Ramblings: Z and Z in NYC, Off Nights Over the Next Fortnight (Feb 1)

by Ian Gooding on February 1, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Z and Z in NYC, Off Nights Over the Next Fortnight (Feb 1)


Thursday featured just three games, although it was finally the last “bye week” day. The schedule is back to normal (or so we think – more on that later) on Friday with eight games, so you’ll need to make sure that your lineup is really ready.

Travis Sanheim scored a power-play goal with just over two minutes left in overtime to give the Flyers a 3-2 win over the Bruins. Sanheim also recorded an assist to give him his first multipoint game in nearly two months. Because of Shayne Gostisbehere’s injury, Sanheim has logged at least 21 minutes of icetime in each of the Flyers’ three games this week, up from his season average of 18 minutes. Over his past two games, Sanheim has averaged 24 minutes.

Speaking of which, I added Ivan Provorov as a speculative grab in one league this week because of the Ghost injury news combined with the Flyers’ games played total. In spite of the resulting first-unit power-play time, Provorov has not recorded a single point this week. There has been no lack of opportunity, as Provorov was on the ice for nearly half of Thursday’s game (30:20 in icetime). Provorov will have at least one more shot to impress on the first-unit power play, as Ghost is expected to be out of the lineup for Saturday as well.

In picking up the victory, Carter Hart now has five consecutive wins. It might make more sense for his development to keep him in the AHL, but what if he’s the Flyers’ best goalie right now? That includes the injured goalies Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth. Just a thought, but maybe the Flyers could try trading UFA-to-be Elliott at the deadline and try to get by with a Hart/Anthony Stolarz tandem the rest of the way? If the playoffs are out of reach, then why not? Stolarz, by the way, pitched a shutout on Tuesday.

In a losing cause, David Pastrnak scored both Bruins’ goals, reaching the 30-goal mark and the 60-point mark for the third consecutive season. Pasta has had a great week with three goals and two assists over two games.

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Mika Zibanejad scored a hat trick and added an assist with a plus-2 and five shots in 22 minutes of icetime in the Rangers’ 4-3 win over the Devils. It’s been a true bounce-back season for Zibanejad, who with 48 points has already exceeded his point total from last season in just 50 games. I can say with certainty that he’s been one of my top waiver-wire pickups this season. In being drafted in just 25 percent of Yahoo leagues, chances are he was available in yours. His shot total and shooting percentage aren’t much different from last season, but the difference has been his assist total (28 this season compared to 20 last season).

Zibanejad likely won’t be traded by the deadline, but you may have heard that his linemate Mats Zuccarello is a strong candidate to be dealt. Zuccarello recorded three assists on Thursday, giving him a six-game point streak in which he has 12 points (4g-8a). This recent run should be helping Zuccarello’s trade value in what has otherwise been a down year, but keep in mind that a Zuccarello trade could really hurt Zibanejad’s fantasy value. Zibanejad has 13 points, including eight goals, over his last seven games.

The Zibanejad-Zuccarello-Chris Kreider line might be under the radar the league’s hottest line over the last handful of games:
 


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Thursday’s other game involved a mightily struggling player (Patrik Laine) facing a mightily struggling team (the Columbus Blue Jackets).

Unfortunately for Laine owners, he was held without a goal and point yet again. That’s two goals over his past 19 games for a player that you were expecting a lot more from. Laine simply isn’t shooting often enough from high-danger areas, and when you combine that with a meager assist total (just nine assists to 25 goals), he’s sucking wind for fantasy teams at the moment. One positive was that his icetime was back up to a more normal 16:22 after being benched during much of the second period on Tuesday. At his peak, Laine can literally score at will, so this is simply a case of fantasy owners needing to be patient. Maybe even a buy low from the owner that is already giving up hope?

Maybe for starters, Laine could ask Kyle Connor what he’s eating for breakfast. Connor has scored game-winning goals in back-to-back games and now has nine goals in his past 11 games. So maybe Laine’s struggles aren’t as much of a big deal to the Jets when a guy like Connor is picking up the slack. Connor has filled in for Nikolaj Ehlers on the top line, so I’d have to think Ehlers is in real danger of losing that spot once he’s back in the lineup.

The Blue Jackets lost again (their fourth consecutive game), and they clearly didn’t have luck on their side. Already dealing with the Artemi Panarin trade rumors, the Jackets were without Cam Atkinson for this game after a puck hit him in the face during the pregame warmup. Although this injury wouldn’t be any fun, it doesn’t sound as though he’ll be sidelined for too long.
 


With Atkinson’s injury, Josh Anderson was moved up to the top line with Panarin and Pierre-Luc Dubois (the only center on the Jackets, according to John Tortorella). Anderson scored a goal in 20:34 of icetime, one of his highest icetime totals of the season. If Atkinson happens to be out for any length of time, Anderson’s significant value in multicategory leagues just got even higher.  

Here’s Torts’ “one center” clip, which has to be added to his greatest hits collection:
 


Torts must have been some kind of pissed at Anthony Duclair. He played one shift in the first period, failing to clear the puck out of his zone in the play that led to the Jets’ first goal, then he was never heard from again in this game. So his boxscore was a minus-1 in 24 seconds of icetime. Ouch.

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Today represents the day in which NHL scheduling is finally back to normal after this week’s mini-tournament involving 10 teams, right? Not exactly. There’s some odd scheduling ahead that fantasy owners should pay attention to.
 


Here’s the breakdown of games over that stretch, starting with tomorrow (February 2):

 

 Date

 # of Games

 Sat Feb 2

13 

 Sun Feb 3

 Mon Feb 4

 Tue Feb 5

12 

 Wed Feb 6

 Thu Feb 7

14 

 Fri Feb 8

 Sat Feb 9

14 

 Sun Feb 10

 Mon Feb 11

 Tue Feb 12

12 

 Wed Feb 13

 Thu Feb 14

11 

 Fri Feb 15

 Sat Feb 16

12 

 

Although I think Cliffy meant to say that there is only one night of more than four games and less than 12 games, his statement rings true and hints at some planning if you wish to maximize your games played total over the next two weeks. So over the next two weeks, the smart play would be to target players playing on the so-called “off nights,” as it’s probable that you’ll be forced to bench players who happen to be playing that night.

Let’s take a look at which teams offer the most off nights over the next two weeks. I’ll include the medium-sized Sunday February 10 in the mix, along with the light days of February 3, 4, 6, 8, 11, 13, and 15.

5 games: NY Rangers

4 games: Boston, Carolina

3 games: Anaheim, Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver

2 games: Buffalo, Los Angeles, Minnesota, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

1 game: Arizona, Calgary, Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Nashville, NY Islanders, Ottawa, San Jose, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Winnipeg

0 games: Columbus, Vegas

This is not to say you have to grab a player from a team that has more off nights. But if choosing between two or more equal players, preference should be given to the player whose team has more off nights. A perfect example would be if you were choosing between a Rangers player and someone from either the Blue Jackets or Golden Knights (especially the Blue Jackets, the way their season is taking a nosedive). A player such as the aforementioned Zuccarello (25 percent owned in Yahoo leagues) comes to mind, provided he is not traded over the next couple weeks.

Looking to make the most of the schedule over your fantasy playoff weeks? Pick up a copy of the Midseason Guide today!

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For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.