Bringing in Brock Boeser, hot Hurricanes, Marchessault magic, plus more…
I had all but given up on the Canucks for fantasy purposes, dropping both Bo Horvat (goalless in last eight games) and Ryan Miller (3.29 GAA and .908 SV% over February and March) from one of my teams. But a glimmer of hope arrived suddenly on Saturday morning in the form of Brock Boeser. Knowing Willie Desjardins, I had assumed that Boeser would be stuck on the fourth line with limited minutes. Instead, he was installed on the second line (and some would even call the first line) with Horvat and Sven Baertschi.
Although Boeser was held to 12:44 overall, he scored his first NHL goal in front of family and friends in Minnesota, while also taking four shots on goal and dishing three hits. On the statsheet, however, Boeser’s performance was surpassed by Reid Boucher, who scored two goals. Boucher now has three goals in his last three games and is even receiving power-play time with the trade and injury-gutted Canucks. Horvat recorded two assists of his own, but he has now gone nine games without a goal since scoring his 20th.
With the Canucks mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, there’s no reason for Willie D not to play Boeser. If the Canucks weren’t an empty nothingness of fantasy value, I’d recommend a Boeser pickup in most leagues. But keeper leaguers should already be ready to pounce on him once he enters the player pool (his entrance was so unexpected, neither Yahoo nor CBS have him in their player pool at the time of writing). Boeser is number one on an ever-improving Canucks’ list at Dobber Prospects, while he was also #8 on Craig Button’s recent list of the top players not playing in the NHL.
Not enough Boeser coverage? You can read more over in today's Prospects Ramblings.
After sitting on top of the Western Conference for much of the season, the Wild have fallen off, having lost nine of their past 11 games. Yet Eric Staal hasn’t slowed down, scoring his 25th goal on Saturday. That gives him nine points over his last nine games and eight goals over his last 12 games. Also his first 25-goal season since 2010-11, when he scored 33 with Carolina. Bounce-back player of the year in fantasy hockey?
Maybe not, because we have to talk about Sergei Bobrovsky. The Jackets’ netminder posted his seventh shutout of the season and is the first goalie to reach 40 wins this season. With an 8-0-1 record and four shutouts over his past nine games, he is not slowing down either. Since the Jackets are battling for first in the Metro Division (which would mean avoiding a matchup with either the Penguins or Capitals in the first round, what a reward), Bob probably won’t be rested much over the final two weeks of the regular season. Keep starting him – he’s winning people fantasy leagues right now.
Also for the Blue Jackets, Alexander Wennberg scored his first goal since (scrolls down, way down) February 26 – a span of a month. Wennberg entered this game with just two assists in his last 13 games, which has gotten him dropped to about 50 percent ownership in Yahoo leagues. Now that the market correction has done some damage, Wennberg should be able to put up points again. But he doesn’t provide enough in peripherals for me to reach out and grab him in one league where he was dropped several days ago.
I’m all in on the Hurricanes right now. They’ve won five of their past six games and have earned points in each of their last ten games. And guess what? There’s another five-game week for Carolina next week! A five-game week for a team is rare. But two five-game weeks in three weeks is unprecedented. Three of those five opponents next week (Detroit twice, Dallas) are non-playoff teams. Lots to like both schedule-wise and with specific players.
Sebastian Aho scored another two goals on Saturday, giving him eight points in his last six games. Elias Lindholm picked up another assist, which gives him a ten-game point streak. I featured Lindholm in my Sportsnet waiver-wire piece this week, but you could just as well add Aho, who is still available in over 60 percent of Yahoo leagues. Lindholm might be the sneaky better pick, since he has played fewer games and a better point/game average. But if you need goals, Aho and his 23 tallies is your man.
Jaccob Slavin won’t record another hat trick as he did at the start of the first five-game week. But if you need another blueliner, here’s your chance.
I “might” even be persuaded to pick up a Hurricanes’ goalie right now. That goalie would be Eddie Lack, who seems to have turned his game around since that tongue-lashing from Bill Peters. Since March 5 Lack has won five of his six starts with a 1.34 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage. Sometimes you just have to throw away the earlier numbers and go with the hot hand. Direct criticism can demotivate some people, but in Lack’s case he seems to have taken it as a personal challenge.
Jonathan Marchessault might be regarded as an early-season hot shooter. But on Saturday he recorded a natural hat trick, putting him up to 28 goals on the season. And when Marchessault is hot, he seems to be sizzling. He’s scored five goals with a plus-5 over his last two games. If you go back nine games, he also has nine goals. All of this while averaging no more than about 15 minutes a night over that stretch. Not bad for a player who is on the verge of reaching 30 goals.
The Panthers key to your fantasy squad likely put up points in their unexpected 7-0 rout of the Western Conference-leading Blackhawks. Jonathan Huberdeau scored a goal and added three assists, while Aleksander Barkov scored a goal and added two assists. In yesterday’s Ramblings, Steve answered a question about players who will score less than 55 points this season but could score more than 65 points next season. Huberdeau and Barkov stand out at the top of that list.
James Reimer posted the shutout for the Panthers. He’d gone through a stretch earlier this month of seven games without a win. But he’s now won three of his last four starts and allowed just one goal over his past two games.
— SiriusXM NHL Network (@SiriusXMNHL) March 26, 2017
Regardless of how this all turns out, seeing Andersen get hurt in preseason and having their backup plan be "I dunno. Enroth?" wasn't smart.
— Steve Dangle Glynn (@Steve_Dangle) March 26, 2017
Well, now that goalie is career backup Curtis McElhinney, so the Leafs were obviously going Andersen or bust. The fact that Mike Babcock would not offer much of an update and that Andersen could have been removed for a possible concussion isn’t good. Fantasy owners who were planning to rely on Andersen next week will need to search for another option, which might not be from the Leafs. Hopefully you weren’t planning to go into next week with Andersen and Tuukka Rask as your goaltenders.
The Sharks’ night went much like the Leafs’ night: A crushing loss to go with an injury to a key player. For the backsliding Sharks, it was Logan Couture who left Saturday’s game after taking a puck to his face. Here’s the footage.
— Brodie Brazil (@brodiebrazilCSN) March 26, 2017
Couture went straight to the dressing room, then the hospital, so it’s anybody’s guess as to whether Couture misses time.
Martin Jones allowed the seven-spot on Saturday. His goals-against average has risen and his save percentage has dropped every month from November on (from 1.96/.924 to 2.24/.916 to 2.55/.911 to 2.59/.908 to 2.76/.899 this month). It’s hard to trade a goalie who has logged as many starts as Jones has, but with my perfect hindsight I can tell you that Jones was a sell high during the first half of the season.
One of the Predators that did the damage was Craig Smith, who had three assists. Smith was a late-round pick on one of my deep league teams, but he was quickly discarded. If you were like me, you may be interested to know that Smith has six helpers over his last three games. Linemate Colin Wilson has five helpers over his past two games, while Colton Sissons has three goals over his last two games. There’s a hot line for you that is flying under the radar.
Andrei Markov had a day on Saturday, scoring two goals and adding an assist. He was long overdue for a goal, let alone two. Markov had not scored a goal since February 18, a span of 15 games without a goal.
Mark Stone returned to the Senators’ lineup after missing the past seven games with leg injury. He was held without a point.
Riley Nash scored two goals on Saturday, giving him two points in back-to-back games. It’s unlikely that anyone reading this owns him, but it’s worth mentioning.
It seems like everyone is talking about the exploits of Connor McDavid, and for good reason. But it also seems like no one is talking about the season that Leon Draisaitl is having. With his 27th goal, Draisaitl scored his 70th point of the season, which puts him in the top 10 in NHL scoring. That jump in the scoring race is due to a recent seven-game point streak. Actually, Draisaitl had a six-game streak snapped on Saturday: six games with at least two points each.
Drake Caggiula received a nice reward on Saturday: playing alongside McDavid and Draisaitl for a brief time. Caggiula scored a goal and added an assist. Normally that’s Patrick Maroon’s gig, but Maroon left the game briefly after taking a cross-check from Francois Beauchemin.
With Cam Talbot being yanked in each of his last two starts, Todd McLellan decided to give Laurent Brossoit the start against the lowly Avalanche. Brossoit was the game’s first star, stopping 24 of 25 shots in a win against the lowly Avalanche. Brossoit has played only six games this season, but he’s impressed during his brief time (2.26 GAA, .928 SV%). Consider him an underrated backup goalie option.
Speaking of the Avalanche, I can’t find the video anywhere, but Nathan MacKinnon sure looked downtrodden when discussing the Avalanche’s season during an intermission interview. He let out a big sigh right after Scott Oake asked him that question. He’s only 21 years old, but it looked like all the losing has sucked the life out of him. You begin to wonder if this will affect his confidence going forward.
Finally, not related to fantasy hockey, but the video that was played tonight before the Tuscon Roadrunners’ game on Craig Cunningham night. You might need a tissue or two. Having watched Cunningham in the WHL, and watching a family member recently lose part of his leg as a result of complications from a kidney transplant, this hits home for me. I wish nothing but the best for Cunny.
— Tucson Roadrunners (@RoadrunnersAHL) March 26, 2017
For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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