Of course, there’s more to fantasy hockey than just points. I figured this would be a good time to look at what teams and players are excelling in other categories.
Of course, we all need a reference point to start from. I chose Christmas as it was long enough away that the all-star break/bye week wouldn’t skew things too much, the entire league was on a break at the same time and it was seven weeks ago, giving us about 18-20 games to grab data from (or in other words, basically a quarter of a season). Keep in mind when reading the stats in this column, unless otherwise stated, it’s all based since Dec. 25.
10. Jaden Schwartz in shots
When you look at the top 10 shot producers since Christmas, you see a lot of names you would expect to be there: Brent Burns, Evander Kane, Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane and Viktor Arvidsson. However, Jaden Schwartz — who is tied for 9th with 67 shots fired— being on that list is a complete shocker. Overall, he’s on pace for a career high in shots, but is also shooting 2.7 per cent, 11 points below his career average. He’s a must as a buy-low candidate in keeper pools.
9. Ryan Getzlaf’s awful plus/minus
The only bright spots in Anaheim lately have been Daniel Sprong and Nick Ritchie, but the rest of the squad has been an extra level of terrible. However, let’s focus on Getzlaf. In his last 18 games, he has seven points, four PIM, three power-play points and 41 shots. That is borderline fantasy relevant. However, his minus-25 is easily the worst since Christmas. If you go back a little further, he’s a minus-28 in his last 21 games, and he has been a minus player in 19 of those games. On the season, Getzlaf’s minus-21 is third-worst in the league and is only two away from being the lowest (Jonathan Huberdeau’s minus-23 is the worst overall).
8. St. Louis Blues penalty killing
On the whole, the Blues having an awful penalty kill doesn’t really hurt you too much unless you own the Blues goalies. After all, your Blues players aren’t getting a negative anytime the opposition scores with the man advantage. However, opposition players are scoring on 30 per cent of their power plays against the Blues since Christmas. In case there was ever a close decision on who to start/sit, you should definitely be dressing players anytime they play the Blues.
7. Patrik Laine and power-play shots
Much has been written about Laine’s struggles. He has only 25 goals this season, and has scored only one goal this calendar year. He’s been up and down the lineup and is now on the second power-play unit. One reason why I believe he is due for a rebound soon is the sheer amount of shots he takes. Laine has taken 25 power-play shots since Christmas, tied with Kyle Palmieri for the lead. He’s also on pace for 274 shots overall, which would be a career high. Eventually, the puck will start to go in for Laine and he’ll wind up with 10 goals in 13 games.
6. Carolina Hurricanes goal-scoring
All season long, advanced stats guys have been hyping up Carolina. Despite not winning games or scoring enough early in the season, the Canes were still seen as a great team according to advanced stats. I guess it just took a while for the squad to catch up. Since Christmas, Carolina has scored 71 goals in 20 games, third most in the league (San Jose, Calgary and Pittsburgh are the only other teams to have scored 70 goals in the same time span). Seven players have at least 10 points in that span and another seven players have at least seven points. Benefitting the most have been Sebastian Aho (24 points), Teuvo Teravainen (19) and Jacob Slavin (13).
5. Martin Jones winning games
It’s a good thing that Jones is playing in San Jose, as the team’s offense is saving him from being a disaster in fantasy hockey. In his last 14 games, Jones is 12-2, but he also has a 2.96 GAA and a .899 SV % and a 2.96 GAA. That’s pretty similar to his overall numbers on the season (26-10-4 record with a 2.90 GAA and .899 SV %). In points-only pools, Jones has been unbelievable. In most other leagues, despite having the second-most wins this season, he’s outside the top 10.
4. Juuse Saros the top netminder
I am one of those who believe that it’s going to take at least two years before Saros usurps Pekka Rinne, but the play of late for both of these goalies makes me a little less sure. Of all goalies with a minimum of five starts since Christmas, Saros leads the league in GAA with 1.48 and save percentage with .953. He is also 6-1. In the same time frame, Rinne has started 13 games, has a 5-6-2 record with a 3.14 GAA and .895 SV %. The Preds are fighting for top spot in the Central division, but it shouldn’t be a surprise if Saros steals starts for the next little while.
3. Leon Draisaitl scoring binge
Draisaitl has never been known for his goal scoring. Even in junior, Draisaitl topped out at 38 goals in 64 games. He’s always been a playmaker. That is why his scoring outburst is a surprise. His 32 goals are already a career high. Since Dec. 25, he has 15 goals, tying him with Patrick Kane for tops. Eight of those 15 goals have come on the power play, also tops since Christmas.
2. Maple Leafs dreadful power play
In the past seven weeks, there’s been plenty of bad power plays. Vegas is the only squad below 10 per cent at 9.8, St. Louis is second worst at 10.6 per cent but is somehow winning games and Nashville’s awful power play is par for the course. However, Toronto having the fourth-worst power play (at 11.4 per cent going into Sunday’s game) certainly has to be a disappointment, especially considering how great they started the season. How bad has it been? Since Christmas, the Leafs have played 18 games. John Tavares, Mitchell Marner and Nazem Kadri lead the team with two power-play points.
1. The Blackhawks power play
They had an atrocious power-play to start the year and going into the Christmas break, they were ranked dead last power-play percentage. Since the visit from St. Nick, the Hawks have converted on 40.7 per cent of their power plays before Sunday’s game (Tampa Bay and Edmonton were tied for second at 28 per cent). Four Hawks have 10 power-play points in that time (Patrick Kane: 14, Alex DeBrincat: 11, Jonathan Toews: 10 and Erik Gustafsson: 10). It’s important to take notice of Gustafsson, who has taken over the top power-play duties and now has 13 power-play points on the season and 34 points overall. This seven-week binge has brought the team to a top-10 power play.
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