Thanksgiving Day has arrived in the United States so let’s FEAST on some useful hockey nuggets (bad joke alert). All jokes aside, I’d like to wish all of my friends south of the border a safe and happy holiday.
Could Jonathan Quick get Wally Pipped by Ben Scrivens? Given his extensive track record I actually wouldn’t bet on Quick losing his job, but it is interesting to note just how well Scrivens has played in his absence, albeit over a very small sample. In his seven starts as the number one netminder he has yet to lose a game in regulation (5-0-2) and has posted a GAA of 0.98 with a save percentage of .966. Without dismissing Quick’s career success to-date, let’s not forget that the Kings are routinely among the league’s best possession teams according to www.extraskater.com so the backdrops definitely sets up well for a any goaltender. If he continues to play near his current level, Scrivens can definitely carve out a reasonable share of the playing time for Los Angeles. Not bad for a guy who was a cast-off of the Maple Leafs over the summer.
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The season experienced by Chris Higgins so far presents a confounding case for me. On one hand Higgins seems to be generating more scoring opportunities than ever, as evidenced by his 86 shots on goal in just 26 games - he recorded 77 shots in 41 games last season. Conversely, his actual production - 13 points so far - doesn’t add up. I don’t know if the quality of his shots has declined, but was is most confusing to me is the fact he has yet to record even a point with the man advantage despite holding a regular spot on the second power play unit. He may not be on the ice with the Sedins very much, but he has logged over 44 minutes of 5-on-4 ice time. Those of you in shallow leagues can probably skip to the next bullet, but I like Higgins as an option in deeper formats. He’s owned in just 11 percent of Yahoo leagues, which means he’s also a bonus selection for my Bargain Bin Finds.
There is still a lot of hockey to be played this season, but barring injury, I don’t see how Alex Ovechkin doesn’t win the Rocket Richard Trophy. That’s not meant as a slight against Alexander Steen, but if he manages to match Ovie goal-for-goal the rest of the way I’ll eat my hat (Note: I won’t). A quick glance at the current goal scoring leaders reveals that the only player outside of Steen who is within seven markers of the Capitals’ forward is the fallen Steve Stamkos. In short, Ovechkin is really good. That, my friends, is what we in the business refer to as #analysis.
For anyone who believed all David Perron needed to see a boost in production was a change of scenery, well…..you were right! Sure, he’s averaging about two more minutes of ice time per game with the Oilers than he was with the Blues, which includes more premium time on the power play, but chalking up all of his success to that change ignores the improvements Perron has made on his own. Most importantly, he has more than doubled his average shot total per game (3.86 vs. 1.75) and with 18 points in 21 contests he is well on his way to besting his career high of 50 points, set in the 2008-09 season.
I have mentioned in the past how fond I am of the Coyotes’ Martin Hanzal as an underrated fantasy asset, but his linemate Radim Vrbata continues to fly under the radar despite becoming a very reliable contributor. The former seventh round pick of the Avalanche broke out in 2011-12 with 35 goals and 62 points then followed it up with 28 points in 34 contests last year, which was cut short by injury. Well, he has picked up right where he left off and has amassed 18 points in 21 games while continuing to place among the NHL’s leaders in shot on goal. As with Hanzal, the fact he plays in relative anonymity with Phoenix helps him go unnoticed, but it’s still unbelievable to me that he’s owned in just 50 percent of leagues behind lesser commodities P.A. Parenteau (84 percent) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (81 percent).
In my column five weeks ago, I urged you all to get your hands on Henrik Lundqvist if at all possible. Since that time, King Henrik has posted a mediocre 6-6-0 record, but has totaled a 1.99 GAA and a .932 save percentage. While it might not be evident in his overall numbers yet, Lundqvist is doing just fine and should be regarded in the same way as you would have prior to the season.
Bargain Bin Finds
I’ve done fairly well with my Finds this season (if I do say so myself). Let’s see if I can keep things rolling.
Derek Roy (19 percent) - His role with the Blues might be that of a power play specialist, which limits his ice time, but with the premium opportunities he does get, he should be a reliable scorer all season.
Alex Burrows (18 percent) - There’s no denying the fact he has endured a miserable 14 games since returning from injury, but his track record suggests he’ll be a useful scorer who offers a lot of help in the area of penalty minutes. He certainly can’t be this bad for the rest of the year.
Andrew Shaw (18 percent) - His 15 points in 25 games is an unspectacular yet decent total, but he’s a strong contributor in the peripheral categories. A plus-7 seven rating, 14 penalty minutes and 52 shots on goal are all useful figures in rotisserie formats. He simply gets lost in the shuffle amid the many big names in Chicago.
Nathan Gerbe (12 percent) - I have stopped waiting for him to hit the wall, as his high shot total should be enough to prop up his value. The injuries to Alexander Semin and Jeff Skinner will only serve to increase his ice time.