Eric Staal is quietly putting together a great season
Here we are again. When you think about it, there are only 11 days until the Olympic Break and some fantasy hockey experts are getting the fever. In the meantime, it seems a lot of the usual suspects appear on this week’s list. It is time for less talk and more “Between The Lines”.
Kyle Okposo-John Tavares-Thomas Vanek (NY Islanders) -- With 12 points in Week 17 together, that included seven points by Okposo and six by Tavares. Thomas Vanek tallied five points which translates to (5,4, and 3 together). If you combine that with another half dozen points on Monday, you have a heck of a start to the week. There is speculation that Vanek could be traded but the Islanders would really have to fall far out of the playoff race. What else is there to say about this line? They just keep getting it done and two meetings with the New York Rangers will only boost their totals.
Tyler Johnson-Ondrej Palat-Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay) -- This line continues to find a way to come up clutch with an 11 point week. Tyler Johnson may have his “Calder cause” hampered by the early return of Steven Stamkos. The jury is still out on that one though. It looks like Palat will ride the wave when Stamkos does return which could be as little as 7-10 days away. That line will be the one to watch come the first week of March. Be ready for it ladies and gentlemen.
Alex Semin-Eric Staal-Jiri Tlusty (Carolina) -- Hey, these guys were often on this list last season. Their frequency numbers have risen slowly to second line levels (26.3% EV, 19.3% PP). The lines do get mixed around a bit, like the Staal brothers were together last night on occasion, especially in the third period. Overall the line that surprised us last year did have 11 points together . Can they play enough at the same time to recapture that magic? That is up to the coaches and their play.
Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel-James van Riemsdyk (Toronto) -- This was another double digit point week once again from Toronto’s best line. You hear it every week, I know. Consistency personified meant a 10 point Week 17. Point production charts indicate more or less the same production over the last two to three weeks. The difference is how one dimensional the power play unit is at (56.7% PP, 36% EV). They are an alpha first line that thrives on the chances they generate. You would think they might regress , yet Phil Kessel continues to keep them rolling.
Andrej Sekera-Justin Faulk (Carolina) -- In what was a crazy triple six week, Sekera was the hottest defensemen in fantasy or it felt like it. When a player has six points and four on the power play without playing Top 30 ice time, that is pretty amazing. Yes this pairing may have lapses of defensive judgment but their offensive potential has to be noted. While you should not expect this production every week, at least they are pretty consistent in deeper leagues, especially Justin Faulk across the board.
Olli Maatta-Matt Niskanen (Pittsburgh) -- What else can you say about a defenseman who is averaging nearly a point a game over the last month? Matt Niskanen had 16 points in his last 17 games and that is something you might expect out of say Kris Letang. Maatta, the 19 year old Finnish rookie has been the steady as a rock player with just enough offensive flare for Pittsburgh. Maatta plays well beyond his years and his minutes have become less and less sheltered. For what it is worth, Matta and Niskanen had eight points in all. They are Pittsburgh’s first pairing from a fantasy perspective.
T.J. Brodie-Mark Giordano (Calgary) -- Mark Giordano is Calgary’s best defenseman and T.J. Brodie may be the second best in the not too distant future (35.8% EV, 16.1% PP). As Brodie learns the defensive side of things, he is going to be quite the multi category threat. Giordano clearly already is and their six points together was done with a heavy majority of their point production away from that Vancouver gong show. Three Calgary defensemen had three points in Week 17 and none were Dennis Wideman. Last week was a sign of things to come.
As always you can follow me @ChrisWasselTHW and thanks again for reading. Good luck this week as the fantasy hockey world heads toward the break rapidly.
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