Laidlaw checking in for Dobber this fine Monday morning. Sorry to keep you from the big man but he’s been hard at work on the Midseason Guide and could use one less thing on his plate. I know, I know. I look forward to his ramblings as well. There’s a reason the site has his namesake. He’s the best.
Speaking of the Midseason Guide, please pick up a copy. I am so proud of the work that went into this year’s edition. If you just want projections for the second half, we have you covered. If you just want some more reading material, it’s good for that too. If you really want something that’s going to make you a smarter fantasy manager, well I think that’s what I am proud of most of all. I take pride in doing solid research, presenting ideas and allowing the reader to come to his/her own conclusions.
Some more housekeeping to make you aware of – DobberHockey is doubling down on podcasts with our new feature Dobber Nation Deep, hosted by Brad Wilson.
I am very excited about this expansion. After I appeared on November’s Dobber Nation I asked you guys if you wanted more podcasts and you responded in the affirmative. I can’t take credit for this new project, I am just genuinely happy that it is happening. If I had my way, we’d have daily podcasts but this is a good step.
Okay, it was a pretty busy Sunday in the NHL, great for making an epic Sunday comeback in your head-to-head leagues. I came into the day down against the #2 team in the league (I am, or was, #1) and couldn’t mount the comeback. Oh well. Can’t win ‘em all, I suppose.
The silver lining is I took the loss despite Eric Staal wasting a roster spot all week. Word is he practiced yesterday and could be back tonight against the Flames. Seeing as I’ve got Staal on virtually all of my fantasy teams as well as the fact that I’ve been spouting off about how great Staal is to own in the second half, I need this guy to come back and be productive. My teams and my reputation depend on it!
On the other hand, my opponent was without Ben Bishop and was left with just a struggling Tuukka Rask in goal. Rask’s shutout of the Sharks on Saturday night should be enough to instill confidence in his owners. This guy is the best right now – don’t you forget it.
What I really could have used in my bid for a comeback was some production from Alex Ovechkin. Instead, bupkis. That puts an end to his four-game streak. I don’t expect him to remain quiet for long.
One guy who might remain quiet for longer is Mike Green. He had a three-game streak snapped last night but it’s important you note that John Carlson has taken his spot on the top power play unit. That’s been the case awhile now, like over 20 games awhile. That Green has remained productive despite the loss in opportunity is a testament to his skills.
Here’s a fun fact: Green has scored 81 points over his last 168 games. That’s a far cry from the 76 he scored over his previous 75 games but still an impressive total for a defenseman. Injuries and inconsistency have sapped Green’s superstar value but it pleases me that he has hung onto some amount of fantasy relevance, especially in leagues that count categories like shots and PIM.
What’s interesting to me is how we may be witnessing a similar story playing out with Kris Letang, just without the ridiculous peak. Letang’s injuries came into play before he could ever blow us completely out of the water. Letang is limping along with 14 points in 28 games this season. A part of me can envision a scenario where he goes bonkers and scores a point for every game the rest of the way but another part of me sees Green 2.0.
Remember, even though Letang is on the Penguins’ top power play unit now he had lost that role to Paul Martin prior to Martin’s injury. If Letang keeps sputtering Martin is going to have an opportunity when he gets back healthy.
Back to the Green-Carlson situation though, Carlson has just four points in his last 20 games. Way to take advantage of that golden opportunity! What, the Caps’ top ranked power play (officially tied for 1st in efficiency with Pittsburgh) isn’t good enough for you?
This is only a 20-game sample so there is only so much you can draw from it, especially for a defenseman but it is still disappointing. The narrative was always that Carlson played too many difficult minutes and didn’t have the top power play opportunity but whenever the team moved on from Green it would be Carlson’s time to shine. Well right now he has all the shine of a rusted up Ford Pinto.
It would seem that Carlson’s only hope is to use the Drew Doughty argument – that all the tough minutes he plays sap his energy when it comes power play time. I’d buy that, except the Caps are just too prolific offensively for Carlson to struggle so much. Considering the minutes he is getting he should just stumble into points.
Is Philipp Grubauer’s performance (30 saves on 31 shots in a shootout “loss”) impressive or unimpressive considering he faced the hapless Sabres?
In Grubauer’s defense the Sabres were slightly less hapless with the return of Cody Hodgson, their de facto #1 center. Hodgson notched a point and could be the key to unlocking some semblance of fantasy relevance in Buffalo beyond Ryan Miller’s brilliance between the pipes.
Christian Ehrhoff also notched an assist and now has 11 points in his last 18 games, which certainly makes it appear he is turning the corner. I’d look to invest in him. Even on the worst teams you can get a productive defenseman playing big minutes. And Ehrhoff has been in trade rumours all season so there is a chance he lands somewhere to boost his productivity.
Are the Dallas Stars ever blowing it or what? With the struggles of the Minnesota Wild and Phoenix Coyotes over the last month the Stars had a perfect opportunity to jump up and grab a hold on a playoff spot. Instead they’ve lost six in a row, all in regulation and all to Eastern Conference opponents, including twice to the Islanders.
I guess 2014 just isn’t their year.
Somehow, they decided to give Dan Ellis two starts in that six game stretch despite only facing one back-to-back situation, and they didn’t even play him in the back-to-back! Ellis is just… wow… he sucks. How does every team seemingly have three guys capable of starting games and yet this guy has a one-way deal. Oh yeah, and he’s signed for next season. Yay, Stars!
The silver lining is that Ellis’ start was not without comedy.
Also, before they blew this one, the Stars actually held a 2-0 lead after getting goals from their pair of geriatrics; Ray Whitney and Sergei Gonchar. For Gonchar, it was his first goal of season. For Whitney, it may as well have been.
Hold onto your trousers ladies and gentlemen, Lin-sanity is back in New York. No, not Jeremy Lin, Kevin “emphasis on the poo” Poulin has won five straight games. The Islanders are suddenly one of the league’s hottest teams and sit seven back of a playoff spot because apparently no one is out of it in the East.
Can someone tell me what has gotten into Calvin de Haan? After two points last night he has scored six in the last four games, his only six of the season. He has seen a real spike in his ice time since the start of the New Year but that spike hasn’t involved any power play time. He has skated all of 16 seconds on the power play on his current scoring streak but has topped 20 minutes in every game as well.
I don’t know that I can advocate picking up de Haan as the opportunity doesn’t appear to be there for this run to continue. He does have pedigree as a former first round pick. He also produced big numbers in junior. However de Haan has yet to produce as a pro. He has just 19 points in 76 games at the AHL level across three seasons. He lost pretty much all of last season with a dislocated shoulder so you can blame that for stifling his development but I still don’t like the lack of numbers.
I know that the Islanders are dying for an option other than Andrew MacDonald to play on the power play but so far de Haan hasn’t been given that option. Until he is, I’m not buying what he’s selling.
Leafs win! Sort of…
Really, what they did was tie the Devils 2-2 but stole the extra point in the shootout for the eighth time this year. Over a third of their wins are fabrications. They aren’t the only team in this boat – the Panthers and Sabres have a higher percentage of wins coming via the shootout but they are both irrelevant this season, while the Capitals have the exact same ratio of regulation wins to shootout wins - but it's way too much fun picking on the Leafs.
Jonathan Bernier was very solid stopping 36 of 38 shots. I see him getting an even greater proportion of starts down the stretch as the margin for error shrinks.
Cody Franson put an end to a six-game scoreless drought. Those paring attention will note that he had been skating big minutes throughout his drought and firing plenty of shots, both signs of good times on the horizon. Perhaps this is the beginning of another productive stretch.
Cory Schneider had himself another solid start, his third straight between the pipes. On Friday, a comment likened him to a pitcher without run support. A good analogy but I just have this overarching vision of Schneider as Charlie Brown constantly having the ball pulled away from him by Lucy. Whether it’s the business of getting wins or getting a starting job Schneider just keeps getting the ball pulled away.
With that in mind, here’s what Martin Brodeur had to say yesterday:
Martin Brodeur says his heart tells him to come back next season. "My body could be a different story."— Rich Chere (@Ledger_NJDevils) January 12, 2014
Guys, I’m telling you, Ryane Clowe in the second half. Get on it. He’s got five points in the last four games and scored his first goal of the season. His minutes are climbing and that Clowe-Adam Henrique-Michael Ryder line has real potential. That trio skated over 19 minutes apiece along with over four minutes with the man-advantage, becoming the de facto top power play unit.
I don’t know if this keeps up when Patrick Elias returns from injury but I don’t see why not. They could easily sub Elias onto the top unit for one of their defensemen – either Andy Greene or Eric Gelinas. Elias has always been better manning a defenseman’s slot on the power play and orchestrating from the half-wall.
Greene and Gelinas each notched a point last night. So did Marek Zidlicky though he finds himself on the second power play unit at the moment. As crazy as it sounds all three defensemen are scoring at around 40-point paces. That’s pretty damn good defense production for a team that ranks fourth worst in team offense.
A three-game winning streak shouldn’t be notable for Henrik Lundqvist but in this frustrating season it most certainly is. He befuddled the Flyers for much of Sunday’s contest stopping 37 of 38 shots for the key win over their division rivals.
The win helped them leapfrog the Flyers into third in the Metro leaving the Flyers at the mercy of the wildcard. Of course, this will probably change a thousand times over the next few months but the jockeying has definitely begun. No one talks about it but points in January count the same as points in March and April.
Dan Carcillo opened the scoring with his first goal as a Ranger. In fact, it was his first goal since October 13. He also added 15 PIM late in the game against his former team. Carcillo was largely brought in to replace Derek Dorsett who is out with a broken leg. Dorsett current sits second in the league in PIM. If Carcillo is going to replace that production he could be a great add at least until Dorsett returns after the Olympic break.
Brad Richards continued his hot streak extending it to seven points in the last five games. He’s grown streaky at this point in his career and he’s got enough name value that he probably isn’t sitting on the waiver wire but he could be worth adding if you think the hot streaks will outweigh the cold. The positive thing with owning Richards is even when he isn’t producing he is firing a lot of shots. He is on pace for damn near 300 SOG.
Rick Nash has four goals in his last four games. Sleeping giant awakening?
Not much to report on the Flyers’ side of things. Ray Emery got lit up again. I realize that this was a back-to-back and that Steve Mason got roasted by the Lightning on the front end but that roasting also gave him a full period off and came in an afternoon game giving him plenty of time to get ready for the next outing. At this point I think I’d only play Emery against the dregs of the league. It’s ride or die time for Mason.
Beauty goal by Patrick Kane on the delayed penalty.
Anybody try to do this when they take a delayed penalty in NHL 14? I call it the “poke game” and will incessantly poke check the puck in an attempt to get the empty-netter.
Who has started making pitches for Ales Hemsky figuring he is getting dealt to a contender at the deadline? Hemsky has four points in his last four games and the best thing he could do is go on a nice little hot streak to convince some contender he has something real to offer down the stretch.
Antti Raanta made his first start in over a week securing a pretty easy win over the Oilers. I wouldn’t expect to see much of him for the rest of the season but with Nikolai Khabibulin done for the year he remains a good option to keep in your back pocket in case Corey Crawford gets hurt again. Assuming you have roster space, of course.
Nice bounce back win for the Wild last night after getting dropped at home by Colorado they beat up on the struggling Predators. They’ve now won five of their last six games making them essentially the opposite of the Dallas Stars – the Wild are loving 2014.
Instead we’ve seen Niklas Backstrom looking rejuvenated and Darcy Kuemper attempting to join the never-ending stream of backups who look like starters. Not that shutting out the Predators is particularly impressive but Kuemper did shutout the Predators last night.
Credit the Wild’s group of youngsters for stepping up in the absence of their big stars.
Nino Niederreiter has eight points in the last eight games. Justin Fontaine has eight points in his last 10. Mikael Granlund has four points in the last six games. Charlie Coyle has back-to-back two-point efforts. So does Dany Heatley’s corpse, which is relatively young for an undead - at least in my experience.
Interesting move by the Ducks over the weekend sending Frederick Andersen down to the minors, calling up John Gibson in his stead and then giving Jonas Hiller both starts in the back-to-back. No matter, Hiller won both and has won 14 straight.
Remember when he was battling injury and otherwise slumping and Andersen stepped in and dominated right away causing us to question Hiller’s viability? That feels like years ago. How many of you bought low at that time?
I had the chance to but admittedly overplayed my hand and missed out on what could have been a sweet deal for me. Ultimately I corrected the mistake and paid handsomely to do so. See I swapped Mike Smith for Hiller. Over a month ago, I could have gotten a top prospect along with Hiller for Smith. I held out for a bit more, mostly because I didn’t like the prospect being offered (Matt Dumba) but also because I genuinely believed in Smith.
A week ago, I paid a couple first rounders (likely to be in the twenties in both the 2014 and 2015 entry drafts) and Filip Forsberg (another prospect I’m not all that high on) to swap Smith for Hiller and also get Valtteri Filppula for Whitney’s dusty bones. Steep price to pay but totally worth it.
I was initially averse to making this deal. I’d missed the buy low window on Hiller not to mention the opportunity to grab Filppula off the waiver wire (it’s a cap league and his new deal is less than ideal). Pride nearly kept me from making the still advantageous deal because it was going to cost me more than what proactive deals would have in the first place. There’s a lesson in all of this.
Remember when Francois Beauchemin was fantasy relevant last season? Not so much this time around. Sure, his plus/minus is still great but he’s on pace to fall short of 20 points. That’s more like the Beauchemin I know.
Cam Fowler has cooled off with a five-game slump at the moment. He’s still seeing great minutes so I’m not dumping him though.
Pavel Datsyuk and Daniel Alfredsson were out for the Red Wings helping to more than even out the playing field for the Ducks. There just isn’t a whole lot of offense there when those two are out. Especially when it allows teams to key on Henrik Zetterberg who hasn’t scored in three straight now.
Jimmy Howard hurt himself on Saturday night to help continue his season of misery. He sat out Sunday’s contest, though he might have done so anyway given the back-to-back. So we’ll see if this is a long term injury. Frankly, I hope it is so he can continue to rot on my IR.
Petr Mrazek got the start and was solid allowing just one to the Ducks. Mrazek hasn’t had much luck in limited action this season but he has been quite good. His lone win came in his first career shutout, which given the injuries up front might be the only way to win for a Detroit netminder.
Everything about this video is hilarious to me. Shaq driving a zamboni. Shaq in a Ponikarovsky jersey. Shaq yucking it up with Michael Ryder... Really, I just love Shaq.
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