Dobber checks in every Thursday to force-feed you the latest fantasy hockey trends. The founder of DobberHockey.com and a columnist for The Hockey News website, he long ago immersed himself into this rollercoaster world and is unable to escape.
Rookie Tomas Hertl had "the four-goal game" and the rooster-petting hype that followed. Dustin Penner has that "man he's killing my fantasy team I'm never drafting him ag- wait, what?" thing. But what does Ryan Johansen have? He's hype-less. A man without buzz. But he's quietly crept up the scoring list and now sits third in scoring among all players making two million or less this season. Poolies in salary-cap leagues are understandably thrilled. And his agent is rubbing his hands with glee.
Here is the expanded list, courtesy of Frozen Pool.
These fellas are wielding a hot stick. Take that into consideration when you go after them in trade talks...
Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh Penguins (8-5-6-11, minus-1, 6 PIM, 21 SOG, and 6 PPPts) - The Penguins have a permanent spot etched into this section. If it's not Crosby, it's Malkin. If it's not one of them, it's one of their linemates. I could just as easily stuck James Neal here, too. Neal has 14 points in his last eight games.
Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings (7-2-7-9, plus-4, 4 PIM, 19 SOG) - Held off the scoresheet Wednesday, Kronwall has nonetheless been on fire. He has been credited with just two shots on goal over his last three games, which is a sure sign that the hot streak will be giving way to the cold soon.
Radim Vrbata, Phoenix Coyotes (8-3-8-11, plus-7, 0 PIM, 29 SOG) - Vrbata is having a career season in this, a contract year. But he's been flourishing in Phoenix since being briefly deluded into thinking he could be productive elsewhere when he had that cup of coffee with the Lightning.
Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks (3-4-1-5, plus-2, 2 PIM, 11 SOG and 3 PPPts) - One point in six games to start the year after missing most of last season sounds pretty fair to me. So I don't count those games and consider him the guy who has 21 points in 24 games. That's a pace that puts him in line with his pre-injury numbers from 2009 to 2011.
Somebody wake these guys up – their fantasy owners are counting on them...
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings (7-1-1-2, minus-2, 8 PIM, 13 SOG) - If he had a points-per-game average of 0.47 in 2011-12 and 0.46 the following year, is his current 0.48 for this season off base? If only he played for Anaheim, then I could say "if it walks like a Duck…" and it would be funny.
Pascal Dupuis, Pittsburgh Penguins (14-1-1-2, minus-1, 4 PIM, 26 SOG) - How you can play virtually every even-strength shift with Sidney Crosby for 14 games and come away with two points is beyond me. Who does he think he is, Colby Armstrong? Dupuis is a 'buy low' candidate. His shot percentage, as you can see, is brutal. It will turn around.
Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers (6-0-0-0, minus-2, 2 PIM, 18 SOG) - Also suffering from Armstrongitis is Voracek, who has been on the Claude Giroux line lately yet his already brutal season is just getting worse. It's hard to imagine Voracek's floor being any lower than a 45-point season at this point in his career, but stranger things have happened.
Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes (1-3-1, 3.62 GAA, 0.886 SV%) - This is Smith's second cold run of the season, neatly sandwiching a hot streak from late October. In daily leagues, this streakiness can be a good thing if manipulated properly. It's a little trickier in weekly leagues - I myself was burned a couple of times, benching him and activating him during wrong weeks.
Mostly short-term grabs here, but as always some potential steals...
Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers (9-5-5-10, plus-10, 2 PIM, 24 SOG) – Since the Flyers acquired and put Steve Downie on Couturier's line and then moved Matt Read there as well, these guys have been flying (excuse the pun). All three should be owned if they're not already.
Andrej Sekera, Carolina Hurricanes (5-4-2-6, plus-6, 2 PIM, 12 SOG, 2 PPPts) – Here is your new Hurricanes PP quarterback. He showed signs of this in Buffalo, but between injuries and the fact that the Sabres had several other options they were turning to, he never got a chance. Just 11% owned, but other than injuries there is very little risk here.
Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues (7-3-5-8, plus-7, 4 PIM, 15 SOG) – The 21-year-old is not really used on the power play, not yet anyway. But his line (with the Vladimirs - Sobotka and Tarasenko) is hot right now.
Ryan Johansen, Columbus Blue Jackets (5-4-3-7, plus-3, 2 PIM, 16 SOG, and 4 PPPts) – With 19 points in his last 23 games, Johansen has come a long way since being a healthy scratch for the AHL farm team just six months ago.
Brian Gionta, Montreal Canadiens (4-1-4-5, plus-4, 2 PIM, 8 SOG) – Remember when he scored 48 goals and tallied 89 points? What a crazy aberration, eh? Gionta has settled into a 45- to 55-point range and this latest hot streak is just a market correction. But ride it while you can.
Nick Bonino (7-2-5-7, minus-2, 2 PIM, 10 SOG, and 4 PPPts) – Bonino isn't shooting the puck right now, but he's been an assist (and power-play point) machine. The 25-year-old has always been more of a setup man, so if you're lacking in these categories he'll help, and probably chip in well enough throughout the year. Just 12% owned.
Devin Setoguchi, Winnipeg Jets (4-3-1-4, plus-5, 2 PIM, 6 SOG) – The streaky Setoguchi has 10 points in his last 14 games, after just five in his first 14. Overall, his numbers are about where they've been for the last four years so expect this hot streak to die down in a week or so.
Here's where I'll fire off a few names of players who may be at the very beginning of a nice little run. Just a gut feeling, but worth looking into and/or taking a chance on:
Tomas Tatar, Detroit; Scott Hartnell, Philadelphia; Lars Eller, Montreal; T.J. Brodie, Calgary; Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay.
No. 1 Star: Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks
The Nashville Predators’ tormentor was at it again, scoring two third-period goals to give the Canucks a 3-1 win. He now has 14 on the year and back-to-back 2-goal games.
No. 2 Star: Kari Lehtonen, Dallas Stars
The Stars goalie turned away 47 of 50 shots on the road, as the Stars won at the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-3. Antoine Roussel scored the game-winner on a penalty shot. Alex Chiasson scored his eighth.
No. 3 Star: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Sid’s unassisted wrist shot beat Anders Nilsson at 3:44 of overtime as the Penguins topped the New York Islanders, 3-2. Crosby now has 15 goals on the season, having previously scored to force OT. Evgeni Malkin had two assists in the win.
Honorable mention: Mike Ribeiro and Mikael Boedker had 3-point nights as the Phoenix Coyotes defeated the Edmonton Oilers, 6-2. … Kings rookie Martin Jones, making his first NHL start, stopped all nine shots he faced in the shootout as LA bested their rivals the Anaheim Ducks, 3-2. Dwight King had the game-winner in the skills competition. … Kyle Okposo had two goals for the Isles. … Sergei Bobrovsky made 17 saves before leaving with an injury, but Curtis McElhinney took the Columbus Blue Jackets all the way to the 1-0 shutout over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nick Foligno had the outstanding goal for the Jackets. … Brad Staurt had the game-winner and Logan Couture added he empty netter, as the San Jose Sharks defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-2. … Jeff Skinner scored twice as the Carolina Hurricanes rolled to a 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals. Justin Peters made 26 saves. … The Ottawa Senators scored four straight goals, including Bobby Ryan’s 14th, as they defeated the Florida Panthers, 4-2.
Did You Know? Phil Kessel scored goal No. 200 in his career, and the 15th goal of the season for the Leafs.
Dishonorable mention: Justin Schultz and Jesse Joensuu were minus-3. … The Lightning have been shut out in back to back games. … Braden Holtby gave up at least three soft goals among his four surrendered before being pulled. … Morgan Reilly was a minus-3. … Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johnansson were minus-3 for the Capitals. … Scottie Upshall was whistled for three minor penalties. … Finally, the Panthers announced a crowd of 10,074 fans, “the lowest home ‘announced’ crowd since Halloween 2008 -- 10,063” according to George Richards, who tweeted this before the game:
The Dispatch's Aaron Portzline has broken the news that Bob has a groin strain, and is expected to be out for the rest of December. Now take a deep breath, and let's look at what that actually means.
Leading the team in points, Ryan Johansen is having by far the best season of his young career. How much better can he get?
The Blue Jackets won a nailbiter over the Lightning, 1-0, but it cost them G Sergei Bobrovsky, who left in the third period with an injury.
It's Jekyl's turn, by way of recent trends. Can the Jackets use the return of Brandon Dubinsky to catch lightning in a bottle once more?
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