Saturday, February 7, 2015

Blues' top line is scoring, and shutting down scorers


ST. LOUIS -- Once St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock went back to an old reliable forward line, it was a matter of time before it would begin to click on all cylinders.


The Blues' top line of Alexander Steen, David Backes and T.J. Oshie has put together quite the offensive run in recent weeks.


Since the Blues' post-Christmas schedule, Steen, Backes and Oshie have been on the scoresheet on a regular basis, and the Blues are accruing points at a rapid pace.


The Blues (34-14-4), who host the Chicago Blackhawks (32-18-2) Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET; NBC, SN360), have received 65 points (33 at even-strength with all three players on the ice) in 18 games from the line, an average of 3.6 per game.


When dissecting what Steen, Backes and Oshie have meant to the Blues, consider the balance they're putting forth. Not only are they producing points consistently, which is difficult in itself, they're asked to shut down or neutralize the opposition's top line.


Although things didn't go accordingly in a 7-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday that ended a Blues-record 13-game point streak (12-0-1), the group was rock solid in the previous 17 games.


It's a safe bet that they will draw Chicago's top line of Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad.


The players Steen, Backes and Oshie have faced, and what they accomplished against them in even-strength situations is impressive.


Here is the breakdown:


Dec. 27 vs. Dallas, held the Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Colton Sceviour line to zero points.


Dec. 29 vs. Colorado, held the Maxime Talbot - Matt Duchene - Nathan MacKinnon line to zero points.


Dec. 30 at Nashville, held the Filip Forsberg - Mike Ribeiro - Craig Smith line to zero points.


Jan. 2 at Anaheim, held the Devante Smith-Pelly - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry line to zero points.


Jan. 3 at San Jose, held the Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels line to zero points.


Jan. 6 at Arizona, held the Mikkel Boedker - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan line to zero points.


Jan. 8 vs. San Jose, held the Melker Karlsson - Logan Couture - Joe Pavelski line to one goal.


Jan. 10 vs. Carolina, held the Eric Staal - Jordan Staal - Elias Lindholm line to one goal.


Jan. 13 vs. Edmonton, held the Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle line to zero points.


Jan. 15 vs. Detroit, held the Henrik Zetterberg - Pavel Datsyuk - Justin Abdelkader line to zero points.


Jan. 17 vs. Toronto, held the James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel line to zero points.


Jan. 19 vs. Colorado, held the Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Jarome Iginla line to zero points.


Jan. 29 vs. Nashville, held the Forsberg - Ribeiro - Smith line to zero points (although the line scored a goal without them on the ice).


Jan. 30 at Carolina, held the E. Staal - J. Staal - Jiri Tlusty line to zero points.


Feb. 1 at Washington, held the Alex Ovechkin - Niklas Backstrom - Jay Beagle line to zero points through first half of game before Backes was ejected for a boarding major.


Feb. 3 vs. Tampa Bay, held the Valtteri Filppula - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Callahan line to zero points.


Feb. 5 at Buffalo, held the Chris Stewart - Zemgus Girgensons - Tyler Ennis line to zero points.


So in the 17 games prior to Friday, not only had the line produced 65 points in all situations and helped St. Louis to the best plus-minus differential in the NHL (plus-38 along with Chicago), but it held opponents' top lines to a total of two goals in those 17 prior to Friday, and without a point in 15 of 18 games.


"You want to outwork the other line anyway; it doesn't matter who it is," said Steen, who has 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) in the past 18 games. "Lately, I think we've been working hard, that's been the key. All three of us have been down low in our zone, been down low first guy on the forecheck in their zone. It's been a pleasure playing with those two."


The chemistry and camaraderie is quite evident when they step on the ice. It's been a combination that's worked in the past, and Hitchcock finally said enough was enough with trying them with different components. It's best to leave what's best alone.


"They have to be productive," Hitchcock said. "They don't have to check the other team, they've got to outplay the other line. That's the risk. When you put three good players like that together that's the risk: You've got to win. You've got to win that [matchup] because if they just check the opposition and draw even, it doesn't help us.


"They're good players that play the game the right way. They trust their checking, and when you trust your checking and you've got good players who can finish, hopefully you're going to end up on the right side of things. When we put these three guys together, they've got to buy into that and they've pretty much bought into it."


When players who lead by example are going in the right direction, it's hard for the rest of the team not to follow suit.


"They step up," Blues defensemen Alex Pietrangelo said of the group. "They’re the leaders of this team up front for a reason. They step up on big occasions. When we need them to score a goal or make a defensive play, they’re always there for us."


It's safe to say better defense leads to more offense, and the three have grasped that concept in the past five weeks.


"I don't think they were checking (earlier in the season)," Hitchcock said. "I think they were wrapped up in trying to create offense because that's kind of what we were trying ... we spent too much time talking about offense. They were trying to help the team by trying to score more, and in the end we were getting less. Then when they started to manage the game properly, they're a terrific line when they play predictable to each other. They look faster when they play that way, they are faster, and you've got to have a real disciplined group of five to play against them because they're willing to work for that one good chance and not give you very much in the meantime."



David Backes



Center - STL


GOALS: 17 | ASST: 19 | PTS: 36

SOG: 123 | +/-: 3



Backes has 21 of his 36 points (nine goals, 12 assists) and Oshie has 21 of his 33 points (nine goals, 12 assists) during this stretch.

"I think we were maybe satisfied with trying to play a defensive role and just sit on our heels and try to check someone off the scoresheet rather than putting up numbers ourselves," Backes said. "We've gotten back to playing defense by playing in the offensive zone, keeping people on their heels by being a threat, and that's really been effective for us."


Putting the band back together was obviously best for all parties.


"I just think we're really playing unselfish," Oshie said. "... We weren't playing together (early in the season), but I feel like before, we were over-backchecking, we were over-forechecking, we were trying to make too many plays. It was getting a little frustrating. [Steen] was still doing a pretty good job, but me and [Backes] just weren't really getting the offense. I think lately, once we got back together, we got back to the little things. When the other two guys are doing the little things right, it makes the game a lot easier, you don't get as tired, it's not as much backchecking."


There's a good sense that the Blues, who are 12-1-1 in the past 14 games, know when the trio decides it can and will take over a game.


"My feeling is, with their work ethic, if they stay with it, it's going to turn out fine," Hitchcock said. "As long as they stay with it. Then at the end of the day, we all get rewarded. The team gets rewarded and they get their personal rewards, which is necessary. ... These guys are productive players that just have to outplay the other team's top group."


Recently, that's exactly what the Blues have received.


"I think we just work hard and read off each other," said Steen, who has 44 points in 49 games, "and the rest kind of takes care of itself."



Oilers doctor leading World's Longest Hockey Game


The longest game in the history of the NHL lasted more than 176 minutes, and ended when the Detroit Red Wings' Mud Brunteau scored in the sixth overtime to beat the Montreal Canadiens in a Stanley Cup Playoff game March 24, 1936.


That's just a warm-up compared to what Dr. Brent Saik and his friends are doing.


On Feb. 6, Saik was one of 40 players to start the fifth World's Longest Hockey Game, an event that raises money for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. All proceeds go toward purchasing a piece of equipment for the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton.


"I had done numerous, numerous fund-raiser events for cancer research for children," Saik, the Edmonton Oilers' optometrist, told NHL.com after coming off the ice Friday from his first four-hour shift. "[My father] told me, 'Make sure that no kids ever go into this hospital.'"


Saik didn't grow up playing hockey; he was a baseball player. But after buying some land in Alberta and losing his father Terry to cancer, Saik made a promise to do whatever he could help fight the disease.


Out of that, the World's Longest Hockey Game was born.


Saik and his friends would play for hours in a backyard rink he had built. But after seeing on the news that the record for the world's longest hockey game had been set at 24 hours, he thought he and his friends could break it. Saik said the discussion then turned toward why they should play the game, and what purpose it would serve.


In 2003 Saik was part of a group that played an 82-hour game, which raised $80,000. This year's game began Feb. 6 and will run through Feb. 16; it's slated to last for 250 hours. The first four games Saik organized raised a combined total of more than $2 million.


The mechanics of the game are unique to achieving the collective goal. Shifts are four hours, the longest permitted by the Guinness Book of World Records. And part of Guinness' rules state that players cannot leave the site where the rink is, so Saik helped build a brand new facility, equipped with a locker room, training room, space for the players to relax (and sleep) when they're not on the ice, and of course, the rink itself.


"Physically it sounds and it feels impossible," said Jouni Nieminen, one of five players to skate in all five of Saik's games. "The first two or three days are usually pure hell. Somehow your body gets used to it, which I could never understand.


"It's incredible how goalies do it. It's terribly cold up here in Alberta. Some of the goalies, I know they have problems by day two or three; we have to carry them downstairs to sleep. By day 9, they're running up."


Saik said the temperature for puck drop this year was about minus-30 degrees Celsius (minus-22 Fahrenheit). And just like when the idea was conceived in his backyard, they still play on an outdoor rink, Saiker's Acres in Sherwood Park, Alberta.


"You want to make the puck do the work," said Nieminen. "Other than that, you kind of get to learn how the guys you were with most of the time, how they play. Who are the skaters, who are the shooters and who are the passers."


One player who sticks out a bit this time around is Janne Niinimaa, who spent six of his 10 NHL seasons playing with the Edmonton Oilers.


"He was so excited to be able to come back here and be able to do this," Saik said. "He did a little speech [Thursday] that was pretty cool. He just said, 'If you don't mind me talking … I was an NHL hockey player, and this is going to be one of the best games I've ever played in.'"


Saik and Niemenen both said every player at the event had a story and a reason for participating in the game. After organizing the first event, Saik's wife Susan was diagnosed with cancer, which eventually led to her death. The second game, played in 2005, was dedicated to her.


"When people come to play here it's because they're playing for loved ones," Saik said. "When you're down, you're in the blue, every single player in every single game has always cried at some point, at least once; usually 10 times.


"It's a beautiful, beautiful room where people can tell their stories. And you just humble yourself, and realize how important life is, and what's important."


To learn more about the World Longest Hockey Game, or to donate, visit http://bit.ly/1A064NP.


---



Bruins' Chara using time away to invest in future


Most NHL players will set their sole focus on getting healthy when they're out with an injury.


Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara isn't like most NHL players, and not only because he's the tallest ever at 6-foot-9.


The Boston Globe reported Saturday that Chara, 37, has become licensed to sell real estate in Massachusetts.


Chara tore a ligament in his left knee Oct. 23; rather than lie around between daily rehab sessions each day, he enrolled in a real estate program. He passed his licensing exam during the NHL All-Star break last month and received his license that day.


"I like to keep as many doors open as possible for the future," Chara said, according to the Globe. "I just felt that while I was obviously not traveling as much with the team, I had so much time, especially early into my rehab, I decided to take some courses and I ended up going for the [exam]."


Chara has been productive since returning to the lineup Dec. 11; he leads the Bruins in average ice time per game at 22:52, and in 32 games he has 13 points and a plus-3 rating entering the Bruins' game Saturday against the New York Islanders (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, FX-CA).


While his contract with the Bruins runs through the 2017-18 season, it's never too soon to plan for life after hockey.


"It's something that's very useful with what's going on with the market," Chara said of the real-estate license.


Education is something Chara places great emphasis on. The native of Trencin, Slovakia speaks six languages; he also took financial-planning classes at Algonquin College in Ottawa during his time with the Ottawa Senators.


"We have so much free time while we travel on buses and airplanes, and I just don't want to spend all the time just playing games or watching movies or playing cards," Chara told the Globe.



Friday, February 6, 2015

Analysis: Rangers would be wise to seek goalie help


The New York Rangers have two questions to answer in the wake of Henrik Lundqvist's vascular injury that will sideline the goalie for at least three weeks.


1) Do they think Cam Talbot can be a No. 1 goalie without a reliable backup until Lundqvist returns?



LUNDQVIST INJURY



Lundqvist to miss at least three weeks


NHL.com

New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will miss at least three weeks with a vascular injury sustained Jan. 31 against the Carolina Hurricanes. READ MORE ›



If Lundqvist is out for three weeks he'll miss at least 12 games, including the one he missed Wednesday. The Rangers have two sets of back-to-backs in that timeframe.


2) Do they need to acquire a veteran goalie to work in tandem with Talbot until Lundqvist is able to return, provided he is able to return this season?


The Rangers basically admitted Friday they're not 100 percent certain on the three-week timetable. The statement they released left open the possibility Lundqvist will be out longer.


"Henrik will remain sidelined at least three weeks, until he is reevaluated and we have completed the process of conferring with the medical experts," the Rangers said in the statement.


What we know is the Rangers will play the Nashville Predators on Saturday with Talbot as their No. 1 and Mackenzie Skapski as his backup. They went with that lineup on an emergency basis Wednesday, when Talbot made 18 saves in a 3-2 win against the Boston Bruins.


This is not an emergency situation for the Rangers anymore. It's actually quite similar to what the St. Louis Blues faced earlier this season when Brian Elliott went down with an injury on Nov. 25.


The Blues didn't want to give all the reps to rookie Jake Allen and have him backed up with an American Hockey League goalie, so they signed Martin Brodeur to help carry them until Elliott could return.


Once Elliott was back, he resumed his job as the No. 1 goalie, Allen went back to No. 2, and Brodeur retired.


Talbot is similar to Allen in that he has been effective but in a limited role. He has started more than two consecutive NHL games once. He has appeared in 33 games dating to last season. Allen had 23 NHL appearances when Elliott was injured.


The Rangers, like the Blues, don't appear enamored by what they have ready and available to them in the AHL.


Skapski has never appeared in an NHL game, but he was recalled over Yann Danis, who has 53 games of NHL experience. Danis hasn't played in an NHL game in nearly two years (March 10, 2013), and his numbers in Hartford aren't all that impressive (2.69 GAA and .915 save percentage in 17 appearances).


If the Rangers choose to stand pat and give all the reps to Talbot with either Skapski or Danis as his backup, it's because they have built an eight-point cushion in the standings for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot and believe Lundqvist won't be out any longer than three weeks.


If the Rangers stand pat, it could be because the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline isn't until March 2, which falls after the three-week timetable. That gives them time to wait and see if Lundqvist is going to be out for the projected time or longer.


Waiting is risky. What if the Rangers wait and it becomes clear that three weeks is going to turn into three months, or longer, and the goalies who are available in a trade now are no longer available when they want to act? What if the Rangers wait and Talbot falters in these next 12 games? Teams will know the Rangers are in a bind and will drive up the price in trades.


Talbot might be able to handle the job as the No. 1 goalie, and Lundqvist might be out three weeks, but the Rangers wouldn't be protecting themselves by waiting.


There are options available to them if they choose the trade market.


Buffalo Sabres goalies Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth and Edmonton Oilers goalie Viktor Fasth fit the bill for what the Rangers need, which is an experienced goalie playing on an expiring contract that includes a reasonable NHL salary-cap charge.


It's unclear what any of them would cost in terms of assets in a trade because the market for goalies at this time of the year is fluid, but all three appear to be available.


Enroth is the best option because of his $1.25 million salary-cap charge. Neuvirth's cap charge is $2.5 million, and Fasth's is $2.9 million.


Washington Capitals goalie Justin Peters could be an attractive option, but he's signed through next season.


Evgeni Nabokov was recently waived by the Tampa Bay Lightning, but the question with him is does he have enough left to be an injury replacement even if it means starting only a few games?


Regardless of how the Rangers feel about Talbot, there is no guarantee the answer to question No. 1 is "Yes," and there is no guarantee Lundqvist will be back in three weeks. The Rangers would be better off protecting themselves by saying "Yes" to question No. 2 and acting quickly to address it.


---



Maple Leafs prospect Brown leads Marlies in scoring


In another life, Connor Brown might have had a successful career in the financial world. Maybe on the front lines of Wall Street, or tucked away somewhere in a private firm. Math was kind of his thing in high school.


But hockey, like it does for many, had other ideas. Taken in the sixth round (No. 156) of the 2012 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Etobicoke, Ontario, native got a chance to realize a dream every little kid playing hockey has: throwing on your hometown sweater.


"My whole family are pretty big Leafs fans so getting drafted here was just an added bonus to a special feeling on draft day," Brown said. "A couple buddies of mine that were there texted me first, and then I eventually saw my name on the ticker. We just watched it on TV."


Now halfway through his first season with the Maple Leafs' American Hockey League affiliate, the neighboring Toronto Marlies, the 21-year-old still has an affinity for numbers. He leads the Marlies in goals (12), assists (21), points (33), and shots on goal (85), while his point total places him four behind Hamilton's Charles Hudon for the AHL rookie lead.


"I had questions at the start of the season whether he'd be a player that could come in and be an impact player," Marlies coach Gord Dineen said. "Being a younger guy and not real big in stature, I just thought it would be a real big adjustment. But he has erased all doubts in my mind as to his capabilities."


Brown got on the map where many players do, skating in the Ontario Hockey League. Though his 250 points in 199 career regular-season games with Erie was nothing short of impressive -- including a scoring title and the league's most outstanding player award in 2013-14 -- Brown's formative years in Toronto's youth hockey ranks with the 1994-born squad of the Toronto Marlboros hold a special meaning as well.


On that team, Brown played alongside fellow 2012 draft picks Scott Laughton (No. 20, Philadelphia Flyers), Scott Kosmachuk (No. 70, Winnipeg Jets), Matia Marcantuoni (No. 92, Pittsburgh Penguins), Jake Paterson (No. 80, Detroit Red Wings), and Adam Pelech (No. 65, New York Islanders). The seventh member of that core was Matt Finn, Toronto's second-round pick (No. 35) in 2012, who Brown continues to have by his side with the Marlies.


"Me and Finner played together first when we were 5 years old all the way up to our OHL draft year," Brown said. "We were obviously drafted to different teams in the 'O,' but to both be drafted to Toronto in 2012, that was pretty special to go through something that cool with a good friend."


One of the biggest adjustments for young players making the move to professional hockey is the necessity of playing a two-way game. Brown's coach in Erie, Kris Knoblauch, urged his players to play a responsible game, something that continues to be echoed throughout Dineen's staff in Toronto.


"I'm a very competitive hockey player and I truly want to win night in and night out," Brown said. "I think I try to do whatever I can to help us win and have a good understanding of how much defense helps you win."


The focus on rounding out his defensive game while not allowing his offense to slip has worked, as Brown's plus-10 rating is good for third on the Marlies. He's had six multipoint games, providing some spark to a Toronto team that ranks 28th in the league in goals per game. His commitment to growing as a player and leaving everything on the ice hasn't gone unnoticed by Marlies brass.


"He loves the game and is totally engaged every day as far as developing and getting better. He's just a hungry, hungry player," Dineen said. "Everything that he does is to benefit the team. He is a guy that wants the puck. He wants it offensively, and when he doesn't have the puck, he is very hungry to get it back."


The Toronto setup continues to be one of the more favorable developmental systems in the league. Not only do they learn how to be a pro on the ice, players also figure out how to carry themselves with fans and media, and how to navigate the ebbs and flows of the locker room. With the Maple Leafs just a nine-minute drive away, the Marlies get a continuous firsthand glimpse into what awaits on the other side of the recall.


"You know exactly what's going on with their team up there, so guys that are called up, they kind of know what they're getting into," Brown said. "It's definitely cool. Part of the game is preparing for the media side of everything, and already being in Toronto definitely makes it that much easier to get ready for it."


Forty-four games in, things keep moving smoothly for the wing. With his childhood home just 15 minutes away from Ricoh Coliseum, Brown forwent living on his own in favor of living at home, giving a nod to his parents as pretty easy to live with. But he hasn't lost sight of the end goal.


"I'm working on extending my possession in the offensive zone, which I think I've gotten better and better at," he said. "You just try to trend in the right direction and try to get better every day."


For the latest news, scores and stats from around the American Hockey League, visit theahl.com .



Hot fantasy topics: The value of the empty-net goal


Here's a look at three of the hottest topics in fantasy hockey right now.


1. Empty-net goals


Empty-net goals count just as much as Vladimir Tarasenko's gorgeous goal back on Nov. 3. Every goal carries the same value in fantasy hockey. And while empty-net goals might not occur in every game, there are certain players who have the chance to record either an empty-net goal or assist on one more than others. These players are typically the ones trusted by their coaches who are out there for the final minute of ice time in a close game in which the goalie is pulled.


If you look at the table below on the left, you'll see a list of forwards that are on the ice most with the opposing team's goalie pulled over the past three seasons, according to war-on-ice.com. Meaning, these guys are on the ice the most when facing an empty net. While it won't always translate to getting an empty-net goal (and it hasn't in some cases), they have been given more opportunities to get one than other players in the past three years.


The table below on the right displays a list of forwards that have produced the most points while the opposing team's goalie is pulled over the past three seasons, according to war-on-ice.com.







































































TIME ON ICE WITH OPPOSING GOALIE PULLED
Since 2012-13
FORWARDTEAMTIME ON ICE
Ryan Getzlaf ANA48.5 min.
Patrice Bergeron BOS47.5 min.
Kyle Brodziak MIN43.2 min.
Claude Giroux PHI42.8 min.
Brian Boyle NYR/TBL42.4 min.
Tomas Plekanec MTL41.7 min.
Mikko Koivu MIN41.4 min.
Nicklas Backstrom WSH40.7 min.
David Backes STL40.5 min.
Henrik Zetterberg DET40.3 min.
Complete war-on-ice.com list






































































POINT TOTALS WITH OPPOSING GOALIE PULLED
Since 2012-13
FORWARDTEAMPOINTS
Andrew Cogliano ANA12 points
Blake Wheeler WPG11 points
Eric Staal CAR11 points
Max Pacioretty MTL10 points
Patrice Bergeron BOS9 points
Milan Lucic BOS9 points
Logan Couture SJS9 points
Sidney Crosby PIT9 points
Marian Hossa CHI8 points
Joe Thornton SJS8 points
Complete war-on-ice.com list

It's probably not the biggest surprise to see guys like Ryan Getzlaf and Patrice Bergeron receiving the most ice time with the opposing goalie pulled. They are among most reliable two-way players in the game and they are already proven fantasy stars. But for players like Tomas Plekanec, Mikko Koivu and several others, it can help result in a few extra fantasy points that can end up being the difference in winning a head-to-head matchup.


And while Getzlaf does lead the League in ice time with the opposing goalie pulled, it's actually only resulted in six points for him. In Bergeron's case, the production has translated, as he's among the League leaders in points with nine. Joe Thornton is an interesting case. He has eight points in these situations over the past three seasons (including an NHL-best five empty-net goals this season alone), despite totaling 27.4 minutes with the opposing goalie pulled (63rd most among all players).


When all is said and done, having players on your fantasy roster that receive these crucial minutes late in the game could end up helping your team. It doesn't always translate to success, but if they're given the opportunity, they'll have a better chance to get you a goal or an assist.


2. Braden Holtby is good



Braden Holtby



Braden Holtby


Goalie - WSH


RECORD: 25-10-9

GAA: 2.14 | SVP: .925



Really good. If you didn't know already, the Washington Capitals standout is the third-ranked goalie in Yahoo fantasy leagues this season, behind only Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens and Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators. And considering Holtby was the 19th goalie selected on average back on draft day, it's safe to say no goalie has provided more unexpected elite-level value than Holtby. With 24 wins in 44 games, the 25-year-old is on pace for a career-best 40 wins, and if he can maintain or come close to his current 2.17 goals-against average (GAA) and .925 save percentage (SV%), they would be the best marks since his rookie season in 2010-11 when he posted a 1.79 GAA and .934 SV% in 14 games. Enjoy the ride if you've got him on your team.

3. Who's No. 1 on defense?



Dustin Byfuglien



Dustin Byfuglien


Defense - WPG


GOALS: 12 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 33

PIMs: 101 | SOG: 156 | +/-: 6



With St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk expected to have abdominal surgery in the next week or so, another defenseman will end up taking over the role as No. 1 fantasy defenseman. While NHL.com insider Brian Metzer ranked Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins as his new No. 1 defenseman with Shattenkirk out, I think by season's end it will be Dustin Byfuglien of the Winnipeg Jets at the top. Letang has come on really strong of late (15 points in his past 10 games), but is still always an injury concern and the fact that Byfuglien provides complete category coverage gives him the edge. Among defensemen, Byfuglien's 12 goals are tied for second, his 33 points are 11th, his 101 penalty minutes are first and his 156 shots on goal are fourth. He's also a plus-6 and has 11 power-play points, so he won't hurt you in any category. While Shattenkirk may have ended up as the No. 1 fantasy defenseman had he not gotten hurt, I'll now say Byfuglien reigns supreme by season's end.

---



Canadiens offense has run dry over past month


Michel Therrien listened to the question and laughed.


When the Montreal Canadiens' coach was asked following a 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at home Tuesday whether his team's offensive issues run deeper than what was shown that night, Therrien pointed to the outrageous number of pucks the Canadiens threw toward the Sabres' net.


Facing the worst possession team in the NHL by far, one desperately trying to hold on to a one-goal lead in order to end a franchise-record 14-game losing streak, the Canadiens did throw a ton of rubber in the general direction of the Sabres' goal.


Of the 92 shots the Canadiens attempted, 34 hit the net, 32 were stopped by Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth, 35 were blocked by Enroth's teammates, and 23 missed the net.


It was an impressive display against a desperate opponent, but it was not indicative of how the Canadiens have played offensively of late.


In fact, it was essentially the opposite of what the Canadiens have been doing this calendar year.


The loss to the Sabres was the Canadiens' second in a row, the first time since Dec. 6 they lost consecutive games in regulation. A two-game losing streak should never be cause for alarm, but when it comes at home against the Arizona Coyotes and Sabres, the 27th- and 30th teams in the overall NHL standings, red flags begin to go up.


"We need a contribution from more than one or two lines," Therrien said after the game, "which is what we've had for the last month and a half."


The Canadiens have played 11 games since Jan. 6 and have scored more than two goals in three of them. Their record in the 11 games is 6-4-1, largely because goaltender Carey Price is allowing even fewer goals than his teammates are scoring. In Price's eight starts in that span he allowed 14 goals on 246 shots, a save percentage of .943. The Canadiens scored 15 goals in those eight games and won five of them.


"The puck's eventually going to go in," forward Max Pacioretty said. "It's frustrating right now. It seems like there's bad bounces here and there, but at the same time we've just got to work harder. You create your own luck with hard work."


There may have been bad bounces Tuesday, but a look at the Canadiens' offensive numbers suggests there has been a drop in offensive opportunities starting with their 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 6.


According to war-on-ice.com, the Canadiens' Corsi percentage (shots attempted) for the season prior to that game against the Lightning was 49 percent, and their Fenwick percentage (unblocked shot attempts) was 49.2 percent at even strength. They were averaging 26.3 scoring chances per 60 minutes played at 5-on-5.


In the 10 following games, not including the possession outlier against the Sabres, the Canadiens' Corsi dropped to 46.4 percent, their Fenwick to 45.7, and their scoring-chance rate to 23.5 per 60 minutes at even strength.


Not only are the Canadiens shooting less often, but fewer of those shots are going in the net.


On Jan. 5, the Canadiens had an even-strength shooting percentage of 9.0 percent, fifth-best in the NHL. In the next 10 games it was 6.7 percent, eighth-worst in the NHL during that span.


"We'd like to score more goals, obviously," third-line center Lars Eller said. "I think we have one line here and there that's hot one game, next game it's another line. Mostly it's been the first two. But the bottom line is most of the time we've been finding ways to win games, even though we haven't been scoring a lot, and that's a good thing."


Though the Canadiens were finding ways to win those games, the process didn't appear to matter much. Montreal was outshot in seven of the 10 games between Jan. 6 and Sunday, and the average margin by which it was outshot in those seven games was 10.9. But the focus then was on the result.


"We put a lot of traffic in front of the net tonight," Therrien said after the loss to Buffalo, after initially laughing when asked if the Canadiens are facing some issues offensively. "We threw a lot of pucks at the net and they blocked a lot of shots. I don't think it was a lack of effort."


Suddenly, process became a priority again, and justly so.


If the Canadiens play the way they did over the final 40 minutes of the loss to Buffalo, they should score more goals and win more games without having to rely on the brilliance of Price to make the difference every night. The question is whether they can do that when facing stiffer opposition, something the Canadiens have not shown an ability to do on a consistent basis all season.



Super 16: Developing goaltenders proves no easy task


Braden Holtby played in his 150th NHL game Thursday night for the Washington Capitals.


This isn't a particularly notable milestone, but he is the first drafted goaltender since the 2006 NHL Draft to reach 150 games. In fact, he's the only goalie from the past nine draft classes to have reached 100 NHL games.


Anders Lindback (Dallas Stars) is at 94, but is not receiving regular playing time. Robin Lehner (Ottawa Senators) is at 80, but would need a long-term injury to Craig Anderson or a trade to reach 100 in 2014-15. Frederik Andersen (Anaheim Ducks), who has the quirky honor of leading two NHL draft classes in games played by a goalie, is at 70.


Unless Lindback plays six more games this season, the 2015-16 campaign will begin with one goaltender from the past 10 draft classes having reached 100 games. Why is that? There are a few factors.


For starters, there are only 60 jobs available. There are great drafted goaltending prospects out there who might be NHL-ready; guys like John Gibson and Andrei Vasilevskiy come to mind, but each is currently blocked by an above-average goalie. Often, NHL teams don't want a top prospect sitting on the bench behind an established starter (though Tampa Bay has changed course on that with Vasilevskiy and is expected to give him more playing time than a typical backup).


Also, goaltenders just take longer to develop. Very few play regularly in the NHL before they are 21 or 22 years old. Expecting any from the past few classes to be starters by now is not fair to them.


Clearly, because goaltenders take longer to develop, that makes them harder to project as 18-year-olds. There are going to be more scouting mistakes, guys who were missed or overvalued.


"I was disappointed being drafted so late. I was ninth round, 271 overall," New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak said. "There was a lot of goalies taken in front of me. I think it doesn't matter. First round is first round and you get a lot of opportunities, but all the rounds after that you just have to prove yourself."


Another major factor is the invasion of undrafted goaltenders, particularly from Europe and NCAA hockey. Check out the accompanying graphs to see just how tough it has been for NHL teams to accurately scout, draft and develop talent at the goaltending position.



There have been 95 goaltenders to make their NHL debut since the start of the 2008-09 season. Thirty-five (nearly 37 percent) of them were never drafted. Nearly as many were drafted after the third round as were selected in the first three rounds.


"It is nice to see the European guys come over and excel right away," said Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who has seen Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth come over and have early success. "When they come in, you don't really know what to expect, but we've seen guys come over and settle in and they play at a mature level and at a consistent level that a lot of young goalies have a tough time doing."


There have been 80 goaltenders to appear in an NHL game this season. Again, nearly as many who were drafted after the third round are on the list as goalies who went in the first three rounds. And nearly 25 percent were not drafted.


Undrafted players are not put on a clock by NHL teams or the Collective Bargaining Agreement, so they are allowed to develop at their own pace. It is a position where some players just blossom at a later age, in part because of the large role mental toughness and maturity plays in becoming an NHL-quality goaltender.


"I always tell them they only have one job," Getzlaf said. "No [I'm joking], but it is like that in some aspect. With goalies, I think it is all about maturity level and being able to forget about the last play and to be able to make the next one. When you have that experience, I think it gives you an advantage."


There have been years where there just wasn't a typical level of talent at the position. The Class of 2003 was bountiful, and five of the goaltenders invited to the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game came from that draft year. Scott Darling or Allen York will be remembered as the best NHL goalie from the Class of 2007. The difficulty of drafting and developing goalies is a real problem for some teams.


There have been seven goalies drafted since 2006 (10 draft classes) with 100 games of NHL experience, and the Capitals selected and developed three of them (Holtby, Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth). The Calgary Flames haven't drafted a goalie who became a starter in the League since 1999 (New Jersey hasn't in longer, but there was a guy wearing No. 30 who played a big role in that). The Philadelphia Flyers have selected 17 goaltenders in the past 15 drafts, and they have combined to play three NHL games.


A combination of that difficulty, plus the success teams are having by signing a mid-20s aged free agent who has years of experience in a top European league, has led to a dearth of young drafted and developed goaltenders.


"There are only two spots on any team for a goaltender, so maybe those guys took longer to get to the top teams," Nashville forward Filip Forsberg said. "I think that is a credit to the Swedish [Hockey] League and the Finnish league. And the second leagues too. They are really good leagues and really good at development leagues. I came in from the second league [in Sweden] and I really liked the way we played back home. It was a good step for me, and I’m sure it was a good step for them too."


DISCLAIMER: While the Super 16 is NHL.com's weekly power rankings, it focuses more on the "power" than the "rankings" when determining the order. It's not always going to look like the League standings and likely will take more of a long view than a short one. If two teams are close the tiebreaker almost always is this: If the two teams started a seven-game series right now, who would prevail? Stop by to see where your favorite team ranks, but stay for the information. All rankings, records and statistics are through the games played Wednesday night.


1. St. Louis Blues (33-13-4)


The Blues have won six in a row, but their biggest loss in weeks was Kevin Shattenkirk needing abdominal surgery. He's second in the League with 24 power-play points. He also leads the NHL with 11 primary assists on the power play, and Alexander Steen is not far behind with 10. They've had the primary on more than half of St. Louis' 41 extra-man goals.


2. Chicago Blackhawks (31-18-2)


The last time a player from Chicago led the NHL in scoring was 1967-68, and there is a statue of the guy outside United Center. Either Stan Mikita or Bobby Hull led or had a share of the League scoring race seven times in the 1960s, and Patrick Kane has a chance to be the first Blackhawks player to do it since the first year of the NHL's Original Twelve.


3. Nashville Predators (33-11-6)


The last time the Predators looked like one of the best teams in the League, general manager David Poile pushed a bunch of chips in and added two players at the deadline and a third when the Kontinental Hockey League season was over. Like the Blackhawks, Nashville's 2012 run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was ended by Mike Smith that one year he was great. Poile might not yield his first-round pick for a bottom-six forward (like Paul Gaustad), but going after another forward to play with Mike Fisher and Colin Wilson could make a lot of sense.


4. Anaheim Ducks (33-12-6)


This doesn't necessarily mean he should be the MVP, but Getzlaf has 17 more points than anyone else on the Ducks. Anaheim is a pretty deep team, but Corey Perry was limited earlier in the season by the mumps and a knee injury and no one else has produced more than 34 points. The accompanying graph shows the players with the biggest leads on their closest teammate in points this season.



5. Tampa Bay Lightning (32-15-5)


The Lightning have the best Corsi-for percentage at even strength in the NHL, but it is also "only" 54.6 percent. That would be the second-lowest percentage to lead the League since the NHL began tracking missed and blocked shots in 2005-06. Could more teams embracing analytics lead to a trend of more parity in the puck possession stats?


6. Detroit Red Wings (29-12-9)


There are currently seven players in the NHL who have played at least 500 minutes at even strength and are on the ice for 44 shot attempts against per 60 minutes or less. They all play for the Red Wings. Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader are in that group, and also atop Detroit's quality of competition list, which is a pretty solid argument for them as the top shutdown line in the League right now.


7. Pittsburgh Penguins (29-14-8)


David Perron already has two more goals in 13 games with the Penguins than he had in 38 games with the Edmonton Oilers. It's a simple combination. He's putting twice as many shots on net (4.0 per game, up from just less than 2.0) and twice as many are going in (13.5 percent, up from 6.8). The percentage might level off, but if the volume keeps up, he's going to score a lot of goals in the next 15 months for Pittsburgh.


8. New York Islanders (32-17-1)


The difference between Corsi and Fenwick is pretty simple (take away blocked shots), but determining why a certain team is better or worse at one is not as simple as "they get more shots through." The Islanders have the greatest positive disparity with Fenwick, checking in at better than 55 percent and nearly two percent better than the team's Corsi-for percentage, which is also still excellent.


9. Boston Bruins (27-17-7)


Since Zdeno Chara and then David Krejci returned from injury and the Bruins were essentially whole again on Dec. 17, Boston is third in the League in goals against and tied for fourth in save percentage.


10. Los Angeles Kings (21-17-12)


One of those teams is the Kings, who continue to pace the League in puck possession if the parameters change to the past couple of months, but Los Angeles has six wins in 21 games since Dec. 11. The Lakers have won seven times since Dec. 11.


11. Montreal Canadiens (32-15-3)


The Canadiens have a chance to take control of the Atlantic Division in February thanks to a combination of a very favorable schedule and a very tough one for both the Lightning and Red Wings. Back-to-back home losses to the teams that would rank 29th and 30th if this were called the Terrific 30 is not exactly the best start. Eight of the next 11 games are against teams out of the playoff race though.


12. Winnipeg Jets (26-18-9)


The Jets looked in great shape for a first Stanley Cup Playoffs berth since moving from Atlanta with 34 games left in the season, but with 29 left the number in the win column hasn't changed. Winnipeg and the Vancouver Canucks not only have to iron out their current problems, they've got a group of four teams chasing them that are talented enough to do it.


13. New York Rangers (30-15-4)


Quiz time: 1. Name the last forward to win the Hart Trophy when not finishing in the top three in the NHL in scoring. 2. Name the last forward to win the Hart Trophy when not finishing in the top five in points. 3. Name the two forwards who have won the Hart Trophy despite not finishing in the top 10 in points.


Answers: 1. Mark Messier was fifth in points in 1991-92. 2. Bobby Clarke was sixth in points in 1974-75. 3. Ted Kennedy, in 1954-55, and Frank Nighbor, the inaugural winner in 1923-24.


Rick Nash is currently 13th in the NHL in points. This is not the first year of the award, and there is no great narrative for any particular player to win the first individual award of his career like there was with Kennedy. If Nash is going to be MVP, he's going to need more points.


14. Washington Capitals (26-15-10)


Holtby shut out the Kings on Tuesday. It was his sixth shutout of the season, and 17th of his career. As mentioned above, the Capitals have been the one team that has drafted and developed goaltenders well in the past decade, and because of that Holtby did have to marinate a little longer in the American Hockey League than he might have in a different organization.


His frequency of racking up shutouts early in his career is quite remarkable. This is Holtby's age-25 season, as defined by hockey-reference.com (age on Feb. 1). There are 14 goaltenders in NHL history with at least 17 shutouts by the end of their age-25 seasons.



Super16 Zero Hero

































































































PlayerSOGPG/SO
Terry Sawchuk573456.05
Alec Connell501543.08
Martin Brodeur323059.53
Harry Lumley3145914.81
Roberto Luongo2326611.57
Steve Mason2330013.04
Frank Brimsek221396.32
Turk Broda211888.95
Roger Crozier2024112.05
Chris Osgood2022111.05
Carey Price1931016.32
Glenn Hall171488.71
Braden Holtby 17 149 8.75
Henrik Lundqvist1719511.47


Holtby is accumulating shutouts at a rate of less than one every nine games. Check out the accompanying table, which has the 14 goaltenders. Of the eight goaltenders who have played since the 1960s, Holtby's shutout rate is better than all of them, even better than the NHL's career leader, Martin Brodeur.


If he continues to collect them at his current pace, he would add another three or four before the end of the season and be in the top-10 of all time in shutouts by a player's age-25 season.


Holtby is also fifth this season in goals-against average (2.17) and fifth in save percentage (.925), while seeing a significant workload (third in saves). He is trending toward a chance at being a Vezina Trophy finalist.


15. Minnesota Wild (24-20-6)


Look what happens when the Wild have a top-29 starting goaltender. Not only is Devan Dubnyk stopping more shots, but the Wild appear to have regained some of their mojo. Poor goaltending plays on the minds of everyone in a locker room. The Blackhawks may have been sluggish, but Minnesota's win Tuesday night was October/early November-esque for the Wild.


16. Calgary Flames (29-20-3)


When Mikael Backlund is on the ice with Mark Giordano at even strength, the Flames control more than 53 percent of the shot attempts, according to stats.hockeyanalysis.com. When Backlund is on the ice in front of Jonas Hiller, it's more than 50 percent (compared to 44 percent for the Flames in front of Hiller without him).


This isn't a new thing. The numbers were similar last season for Backlund and Giordano (and toss in his defense partner T.J. Brodie as well). Backhand was hurt for a large chunk of this season though. The Flames are 8-4-0 since he returned.



Devils goalie Schneider still growing into No. 1 role


Is the dust finally beginning to settle for New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider?


After replacing arguably the best goaltender in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, and establishing a Devils record by starting a career-high 20 straight games to begin the season, it appears Schneider has discovered a nice rhythm playing for co-coaches Lou Lamoriello, Scott Stevens and Adam Oates.


"Early on it was tough with the number of games I played, the travel, the road games; for me that was a learning experience to try and figure out how to do that on the fly and settle into a rhythm," Schneider said.


He went 9-8-2 with a 2.58 goals-against average and .914 save percentage during his 20-start run to begin the season; he was pulled four times during that stretch. Since Lamoriello replaced Peter DeBoer as coach Dec. 27, Schneider is 7-3-1 with a 1.90 GAA and .937 save percentage.


"I was sharp one night and inconsistent the next, but I think I've gotten over that," Schneider said. "Once you get into a rhythm you can really focus on that job and take more of a leadership role."


Schneider has allowed three or more goals twice during his past 13 games; he's allowed one goal or fewer six times in that stretch. He said he relishes the idea of winning tight, low-scoring games.


"This is the type of hockey you will play late in the year or [Stanley Cup] Playoffs, potentially, when both teams are fighting for spots," Schneider said. "We won't have a lot of success winning 6-5 or 5-4 when things start to open up. We're a team built to win 1-0 or 2-1, and as a goalie I want that opportunity and challenge."


At the start of the season, the Devils coaching staff believed Schneider was capable of playing at least 60 games, but the last time he played that many in a season was 2009-10 when he played 60 with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League.


Entering play Wednesday, Schneider has started an NHL-high 44 games and ranks among the top five in shots faced and time on ice.


"We knew a lot about Cory before we made that trade for him," Lamoriello said. "We certainly followed his progression from Boston College, through the American Hockey League and then with the Vancouver Canucks. We had an opportunity to get a goaltender with [Brodeur's] status as far as he was at that time and we were fortunate."


In Schneider's first five seasons with the Canucks, he was behind Roberto Luongo. Last season, his first with the Devils, he was 16-15-12 with a 1.97 GAA in a career-high 45 games splitting time with Brodeur.


This season, Schneider is the clear No. 1 for the first time. Though even he would admit a need to improve in some areas, Lamoriello has had complete faith in Schneider. He showed that when he traded the ninth pick of the 2013 NHL Draft to acquire Schneider, and again during the summer when he signed Schneider to a reported seven-year, $42 million contract.


"I expected a heavier workload this year but didn't have a singular number in mind," Schneider said. "The top goalies in the League usually play between 55 and 60 games. It's a little more infrequent now than it used to be, but I think that's the range. I felt good last year, felt I could have played another 15 to 20 games. But you never know until you do it.


"There are guys out there who can play 75 games; [Brodeur] did it [five times with the Devils]. It's still incredible to me he was able to do that."


One of the reasons it is uncommon to see a goalie play 70-plus games is the number of quality goaltenders in the League. NHL general managers feel the need to have a backup capable of playing 15-20 games is necessary in order to have the starter playoff-ready.



Cory Schneider



Goalie - NJD


RECORD: 18-19-5

GAA: 2.33 | SVP: .922



"Travel is tough today," Schneider said. "The game is faster and every point is so important that you just expend so much energy every night. It seems to me like there are a lot of good goalies in the League now too. All of them are stepping up and having big games, whereas before you had one you could only count on."

Rookie backup Keith Kinkaid has done his part in relief of Schneider.


"I didn't know a lot about Keith, but he has impressed me on and off the ice with how he's handled the situation," Schneider said. "When I came into the League with Roberto, he was a tremendous help to me. He was open, had confidence and supported me but was secure in his role as the No. 1 guy and we had a great working relationship."


Schneider credits Canucks goaltending coach Roland Melanson for spending so much time with him when he was Luongo's backup. Schneider said it was difficult not playing every day as he did in college and in the AHL, but being ready was critical.


"He worked me hard every single day I didn't play; we were always out there doing something," Schneider said of Melanson. "I know how Keith feels as a rookie where every game feels like a do-or-die situation. But that also helps heighten your sense of importance and allows you to you elevate your play, and Keith has done a terrific job."


One of Schneider's more memorable moments this season came in defeat; he made 41 saves in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 30.


"It's probably one of the better goaltending performances that I've seen in a long time," Lamoriello said after the game. "It's a shame he didn't get the win but he deserved a better fate."


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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Fantasy top 30 goalies: Habs' Price earns No. 1 rank


Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com's Evan Sporer will provide you with in-depth analysis of goaltenders. From updated weekly top 30 rankings to trending players and more, Sporer will be your go-to guy for advice on fantasy goalies all season long.


UPDATED TOP 30 GOALIE RANKINGS

Wins in baseball can be a deceiving stat for pitchers. Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners went through stretches of being one of the most dominant starters in the majors, but with win totals that didn't reflect it because of poor run support.


It's a concept somewhat analogous to hockey and goalies, and if there is currently a king of doing more with less, it's Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.


No team in the NHL has won more this season than Montreal (nine times) when it has scored two or fewer goals. And in the crease for seven of those nine victories has been Price, whose seven wins when his team scores two or fewer goals are tied with Roberto Luongo of the Florida Panthers and Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils for most in the League.


Montreal has been leaning heavily on Price all season, and his numbers have surpassed the stratosphere of Vezina Trophy consideration and catapulted him into the Hart conversation.


In his nine starts in the month of January, Price went 7-1-1 with a .951 save percentage. The Canadiens took 325 shots on goal while conceding 374 for a negative differential of 49. Shot attempts were even more tilted in their opponents favor, as Montreal took 642 total attempts compared to 708 allowed, for a negative differential of 66 (and at even-strength that number slides to minus-88).


All of this purports a team that played large stretches without the puck, yet Price still recorded a win percentage of .833 while posting the highest save percentage in the League.


For most of the season, Price was putting up spectacular numbers, just not on this level. That, paired with the historic play of the Nashville Predators' Pekka Rinne, diverted some attention away from Price. But since Rinne was injured and last played Jan. 13, Price's play has taken off, as he's gone a 5-1-0, with two shutouts and a .954 save percentage.



Carey Price



STATS PRIOR TO FEB. 5 GAMES


RECORD: 27-11-2

GAA: 2.06 | SVP: .932



For Montreal meanwhile, this has been the story the entire season. The Canadiens have conceded 138 more shots on goal than they've taken, and attempted 192 fewer shots than their opponents overall. Without even taking a deeper look into how they've managed their success in spite of those numbers, it's obvious it takes some very strong play from their goaltender.

Price is providing the Canadiens with timely goaltending. In a 1-0 overtime win against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 31, Price made 17 saves during the second period while his team was under siege. After Price made 10 saves in the third, Montreal scored on its second shot of overtime to pick up its 15th win of the season despite being outshot. The Canadiens have won 32 times this season.


It should come as no surprise that Price has overtaken Rinne as the top-ranked fantasy goaltender in hockey. Price's Yahoo ranking now sits at eighth among all players, one spot ahead of Rinne, with the Washington Capitals' Braden Holtby the only other goaltender ranked among the top 20 (No. 17 overall).


With the body of work Price is assembling it would be difficult to argue -- fantasy or otherwise -- there has been a more valuable player this season.





Tuukka Rask



STATS PRIOR TO FEB. 5 GAMES


RECORD: 22-12-7

GAA: 2.33 | SVP: .921



TRENDING UP

Tuukka Rask , Boston Bruins


Since Zdeno Chara has returned from injury, Rask hasn't allowed more than three goals in any of his 20 starts, with a .931 save percentage in those games entering Wednesday. He was even better in the month of January, when his save percentage was .949. The Bruins have righted the ship in front of Rask, while the Bruins top-flight goalie continues to stay true to form.


TRENDING DOWN


Jonathan Bernier , Toronto Maple Leafs



Jonathan Bernier



STATS PRIOR TO FEB. 5 GAMES


RECORD: 16-16-4

GAA: 2.76 | SVP: .914



As TSN's James Mirtle pointed out, Toronto just went through a historically anemic offensive stretch. Bernier's numbers on top of that -- 17 goals allowed on 166 shots faced -- have contributed to a 10-game winless streak (0-9-1) for the Maple Leafs. Wins are hard to come by in Toronto, and Bernier's stock is taking a big hit.

KEEP AN EYE ON


Malcolm Subban , Boston Bruins


Whatever the Bruins intentions are with Subban is unclear. Rask has been an absolute workhorse, so it's entirely possible regular backup Niklas Svedberg was sent back to the American Hockey League to get some playing time. But with Subban in Boston, it's also a perfect opportunity to showcase him to a potential suitor, and with the Bruins likely buyers with the NHL Trade Deadline approaching, Subban is a top goalie prospect with a ton of upside.




TOP 30 FANTASY GOALIES


These modified re-rankings are a projection of a goalie's fantasy output for the entire season. Our ranks are based on volume categories like games played, wins, saves, goals-against average (GAA) and save percentage (SV%). The plus or minus for each player is movement based on our most recent rankings from last week (NR means not ranked in previous rankings). It is important to note that our rankings reflect sheer fantasy value, not talent. A less-talented goalie could be ranked higher due to their team's strong defense and offense.































































































1Carey Price, MTL (SAME)16Semyon Varlamov, COL (-1)
2Pekka Rinne, NSH (NR - IR) 17Cory Schneider, NJD (+3)
3Henrik Lundqvist, NYR - DTD 18Antti Niemi, SJS (-1)
4Brian Elliott, STL (-1) 19Kari Lehtonen, DAL (-1)
5Tuukka Rask, BOS (+6) 20Petr Mrazek, DET (+1)
6Marc-Andre Fleury, PIT (-2) 21Steve Mason, PHI (NEW)
7Corey Crawford, CHI (-2) 22Devan Dubnyk, MIN (SAME)
8Roberto Luongo, FLA (-2) 23Jonas Hiller, CGY (NEW)
9Ben Bishop, TBL (-1) 24Jonathan Bernier, TOR (-5)
10Frederik Andersen, ANA (-3) 25Antti Raanta, CHI (-1)
11Braden Holtby, WSH (-1) 26Cam Talbot, NYR (-1)
12Jaroslav Halak, NYI (-3) 27Jake Allen, STL (-1)
13Ryan Miller, VAN (+3) 28Alex Stalock, SJS (-1)
14Michael Hutchinson, WPG (-2) 29Curtis McElhinney, CBJ (SAME)
15Jonathan Quick, LAK (-2) 30Robin Lehner, OTT (NEW)

Dropped out: Carter Hutton, Anton Khudobin, Joni Ortio


Key injuries: Sergei Bobrovsky, Jimmy Howard, Craig Anderson, Martin Jones, Michal Neuvirth


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