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February 13, 2011
Shots On Goal
Fantasy Week 19

by Timo Seppa

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GREEN LIGHTS

For Week 19, fantasy players from five teams have the opportunity to play in four games: Buffalo, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Vancouver and Washington. Keep in mind, though, that the Flyers and Capitals are away from home for the entire week.

"Projected rates" = VUKOTA-projected rates for the 2010-11 season, per game
"Recent performance" = Recent performance during 2010-11 season, per game
*Asterisk denotes second game of back-to-back games.

C Jason Spezza, Ottawa Senators
Projected rates: 0.37 G, 0.56 A, 0.94 P
Recent performance: 0.25 G, 0.25 A, 0.50 P
Overview: 3 games. 2 home, 1 road. 1 back-to-back.
Schedule: NYI, BOS, @TOR*

Like most of the Senators, Jason Spezza has had a season to forget, with his 0.67 points per game his lowest rate since his 19-year-old rookie campaign. But there's at least hope for short term improvement: Spezza's scored a point per game since returning from a right shoulder injury on February 5, and it's possible Ottawa may face the likes of rookie Mikko Koskinen and the struggling J-S Giguere this week, both with sub-.900 save percentages.

A bonus pick for this week is the Devils' Travis Zajac, frequent linemate of resurgent sniper Ilya Kovalchuk. New Jersey has four games this week, and Zajac has been good for seven points in his last five games while posting a +5 plus-minus rating.

LW Milan Lucic, Boston Bruins
Projected rates: 0.25 G, 0.34 A, 0.59 P
Recent performance: 0.29 G, 0.17 A, 0.46 P
Overview: 3 games. 2 home, 1 road. 1 back-to-back.
Schedule: TOR, @NYI, @OTT*

If you have Milan Lucic on your roster, you've been treated to a little of everything as far as fantasy stats. Over the past month, he's given you seven goals, three assists, ten points, +5 plus-minus, four power play points, 25 PIM and 19 hits. And talk about a favorable schedule—Boston faces three of the league's bottom six teams as far as goal prevention is concerned.

RW Mikael Samuelsson, Vancouver Canucks
Projected rates: 0.34 G, 0.36 A, 0.70 P
Recent performance: 0.29 G, 0.38 A, 0.67 P
Overview: 4 games. 1 home, 3 road. 1 back-to-back.
Schedule: @STL, @MIN*, @NSH, DAL

Noting the shaky 8.4% career shooting percentage, Mikael Samuelsson's hit a stretch of particularly good luck recently, with the puck going in the net on seven of his last 34 SOG (20.6% shooting). Still, over a longer run of games, the veteran Swede is pretty much where you figured he would be production-wise. This week, the pick of Samuelsson is a nod to his solid scoring, the powerhouse Canucks squad he plays for and the four games, not his recent streak of good fortune.

D Andrej Meszaros, Philadelphia Flyers
Projected rates: 0.09 G, 0.23 A, 0.31 P
Recent performance: 0.13 G, 0.21 A, 0.33 P
Overview: 4 games. 0 home, 4 road. 1 back-to-back.
Schedule: @TBL, @FLA*, @CAR, @NYR

Color me surprised regarding Andrej Meszaros' overall success in 2010-11. Nothing more than a mediocre third-pairing quality defenseman for Tampa Bay in recent seasons, he's taken advantage of playing on a very good Flyers team to boost his stats. A crazy +27 plus-minus on the season, Meszaros has cooled off to merely +1 over the past 30 days. Still, four games against some recently struggling mid-pack teams in the East—Panthers (3-4-3), Hurricanes (4-4-2) and Rangers (3-6-1)—should make for a pleasant week.

D Tyler Myers, Buffalo Sabres
Projected rates: 0.13 G, 0.44 A, 0.57 P
Recent performance: 0.08 G, 0.58 A, 0.67 P
Overview: 4 games. 3 home, 1 road. 1 back-to-back.
Schedule: @MTL, TOR*, STL, WSH

Struggling mightily throughout most of his sophomore campaign, Tyler Myers is on his first solid offensive stretch of the season, with three goals and five assists over his past nine contests. That improved production has coincided with team success, as the Sabres have gone 7-2-1 over what is also their best play of 2010-11.

G Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators
Base projection: .911 save percentage
Recent performance: .936 save percentage
Overview: 3 games. 3 home, 0 road. 0 back-to-back.
Schedule: SJS, VAN, PHX

You could argue that no team this side of the Boston Bruins has relied on goal prevention, and particularly goaltending, as much for their success than the Nashville Predators. One of the NHL's five worst teams at 2.57 GF, the Preds are second-best at 2.32 GA. A breakout season for Pekka Rinne is the story, with the 28-year-old Finn posting an elite .928 save percentage in his third full season.

RED LIGHTS

Atlanta, Columbus and Pittsburgh are the only squads with two games. Other teams to potentially avoid are Dallas, Detroit and Los Angeles, who get their three games away from home, with the Kings continuing a particularly long road trip.

C Tyler Seguin, Boston Bruins
2010-11 rates: 0.16 G, 0.18 A, 0.33 P
Recent performance: 0.13 G, 0.17 A, 0.29 P
Overview: 3 games. 2 home, 1 road. 1 back-to-back.
Schedule: TOR, @NYI, @OTT*

From early returns, it looks like the Edmonton Oilers made the right choice in selecting Taylor Hall instead of eventual second choice Tyler Seguin. While Hall improved from the beginning of the season, the same can't be said for Seguin, who's actually been a frequent healthy scratch of late. If you're not in a keeper league, there's little reason to be rostering Seguin at all for the remainder of 2010-11.

LW Andrew Ladd, Atlanta Thrashers
Projected rates: 0.23 G, 0.31 A, 0.55 P
Recent performance: 0.29 G, 0.17 A, 0.46 P
Overview: 2 games. 0 home, 2 road. 0 back-to-back.
Schedule: @PHO, @EDM

Boy, have things turned around in Atlanta, again. Like in 2009-10, what looked like an early season success story and likely postseason participant has gone south in a hurry. And in 2010-11, there isn't even the departure of Ilya Kovalchuk to pin any blame on. Early this season, Andrew Ladd was a smart late round pick/free agent pickup and looked to be thriving with the additional responsibility and playing time he was receiving with the Thrashers. Of late, he's been underperforming VUKOTA, which didn't even know about those upcoming role changes. Depending on the depth of your league, you might nned to think long and hard about whether you couldn't find a suitable free agent replacement for the Atlanta captain.

RW Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs
Projected rates: 0.47 G, 0.45 A, 0.91 P
Recent performance: 0.29 G, 0.42 A, 0.71 P
Overview: 3 games. 1 home, 2 road. 1 back-to-back.
Schedule: @BOS, @BUF*, OTT

The overachieving play of Toronto forwards Nikolai Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur has only served to highlight the similarly underachieving play of supposed star winger Phil Kessel. The former Bruin's numbers have been particularly poor of late, with his last goal having come 15 games ago, and no manner of line juggling by head coach Ron Wilson has seemed to do the trick to break him out of that slump.

D John-Michael Liles, Colorado Avalanche
Projected rates: 0.12 G, 0.40 A, 0.52 P
Recent performance: 0.04 G, 0.25 A, 0.29 P
Overview: 3 games. 2 home, 1 road. 0 back-to-back.
Schedule: CGY, PIT, @SJS

A breakout performer in the early season with points in his first nine games, not only has John-Michael Liles now gone nine contests without a single point, but he's getting killed in the plus-minus department to the tune of -12 over the course of those games. We'll see if the Peter Forsberg gambit can produce any results, because Colorado is sinking fast at 1-9-0 over their past ten games.

D Ed Jovanovski, Phoenix Coyotes
Projected rates: 0.12 G, 0.38 A, 0.50 P
Recent performance: 0.04 G, 0.13 A, 0.17 P
Overview: 3 games. 2 home, 1 road. 0 back-to-back.
Schedule: WSH, ATL, @NSH

I'm not sure about you, but I haven't had the slightest urge to roster Ed Jovanovski for years now, with his streaky production and poor plus-minus. And this season—forget it. The 34-year-old veteran is down at his lowest scoring levels since 1997-98. Even with Phoenix playing well, you've got to have better options.

G Craig Anderson, Colorado Avalanche
Base projection: .914 save percentage
Recent performance: .894 save percentage
Overview: 3 games. 2 home, 1 road. 0 back-to-back.
Schedule: CGY, PIT, @SJS

VUKOTA projected Colorado to be a middle of the pack 17th in goal prevention in 2010-11. It's been much worse than that, with the Avs dead last at 3.32 GA. Measuring by Goals Versus Threshold, we can see that it's been mostly a surprise underachievement by Avalanche netminding that's been the cause—only the Senators and Lightning have a worse Goaltending GVT.

VALUE ADD

G Johan Hedberg, New Jersey Devils
Projected performance: .910 save percentage
Recent performance: .910 save percentage

With Martin Brodeur still missing time with a sprained MCL, Johan Hedberg remains a nice short term pickup for those needing fantasy goaltending. The Devils are playing like a team possessed, and the 37-year-old Swede has won three contests in a row filling in for Brodeur, only giving up one or two goals in each of the games.

Timo Seppa is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Timo by clicking here or click here to see Timo's other articles.

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<< Previous Article
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Up and Coming (02/14)

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