What happened to the Toronto Maple Leafs? They looked like a lock to make the postseason and were firing on all cylinders just a couple of short weeks ago. They passed a difficult road trip to the West Coast with flying colors, but have struggled mightily to generate a win since.
The worst part of it all is that the Leafs have lost three one-goal games during this stretch and a few others by a pair of goals after an empty netter. If they could have forced even a couple of those contests into the extra frame, they could have cashed in on few loser points in the dreaded three-point game. That would have improved their playoff percentages drastically.
Perhaps the Leafs are more of a streaky team than anything else. They look unbeatable at times but than there are stretches where they look like they should be headed for a lottery pick. Their inconsistency isn’t from game to game though, but instead they can dominate or get stuck in a funk for weeks at a time. They could be a dangerous team to play in the playoffs if the Leafs got on a hot streak to begin postseason play, it’s just too bad for Toronto fans they will likely need a miraculous set of circumstances to get in at this point.
Let’s look at this week’s MVPs and LVPs.
Patrice Bergeron – C – 85% Owned
Is there a more complete player in the game today than Bergeron? There’s not much he can’t do and this week he displayed his offensive ability to the tune of five goals and an assist. One of those goals also happened to be a game winner and when you add in Bergeron’s strong numbers in faceoffs and plus/minus, a better well-rounded fantasy asset you will not find.
The Runners Up
Alex Steen – LW – 93% Owned
Steen got Toronto’s week off on a bad start after posting three points and a plus-4 rating against his former team, while dominating the Leaf defense for most of the night. Overall, he finished the past seven days with six points and nine shots. Steen missed a month earlier in the year due to injury and looks to be fully back on track at this point, as the Blues have won six of their past nine contests.
David Backes – C – 92% Owned
Backes also had himself a six-point week thanks to a hat-trick against Toronto. Playing the Leafs seems to be the key to fantasy success these days. Backes also had seven shots alone against the Leafs and 13 total hits over the last seven days. When Backes starts chipping in a solid points week to go along with his usual plethora of hits, it’s a huge bonus. Does he win the Selke this year?
Joe Pavelski – C – 95% Owned
Pavelski had himself four goals and two assists this week, to go along with 10 shots. All but one of those aforementioned points came with the man advantage, which is huge for Pavelski owners in a fantasy hockey playoff matchup. The Sharks have me believing again that they might be able to do something in the playoffs, much like they have for the last decade. I’ll never learn.
Honorable Mentions: Kyle Turris, T.J. Oshie, Thomas Vanek, James Wisniewski, Gustav Nyquist, Jake Gardiner, Zack Kassian, Mikko Koivu, Tomas Tatar, Steven Stamkos, Max Pacioretty, Brent Burns, Clarke MacArthur, Antoine Roussel, Gabriel Landeskog, Mathieu Perreault, Tuukka Rask, Anton Khudobin, Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist
The LVP (Least Valuable Player)
Martin St. Louis – RW – 99% Owned
St. Louis’ time in the Big Apple is off to a slow start. He has now failed to score a point in six games and only has six shots in his last four contests. The Rangers acquired him for the playoffs, so as long as he performs there you would have to think New York could live with an off week in late March. Maybe St. Louis didn’t realize Steven Stamkos wasn’t coming with him when he requested a trade.
Not Last But Certainly Least
Nazem Kadri – C – 66% Owned
Part of the Leafs’ struggles have come from secondary scoring, or a lack thereof. Kadri has just one assist in his last four games while posting a mark of minus-4. What’s most disappointing was in the team’s most pivotal game of the season against Detroit on Saturday, he was held off the score sheet without a shot on goal. Kadri was firing at nearly a point-per-game pace last season, but has taken a significant step back this year with just 48 points. Randy Carlyle isn’t mad, he’s just disappointed.
Brandon Saad – LW – 64% Owned Just about anyone on Chicago that plays a regular shift shouldn’t go on a lengthy point drought, even with Patrick Kane out of the lineup. Saad has been pointless in seven straight and has gone minus-7 over that span. He’s seen his minutes diminish in what could have been a golden opportunity for some bonus ice-time with Kane sidelined. These last few weeks of the fantasy season are where you desperately hope any of your players avoid slumps.
Jaromir Jagr – RW –78% Owned Jagr hasn’t scored a point in four straight games as the Devils are clinging to the slimmest of playoff hopes. What’s up with that? He looks like he’s 42 years old or something.
Dishonorable Mentions: Phil Kessel, Ryan Suter, Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak, Darcy Kuemper, Victor Hedman, Tomas Jurco, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner, Corey Crawford, Jaroslav Halak.