Ramblings: The Halak Attack is Back (Feb.24)

by Dobber on February 24, 2016

Rambling about some hot players, the Halak Attack is Back, and more…

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The Streak is over. Shayne Gostisbehere with points in 15 straight games and that ended Tuesday. Against Cam Ward of all people. They even had him out there for the last two minutes with the goalie pulled in an effort to get him on the board (and pull within one in the game).

Scott Laughton scored though. With Claude Giroux out, he’s stepping up. Points in three straight now. Giroux is still day to day so I can’t speak to Laughton’s odds of keeping it going. But if Giroux misses a couple more games I think Laughton stands a decent chance of putting up another point or two. His long-term upside is that of a third liner, or a complimentary second liner if he has chemistry with a star forward.

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Ward stopped 37 of 38 and won that game for the Canes. I nice little bounce-back after what was a pretty weak performance on Sunday.

With a goal last night Jordan Staal has points in 12 of his last 14 games, and he has 23 points in his last 21.

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Still not getting an ice time bump, but he’s still putting up points. Kevin Hayes has seven in his last seven. Starting to remind me of brother Jimmy, who tends to get his points in bunches. The difference is, Jimmy sees a bump in ice time when he’s wielding a hot stick whereas Kevin is consistently around that 13 or 14 minutes per game.

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New Jersey undrafted rookie Joseph Blandisi had two assists to snap a four-game pointless skid. He has 11 points in 14 games despite that slump. He’s an intriguing fantasy option. He’s won the coach over, so if he’s not here to stay then he’s certainly in the mix next season. But it’s New Jersey, where I doubt we’ll see a 60-point player anytime soon. But he looks like a solid option as a potential 50- to 55-point player. In the long term he has even more upside, but that would depend on if the Devils can put a decent scoring team together. Blandisi is a potential 55/120 (points/PIM) power forward. You can read Blandisi’s fantasy outlook and analysis here.

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Filip Forsberg tallied a natural hat trick last night and he did it in the first 25 minutes of the game. He now has 12 points in the last 10 games. And 18 shots on goal in the last three. He’s wielding a hot stick and the confidence is leading to more shots on goal. The domino effect is his linemates. Mike Ribeiro has nine points in 10 games. Craig Smith has four points in five games.

I didn’t have a whole lot of respect for Nashville backup Carter Hutton. I found him to be a below-average prospect goaltender who got the gig because he happened to be at that age and level of experience at the perfect moment. The better prospects were too green, so Hutton got the call. Which is fine because Rinne plays 70 games anyway. But he’s doing a solid job this season. And I say that not because his numbers are looking so good (6-2-2, 2.16, 0.922), but because he’s doing it cold. He’s coming in cold. One game every couple of weeks. And his numbers are far superior to Rinne’s.

Don’t ask me why Rinne keeps getting start after start when he’s costing Nashville a playoff spot if it keeps up. Proof positive that big money is a huge advantage when the coach decides on which goalie to start.

Yesterday I posted the Top 100 goalies, by the way.

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This was a pretty sweet pass from Peter Holland:

We’ve all given up on Holland by now. But I wonder if we should. Yes, give up on first-line aspirations and 70-point potential, I’m not saying that. But I wonder if we’ve been too hasty. After all, his production is steadily increasing. Slowly, very slowly…but steadily:

2012-13 0.24 points per game (just 21 games though)

2013-14 0.26 points per game

2014-15 0.40 points per game

2015-16 0.47 points per game (new coach)

His %PP is at 46.7, which is by far a career high (that’s the percentage of the team’s available PP time). He has career highs in PPPts (11), assists (16), SOG (108). Next year is his fourth full NHL season. If you’re in a deep keeper league, his fantasy owner is probably ready to dump him. He’ll never lead the charge on your roster but next year I think he can be a 42- or 43-point player with 180 shots on goal and 15-20 power-play points.

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The Islanders are a-coming.

Not only have they played just 58 games so far (no team has played fewer), but they’re stringing together wins (6-3-1 in last 10). And that means John Tavares is marching up the scoring charts and other Islanders are chipping in more points as well. JT has 15 points in his last 13 games. He’s still playing with Josh Bailey and Ryan Strome though.

Strome is in the midst of a sophomore slump and if playing with Tavares can’t snap him out of it, nothing can. His window for turning his season around is closing, I’m not sure how many more games he will get with Tavares while continuing to post goose eggs.

Bailey is in an even worse slump. Basically, I’m saying that Tavares is getting a big chunk* of his points via the PP, of which Strome and Bailey are nowhere near him. (*’big chunk’ refers to six of his last 13 points have come on the power play).

And perhaps most importantly to fantasy hockey – Halak Attack is Back. Dogged by injuries all season long, and I suspect that he’s been playing through them as well as missing time, he seems to have his health and confidence back. He must have read my Ramblings last week when I expressed concern over how poorly he was doing and how well Thomas Greiss was playing. Right? Alright, fine. Anyway, his last two wins have been impressive, just one goal allowed on 58 shots.

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The Halak turnaround comes at not a moment too soon, as I lost my No.2 (via our stats, anyway) goalie Brian Elliott for a month. It will take Halak about two weeks to catch Elliott and get onto my pro team. So as long as he truly is ‘back’, it will be as if I lost a goalie for two weeks instead of four. That’s just how are points-only system is set up. But it’s promising for Halak because he stopped a white-hot Wild offense that had been scoring like gangbusters in front of their new coach John Torchetti.

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The good news for Gustav Nyquist owners? He saw 18:29 of ice time (that includes OT though) last night. It was the first time he saw anything over 17 minutes since January 20. The bad news? Zero points again. The better news? His linemates were Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. So you might see the big slump end soon.

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With three points last night, John Klingberg has 12 in his last 12 and becomes the third defenseman to reach the 50-point mark this season. In my Fantasy Guide last summer I had him projected to finish tied for 11th among defensemen with 51 points, just three points behind third (so eight players crammed in there between 51 and 54).

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Since his return from injury Ondrej Pavelec is 1-2-1, 2.94 GAA, 0.883. Like I said before, if the Jets want in the playoffs, they have to ride Connor Hellebuyck (13-11-2, 2.34, 0.918). And if it wasn’t too late before (it was), it would certainly be too late now. So Hell Boy is in the minors until the fall, barring another Pavelec injury.

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Craig Anderson, since February 6:

6-2-0, 1.61 GAA, 0.950 SV%

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Rick Roos has another buy low/sell high piece for Sportsnet here.

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Trade Deadline Day is just five days away and for the 11th year in a row I will have you covered for fantasy analysis. Steve Laidlaw is helping out this year as are Ian Gooding and Mario Prata. Deadline Day. Come by often to get the full impact! In the Forum we’re already posting and discussing trade rumors. If you see one, please post it here.

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In case you missed it Monday – Frozen Pool ‘s Hot/Cold feature has now been launched! This is perfect for quickly identifying hot players to look for on the waiver wire. Check it out here. You can filter by position, by “hot” or by “cold”, and you can ‘sort’ by any column. As an added bonus, we added a “hot” or “cold” identifier onto relevant player profiles. For example Shayne Gostisbehere. Immediately upon clicking his name you’ll know that he’s red hot and has 18 points in his last 15 games.

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And finally I want to give another plug, this one to Draft Kings. They’ve been great partners with me over the last two years and they are sponsoring the hockey pool ($500 first prize, $50 prizes for spots 15-20). If you play daily fantasy sports, kindly click my links to get to Draft Kings.