Fake Hockey Help: Howard’s struggles, Ryan Johansen’s production, Sean Couturier’s offensive burst

Image courtesy of toledoblade.com

As Philadelphia Flyers’ fans saw on Wednesday night, Jimmy Howard hasn’t been at the top of his game lately. Before he allowed five goals on 33 shots against to the Orange and Black, Howard was able to provide a 29-save shutout against the lowly New York Islanders. However, the candidate for the American Olympic team endured a seven-game losing streak where he allowed four goals against or more three times and allowed three goals against or more an additional two times. His highest save percentage total in that span for a single game was .920.

Obviously, you shouldn’t drop Howard, but you should look into picking up a replacement at the moment or possibly trading the Detroit Red Wings’ netminder. If you are looking to trade him, it is up to you what you attempt to get back in turn.

As for his replacement, one of the solutions is Red Wings’ backup Jonas Gustavsson. The Monster has started six of Detroit’s last nine games and has managed to win five of them. He hasn’t allowed more than three goals against in any of those games and has allowed 10 goals overall in the current span of games. The Wings’ second option also has a save percentage of .932 in that stretch of games. He is currently owned in 71.4 percent of ESPN leagues, but he has been added in 40.8 percent of those leagues over the last week.

Another option to replace Howard, or another struggling goaltender on your fantasy squad, is Curtis McElhinney. Since former Philadelphia Flyer Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to miss about a month, the Columbus Blue Jackets will rely heavily on McElhinney.

In his first start for the club since Bobrovsky’s injury, McElhinney produced a 20-save shutout against the Minnesota Wild. This came after he made all eight save he saw in relief of Bob during the game he left due to his groin injury, which followed the backup’s 33-save effort against the Boston Bruins in a losing effort. In the nine games he has appeared in so far this season, McElhinney has a save percentage of .932 and a 2.02 GAA. However, as a disadvantage of playing for the Blue Jackets, McElhinney has compiled all of two wins. He should be available in your league, as he is owned in just 18.7 percent of ESPN leagues.

Speaking of the Blue Jackets, you should also go and pick up their points leader, who is still available in 3.4 percent of ESPN leagues. Ryan Johansen leads Columbus with 22 points, as he has registered 10 goals and 12 helpers while averaging just over 18 minutes of TOI per game. Johansen also leads the team with nine power-play points and is second on the squad with 79 shots on goal. It’s not likely he is still available in your league, but it’s worth a look.

Another player that has been playing amazing all season, but is just now starting to put up offensive numbers is the Flyers’ own Sean Couturier. He recently had a four-point night against the Red Wings and has produced a point in three of his last five games. Although he has recorded a minus rating in two of his last three games, Couturier will most likely post an even or plus rating and logs an average of 19:04 TOI nightly. The forward has also seen a slight rise in his shots on goal per game, as he had four shots on goal against the Dallas Stars on Saturday and had six shots on goal against the Winnipeg Jets a little over a week ago. He is owned in 63.8 percent of ESPN leagues and has been added within the last week in 54.8 percent of those leagues.

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

LEAGUE LEADERS WHO AREN’T 100 PERCENT OWNED

Goals: Forward – Mike Cammalleri, Frans Nielsen, and Ryan Johansen–All tied with 10. Defenseman – Michael Stone (PHX, 11.0% owned), Tied for 2nd among d-men with 7.
Assists: Forward – Jiri Hudler (CGY, 95.9% owned), Tied for 12th with 19.
Defenseman – Cody Franson (TOR, 98.5% owned), Tied for 14th among d-men with 14.
Plus/Minus: Forward – Rob Klinkhammer (PHX, 1.5% owned), Tied for third among forwards with plus- 13. Defenseman – Justin Braun (SJS, 86.9% owned), Leads league with plus-19
PIMs: Forward – Derek Dorsett (NYR, 2.6% owned), Leads league with 97.
Defenseman – Radko Gudas (TBL, 30.8% owned) Leads d-men with 70.
Power-Play Points: Forward – Derek Roy (STL, 16.0% owned), Tied for 11th with 11.
Defenseman – Cody Franson (TOR, 98.5% owned), Tied for 3rd among d-men with 11.
Average TOI: Forward – Kyle Okposo (NYI, 99.4% owned), Tied for 30th among forwards with 19:56. Defenseman – Andrew MacDonald (NYI, 57.1% owned), Fifth in league with 26:28.
Shots on Goal: Forwards – Chris Higgins (VAN, 69.3% owned), 12th with 101. Defenseman – Travis Hamonic (NYI, 30.0% owned), 13th among d-men with 65.
Goalie Wins: Ondrej Pavelec (WPG, 90.7% owned), Tied for 14th with 10.
Save Percentage: Martin Jones (LAK, 0.1% owned), .955 save percentage.