Ramblings: Second-Half Sam, Kicking the Tires on Kinkaid, plus more…
You’re in either one of two situations this week.
You could be checking your team with extreme laser-like focus. A game like Ottawa and Columbus might not normally interest you (at least to me anyway), but you’re watching because you have one or more key players involved in a playoff matchup (also applies to me). You could be agonizing over which backup goalie to add to catch up in your goaltending category, or guessing which of countless players on your waiver wire will be your best option for some random category such as shorthanded points or game-winning goals.
You could also be completely ignoring your fantasy team (in which case you’re less likely to be reading this). Either your season has already come to an end as far as capturing first place, or you’ve been fortunate enough to receive a first-round bye and have had plenty of time to plan your ideal lineup for next week.
Season-long projections matter little, as the player that provides the most over the next day to week becomes your best option. So as I’ve said before, just about anyone could be a decent option in the right situation. After all, anyone can become lucky on St. Patrick’s Day, right?
I was watching that aforementioned Senators/Blue Jackets game mainly because of Sergei Bobrovsky. Just as the Blue Jackets have climbed back into a playoff spot, Bobrovsky has now posted five consecutive wins and wins in eight of his last ten games. With three wins this week, Bob is one goalie drafted in the early rounds who is actually coming through for fantasy teams during a playoff week. Goalies drafted ahead of him in Yahoo leagues – Carey Price, Braden Holtby, and Matt Murray – yeah, not so much. Not a good season to be using a first- or second-round pick on a goalie.
Jack Eichel returned to the Sabres’ lineup, recording an assist in 18 minutes of icetime. This was also Eichel’s first game since linemate Evander Kane was traded to San Jose, so who his linemates would be was an interesting question entering this game. Eichel played on a line with Jason Pominville and numerous other wingers.
The Ryan O’Reilly – Sam Reinhart unit really did the damage for the Sabres, combining for five points in over 20 minutes of icetime each. Reinhart had already started to heat up even before Eichel’s injury, but during Eichel’s injury Reinhart posted 12 points in 15 games. You may be interested in these splits for Reinhart:
Oct/Nov/Dec: 16 points in 38 games (0.42 Pts/GP)
Jan/Feb/Mar: 31 points in 33 games (0.94 Pts/GP)
Who says the Sabres didn’t have any scorers with Eichel and Kane out of the lineup? Reinhart’s potential breakout fourth (full) season is next season, so he might be one to keep tabs on as a sleeper. Still owned in less than half of Yahoo leagues, I might add.
With three points on Saturday afternoon, Connor McDavid is tied with Evgeni Malkin and just two points behind Nikita Kucherov in the Art Ross Trophy race. McDavid might have a tough time winning it, as Malkin has three games in hand and Kucherov has two games in hand. But if he were to win it…
Connor McDavid of the @EdmontonOilers is tied for second in the NHL with 34-55—89 this season (71 GP).— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 17, 2018
He can become the first player to lead the League outright in points in consecutive seasons since Jaromir Jagr, who did so in four straight from 1997-98 to 2000-01. #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/olwPib1U7p
2000-01 was the end of a 20-year period where only Gretzky, Lemieux, and Jagr won the Art Ross. No current player (assuming Jagr isn’t current anymore) has won it more than twice.
Something we didn’t expect: Keith Kinkaid is in the driver’s seat for the Devils’ starting goalie job. Kinkaid stopped all 38 shots he faced in the Devils’ 3-0 Saturday afternoon victory over the Kings. Kinkaid has won 4 consecutive games and 9 of his last 11 games dating back to the past month. Since February 15 Kinkaid has a 1.98 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage.
Kinkaid is surprisingly owned in just 19 percent of Yahoo leagues, probably because many who don’t follow the Devils closely still think Cory Schneider has been starting most of their games. But with the Devils playing their second of back-to-backs, expect Schneider to start Sunday in Anaheim. Schneider hasn’t helped his cause, allowing three goals in each of his three starts since his return from injury on March 1. Long term, I still see Schneider claiming his starting job back eventually, since he's the $6 million man compared to Kinkaid's $1.25 million over this season and next. If you ever have to make a decision like this, the size of the paycheck matters.
I’m a Frederik Andersen owner who was praying that he would not be injured during my fantasy playoffs. He’s my top league point producer on one of my teams. I also didn’t know which goalie I should pick up as a handcuff should he be injured (waiver wire transactions are shut down during the fantasy playoffs in this league). Curtis McElhinney? AHL standouts Garret Sparks or Calvin Pickard? At least we now know that the Leafs will probably turn to McElhinney again in the short term should Andersen be injured again (which would give Leaf fans another heart attack).
The veteran backup stopped all 33 shots he faced on Saturday, giving him three wins in the three games he has played in since Andersen’s injury. McElhinney has been sparkling with a 1.32 goals-against average and .959 save percentage this week. But before you click that Add button for McElhinney, Andersen is expected to be back on Tuesday, according to Mike Babcock. Same with Auston Matthews. So the news gets even better for Leafs’ fans and their fantasy owners.
William Nylander scored his 15th goal of the season. More importantly, he snapped a 13-game goalless slump. Over that stretch he has recorded six assists.
The injury-riddled Bruins pulled off a 3-0 win on Saturday, but it came at an injury price again. David Backes left the game with a nasty cut to his leg.
With three assists on Saturday, Torey Krug has now reached 51 points for the second consecutive season. Nine defensemen have now scored at least 50 points. Six more defensemen have at least 46 points with at least 11 games left. Only nine defensemen reached 50 points all of last season. However, three defensemen (Brent Burns, Victor Hedman, Erik Karlsson) reached 70 points last season, a mark that no defenseman is on pace to reach this season.
What does the difference between 2016-17 and 2017-18 defense scoring mean? I predict that in your typical fantasy draft, you won’t see any defensemen drafted in the first two rounds, like we did with Burns and Karlsson the past couple years. But after that, there will be a real run on defensemen over the next few rounds, even with overall scoring up.
One of those defensemen knocking on the 50-point door is Alex Pietrangelo, who scored two goals and added an assist on Saturday. After a dry spell through much of February, Pietrangelo is back producing for fantasy teams with seven points (3g-4a) over his last four games. Pietrangelo is back running the first-unit power play, yet only one of those points has been on the power play. So as the Blues have rebounded a bit recently (won three of their last four), Pietrangelo should be counted on for solid numbers down the stretch.
It wasn’t all good news for the Blues in their win over the Rangers. Vladimir Tarasenko left Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury. Consider Tarasenko questionable for today’s game against Chicago.
In what could be a last-ditch attempt to retain John Tavares, the Islanders have moved him to left wing on Mathew Barzal’s line in an “experiment” with Jordan Eberle occupying the right wing on that line. It might be too late in the season to really matter, but Tavares could receive LW eligibility if this lasts beyond a few games.
Interesting https://t.co/HCAUE8Z6DV— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) March 17, 2018
Josh Bailey would be moved off the Tavares line as a result. Bailey has banked enough points to have a career year (65 points in 67 games), but hopefully you sold high on him. His splits have been the opposite of Reinhart’s listed above:
Oct/Nov/Dec: 50 points in 39 games (1.28 Pts/GP)
Jan/Feb/Mar: 10 points in 28 games (0.36 Pts/GP)
Bailey has also been held without a point in his last four games, so it wouldn’t be out of the question to cut him in a shallower league. The Isles play three games next week, all on the busy Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday combo and two of which are tougher matchups against Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay.
One night after his four-goal performance against Calgary, Evander Kane was held off the scoresheet in his hometown of Vancouver. However, he helped fantasy teams in other ways, taking eight shots on goal and dishing five hits. It’s not known whether Kane will be back for a full season in teal, but so far he has fit in with his new team with ten points (5g-5a) in nine games as a Shark. Kane has fired 25 shots over his past four games, which leads all players this week.
Here’s hoping you have the luck of the Irish on what could be a pivotal Sunday for you! For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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