Ramblings: Hellebuyck Big Shutout, Gibson Injured, Saturday Goalie Starts (Mar 7)
In a game with massive playoff implications for the Jets, Connor Hellebuyck stopped all 29 shots he faced in a 4-0 win over the Golden Knights. Hellebuyck has now earned shutouts in two of his last four games. He's also put together an impressive run of quality starts, with 11 quality starts over his last 14 games. In fact, he leads the league with 34 quality starts.
Remember that Paul Maurice received an extension earlier this year, and how we mentioned that a high percentage of the performance-related fired coaches were victims of poor goaltending? I don't watch enough Jets games to know this, but I wonder if any of the Winnipeg faithful would consider Hellebuyck to be the team's MVP, given the Jets' offseason downgrades on defense. His performance seems to be having a similar effect on the Jets as Jacob Markstrom has had on the Canucks.
Kyle Connor scored again on Friday, giving him goals in five consecutive games and eight points with a plus-6 over that span. That's pushed him up to a team-leading and career-high 36 goals, which means that his first 40-goal season is within reach. Thanks to recent feedback, Connor will be bumped up the Roto Rankings when they are updated on March 15. $7 million per season on a long-term contract might have seemed pricy when he signed the deal in September, but so far it's paying off.
The good news for the Anaheim Ducks is that they squeaked out a 2-1 win over the Leafs on Friday. The bad news was that John Gibson left the game in the third period with an injury. Gibson was working on a 26-save shutout before leaving the game. Ryan Miller stopped four of five shots to preserve the victory, and would likely see more action should Gibson miss time.
Given the season that Gibson has had, I'm surprised he is still 84 percent owned in Yahoo leagues. He's still a quality goalie, but the Ducks defense is nowhere near as strong as it has been in recent years. Michael Del Zotto led the Ducks defense in power-play minutes, to give you an idea as to where things are at now with all of Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, and Josh Manson sidelined.
With a goal and an assist on Friday, Gabriel Landeskog extended his point streak to seven games. Over that stretch he has 10 points (4g-6a), and he also has 13 points (5g-8a) over his last 10 games. The goal was also his 20th of the season, which now gives him seven 20-goal seasons in his career. This season's 20-goal season might not seem like a big deal, but remember that he's only played in 51 games. He's bounced back after a slow start by his standards (seven points in 11 games in October before getting injured).
Zack MacEwen's two goals probably didn't help many fantasy teams, but it did help the Canucks end a four-game losing streak. Many Canucks fans reading this would probably agree that they wish they could see more of the power forward MacEwen, who skated just 7:15 in this game.
If your league happens to have its own category on empty-net goals or empty-net points, then Tanner Pearson is your man. With his empty-net goal on Friday, Pearson is tied for the league lead with 6 ENG and leads outright with 9 ENP. Pearson has also reached the 20-goal mark for the second time in his career.
In the Flames' 3-2 win over Arizona, Matthew Tkachuk delivered some multicategory value. The elder Tkachuk brother assisted on all three goals while delivering five hits. Matthew is outscoring brother Brady Tkachuk, but the younger brother is outhitting his brother by a mile (287 hits vs. 121 hits).
Draisaitl hat trick update: None on Friday. I missed Thursday, however, when Tony DeAngelo scored a goal and two assists with a minus-1. How did I miss that? I even covered him in yesterday's Ramblings. I guess because he filled the statsheet in every other category (also 1 PPP and 6 SOG). Or because everyone was talking about Mika Zibanejad. I guess we've got a lot of work to do before Draisaitl hat tricks overshadow five-goal games.
I wonder if the NHL has done the same and if there is a plan in place in case the coronavirus spreads much further. This morning, I was curious to find out what folks on the Forum thought about the potential (COVID-19) scare, so I started this thread on the coronavirus outbreak. Based on the responses, I don't think fantasy owners are panicking en masse about a season cut short, either because of the belief that it might not get to that point or because there will be much greater matters to worry about than fantasy hockey if we get to that point.
I'm not going to attempt to predict what will happen here or go on a rant about what should happen. Having said that, NHL games being played without fans is a now very real possibility. The one area where it could have an impact is on hockey-related revenue, which will affect how much the salary cap will increase. If the NHL is projecting a salary cap increase of between $84 to $88.2 million, then it's difficult to think that will be on the high end of the scale if teams aren't generating gate revenue. In fact, the coronavirus scare alone might be enough for more fans to watch games from the comfort of their homes. That will make life more difficult for teams that are up against the cap (Toronto and Vancouver, I'm looking at you).
We've dealt with multiple lockouts before, including one that wiped out an entire season. I guess a contingency plan for fantasy leagues might involve not naming a winner and giving everyone their money back (or keeping it in the pot for next season). I guess we'll have to wait and see if this is a topic that we will have to discuss further over the coming days.
Ben Bishop (vs. NSH): If you have an IR+ and stashed Bishop there, get him activated for this early Central Division matchup. Bishop might have a shorter leash than you would think, as Anton Khudobin has been getting a bit more of a run lately with some impressive numbers (1.78 GAA, .942 SV% in last six games).
Cal Petersen (vs. MIN): I mentioned yesterday that there's a goaltending competition with some solid numbers coming out of LA recently. The Wild have been red hot since their coaching change, but this matchup might not be as bad as you think. Petersen has a lifetime .925 SV% in 17 starts, so he's already asserting himself as the goalie of the future for the Kings.
Chris Driedger (vs. MON): Due to Sergei Bobrovsky's injury, Driedger is expected to make his second consecutive start. Over ten games, his ratios have been very good (2.29 GAA, .932 SV%). At least much better than Bob's. On Roberto Luongo jersey retirement night, Driedger might be inspired to continue that strong play. I've added him in one deeper league as a spot starter, to give you an idea.
Mackenzie Blackwood (@ NYR): Devils goaltending is a lot like Kings goaltending, where you have two options that are playing great for teams that are lottery-bound. Blackwood has seven quality starts over his last eight, although he'll have to cool off Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin at MSG.
Carter Hutton (@ PHI): If Carter Hart starts for the Flyers, it'll be the battle of the Carters. There's only one Carter to start here, and it's not the one who is confirmed. As mentioned yesterday, Hart's home splits are incredible, so the Flyers will be in a great spot to continue their win streak. And there's no reason to have a ton of confidence in the Sabres.
Aaron Dell (vs. OTT): Dell isn't the greatest option tomorrow. However, a home matchup against Ottawa is as good a matchup as it gets, so you could add him if you're in a pinch.
Finally, it's time to honor the passing of a legend. A total of 11 Stanley Cups for the Pocket Rocket, which is one NHL record that won't be broken. Even in a six-team NHL in which Montreal was a powerhouse year after year, that is one incredible feat.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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