The Week Ahead: Week 5, Nov 3 – Nov 9
4 Game slates: DET, EDM, NYR, OTT, STL, TOR, VAN
3 Game slates: ANA, ARI, BUF, CAL, CAR, CHI, COL, CLB, DAL, FLA, LA, MIN, MON, NASH, NJ, NYI, PHI, PITT, SJ, TB, WASH, WINN
2 Game slates: BOS
By Lane Myer
For those of you TTMI readers that have been riding Brock Nelson since we demanded that you do so dating back in the preseason, congrats. He has received his first crack at the top line which should only improve his stock. You may have to consider holding onto him at least until the Isles decide to move a struggling forward into his slot to give a random player a forced jumpstart with Tavares and Okposo. Chances are Nelson, Anders Lee, and Grabovski will spend the forthcoming months bouncing around the top six, but so long as Nelson is riding shotgun with Tavares and Okposo, he’s a must start.
Speaking of fast starters with unnaturally lofty shooting percentages, the pre-Thanksgiving weeks continue to serve as a timeframe to analyze where you need roster or stat categorical assistance. The players that we’ve highlighted over the last few weeks with forthcoming market correction shooting percentages such as Nelson and Tanner Pearson will eventually come crashing down. What you’ll need to determine is whether their secondary production – assists, plus/minus, face-off wins, blocked shots or hits or whatever statistical categories your league counts enables that player to remain valuable. If you play in a standard 5×4 or 6×4 where your offensive stat categories are basic categories such as goals, assists, +/-, penalty minutes, and PP points then players such as Nelson and Pearson may be slightly less valuable since a player such as Brock Nelson tends to fill out a stat sheet and remains more valuable in deeper stat category leagues with random face-off wins (sometimes he centers the second line) in addition to contributing hits and blocked shots. Should your league hold only basic stat categories selling high becomes more of an option.
The current league average shooting percentage this season is 8.8% which is down a tick from the 8.9% average last season. Some of the top NHL goal scorers such as Ovechkin (12.3%), Crosby (14.9%), Corey Perry (13.3%), career SH% respectively, will see their shooting percentages bounce around from 3 or so points above the average to well above average in given individual seasons. But on the other hand, Alex Tanguay has averaged an 18.8 shooting% for his career with 8 different seasons holding a SH% over 20%. Tanguay was always a player who was too unselfish as he never took more than 142 shots in any season. To summarize, determine what type of ‘sell high’ player you own. If a player is showing a tendency to average 3-4 shots per game then you’ll probably be just fine. There will be a market correction but it won’t be as fall-off-a-cliff-worthy as another player may see. If your ‘sell high’ player is holding a shooting percentage that is unnaturally lofty to do a general lack of shot totals then that market correction will likely arrive even sooner.
– Anaheim: was tabbed to drop off Goalie Watch thanks to Andersen’s elite level performance, but then the perpetually bloated Bruce Boudreau gave John Gibson consecutive starts earlier this week for the direct response of…well I guess because Anndersen gave up 4 goals to the Sharks in last Sunday’s Fight Night at the old hockey game. Because the 2 goals over the prior 3 starts that Andersen allowed was an affront to Anaheim’s public image, apparently.
TTMI Counsel: Andersen has still been the better goalie
- Andersen – 8 starts, 1.60 GAA, .941 SV%
- Gibson – 4 starts, 2.28 GAA, .927 SV%
Though I guess the opportunity still exists for Anaheim’s crease to become a nearly equal timeshare.
– Buffalo: Buffalo’s three contests this week saw Enroth patrolling the crease in two of those games. Enroth’s ratios, as expected, declined a few points with tough matchups against the Bruins and Penguins, while Neuvirth coughed up 4 to the Leafs (hey only one fewer than Crawford!).
- Enroth – 8 starts – 3.34 GAA, .908 SV%
- Neuvirth – 4 starts – 3.26 GAA, .910 SV%
TTMI Counsel: The week gone saw what we should expect to see going forward. Either Enroth nets starts in two of every three contests, or an even timeshare if both net-minders continue to post similar ratios.
– Calgary: As of press time, it appears that Hiller will receive all 3 starts in net for Calgary this week. Thus Calgary will drop from Goalie Watch until the wheels fall off of Hiller’s plainly painted little red wagon.
– Carolina: An unfortunate event took place under the cloak of darkness last night where Cam Ward was given the start against a nearly equally terrible hockey team in the Coyotes. In that contest, we saw Cam Ward kick aside 20 or so Martin Erat shots from the perimeter and Ward managed to get in the way of all of them.
TTMI Counsel: Carolina, again at press time, is going right back to the well with Ward on back to back nights against the defending champions (thanks to a fluke goal) Sunday night. Hopefully the end result is That Uncleverly Named 70’s Line tallies roughly 4 points each and the Kings blow the Canes out to beat some sense into the Carolina decision makers.
– Edmonton: Ben Scrivens spent this past week starting in goal for each of the Oilers’ three contests, the first of which saw Scrivens bagel Montreal. Said shutout saw Scrivens continue to pull his ratios above sea level from a 3.31 GAA and .882 SV% at the end of last week to a 3.01 GAA and .897 SV% to end the weekend.
TTMI Counsel: Viktor Fasth was activated from the IR nine days ago and has yet to see action since October 14th. For better or worse, it appears Scrivens will receive the lion’s share of starts going forward at least until he allows 9 or 10 goals in two straight starts.
– Ottawa enters Goalie Watch as the result of their equal timeshare situation.
- Anderson – 5 starts, 2.38 GAA, .934 SV%
- Lehner – 5 starts, 2.54,GAA, .927 SV%
TTMI Counsel: It’s probably a sound strategy for Ottawa as both options are playing equally well and the follicly challenged Craig Anderson is a bit of an injury risk. That said, for fantasy purposes, this is a situation to either avoid, or becomes a must to own both options. It should be noted, in case you were planning on buying high on either Anderson or Lehner, the Senators as a collective own an unsustainable .961 SV% at even strength this season. That mark also becomes ripe for market correction soon.
– Toronto: Jonathan Bernier undoubtedly spent a sizable chunk of his paycheck this week purchasing lottery tickets as the result of his incredibly fortunate schedule. Bernier first opposed an apathetic Buffalo squad that managed to shove only 10 shots on goal the entire night resulting in quite possibly the least stressful shutout of the modern era. Bernier then followed up that lounged performance with a favorable matchup against the decimated Columbus Blue Jackets which resulted in ending his week with a tidy 38/39 shots against thwarted in his two starts. Thus Bernier’s Oilers-esque 3.38 GAA and .904 SV% at the start of this week will see a league average resurrection to the tune of 2.57 and .917 respectively to begin the week, new. Meanwhile Reimer stood tall against the Hawks kicking out 45/47 bullets Hossa and company barreled forth.
- Bernier – 7 starts – 2.57 GAA, .917 SV%
- Reimer – 4 starts – 2.47 GAA, .929 SV%
TTMI Counsel: For Reimer owners in deep leagues, things looked a lot brighter for you at this time last week, but stay patient. Bernier was incredibly fortunate with his matchups this week, but it’s pretty clear Bernier will get the greater share of opportunities.
Trending: The Waiver Wire
– Charlie Conway Coyle has yet to record a multi-point game this season. No matter, he still holds 6 points in 10 games. Coyle is also a +6 and now owns multi-positional eligibility at C and RW in leagues that use 10 games for positional eligibility settings. Coyle does have only 1 PP point despite averaging a tick above two minutes of PP TOI per game, but that can partially be attributed to Vanek’s slow start and Mikko Koivu’s 0 PP points. Coyle is a bit more valuable in deeper category leagues as he’s contributed double digit counting stats in face-offs won, hits and blocks.
– Erik Johnson is second to only Keith Yandle in fantasy production from defensemen over the last two weeks thanks to his 2 goal, 5 assists, +4 and 4 PP points line. Chances are Johnson was drafted if you play in a 12 team league, but for you 10 team or smaller leaguers, his ADP was right around 200 so if you’re in need of help at the blueline, hit your waiver wire.
– Nikita Kucherov may be eligible at both LW and RW depending on your league’s settings. Given that Kucherov spent the early portion of the season skating on the Lightning’s fourth line, he’s only averaging around 12.5 minutes per game. As a result of his 7 points in his last 3 contests. Kucherov now ranks sixth in the league in points per minute average at 4.64 points per 60 minutes of even strength TOI. Kucherov doesn’t provide much in the way of hits or blocks or face-offs, obviously, but for standard leaguers, he’s becoming a must start.
Deep (League) Cuts
– Johnny Gaudreau boards his maiden voyage on these electronic pages of TTMI fantasy relevant players based on his two week stretch that saw Johnny Hockey net 2 goals, 4 assists, a +4, and 2 PP points. Gaudreau had only tallied 3 shots on goal through his first 8 games, but he followed that drought up by spraying 11 shots on goal over his most recent 2 games which just happened to be against two pretty good defensive clubs in Montreal and Nashville.
– Michael Raffl joins the list of players who have moved up to the post-Hartnell spot on the Giroux/Voracek line. Raffl has responded with 5 goals and an assist over his last 6 contests. Raffl is another of the players in 2014’s early going that has seen a two minute uptick in ice-time per game over last season’s usage. Thus far the result is about a .6% increase in shots per game. About the only negative to this point is Raffl has only seen 1.3 minutes of time with the man advantage. Perhaps if Raffl continues to produce he can steal some PP time away from Brayden Schenn. On the plus side, he’s seen over 10 minutes of TOI shorthanded so if your league counts shorthanded points the opportunity exists for some SH production.
– Daniel Winnik also checks in with a prime opportunity joining Kessel and Kadri on the Leafs’ top line. Since the move to the penthouse, Winnik has compiled a goal, 3 assists, and a +4. The move upward hasn’t resulted in a boost of PP ice-time as Winnik has all of one shift on the man advantage all season. Winnik does, however, lead the Leafs in shorthanded ice-time so if your league counts shorthanded points a sneaky production opportunity exists.
– Cory Schneider, due solely from being jinxed by Chris Block’s draft selection in the TTMI League, is struggling. Or at least Schneider was struggling when I first started writing this earlier in the week before he tended goal in two pretty appealing matchups against the decimated Columbus squad and the Jets respectively to close the week. Chris Block is many things to Blackhawks blog readers. A man of the people? Sure. President of the Chicago chapter of the Kevin Bieksa fanclub? Of course. Saying hurtful things towards gingers which has visually affected Cory Schneider’s play. Obviously. That said, Schneider does have a reputable track record. To the point where he holds the highest save% among starting goalies over the last four years at a vaunted .927. Part of the problem can probably be attributed to New Jersey’s march to the penalty box as they’re 8th in the NHL in penalties taken which has resulted in Schneider being tied with Luongo for the most PP goals allowed with 11. Schneider has also had a tough schedule, ate least prior to this weekend, in facing some talented offensive teams in the Penguins, Sharks, Caps, Stars, Flyers, and Lightning.
– Vladimir Tarasenko was slated to highlight this week’s buy low opportunities having recorded one goal through his first 7 games and then boom-time – hat trick against Dallas earlier this week and then Vlad doubled down on that effort with a two goal performance Saturday night likely erasing any buy low opportunity in most leagues. I’ll keep him here anyway in case you happen to play in a league with a bunch of Hawks fans who rightfully loathe all things St. Louis Blues. Or if you believe he’ll take a Ryan Johansen like jump and become a 30-35 goal scorer this season and you don’t mind paying current market value to acquire Vlady. Tarasenko has doubled his shots on goal average from 2.13 last season to 4.50 per game thus far. He’s now taken 10 more shots than Crosby….8 more than Corey Perry etc. If one were to ask Jesse Pinkman’s opinion of Tarasenko’s performance after this week, the response would likely involve something along the lines of “Dude be mad gunnin’, yo”. With Stastny’s injury, Jori Lehtera has slid up to center the second line between Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz. Perhaps Tarasenko won’t reach full potential until Stastny returns, but when Statsny is in the lineup and Tarasenko continues to skate Schwartz, having two playmakers of that caliber bodes well for Tarasenko’s scoring chances. Also working in Tarasenko’s favor is his current 3.15 minutes of PP ice-time (second most among Blues forwards behind only Alex Steen) per game. Last season Tarasenko spent a good deal of even strength time skating on the Blues’ third line averaging a tick over 15 minutes per contest. Thus far, that TOI has risen two minutes per game with the move up to St Louis’ second line.
Thomas Vanek unloaded 248 shots draped in his three different sweaters last regular season. Then the postseason happened and through the duration of Montreal’s 17 playoff games, Vanek fired off only 28 shots. Consequently Vanek’s postseason narrative became –he must be injured! With his start to this season coupled with his playoff run last year, it almost seems Vanek has become reluctant to shoot the puck. His Fenwick Close mark of 54.5% is nearly 3 points lower than the average Wild skater. This despite a 61% offensive zone start% and that the two players that Vanek has skated the most shifts with this season, Koivu and Coyle, have seen their possession numbers drop (Coyle-43%, Koivu-47% with Vanek, 57.1% and 55.6% respectively away from Vanek).
This is a small sample this season, and it could simply be Vanek becoming accustomed to playing with his new team, but we’re talking about over 25 games dating back to last season’s playoffs where Vanek almost seems like a different player. That provides a classic buy low opportunity if you believe his struggles are the result of suiting up for four different teams over the last calendar year and/or it’s not a situation of Vanek’s skill set falling off a cliff at age 30. It was Dany Heatley’s age 30 season where he began his decline into – that guy who used to score 30 per season – category. Cluttering matters even further, Vanek is a classic streaky goal scorer having gone goalless last February and April deciding 8 goals in March would better suit his vanity. If you’re struggling in your PP stat categories in your league, you could probably do worse than to target Vanek on the cheap but it should be noted that Vanek has accrued over 30 minutes of PP TOI this season culminating in 1 goals on only 7 shots. I probably would only want to swing that deal if you’re giving up depth (ie a hot starter due for market regression) or someone else you won’t miss too much in the event Vanek is now Dany Healtey 2.0…as perhaps Vanek’s struggles may have nothing to do with hockey.
Fantasy Hawk Watch
– Brandon Saad late of the Hawks’ four game stretch, has provided a fair buy low opportunity even if you play in league of all Blackhawks fans. Saad has spent that stretch bouncing around various lines on Quenneville’s roulette wheel of line pairings. Regardless of which line he’s broken a sweat on, it’s a stretch that has revealed 0 points on only 6 shots and an undesirable -5. Many a keystroke has been recorded on various Hawks blogs recently detailing Andrew Shaw’s ability to drag down his linemates, and a don’t disagree, but we’re still pretty confident Saad won’t finish the campaign with a 4.8 shooting% so a classic buy low opportunity exists with the young Hawk.
– Jonathan Toews did Jonathan Toewsian things this past week recording 3 goals and averaging over 60% on face-offs won. I’d still like to see more shots from The Captain (currently ranks 58th in the NHL with 30 SOG) considering he averages over 4 minutes of man advantage time per game, but at least he now has his shooting% over 10% closer to where it belongs at 13.3%.
– Looks like Joel Quenneville has either come to his senses, or is most definitely reading a random fantasy based column on a Blackhawks based website. Regardless of which, Marian Hossa averaged an extra shift per game on the PP throughout the week raising his average from 2.20 minutes on the man advantage through last weekend up to 2.49 minutes. It’s still a bit low considering Shaw averages over 4 minutes per game, but it’s a step in the right direction. Hossa still remains a nice buy low option.