Fake Hockey Help: Coyotes’ offense, Evgeni Nabokov, the shot-blocking Canadiens

Image courtesy of foxsportsarizona.com

For a team that is known for their goaltending and their young puck-moving defense, the Phoenix Coyotes are currently eighth in the NHL with 3.11 goals per game. Although most of the bigger names on Phoenix are 100-percent owned in ESPN leagues, there are still some players available who wouldn’t be a bad addition.

One of those players is Antoine Vermette, who is still available in 7.8 percent of the ESPN leagues. He averages the third-most time on the ice for a Coyotes’ forward, as he is on the team’s first power-play unit as well as the team’s third line. Along with his five goals and five assists, Vermette is plus-8 and has 14 PIMs. He is also averaging two shots a game, so Vermette is able to give you a little bit of everything.

Another player that is worth considering picking up is Rob Klinkhammer, who is owned in only 2.8 percent of ESPN leagues. Currently tied for 10th in the NHL with a plus-11 rating, Klinkhammer also has four goals and three assists in 18 games. He’s in a bit of a point drought at the moment, but his plus/minus can help you in a standard ESPN league.

One more player from the Coyotes that might be worth taking a look at is David Moss. In addition to his seven assists and plus-6 rating, Moss has recently been promoted to the top line in Phoenix, so he’ll be playing with Shane Doan and Mike Ribeiro. He hasn’t scored a goal yet and he isn’t owned in any ESPN leagues, but playing alongside Doan and Ribeiro with first line minutes, he could find the back of the net and increase his two-shots-per-game average.

Shifting to the Eastern Conference, one player that you should consider dropping if you haven’t already is Evgeni Nabokov. With a .894 save percentage and a 3.24 GAA, Nabokov has allowed four goals or more in three straight games. Nabokov only has five wins this season and he’s allowed three goals or more in 10 of his 13 games. The New York Islanders may have enough of an offense to bail out their netminder for some wins, but if you’re in a league that values save percentage and goals against averages, you shouldn’t hesitate to drop Nabokov.

If you do drop Nabokov and are looking for a new goaltender, there are some names to consider. If you need a consistent starter who posts decent numbers the group of Ondrej Pavelec, Tim Thomas, and Justin Peters might be worth an add. Each goalie has a save percentage above .900 and have somewhat respectable goals-against-averages, but more importantly they get the majority of the starts for their squads, so they’ll have the best chance to bring in some wins.

If you just need a goaltender for a few days or might rotate between the best free agent options in the crease, the crew of Frederik Andersen, Robin Lehner, and Al Montoya are all viable options. Andersen and Lehner have been strong in net this season and have been acknowledged for such performances. As for Montoya, he has a save percentage of .921 and a GAA of 2.20, while taking part in four of the Winnipeg Jets’ last seven games.

For some stats for those who help the goaltenders, if you’re in a league that rewards blocked shots, look to see what Montreal Canadiens are currently free agents, as they lead the league with 350 blocked shots. Josh Gorges is currently third in the NHL with 47 blocked shots in 18 games and isn’t owned in many ESPN leagues. He also has a goal and three helpers on the season, as he averages 20:44 TOI.

Raphael Diaz is third on the team in blocked shots and 10th in the NHL with 43. Also averaging over 20 minutes on the ice per game, Diaz also has six helpers, six PIMs, and a plus-2 rating.

Seventh on the team with 17 blocked shots is Lars Eller, who is owned in 44.7 percent of ESPN leagues. Dropped in several leagues recently, Eller was plus-1 with a goal and two assists against the Islanders last night, as he improved his totals to five goals and four assists in 17 leagues. In a league with blocked shots, Eller can help you at both ends of the ice.

TEAMS WITH BACK-TO-BACKS THIS WEEK

Anaheim Ducks – @ Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday and @ Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.
Boston Bruins – Hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday and @ Ottawa Senators on Friday.
Buffalo Sabres – Hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday and @ Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
Carolina Hurricanes – Hosting the Anaheim Ducks on Friday and @ St. Louis Blues on Saturday.
Chicago Blackhawks – @ Nashville Predators on Saturday and hosting the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.
Columbus Blue Jackets – @ Boston Bruins on Thursday and hosting the Montreal Canadiens on Friday.
Dallas Stars – @ Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday and @ Calgary Flames on Thursday.
Detroit Red Wings – Hosting the Washington Capitals on Friday and @ New York Islanders on Saturday.
Edmonton Oilers – Hosting the San Jose Sharks on Friday and @ Calgary Flames on Saturday.
Florida Panthers – @ Minnesota Wild on Friday and @ Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.
Los Angeles Kings – @ New York Islanders on Thursday and @ New Jersey Devils on Friday.
Montreal Canadiens – @ Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday and hosting the New York Rangers on Saturday.
New Jersey Devils – hosting the Los Angeles Kings on Friday and hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.
Nashville Predators – @ Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday and hosting the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
New York Rangers – @ Montreal Canadiens on Saturday and hosting the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.
Philadelphia Flyers – @ Ottawa Senators on Tuesday and @ Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Hosting the Nashville Predators on Friday and @ New Jesey Devils on Saturday.
San Jose Sharks – @ Vancouver Canucks on Thursday and @ Edmonton Oilers on Friday.
St. Louis Blues – Hosting the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday and @ Washington Capitals on Sunday.
Tampa Bay Lightning – @ Boston Bruins today and @ Montreal Canadiens tomorrow.
Toronto Maple Leafs – @ Buffalo Sabres on Friday and hosting the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.

LEAGUE LEADERS WHO AREN’T 100 PERCENT OWNED

Goals: Forward – Tomas Hertl (SJS, 97.5% owned), Tied for 12th with nine. Defenseman – Derek Morris (PHX, 62.1% owned), Tied for 3rd with four.
Assists: Forward – Marcus Johansson (WSH, 58.7% owned), Tied for 7th with 13. Defenseman – Matt Niskanen (PIT, 83.1% owned), Tied for 16th with eight.
Plus/Minus: Forward – Dustin Penner (ANA, 43.4% owned), 1st with plus-18. Defenseman – Francois Beauchemin (ANA, 97.3% owned), 1st with plus-14.
PIMs: Forward – Derek Dorsett (NYR, 6.4% owned), 1st with 73.
Defenseman – Radko Gudas (TBL, 82.8% owned), 1st with 57.
Power-Play Points: Marcus Johansson (WSH, 58.7% owned), Tied for 9th with 7. Defenseman – Cam Fowler (ANA, 79.5% owned), Tied for ninth with 5.
TOI: Forward – David Perron (EDM, 77.2% owned), 23rd with 20:27.
Defenseman – Andrew MacDonald (NYI, 52.0% owned), 4th with 26:46.
Shots on Goal: Chris Higgins (VAN, 94.1% owned), Tied for 9th with 66.
Defenseman – Zach Bogosian (WPG, 71.7% owned), Tied for 10th with 43.
Goalie Wins: J.S. Giguere (COL, 96.6% owned), Evgeni Nabokov (NYI, 87.0% owned), Ondrej Pavelec (WPG, 64.7% owned), and Frederik Andersen (ANA, 40.3% owned) – Tied for 17th with 5.
Save Percentage: J.S. Giguere (COL, 96.6% owned), 2nd with .970.