Dose: Most Valuable Price

Joey Alfieri breaks down the great, good and bad fantasy goalies for the upcoming week in the latest edition of In the Crease

Before we get started, I’d like to send out my condolences to the Wuest family and friends, as Matthew Wuest - aka the founder of “CapGeek” - died on Thursday.

Often when someone dies, the grief and shock inspire people to exaggerate a person’s accomplishments. Or, at least, it seems that way.

All I can say is that CapGeek had a significant impact on me and my life as a hockey writer. Before I was paid a dime to do any of this stuff, I ran a silly blog with a weird name, and I would spend untold hours on that site pondering hypothetical situations and praising (or lampooning) GMs for contracts that were perceived bargains or albatrosses respectively.

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Twitter was appropriately teeming with lamentations about Wuest’s death, so I don’t want to be excessively redundant here.

I will say this, though. Losing Matthew at what seems to me to be a tragically young age has to be devastating, and I imagine that it only makes so much of a difference that he made an impact on a significant - if niche - group of sports fans in his lifetime.

Hearing about certain stars shining brighter but shorter probably won’t be much solace to his family, but hopefully there’s at least some comfort in knowing that he clearly did great things with his time.


It’s a nice reminder for the rest of us to do what we can with our time. Also, it’s yet another beacon to monitor one’s health a little more closely (there are things I should get checked beyond the standard physical, so I’m certainly not immune to criticism in such areas).

Regardless, my word likely don’t mean much for his family, especially since I never met the man and only praised his work as many others did. Regardless, a significant chunk of the hockey-loving community has been shaken by this news.

Before I get to the recaps, one other note: I’m actually writing the Saturday Dose this week, but Michael Finewax will be back next Saturday and Jimmy Hascup’s still on Sunday.


OK, let’s shift gears to last night’s games, shall we?


-- With his 13th goal of the season, Jaromir Jagr hit career No. 718, passing Phil Esposito for fifth all-time in goals. Beyond a mindblowing final month, he'll need the 2015-16 season to pass Marcel Dionne's 731 tallies for fourth all-time.

Honestly, I say Jagr should play until it's abundantly clear that he can't make a difference. None of that "go out on top" garbage. I want to see No. 68 play well until he's satisfied.

His full season stats are modest (though he remains a possession hoss), but since coming to Florida, he now has seven points in nine games. I've heard that he wouldn't be against re-signing with the Panthers, and while that's not the absolute most entertaining option, the coupling isn't so bad so far.


-- This is now four straight games with a goal for Brandon Pirri, who continues to inflate his amusingly asymmetrical stats: now 17 goals and two assists.

-- Good sign: Roberto Luongo returned to action, stopping 26 out of 27 shots for his 24th win of the season. With 11 losses beyond regulation, he's a few breaks from having an even better year than he's enjoyed (and he's been pretty good).

-- Erik Cole scored his 20th goal of the season, giving him both of his goals with Detroit in the last three games.


-- If you're in an especially deep league, I think Melker Karlsson is worth adding for the stretch run. He now has a point in three straight games (a span in which he has 16 SOG) and is riding shotgun with Joe Thornton. Understatement: those guys tend to get their numbers inflated pretty nicely.


-- Logan Couture matched his 2013-14 goal total with his 23rd of the season, although he remarkably hit 23 last season in six fewer games (65 then versus 71 now). He was shooting more regularly, too, as he has 14 fewer SOG this season (219 vs. 233) despite playing six more games. He's still firing plenty of pucks, but I'd say "chase Joe Pavelski" if I were creepily whispering in his ear.

-- The Maple Leafs' efforts have been so limp that it's probably best to divest of players in most instances. Obviously I don't mean Phil Kessel (-3 and all) and his ilk, but fringe guys/tiebreaker situations probably shouldn't go Toronto's way.



-- Carey Price earned his eighth shutout of the season, which also was his 39th win. Those 39 wins mark a new career-high while his eight goose eggs tie his 2010-11 mark. His .937 save percentage is the best he's ever generated (last year's .927 is second best) and also the best save percentage in the league.

The weird thing about the Hart Trophy talk, honestly, is that I feel like goalies should probably be in the conversation more often. Goaltending makes an enormous impact on results, arguably more than any skater who sees a maximum of half the game on the ice (usually a third, as you know).


Price would be a great Hart winner, even if it would be really weird that recent-ish Hart winners would boil down to "Dominik Hasek and Canadiens goalies."

(Jose Theodore, if you're wondering. Yes, seriously, if you're especially young.)

-- Tomas Plekanec is a heck of a player, but considering his sometimes-heavy defensive workload, he doesn't always get to show that in the most obvious fantasy terms. Skating him with Max Pacioretty would certainly be a great way to do that, though.


-- While it only sort of nullifies Boston's previous win against Ottawa in some sense, this is obviously a huge win for the Senators. This began a four-game homestand and they play six of their next eight in Ottawa looking further. Boston still holds the tiebreaker advantages, but Ottawa could essentially lock this up if they win their next game (they trail the Bruins by two points but hold a game in hand).


-- The Bruins are now on a three-game losing streak, including two difficult-to-stomach defeats (vs. Ottawa and that shootout loss to Buffalo). They face bubble competitor Florida three times this season, and generally deal with a tougher schedule than Ottawa, so this could be a tight race.

-- Kyle Turris is on fire after last night's two-goal, one-assist performance. He now has five points in his past four games.

With 50 points in 70 contests, it's been a pretty strong season overall, even if some may quibble about whether he's spry enough for his role.

-- If you want a late-season add but don't want Melker Karlsson, may I interest you in a David Pastrnak?


-- Six goals for Ottawa and not a single point for Erik Karlsson? Odd.


-- I think we can just about shut the lid on the Maurice Richard Trophy race right now, as Alex Ovechkin is now eight goals ahead of everyone else after scoring twice to give himself 47 tallies on the season. He's also currently in the scoring lead with 73 points. I'd argue he's the most valuable fantasy skater (I'll leave the hair-splitting regarding Carey Price vs. Ovechkin to others) as his goal-heavy point total and robust peripherals (his 354 SOG lead second-place guy Max Pacioretty by a ridiculous 75, he's always great for hits) make him such a multi-dimensional threat.

And, hey, with a +14 rating it's obvious HIS DEFENSE IS CURED NOW.

/Waits for excessive praise thrown toward Barry Trotz when Ovechkin deserves most of the credit for just being awesome.

-- I'm not sure how well Evgeny Kuznetsov is "getting it" from an all-around standpoint, but he's been producing nice numbers lately. The 22-year-old has a goal in two straight games and five points in as many contests.

He's one of those guys who's been hyped long enough that it's kind of hard to believe how young he really is.

-- Three of Devan Dubnyk's six Minnesota losses have come in the last six games. Slowing down was inevitable, yet I imagine his fantasy owners aren't super-thrilled about the timing.

Still, can you really complain THAT much considering how much he's likely lifted your team (and his one in real life)?

Jump for more recaps.


-- There probably aren't many people - not just hockey players, but people - who are happier to be in Winnipeg than Drew Stafford is right now. In the past four games, he has three goals and two assists, giving him 11 points in 15 contests with the Jets overall.

A playoff run could really mean a solid payday for a guy who was slumming it with the Sabres not so long ago.

-- David Backes has had a satisfying year, but man does that go up quite a few notches in hits leagues. With 25 goals, 52 points, 96 PIM and 201 hits, he's just a beast when it comes to filling multiple categories.

-- Speaking of category-fillers, it's especially rough to see Dustin Byfuglien go down at such an important time for fantasy owners (as well as his actual team).


-- That is now four straight losses for the Penguins, who've also dropped five of six after a stretch where they looked pretty good (they had won four in a row and six of seven from Feb. 21 - March 7).

Honestly, I feel myself becoming increasingly flabbergasted by this team beyond just saying "Hey, these things happen."

It does add another layer giggles to the unfair criticisms faced by Dan Bylsma.

-- It's a bummer that the Stars aren't going to be around to entertain us in the playoffs, and Jamie Benn's great play is one of the biggest losses (especially since I'm not totally sure that Tyler Seguin's healthy). He scored a goal and an assist, including the game-winner.

-- Kris Letang tied last year's career high of 11 goals (he somehow scored that many in 37 games last season, although he only had 11 assists in that same frame) while he continues to bolster a new peak for his career with 53 points. His previous best was 50.

Pretty amazing stuff considering the health scares he faced last season, eh?


-- What else can I say about the Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler at this point? The gushing's probably gotten annoying for some Dose readers, but they're just so much fun to watch, and such a great steal in fantasy.

Gaudreau is still only owned in 58 percent of Yahoo leagues. Monahan is even easier to come by (54 percent owned) while Jiri Hudler is more scarce (72 percent owned). Honestly, I say get both Gaudreau and Monahan if you still can, as there's really no sign of them stopping, at least in the last month of the season.

Pretty tough to argue against Gaudreau as the Calder at this point, as much as I like Filip Forsberg and Aaron Ekblad.

-- For the second straight season, Kris Russell set a new career-high for points, this time with 30 (interestingly, he had 29 in 68 games last season, one fewer than his 69 so far in 2014-15). The post-Giordano Flames are a little tricky, as it seems like Russell, Dennis Wideman and T.J. Brodie also seem more or less equally likely to have the best game of the night.

-- It's been a tough puck luck season for Claude Giroux, who has 19 goals on 253 SOG (just a 7.5 shooting percentage), well below his 11.1 career average. I'd expect him to be closer to 30 goals next season.


-- Yup, it looks like Alexandre Burrows is riding with the Sedins again. Even in games like these, the twins get theirs.

-- Marko Dano really put an exclamation point on a nice run with two goals and an assist last night. He now has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his last five games. As the 27th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, he could be a nice to watch in the future.

-- Would you be afraid of Vancouver in a first-round series? I don't think there's a team in the NHL who would trade the Canucks for teams that might miss the postseason entirely like Los Angeles or Dallas.

I'm not saying the Canucks are downright bad ... but they're not exactly scary compared to other teams in the West playoff picture.

-- Columbus, meanwhile, strikes me as the most dangerous spoiler threat, even if their results can really vary. Carolina also seems like a team that can beat a contender one day and implode the next.


-- Oliver Ekman-Larsson must feel like the successful doctor at a family Thanksgiving dinner full of total failures. He scored both of Arizona's goals on nine SOG as he logged almost 26 minutes on ice. I'm sure he feels like he's wasting his impressive talents in the desert, yet I wonder if he'd have 19 goals this season on a team with less laughable offensive options (beyond him, of course).

-- Matt Duchene scored his 18th goal and 45th point in this one. He hit 45 points in 70 games. To give you an idea of the drop-off from 2013-14: Duchene scored 70 points in 71 games last season.

It's not really a matter of bad luck, at least in the most obvious way. His shooting percentage this season (10.3) is virtually the same as 2013-14 (10.6). The difference is reps: he has just 175 SOG in 70 games after generating 217 in 71 contests last season.

I'd wager that Duchene and other struggling Avs forwards are hurting in some way thanks to Patrick Roy's obsession with "shot quality" over keeping up with league trends toward puck possession. Still, some of this has to be on them, right?

It's actually kind of amazing that Colorado has a chance to make the playoffs considering the disappointing seasons for guys like Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon.

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