Rambling about a sneaky ‘buy low’ candidate, Ullmark’s future, never doubt Big Joe, and more ...
The Midseason Guide was released last Friday, complete with analysis, second-half projections, trade speculation, KHLers to watch for this summer, the top college free agents, over 80 prospect profiles and much more. Buy it here if you haven’t already.
Calgary’s mayor (Naheed Nenshi) is clearly not a hockey fan. Not that it’s a bad thing. Or a good thing. I’m neutral on the subject. But Gary Bettman basically told him that the city would need to chip in for a new arena and if they didn’t then the billionaire ownership would leave town. He didn’t say that in so many words, but we all know the result. And Nenshi actually refused to meet with Bettman because he figured that Bettman would have nothing new to bring to the table.
He’s right. But that doesn’t mean it will be good for Calgary.
The owners don’t care. They’re not bluffing and they’re not making a threat. This is just a common sense approach, from the standpoint of a rich person. Billionaires need to make money. If that ever stops, then they’ll do something different to make money. In this case, it would mean moving the team. The only effort the NHL and the Calgary owners will do to keep the Flames in that city is float a couple of proposals to the city with little room for compromise. Can’t do it? Bye. That simple. And with the dollar the way it is, the decision becomes that much simpler. So yes, good on Nenshi for playing hardball. For standing up for Calgary’s non-hockey fans (and even some of their hockey fans). The Flames are probably on their way out, though. If Calgary’s taxpayers won’t do it, another city’s taxpayers will.
There’s one thing I know with absolute 100 percent certainty – the billionaires will continue to make money.
Brock Nelson is developing a reputation as being quite the streaky player. He’s had slumps this season of a point in eight games, and a point in nine games. His four-point game last night gives him 11 points in 13. He was clicking last night with Josh Bailey and Anders Lee, though was not on the top PP unit. Here were NYI line combos last night:
#1 24.1% GRABOVSKI,MIKHAIL - STROME,RYAN - TAVARES,JOHN
#2 19.8% BAILEY,JOSH - LEE,ANDERS - NELSON,BROCK
#3 17.1% CIZIKAS,CASEY - CLUTTERBUCK,CAL - MARTIN,MATT
#4 13.9% KULEMIN,NIKOLAY - NIELSEN,FRANS - OKPOSO,KYLE
That Tavares line has Strome back on it, which is promising for his owners. He saw his most ice time in five games and his most PP time since December 21. He had six SOG last night – previously this season he had never had five in a game. Very promising and may be worth a sneaky offer. Could pay off for you.
The Isles had 7:23 of PP time and for more than half that they either had a five-forward unit or a four-forward unit. Nick Leddy or Marek Zidlicky was out there when there was one defenseman. But I think it kind of reflects on Jack Capuano’s confidence, or lack thereof, that the puck-moving blueliners can get it done.
For John Tavares, he picked up his first point in four games.
It’s gotten to the point now where if I see Pittsburgh is playing then I’m ready to bet on Kris Letang to pick up a point or two. He scored last night giving him points in six of his last eight and 12 points in that span.
Elias Lindholm has six points in his last three games. Remember, he had one point in 16 games to start the season. Did you pick him up for cheap? He has 20 in his last 28. That entire line is on fire right now actually – Kris Versteeg has five in his last three, Eric Staal has four.
Cam Ward since December 19:
5-2-1, 1.73 GAA and 0.935 SV%
Well somebody wants that next contract! He’s doing this just in time to salvage a season and, let’s face it, his career as a starter. Then again, he’s also doing this in time to pad his value for Carolina. Trade Deadline is March 2 and that’s just over six weeks away.
Robby Fabbri owners were excited last night when he started the game on the Vladimir Tarasenko line. But by the third period he was on a new line with Ty Rattie and David Backes. Fabbri assisted on Rattie’s first career NHL goal, so maybe there’s something to that line after all. We’ve been waiting a long time for Rattie…
Replacing the injured Jake Allen, Brian Elliott has the following numbers in his three games: 2-0-1, 1.84 GAA and 0.936 SV%. So yeah, a solid replacement. Just last week I was saying that he was useless in leagues unless Allen got hurt. I think that put a curse on Allen, who is now “week to week”. It probably happened too late for Elliott to have a 25-win season, but now 20 should be attainable.
Okay, Bobby Farnham has my attention now when it comes to multi-cat leagues. Not only is he good for two PIM per game, but he scored his seventh goal of the season last night. That would place him fifth on Pittsburgh, the team that waived him in October.
That being said, maybe wait until he returns from a possible suspension for this:
Adam Larsson’s two assists last night gives him 10 points on the season. That’s just one back of Damon Severson for the team lead in points among defensemen. He’s sixth among team defensemen in power-play time. I’ll just leave that with you.
So Linus Ullmark got another start after all. He stopped 28 of 30, meaning his last two NHL starts (assuming he gets sent down) he stopped 70 of 74. A worthy gamble in keeper leagues because what you’re gambling on is Robin Lehner’s health. And I’ll take that bet any day. For the same reason I liked Louis Domingue in the summer (Mike Smith’s fragility), I like Ullmark’s future. I was a big Andrey Makarov backer, but Ullmark has clearly stepped on his head on the way up the prospect ladder.
Joe Thornton has 16 points in his last 11 games and points in 10 of those 11. Good ol’ reliable Joe. You didn’t think he was washed up, did you? His age and his 16-points-in-30 games start had you worried?
Alex Stalock got his first win since November 22. Granted, he’s only played five games since then, and it’s kinda hard to win when you come into games so cold. As solid as Martin Jones has been for poolies in certain leagues, his win total is genuinely beefed up by the fact that he’s played a crapload of games. His 0.912 SV% is barely ahead of Ramo and Varlamov – goalies who poolies complain about a lot. And he’s actually behind Frederik Andersen. No goalie has garnered more complaints in fantasy hockey this year than Andersen.
Waiver thought – Chris Tierney has points in three straight now. The caveat to that is he’s stuck on the fourth line right now. But for the most part this season he’s been on a decent third line.
Pekka Rinne, since November 20th: 6-12-3, 2.79 GAA and 0.893 SV%
Chicago rookie defenseman Erik Gustafsson has seven points in 14 games this season. But he also has points in three straight and is starting to see a reasonable amount of power-play time. The 23-year-old is one to watch.
So have the Triplets awakened? Maybe. But not together. Here were Tampa’s line combos:
#1 25.3% CALLAHAN,RYAN - FILPPULA,VALTTERI - PAQUETTE,CEDRIC
#2 24.2% NAMESTNIKOV,VLADISLAV - PALAT,ONDREJ - STAMKOS,STEVEN
#3 22% JOHNSON,TYLER - KILLORN,ALEX - KUCHEROV,NIKITA
#4 7% BOYLE,BRIAN - BROWN,J.T. - PAQUETTE,CEDRIC
But it’s Vladislav Namestnikov owners who should be excited. Another two points for him, and five in his last three games (and plus-7). He’s proving he can keep up and deserves a permanent top-six spot. This doesn’t bode well for Ryan Callahan or Valtteri Filppula owners. I think they’ve lost any top-six job for good, barring injuries.
A four-point game for Oliver Ekman-Larsson last night gives him 32 points and puts him a tie for fourth among defensemen. He leads the top-nine defensemen scorers in PIM and he’s second in PPG. Tops in GWG with six. One could make the argument that he has now taken over as best multi-category defenseman in the league this year.
After three points in 11 games we were just about ready to write Max Domi off. But he scored a hat trick last night. Leave it to the Oilers to help solve player slumps.
With three points last night, Jordan Eberle has 10 in his last eight games. So he’s coming around just 10 days or so before the McKid returns…
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