Before the third period against the New York Rangers last night, Darcy Kuemper didn’t really seem like a guy who was capable of giving up five goals in one period.
In his first four starts, he generated three shutouts and only allowed two goals. He didn’t allow a goal in 14 of 16 periods in 2014-15. Kuemper allowed no more than a single goal in one period in that previous span.
Then the third period happened, and we received a nice reminder not to plan any “parades’ after three scant weeks of NHL action.
This isn’t to say that Kuemper’s a bad second or third option in net; I’ve gone on the record in being quite enthusiastic about his value.
The point, instead, is that we have precious little information available.
Sure, we can make assumptions about the teams who seemingly sit on the extreme ends of The Hockey Bell Curve.
The Chicago Blackhawks remain loaded enough to grab goalies wins, whether it's the guy they pay a lot of money (Corey Crawford) or the replacement-level backups (Antti Raanta and Scott Darling, who won in his NHL debut on Sunday). The New York Islanders may participate in 80's throwback track meets more often than not, at least when they're winning. The Buffalo Sabres seem primed to be perhaps historically inept, although maybe enough so to take advantage of sleepwalking teams like the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.
Still, what do we really know about the Minnesota Wild, a team that's 4-3-0 ... with a league-best +12 goal differential. The Rangers remain with similar questions: their 2013-14 regular season leading scorer Mats Zuccarello almost needed until November to make an impact.
The Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers provided a compelling case for what we do not know in their own right.
Montreal is tied with the Anaheim Ducks with an NHL-best 14 standings points, yet they've scored exactly as many goals (25) as they allowed.
People were hitting the panic button with the Oilers after an 0-4-1 start, even with possession stats that argued things weren't so bad. A week later, Ben Scrivens has his four wins in a row and his first shutout of the season while Edmonton now has wins over East playoff contenders Washington, Tampa Bay and Montreal.
Fittingly enough, the Oilers' possession numbers haven't been that great this past week.
Ultimately, we only “know” so much, so keep a cool head with this stuff. Don’t throw your ridiculously expensive replica jersey to the fantasy ice just because of a slow start.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $20,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday's NHL games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $3,000. Starts Tuesday at 7pm ET. Here's the FanDuel link.
GETZLAF, PERRY AND …
It feels like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry have been joined at the hip since they came into the league, if not when they were drafted late in the first round of the absurdly loaded 2003 NHL Draft. Since they jumped to the big time in 2005-06, no one other than Teemu Selanne has compared to them when it comes to Ducks’ scoring:
Ryan Getzlaf: 620 points in 642 games
Corey Perry: 559 points in 664 GP
Teemu Selanne: 506 points in 672 GP
Looking at Getzlaf’s “with or without you” stats at Hockey Analysis (since 2007-08), it’s clear that there have been three basic “eras” of linemates:
1. Chris Kunitz
2. Bobby Ryan
3. Uhhh …
From 2005-06 to 2008-09, Kunitz managed to score 186 points with Perry and Getzlaf. That wasn't much less than Perry scored in that time (195), while Getzlaf was quite a bit ahead of that duo at the time (270).
(For all the grief Kunitz gets for being a “passenger,” people really underrate how valuable a good complementary player can be. Kunitz’s aggressive, hard-working style can make life easier for “finesse” players. Plus he’s actually a very useful player in his own right … there’s a reason he rarely finds himself kicked off one of these lines.)
From 2009-10 to 2012-13, Perry and Getzlaf weren't that far ahead of Ryan production-wise. In my mind’s eye, Ryan was frequently used as a second-liner in Anaheim, yet one way or another he was their most common linemate.
Things have been rocky on the ice - though extremely lucrative off of the ice - for Bobby Ryan since the Ducks decided to trade him to Ottawa before the 2013-14 season, but the Ducks haven’t found the clearest answer for who to line up with their dynamic duo.
Looking at Getzlaf's "WOWY" stats, Penner was on the ice for 476:05 TOI. The next closest players:
The Ducks seem just as unconvinced ever since getting rid of Penner (which is somewhat amusing since the flawed-but-useful big winger is surprisingly unemployed at the moment).
As of late in 2014-15, it looks like Devante Smith-Pelly has been the lucky winner of the Getzlaf-Perry sweepstakes. The 22-year-old gained the nod fairly recently, and it's not surprising to see him up his productivity. Smith-Pelly has two points in his last three games and all four of his points in the last six. Looking at this very brief season in total via Left Wing Lock, Smith-Pelly is their most common partner in crime, but Matt Beleskey and Patrick Maroon aren’t that far behind him.
Who should fantasy owners root for, though?
Smith-Pelly was a second-rounder in 2010 (42nd overall). He hasn't put up the most impressive stats over four scattered seasons: 11 goals, 16 assists for 27 points, 18 PIM and 109 SOG in 84 games.
Beleskey, 26, has a much longer resume of NHL games, although he's only played 70 games in a season once (2011-12). In 273 NHL games, he has 40 goals and 85 points with 275 PIM and 453 SOG. He scored 24 points, generated 64 PIM and fired 112 SOG in 55 games last season.
Patrick Maroon (sixth-rounder, 26) has 35 points, 115 PIM and 121 SOG in 80 career games.
If I were forced to invest in one of the three, it would probably be Beleskey, a player with a nice pedigree, promising peripherals and arguably better chances - right now - of producing on his own than Smith-Pelly (sorry Maroon).
That said, the thing that matters the most is obvious; if Smith-Pelly sticks with Perry and Getzlaf long-term, he's the best value.
I'd honestly watchlist all three players (or at least Smith-Pelly and Beleskey) instead of adding one, yet if you feel antsy, give DSP a shot.
I know that sounds like mixed advice, as I feel a bit better about Beleskey's chances over the long haul, but at this time of year there are likely safer bets on your waiver wire, anyway.
The only thing I know for sure: Getzlaf and Perry will do just fine, either way.