Hot and Cold: 2013 Playoff Primer
Welcome to Hot and Cold: the article that shines a spotlight on the latest performance trends in fantasy hockey. With NHL playoff drafts getting underway, this week’s article may be the most important of the season. Fantasy GMs must recognize the players who are coming on, and the ones who are falling off. To start, here’s who’s hot…
Alex Ovechkin (WAS – L) and Nicklas Backstrom (WAS – C) – Ovechkin has been lighting the league on fire since mid-February and he now sits first in goals and fourth in scoring overall. In a regular season he’d be on pace for 94-points. Kudos to keeper owners who stayed the course. Riding sidecar is Backstrom, who has 48 points in 46 games. The pressure is off the Caps heading into the postseason and they could surprise. Ovechkin has never been past the second round.
Marty St. Louis (TBL – R) – The only problem with St. Louis is that the Lightning won’t be in the playoffs. Otherwise, he now leads the NHL in points and, if he can keep it up, he’ll become the oldest player ever to lead the league at season's end. There's something about St. Louis and fantasy championships: every year the poolie who drafts him gets more than he bargained for. Put that feather in your cap for next year.
Phil Kessel (TOR – R) – Since the end of March, Kessel has regained his position as the Leafs’ preeminent weapon (19 points in 13 games). He’s clearly now the #1 pick off the Toronto roster, a team that could easily reach Round Two. (Settle down @MapleLeafsGuy…)
Brenden Morrow (PIT – L) – With Crosby, Malkin and Neal out of the lineup, Morrow has stepped up with a major offensive contribution. Since April 3rd he has eleven points.
Andrew Ladd (WPG – L) – Like St. Louis, it will be disappointing not to see Ladd in the playoffs. His 7-game point streak from April 4th to the 20th was good for 14 points. He’s definitely the best thing the Jets have going.
Kyle Okposo (NYI – R) – Secondary scoring is what it’s all about in the playoffs, and Okposo has been bringing it in spades during this Islanders’ stretch run. Six points in his last four games, and nine in the last ten.
Mike Green (WAS – D) Green appears to have finally put his injury woes in the rear view mirror, and he’s gotten hot since the end of March with 14 points in 13 games. Remember, he missed 13 games this year. Had he played the whole season he’d be top five in defenseman scoring.
Logan Couture (SJS – C) – The Sharks are getting hot at just the right time, and Couture’s recent production is indicative of that: 6 points in the last three games.
Antti Niemi (SJS – G) – It’s a little known fact that 2013 is Niemi’s best statistical campaign. He leads the league in wins, and sits top ten in goals-against average, save-percentage and shutouts.
Henrik Lundqvist (NYR – G) – Just when it looked like the Rangers might miss the playoffs, the team has righted the ship. Lundqvist is at the helm; he’s 8-3-1 in the last 12 games. New York is one of the best underdog bets in the tournament, especially if they face a top seed suffering from injuries.
Now let’s take a look at who’s cold…
Nazem Kadri (TOR – C) – The Toronto media finally got over its jitters and went ahead and anointed Kadri as the next best thing since the CN Tower, but he immediately went cold. In the ten games since his second hat trick on March 30th, Kadri has just one goal and three total points. UPDATE: Kadri notched a pair of assists playing alongside Kessel on April 25th. The tide may be turning.
David Perron (STL – L) – What is going on with David Perron? The latest news is that he’s been demoted to the 4th line and dropped from the power play. Deservedly so, Perron has just 6 points in the last 23 games!
Chris Stewart (STL – R) – Stewart may be showing signs that his recent cold snap has lifted (3 points in the last 3 games), but overall his production has been disappointing since mid-March: 5 points in the last 16 games. The Blues will need all hands on deck if they plan on making some noise this spring, but be aware of the recent stagnation.
Bobby Ryan (ANH) and Teemu Selanne (ANH – R) – Just like the Blues, the Ducks need their offense firing on all cylinders this postseason, which would mean an about-face from Ryan and Selanne. Despite getting their chances, both players are stuck in the scoring doldrums. Ryan has one point in his last 8 games, while Selanne has just 6 points since March 2nd – a span of 26 games!
Patrik Elias (NJD – L) – Without Kovalchuk, Elias’ production has nosedived and New Jersey is out of the playoff picture. Although he has three points in the last three games, overall Elias has just five points in the last 14.
Sam Gagner (EDM – C) – Everyone’s new favorite Oiler has been nowhere in sight for the past six games. Gagner has zero points over that span, and just 7 points in his last 16 games overall.
Mikko Koivu (MIN – C) – Koivu and the Wild were red hot through March, but not so much in April. The Wild are suddenly sitting in 7th (and haven’t clinched a playoff spot yet) and Koivu has just 2 points in the past 12 games. Minny’s entire second line hasn’t fared much better. Matt Cullen has one point in his last six, Devin Setoguchi has 3 in his last 12, while Pierre-Marc Bouchard has 5 in the last 15.
Pekka Rinne (NSH – G) – Our last note is more about the team than the player, as Rinne’s stats have fallen victim to Nashville’s tumble down the Western Conference standings. He’s 1-6-1 in his last 8, and the team already has its April 30th tee-time booked.
We'll leave you with highlights of Ovechkin's most recent hat trick on April 6th, 2013. Good luck this spring!