It’s that time of year again – The 10th annual Midseason Guide! It’s up for presale and the release date is Friday, January 11. Pre-order it here!
It seems as though I kick off Ramblings every week with goalie talk, but it’s the most important position in fantasy hockey and it’s produced some of the weirdest results so far. Which makes it the most frustrating – and it’s a frustrating position during the best of times. In case you missed it other weeks, my mantra has been “follow the contract”, the starter will eventually get his starts back almost always unless he truly, truly sucks. New data on this:
In the last seven games, Carey Price has allowed three or fewer goals. He’s won four of his last five. The team is tightening up defensively, allowing just 19 shots on Saturday and fewer than 30 shots in each of their prior five games before allowing 39 shots Sunday. And that’s how the slumping starters generally turn things around – by having the team defend better and give them a few easier games. Once the goalie establishes confidence, he’ll take it from there. After six great games, Price was riding a wave of confidence that no doubt helped him stop 37 of 39 Sunday.
Mike Smith has six straight wins – no more than three goals allowed in any of them. His first three wins (the confidence-gainers) saw him face just 67 shots (22.3 per game). His last two wins – 58 shots (29 per game). The team needs to do the saving for him until he gets in some W’s, then he takes it from there. At least, that’s what coaches and team brass hope will happen when they keep throwing their starter out there.
Cam Talbot is riding two really solid wins and is inching closer to the wave of confidence that he needs. Getting the day Sunday was wise given that Calgary had scored 15 goals in three games heading in. A smart coach wouldn’t throw Talbot to the lions after just two good games. He’s the Golden Boy and he needs to be sheltered right now – wean him out of his slump. I’d be surprised if he’s not back to face Colorado, who are coming off a 7-1 loss…and then he sits again against the Jets who are on fire after scoring seven times on Sunday. Had he started the season well, then Ken Hitchcock wouldn’t have to worry about opponents so much – the starter would get the start. But for now, that’s how I think he’ll play it. The entire team is coming together defensively (Mikko Koskinen a shutout Sunday, facing 24 shots) and that bodes well for both goalies, but especially for Talbot.
Which brings us to Jake Allen. The one starter whose terrible start I have the least faith in turning around. And for a bit there, it looked as though even he was rebounding. A win, followed by a great performance in an OTL, followed by a shutout victory. A shutout! With the confidence building, the coach kept riding him into Sunday (more on that after my point). And that’s going to happen all season long – because he’s signed for another two years at $4.35 million per, he’s a high draft pick (34th overall) and he’s an organization-developed talent. He’s the Golden Boy. I say this because he got 77 starts over the last 14 months and despite sucking, he still gets thrown out there. But three goals on six shots got him the hook early against Vancouver and we’re back to Square 1.
Josh Leivo is still playing with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser, two of the best linemates one could ask for. Somehow, with the team winning 6-1 and Boeser and Pettersson getting three and five points respectively, Leivo managed to get zero. But he was a plus-4 and the team (and that line) was extremely successful so he will remain there for the foreseeable future and stands to be a solid producer.
I had Pettersson projected in the Guide to finish third in Calder voting, so his being the surefire winner this year isn’t all that surprising. It’s the gap between he and the next guy that is shocking. Yeah, Brady Tkachuk made a little bit of a run there while Pettersson was in a slump, and Rasmus Dahlin will continue to improve as the season marches on, but who’s kidding who – Pettersson has it by a mile. His path to pure superstardom is obvious, and that’s what the shock is in the hockey world. And that’s the reason he gets so many mentions in the Ramblings. I know people like to kid around with Cam about his Ramblings being Pettersson-centric, but man to me it’s one of the stories of the year.
Lots of big games Sunday which probably led to some movement in your league’s standings. The Jets scored seven times, and that game alone saw me move up a spot in the standings and get back into the mix – Mark Scheifele, Nik Ehlers, Josh Morrissey and Tyler Myers combined for 10 points.
And owning Hellebuyck in another league (allowed one goal on 37 shots) certainly helped there. Hellebuyck has won four of his last five and in the last four games he has stopped 105 of 111 shots (0.946 SV%). I’d been on the receiving end of a lot of flack for keeping Hellebuyck so high in my rankings, funny enough more than any other goalie. But I stick to my guns and I’m thankful to not be embarrassed. Thanks Connor! His season-to-date totals still have a bit of work ahead of them, but they’re getting there.
One trend I’m really enjoying is the fact that there are a large group of high-scoring defensemen. Sure, we’re not going to have five or six reach 80 points, but right now it’s pretty fun seeing Morgan Rielly, Thomas Chabot and John Carlson each with 30 points or more and each with more points than games played. Twelve defensemen with at least 16 games played have a points-per-game average of 0.75 or higher. Eight (50 or more games) did this last year, with the highest being 0.87. That was Erik Karlsson – who is not among this year’s 12, but I think will be. Karlsson has 12 points in his last 13 contests.
Torey Krug has also been on fire and his game Sunday was multi-cat gold. Two points, five SOG, three Hits and two BLKS. Plus a PP point. That’s five points in two games for him, and he’s changed his game lately and I wonder if it’s influencing the production. He has 11 Hits in his last five games. Prior to that he had eight Hits in 14 games.
On Friday I mused on Twitter that the Bobby Ryan and Matt Duchene injuries would benefit Chris Tierney’s ice time, and I was curious to see the results. Well, the results were mixed. On one hand, his ice time and opportunity skyrocketed – 22:17 in ice time Sunday led all forwards on the team. But he’s still stuck not playing with Mark Stone, so the points haven’t been coming. Seven of his 15 ES points have come while playing with Stone, despite only actually playing with Stone about 12% of the time.
was on the line in practice Monday morning)
Coyotes GM John Chayka confirms there’s a chance that the team won’t see Antti Raanta for the remainder of the season.— Catherine Silverman (@catmsilverman) December 10, 2018
I don't know if Adin Hill can shoulder this load, but he should be owned in all formats. Darcy Kuemper is apparently close to a return, but I get the sense that he is being rushed (for obvious reasons) and with lower-body injuries you shouldn't do that. Kuemper will be the guy, but I wouldn't be shocked if he is sidelined again. Hill is doing well, I hope they give Kuemper the time he needs. As for Calvin Pickard, I wish him all the best, but he's not getting a chance unless Kuemper is hurt again and/or Hill stumbles.
By the way, I know that if you’re on Twitter most of you follow me (@DobberHockey). But the @DobberProspects Twitter account is not only being run by the management team over there (including Cam Robinson), but I also have access and Tweet a prospect-related item every week or so. And the @GoaliePost account is being run, mostly, by former DobberHockey manager Michael Amato (Goalie Post has a goalie Ramblings posted today, FYI). One more for you – @Dobbernomics is being run exclusively by me, for game-related items.
Our Frozen Tools player profile pages has quarterly stat comparisons, side-by-side, this year versus last year for the skaters. And now we have added that feature in the goalie profiles. We will continue to make these better for your fantasy hockey research. Coming this week (likely), the hot/cold section will have goalies. Click a player name in any article to be taken to these solid research tools for that player.
While doing the Ramblings, I have Frozen Tools open on one screen and use it for all my statistical research – lightning-quick. In prior years I needed other sites to supplement, but not anymore. And if I ever get stuck (rare), I just ask Eric Daoust (the man behind the curtain there) to put in a certain stat somewhere and he does.
See you next Monday.
Check out this goal by Boeser. Best angle about 30 seconds in…
- Ramblings: Marner returns; updates on Strome, Spurgeon, and Landeskog; Fiala - December 5
- Ramblings: Landeskog Returns, Phil Finally Provides Some Thrill (Dec 6)
- Ramblings: Goalie Competition in Pittsburgh, Devil of a Time (Dec 7)
- Injury Ward: Dahlin, Backstrom, Landeskog, Fleury, Marner & Hughes
- Capped: Teams with free-agent uncertainty
- Looking Ahead: Bet on Vegas
- Frozen Tools Forensics: Cold Starts from the Defense
- Daily Fantasy Saturday: Cashing In With Cash Games