Special to Yahoo Sports
Another week of fantasy hockey and some food for thought …
Catching up from last week: Yanni Gourde has two points in three games since March 1 and, with Anthony Cirelli, continues to be worth considering in deep leagues … Zach Sanford and Robert Thomas’ ice time continues to fluctuate and they have just one point between them … Pavel Buchnevich is on a five-game point streak with five assists, including one on the power play, in his last three games … The Islanders have lost six straight and Jean-Gabriel Pageau has zero points with a minus-7 rating in his last four games.
What do we make of Chris Driedger this season?
.936 — That’s Chris Driedger’s save percentage in 11 games this season. Driedger makes about six percent of Sergei Bobrovsky‘s $11.5 million salary. That’s great for Driedger but embarrassing for both Bobrovsky and the Panthers, who, despite their short history, have featured some world-class goaltenders — they retired Roberto Luongo’s No. 1 jersey Saturday.
A quick history on Driedger: Selected in the third round by Ottawa, Driedger made just three appearances in relief (95 total minutes) for the Sens over three seasons before bouncing around in the AHL and ECHL, and only now is he getting his first real shot in the NHL, eight years after getting drafted. The (former?) minor-league journeyman is single-handedly keeping the Panthers’ playoff hopes alive, going 6-2-1 with a 2.16 GAA.
Common sense says Driedger won’t be able to keep this up. Not only does he lack the pedigree, but his 0.87 GSAA/60 (min. 10 GP) ranks first, according to Natural Stat Trick, a clearly unsustainable number when goalies who are having elite seasons usually post numbers in the 0.50s or lower. Joel Quenneville has clearly lost patience with Bobrovsky and will simply go with the hot hand, and if Driedger can survive road games against St. Louis and Dallas this week, he’ll face New Jersey and Detroit the following week, giving him a chance to grab a few more wins. Be cautious with Driedger, but if you have some extra space on the bench, he might be worth a stash.
What’s the deal with Tyson Jost?
93 — That’s the percentage of Yahoo leagues that don’t have Tyson Jost rostered, and it’s kind of perplexing. Since Nazem Kadri and Mikko Rantanen‘s injuries, Jost has averaged 16:34 TOI per game, a huge bump from his season average of 12:32. The last four games he’s seen another bump to 18 minutes, during which he’s collected three helpers. As a top-six forward, he is no longer buried on the depth chart and is routinely showcasing the speed and skill that made him a first-round pick. After two seasons of marginal improvement and on the cusp of being traded for a change of scenery, he’s been excellent in the second half of the season and now a regular on the top power-play unit.
Much of Colorado’s offense still depends on Nathan MacKinnon, but as a percentage of the team’s total goals, MacKinnon’s contribution (14.9 percent) is still lower than one-man scoring machines Auston Matthews (19.6 percent), Jack Eichel (18.3 percent) and the red-hot Mika Zibanejad (17.2 percent).
^^^ That implies Colorado’s offense is pretty balanced, and as long as Jost gets top-six minutes, his stock should continue to rise. Jost, and to a lesser extent, Vladislav Namestnikov, are absolutely worth picking up with the Avs facing the Kings, Canucks, and Sharks (twice) the next two weeks.
Add Dominik Kahun while the good times last
72.22 — That’s the CF% for Buffalo’s second line of Marcus Johansson between Victor Olofsson and Dominik Kahun on Saturday against the Flyers, according to NST, in a game they dominated but still ended up losing, 3-1. Representing the Sabres’ lone goal, Kahun now has four points in five games with the Sabres, and it looks like Ralph Krueger might have found a way to balance out his offense. He moved the struggling Jeff Skinner to Jack Eichel’s line and dropped Olofsson down to the second line, allowing him to play on his off-wing and making it easier to shoot one-timers.
Kahun is an interesting player; while his speed and finishing ability are pretty evident, he’s not a particularly strong possession player, yet his GF% always ranks close to the top. His 11.2 career S% and high PDO suggests that he’s been enormously lucky his first two seasons in the NHL, so he’s probably not a top-six winger long-term, but some players have made a good living with really mediocre possession numbers, such as Phil Kessel.
Kahun’s fluctuating ice time is a bit of a concern (he played just 7:16 against Pittsburgh), but after a strong performance against Philadelphia, he may have earned more of Krueger’s trust. If he gets more consistent playing time, Kahun should finish the season with about 15 goals and 40 points, both of which would be career highs. He is rostered in less than five percent of Yahoo leagues.
Alex Galchenyuk could be worth a flier
54.34 — That’s Alex Galchenyuk’s CF% entering Saturday’s games since Dean Evason took over the bench, according to NST. Across the board, Galchenyuk’s underlying numbers have improved, and through 13 games with Minnesota, he has a 54.68 FF%, the highest mark in his career, and a 55.85 xGF%, the second-highest mark since his rookie season. Obviously, playing as a center with a historically good possession player in Mats Zuccarello on his wing really helps, but you can’t help but wonder if Galchenyuk has finally found a path out of the wilderness (no pun intended).
With five points in 13 games with the Wild, he’s still on the same scoring pace as he was with Pittsburgh (17 points in 45 games), but with more ice time, a bigger role on the power play and an improved GF/60, his raw production could see a slight bump. Zach Parise is enjoying a nice renaissance (four goals in five games) but Galchenyuk might be worth a flyer in deep leagues as long as Minnesota can keep this up.
What’s wrong with the Rangers’ goaltending?
5 — That’s the number of goals Alexandar Georgiev and Igor Shesterkin have allowed in each of their most recent starts. Georgiev got the win against the Caps thanks to Mika Zibanejad’s five goals, but his performance was bad enough for David Quinn to give the reins back to Shesterkin, who just returned from a fractured rib.
Shesterkin, who was anointed the No. 1 goalie before his injury, responded with five goals allowed on just 23 shots (not all of it his fault) and was pulled in favor of Henrik Lundqvist, who was supposed to be the odd man out despite having the most experience. What a mess.
It’s anyone’s guess who the Rangers will go with down the stretch, and the way most coaches will play it is to keep rotating goalies until someone gets hot, and then ride the hot hand until it gets cold, at which point the rotation will continue. With back-to-backs against Dallas and Colorado coming up, expect Georgiev and Shesterkin to split those, and whoever plays better will probably get Arizona on Saturday.
If you have space, picking up both goalies would be wise, but don’t be surprised if the Rangers end up going back to Lundqvist at some point even though he hasn’t started since March 1 when he allowed — yup, you guessed it — five goals. It’s a theme with the Rangers these days.