Strangely enough, there hasn't been any sort of bump in overall icetime, power-play icetime, or defensive pairings – just an improvement in production. He probably won't continue to score four goals each month, but perhaps the third-year d-man is turning a corner in his ability to provide offense.
Mike Hoffman is on a five-game goal streak with at least one point in 21 of his last 26 games. He finished Saturday's game with a goal (his 27th of the season) and an assist and seven shots on goal. Before the season in my own personal rankings, I ranked Hoffman very close to Jeff Skinner. Obviously the two have gone in opposite directions lately, but I wonder if continued success for Hoffman could lead to a Skinner-like contract on the free agent market. Wherever he plays, Hoffman is a dependable player, having scored at least 20 goals for six consecutive seasons and on pace for his second consecutive 30-goal season.
Since Jacob Markstrom went on the shelf with a knee injury, Thatcher Demko has been trusted to carry the load for the Canucks. Unfortunately, this week he hasn't been able to provide goaltending at the same level as Markstrom, allowing at least three goals in each of his last three starts. In addition, it seems that he has allowed at least one soft goal in each of those games. The Canucks are playing their second of back-to-backs on Sunday, so don't be surprised if Louis Domingue makes his first start as a Canuck against Columbus. If Domingue has a stellar performance, then this goaltending battle has the potential to get interesting while Markstrom is out.
Quick, who is the leading goal scorer on the Dallas Stars? Tyler Seguin? Nope. Jamie Benn? Nope. Maybe you went out on a limb and guessed Roope Hintz? Nope. Try Denis Gurianov, who scored his 20th goal on Saturday. Gurianov has accomplished this while averaging just 12:49 of icetime this season. Calculate that to goals per 60, and Gurianov's G/60 places him ahead of snipers like Artemi Panarin, Nathan MacKinnon, and Jack Eichel. Not bad. On the other hand, Gurianov is having a true Cy Young season with just nine assists to go with his 20 goals.
Uh oh, Victor Olofsson left Saturday's game with a leg injury after a collision. You may remember that Olofsson recently returned to the Buffalo lineup after missing 15 games with a high ankle sprain, which is why this injury is concerning.
Don't look now, but Jeff Skinner scored goals on both Friday and Saturday and now has three goals in his past five games. Maybe, just maybe, his season is starting to get back on track.
On Saturday, Leon Draisaitl became the first player to reach 100 points. In fact, with two goals and an assist for Draisaitl, he's now sitting at 102 points. As well, he was "just" a plus-1 in this game with the three points. Regardless, he continues to roll.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored a goal and two assists for a three-point game. Only Draisaitl, Kucherov, and Panarin have more points since December 31 since the Nuge.
Since Kailer Yamamoto is sidelined, Zack Kassian was placed on the Draisaitl/Nugent-Hopkins line in his return from suspension. Kassian did not earn a point, but this would be a very good spot for him. Keep in mind that Yamamoto may return for the Oilers' next game.
That reminds me… there were no Draisaitl hat tricks on Saturday. In other words, no #29 hat trick magic on February 29. Darn.
With two goals and an assist on Saturday, Clayton Keller now has six points and a plus-4 over his last three games. Keller also had a three-point game against Tampa Bay last Saturday.
I probably should have mentioned Pavel Francouz yesterday, but I won't forget today. Francouz has won games on back-to-back nights and has now all of the Avalanche's last six games, all of which have been quality starts. Over that stretch (about 11 days), Francouz has been the league's hottest goalie, posting a 1.32 GAA and .957 SV%. Could Francouz "Wally Pipp" Philipp Grubauer, who was injured at the outdoor game? Francouz doesn't have a long track record as an NHL goalie, but the two-year, $4 million extension he signed recently could turn out to be a bargain.
Not many people would be paying attention to the Senators/Red Wings matchup, but some interesting numbers from a Sens' perspective, particularly if you're looking for late-season opportunists.
Artem Anisimov scored two goals, but more notably he led all players with ten shots on goal on Saturday. That's more shots than he had in his previous five games combined.
Our Daily Fantasy Saturday writer Stephen Dotzel mentioned Josh Norris as a potential daily option because of his low price and opportunity on the rebuilding Sens. Although Norris could not score a goal on Saturday, he skated over 20 minutes on a line with Brady Tkachuk and Bobby Ryan while also receiving first-unit power-play time. Still no points in three games, but I'll second Steve's analysis in that he's worth keeping an eye on.
With a 30-save shutout of the slumping Penguins (six losses in a row), Martin Jones now has two shutouts in his last five games. Over those five games, Jones has a 1.41 GAA and a .950 SV%. Fantasy owners may have given up on both Jones and the Sharks, but this is at least worth mentioning. Jones has not allowed more than three goals in any of those five games. Previous to that, it seemed as though Jones was allowing a minimum of three goals every time he started a game. Jones turning things around would be ideal for the Sharks, who have him signed for four more years after this one at $5.75 million per.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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