The Avalanche continue to roll, now winners of seven straight games. Jonathan Bernier has been in net for six in a row, making him impossible to ignore. With Semyon Varlamov out until after the All-Star break, you know he will offer starts. Bernier remains available in 65% of Yahoo leagues and could be a viable third goalie option if you are in a pinch, especially during this bye week.
I’m not sure about Bernier long-term, so don’t be in a rush to make a move. As hot as Bernier is, his save percentage for the season is still just .911. He’s a .914 career guy. That’s slightly below average. And of course, the Avalanche are on a winning streak, so every is smelling like roses. Let’s see what happens when the shine wears off.
The Avalanche may not entirely slow down though. Nathan MacKinnon has turned into a legitimate MVP candidate, which shifts the expectations for everyone on this team.
We should probably discuss the fact that Josh Manson leads the Ducks in defenseman points despite the team boasting Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Montour. I like Manson’s game as a stay-at-home type who has a little more offensive spunk than you’d expect, but this is entirely out of left field. Manson’s 22 points already constitute a career high and he’s managed it without a single power-play point. This speaks to how rag-tag the Ducks have been through the first half of the season.
I feel confident suggesting that Manson’s pace will slow in the second half. There isn’t much evidence that defensemen are capable of driving shooting percentage, so Manson’s 9.9% On-Ice Shooting Percentage is indicative of good fortune that’s bound to change. It would be at the extremes of performance if Manson hung on for a 40-point season despite skating only seven seconds per game with the man advantage. In fact, I’d bet against him eclipsing 35. Still, an impressive showing and you have to make note of a defenseman who can do this:
Manson’s play is making me completely reconsider my plans for him in my salary cap league. Generally speaking, only the absolute best defensemen warrant keeping in this league once they get into the $3M (or more) range. Manson’s new deal worth $4.1M annually kicks in this summer, which has me expecting to have to trade him for a small return or drop him for nothing. But Manson is a beast in the peripheral categories. If he can consistently provide 30 points, he’ll be worth keeping around. It’s a good problem to have.
For what it’s worth, none of the Ducks’ defensemen are averaging 0.5 point per game, though all four that I mentioned are within range. Fowler is still the guy that I would bank on given he is their top guy for overall and power play usage.
Montour is probably their most talented offensive option, but he has slipped into a minimalized third-pairing role. He has seven points in 18 games since the start of December.
Mat Barzal and the second line are flying again. This time it’s Anthony Beauvillier instead of Andrew Ladd. In terms of pure offensive upside, Beauvillier offers more than Ladd although I wonder if he’s perfectly suited for a skilled line with Barzal and Jordan Eberle. They do need some kind of puck retriever on that line. In any case, with those guys rolling there’s some use to be had out of Beauvillier as a short-term option, as well as in daily fantasy.
Anders Lee’s production is starting to tail off as we should have expected it would at some point. He has only one point in the last seven games. Blame the Josh Bailey injury if you must. Personally, I just think it was going to be tough to keep Lee shooting above 20% (he’s currently at 22%) even as he is one of the league’s premier net-front men skating alongside a superstar. No, don’t drop Lee. Simply accept that his second half won’t be as prolific.
Don’t look now, but Max Pacioretty has goals in four straight games. That’s not enough to make up for his horrific first half, but it’s a start. The good news here is that the buy low window is likely still open. Would you be shocked if Pacioretty put up 20 goals in the final 38 games to get to the 30-goal plateau for the fifth straight season? It’s a bit of a stretch, but I wouldn’t be shocked by that development.
More intriguingly, Alex Galchenyuk has quietly run up 18 points in his last 21 games, positively brimming with offense on a team sitting in the bottom-five in scoring. A bit part of Galchenyuk’s success: Montreal’s power play has clicked on a quarter of their chances since the start of December. Galchenyuk has eight PP points in this hot stretch. This may not be sustainable, but it’s a good indication that Galchenyuk will score more than the 48 points he is currently on pace for.
Brendan Gallagher may also be trending up. He hasn’t gotten much help from his linemates or his coach, but Gallagher has been an efficient 5-on-5 scorer seeing what is likely less minutes than his talent warrants at just 15:17 per game. He skated over 19 minutes in a game for the first time this season thanks to an injury to Andrew Shaw getting him back on the top PP unit. There have been concerns about Gallagher’s hands being magnets for pucks, but he has proven an effective net-front option in the past.
Did you jump on any Sharks to take advantage of the five games that they played this week? There’s still time to join the party and get in on the four games they have remaining. There’s also a decent chance you’ll get a couple of starts out of impressive backup Aaron Dell given the density of the Sharks’ schedule, including tonight against a moribund Coyotes team.
I opted to grab Timo Meier in my leagues. I like the exposure he provides to San Jose’s top line as well as the hefty shot volume he is providing. No points for Meier yesterday, but he did fire off four SOG in 15 minutes of action.
The better bet for points may prove to be Joonas Donskoi who has six points in the last four games. The streaky forward is only skating on the third line, but can score in bunches.
Since when does Tyler Seguin have Jedi mind tricks?
Tyler Seguin just embarrassed his former team 😱🔥 pic.twitter.com/6mAgU51jjs— Bar South N Celly™ (@BarSouthNCelly) January 15, 2018
The superstar forward has eight goals in his last 10 games.
We already knew that Jason Spezza was a dud, but his healthy scratch for yesterday’s game is further confirmation. It’s a shame that he has completely fallen off. The Stars are dying for some secondary scoring and it’s tough to see where they’ll find it.
Check out my latest fantasy hockey stock market post for some more goodies.
You can also find me on the latest episode of the Keeping Karlsson Podcast.
If you haven’t already, be sure to pick up your copy of the Mid-Season Guide. It is loaded with updated projections sure to help you win your pool.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.
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