Ramblings: All-Star Game, Players Who Could Be Strong Post-All Star Break (Jan 27)

by Ian Gooding on January 27, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: All-Star Game, Players Who Could Be Strong Post-All Star Break (Jan 27)


The All-Star Game “mini tournament” was played on Saturday, with the Metropolitan Division knocking off the Central Division 10-5 in the final. Sidney Crosby, who missed Friday’s Skills Competition with an illness, seemed to benefit from the rest, as he was named All-Star Game MVP. Crosby collected a total of eight points in the two mini-games.

To get to the final, the Metropolitan knocked off the Atlantic 7-4, while the Central took down the Pacific by a score of 10-4. The Central/Pacific match, which was the only one I watched, was hardly a captivating game and not even one my 9-year-old (who normally gets excited about All-Star Games) could get interested in. The Centrals took a 10-1 lead before the Pacifics made the game somewhat closer.

In spite of my lack of interest in this All-Star Game, I don’t want to disparage All-Star Games in general. To me, the game is targeted more toward kids than someone of my demographic. The NHL keeps trying to change the game’s format to generate interest, but because nothing has really caught on we’re back to some form of traditional divisional/conference format. For fans that have absolutely no interest in this game, it’s a great weekend to catch up on something else. A movie, a weekend trip, reconnecting with an old friend who has no interest in hockey, catching up on housework, or whatever. As my wife keeps reminding me, there’s more to life than hockey.

Here’s the NHL’s puck tracking technology in action, as shown on NBC. Do you think this will improve your viewing experience and knowledge of the game, or do you think of it more as a distraction that takes pixels away from your high-def experience? So far I don’t mind it. It seems as though there’s a return of the old Fox “glow puck”, although in a more subtle format.

Before the game, US Women’s National Team player Brianna Decker received $25,000 for posting the best time in the Premiere Passer competition, even though she was simply demonstrating the challenge before the NHL players. What a weekend for the women.
 


Skills competition highlights/recap and my fantasy hockey lessons on Peter Chiarelli’s time in Edmonton can be found in yesterday’s Ramblings. Just to clarify, in case anyone misunderstood: I am not against the idea of making trades at all, just I am not a fan under normal circumstances of making massive multiplayer (eg. 5-for-5) type deals or many deals. Rebuilds might be the exception to that.

From my vantage point, I reject at least two-thirds of the trade offers that I receive (that includes fantasy baseball and football, not just hockey). So I am naturally skeptical about trade offers that I receive, which has a lot to do with my own analytical personality. If there is promise and I don’t believe that the other owner is simply attempting to one-up me, I might counteroffer and see where it goes.

Some advice for your own trade offers, if I may: Take the time to determine what the other owner might need. I’ve even found that a note in the offer like “I see you could use help with ___, while I am looking for ___” will go a long way in how well the other owner receives the offer. I’ve made successful deals with this note both as the person making the offer and the person receiving the offer.

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A reader recently inquired about which players have a tendency to heat up or finish strong after the All-Star Game. If your fantasy hockey league has a trade deadline (as many do), you’ll need to start formulating those potential buy-low trades right away.

One condition for making this list: Each of these players has struggled or underperformed at times this season, yet finished within or near the top 30 in post-All-Star-Break scoring last season. Beyond that, I’ll try to provide other reasons that the player could at least be in for a better second half.

Anze Kopitar

Hopefully you didn’t draft Kopitar thinking he would match last season’s career high of 92 points. He won’t even come close to that this season, as he is currently on pace for 57 points. That’s really a down season when you consider how many more players are scoring at or near a point-per-game pace this season. His current scoring pace of 0.69 PTS/GP is actually at the same pace as his total from two seasons ago, when he scored 56 points.

But there is hope for Kopitar. So far in January, he has collected five goals and eight points in ten games. Considering that he has yet to score a power-play goal (with nine power-play assists), one would think that he should be due. The way that Kopitar drives the play for the Kings, you’d have to believe that he can score at a higher pace than this.

I’d also have to throw in the main reason that Kopitar made this list, which is because he scored 41 points in 33 games after last season’s All-Star Game. Only five players had more points after last season’s All-Star Game.  He’s also historically been a slow starter but strong finisher. Between the All-Star Game and the end of the regular season, Kopitar has finished within the top 50 in points in each of the previous three seasons.

Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn

I’m going to lump these two Stars together, not only because they were both criticized publicly by Stars’ CEO Jim Lites, but also because both are traditionally stronger in the second half. Comments aside, Seguin’s and Benn’s recent second-half performances support an increase in points per game.

Consider the following points-per-game totals for each:
 

 

2018-19

(before ASG)

2017-18

(after ASG)

2016-17

(after ASG)

2015-16

(after ASG)

Seguin

0.92

1.09

0.78

0.90

Benn

0.71

1.00

0.90

0.97


Since Lites’ comments, Seguin has already been scoring at over a point per game (13 points in 11 games, including 7 goals). If you’d like to come along for the ride, he won’t necessarily be cheap to acquire, yet there’s a much better chance that Benn will be. Benn has struggled during January with just three points (2g-1a) in eight games, so he’s a player you could really buy low on. In fact, he hasn’t scored below 0.90 points per game post All-Star Game since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. That’s a player that you’ll want to target if you’re looking for second-half studs.

As much as Stars’ top management believes that Benn and Seguin are underperforming, the Stars need these two players. Expect coach Jim Montgomery to ride Benn and Seguin even more as the Stars attempt to grab a playoff spot in a very crowded Western Conference.

Rickard Rakell

After scoring a career-high 69 points last season, Rakell was sidetracked for a month by an ankle injury. But even if you remove the injury, Rakell’s scoring rate is way down, as he has just eight goals all season and is only on pace for 52 points.  

There’s reason to be positive this season if you’re a Rakell owner, though. He had a better post-All-Star-Game pace (1.03 PTS/GP) than his pre-All-Star-Game pace (0.8 PTS/GP). And as for the eight goals, you could argue that he hasn’t has puck luck just as he hasn’t had injury luck. Rakell’s 7.6 SH% is well below his career average of 14.6%, which could result in his goal total nearly doubling over the second half.

Rakell might end up lining up with Ryan Getzlaf and whoever, and he’s not going to have a ton of scoring options around him during the second half in Anaheim. But for the reasons listed above, he seems worth a gamble for a stronger second half.

Shayne Gostisbehere

The Ghost has been exactly that during the first half, as he has been held to just 20 points and a minus-12 in 48 games. His owners certainly expected a whole lot more after a breakout 65-point performance last season.

Like Rakell, Gostisbehere was particularly strong after the All-Star break, scoring at basically a point-per-game pace (32 points in 33 games). A good sign is that Gostisbehere is on place for close to 200 shots again this season, but he has just five goals to show for it. As well, the Flyers’ power play has been much worse than expected, converting on just 13.3% of its opportunities (29th in NHL). With its offensive weapons, there’s a good chance it could turn around. Since Ghost is a focal point of that power play, his offensive totals would turn around as a result.

Some positive signs recently, if you’re looking for something to build on: Ghost has three points over his last three games, and he is a plus-8 over his last six games (improving from a minus-20 to a minus-12 in the process). The Ghost owner in your league might be getting impatient – why not send out an offer?

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For more players who could potentially finish the season on a high note, don’t forget to pick up your copy of the Midseason Guide. As well, the Midseason Guide will be able to answer a whole lot more of your fantasy hockey questions and specific issues related to your team.

I should also mention that during the Wednesday Ramblings, Cam Robinson will provide you with some players that could potentially struggle after the All-Star break.

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For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.