NHL Hockey Column: Studs & Duds
Studs & Duds : Week Two Recap
Joining myself and this column for the foreseeable future is DobberHockey’s Eric Daoust. Eric will be contributing the Quick Hits Report, which will follow the Studs & Duds, making this contribution to Fantrax a hearty read full of noteworthy tidbits. You can find Eric on twitter @DH_EricDaoust and myself @GM_Gates.
Bottle of Marleau, Please!
If someone asked me before the season started who I thought would be leading the league with nine goals and 14 points after six games, my go-to answer would definitely not be Patrick Marleau. To date, the Sharks' forward found the back of the net in all but last night’s game (Tuesday vs. Anaheim). Note that his season opening streak included an impressive four back-to-back two goal outings, a feat that was last accomplished nearly a century ago (1917-18).
To heat things up, Joe Thornton, who notched the primary assist on five of Marleau’s goals, including two secondary assists, is sitting pretty tied at the top of the league with his partner-in-crime.
Did I miss the early Shark Week memo?
HM : Joe Pavelski looks to be filling in, and improving upon, the void left by Dany Heatley with 11 points to his name. Also Dan Boyle is among to top defensemen with six points.
Rounding out the top five in individual points thus far is Martin St. Louis (12) and Steven Stamkos. Since last Thursday, Stamkos has recorded another seven points (three goals and four assists) to sit at eleven on the season. Much like last year, propelling his play is line mate St. Louis who just doesn’t seem to age. While it is still early, Stamkos seems like the leading candidate to finish on top. Things will eventually regulate themselves, and we will see Marleau and Thornton fall from cloud nine.
The Chicago Blackhawks come crashing out of the gates with a franchise record of six consecutive wins to start the season. The way this team is playing, it does not matter who they put in net. For Fantasy owners, Corey Crawford has gone from a sketchy, low confidence starter to a must play tender. The offensive core of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp has combined for 70 shots on net. As the goals roll in, Chicago looks to be the team to beat this season.
Honorable mention: Sweet Revenge - Tastes Like… Duck?
Just six days after getting blown out of the water in a miserable 7-3 opening night loss, Cory Schneider and the Canucks returned the favor. In their second meeting of the season (of three), Vancouver shut out Anaheim 5-0. It will be an interesting tie-breaker, fittingly scheduled for Van City’s last home game of the season.
Nashville’s offence simply has no bite. They sit tied for last in goals for with ten goals in six games of play. This essentially means that Pekka Rinne has to stand on his head every single game, in order to give the Preds a chance to win. To make matters worse, Shea Weber remains tied for points with PK Subban. The difference being that Subban has yet to suit up.
On the flipside, Ryan Suter seems to have finally found some offense playing with highly skilled Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Heatley. Big difference between those three and say Mike Fisher, Sergei Kostitsyn and Martin Erat. Still, for the money Shea is making, he should be generating the offence and quarterbacking the team.
Cats Without Claws
Keeping with the theme of no “bite”, the Panthers may be showing us that last year’s division title, and playoff berth, was a fluke. Those glory days seem long gone early on. Like Nashville, Florida is tied for last in goals scored over their first half dozen games. Sadly, when Alex Kovalev is tied for second on the team in points (one goal, two assists), something is clearly wrong.
Still Hung Over
Has no one told Drew Doughty that the lockout is over and these aren’t exhibition games? Not a great start to the season from the Cup winning franchise defensemen. Five games played, no points and minus-three. Must be taking tips from Weber in that regard. The Kings top blue liner should turn the corner as the rest of the team does, but the trend of a slumping start - see last year – simply does not sit well with Fantasy poolies.
Dishonorable Mention : Phil Kessel still doesn’t have any goals, but Matt Frattin who is filling in for Joffrey Lupul, has three.
Dishonorable Mention : To the fan who threw debris on the ice, against the home team no less, as Tyler Seguin scored against Johan Hedberg in the shootout. Seguin went on to score again during the do-over, so no harm done.
One week later : Toronto’s tandem of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens stink it up, Thomas Vanek gets injured and Jaroslav Halak continues his two-face play, posting a second shutout. Go figure.
Quick Hits Report
By Eric Daoust
- Jamie Benn and PK Subban have resolved their contract disputes. It was very interesting to see the type of contracts signed for each position since the lockout ended. Benn signed a five-year deal worth just over $26 million which is similar to the eight-year, $46 million deal inked by Travis Zajac. Meanwhile, Subban signed a two-year contract that pays him $5.75 million which is in line with fellow RFA defensemen Michael Del Zotto (two years, $5.1 million) and Dmitry Kulikov (two years, $5 million).
- In recent years we have seen a number of defensemen emerge as legitimate Fantasy hockey contributors at an age that is beyond your typical prospect. Some examples include James Wisniewski, Mark Giordano, Jason Garrison and Nikita Nikitin. This year we have seen Raphael Diaz and Mike Kostka produce out of the gate.
- Diaz has seven assists in five games while benefitting from his spot on the top power play line in Montreal. Subban’s signing may put an end to this opportunity though and Diaz may be demoted to the second unit before long.
- Kostka has three points in six games to start the campaign and has looked great logging a ton of ice time in Toronto. However, his minus-seven rating sticks out like a sore thumb. As a guy with no NHL track record you have to wonder if the minuses could eventually eat into his ice time and opportunity to succeed.
- After only a handful of games we already have two players with three game-winning goals: Andrei Markov and Patrick Marleau. Many people anticipated a decline in production for both this season but so far that has not been the case.
- The elite goaltenders are off to cold starts. Henrik Lundqvist (3-3-0, 2.75, .905), Jonathan Quick (2-2-1, 2.76, .905) and Pekka Rinne (0-2-3, 2.67, .899) have all struggled and their respective teams have performed below expectations as well.
- Meanwhile, other goaltenders have led the way. Corey Crawford (5-0-0, 1.78, .933), Antti Niemi (4-0-0, 2.01, .933), Craig Anderson (4-0-1, 0.98, .967), Tuukka Rask (4-0-1, 1.74, .932), Martin Brodeur (3-0-1, 1.69, .932) and Jaroslav Halak (3-0-0, 1.69, .902) remain undefeated in regulation.
- Phoenix starting goaltender Mike Smith is out with a lower-body injury. Backup Jason LaBarbera has started three games while third-stringer Chad Johnson stopped all 21 shots he faced in his first game of the season. Look for Johnson to get more action while Smith remains on the shelf.
- Rookies are always very risky choices at the draft table in one-year leagues. This year we have seen Nail Yakupov, Alex Galchenyuk and Vladimir Tarasenko, among other freshmen, have successful starts. On the other hand, other high-profile first-year forwards Sven Baertschi, Mark Scheifele, Brandon Saad, Chris Kreider and Gustav Nyquist have yet to post a single point this year.
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