Hot and Cold
Welcome to Hot and Cold, the article that shines a spotlight on the latest performance trends in fantasy hockey. To start, here’s who’s hot…
Rick Nash (NYR – L) 23 points in 20 games, and currently riding a 10 game scoring streak (16 points), Nash is one of the hottest players in the NHL. Unfortunately for the Blue Shirts, a common problem appears to be rearing its head: too many top acquisitions, and not enough team chemistry. Our take: Nash and the Rangers are in danger of not being relevant come playoff time.
(FYI: the longest point-scoring streak is 51 games by Wayne Gretzky in 1983-84.)
James Neal (PIT - L) All the current talk is about Crosby and Kunitz (and deservedly so as they are the two hottest players in the NHL right now), but Neal has been hot of late too. He’s riding a four game goal-scoring streak, and has 8 points over a five game point streak. Our take: The opportunity to play with Crosby and Malkin will help define the careers of Neal and Kunitz.
Jeff Carter (LAK – C) Carter has goals in nine of the past 11 games, including a hat trick on March 4th against Nashville. He now has 17 on the year, which is good for a tie for second in the NHL. Our take: the Kings have turned things around and Carter is a big reason why. It’s just too bad that he only has two assists on the year.
Matt Duchene (COL – C) and PA Parenteau (COL – R) We speculated in the draft guide that Parenteau could have a down season, but thanks to the consistent health of Duchene (and Paul Stastny for that matter) Parenteau is out-performing his 2011-12 point/game rate. He and Duchene are red hot; they’ve combined for 14 points in their past three games! Our take: it’s clearly a bounce back season for Duchene, but this duo is in-tough to continue their current pace.
Brian Gionta (MTL - R) Gionta is playing much better of late; he's managed eight points in his last eight games (as of March 13). Gionta is the Canadiens captain, the heartbeat of the team, and it's only natural that he returns to form while the Habs sit first in the East.
And now, a special focus on defense:
Kris Letang (PIT – D) The Penguins have been scoring in bunches of late, and that’s partly due to Letang. He’s currently riding a five-game point streak in which he has 11 points – all assists. Our take: while other top D-picks may not be living up to expectations, Letang has (mostly) avoided injury, and fantasy GMs are reaping the benefits. Knock on wood…
Kimmo Timonen (PHI – D) Timonen started the season with questions surrounding his aging back, but those have been answered by his consistent play (he hasn’t missed a game) and offensive contributions. Timonen ranks second in defenseman scoring with 19 points in 27 games. Our take: Timonen probably won’t finish as high in the scoring race because players with better point-per-game averages will catch up, but GMs definitely found a sleeper when they took him on draft day.
PK Subban (MTL – D) Subban is making Habs management look bad for making him hold out. He trails only Letang and Enstrom in points-per-game by defenders, and he’s tied for the NHL lead for goals by defensemen (6). Our take: Subban is clearly everything he’s cracked up to be. Look out for his brother Malcolm, goaltending prospect for the Boston Bruins.
Slava Voynov (LAK –D) The Kings are looking like their old selves again, and it’s no coincidence that Voynov has quietly snuck into a tie for seventh amongst defensemen scorers. He has 11 points in the last 9 games. Our take: Voynov’s been an up-and-coming prospect for some time. His Cup ring and now this follow-up performance show he’s the real deal. Move over Drew Doughty (who incidentally is cold with just 10 assists and no goals on the season).
Tuuka Rask (BOS – G) Tim Thomas who? Rask leads the NHL in Wins (13, tied with Carey Price), and ranks in the top-five in nearly all major statistical categories. Our take: Rask will also rank as one of the top playoff goalie picks on the board.
Now let’s turn our attention to a group of players frustrating fantasy owners…
Jordan Eberle (EDM – R) Eberle is fast becoming the biggest bust of the 2013 campaign. Whereas last year he produced at a 0.97 point-per-game rate, this season he’s currently at 0.72 – and falling. Eberle hasn’t scored a goal in eight games. The Oilers continue to juggle their lines, and Eberle is no longer a sure thing on the number-one power play unit. Half a season remains… Our take: it’s beginning to look like 2013 will not be the expected step forward for Eberle or Edmonton.
Thomas Vanek (BUF – R) Well, well, well… As we discussed in our first “Hot and Cold” of the season, Thomas Vanek is a streaky player. He lit the league on fire to open the year, and now he has just six points in his last twelve games. Vanek is a litmus test for the entire Sabres team, which is 3-5-2 in the last ten games and second to last in the East. Our take: Vanek will get it going again, and this could be an opportunity to buy low.
Scott Hartnell (PHI – L) Hartnell is clearly a step behind this year, as evidenced by his early-season injury, his current scoring drought, and his meager four points. While his peers were playing competitively during the lockout, Hartnell was hosting charity games. Our take: Hartnell should turn it around, but it could be too little too late.
Alex Ovechkin (WAS – R) We love writing about Ovechkin in this article because he’s developed into such an unreliable player. Certainly, he’s burning fantasy GMs who took him in the first round. 20 points in 24 games isn’t bad for most players, but it’s not good enough for most Ovechkin owners. Our take: he’ll continue his streaky ways all season.
Martin Erat (NSH – R) From 0.82 points-per-game in 2011-12, to 0.54 in 2013, Erat is usually a reliable lower-tier roster spot, but not this season. Our take: the Predators are banged up, Ryan Suter is long gone, and the franchise looks poised to miss the playoffs for the first time in four years.
Dustin Byfuglien (WPG – D) Byfuglien started the season well enough (3G, 4A in the first 6 games), but conditioning appears to be catching up with him. He has just 4 points in the last 14 games! Our take: fantasy GMs might be SOL on this one… remember this photo?
Cory Schneider (VAN – G) Is Schneider the biggest bust of 2013? At goalie, quite possibly yes. Only 14 games played and six wins on the year is a big let down – he has just two wins in his last eight games. Our take: be wary of drafting incumbent number-one goalies if the old number-one is still on the roster.
There you have our Hot and Cold for March 12, 2013, login to post your thoughts and comments.