The Day the Defensemen Returned, plus Tuesday's boxscore info...
I’ll start by expanding on a couple of my tweets from the past couple days:
At this point:
Blues and Coyotes have already played 41 games.#SJSharks have played just 36 games.
Potential to add up to 5 extra man games to your roster per player ROS with a add/drop or swap.
— Ian Gooding (@Ian_Gooding) January 1, 2018
Steve detailed the Blues’ side of this situation in Tuesday’s Ramblings. If you haven’t had a chance to read, then you’ll want to take the time to do so. As a Brayden Schenn owner in two leagues, I think it's food for thought. As much as Schenn is a potential sell high, though, I’m reluctant to do so simply because of his contributions in multiple categories.
I know that this information may not help those in roto leagues with fixed games played limits. However, in head-to-head leagues or leagues with no games played limits, you want to try to gain every edge that you can. The stats accrued from one man game played, let alone five, can be the difference between a win and a loss for an entire week. Or more.
The way I look at it, this type of information may affirm your decision to, say, add Joe Thornton and drop Max Domi. But it may also be a factor in swapping in a player with more games yet to play, albeit with a lesser difference than the one between the Sharks and the Blues or Coyotes. I just happened to stumble upon this stat while I was researching other information for the Midseason Guide. I just put it out there for all to see on Twitter, then went back to my research. It might help you, or it might not.
So Byfuglien, Letang, and Schultz all potentially returning tonight. A big boost to fantasy defenses everywhere.
— Ian Gooding (@Ian_Gooding) January 2, 2018
Neither Kris Letang nor Justin Schultz scored for the Penguins in their return on Tuesday night. But that didn’t matter for the Pens, who rode the wave to a 5-1 win over the rival Flyers. Letang wasn’t exactly eased into the lineup, logging 27 minutes and change. Neither was Schultz, if you compare his icetime in this game (19:51) to his season average (18:40).
The injury ninja usually isn’t kind to the Penguins, so you had to figure they wouldn’t come out of this game unscathed. Tristan Jarry left the game in the second period with a potential right wrist injury after blocking a shot. Fortunately for those fantasy owners who spot started the Pens’ young backup, he still earned the win. The defense also took a hit with defensive specialist Brian Dumoulin leaving the game in the second period.
Dustin Byfuglien’s return was much like Letang’s. No points, but Big Buff led his team’s blueline in both icetime (25:11) and power-play time (4:35). We’re now into January and he still does not have a goal this season. He still contributes in the peripherals, so you could make a pitch to buy low on him in a multicategory league.
Ryan Ellis was also held without a point (those Vegas Golden Knights strike again!) He was held to just 18:27 of icetime and no power-play time. Granted, it was his first game of the season, and Nashville only had to kill one penalty in this game (to give you an idea, P.K. Subban received a mere 23 seconds of power-play time in this game). Ellis has 40+ point upside, although he has never reached that number in his career. But we will have to wait and see whether he is a victim of the numbers game on a deep Nashville defense.
The Wild were buoyed by the season debut of Zach Parise. Although Parise was held without a point in 13 minutes of icetime, the Wild skated to a 5-1 win led by two goals apiece from Eric Staal and Matt Cullen. Parise is not necessarily a must-add at this point in his career, given both the injuries (at least eight games missed over each of his past four seasons) and declining production in the games that he happens to be in action. But he still fills the gap as a serviceable option at left wing in deeper leagues.
Meanwhile, Staal is having a quietly effective season, currently showing in the top 40 in both points (35) and shots on goal (116) over 40 games. He leads the Wild in both categories.
Sergei Bobrovsky sputtered in December (3.46 GAA, .891 SV%). But he earned the win on Tuesday, stopping 21 of 22 shots he faced. He’s earned plenty of wins for fantasy teams over this season and last.
Sergei Bobrovsky of the @BlueJacketsNHL earned the 200th win of his NHL career.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 3, 2018
Oliver Bjorkstrand scored two third-period goals to push the Jackets to victory. I mentioned him earlier as a player to target when Cam Atkinson and Alexander Wennberg went down to injury. There haven’t been major gains to Bjorkstrand’s icetime since then, but he’s still owned in only 8 percent of Yahoo leagues. Deep leaguers in particular should be looking him up.
Alex Ovechkin scored two goals on Tuesday, including the game winner in overtime against Carolina. Ovechkin now leads the league with 26 goals and has six points (3g-3a) over his past three games. He’s on target for over 300 shots on goal yet again and could even push for that now-hard-to-reach 50-goal mark.
Maroon received a match penalty and fighting major (15 PIM total) for this sequence. Fortunately, Doughty returned to this game and logged 26 minutes of icetime, which will probably lessen Maroon’s chances of receiving a suspension.
The Kings exploded for four third-period goals (three on the ensuing power play), two of which were scored by Dustin Brown. The goals snapped a three-game point slump for Brown, who is still motoring along with 15 goals and is now on pace for his best season since the last lockout. His 14.4% shooting percentage compared to his single-digit recent career average still screams sell, but he’s still in a great spot having been on Anze Kopitar’s line for virtually the entire season.
Rickard Rakell is red hot. With another goal on Tuesday, Rakell now has goals in six consecutive games, the NHL’s longest current streak. With two points, Rakell now has multiple points in three consecutive games. Playing on a line with Ryan Getzlaf is agreeing with both players, as Getzlaf himself scored a goal and added two assists on Tuesday. Getzlaf has 16 points in the 11 games since his return from injury, making him well worth the wait if you were patient. Look for the Ducks to make a second-half run, now that they are getting back to full health – assuming no other major injuries are forthcoming.
I say “getting back to full health” because Corey Perry is still out of the lineup. But an encouraging sign is that Perry returned to practice on Tuesday. Here’s some interesting information from the LA Times article on how little Getzlaf and Perry have both been in the lineup at the same time and how much Perry’s scoring has dried up:
Perry and Getzlaf, long-time running mates, haven't been paired together much this season. Getzlaf has played in only 16 games after suffering a lower-body injury and then a fractured cheek bone.
The all-star forwards have played together in only seven games, and in two of them one exited in the first period because of an injury and didn't return.
Perry has six goals and six assists in 31 games.
For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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