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.
The slow start of certain key goaltenders set some fantasy owners back in the race early. Those goaltenders are starting to come around and it's a good thing - there aren't a lot of waiver wire options out there. There are a couple of exceptions, of course. Newcomer Viktor Fasth seems to have his sights set on Jonas Hiller's job. And with Calgary's struggles and Miikka Kiprusoff's lower-body injury, Leland Irving and Danny Taylor make intriguing dark horses for the short term.
Not directly relevant in fantasy hockey, but interesting nonetheless, there is a report on Frozen Pool that breaks down a goaltender's save percentage on shots that are from in close (within 15 feet).
It paints a picture of which goaltender is bailing his team out (Dubnyk stands out, stopping 58 of 65 from in close) and which goalie is getting bailed out by his team (Pavelec has only faced 24 shots from within 15 feet, Rask just 33 shots). If you need an edge in deciding who to start each day, check out the free goalie grid over at Goalie Post.
These fellas are wielding a hot stick. Take that into consideration when you go after them in trade talks...
Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes (2-0-0, 0.50 GAA, 0.974 SV%) – There are some things in today's NHL that we just know will happen. Alex Ovechkin Sidney Crosby will easily top a point-per game. Toronto fans will clamor about their latest scapegoat until he is run out of town. Steve Mason will give up plenty of goals. And a Phoenix/Dave Tippett system will make a fantasy stud out of their starting goalie. Never waver from this mantra. Never lose faith in Smith, no matter how slow he starts out.
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (10-6-9-15, plus-5, 10 PIM, 27 SOG) – Kane is following up two seasons of declining point totals by starting off at a career-high clip. That's not going to happen - a slowdown is in the works at some point. Kane won't tip top his career high of 1.07, but he'll certainly come close and have a big year - just not this big.
Cody Hodgson, Buffalo Sabres (4-2-5-7, minus-1, 8 SOG) – Centering a linemate who leads the NHL in scoring helps a little. In the same sense that playing with a goalie in the net helps a little.
David Clarkson, New Jersey Devils (9-7-5-12, plus-2, 11 PIM, 38 SOG) – Clarkson, whose career high is 46 points set last year, has been held off the scoresheet just once so far this season. In his last 86 games he has 37 goals. His shots on goal (38) sit fifth in the league. He's looking like this year's Scott Hartnell in fantasy leagues. Well, minus the hair.
Somebody wake these guys up – their fantasy owners are counting on them...
Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets (1-3-0, 4.67 GAA, 0.788 SV%) – Pavelec is coming off of a win, but it is one in which he faced just 19 shots (and he still let two by him). And this is on the heels of giving up 14 goals in two-and-a-half games. Claude Noel is letting him play through it, but fantasy owners should keep him on the bench until he gives you a good game.
Jonas Hiller, Anaheim Ducks (2-1-1, 3.67 GAA, 0.865 SV%) – The numbers aren't that alarming. Their bad, but not horrible. What is scaring Hiller's fantasy owners is the play of Viktor Fasth, which has been far superior to that of Hiller and so far the two have pretty much split the starts lately - and Fasth is undefeated. Hiller can't afford his usual slow start. He needs to get to midseason form now, or risk losing his job.
Alex Goligoski, Dallas Stars (4-0-0-0, minus-2, 2 PIM, 5 SOG, 1 healthy scratch) – When Goligoski arrived in Dallas, he finished the year with 46 points as he entered the prime of his career. Since then, just 33 points in 81 games - and now he's been scratched (he didn't play in the Edmonton game Wednesday).
Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks (6-1-0-0, minus-2, 23 PIM, 12 SOG) – How on earth can Duncan Keith put up such weak numbers when the team around him is flying? He had a 69-point, superstar-caliber season in 2009-10. But in the season before that and in two seasons since then he has posted 44, 45 and 40. He's on pace for 15 this year, which pro-rates to 26 in a full campaign.
Mostly short-term grabs here, but as always some potential steals...
Viktor Fasth, Anaheim Ducks (4-0-0, 0.98 GAA, 0.962 SV%) – Four games into his NHL career and he has yet to taste defeat. In fact, he has as many wins as goals allowed. One might say he's off to a... Fasth start. For the near future, he will probably split the starts with Jonas Hiller. Where it goes from there will depend on whether or not Hiller can snap his usual early season woes.
Leland Irving/Danny Taylor, Calgary Flames (no significant stats yet) – With Miikka Kiprusoff sidelined (day-to-day) with a suspected knee issue, but definitely lower body, Irving will take over between the pipes. Whether that is for one game or 10 games, nobody is saying. Irving is Calgary's golden boy, their former first-round pick, so making him a success is in their best interest. But hold up - Taylor's AHL numbers have been ridiculous. Look at his numbers this season compared to Irving's numbers backstopping the same Abbotsford team:
Taylor: 13-9-1, 1.77 GAA, 0.930 SV%
Irving: 2-3-1, 3.72 GAA, 0.871 SV%
If you're desperate for goaltending and somebody already nabbed Irving - which is what happened in all of my leagues - scooping up Danny Taylor brings you the same, albeit still slim, odds of success.
Drew Shore, Florida Panthers (2-0-2-2, plus-1, 0 PIM, 5 SOG) – Florida is having a lot of trouble keeping this guy off their roster. He's been too good. Example:
Paul Postma, Winnipeg Jets (3-1-3-4, minus-1, 0 PIM, 6 SOG, 2 PPPTS) – Postma tallied 89 points in 125 games over the last two seasons in the AHL. So we know he has offensive acumen. It took Claude Noel a few games to start to trust him, but his ice time has topped 21 minutes in each of the last two games. Prior to that, it had been hovering at around 13 or 14 minutes.
Andy Greene, New Jersey Devils (3-1-3-4, plus-2, 6 PIM, 7 SOG, 2 PPPTS) – The 2005 CCHA Offensive Defenseman of the year suckered me in 2010 when he tallied 37 points. It was a breakout that I figured he would build on. Instead, it took him almost two seasons to match that number. So at 30 years of age is there still hope? Peter DeBoer is happy to continue rolling back Marek Zidlicky's ice time as long as Greene fills the PP void.
Colin Wilson, Nashville Predators (2-0-4-4 plus-4, 0 PIM, 3 SOG) – For seven games, Wilson was given ice time and opportunity by coach Barry Trotz. And Trotz was rewarded with a single point and a minus-4 rating from his young player. But in a most un-Trotz-like fashion (just ask Craig Smith), he stuck with Wilson and it paid off. Players on this team tend to get hot one line at a time. For a week or two it will be Wilson's line.
John Mitchell, Colorado Avalanche (10-4-3-7, plus-7, 4 PIM, 16 SOG) – I've tripled-checked these numbers, using multiple sources. And I quadruple-checked the name. But it is indeed John Mitchell doing this, and those numbers are correct. He's playing with Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk. Go figure.