Nathan MacKinnon has found his scoring touch on a new line.
By the time you read this, there will be one month until the Olympic Break. It is important to realize that fantasy hockey builds up to a crescendo and then there is that three week gap. Different combinations are heating up and some players are finally returning from injury. Let’s take a peak at Week 15 as we go “Between The Lines”.
Lead Us Forwards
Sidney Crosby-James Neal-Chris Kunitz (Pittsburgh) -- The dynamic will likely change again this week as Evgeni Malkin sees a higher frequency of ice time with James Neal than Sidney Crosby. While they only recorded 12 points together, overall they had a whopping 25 points. When the Pittsburgh top six is rolling along, there are few ways to defend it. It will be fascinating to see what occurs with the new frequencies this week and a slightly tougher schedule. As more Penguins return, percentages are going to be really intriguing to track.
Kyle Okposo-John Tavares-Thomas Vanek (NY Islanders) -- The Islanders may not be winning as a team a lot but their first line sure is scoring as they also were on the top of the line combination list this week (12 points together). When you get 22 points overall as a trio, you have to tip your cap and take notice. Vanek and Tavares finally have developed that much anticipated chemistry. The results have shown and will continue to do so. Their frequency is (33.3% EV, 67.4% PP) and is likely to go upward from the EV standpoint in Week 15.
Gabriel Landeskog-Nathan MacKinnon-Paul Stastny (Colorado) -- Their percent of total points is now up above 30 which means the production level is cranking up. They had 11 points combined and though none of them had more than five points, from what I have watched it looked like Landeskog and MacKinnon had an immediate spark. They are a decently hot buy according to the fantasy meter found on Frozen Pool. At press time the line already converted for five points total on Monday. This line mostly goes up against the first of opposing teams or any line that has a good bit of beef. The Avalanche are on to something here.
David Desharnais-Max Pacioretty-Brendan Gallagher (Montreal) -- Here is another 11 point trio when everyone is on the ice. Pacioretty and Desharnais finally look like the duo I remember. Granted, the cold streaks are a little more intense than the hot ones but the numbers still end up being pretty solid. It took awhile for them to get going but Montreal often has a very strange way of scoring in bunches. Then they go cold, I mean ice cold. The ups and downs will be a great fantasy study in the weeks and months to come ladies and gentlemen.
Andrew MacDonald-Thomas Hickey (NY Islanders) -- The gods must be crazy! Let’s be honest. The biggest benefactor of the Lubomir Visnovsky injury was Andrew MacDonald. He torched the fantasy world for six points in Week 14 and Monday followed up with more production. Add the fact that MacDonald sees 4:30 to 5:00 of power play time and it should not be a surprise as to why MacDonald can have more weeks like Week 14 or something close. Do not sleep on Hickey either. Hey, the Isles may not win but they entertain at least.
Alex Pietrangelo-Kevin Shattenkirk (St. Louis) -- I saw this line combination and warmly smiled as they were on the ice long enough to garner five points. Overall, they had nine points with Pietrangelo gaining the slight advantage (five points). Before Jay Bouwmeester ruined this fantasy bromance, they were steadily one of the best fantasy pairs in the entire NHL. It will be priceless in future weeks to see how this fantasy love triangle plays out. Do Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk finally find fantasy bliss or does the strife come back into the picture? We’ll have more numbers next week.
Cam Fowler-Ben Lovejoy (Anaheim) -- Finally, Cam Fowler has broken out. His 26 points is definitely extremely encouraging for fantasy owners but Fowler is just eating up all this ice time. Eventually he is going to wind up being a 27-29 minute a night defenseman. His upside is around 50-55 points and defensively he is improving gradually. Just think about how young he is and then add in the fact that suddenly Ben Lovejoy is on fire. Whomever Cam Fowler does wind up with, gets an instant boost frequency and fantasy wise.
As always you can follow me @ChrisWasselTHW and thanks again for reading. Good luck this week as the fantasy beat goes on!
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