Tavares done for regular season, Neuvirth collapses, more injury news
This Saturday was an unusually light one with just eight games. It’s not common for a Sunday to be busier than a Saturday, but we have 11 games coming up today on what could be the most important day of the fantasy hockey season for some of you head-to-head leaguers.
The underlying theme of Saturday seemed to be injuries. A few players returned, but many other important players are still sidelined as we are about to enter the final week of the season.
The Islanders announced that John Tavares is week-to-week with a lower-body injury. That effectively ends Tavares’ regular season, with a strong possibility that he would miss the start of the playoffs if the Islanders were to make it in. But with no Tavares, it would take a miracle for the Isles to get in.
Tavares’ injury cements my decision to drop Josh Bailey, who has just three points over his last 11 games and loses much of whatever value he has left over if he is not skating with JT. Anders Lee’s value would also take a hit over the final week, even though Lee is only one goal shy of 30. Don’t be surprised if Josh Ho-Sang gets a longer look, which should give you all the more reason to add him if you’ve been considering the idea.
Patrice Bergeron was the scoring star for the Bruins on Saturday, scoring a pair in bolstering their playoff hopes. I’ve always thought Bergeron’s real-life game is better than his fantasy game, but he’s a fairly consistent option overall in spite of his slow start. Bergeron has now reached 20 goals in each of the last six full seasons. Because of that slow start (only 12 points in 36 games before the new year), he probably won’t reach 60 points, let alone the 68 he scored last season. Hopefully you didn’t overpay on last season’s higher-than-normal production.
If you own multiple Wild players and were counting on them on Saturday, Pekka Rinne stomped on those hopes. Rinne posted a 31-save shutout, his third of the season. Although he has been trending downward over the last couple seasons, Rinne has been strong over the last few weeks with four wins, a 1.51 goals-against average, and a .941 save percentage since March 16.
The Preds did it without James Neal, who was sidelined with an upper-body injury. Neal is normally a better option for goals than for assists, but he may not have been able to help you with assists anyway. He hasn’t recorded a helper in his last ten games.
By the way: Minnesota has only won two of its last 12 games. They could play Nashville in the first round. Possible upset here? Not that the Preds are that much worse than the Wild, but the perception earlier this season was that the Wild were one of the league’s elite teams. Maybe not so much now.
Scary moment as Michal Neuvirth collapses suddenly during a faceoff in the first period.
Neuvirth was taken to the hospital overnight, although he was alert after he collapsed. No reason was given why he collapsed, although speculation is that he has flu-like symptoms. Update: Neuvirth has been released from hospital (Sporting News).
There were questions before the game as to why Steve Mason with four consecutive wins didn’t start this game, but he turned out to be unavailable because of an illness. So third-string Anthony Stolarz took over in net and shared the 3-0 shutout win over the Devils (neither goalie receives credit for the shutout).
Mason’s status for Sunday is uncertain, so Stolarz is a possible waiver-wire pickup for Sunday’s game against the Rangers. But much more important than any fantasy hockey advice we could give you, hopefully Neuvirth is okay.
While I was reading this article by Sam Carchidi of Philly.com about Neuvirth, I came across this nugget about how the urgency of getting someone medical care has changed from a previous generation.
In a game on Feb. 8, 1972, Flyers goalie Bruce Gamble played the entire 60 minutes in a 3-1 win over Vancouver. At one point, Gamble collapsed to the ice without contact. He recovered and finished the game. He later had chest pains and was taken to the hospital and it was determined he had a heart attack during the game.
Gamble never played again.
Lost in the news on Neuvirth was the fact that Jordan Weal scored again and now has goals in four consecutive games. Playing on a line with Wayne Simmonds and newly acquired Valtteri Filppula seems to be working for him. Weal has been a point-per-game player in the AHL in both the Kings’ and Flyers’ system, so he may be a player to watch going forward.
I was hoping (praying?) that Steven Stamkos would make his long-awaited return for the Lightning tonight. I had a gut feeling that Stamkos wouldn’t be ready to return, however, when Joel Vermin was sent down to the AHL, only to be recalled a half hour later.
On my fantasy team, activating Stamkos wouldn’t cost me a player add (I have only five per week on this team). There’s also the sunk cost theory where I’d salvage a small return on investment on my second-round pick. Despite being without Stamkos for most of the season, I still managed to finish with the best record in the head-to-head league’s regular season, but I am currently down in my semifinal match. Head-to-head leagues can be brutally unfair, but my opponent was actually better than me in over half the league’s categories over the entire season. So maybe things are playing out the way they should.
Forget Stamkos or Johnson or Kucherov though. The Lightning player to own right now is Yanni Gourde, who with the Bolts’ only goal on Saturday has goals in three consecutive games. I kid, of course. Maybe Dobber will be writing about a Stamkos return in tomorrow’s Ramblings.
I was hoping that the hot Hurricanes would win big at home against a Dallas team that is out of the playoffs. But give credit where credit is due. Kari Lehtonen probably wasn’t the goalie you wanted to pin your playoff hopes on, but he got the job done on Saturday with a 25-save shutout. In fact, he’s been delivering during what amounts to garbage time for his team, posting seven wins with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage since March 1.
Getting shut out waives any advantage that the Canes held from playing five games this week. But at least Justin Faulk has done his fair share this week, scoring two goals and adding two assists with 16 shots on goal in the four games.
I usually stay away from Cam Ward, but the possibility of a win led me to adding him for this game. Although he could not earn his fourth consecutive win, Ward has now allowed just one goal in each of his last three games. If you need a goalie right now, you could probably do worse than Ward.
Mathieu Perreault continues to hold a hot stick. With the game-winning goal on Saturday, Perreault now has 12 points over his last 9 games. One of those late-season pickups who is a difference-maker right now. He’s moved from the Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler line to the Bryan Little – Patrik Laine line, but he hasn’t missed a beat.
Speaking of Laine, an update on the Calder Trophy race. With two goals and an assist on Saturday, Auston Matthews has goals in four consecutive games and an eight-game point streak. With an assist on Saturday, Laine has two points in his last eight games. In spite of Laine’s dynamic season, Matthews seems to be pulling away in the Calder Trophy race.
With his 38th, Auston Matthews now has more goals in his rookie season than Phil Kessel had in any of his years as a Leaf. 5-3 Toronto pic.twitter.com/ayDGxv3efZ
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) April 2, 2017
With two goals on Saturday, Mike Hoffman now has three consecutive 25-goal seasons and is only two points shy of his first 60-point season. With 15 points over his past 15 games and seven shots on goal in Saturday’s game, the signs are there that Hoffman should reach that mark.
The Senators’ defensive situation is one to watch. Erik Karlsson missed his second consecutive game on Saturday. Cody Ceci left Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury and won’t play on Monday. So the Sens will need to lean heavily on Dion Phaneuf for the time being. Phaneuf played 25 minutes and was a minus-2 in this game. Phaneuf has been sheltered a bit more in Ottawa because of the presence of Karlsson, so these big minutes might not be the best thing for him. Oh, and he hasn’t recorded a point in five games.
If you own Craig Anderson and/or Mike Condon (like me), you should be concerned about the blueline injuries as well. The Sens have lost each of their last four games, allowing at least three goals in each of those games. During Saturday’s game against Winnipeg, the Sens appeared at times to be pinned in their own zone. They will need to turn it around before a potential first-round series with the rookie snipers in Toronto.
Another day at the office for Connor McDavid. A goal, two assists (including an assist on Leon Draisaitl’s overtime winner) with seven shots on goal. With 94 points, he is on the verge of claiming what could be his first Art Ross Trophy. Just a wild guess, but it probably won’t be his last.
Dobber might give you his “I told you so” moment in more detail tomorrow, but Cam Talbot now has 40 wins. With a 2.37 goals-against average, a .921 save percentage and seven shutouts, Talbot might well be a top-5 goalie in fantasy this season.
John Gibson returned on Saturday. Although he did not earn a win, he looked solid in stopping 34 of 37 shots he faced. The Ducks head straight down Highway 2 for a Sunday match with the Flames, so expect Jonathan Bernier to get the nod for that game. Of course if you’re like me and you need a goalie, you’ll be checking Goalie Post for the latest starting goalie info.
Speaking of Alberta, how about an Edmonton/Calgary first-round series? As a Canucks’ fan with absolutely no rooting interest, it might be blast watching these two teams in a playoff series for the first time since Jaromir Jagr was a rookie.
For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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