By Jason Chen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
Another week of fantasy hockey and some food for thought …
That's Robin Lehner's save percentage since the 2015-16 season (min. 200 GP), second only to Ben Bishop's .923 Sv% and ahead of John Gibson and Andrei Vasilevskiy. Interestingly enough, Corey Crawford (.918) is fifth on that list, but neither goalie seems to demand as much respect as they deserve. Lehner has done an admirable job going 10-3-1 since December, and along with a pair of hot hands from Jonathan Toews and Dominik Kubalik, the Blackhawks are — suddenly — back in the playoff race, four points shy of a playoff spot. Fantasy managers have started to pile on Lehner, who is rostered in close to 70 percent of Yahoo leagues now, but there should be more urgency if you consider the Blackhawks' upcoming creampuff schedule.
Following the All-Star break, the Blackhawks play only two top-tier teams (Boston and St. Louis) the next three weeks. Instead, they’ll face weak Pacific Division leaders (Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Arizona once each), their struggling division rivals (Nashville, Dallas, Minnesota, Winnipeg twice) and the Rangers. Chicago is a combined 8-5-2 against those teams this season, and that was earlier when they were still struggling.
That's Frank Vatrano's shooting percentage heading into the All-Star break during January with seven goals in 10 games. Vatrano almost has as many points this month (12) as the three previous months combined (15). His shooting percentage in those three months was just 8.2 percent, so he's basically become more than twice as effective as he was before. He's on pace for another 20-goal season, and on the back of a hat-trick performance against Chicago, is now rostered in more than one-fifth of Yahoo leagues. While Vatrano has turned out to be a surprisingly consistent goal scorer and high-volume shooter on the league's best offense (3.67 GF/GP), there are nearly 100 players who are on track to score about 25 goals this season.
Unless fantasy managers are looking for a hot hand coming out of the break, there's no hurry to pick up Vatrano. Vincent Trocheck (56 percent rostered) might be worth a look, however, as a player whose shooting percentage and overall production are well below average when they shouldn't be.
That's the difference between expected goals and goals-for at 5-on-5 for Jordan Staal, according to Natural Stat Trick, the biggest difference among forwards with a minimum of 600 minutes played. That means Staal, who has just seven goals in 50 games this season on a career-low 7.1 S%, might be primed for a big second half, especially since he's been such a consistent player year-to-year with historically strong possession numbers; he's ranked 12th in the league in SAT% since the 2009-10 season at 5-on-5. Playing with Andrei Svechnikov also gives him a very good finisher on the wings, and after re-signing Justin Williams (another possession beast, ranking second on the same list in SAT%) the Canes are 2-0 as they begin their playoff push.
They can be frustrating sometimes because of their inconsistency, but the Canes have talent. And Staal is rostered in about 10% of Yahoo leagues, making him a worthwhile add for managers who are willing to wait until the puck inevitably starts bouncing his way.
That's the number of consecutive games Oliver Bjorkstrand has registered a point, despite missing action in late December. He played 17 minutes in his return against the Rangers, scoring both of Columbus' only goals in a last-second win, and then scored another two in 20 minutes against Winnipeg the following game. The Danish speedster would've had 20 goals by now (0.42 G/GP) had he not been injured, thanks to much higher shot volume this season (3.4 S/GP) than last season (2.1 S/GP), and he might end up as the club's top goal scorer.
His rostered percentage has skyrocketed since his return; he's now rostered in more than a third of Yahoo leagues and is worth picking up more for managers looking for a push in the second half of the season, especially if Cam Atkinson (14 goals) continues to struggle.
That's how many power-play points Jake Gardiner has registered since taking over for Dougie Hamilton, despite averaging more PP TOI/GP now (2:07) than before (1:41). In fact, it's been Jaccob Slavin who has seen the most increase, going from 0:11 pre-Hamilton injury to 3:22 post-injury, and also has one power-play assist to show for it. This puts Gardiner's fantasy value at an all-time low; a power-play specialist isn't worth much if he doesn't get to play on the top unit. And it looks like taking the spot away from Slavin is going to be difficult, too, since Slavin is so much more trusted by his coaches and has looked quite good being the top quarterback so far.
Gardiner saw an uptick in rostership following Hamilton's injury, but it's safe to dump him back into the pool and look at Slavin, who is less than 60% rostered.