Fantasy hockey advice, who’s hot and who’s cold, who to pick up and who to drop.

 

In this little place called Toronto there is a kid named Auston Matthews and he, well, is good.

At only 19-years-old he out produced a guy named Sidney Crosby this week and there’s no better place to lead off our Hard Knocks section than with this franchise (/generational?) player.

 

HARD KNOCKS – A look at the hottest fantasy forward, defenceman, and goalie in the NHL this week.

Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs: GP 3; G: 4, A 2, +2

Auston Matthews is producing like a seasoned vet right now and it’s making fantasy owners very excited. If you were one of the lucky ones who took a flyer on the kid in your draft (or scooped him off the waiver wire) then you know that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Matthews has scored in eight of his last 11 games and has moved into first place in scoring among rookies, both in goals (20) and points (32). Sure, he’s still a teenager so anticipate some lows to pair up with this recent hot streak, but I recommend that you ride the wave. Unless you’re receiving astronomical trade offers for him, hold him close because during the final week of the season when most leagues have their final playoff game, the Leafs play five games. Enjoy.

Ryan McDonagh New York Rangers: GP 3, A 5, PIM 6,  +1

It’s always nice when a defenceman rattles off a four-game point streak and that’s just what Ryan McDonagh’s done. He’s managed one goal and six assists over and even managed to say out of the negatives in a 7-4 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Dec. 23.

Sergei Bobrovsky Columbus Blue Jackets: GP 3, 3-0-0, 2.60 GAA, .924 Sv%

The Columbus Blue Jackets did not lose a single game during the month of December. When a team does that it usually means there is a pretty pretty pretty good tender between the pipes. Sergei Bobrovsky is just that.

Over the course of the Blue Jackets’ 15-game win streak, Bobrovsky has been stellar, to say the least. Thirteen of those wins belong to him and he has only allowed 22 goals while posting a .941 save percentage. It looks like Columbus will never lose a game for the rest of eternity so expect to see him in this spot … forever.

 

LEVELED – A look at the coldest fantasy hockey forward, defenceman and goalie in the NHL this week.

Sean Monahan Calgary Flames: GP 3, G 0, A 0, -2

Sean Monahan has a history of going through extreme cold phases, but he usually follows it up with red-hot streaks. The trend can be quite infuriating for fantasy owners, but, alas, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The spell Monahan is going through right now spans five games where he has recorded zero points and sits at minus-three. However, he was enjoying a 10-game point streak immediately prior that included five goals and seven assists.

Before that? It was a nine-game cold spell where he only managed one goal and one assist. It just comes with the territory for Monahan owners.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson Arizona Coyotes: GP 3, G 0, A 2, -3

As with many in the Arizona Coyotes system over the years, Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a tremendous talent in a terrible situation. He’s always going to be worth a start and he’s going to produce, but when he doesn’t it is likely due to the supporting cast around him and not his own personal play.

The Coyotes have lost seven in a row and have given up four or more goals in five of them. It’s a miracle that OEL is only minus-five during that stretch. But that comes with the territory. Admit it, you knew when you drafted him that his would happen, and now it’s happening. And it will happen again.

Jake Allen St. Louis Blues: GP 1, 1-0-0, 3.00 GAA, .786 Sv%

Like his old tandem partner Brian Elliott was in the beginning of the year (although keep your eye on him), Jake Allen has been experiencing his fair share of struggles the last couple of weeks. In his last seven games he has gone 2-5-0 with a .886 save percentage and 3.29 goals-against average. Allen is currently ice-cold heading into the Winter Classic (See what I did there?).

 

PICK EM UP – Three players owned in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues that must be picked up immediately.

Vincent Trocheck Florida Panthers: GP 38, G 11, A 10, -12

Another casualty of the depth of the centre position, Vincent Trocheck has been coming on of late. His +/- is a bit of concern and the Florida Panthers are always a question mark, but over the last three games he is averaging over 22 minutes of ice time and has registered five points (three goals, two assists). He may not be a great long-term acquisition, but if you need help now grab him and ride out the end of his current burst.

Juuse Saros Nashville Predators: GP 6, 3-2-1, 1.16 GAA, .957 sv%

Pekka Rinne has been playing awful over the last two months and lately he isn’t even getting the opportunity to play. Instead, the 21-year-old Jusse Saros has seized control of the blue paint and doesn’t look like he’s going to give it up anytime soon. Over his last three starts, he’s gone 2-0-1 with a 1.50 goals-against average and an insane .975 save percentage. In his last outing against the St. Louis Blues Saros posted his first career shutout with a 25-save performance.

 

DROP THE GLOVES – If these guys are still on your roster, it’s probably best to move on.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic San Jose Sharks: GP 35, G 3, A 6, +1

Another week and it’s another defenceman that is over-owned and under-producing. Marc-Edouard Vlasic is owned in 65% of leagues and has yet to crack 10 points on the year. If you’re going to hang on to a rearguard like Vlasic then it better be because he is producing. He’s not and you’re better off finding a fill in each week for that roster spot.

 

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