Fantasy Chatter: Week 24 – Roto Crunch Time, Deep Cuts Rookie Bias Edition & Brandon Pirri – Goal Machine

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The Week Ahead: March 23 – March 29

4 Game slates: ANA, CAL, CAR, CHI, COL, DAL, DET, FLA, LA, MIN, NASH, NJ, NYI, NYR, OTT, PIT, SJ, WINN
3 Game slates: ARI, BOS, BUF, CLB, EDM, MON, TB, TOR, VAN, WASH
2 Game slates: PHI, STL
Back to Back games: ANA, BOS, CAR, COL, CLB, DAL, DET, FLA, LA, MIN (x2), NASH, NJ, NYI, NYR, OTT, PIT, SJ, WASH, WINN

By Lane Myer

Quick show of hands – how many of you rolled out of the rack on Sunday morning afternoon, logged into your Roto, points, or head-to-head league and subsequently felt a fantasy-dagger in your back at the vision of emblazoned pluses and minuses that littered your league’s home page. Count ‘em five Saturday shutouts that undoubtedly had a profound effect on your current league’s standings or head-to-head weekly matchups.   Who knew so many hockey players were NCAA basketball fans.

Last week we covered head-to-head league playoffs, and minus the schedule, much of that info still applies, especially for those of you whose playoffs begin this week. For this week, we’ll take a look at those of you heading down the stretch in Roto and points leagues. Especially those of you in leagues with player use maximums. Back around the All-Star break we mentioned in these very electronic pages of TTMI, that it would be wise to start keeping an eye on your projected player usage table. We advised you to stay no more than 5 games over at each respective position. Hopefully you did just that as those in leagues that use a standard 81 game max at each position over the next two weeks are going to see your league’s standings fluctuate somewhat wildly depending on how many of your fellow GMs failed to curb their usage.

Personally I love this time of the year in Roto leagues. Oh the horror that will come from these particular GMs when they finally realize that they are no longer being awarded points because they’ve maxed out their player usage and their top players are failing to accumulate points. It’s truly the best.

Thus with each NHL team having something around 7-10 games remaining, you’re going to want to choose your individual player starts wisely. For each day until the end of the season, or at least until you max out each particular position, you’ll want to consider when to start your mid-tier type scorers like say Kyle Okposo. You’ll probably want to sit him against a strong goalie like Carey Price. The Penguins’ offense is struggling mightily. You may want to start sitting everyone not named Crosby, Malkin, or Letang if you’re up against the max.   Conversely, get your proven scorers in the lineup against the weaker teams. The Buffalo, Carolina, Arizona types, and sit mid-tier scorers against the Canadiens, Wild, Hawks, Kings and any other team that tends to suffocate offense.

If you’re in need of goalie stats and the waiver wire is barren with starting types in your league, it’s the perfect opportunity to use one or two roster spots to stream goalies. Look at the schedule and every week we point out back-to-back games here in our weekly post. This is a prime opportunity to begin picking up useable backups in forthcoming back-to-back matchups. There are a myriad of 4 game schedules this week so one would assume that teams that aren’t fighting for a playoff spot will give the incumbent starter a breather.

Along that rationale, you have a potential Niklas Svedberg sighting next weekend against the Hurricanes. The Blackhawks don’t have a back-to-back but they do have 4 games this week and 3 games against weaker non-playoff opponents. Scott Darling makes for a solid option though you might not know when he’ll get the nod so if you have limited roster spots available to stream a goalie, he might not work for you. The Kings begin the week in the Northeast with a back-to-back with the Devils and Rangers. The matchup in New Jersey may provide an opportunity to stream Martin Jones against the weak Devil offense. Minnesota has two sets of back-to-back matchups so if you’re desperate, perhaps Darcy Kuemper can provide at least league average play in goal in at least one start. Perhaps Kuemper lands the start against the fledgling Leafs. It may also be a prime opportunity for another Keith Kinkaid stream next Saturday in Carolina. If Craig Anderson has been dropped in your league, next weekend will see the Senators face the Leafs and Panthers in successive nights. Thomas Greiss should net the goal in Pittsburgh’s matchup next Saturday at home against the Kyle Chipchura first line center starting Arizona Coyotes. Again, this is a great week to goalie stream.

Goalie Watch

* Anaheim: Frederik Andersen wound up starting 2 o f the 3 matchups this week though John Gibson managed to hold more ice-time as the result of Anderesen getting the hook after allowing 3 goals on 7 shots to the Rangers on Sunday night. Unfortunately for Gibson owners, he didn’t fare much better having coughed up 4 large of his own in just under 50 minutes.

  • Andersen – 48 starts, 2.42 GAA, .913 SV%
  • Gibson – 18 starts, 2.58 GAA, .917 SV%

TTMI Counsel: The results were mediocre play from both options but Andersen and Gibson managed to both record a win each this week. Andersen has been well below average since the All-Star break posting a sub-optimal 2.60 GAA and .903 SV%. Although Gibson wasn’t very impressive Sunday night, he’s been the much better option in March recording 5 wins in 6 starts with a 2.49 GAA and .921 SV%.   At this time, unless you’re in need of goalie counting stats, it might be time to move on from Andersen, or at the very least, his matchups need to be chosen wisely.

* Calgary: Karri Ramo, once again, carried 2 of Calgary’s 3 starts and allowed 4 goals which essentially kept his ratios even from the week prior. Conversely, Jonas Hiller gave up 3 even strength goals to the Blues en route to a loss.

  • Hiller – 39 starts, 2.44 GAA, .914 SV%
  • Ramo – 28 starts, 2.55 GAA, .913 SV%

TTMI Counsel: Jonas Hiller has now allowed 3 or more goals in 6 of his last 8 starts. Ramo, meanwhile, hasn’t exactly cemented a substantial footprint for the starter’s role having posted a below league average 2.88 GAA and .909 SV% in 7 March appearances. The Calgary net situation remains one where if you own either option you’ll want to choose matchups wisely, especially for those of you in leagues where you have a limited amount of allotted starts remaining.

* Carolina: Anton Khudobin drew the assignment in all 3 of Carolina’s matchups for the week as the result of Cam Ward’s illness.

  • Ward – 43 starts, 2.44 GAA, .910 SV%
  • Khudobin – 28 starts, 2.64 GAA, .903%

TTMI Counsel: That’s 4 straight starts for Khudobin and he managed just one win, though a respectable 10 goals allowed over that time span. Despite the respectable run, Khudobin’s ratios have remained almost exactly status quo to those he held at the beginning of the week, thus he remains a marginal option in deeper leagues where matchups must be chosen wisely….lest of course you’re in desperate need for goalie counting stats.

* Dallas: Jhonas Enroth spent his second consecutive week stapled to the bench and hasn’t seen the ice since March 7th. Kari Lehtonen, coming off of a shutout of a disinterested Chicago team, has caught fire and through 8 March starts has posted a stellar 6-1 record, 1.85 GAA, and a .930 SV%. If you’re still holding onto Enroth in standard sized leagues, why? He can be safely dropped.

* Winnipeg: Ondrej Pavelec has taken it upon himself to submarine fantasy players who were depending on Michael Hutchinson for at least a starting number two goalie. Pavelec has now started 4 consecutive starts recording 4 wins while allowing just 4 goals.

  • Pavelec – 38 starts, 2.40 GAA, .916 SV%
  • Hutchinson – 34 starts, 2.41 GAA, .913 SV%

TTMI Counsel: Pavelec is yet another goalie who has caught fire in March as he’s now compiled a 1.00 GAA, and .964 SV% which included the aforementioned 4 consecutive starts in addition to two appearances in relief of Hutchinson earlier this month. Hutchinson has been fading since mid-January and has now cratered in March having allowed 13 goals on just 84 shots good for a terrible .845 SV%. With most teams having in the neighborhood of around 10 games remaining, Hutchinson, in all but the deepest 12 team leagues, or dynasty leagues, can be safely dropped.

Trending: The Waiver Wire

– Ondrej Pavelec – as noted above, just when you thought it was safe to dump Pavelec, he’s now caught fire in March and has to be seen as the starter for the time being after posting a stellar 1.00 GAA and .964 SV% in his last 4 starts.   I’d still have a long look when it comes to his matchups against tougher offenses, but if you’re desperate for goalie stats, there’s probably no better option on the wire in your league at present. Winnipeg will face EDM and VAN to begin the week, and then the offensively inept Canadiens and Chicago to finish the week.

– Brandon Pirri, in case you hadn’t noticed, sits just outside the top 20 in goals per game this season. He’s now recorded 14 goals (5 PP) on 75 shots in his last 20 games. Of those 75 shots, he fired 19 of them in just 2 games in matchups with Buffalo and Montreal. Despite this goal scoring run, he’s still only averaging just under 1.4 minutes per game on the second unit PP.

Mark Scheifele has compiled 5 goals, 8 assists, 33 shots, and a +6 in Winnipeg’s last 12 games centering the Jets’ second line. Scheifele averages 2.2 minutes per game on Winnipeg’s second PP unit and appears to be about a year away from a true breakout that many thought would come this year.

Deep (League) Cuts

– Marko Dano has tallied 3 goals, 4 assists, and a +6 over the Jackets’ last 6 games. Unfortunately, it hasn’t translated to PP time as despite averaging over 15 minutes per game on the second line over that span, Dano only averages all of one shift per game on the man-advantage.

– Melker Karlsson has generated 4 goals and an assist 34 shots in SJ’s last 7 games. In addition to his production, Karlsson has been moved to the Joe Line flanking Thornton and Pavelski on the Sharks’ top line. His recent play has also garnered additional PP time with nearly 5 minutes of TOI on the man-advantage since his move to the top line over the prior 3 games.

Andrej Nestrasil has recorded 2 goals, 7 assists, 24 shots and a +4 over the Canes’ last 10 contests. He’s skating on Carolina’s second line centered by Jordan Staal but has recently been bumped up to Carolina’s first PP unit where he’s compiled over 2 minutes per game on the man-advantage.

Fantasy Hawk Factor

Second Line Duds Watch (for the week)

  • Saad – 0 goals, 0 assists, 10 shots, -1
  • Vermette – 0 goals, 0 assists, 5 shots, -1
  • Teravainen – 0 goals, 0 assists, 3 shots, -1

First Release

  • Toews – 2 goals, 2 assists, 6 shots, +3
  • Hossa – 2 goals, 0 assists, 12 shots, +3
  • Sharp – 0 goals, 2 assists, 11 shots, +3

Blackhawk Goal Scoring Slump Watch

  • Carcillo – Goalless over the last 18 games (10 shots)
  • Hjalmarsson – 1 goal over the last 56 games
  • Keith – 1 goal over the last 22 games (39 shots)
  • Kruger – 1 goal over the last 18 games (26 shots)
  • Oduya – Goalless over the last 22 games (21 shots)
  • Rozsival – Goalless over the last 36 games (31 shots)
  • Seabrook – 1 goal over the last 35 games (85 shots)
  • Shaw – 1 goal over the last 23 games (37 shots)
  • Teravainen – Goalless over the last 8 games (14 shots)
  • Timonen – Goalless over the last 8 games (6 shots)
  • Vermette – Goalless over the last 8 games (10 shots)
  • Versteeg – Goalless over the last 9 games (8 shots)

– Corey Crawford began the week in fine March of Dominance form halting the upstart Islanders to a mere goal on 39 shots. Unfortunately, not only did Crawford next face the Stars in Dallas, but on top of it, a certain someone also deemed it fit to catch a bird to Big D this weekend and what do you know, struggles ensued. The only real surprise here is that Crawford didn’t suffer a season ending injury. While the 4 markers against in Dallas sunk his March of Dominance a bit, Crawford is still a strong 5-1-1 with a 1.70 GAA and .948 SV% through 7 March starts. No word on whether Crawford was spent after being challenged to drunken swim meets in the hotel pool by the aforementioned layabout.

Marian Hossa has recorded 4 even strength goals on 40(!) shots and is a +7 in Chicago’s last 8 games.

– Patrick Sharp didn’t dent the cage, but did record 2 assists and fired 11 shots on goal. Unfortunately for him, fans, and fantasy owners, that apparently didn’t warrant Sharp reclaiming his role on the first PP unit over the interloping Andrew Shaw (for some reason). Instead, Sharp spent the week alongside Vermette, Richards, and Teravainen on the second unit.

Teuvo Watch: Teuvo averaged over 15 minutes per game in three starts this week. Teravainen (and his linemates) had a tough time of it against the New York teams, with Teuvo individually failing to record a shot in either matchup with the Rangers and Islanders. The second line in particular had their ears pinned back by the Isles all game long. That said, aside from that contest, Teravainen again flashed strong possession numbers against the Rangers and Stars (+22 Corsi For, +19 Fenwick For) while also compiling over 4 minutes of PP TOI.

Kris Versteeg for the third straight week had a difficult time generating shots tallying just 2 SOG in 3 games. Over the last 10 games, Versteeg has only managed 8 shots total, along with just 1 assist. Versteeg saw 16.5 minutes of TOI on Saturday night and still managed only one shot.

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Lane Myer

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