Malkin out 6-8 weeks, streaking Smith, Scheifele, and Spezza, plus more…
Many fantasy teams took a major blow on Saturday with the news that Evgeni Malkin will be sidelined for 6 to 8 weeks. That effectively ends Malkin’s season and puts his ETA for the second round of the playoffs, if the Penguins make it that far… or even make the playoffs, for that matter.
I guess that means you should drop Malkin? Oh wait…
Reminder: Malkin is on ESPN's "can't cut" list so if you use them for your fantasy league… pic.twitter.com/Es5GQ3m01Y
— Michael Clifford (@SlimCliffy) March 12, 2016
Missing the playoffs entirely would be the icing on the cake as far as the Penguins’ horrifying injury karma. With a shootout loss on Saturday, the Flyers now sit just two points behind their cross-state rivals for the final playoff spot in the East. Don’t draft Sidney Crosby in your playoff pool just yet.
Steve went through the potential implications in yesterday’s Ramblings. If you don’t feel like clicking on the link, Nick Bonino could fill the even-strength minutes and Justin Schultz the power-play time. The Penguins did not play on Saturday but are back in action early Sunday against the Rangers, so you’ll know more fairly quickly.
David Pastrnak scored two goals in the Bruins’ 3-1 win over the Islanders on Saturday afternoon. That gives him four goals this week, which helps one of my teams immensely while it is in a head-to-head playoff battle. You’d have to think that with a full season next season, 25 goals and 50 points is within reach for the man they call Pasta.
Linemate and UFA-to-be Loui Eriksson scored a goal and added two assists. Eriksson has a legitimate shot at 60 points for the first time in four seasons, which does wonders for his value in free agency. The Bruins deciding not to trade Eriksson while he was unsigned is a strategy many of us in keeper leagues understand when we “go all in.” Don’t focus on next season until this season is over.
Here’s Jack Eichel’s second goal of the game on Saturday afternoon, a game-winning goal with one second left in three-on-three.
Rick Nash finally returned to the Rangers’ lineup after a 20-game absence, although he was held without a point in 17 minutes of icetime. In those situations, I tend to keep the player on IR for the first game unless I desperately need the player in my lineup. Usually teams don’t give these players full minutes in their first game back, and I quite often can’t decide which player I want to drop to make room.
Here’s how the Rangers’ line combos looked for Nash’s first game back:
20.08% EV KREIDER,CHRIS – STEPAN,DEREK – ZUCCARELLO,MATS
20.08% EV NASH,RICK – STAAL,ERIC – STALBERG,VIKTOR
12.99% EV FAST,JESPER – HAYES,KEVIN – MILLER,J.T.
9.06% EV GLASS,TANNER – LINDBERG,OSCAR – MOORE,DOMINIC
Eric Staal owners will be happy with the above, while J.T. Miller owners probably won’t be. Keep in mind that these line combos are not carved in stone, as Derick Brassard missed the game with the flu. You’ll get another look at the Rangers in the Sunday early game on NBC.
Henrik Lundqvist also returned from a neck injury that sidelined him for three games. He was busy in this one, making 40 saves.
Niklas Kronwall left Saturday’s game with a leg injury. Not surprisingly, Kronwall logs the most minutes on the Wings’ blueline at nearly 23 minutes per game. Danny DeKeyser ended up with the heaviest minutes on the Wings’ blueline on Saturday with 24 minutes, up a couple minutes from his season average. Stats-wise, DeKeyser took full advantage, assisting on both of Darren Helm’s goals.
Kronwall’s hard-hitting style makes it easy to assume he is a Band-Aid Boy, but he is not. He missed 15 games earlier this season, but he has played at or near full seasons since 2010-11. So we can rightfully say he has shed the injury-prone label he had earlier in his career. But if this injury causes him to miss significant time, he might receive consideration for next season’s list.
With no P.K. Subban, Mark Barberio was on the ice for over 25 minutes as Andrei Markov’s defense partner. That icetime total represented a jump of a whopping ten minutes from his season average. Barberio made the most of the opportunity, scoring the Habs’ only goal in the 4-1 loss to Minnesota. We don’t know how long Subban will be sidelined with what looked like a scary neck injury. Barberio was starting to cook even before the Subban injury with four points in his last four games. However, the icetime alone clearly shows a player benefitting from the Subban injury.
Reilly Smith, the latest player to receive the “good Canadian kid” moniker from Don Cherry, scored two goals on Saturday. That’s 23 goals he has scored with just 23 percent ownership in Yahoo leagues.
Smith’s linemate Vincent Trocheck assisted on one of Smith’s goals, continuing his own tear of 22 points over his last 21 games. I don’t think anyone had Trocheck on their radar before this season. A 13.2 percent shooting rate suggests sell (see the Dobber Player Profile for more), but that might be a moot point if your league’s trade deadline has already come and gone.
Another Smith, this time Zack Smith, scored yet again to extend his goal streak to five games, 12 points over his last 11 games, and 21 goals on the season. Of course he will cool off, considering the extremely fortunate 21 percent shooting rate. But his line continues to roll, as it did against the Leafs on Saturday. Jean-Gabriel Pageau recorded three assists, while Mark Stone scored a goal and added two assists.
Sam Gagner almost had his sixth goal in his last ten games, but Ryan White was later credited with the goal. However, Gagner recorded two assists to give him seven points over his last ten games. After being the odd man out over the past few years, has he finally found a home in Philly?
Red-hot Mark Scheifele was at it again with a goal and an assist in the Jets’ come-from-behind 3-2 win over Colorado. That’s 18 points, including 10 goals, over his last 12 games. In addition, Scheifele is sizzling with a seven-game point streak with seven goals and 11 points over that span. I know a player shouldn’t be downgraded due to injury, but I don’t see how the Jets make Bryan Little the first-line center when he returns next season.
In that same game, Matt Duchene scored a goal and an assist of his own. This has been a bounce-back season for Duchene, now that he has eight more goals than he had all of last season. As well, he has already equaled his total from last season of 55 points, and he still has 12 games to go.
It might be time to drop Antti Niemi. Yes, the goalie that has started the majority of the games for the Western Conference leaders. Niemi provides empty calories for your fantasy roster: a solid win-loss record (22-12-7) to go with awful ratios. Saturday’s game was a typical Niemi outing, where he allowed four goals in regulation while the team in front of him gave him a chance to win in overtime against the Blues. It wasn’t to be, though.
I’m calling it right now: The Stars don’t make it past the second round. In fact, they don’t even make it out of the first round if they have to face either Chicago or St. Louis. I’d take any goaltender among the Central Division playoff teams over either Niemi or Kari Lehtonen. It’s not even close. And it doesn’t matter how many goals Tyler Seguin or Jamie Benn or Jason Spezza score to cover up the porous goaltending on this team.
Oh, speaking of Spezza, he scored another two goals in that game. He’s even hotter than Zack Smith at the moment, now that his goal-scoring streak has reached seven games. Spezza is on the cusp of reaching 30 goals for the first time in five seasons. I had him reaching 60 points this season, which he could attain, but I didn’t see 30 goals coming.
A sign of things to come next season? Jake Virtanen received his turn on the Sedin line on Saturday, so he did what almost no one skating with the Sedins would do – record seven penalty minutes (thanks to a first-period fight with Filip Forsberg) and no points.
There are a few young Canucks that have been hot recently and should step into a greater role next season. With an assist on Saturday, Ben Hutton now has seven assists over his last nine games. With his goal on Saturday, Sven Baertschi has two goals and three assists over his last five games. Hutton should be in a top-4 role for the Canucks next season, while Baertschi should be a top-6 forward next season with Radim Vrbata and possibly even Alex Burrows out of the picture for the Canucks.
Raise your hands if you activated Mike Smith for his return to the lineup on Saturday. Congratulations if you were one of the lucky few. The rest of us didn’t see this coming. Smith stopped all 44 shots he faced in a 4-0 shutout of the Oilers. Louis Domingue’s value clearly drops, although he should stick around with the big club with Anders Lindback on IR. Expect the Coyotes to give Domingue a few more starts before the season is out, now that the playoffs are probably out of reach.
Antoine Vermette loves Saturdays. A week after a four-point night against Florida, Vermette scored two goals and added an assist this Saturday. Add it all up and Vermette has nine points, including four goals, over his last five games. New linemate Alex Tanguay has six points in five games as a Coyote, so both may be worth a look at the moment.
Finally, some random thoughts from the late games:
Ten of Joe Pavelski’s 32 goals have been game winners, which currently leads the NHL. Remember when game-winning goals were a default category in Yahoo leagues?
If your league records overtime goals and hands out bonus points to defensemen, then John Moore is your guy. Three of his four goals this season have been in overtime.
Depending on your time zone, don’t forget to set your clocks ahead one hour!
Follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding
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