|Post Olympic Postulations, Part 2 of 3||Tweet|
|Written by Russ Miller|
|Thursday, 25 February 2010 13:41|
Welcome to part two of a three part look at the remaining schedules and a subsequent fantasy breakdown of the Eastern Conference teams. While NHL teams have to abide by a trade freeze during the Olympic Games, us fantasy owners certainly don’t have to.
All NHL teams have between 19 and 22 games remaining in the regular season. But not all games are equal in terms of difficulty. For the shrewd fantasy owner, there is opportunity here.
In the Eastern Conference, one team (Atlanta) has 14 home games remaining, while another has only seven (Ottawa). One team has ten games remaining against teams that have 75 points or more, while another has only four left against the top teams.
Thanks to the shootout, there are just four teams in the Eastern Conference that have a sub-.500 record and only two in the West. On to part deux:
The Canadiens have only 19 games remaining, but nearly one-third of them pit them against upper echelon teams. On the positive note, they have seven games against the bottom feeders.
2 Games – BOS, BUF, CAR, TOR
1 Game – ANA, EDM, FLA, LA, NJ, NYI, NYR, OTT, PHI, SJ, TB
Even though Andrei Markov has missed a large chunk of the season, he is still on pace to record 30 points. Projecting his current pace over 82 games, Markov would have 57 points, which is right about where he should be. Expect more of the same following the Olympic break for this reliable defenseman.
From the start of December until now, Scott Gomez has scored at a 69 point pace (31 points in 37 games). Against the four teams he will play twice down the stretch, Gomez has fared very well, recording 12 points in 14 games.
Brian Gionta doesn’t have a great record this season against Carolina or division rivals Boston, Buffalo and Toronto, but I would not rule out a good finish from the diminutive winger. Although he is on pace for only 44 points, Gionta is scoring at a 61 point clip.
Since a scorching hot 21 point (in 17 games) December, Tomas Plekanec has cooled a little (some would say predictably so), recording 14 points in 20 games in 2010. Plekanec isn’t reliable enough to bank on a point a game pace the rest of the way, but he has done very well this season against Carolina (five points in two games) and Toronto (five points in four matches). Look for several multi-point efforts along with some zeros strung together over the final 19 games.
Andrei Kostitsyn started the season poorly with only ten points in 24 games, but he turned it around in December with 15 points in 16 games during the month. The elder Kostitsyn hasn't played yet in 2010 due to a knee injury, but should be back in the line-up when play resumes after the break. The question is can he return and produce at or near the pace he was at before sustaining the injury? His record against Boston, Buffalo and Carolina combined is very promising, seven points in seven combined games this year.
Andrei's little brother, Sergei Kostitsyn has shown some signs of life recently. In February he had six points in seven games. Prior to that, he had a measly four points in 23 games. The younger Kostitsyn has outstanding offensive talent, so watch where he lines up when the NHL season continues.
Roman Hamrlik entered the break on a three game, four point streak and had six points in seven February games. This season he has five points in three games versus Philadelphia and four points in four games against Washington. With Marc-Andre Bergeron out for an extended period, Hamrlik may see increased power play ice time.
Since coming to Montreal in a 23 November trade, Benoit Pouliot has recorded 11 goals and 14 points in 20 games. He has three points in three games against Ottawa so far this season, but will the break cause him to lose momentum? It is a distinct possibility.
Mike Cammalleri is currently sitting out with a knee injury and if he is a fast healer, he could be back by mid-March. He should be aiming for the 16 March match against the Rangers – he has nine points in three games versus the Blueshirts this season. Over the second half of last season, Cammalleri recorded an incredible 48 points.
While Dominic Moore may be rejuvenated after being traded to Montreal, his role with the team will likely not include a large offensive component. He sits behind Plekanec and Gomez at centre on the depth chart. Moore does have a decent record against Boston, Buffalo, Carolina and Toronto this season, scoring six points in ten games.
Glen Metropolit only has 24 points this season, but he seems to save his best for Boston, Carolina and Toronto with nine points in ten games so far this season.
The Devils have an enviable final 21 games remaining. They only have five dates with the other top teams, with four of them at home and seven games against teams below the .500 mark. The friendly schedule is a good thing for the Devils with division rival and reigning Stanley Cup champion Penguins only one point behind in the standings.
2 Games – BOS, NYI, NYR, PIT
1 Game – ATL, BUF, CGY, CAR, CHI, CLB, EDM, FLA, MTL, PHI, STL, SJ, TOR
I honestly thought Ilya Kovalchuk was having a poor season, but after a closer look, he's almost exactly where his four year average says he should be. Kovalchuk has averaged 88 points over that period and he is currently on pace for 86 points. He enjoys playing against the Bruins, Islanders and Rangers, recording 13 points in nine games. Kovalchuk has five points in six games as a Devil. He'll finish with a flourish.
Zach Parise entered the break on a three game four point streak. He is the offensive barometer for the Devils, when Parise doesn't register a point; the team is 10-10-1. He has nine points in ten games against Boston and the two New York clubs and seven points in four games versus Pittsburgh. As I write this, I am watching him have an outstanding game against Switzerland. Odds are very good that he’ll use his Olympic performance to springboard into the stretch drive.
Travis Zajac spends the vast majority of his time on the ice with his buddy Zach. That's obviously a good thing for Zajac. He entered break on five point, four game scoring streak. Zajac's on pace for a career high 68 points and has ten points in eight games versus the Islanders and Penguins. Also, watch out for games against Tampa Bay (five points in four games) and Toronto (five points in three contests).
I know Martin Brodeur is coming off what has to be a bittersweet experience at the Olympics. Even if they win, maybe especially if they win, does this shake his confidence at all? At the end of the day, he didn’t get the job done. What does that mean for the balance of the NHL season? Perhaps now he has something to prove to his detractors? Brodeur is 1-0 versus Boston (0.92, 0.970), 2-2 against the Rangers (1.99 0.940) and he absolutely owns the Pens with a 4-0 record (0.50, 0.984), including two shutouts!
Patrik Elias has averaged 67 points a season over each the last three years. This season he is on pace for only 46 points, but he has missed some time due to concussion and groin. Last season, Elias had 32 points in his final 38 games. He has six points in five games versus the Isles and Pens so far this year.
David Clarkson was in the midst of an unbelievable year with 15 points in 23 games before suffering a broken leg. He came back at the end of December and only played two games - clearly too early. With Bergfors out of the picture and the lack of depth on the right side, a fully healed Clarkson might just be able to pick up where he left off (after shaking off the obligatory rust of course). He has a combined eight points in eight games against Boston, the two New York teams and Pittsburgh.
Team Captain Jamie Langenbrunner had seven points in his last six games heading into the break. He set a career high with 69 points last year and is on pace to duplicate that point total again this year. L12 scorched last season’s final 43 games to the tune of 42 points. He has five points in four games against the Isles this season.
It looks like Dainius Zubrus is getting a legitimate shot at playing with Kovalchuk, but Zubrus only has two points in the six games since the trade. Zubrus has averaged 49 points over each of the last four seasons. A darkhorse.
Following the break (no pun intended), Paul Martin is expected to return from a broken arm that has seemingly taken forever to heal. Last season Martin recorded six points in five games versus the Islanders, but scored only a single point in 15 combined games against the other three teams the Devils play twice during the balance of the season. He was never a big point producer, so don't expect much and you won't be disappointed.
It is about to go from bad to worse for Andy Greene. First the team trades for Ilya Kovalchuk, who logs time on the point during the power play and now it looks like Paul Martin is set to return from injury. Greene was out of this world in November and December, recording 20 points in 27 games, but since the turn of the calendar year, Greene only has two points in 22 games.
Brian Rolston has five points in his last 16 games and with the addition of Kovalchuk, his power play ice time won’t be increasing. He is not getting any even strength shifts with Kovalchuk. Rolston has five points in four games against the Islanders, but in ten games against the Bruins, Rangers and Pens, he is scoreless. He is past his prime.
The Islanders are just playing out the string this year. They don't have an easy schedule down the stretch, having only two games remaining against teams below .500 and eight versus the top teams. They should play the kids as much as possible to give them the additional experience in order to spur their development.
2 Games – NJ, NYR, PHI, PIT
1 Game – ANA, ATL, BOS, CGY, CHI, CLB, LA, MTL, OTT, STL, TOR, VAN
In this, his second full season, Kyle Okposo has already eclipsed last year's 39 points and is on pace for 52 points. He does particularly well against his own division with 12 points in 16 matches this season. Okposo handily leads all Islander forwards in average ice time (20:39) per game, nearly three minutes more than the next forward.
After averaging 59 points over the last two seasons, Mark Streit is on pace for only 40 points. Last season, Streit led the team in scoring by a wide margin. This year he sits fourth in team scoring. Streit plays well against New Jersey, New York Rangers, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with nine points in 16 games.
First overall pick John Tavares is having what I would call a reverse Stamkos rookie season. We all remember Steven Stamkos getting off to a brutal start and finishing the latter part of the season on fire. Tavares started this year with 19 points in 21 games (74 point pace) and followed that up with 15 points in his next 41 games (30 point pace). He has one point in his last nine games. Maybe the break will help him rest and refocus for the remaining games. He has had some success against New Jersey, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with eight points in 12 games.
After finding some chemistry with Tavares, Matt Moulson rode the wave, recording 26 points in the first 34 games of the season (63 point pace). He then hit a bit of a drought, scoring ten points over his next 28 games, a 29 point pace. Moulson has had some success against the Devils and Rangers this season with four points in eight games. He is playing for a contract next year, so his level of effort should be high.
Frans Nielsen had a stretch in January where he scored eight points over an eight game period. He has three points in his last dozen games. There is reason to hope, Nielsen has nine points in 11 games against fellow Atlantic rivals New Jersey, Pittsburgh and that other New York team that gets all the attention.
Blake Comeau has four points in the last two games prior into the break. He's been splitting his playing time between Joensuu and Schremp and Moulson and Tavares. Comeau has three points in three games versus the Rangers. He is on pace for 65 games and 27 points, both career highs.
Trent Hunter is on pace to match last season's disappointing 31 points. He has had success this season against New Jersey with two points in three games and against Pittsburgh, recording four points in four games. He’s not likely to surprise.
Just when the guy was starting to heat up, he goes and takes an Ovechkin slap shot right in the face. In his last eight games (prior to the, ahem “break”), Jack Hillen had scored six points. He is an offensive defenseman trying to find his way defensively this season. Hillen likes to play against the Devils, Rangers and Penguins, recording seven points in ten games this year. He will be back around mid-March and could be one to watch.
The Rangers have more away games left on the schedule than they do home dates, but oddly enough, they have a better record on the road than at Madison Square Gardens. New York sits one point out of the final playoff spot in the East, but will have to be very good in order to qualify for the post-season dance this year.
3 Games – PHI
2 Games – BUF, NJ, NYI, TOR
1 Game – ATL, BOS, FLA, MTL, OTT, PIT, STL, TB, WSH
Super Swede Henrik Lundqvist departed for the Olympics with three wins in his last four starts. This season Lundqvist has fared very well against New Jersey (2-1-1, 1.48, 0.957), Toronto (2-0, 1.50, 0.953); decent against Buffalo (1-1, 2.02, 0.942) and just okay against Philadelphia (1-2, 2.61, 0.920) and the Islanders (1-2-1, 2.48, 0.916). Money.
Marian Gaborik is enjoying his best NHL season to date. He is on pace for 47 goals and 92 points and more importantly 78 games played. Gaborik has eight points in his last six games. He is pointless in three games against Philadelphia, which means he is due to explode during their next three meetings. He has better luck against Buffalo, New Jersey, the Isles and Maple Leafs recording 13 points in 11 combined games this year.
Vaclav Prospal had 15 points in the first 18 games of the season. He followed that up with 21 points in the next 35 matches. Now Prospal has eight points in the last five contests, including four points in his last three games. Since 2001-02, Prospal has finished with 55, 79, 54, 80, 55, 71 and 45 points. He is on pace for 64 points this season and in two of his last three seasons has increased his scoring in the second half. The legendary up and down “cycle” alive and well!
One guy who may benefit from his Olympic experience is Chris Drury. His selection was criticized by many, but his play in Vancouver has been exemplary. In his last four NHL games, Drury has three points. He has four points in six games against the Maple Leafs and Islanders so far this year. Over the last four seasons, Drury has averaged 62.5 points. He is on pace for only 29 points this year, so a big finish may be in order.
Even though Brandon Dubinsky has missed 13 games this season, if he maintains his current pace, he’ll finish with a career best 43 points. That will mean he has increased his point totals three consecutive seasons (40, 41, 43). Dubinsky had 12 points in 16 games in January. He has no points in seven combined games against Philadelphia and New Jersey. On the positive side, he has ten points in nine games versus the Canadiens, Islanders and Maple Leafs.
For whatever reason, Ryan Callahan got off to a horrible start, recording eight points in his first 27 games. From December onward, he's scored 24 points in 35 games (56 point pace). Callahan likes playing Buffalo, New Jersey and the Islanders, recording ten points in ten games versus those teams this year.
Olli Jokinen has five points in his six games as a Ranger. He's playing for his sixth NHL team in 11 seasons. Jokinen's point totals have been in steady decline over the last few seasons, going from 91 points to 71, 57 and he is on pace to finish this year with only 52 points. If he can maintain close to a point-per-game pace, he may break that trend. Last season, Jokinen had nine points in five games against the Flyers, Devils, Islanders and Maple Leafs.
Erik Christensen started the season with no points in his first 17 games. He then scored 13 points over his next 21. Christensen has been playing with some talented line-mates (Prospal, Gaborik, Callahan and Drury) over the last ten games. He has no points in ten games against the teams that the Rangers have more than one game remaining.
Michael Del Zotto started the season with a flourish, recording 12 points in as many games to kick off his NHL career. Then MDZ proceeded to score 14 points in his next 49 games and was an awful minus-21 during that time. He likes to play against New Jersey and has three points in four games against the division leading Devils.
Rookie defender Matt Gilroy has three points in the last five games, but only 12 points on the season. He has two points in four games versus New Jersey this season. Gilroy is not receiving enough minutes to continue his recent run of points.
This guy’s star has fallen so far that I’ve had to change his name to protect the innocent fantasy owners who actually thought he might turn it around this season. Most, if not all owners will not touch Rade Wedden with a proverbial “ten-foot pole”. One odd statistic that jumped out at me is that of his nine points this season, four of them have come in the two games he's played against Toronto.
Ever since Michal Rozsival hit his peak of 40 points in 2006-07, his point totals have declined in what will now be three consecutive seasons. He is on pace for a lowly 21 points this year. Rozsival has four points in four games versus the Islanders, other than that, stay clear.
One of the hottest teams heading into the break, Ottawa has put themselves in a position to succeed. They are by no means a lock to win their division with Buffalo only a single point back, so any let down could push Ottawa out of the division lead. One negative factor is that the Senators have been much better at home than on the road and they only have seven home dates remaining. The good news is that they play eight games against teams that are under .500 and only four matches versus teams with 75 points or better.
2 Games – BUF, CAR, FLA, TOR
1 Game – ATL, CGY, DAL, EDM, MTL, NYI, NYR, PHI, TB, VAN, WSH
Since returning from injury, Daniel Alfredsson has 18 points in 15 games. The team is 13-2 over that stretch. Coincidence? Not bloody likely. Alf has a combined ten points in nine games versus Buffalo, Carolina, Florida and Toronto this season. He also feasts on Tampa Bay (five points in three games), Toronto (six points in four games) and Vancouver (three points in one game).
Newly acquired Matt Cullen is likely to figure prominently in the Sens offense. From Boxing Day to the end of January, Cullen had 17 points in 17 games. In particular, Cullen preys on the Panthers, scoring seven points in five games this season. He also has two games remaining against Carolina and there's nothing like playing your old team.
Since coming back from his knee problems, Jason Spezza has 14 points in 11 contests and the team's record is 9-2 over that period. Prior to that, he had 19 points in 30 games. Maybe, just maybe this uber-talented offensive force is figuring out how to play under Clouston? Spezza is a very good bet to continue his recent scoring pace.
Erik Karlsson was just turning the corner on his rookie season with a sharp increase in ice time and four points in his last four games and then he suffered a shoulder injury. Luckily, he is expected back in the line-up following the Olympic break. Over his last six games prior to the game he suffered his injury in, Karlsson was averaging well over 21 minutes of ice time per game.
Hmm, in his 28 games since his engagement to Carrie Underwood, Mike Fisher has 15 points (44 point pace). He had been scoring at a 72 point pace prior to proposing (29 points in 33 games). Now I don't believe that his engagement has affected his scoring (pun intended) more than it was an inevitable market correction. Fisher's career high is only 48 points and he is currently four points shy of that with 19 games remaining. He has one point in his last five games. Fisher enjoys Buffalo and Toronto, scoring seven points in eight games and long walks on the beach.
Alex Kovalev has a four game, seven point streak on the go and has scored 25 points over 22 games during January/February. The offensive outburst was very welcome after recording 22 points in the previous 38 games from October to December. Kovalev has six points in six games against Carolina and Toronto this season. In the final 40 games last season, Kovalev had 37 points. Will he keep it up for the rest of the season? That's anyone's guess.
Currently on a four game, six point streak Filip Kuba is very close to matching last season's 40 points. He’s had great success against Washington, recording six points in three games. Kuba has seven points in seven games versus Buffalo, Carolina and Florida.
Milan Michalek has gone pointless in 34 of 56 games this season and has five multi-point efforts. He has looked good for the most part while playing for the Czech Republic at the Olympics, so he may carry that play with him back to the NHL.
Ryan Shannon may be negatively affected by the addition of Matt Cullen as he gets pushed out of the top six. Shannon has three points in four games against Buffalo, but is pointless in five games versus Carolina, Florida and Toronto.
The good news is that the next point Jarkko Ruutu records will tie his career best. The bad news is that his career high is only 21 points. The lone reason Ruutu should be on your fantasy roster is if you need penalty minutes. He has two points and 33 penalty minutes in 12 games versus Buffalo, Carolina, Florida and Toronto this season.
|Last Updated on Friday, 26 February 2010 13:12|