You Think You Got Hard Times?
The Week Ahead: March 30 – April 5
4 Game slates: BUF, CHI, COL, DET, EDM, FLA, MON, OTT, STL, TB, TOR, VAN, WASH
3 Game slates: ARI, BOS, CAL, CAR, CLB, DAL, LA, NJ, NYR, PHI, PIT, SJ,
2 Game slates: ANA, MIN, NASH, NYI, WINN
Back to Back games: ARI, BUF, CHI, COL, DAL, DET, EDM, FLA, MON, NJ, OTT, PHI, PIT, SJ, STL, TB, TOR (x2), VAN, WASH
By Lane Myer
It is fingernail reduction time, regardless of what medium of scoring comprises your league(s) as we hit the final stretch. For those in H2H leagues, it’s same as it ever was. Turn over your fringe players for other fringe players who have the scheduling advantage.
As for those in Roto style leagues, chances are there are multiple players who have either already abandoned their rosters, or have been paying minimal attention to their hockey league as the result of their poor finish and the looming fantasy baseball season. That can either be a good or bad thing for you. Good if you need to gain ground and can take advantage of “ghost” teams. Bad if you’re trying to protect stat categorical leads and your competition is gaining ground due to your league’s filthy layabouts failing to set their daily rosters.
With all that in mind, once again, it’s time to zero in on categories of need. Chances are it’s way too late to worry about gaining ground in ratio stats. Those are going to be already weighted unfavorably for you with little chance to gain more ground than a point or two.
Thus it’s the counting stats that you should be really zeroing in on. For example, should you have a 12 team league and you’re currently 7 out of 12 in goals and there is an opportunity to gain ground (within 10 or so goals) with the next two or three closest competitors in that particular stat category, make your move. If you need to drop a mid-tier proven veteran to pick up Butch Keeling 2.0 (an old Ranger who also had difficulty in the goals to assist ratio dept) in Brandon Pirri, do it. Since most any league will have an average of 3 or 4 members who have bailed on the season, chances are the late season hot points earners like Pirri, or the young guns in Ottawa like Zibanejad, Stone, or Hoffman are still on the wire available for pickup.
If you’re rostering a backup goalie but really have no chance to pass your competition in goalie stats, drop him for a scorer if you need offense. Every roster spot has extra value at this time of the year. There’s no sense keeping someone on your roster if that player isn’t either helping you maintain a lead in any individual stat categories, or isn’t helping you gain ground in others. Just because that player was a 8th round draft pick and has name value, doesn’t mean he’s worth anything to you over the final two weeks. If you need to drop James Neal for a backup or platoon goalie, do it.
In addition, at this time of the year in Roto or points leagues there will likely be teams who have individual stat categories locked up, or all but locked up. If you’re in second place in assists and have no chance to catch the leader while the third place team has virtually no chance to catch you, go ahead and dump the Henrik Sedin types for a another position of need. Unless of course you also need help or are protecting a lead in power play points or power play assists counting leagues.
Needless to say, if you’re still holding out hope for the return of injured players who aren’t on IR and soaking up a valuable active roster spot such as Kris Letang and Bryan Little, it s probably time to give up on them. Little will supposedly return on April 4th, but really, who cares? By the time he shakes off the rust, it’s too late for him to mean much of anything for your roster in the final week. Clip them and pickup someone you can use now.
Also of note, be sure to keep a daily eye on your league’s waiver wire. As we’ve discussed above, this is the time of the year when savvier fantasy players will drop the type of proven scorers that you wouldn’t normally see on the waiver wire during the meat of the season. Regardless of your waiver priority, if there’s someone dropped to waivers that can help you, no sense letting someone else snag him. Get your waiver claims in. You never know who is tied up with baseball drafts and forgetting to set their lineups. If you’re within striking distance of 10 goals, assists, plus/minus etc, that ground can still be made up if you have the allotted daily player usage remaining.
Finally, a little foreshadowing to next week; for those of you in Roto style leagues and dealing with player maximum usage, don’t forget that in the final week playoff teams who have nothing left to play for – positioning or whatnot, star players will likely be rested or have their minutes reduced. Thus if you’re conserving player usage dates, you’ll probably want to get those star level players into your lineup as much as possible this week, provided of course that they aren’t facing tough matchups against top-end goalies such as Carey Price.
* Anaheim: Frederik Andersen and John Gibson once again halved Anaheim’s four matchups for the week with Andersen getting the better results en route to two wins over the Bruins and Islanders allowing 2 goals in each contest. Gibson held the Devils to a goal in a win Sunday night, but gave up 4 large to the suddenly en fuego Columbus Blue Jackets.
- Andersen – 50 starts, 2.40 GAA, .914 SV%
- Gibson – 20 starts, 2.58 GAA, .916 SV%
TTMI Counsel: Even with a strong week, Andersen still remains below average in March with a 4-3 record and 2.59/.898 basic ratios. Conversely, Gibson remains the better option in March recording 6 wins in 8 starts with a 2.50 GAA and .918 SV%. If you’re chasing goalie wins, then both options are still a good play. However, if you’re protecting ratios, their respective matchups need to be chosen wisely.
* Calgary: Karri Ramo carried 3 of Calgary’s 4 starts and allowed 9 goals along with a 1-1-1 record. Ramo was pulled with 10 minutes remaining on Friday night before taking the loss to the streaking Wild. Consequently, Jonas Hiller came on in relief stopping the only shot he saw and subsequently netted the start in Calgary’s following matchup in Nashville where Hiller allowed 2 goals and earned the much needed win.
- Hiller – 40 starts, 2.43 GAA, .914 SV%
- Ramo – 31 starts, 2.60 GAA, .912 SV%
TTMI Counsel: After a dominant February, the sheen has predictably worn off of Ramo in March and while he’s posted a strong 5-2-2 record this month, his ratios have cratered down to well below league average at 2.94 GAA and .907 SV%. For whatever reason, it seems Calgary has been apprehensive to return to Hiller in a starter’s role as he’s 3-1 in March with a solid 2.13 GAA and .927 SV% in 4 appearances. At press time, Hiller is listed as Monday night’s starter, thus he will have started both ends of a back-to-back and can probably be presumed to be the starter going forward (unless he’s shelled tonight in Dallas) in which case, good luck with that whole thing if you’re relying on a Calgary goalie tandem down the stretch in your fantasy league.
* Carolina: Cam Ward returned from a 12 day absence (due to an illness) in time to halve Carolina’s four game slate along with Anton Khudobin.
- Ward – 45 starts, 2.40 GAA, .911 SV%
- Khudobin – 30 starts, 2.60 GAA, .904%
TTMI Counsel: Khudobin has allowed 14 goals over his last 6 starts, with 5 of those starts all resulting in just two goals allowed, and yet he has just one win to show for it. Ward, on the other hand, returned to action this week and promptly allowed just 3 goals in 2 starts en route to a pair of wins while dragging his ratios back down to exactly league average.
* Winnipeg: Seeing as though Michael Hutchinson has started just one contest since March 12th, it’s pretty safe to assume Ondrej Pavelec and his 6-2 record along with a 1.51 GAA, and .950 SV% will receive the vast majority of starts in Winnipeg down the stretch which makes Hutchinson easily droppable in all but the deepest of and/or dynasty type leagues.
Trending: The Waiver Wire
* With two weeks to go there’s really no point in differentiating between standard size and deep roster leagues anymore as literally everyone, regardless of draft position or waiver standing, is an add/drop and chuck and duck option at this point.
– Justin Abdelkader has recorded 6 goals (2 PP), a pair of assists, 28 shots, 27 PIMs, and 17 hits over Detroit’s last 10 matchups. Presumably each of those 6 goals were either scored via rebound, tip, deflection, or bounced off of a defenders skate or leg as I’m pretty certain I’ve never seen Abdelkader score a clean goal, but regardless, he’s been filling categories of late so he’s worth an add and he also offers some positional flexibility with eligibility at both LW and RW. Abdelkader currently skates on Detroit’s top line as well as first PP unit minutes at 2.45 per game along with just under a minute per on the PK.
– Cam Atkinson remains on Columbus’ top line and over the last 3 games has been receiving double shift PP minutes. Atkinson has been juicing stat categories with 7 goals (3 PP, 1 SH), 5 assists, 23 shots, 10 PIMs, and is a +6 over the Jackets’ last 10 contests. The diminutive winger averages 2.2 minutes on the PP and just over a minute per game on the PK along with a team leading 195 shots this season.
– Charlie Conway Coyle, although he centers Minnesota’s third line, does so with some offensive talent as a pivot for Thomas Vanek and Justin Fontaine. While Coyle only averages 1.2 minutes per game on the PP, he has 4 goals, 5 assists and is a +7 over the Wild’s last 11 games. Coyle has also kicked in 126 hits and averages just under 15 minutes per game on the season.
– Alex Edler, like Chris Block’s main man, Dusty Rhodes, knows all about hard times. [See above] At least hard fantasy value earning times as Edler entered last season as a top 100 fantasy draftee and promptly became one of fantasy hockey’s biggest disappointments as Edler struggled mightily recording only 22 points and an awful -39 on the season. Consequently, Edler dropped about 60 picks entering the 2014 season. Even that proved to be a bit lofty as until the month of March, Edler hadn’t recorded more than 4 points in any other month. However in March, Edler has banked 6 points on 26 shots including a PP goal, 3 assists, and 16 shots over Vancouver’s last 4 games. Edler has also become a special teams minutes stalwart with an average of just under 3 minutes per game on the man-advantage along with a whopping 2.4 minutes per game on the kill. Edler has also kicked in 83 hits and 116 blocks in 66 games.
– Petr Mrazek: 24 hours ago it seemed Mrazek was poised to avenge a hostile takeover of Detroit’s net after pitching a shutout of the high-powered Lightning offense on Saturday night. Unfortunately for him, and the portion of the Jimmy Howard hating Red Wing fanbase, things didn’t work out so well on Sunday where the rookie Czech net-minder coughed up 4 large (3 on the PP) in just one period of action to the Isles before receiving the hook. Obviously it’s difficult to tell which direction Babcock will go as Detroit next hosts Ottawa on Tuesday night. However, if you’re in need of goalie stats and Ondrej Pavelec nor Jonas Hiller are available in your league, Mrazek may be your best option. The aforementioned Jimmy Howard has been awful in March posting a 3-5-1 record with suboptimal 3.25/.890 ratios.
– Ryan o’Reilly is about 50% owned at present so there’s a pretty good chance he’s rostered in most 12 team leagues. However, for those of you in shallower 12 team leagues and various other smaller leagues he’s probably available for nothing. o’Reilly has tallied 4 goals and 8 assists over Colorado’s last 7 games. He also has recorded 19 assists over the Av’s last 19 games, but it’s this recent 7 game stretch where he’s finally started to find the back of the net. o’Reilly averages 2.4 minutes on the PP and just under 2 minutes per game on the penalty kill per game. He’s also been well above average at the dot this season having won 52.9% of his draws.
– Benoit Pouliot currently comprises one-third of Edmonton’s top line (at least until Taylor Hall reclaims his former spot) opposite Ryan Nugent–Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. Pouliot has banked 4 goals, 6 assists, and a staggering (for the Oil) +5 over the last 8 contests. Pouliot currently occupies the left side on Edmonton’s second PP unit where he averages 2.1 minutes per on the PP as well as 1.1 minutes per game on the kill.
– Alex Tanguay has caught fire with 5 points in the last 3 matchups in conjunction with 6 goals and 5 assists over the last 10. Even at the age of 35, Tanguay occupies first line PP unit minutes at around 2:3 minutes per game. Tanguay also skates on the second line at even strength along with Landeskog and o”Reilly at just over 16 minutes per game. The former first-rounder has scored 22 goals on the season on just 99 shots – good for an absurd 22.2% shooting%.
– Yannick Weber has compiled 3 goals (2 PP) and 2 PP assists on only 6 shots over Vancouver’s last 4 games. Along with the above mentioned Alex Edler, Weber is forming one half of the Canucks’ current top defensemen pairing at both even strength and Vancouver’s first PP unit. Although Weber has only averaged 1:15 minutes per game on the man-advantage this season, over the last 10 contests, he’s piled up over 25 minutes of PP TOI. Weber also chips in a hit and block per game on average.
Fantasy Hawk Factor
* A lot of line blendering this week but we’ll go with the most general usage.
Second Line Mash-up Watch (this week)
- Saad – 1 goal, 2 assists, 8 shots, -2
- Sharp – 2 goals, 2 assists, 9 shots, -1
- Vermette – 0 goals, 1 assist, 4 shots, +1
- Richards – 1 goal, 0 assists, 11 shots, even
- Teravainen – 0 goals, 0 assists, 5 shots, -1
- Toews – 2 goals, 1 assist, 10 shots, +1
- Hossa – 0 goals, 2 assists, 12 shots, even
- Versteeg – 0 goals, 1 assist, 8 shots, -2
Blackhawk Goal Scoring Slump Watch
- Bickell – Goalless over the last 6 games (4 shots)
- Carcillo – Goalless over his last 19 games (10 shots)
- Hjalmarsson – 1 goal over the last 60 games
- Keith – 1 goal over the last 26 games (47 shots)
- Kruger – 1 goal over the last 22 games (30 shots)
- Oduya – Goalless over the last 26 games (26 shots)
- Rozsival – Goalless over the last 40 games (35 shots)
- Seabrook – 1 goal over the last 39 games (90 shots)
- Shaw – 1 goal over the last 23 games (37 shots)
- Teravainen – Goalless over the last 11 games (19 shots)
- Timonen – Goalless over the last 11 games (9 shots)
- Vermette – Goalless over the last 11 games (14 shots)
- Versteeg – Goalless over the last 13 games (16 shots)
– Corey Crawford, since being jinxed by a certain someone in Dallas, has allowed 15 goals over his last 5 starts which quashed his March of Dominance run. Given his dominant first 7 starts of the month, Crawford is still a strong 7-3-1 with a 2.32 GAA and .933 SV% through 12 March starts. [C.Block: Dallas will never be the same without me. It may be better off, but certainly not same.]
– Andrew Shaw snapped a 23 game stretch where he only managed a goal and 2 assists by banking 4 tallies (2 on the PP) over Chicago’s last 4 games. Shaw has maintained his first unit PP role where over the last 10 games, Shaw has recorded over 3 minutes of ice-time on the man-advantage which also includes two contests where he managed over 5 minutes per game on the PP.
– Teuvo Watch: Teravainen’s average TOI dropped under 15 minutes in each contest this week including a week low 11.5 minutes Sunday night. Of course that also includes a healthy scratch in Philly. Teuvo failed to record a point and managed just 5 shots in 3 contests. Teravainen also saw a dip in PP time as he was deployed just over 2 minutes total on the man-advantage this week.
– Kris Versteeg while he only registered an assist, at least generated 8 shots this week which matched his total from the previous 10 games. Despite that, he still only has 2 assists over Chicago’s last 13 games despite averaging over 16 minutes per game largely on Chicago’s top line.