With less than a week remaining until the busiest news day of the hockey season, I talking a wide variety of topics in this week’s In the Crease.
I have to be honest. I’m not sure if the impressive run by Joey MacDonald
makes me more or less of a believer in Jimmy Howard
’s ability, but I’m also not sure it really matters. Whether Howard is simply a product of Detroit’s system or his success is a result of actual development, I think we’re seeing he will be very productive for as long as he’s the number one goaltender in Motown. The Red Wings are such a well-run organization that the possibility of the team floundering isn’t something I’m losing much sleep over.
In an interesting scheduling quirk, the Winnipeg Jets enjoy an eight-game home stand that spans from mid-February through the first week of March. The Jets have won the first two games in impressive fashion and fantasy players would be wise to load up on Winnipeg players for the next six. A home stand like this would be a nice opportunity for any club, but this team owns one of the more pronounced home/road splits in the league. Consider that goaltender Ondrej Pavelec
owns a 14-8-2 record on home ice with a 2.14 GAA and a .927 save percentage, but away from Manitoba that stat line falls to 8-12-4, 3.32 and .897. The same disparity exists for many of the Jets’ offensive stars, including Blake Wheeler
, who has amassed 27 points in 29 home contests with only 19 in 30 road tilts. In short, for as long as the team is enjoying home cooking, you should be getting your Jets into your lineup.
I’ve been so vocal about the fact that I prefer fantasy players who can amass penalty minutes in addition to points that I worry the readers of this column will begin submitting complaints requesting new ideas, but I have another fantastic example. Kevin Bieksa
rarely gets mentioned among the top fantasy blueliners in hockey, but after looking at his stat line I’ve come to the conclusion there are few rearguards I would rather own in a rotisserie format. With 33 points, 73 penalty minutes, 113 hits and a plus-13 rating in 59 games, the veteran adds values in all areas and can be counted on as a fixture in fantasy lineups, despite the fact he doesn’t carry the same reputation or price tag as more notable names like Brian Campbell
and Keith Yandle
With 53 points in 58 games this season, maybe it’s time to begin taking P.A. Parenteau seriously. The former ninth-round draft pick of the Ducks in 2001 spent parts of eight seasons in the American Hockey League before earning an extended call-up with the Rangers in 2009-10, but it wasn’t until the Islanders gave him an opportunity to play top-six minutes last year that he blossomed. The playmaking winger spent much of this season on a line with phenom John Tavares
, but he has played with a different trio of late and has continued his torrid pace, though he and Tavares are reunited on the power play. Normally I would be forceful in advising caution with respect to such an unproven commodity, but when I see Parenteau actually has the lowest shooting percentage of any forward with 50 points, I’m less inclined to chalk up his performance to luck. It’s hard to predict what the future might for the free agent to-be, but for the remainder of this campaign I’m confident in his ability to keep things rolling.
For those looking for help in deeper leagues, may I suggest you add Rangers center Artem Anisimov
post-haste? The lanky Russian doesn’t possess the most impressive numbers, but his statistics were dampened by a horrendous January, during which he went scoreless in 12 contests. Since the calendar has turned to February, he has gotten back on track with seven points in nine games playing alongside Marian Gaborik
and Derek Stepan
and has established significant chemistry with that group. Only his limited accumulation of penalty minutes prevents him from being an asset in shallower formats.
Does anyone out there remember the widespread panic that ensued when Jaroslav Halak
began the season with a 1-5-0 record, 3.58 GAA and .843 save percentage in six starts during the month of October? If I recall, I preached patience with the Blues netminder and those who heeded that advice have been rewarded with a 15-5-5 record since that time to go with an astounding 1.62 GAA and .938 save percentage.