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If you don’t understand this Point Break reference then fuck you.
The Week That Was
Well, well, well, it looks like the Boston Bruins have woken up a bit. In the last four games, the Bruins are 4-0 with wins over LA, San Jose, New Jersey and Pittsburgh. The amazing thing about all of those wins is that they’re against teams who are currently in playoff contention.
I believe the Bruins aren’t this good, but the run they’re on is wonderful to watch. During this four game winning streak, the Bruins have scored 12 goals. That’s a solid 3 goals per game and it wasn’t the type where they score 12 goals in two games and get shutout.
The Bruins got consistent scoring from someone not named Brad Marchand or David Pastrnak. This is something the Bruins lacked during October and stretches of November.
The other thing the Bruins are getting is consistent goaltending. Say what you will about Anton Khudobin, but the Bruins are right in keeping him in net while he’s winning. Is he better than Tuukka Rask? No. Is he playing better than Tuukka Rask and providing stable goaltending for the team? Yes. You ride the hot hand and give Rask a shot to see when he can get hot.
A Tale of Two Teams
The Bruins are facing two different types of teams this week. First, they welcome the Lightning into TD Garden – a team that has been sensational since the puck dropped this year. As of writing this, the Lightning lead the NHL is goals per gam and they’re second in goals for despite having two games in hand on Toronto. They also boast the best powerplay in the NHL.
To put it bluntly, the Lightning are an offensive wagon and they’re doing it behind two men: Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. The duo is currently first and second in the NHL in total points with a combined 70 (Stamkos at 36, Kucherov at 34). Kucherov is second in goals thanks to an Alexander Ovechkin hattrick on Saturday and is on pace to post 60 goals this season. He’s scoring at a ridiculous fucking rate and it’ll take everything in the Bruins power to stop him.
Luckily, this is a Bruins team that boasts the 7th best penalty kill in the NHL (83.6%) so it’s possible for Boston to blank Tampa in the powerplay arena. The issue will be on the other side of the calls. Boston’s powerplay, once a beacon of goal scoring ability, has fallen from third to nineteenth (18.1%) while Tampa’s penalty kill sits at a solid 12th (81%).
This will be a true test for the Bruins as the Lightning are the best Eastern Conference team in the NHL and possibly one of the best, well-rounded teams they’ll face. There isn’t a single area on the ice that you can point to and say “Well, they really suck there”.
The City of Brotherly Losses
At the time of my writing this, the Flyers have quietly lost seven games in a row. They’re not a great hockey team which is great to see if you’re like me and can’t stand that team (minus Wayne SImmonds, love you bud). The Flyers seem to lack in almost every area of the ice this year.
The previously mentioned Simmonds is having one of the worst seasons of his career and was on a massive 14 goal goalless streak before popping one on 11/24 against the Islanders.
This is a hockey team that ranks 21st in goals for, 15th in goals against, 17th on the powerplay and 28th on the penalty kill. Unlike the Lightning, they don’t seem to do anything very well.
In fact, you know who the Flyers are? They’re pretty much the Bruins. The Bruins don’t necessarily do anything great. They have troubles scoring goals (28th overall), they have issues keeping the puck out of the net (25th in goals against) and their powerplay has gotten worse as the year has gone on.
Their only one true area of “good” is the penalty kill.
You know what the shittiest thing is though? The Flyers are only two points behind the Bruins. While they haven’t been winning games, they’ve been good enough to take it to overtime. During this 7 game winless streak, the Flyers have managed to get four points in overtime losses.
Overall: I would expect Boston to go 1-1 here. Tampa is going to be a tough time, but Philadelphia should be pretty beatable.
Fantasy Hockey Implications
…The thing is that you’re not gonna sit him, you’d never sit him…because of the implication.
Only two games for the Bruins this week, both against teams that we haven’t seen yet this season.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Take your pick. Seriously, I don’t need to tell you how good the Lightning are, they are probably the overall best offensive team in the NHL. Players like Stamkos, Hedman, and Kucherov are obvious picks. But even players like Killorn and Palat contribute a lot in deeper leagues and DFS leagues (Palat in particular can be a great value pick).
Vasilevskiy is a solid start night to night. Budaj in another story. He’s a decent goalie, but he’s barely played this year and is rocking a 3.75 GAA and .867 Save% in just 4 starts.
Voracek, Couturier, and Giroux are all over a point per game at this point and are basically must-starts. After that it gets a little fuzzy. Gostisbehere isn’t quite where I thought he would be at this point, but he still has 18 assists, with 10 on the PP. You could do worse than Provorov for a defenseman, especially if you’re counting Blocks and Hits.
One this years biggest disappointments has been Wayne Simmonds. I love that guy, but he’s definitely taken a bit of a step back from the last few years but still worth a start if Hits are a category.
Shockingly enough given their record, but neither Elliot nor Neuvirth are terrible options in net right now. They aren’t great, but you could do worse for 3rd or 4 goalies. Just don’t rely on them to get Wins.
It’s been mostly the young kids lately with DeBrusk and McAvoy leading the charge. There is a good chance McAvoy has been scooped up in most leagues and should probably be a must start at this point. I’m still hesitant to rush to pick up players like DeBrusk and Kuraly, but they can be good to fill in an injury hole or as a desperation pick up.
The big news is that there seems to a good chance that we’ll see Marchand back this week, which will be a huge boost to any team that has him. That also means that Heinen and Debrusk may see a decrease in playtime.
It’s been rough for Rask owners, hopefully you managed to pick up Khudobin to mitigate the lost starts (and get some wins). I’m down on Rask in fantasy right now, he’s going to need to earn my trust back before I start him with confidence.
My Top 5 Starts This Week:
- Steven Stamkos
- Nikita Kucherov
- Jakub Voracek
- Charlie McAvoy
- Andrei Vasilevskiy
By: Your #1 pun boi