The Week Ahead: Week 3, Oct 20-26
4 Game slates: CHI, SJ, TB, VAN
3 Game slates: ANA, ARI, BOS, BUF, CAL, CAR, COL, CLB, DAL, DET, EDM, NASH, NJ, NYI, OTT, PHI, PIT, TOR, WASH, WIN
2 Game slates: FLA, LA, MIN, MON, NYR, STL
By Lane Myer
So you’re kind of upset that you spent a first or second round pick on a goalie like Lundquist, Rask, Price, or Varlamov and they’ve let you down thus far. It happens. Small samples, perhaps new equipment, new system, or new defensemen in front of them and all. You’ll be fine…except maybe in Varlamov’s case because he wasn’t going to replicate last season’s ratios with that blueline in front of him and now the groin thing. Hey, I didn’t want to take Varlamov in the TTMI League, myself. Stupid Chris Stupid Block forced me to. Don’t worry, the shadowy overlord of TTMI is facing karma’s wrath by taking Cory Schneider a pick ahead of me and subsequently struggling to 5, 3, and 4 goals allowed in 3 of his last 5 starts. A ha.
Should you find yourself in a league that uses a deeper bench there’s an easy fix. Start streaming backup goalies for that one bench slot. Sure you’ll have to put in extra work looking at the NHL schedule for back to back games and prime favorable matchups to ensure you’ll get to use your Svedberg, Martin Jones, Stalock, Tokarski, Lehner, Greiss etc pickup, but it’ll be worth it. More times than not, the backup will get the weaker of the teams in the back to back game night scenarios. Pick ‘em up then drop them for the next backup opportunity to where you’re essentially using one bench spot for 2 or 3 potential goalie starts per week. The ratio stats that Rask, Price and company are tanking for you at present will buck right up!
Anaheim: John Gibson sent himself to the AHL (at least for the weekend) to get some action on the regular. Gibson had not appeared in a game since he coughed up 6 goals to the Pens in his hometown on opening night. Frederik Andersen, meanwhile, is flashing elite level ratios kicking aside 104/111 of the shots he’s seen thus far – good for a 1.71 GAA and .937 SV% and winning all four of his starts.
TTMI Counsel: It’s Fredy’s gig until he proves otherwise
Buffalo: Jhonas Enroth has started 5 of the 6 Sabre debacles thus far and despite a brutal 3.34 GAA, his .907 SV% isn’t all that bad considering what’s in front of him. Michal Neuvirth was rumored to receive his second start of the season Saturday night, but the Sabres went right back to Enroth despite starting in goal the night before. So either Neuvirth is a little banged up, or Nolan has no confidence in him.
TTMI Counsel: Enroth is still the starter, and he’s still at best the second worst starting goalie option. For deeper leagues that have counting goalie stats, such as saves and/or shots against, Enroth is useful if you’re choosing his matchups wisely. If the Sabres are facing teams like Florida or Carolina or some of the other dregs of the Eastern Conference, he’s worth a play if you’re desperate for goalie counting stats.
Calgary: Jonas Hiller & Kari Ramo have entered into a timeshare in Calgary (or Cal-Gary if you’re Canadian) with each net-minder seeing 3 starts. Both options have played pretty well
- Hiller – 2.62 GAA, .934 SV%
- Ramo – 2.30 GAA, .920 SV%
So if you happen to own both of them, it’s going to require a daily perusal of the projected starting goalies for the day at your favorite website ie LeftWingLock
TTMI Counsel: Despite the timeshare early on, we expect Hiller to work his way into at least 60% of the starts for no other reason than his contract. Calgary is 3-3 thus far so should the Flames hang around a playoff berth into the winter, perhaps Calgary will be more apt to ride the hotter hand.
Carolina: Cam Ward & Anton Khudobin also continue an unfortunate equal timeshare in net with each option receiving 2 starts in the early going.
- Ward – 3.87 GAA, .846 SV$=%
- Khudobin – 2.44 GAA, .923 SV%
TTMI Counsel: a Jon Stewart grade face-palm for Carolina’s continued loyalty with Cam Ward.
Edmonton: Viktor Fasth hits the IR but that’s not going to put a halt to the 5.5 goals per game the Oil are coughing up thus far. Even prior to Fasth’s injury, Ben Scrivens was the Oilers’ 1A option in net, but he comes with an awful 4.11 GAA and .848 SV%. It’s not all his fault, of course, and Fasth was even worse in his 2 starts rolling up a 5.19 GAA. Somehow I don’t think Richard Bachman is going to stop the bleeding either.
TTMI Counsel: Still your problem, not mine.
Toronto: Jonathan Bernier made his first start in nearly a week Saturday night in Detroit allowing only one goal. That should be enough to get Bernier back into the 1A position as James Reimer had nabbed two consecutive starts after Bernier allowed 5 goals to the Penguins last weekend. Reimer allowed 4 goals to those same Red Wings Friday night so this situation looks like it may come down to either an even timeshare or the Leafs end up simply playing who looks better at any given time.
- Bernier – 3.33 GAA, .906 SV%
- Reimer – 2.87 GAA, .906 SV%
TTMI Counsel: This might be a Calgary situation where if you own one of the two, you’ll either want to hedge with the 1B, or completely avoid Leaf goalies if you’re in a shallower league.
Trending: The Waiver Wire
– Cam Atkinson & Nick Foligno, in the absence of Dubinsky, Jenner, and Horton, have moved up to the first line centered by Ryan Johansen. Over Columbus’ first five games, Foligno has produced some stellar category filling production with a 2 goals, 5 assists, +3, 5 penalty minutes, 10 hits and 4 blocked shots. Chances are he’ll bounce around the top 6 or even 9 once Dubinsky and Jenner return, but for now Foligno is a solid pickup for deeper category leagues that count physicality stats. Meanwhile, Atkinson is also off to a fast start averaging a point per game including 2 game winning goals and a goal and an assist respectively on the man advantage. Atkinson has unloaded for 20 shots on goal thus far buoyed by over 15 minutes of PP TOI. Atkinson has also sneakily added 5 blocked shots (1 more than Chris Block favorite, James Wisniewski).
– Mikkel Boedker, fresh off his hat-trick against the dreadful Oilers, hits the upper tier of waiver claims for the week. Boedker continues to see first line minutes with Doan and Vermette, but that’s at best a second line for any contending club. Boedker nearly doubled his best campaign output last season by hitting the 50 point plateau largely skating on the top two lines. It was a sizable jump from his career 28 point high dating back to his rookie season. Boedker also saw a 200+ minute increase in ice time last season, including an increase in PP TOI which accounted for 5 of his 19 goals. Given Boedker’s line-mates, I’m not sure if you could count on much more than 50 points, but you could do worse for 12 team leagues that use 3 slots at each forward position. Or at worst, a solid bench option. For leagues that count hits, he also kicked in triple digits last season. At the time of this writing, Boedker is tied with Wayne Simmonds for the NHL’s goal leader.
– T.J. Brodie is taking over for teammate Mark Giordano as one of the more overlooked (undervalued for fantasy purposes) defenseman in the NHL. Brodie has already equaled half of his goal total from last season with 2 quick strikes in the new campaign averaging a point per game across Calgary’s initial 6 contests. Brodie has piled up 15 shots already and is being entrusted more on the man advantage with nearly 13 minutes of PP TOI while also leading the Flames in short-handed TOI (which may be valuable down the line if your league counts shorthanded points). Brodie banked 2 shorthanded assists last season. Brodie only has 2 hits, but has blocked 9 shots.
– Troy Brouwer is back on the top line with Backstrom and Ovechkin. As we noted in the first Undervalued Picks notes, Brouwer accounted for quite a bit of damage with the man advantage last season tallying 12 of his season’s 25 goals, and 9 of his 18 assists on the PP. Should his stead on the first line and a replication of last season’s PP production reoccur, Brouwer is a potential 90-100 fantasy player in leagues that count penalty minutes and hits.
– Brendan Gallagher has pulled the trigger on 19 shots already this season resulting in 3 goals (1 GWG), 2 helpers, and a +5. Gallagher has been deployed over 2.5 minutes on the man advantage per game, third most among Montreal forwards, banking 1 PP assist thus far. Gallagher has spent the majority of his shifts skating on the right of Desharnais and Pacioretty on Montreal’s top line. Gallagher’s average draft position was in the low 200’s overall. At present, Gallagher would rank in the top 25 forwards for most standard category leagues.
Deep (League) Cuts
– Matt Beleskey is the latest beneficiary of placement on Anaheim’s top line in the wake of injuries to The Law Offices of Heatley and Maroon. Beleskey is firing home rubber at an unsustainable 23.1 shot% banking 3 even strength goals on only 13 shots (despite a career average of 8.6%), but as a quick fix for deeper stat category leagues, he’ll out produce his cost by adding 15 hits and 5 blocks across 5 games. Beleskey has seen 6.5 minutes on the PP which is about half of what Maroon received. Once Maroon or Heatley return to the lineup and grab the first line slot, Beleskey can be safely waived.
– Late Breaking TTMI Action News Alert: Devante Smith-Pelley spent today’s practice session skating on the top line with Getzlaf’s hair and Corey Perry. There might be a roster adjustment for Anaheim in tomorrow’s game in which case Beleskey reverts back to fantasy irrelevance (save for super deep leagues).
– Filip Forsberg, to no one’s surprise, has replaced Gabriel Bourque on the Predators’ top line. Even before moving up from the second line, Forsberg had accrued over 11.5 minutes of PP TOI behind only Neal and Ribiero picking up a PP assist. Forsberg has a goal and 4 assists through 4 games along with a +5. Despite being a natural center, Forsberg hasn’t seen one faceoff opportunity thus far, but he has chipped in 3 hits and 3 blocks respectively.
– Damon Severson has emerged with 3 goals on 15 shots (2 at even strength), +5, 4 hits, 3 blocks, and just as importantly, for now, has received the second largest amount of PP TOI for all Devils skaters at a tick above 13 minutes – just one PP shift behind Marek Zidlicky. He appears to have basically taken Andy Greene’s spot with the man advantage.
– Lee Stempniak, despite seeing most of his even strength ice time on the Rangers’ third line, has compiled 4 points over 5 games skating between Flash Hagelin and The Traitor. With the Richards buyout and Stepen injury, the Rangers are thin down the middle so Stempniak centers the third line. Yet Blackhawk fan favorite, Kevin Hayes, takes the majority of the draws winning only 10/37 FO attempts for a pathetic 27% FO won%. Stempniak has seen nearly 11 minutes of PP TOI, and over 6 minutes on the kill but hasn’t dented the score sheet on special teams thus far.
– Evanston native, Tommy Wingels, checks in with 3 goals (1 GWG) and an assist despite third line minutes with the Sharks. If your league is a shallow 10 or 12 team league, keep an eye on Wingels for the chance he replaces Matt Nieto on the Marleau/Couture line. Nieto hasn’t been bad himself with 3 points to start the season, but Wingels has simply been better both in score sheet production and driving possession. Wingels has actually received one more PP shift than Nieto despite the nearly 6 minutes of short handed time Wingels has been deployed thus far. Wingels is also leading the Sharks in hits with 16 and added 4 blocked shots. He’s a category filler for a cheap FAAB buck or two spent (for you auction leaguers) or waiver wire add….at least until Wingels’ 19% shooting rate sees market correction.
Fantasy Hawk Watch
– The collective known as the Hawks PP teams are 3 for 21 with the man advantage. A surprise to few, probably, considering this is what this group was for the majority of last season as well. So whether you drafted Toews, Kane, Sharp, Hossa, Saad, Richards, Keith etc no Hawk is helping your special teams save for Toews’ shorthanded goal Saturday night. Speaking of The Captain, I know 4 games and all, but 6 shots total? 0 shots on goal against Buffalo? The Sabres are averaging roughly 206 shots against per game Someone can feel free to hook Toews up to Chris Block’s Monster Energy IV drip prior to hitting the ice for each game.
– Corey Crawford will receive the majority of starts given the Hawks’ spaced out schedule. Crawford receiving the lion’s share of starts isn’t exactly breaking news but the Blackhawks only have 3 back to back games through (American) Thanksgiving. For those of you in daily CDM/Fanduel type leagues, or weekly roster lock on Monday leagues, take note. With a 4 game schedule this week, and a back to back next weekend, Antti Raanta should see his first action this season. The Hawks are in St Louis on Saturday and home for Ottawa on Sunday. I will go ahead and predict Raanta gets his first start against the Senators next Sunday. With the manner in which Quennville chases points, I can’t see Raanta receiving the start in the return matchup with Nashville Thursday night. It could happen, but probably not.