We're more than a third of the way through the season and we're consequently past the point where we need to take a team or player's statistics with a grain of salt over sample size concerns. Certainly it's possible that a player who has under/over performed can move back towards our expectations, but we have to accept the fact that in a lot of cases, this is the new normal.
That's easier said than done though, especially when there are some performances thus far that just completely go against everything we had come to know about certain players. The single best example of this is the Pittsburgh Penguins. They've been one of the worst teams in the league offensively in 2015-16 and Sidney Crosby has been part of the problem with six goals, 19 points, and a minus-seven rating in 30 games this season.
Remember the predictions about all the damage Crosby and Phil Kessel could do on a line together? That certainly hasn't panned out as Kessel has been no better with nine goals and 18 points in 30 contests. But of course the frustrating part is that either player is far better than this individually. Focusing back in on Crosby, he has had some good stretches this season, but they've obviously been counterbalanced and it's hard to say that he's turned a corner when he's gone three straight games without a point.
At least in Pittsburgh's case they recently fired Mike Johnston and replaced him with Mike Sullivan. Even if that hasn't produced immediate results, it's given Penguins fans and fantasy owners alike a reason to believe that things might change in the not too distant future, but what about Anaheim?
The Ducks have gone from winning their division for three straight years to posting the worst record in the Western Conference through Dec. 16 at 11-13-5. Like Pittsburgh, the Ducks' surprisingly anemic offense has been a big part of the problem. Corey Perry has just 19 points in 29 contests while Getzlaf has 18 points - including just one goal - in 25 games. At least with those two it's easier to paint the picture that they've rebounded though. Starting on Oct. 27, Perry has 10 goals and 18 points in 21 contests while Getzlaf has a goal and 13 points in 12 contests from Nov. 16 onward. So you can just say that they're overall numbers are being skewed by their slow starts and move on.
Unfortunately Anaheim doesn't have much offensive depth beyond Perry and Getzlaf. Rickard Rakell is their next best forward with 13 points in 26 contests. It looks like Ryan Kesler will finish below his 2014-15 total of 47 points, Chris Stewart is being used sparingly (just 11:03 minutes per game), and Jakob Silfverberg's strong showing in the 2015 playoffs hasn't led to anything positive (just six points in 29 contests in 2015-16). And that's where the new normal part really plays in for Anaheim. It's not that their two stud forwards have suffered a significant decline as much as it is that the Ducks don't have much backing them up offensively.
We don't have to focus exclusively on the negative when talking about how times have changed though. The Dallas Stars were strong out of the gate this season and after showing no signs of slowing down through 31 contests, it seems fair to think of them as a serious threat going forward.
As was the case last season, Dallas has been led by Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, which is the best duo in the league. However, the Stars also have a good amount of offensive depth at this point. John Klingberg has been a major contributor with 31 points in as many games, but obviously Patrick Sharp (10 goals and 22 points) and Jason Spezza (11 goals and 20 points) have done their part too. The Stars have eight different players that have scored at least five goals compared to four with the Anaheim Ducks and five with the Pittsburgh Penguins. So just to drive home the point: Not only does Dallas have by far and away the two most productive players this season between the three teams in Benn and Seguin, they also have substantially more depth as well.
Let's close out this week's Fantasy Nuggets by bidding farewell to our Patrick Kane watch. His point streak ended on Tuesday at 26 consecutive games. That's a record for an American-born player as well as the longest point streak in the history of the Chicago Blackhawks. The last time anyone had a point streak that lasted longer was in 1992-93 when Mats Sundin recorded a point for 30 straight games.