While I feel like I might be treading on well-traveled ground to some extent because I spoke about him a little bit already this week, Alex Ovechkin’s highlight reel goal really did emphasize how fantastic he’s been lately.
It got me thinking: is this a sign that he’s the best player in fantasy hockey again? Sidney Crosby’s latest bad-luck injury makes me think that he’s becoming enough of a risk not to be my first rounder any longer unless it’s pretty late in that round.* Meanwhile, other guys like Steve Stamkos seem like they’re well worth considering, but Ovechkin brings more tantalizing peripheral potential and also distinguishes himself as a high-end winger in a sea of star centers.
So, with that, I think it’s appropriate to discuss him a little bit more. I think you’ll agree that he’s had the kind of month that portends more amazing things.
(If you want to load up on recent Ovi talk, Monday’s DD included a look at how his numbers have ballooned since a disappointing January.)
HOT OUT THE OVECHKIN
Dare I wonder if Ovechkin’s resurgence really comes down to Adam Oates deciding to stop trying to outsmart himself by splitting up the star with playmaking partner in crime Nicklas Backstrom (or trying to REALLY outsmart himself by swapping a near-$10 million’s position from left to right wing for reasons that still mostly defy explanation?).
That probably is too broad of an explanation, but I think it provides a nice example of how perilous it can be to fall in love with your own cleverness. Think of this as the Steven Soderbergh lesson; make your big money by playing it straight enough with blockbusters like “Ocean’s Eleven” while scratching that experimental itch with more indie fare like “The Girlfriend Experience.”
THE BEST AROUND
Whether it’s just a matter of giving Ovechkin more time/patience/trust with a familiar running mate (and probably second best player on the team, with all apologies to Mike Ribeiro), he’s been the best player in fantasy this month.
Goals: 17 (first overall)
He has as many goals as the second-place guy (Dustin Brown at nine) and one of the many fellows tied for third at 8 (including John Tavares and Jonathan Toews). As you probably know in fantasy, goals are gold, so it's not crazy to begin considering him for "MVP of the month" based on that reason alone.
Not blow-you-away great (it's outside the top 25) but still plenty sufficient considering that outstanding tally mark.
This one does rank in the top 25. He's not the best guy on his line in that category, however, as underrated teammate Marcus Johansson has a +9. This is a good time for me to repeat the advice to scoop Johansson up. He has 16 points in the same time period that Ovechkin scored those 24; maybe that pales in comparison to Ovi, but you're not trying to land one of the best guys in the league at this point in the season, just a guy who can help you win your league. (Johansson is only owned in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues.)
Nothing spectacular here. You know what's weird, though? Teemu Selanne has 24 PIM, ranking him right behind Ryan Getzlaf (25). That mark actually helps to sustain the fantasy value of "The Finnish Flash," who only has five points during this time period. Looking deeper, 20 of those 24 PIM came during a 2-1 March loss to Detroit. Apparently something really got under the skin of Selanne and Getzlaf at the end of that loss because both players really piled on the PIM that night.
That's the most in the last 30 days, with P.K. Subban and Backstrom tied for second at eight. (Subban's really been amazing, hasn't he?)
Nothing wrong with that, although in a weird way that almost seems low for 17, doesn't it?
By far the most, besting second place Rick Nash (61 SOG) by a healthy margin. More than anything else, this signifies that the "old" Ovi is back. This seems like a good time to point out that Justin Williams (70 percent owned) still remains reasonably available in leagues.
Another standout category for Ovi. You know who also is strong here? Dustin Brown, who has 60 hits, 57 SOG and nine goals in the last 30 months.
Sure, the goals are great, but I’d like to mention one more time that it’s the variety of dominant categories that really makes the resurgent superstar stand out. Plenty of stars get those goals/assists/PPP’s, but Ovechkin throws high-level SOG and video game-level hits into the mix, too.
Combine those factors with his winger status and it might be hard to pass him up with the No. 1 selection in next year’s drafts. He’s got us again, folks ... and I, for one, am delighted.
Jump for more assorted fantasy delights.
* - He’s almost like Michael Vick in that way now, except he’s far more productive and doesn’t carry all that crazy canine baggage with him. OK, maybe they don’t really have a whole lot in common, but both boasted enticing talent combined with serious injury worries in their peak years.
NO SHAME ABOUT RAYS
Tuesday night was an awfully strong one for guys named Ray.
Ray Emery pitched a 20-save shutout, his second in a three-game winning streak where he's started three straight games for the Chicago Blackhawks. Overall this season, Emery's numbers are just flat-out astounding; he's 15-1-0(!) with a .924 save percentage, 1.90 GAA and three shutouts. Almost as astounding is that his backup status (I assume) must keep owners at bay in many leagues, because he's only owned in 64 percent of leagues.
Then again, Sergei Bobrovsky is only owned in 74 percent, Evgeni Nabokov is available in 65 percent and fast risers like Ben Bishop and Brian Elliott remain easily available compared to their production, too.
I don't know what to say about those figures, other than that I'm starting to wonder if there are a significant amount of "ghost town" fantasy leagues, which would be super sad.
Circling back to the Ray theme, Ray Whitney had a strong night in his own right, scoring two goals to give him two straight two-point games after going three contests without a point. While Whitney leaves plenty to be desired in the peripheral stats (just four PIM and 48 SOG in 23 games), I think the stripped-down and surprisingly frisky Dallas Stars setup bodes well for his numbers going forward.
I think Dallas is most likely just ruining their chances at a great draft pick with this run, but that might just be me.
INJURY NOTES (full list) and QUICK HITS
Dany Heatley had season (and postseason) ending shoulder surgery. Go ahead and drop him ... Jarome Iginla’s early grade with Pittsburgh would probably be a C-. Just a goal and an assist with zero PIM in five games. Way too early to beat him up too much, but fantasy owners may wish he stayed in Calgary. We’ll see ... Kari Lehtonen got his monthly lower-body injury last night. It sounds minor, at least so far ... Ilya Kovalchuk is still a bit away from a return, although it sounds like he’s reasonably close to coming back. Maybe just in time to give the Devils fewer lottery balls but not a playoff spot ... Add Sheldon Souray and Tobias Enstrom to the “inexplicably undisclosed” injury club ... Paul Stastny could be back tonight. Maybe he went on a search for his game, which was lost a few years ago. (His paychecks keep coming, though.) ... Semyon Varlamov is day-to-day with a hip issue ... Pascal Dupuis continues to play well, even with Sidney Crosby out of the equation ... Bad time for guys named Chris in Vancouver. Christopher Higgins is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury while Chris Tanev’s the same way with a leg problem. Does Higgins’ loss become Derek Roy’s gain?