Lightning turning the corner, Spooner on fire, Hornqvist heating up and more.
Ryan Spooner remains available in two thirds of all Yahoo! leagues. Go out and grab him if he is available. A three-point effort for Spooner gives him 11 points in eight games since David Krejci went down. I was advising picking Spooner up before Krejci went down anyway but now Spooner is skating with Matt Beleskey and Loui Eriksson (who each had two points last night) and is sizzling hot.
I can’t advocate for Spooner enough. He is legit and the opportunity is fantastic. Nothing but dividends for those who scoop him for free.
That injury threw the Sabres’ lines into disarray but we did see a decent amount of Matt Moulson and Sam Reinhart with Jack Eichel. Eichel isn’t at the point where he is carrying a line so this probably doesn’t work out for Moulson but it is an opportunity.
Eichel, by the way, had been on a really hot stretch until recently having scored 12 points in an eight-game span. He has just one point in the last four games, however. Fits and starts. Pretty much a classic rookie season for a future star like him. I really feel like next season is going to be a bonanza.
Robin Lehner made his return for Buffalo and allowed a couple of muffins en route to a 4-1 loss. He was only on the hook for three of the goals but nothing impressive about the performance. Pretty much par for the course for Lehner at this point.
Last night I was on the Jonathan Toews–Andrew Shaw tandem in daily fantasy, naturally, Patrick Kane scores a hat-trick (four points total) and Artemi Panarin serves up three points of his own. Woe is me.
Shaw did have a goal disallowed so I feel somewhat vindicated by the play. As I mentioned in yesterday’s ramblings Shaw has really picked it up of late. Even with the goose egg he has 14 points in the last 20 games and has been skating quite a bit with Toews and Hossa.
Also worth mentioning is that Toews has been pretty hot lately. Again, no points last night but he has eight goals and 16 points in his last 15 games. That run gets him back on the 60/65-point pace he normally puts up. It doesn’t get mentioned enough how vastly overrated Toews is in fantasy. He was the 15th ranked player on Yahoo! before the season began. Toews is good but not great when it comes to fantasy.
Rare appearance for Scott Darling as he has made just three appearances in the last month. All three have been wins as he seems to be righting the ship. He probably makes a good spot start any time he does get in. Be sure to keep tabs on GoaliePost to stay on top of that.
The Leafs have scored just three goals in the last four games, two of which without James van Riemsdyk. It’s a small sample but this is probably where their scoring starts to collapse. For instance, Leo Komarov has just one point, and one shot for that matter, in the past four games.
The Lightning blew a two-goal lead to the Penguins last night only to rally to force overtime and ultimately snag a win.
Vladislav Namestnikov centering Ondrej Palat and Steven Stamkos notched a hat-trick including the overtime winner. That caps off a four-game scoring streak for Namestnikov in which he has scored eight points.
Valtteri Filppula scored an average of 53 points the past two seasons skating in a similar role as Namestnikov has the past few games, which makes you wonder if Namestnikov couldn’t score something like 25 points in the second half. Filppula did that with top unit power-play chances, however, something not guaranteed for Namestnikov. Namestnikov has been skating on the top PP unit with Filppula, Stamkos and Ryan Callahan but I would suggest this is more of a nice run than of a long-term thing for Namestnikov.
Filppula, by the way, had a three-point game of his own to give him nine points in the last eight games. Filppula is only skating on the third line with Callahan and Cedric Paquette, which is hardly a great situation but the top PP minutes are great for him. Some shooting percentage woes have plagued Filppula but I like him to turn that around and score near that 25-point mark in the second half.
Why the optimism? I’m not just reacting to a nice four-game winning streak, the Lightning have been scoring well for a month and a half now. Since the start of December they have scored 56 goals in 19 games, which is just under three goals per game.
Nikita Kucherov has been hot for two months, Stamkos has been doing well in spurts and now the team is healthy again and in a playoff spot. Health permitting, here comes a big run in the second half.
The Lightning got a couple of 5-on-3 chances last night and went with an interesting five-forward alignment with Stamkos manning the point. The Lightning have had real issues getting Stamkos setup for one-timers on their power play. One great way to open that up is moving him to the point, especially since one-timers are not a specialty for Anton Stralman who normally runs point on the top PP unit. I don’t think you’ll ever see that alignment at 5-on-4 because of the danger of a short-handed chance but it’s good to see some creativity when the situation allows for it.
Last bit on the Lightning: Stralman, with a goal last night, has 12 points in the last 15 games.
Injury scare for Kris Letang who appeared to hurt his arm. He didn’t initially come out for the third period but eventually got back into the game and skated over 28 minutes. Two points for Letang who has been sizzling.
Three-point effort for Patric Hornqvist. He has scored 11 points in the last 11 games. It’s awfully sporadically in those 11 games but the scoring does appear to be perking up.
Nick Bonino, an important penalty killer is out for the next month meaning Eric Fehr and Matt Cullen have become awfully important. The two of them combined for six PIM, which doomed the Penguins’ PK. If this is a sign of things to come, Marc-Andre Fleury will have a tough month.
Connor Hellebuyck is almost certainly sticking around whenever Ondrej Pavelec returns from injury. He got both starts in the Jets’ back-to-back against division rivals Nashville and Minnesota. The Jets are already in urgency mode.
Now, I do think there is a universe where the Jets fall out of the playoff race entirely, sell off Dustin Byfuglien and maybe even Andrew Ladd and throw it into tank mode for two months. In that scenario Hellebuyck is headed back to the AHL. Barring that, Hellebuyck is sticking around.
Hellebuyck probably has to implode for the Jets to reach that point anyhow so he holds his NHL future in his own hands.
Strong performance from Jacob Markstrom. I’ve been saying it for a while now but he is definitely taking that Canuck starting job from Ryan Miller. 38 saves on 40 shots for the overtime win. Granted, it was 40 shots from the inept Hurricane shooters but still, don’t scoff at a .950 save percentage.
Bo Horvat stayed hot with a two-goal affair. I left my thoughts on him yesterday so I won’t repeat it.
Nathan Gerbe returned for the Hurricanes but skated on the fourth line so it’s tough to get all that excited about him.
Kari Lehtonen has some ruthless home/road splits this season. Last night, on the road, he got lit up for four goals on 18 shots in the first period. Kudos to him for settling down and stopping every shot the rest of the way. You wouldn’t say that he had a good night but rallying to stop the last 17 shots is still impressive. Normally, he probably gets yanked there.
Incredible run of scoring for Jakob Silfverberg with six points in the last four games. Bruce Boudreau went as far as giving the bulk of the power-play minutes to the second power-play unit with Silfverberg, Ryan Kesler, Patrick Maroon, Kevin Bieksa and Hampus Lindholm. Something to watch for in the near future.
Bruce Boudreau mentioned that he thinks Ryan Getlaf’s struggles have come from trying too hard. Getting a little depth support can only help matters.
David Savard is out long term. John Tortorella indicated that he would be out for “weeks”. They really could use Kevin Connauton back. I’d say this helps Seth Jones but Jones has been playing huge minutes already.
Some positive injury news is that Sergei Bobrovsky has been activated off of IR once again. Of course, they tried this before and the wonky groin did not hold up. He will backup Joonas Korpisalo tonight.
Minor three-way deal between the Coyotes, Canadiens and Predators that blew up because it involved All-Star John Scott.
Scott, along with Victor Bartley got sent to the Canadiens. Scott will be sent to the Canadiens’ minor league affiliate, which makes him ineligible for the All-Star game.
The Coyotes, meanwhile, acquired Jarred Tinordi. He will likely see some action with Arizona even though they have picked up a few defensemen lately.
The most fantasy relevant piece changing hands was Stefan Elliott who lands in Nashville. He is stuck behind a long line of quality defensemen but you have to like the idea of him joining a team that has developed so good defensemen over the years. If an injury strikes, maybe he becomes relevant.
The Canadiens have sent Daniel Carr and Sven Andrighetto down to the AHL and recalled Jacob de la Rose. Both Carr and Andrighetto have flashed some intriguing scoring talent but ultimately they aren’t moving the needle for Montreal or your fantasy team. I think de la Rose is the better overall player but I’m not sure he is moving the needle either.
If you are into podcasts as much as I am, you will definitely want to check out the In This League Fantasy Hockey pod with Tony Healy and Brian Matthews. I caught onto their work over the Christmas holidays and liked it so much that I will be appearing on the pod next week so keep an eye out for that! In the meantime, you can check out their latest episode here.
Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw. For more help in your fantasy league, pick up the Dobberhockey Mid-Season guide full with over 600 player projections for the second half of the season.
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