Avalanche snowed in, adjusting to bye weeks, plus more…
The Colorado Avalanche seem to have already locked up the best odds for this season’s draft lottery. There are many statistics that show how hopeless the Avalanche are, but one glaring sore spot is the power play. The Avs last scored a power-play goal on February 14 and have gone 0-22 on the man advantage since then.
This power-play futility is affecting any Avs that you own. Nathan MacKinnon has just two power-play goals all season, while Matt Duchene has only three. Duchene, by the way, was held without a point with a minus-3 in this game, which makes it six games without a point. MacKinnon is now at 14 games without any kind of goal.
First-unit power-play QB Tyson Barrie has only seven power-play points all season, which is tied for 49th among all defensemen. With overuse resulting in a minus-26, Barrie’s fantasy value has plummeted. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I had to pick him up in a trade that I made to upgrade my goaltending for my head-to-head playoff weeks. But I tell myself that it’s for only 19 more games (since it’s a non-keeper league). That’s also what Colorado players have to be telling themselves.
Here’s Colorado’s season in just one play. Blake Comeau, what are you thinking? Even my seven-year-old knows that you don’t pass the puck on a breakaway!
The only silver lining for Colorado in this 6-1 loss to Winnipeg was that a Gabriel Landeskog goal with just 16 seconds left managed to prevent Connor Hellebuyck from recording shutouts in consecutive nights. Without any rooting or fantasy interest, whether you wanted that goal to count depended on if you wanted Hellebuyck to get another shutout or if you feel sorry for the Avalanche. But suddenly Hellebuyck has reverted to a goalie that you can safely use again.
Blake Wheeler has had an awesome weekend, picking up three points in back-to-back games to go with a plus-5. Nikolaj Ehlers also had a game, scoring a goal and adding two assists to go with a plus-4. If the Jets can get this kind of scoring and the kind of goaltending that we think Hellebuyck is capable of, they could become very good very fast.
Drew Stafford made his Bruins debut on Saturday, playing on a line with Frank Vatrano and Ryan Spooner. It was a pretty good night for the newest Bruin, who assisted on Spooner’s game winner while firing seven shots on goal. Stafford also had a goal disallowed because of goalie interference. Spooner and Vatrano are underrated options, so it’s possible that this could be a sneaky good line over the last quarter of the season.
No Alexander Radulov for Montreal, no problem. The Habs won 4-1 and are now 6-2-0 under Claude Julien. But Julien gave us this mishmash of lines. Not sure what to think, but whatever works.
25.98% EV DANAULT,PHILLIP - GALLAGHER,BRENDAN - PACIORETTY,MAX
19.69% EV GALCHENYUK,ALEX - KING,DWIGHT - LEHKONEN,ARTTURI
19.29% EV BYRON,PAUL - PLEKANEC,TOMAS - SHAW,ANDREW
18.11% EV MARTINSEN,ANDREAS - MITCHELL,TORREY - OTT,STEVE
With an assist, Jack Eichel now has a nine-game point streak, scoring 12 points (2g-10a) over that span.
Nikita Kucherov recorded an assist to extend his point streak to six games. He has 14 points over that span. He also provided us with this wicked shootout goal.
With a win on Saturday, Braden Holtby has now gone 21 games without a loss, sporting a 19-0-2 record during that span.
I don’t have a lot of faith in either Stars’ goalie, but it’s worth mentioning that Kari Lehtonen stopped 41 of 42 shots in earning a win against the Panthers on Saturday. That’s also wins in three of his past four games.
If only Jonathan Huberdeau were around for the entire season. With a goal on Saturday, Huberdeau is now up to 12 points (5g-7a) in 13 games. Plan for that 60+ point breakout next season.
Patrick Kane scored two more goals, giving him nine goals in five games. That’s not that much of a surprise. Jonathan Toews scored two more points. Not a total surprise, but he’s not the bucket of acid that one of our readers referred to him as earlier this season. Toews now has multiple points in four of his last six games as the Blackhawks have won seven straight and are now in first place in the Western Conference (although Minnesota is just one point back with three games in hand).
One player who has really been a surprise is Richard Panik. He’s now a fixture on the Blackhawks’ first-unit power play, and it’s been paying dividends. After his seven-game point streak was snapped on Friday, Panik recorded two more assists on Saturday. He’s been a point-per-game player over the past month.
In a losing cause for the Predators, Viktor Arvidsson scored two more goals, bringing his season total to 23. Somewhere, Steve Laidlaw is having a drink in his honor.
With the Kings heavy favorites against the Canucks, I started Ben Bishop and I benched Ryan Miller. But that’s why they play the games. Bishop allowed four goals on 21 shots, although two of the goals seemed to go off his defensemen. Meanwhile, Miller had to make 41 saves while working through seven power plays in a 4-3 win.
So Nikolay Goldobin plays his first game, scores a goal, and receives less than six minutes of icetime? That's even less than Jayson Megna and Michael Chaput. Your team is all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Why not see what you have with this kid? Willie Desjardins’ roster deployment decisions often leave me puzzled.
We’ve reached a point where playing on the Sedin line might not be the best possible option for Canucks’ players. New Canucks’ scoring leader Bo Horvat recorded three assists, while his usual linemate Sven Baertschi scored two goals. With Alex Burrows traded, the new third member of this line was able to break out of a major slump. That player is Loui Eriksson.
If sticking the struggling Eriksson with Horvat and Baertschi works, why didn’t Desjardins try it sooner? With two assists, Eriksson snapped his nine-game pointless drought. In fact, if you go all the way back to January 20, Eriksson has only one point (a goal) in his last 17 games. Eriksson is truly one of this season’s fantasy busts and has mostly been a $6 million pylon for the Canucks. Hopefully you’ve moved on, although extended time with Horvat and Baertschi might make Eriksson fantasy relevant again.
With a goal and an assist, Connor McDavid is on a five-game point streak and is now up to 74 points and first place in the Art Ross scoring race. Yesterday I mentioned that Evgeni Malkin is third in the NHL with 1.16 points per game. McDavid is currently fourth with 1.13 points per game. This should be an interesting scoring race down the stretch, although McDavid clearly has the inside track.
From Saturday’s Ramblings, I had no idea that my short point on the records of teams coming off bye weeks would generate so much discussion. Not that I mind, though. So I might as well add my thoughts. I miss the Contrarian, so allow me to write my own mini-Contrarian below.
I think the concept of the bye week was not broadcasted very well, as it seemed to catch many fantasy owners off guard. To shed some light on what I mean, I could not find a bye week schedule on NHL.com or any of the major hockey sites. The Dobber Midseason Guide was one of the few places that I could find any sort of bye week schedule.
Perhaps next season, all will be more prepared for it. If the NHLPA’s idea of reducing the number of bye weeks to two is put into place, and the bye week schedule is split by conference, then fantasy owners will have a much easier time planning ahead and ensuring adequate coverage during those weeks.
If you play fantasy football, you may be more in tune with the concept of a bye week. You know there’s one week midseason where each player or team you draft is off, and in order to maximize your total points it’s necessary to find a replacement that week. There’s no rhyme or reason as to how the NFL’s bye weeks are scheduled, so you just have to make sure you don’t draft too many players for one particular bye week. But inside the draft room, each player’s bye week is clearly listed so that you do not have to perform outside research.
There will be fantasy hockey owners who dislike the concept of the bye week regardless of whether the process becomes more fantasy-friendly. But for most, I believe this is a change management concept where the initial reaction to any kind of change is mostly negative. Once fantasy owners know when the bye weeks are, and specifically how to manage them, they should be able to adapt to them and eventually be on board.
For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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