Ramblings: Drop Eric Staal and Pick Up Jordan Staal, Halak Shutout and more.
Let me start off by acknowledging that today’s ramblings might be weaker than usual. I wasn’t available all day to curate news nor was I able to watch games this evening. I had a long day on the road coaching basketball and it was grueling. The boys played their best ball of the season winning our semi-final convincingly before falling 61-49 in the championship game. They just ran out of gas.
And of course, I was put through the emotional ringer myself. Being the high-strung lunatic that I am, I rose and fell with every dazzling flourish of skill and torturous missed free throw. It was an excellent journey this season. I have never had a group that was so demanding of feedback. It was really great to see a group of kids passionate about improving their skills and not being afraid to ask for direction.
If you ever have the chance to coach youth sports, I highly recommend it. Don’t take it lightly as the demands on your time are high but the rewards are equally as high. The energy that the kids bring for you to feed off of is remarkable. This is my fifth year of coaching and while it may be my last if real life gets in the way, I will always try to find a way to be involved because I haven’t found anything as awesome this.
Now, about that fantasy hockey…
Big bounce-back game for Jaroslav Halak, shutting out the punchless Devils 1-0. In four starts since the All-Star break, Halak had been brutal conceding three goals or more in three of them. Halak has been reduced to splitting starts with Thomas Greiss and has arguably lost his #1 status. I still expect Halak to be the guy come playoffs but this has been a year where if you were invested in Halak you really needed the Greiss handcuff as well. As a Halak owner in multiple leagues where I haven’t had the handcuff it has been tough sledding.
Jordin Tootoo was given a game misconduct for cross-checking Johnny Boychuk from behind into the boards. Boychuk missed some time but was able to return. The Islanders can ill afford to lose Boychuk for another stretch, especially with Calvin de Haan, currently banged up and missing time.
I called the Devils punchless earlier because they simply don’t have much offense with Mike Cammalleri out of the lineup. Some good news on that front:
Hynes said they're hoping to get Cammalleri back at some point next week.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) February 20, 2016
For instance, Kyle Palmieri has just two points in nine games since the All-Star break. That’s not just the bottom dropping out on a career season that is a straight up implosion. Still time to right the ship but if you’ve been clinging to Palmieri the past couple of weeks have been ugly and he is right in that zone of productivity where in the average league you should really be cycling hot options through your lineup as they ebb and flow. For instance, if you dumped Palmieri for Andre Burakovsky last week, you came out ahead in the short term.
Robin Lehner had himself quite the contest posting a 38-save shutout. He also tried to get his hands dirty, mucking it up with Jack Johnson after Zach Bogosian was hit from behind by Boone Jenner. Four minutes worth of penalties for Lehner on that play, which is a nice boost if your league allows goalies to contribute to skater categories, although admittedly most do not. Check out his crazy eyes after this play. You really have to question Johnson’s judgement for taking on Lehner. Not because a goalie can’t handle himself but because Lehner looks like he would Johnson for dinner.
Bogosian, by the way, had to be stitched up but he finished the game.
Both Hartnell and Jenner received majors for their hits and could be looking at further discipline, which is also the concern with these rotisserie studs. Sometimes they cross the line to the point of suspension, which can make them more liability than asset.
A pair of assists by Jack Eichel extends his scoring streak to four games. It also gives the rookie 27 points in his last 27 games. Are you buying the big second half theory yet? Because it sure is looking good right now.
Rasmus Ristolainen notched an assist last night but that still gives him just three points in nine games since the All-Star break. In the midst of a breakout season, Ristolainen is hitting a wall despite no drop in his usage. He simply isn’t scoring as much as he was previously, which is probably the result of the heavy burden he is asked to carry.
Joonas Korpisalo wants this one back:
He has been good lately but got yanked in favour of Curtis McElhinney after a shaky evening.
Random stat of the night: Brandon Dubinsky’s 10 SOG. That has to be a career high for the forward. He is a nice player but you just don’t normally see him shooting with that kind of frequency.
I haven’t made mention of David Savard since he returned to the lineup. This was his third game back and he has yet to produce a point. This was his first game seeing more than 20 minutes (he was in the 19-minute range the previous two games.) Don’t expect too much from Savard with Seth Jones in the lineup because Savard is no longer the #1 option when it comes to power-play time.
I saw this pop up on Twitter last night:
Do with that what you will.
Brief signs of life from zombie Eric Staal as he notched an assist and had four SOG. The assist was his first point since the All-Star break, ending a seven-game scoreless streak. He also has nine SOG in the last two games. As I said, signs of life but he still isn’t the Staal you want in a fantasy league.
The Staal you want is Jordan Staal who had two points to lead the Hurricanes. He continues to be one of the absolute hottest players in the league. He is now tied with Nicklas Backstrom and Jakub Voracek for 10th in the league in scoring since January 1st with 21 points in 21 games. But don’t worry, Jordan is owned in just 27% of leagues, meanwhile Eric is owned in 65% of leagues. The script has flipped but people are not catching on.
Shayne Gostisbehere is now up to 14 games in a row with a point, which is some kind of crazy run.
PK Subban had some interesting words for his critics right here:
Possibly the best quote from P.K. Subban in 6 years, right here: pic.twitter.com/0Qi3NzNTP1— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) February 20, 2016
I would love to agree with Subban but it seems like any defenseman who puts up big offensive numbers ends up seeing that used against them, as though somehow scoring points automatically makes a defenseman deficient on the other end. Two assist game for Subban, by the way. Keep piling up them numbers!
Jonas Hiller with a bounce-back against the Canucks stopping 26 of 28 to end a three-game slide in which he had given up three goals or more in each contest. This was the kind of favourable home matchup that I was thinking about when initially recommending him as a spot starter. The Flames have just 11 of their last 25 at home so take note of that.
Johnny Gaudreau owners should also take note given how prolific he has been at home compared to the road. An assist last night gives Gaudreau 40 points in 28 home games but just 15 points in 27 road games. He’s less than half as effective on the road!!! I don’t think there is another player in the league with such blatant splits.
No Linden Vey for the Canucks due to an undisclosed injury.
With the trade deadline coming up I should mention that so often we see players get dealt to contenders as part of rental deals and that those rentals frequently have a weaker opportunity with their new squad than with their former squad. Remember, Antoine Vermette going from #1 center in Arizona to third line in Chicago? That was a backwards move for Vermette fantasy-wise.
One player I think would benefit from a move is Radim Vrbata because his opportunity in Vancouver has shrunk big time. No longer used with the Sedins and not even guaranteed top unit PP time, Vrbata has shrivelled like a grape in the sunshine.
Raisin Vrbata stinks. He has just one point since the All-Star break and has just one goal since Christmas.
As promised here’s a link to the In This League Fantasy Hockey pod that I appeared on earlier this week. I had a great time chatting with Tony Healey. You can follow him @T_Loc11. I really enjoy and respect the product they have put together, which is why it’s exciting for me to be able to hop on the show.
Thanks for reading. You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.
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